PC, Xbox 360, iOS, Android
I once estimated that from 1993–2003, I spent close to $10,000 on trading-card games, with Magic: The Gathering as one of the biggest money sinks. Since then, I’ve turned to the cheaper and easier-to-store digital TCGs for a fix—with the exception of a $500 relapse into the World of Warcraft TCG. Magic’s newest annual entry continues its efforts to streamline gameplay and simplify content without sacrificing depth and versatility. Overall, it succeeds, and we’re reminded why we took on part-time jobs in high school to support our cardboard habit. The added Sealed Deck mode is what old-school fans have been craving for so long. The deck-building system is the most customizable to date and includes booster packs, which players earn through in-game victories or purchase with real-world money. Sealed Deck isn’t perfect; it reeks of a moneymaking scheme, which is what turned off so many of the game’s original fans. Magic 2014 would do well by its fans to adopt a booster-pack rewards system closer to Mass Effect 3’s points-for-packs approach or Borderland 2’s SHiFT codes. At $10, it may no longer be a money-sink, but the campaigns, challenges, and multiplayer mode are still a time-sink in the best possible way.