Game Review: Wizards of the Coast – Garruk’s Revenge (Duels of the Planeswalker)

Garruk’s Revenge
Garruk’s Revenge is an expansion to Duels of the Planeswalker for Magic 2015.
By Christopher J.N. Banks
3. Gameplay

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Garruk pushed his massive, muscular form steadily through branches and vines. Entire trees snapped and the marsh waters swirled as he pressed forward. A few meters in front of him a man, once a powerful Planeswalker, floundered and stumbled away as quick as he could will his legs to move. The chase, if you could call it that, for it was really just Garruk enjoying the preamble to the kill, lasted only a minute or two more. Finally, exhausted and gasping for breath, the man turned and fell to his knees, half submerged in the grimy water. “Garruk, you have to listen, the curse!” The Planeswalker’s words ended in a horrid scream as Garruk took one final step forward and swept his massive axe across where the man’s head had been. Garruk’s visage spread into a smile as the bloodlust overwhelmed him. He let out a primal, rage-filled growl. The multiverse trembled.

Magic 2015 is back with its first mini-expansion. Garruk’s Revenge spins the plot on the original and puts you in the role of Garruk himself as he stalks across the plane of Alara hunting his foes. I was excited to jump back into my Planeswalker, but slightly disappointed in what I found. The story mode forces you to use Garruk’s deck, which I guess makes sense given you are taking on the Planeswalker’s role, but does not allow for any deck customization. Instead, as you progress, your deck slowly builds in power automatically. The plot is thin and short, only five levels to play before the narrative concludes. To top it off the conclusion left me unfulfilled like a teenage boy at a church dance.

As you progress you gain booster packs that you will eventually use with your own deck, but not until you’ve tracked down all of Garruk’s foes with his deck. This acts as a sort of delayed gratification as you won’t be using those new cards with Garruk. Of course, you don’t have to wait long, as the expansion is only 5 levels, which can be completed in just under an hour or so. Even then, the 50 or so unlocked cards are nice, but don’t exactly dramatically change your card pool. However, some of the new cards fit nice into my little agro, white weenie deck, and the exalted mechanic strengthened it further.

Visually and audibly the game didn’t change in the slightest. It still uses the same UI, which I rather enjoy and think it actually a step forward in online Magic. I wouldn’t be bothered if Magic the Gathering Online (MTGO) used Magic 2015’s UI instead of its own. But, I digress.

The best thing this expansion did was get rid of the so called premium boosters which previously held certain cards that could only be unlocked with micro transactions. Now, those same cards can be unlocked simply by winning multiplayer games. This is a great step forward and I like to think the backlash against pay-to-win cards was so great that the Magic yearly series won’t step into that realm again. Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro even did fans of the series a solid by making the expansion free if you previously purchased the premium booster set.

If you do journey into the multiplayer realm, don’t ever expect to finish a game. I played 22 matches and my opponent ended up quitting in all but 4 of them, sometimes after the initial card draw and mulligan. Not surprisingly, those 4 games I completed were the four I lost. I understand the desire to concede if the game is lost, but conceding because your starting hand isn’t perfect hindered my multiplayer experience. It would be nice if there was some sort of rating system they could tie into monthly card rewards to combat this. I’m probably asking too much here for a base game. I guess I’m just used to people slugging it out for every win opportunity when drafts cost real money on MTGO.

Finally, Garruk and his revenge brought with us achievements to unlock, which, if nothing else, are a fun way to entertain yourself. The expansion didn’t add much, but at $4.99 I wasn’t really expecting much. In the future, I’d probably wait for a Steam sale to pick up additional expansions. But, if you need more Magic or were especially fond of Alara (one of the best draft formats in recent history), then the expansion is probably right up your ally.

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