Along with our fundamental Game of the Year Awards 2021, every member of the PC Gamer group is shining a highlight on a recreation they cherished this yr. We’ll put up new employees picks, alongside our fundamental awards, all through the remainder of the month.
Magic: The Gathering Enviornment, or MTG Enviornment for brief, is well my favorite implementation of the grandaddy of collectable card video games. Proponents of Magic: The Gathering On-line (MTGO) might scoff at this concept, however I am going to take the visible aptitude of this newer consumer over the spreadsheet aesthetic of MTGO any day. MTG Enviornment would not assault my financial institution steadiness a lot both.
Perhaps it is as a result of I do not play exhaustively, however I by no means appear to have an issue constructing decks both, one thing that may’t be mentioned for MTGO or the paper model of Magic for that matter. After an preliminary funding to get began, I have not dropped any cash on MTG Enviornment, or felt the necessity to because of every day rewards preserving issues ticking over. It is probably the most versatile, reasonably priced, and visually interesting model of the sport, and I haven’t got to sacrifice house in my attic to the cardboard gods to maintain having fun with it both.
The most recent set to drop on MTG Enviornment is Innistrad: Crimson Vow, its ninetieth growth. You’d assume hitting that lofty quantity would imply Wizards of the Coast could be operating out of recent concepts by now, and to some extent it has, however someway that is nonetheless one of the enjoyable units I’ve performed in MTG Enviornment in a while. That MTG Enviornment has managed to wrestle my consideration from New World, Halo Infinite, Apex Legends, and Hearthstone is a positive signal that it’s doing one thing proper.
Drafting the vampire-themed set feels nice, with some real choices about which playing cards to select. There’s loads of scope for various kinds of decks, though it is positively a extra aggressive set than a few of the newer expansions. It is much less bomb-heavy than its predecessor too, the werewolf-themed Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, the place massive board clearers like Burn Down the House and the hard-hitting Adversary cycle dominate the draft setting—I am taking a look at you, particularly, Intrepid Adversary. Getting overrun by wolves is now not a risk, too.
Whereas Crimson Vow nonetheless has moments during which I’ve fruitlessly dug for solutions to a bomb similar to a turn-three Halana and Alena, Partners, it has been an entertaining set to draft. Even the Planeswalkers do not feel fairly as ridiculous as in different units, Sorin the Mirthless apart. Kaya, Geist Hunter, is manner down the choose order record on MTG draft helper Draftsim, and a few unusual creatures (Bloodtithe Harvester and Packsong Pup) are higher picks than lunging for Chandra, Dressed to Kill.
The set does have a number of new mechanics to wrestle with, although none are notably difficult. The introduction of Blood tokens is neat, as they allow you to look by means of your deck for solutions whereas filling your graveyard on the similar time. Cleave allows you to solid a spell for the next price for a extra highly effective impact. Exploit has you sacrificing creatures for a profit, and Disturb returns to make creatures in your graveyard helpful once more. The day-and-night impact from Midnight Hunt additionally returns, though, with fewer werewolves, it is not fairly as swingy because it was earlier than.
Crimson Vow is a strong set, one that does not seem to have wrecked Normal, both. MTG has suffered from energy creep by the hands of overly highly effective playing cards lately, making for a number of dominant decks that you simply both construct your self or brew in opposition to with particular meta builds. That is tremendous when the decks are enjoyable to play, with plenty of choices to make and a few intelligent interactions, however when the sphere is diminished to only two pink/blue decks (and a pink/blue/white deck), as we noticed for the Strixhaven Championship prime 8, you realize one thing is amiss.
Wizards probably has the reply to this downside although, within the type of Alchemy, its new digital format that helps a extra dynamic metagame. It means overly dominant playing cards will be rebalanced (usually recosted, however the impact could also be lessened too), and for the primary time, digital-only mechanics can be utilized as effectively—playing cards that produce different playing cards, akin to Hearthstone’s Uncover mechanic.
It is a format that units out by itself path from the paper model—one thing that might be thought of sacrilege not so way back, however in these socially-distanced instances, makes loads of sense. Properly, it does other than Alchemy being pressured on Historic gamers, which appears like a traditional Wizards misstep. There’s a simple repair too—Simply let these gamers preserve utilizing the unique variations.
Take, Esika’s Chariot, a robust card that has seen play in loads of decks, has been modified from creating two cat tokens to just one, and its Crew price dropped from 4 to 2. Alrund’s Epiphany has seen its Foretell price improve from 6 to 7 mana and it solely produces hen tokens if Foretold. Whereas these are delicate modifications, they’re additionally essential, preserving the playing cards from being too highly effective.
Alchemy is a crucial new section for MTG Enviornment and one that’s already seeing some intriguing metagame decisions and builds. It will be fascinating to see if it beneficial properties sufficient traction to actually take off, but it surely appears like that is the one future that is smart for the digital model of the ageing card recreation. Given I began enjoying MtG 24 years in the past and nonetheless flip playing cards sideways most days, there is a good probability I will be there to see the place it takes me subsequent.