Magic: The Gathering Tactics (PC) Review

Ten Ton Hammer
Ten Ton Hammer Rating

Multiplayer - 65 / 100

magic the gathering tactics
You will want to maximixe your skill trees when dueling other players.
Multiplayer in Tactics requires the accumulation of both a great deal of cards and a versatile set of strategies. If you want to face other people, you have two options: you can choose to do a pick up game or you can enter a tournament. Pick up games are fast and accessible, but if you’re working with a glorified starter deck, prepare to get rolled.

As for tournaments, Tactics have 3 different styles: open, constructed, and booster. For each tournament, there is an entry fee and prizes. Special cards and booster packs are the normal rewards. However, the costs of entering a tournament are pretty high (30 gold for constructed, 20 gold and 3 boosters for a draft, and a gold per game for open – which is up to 16 games), so unless you’re willing to grind daily quests and get a large amount of gold from selling that rare on the auction house, you’ll just be doing one-on-one pick up duels.

I would give Tactics a high score for multiplayer because it is extremely easy to get a game going against other people. But I must lower my score because if you don’t acquire a lot of cards to make some really good decks, you will be destroyed again and again against other players with highly tuned decks. There's no getting around it; money matters.

Value - 50 / 100

While the initial game is free-to-play, you will find yourself endlessly frustrated if you don’t spend money on the game. Booster packs contain 10 cards and cost 399 points, which is $3.99 (the same price as a printed pack of Magic cards, inexplicably). If you buy in serious bulk, you get a small (11%) discount if you buy 24 packs at a time. While the campaigns are a reasonable $5 for the gameplay they give, you still won’t be able to accomplish much of anything without buying additional cards.

magic the gathering tactics
The auction house. You'll be using it.
This might be excusable, except for the fact that trading between players is barred from the game (to discourage the secondary market), and the auction house extracts a 15% fee every time you set up an auction. This makes trusted trading - i.e. posting a card for an outrageous amount of money so that a friend can pick it up and (hopefully) return the money - a losing proposition.

Good cards (rare or better) on the auction house run from 40 to over a 100 gold. You start the game out with 20 gold and you can grind out a few gold per day per daily quest. If you're willing to go fairly one-dimensional (sticking with a solid two-color strategy and auctioning off the rest of your purchased deck), it's possible to construct a decent deck with about what you'd spend on a triple-A game at retail.

However, that 20 gold quickly goes away if you want to play in any kind of tournament. Do badly in a tournament and you'll end up with nothing to show for it except emptier pockets. You can buy more gold using station cash at 50 gold per 500 station cash, which equates to ten cents per gold.

In this respect, Tactics is just like the original trading card game. If you don’t spend money to accumulate a lot of cards to make a variety of decks, then you’ll learn how to lose on a regular basis. If you’re extremely patient, you can keep the costs down by grinding and using the auction house. If you’re impatient or want to have killer spellbooks right away, this game can quickly become a money pit.

Lasting Appeal - 65 / 100

Top-tier talents will reward level-capped players with some nigh win-button skills, but once you hit level cap there is limited lasting appeal for Tactics. No monthly subscription and a low hard drive footprint mean that you can jump in occasionally to get your Magic fix, then return to your regularly scheduled programming. But while you keep the cards that you win or buy for your spellbook, the fact is that unless you're on the bleeding edge competitively or don’t mind grinding dailies, I personally don’t see the desire to play MTGT seriously on a regular basis.

Add to that the fact that you have only a single planeswalker for your account. While you can create different spellbooks and save them, you’re unable to change your skill trees without re-speccing them. While the cost is small to do so (2 gold), it’s a big hassle if you want to switch from a black-favoring planeswalker to a blue-favoring one. There is talk of adding the ability to save different specs in the future or perhaps tying skill trees to spellbooks, but for the time being, you’re stuck with the hassle.

Pros and Cons

  • Basic gameplay is fun
  • Good graphics and sounds
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • One Planeswalker per account - switching colors (especially in terms of talents) is a major hassle.
  • No cost-free mechanism for card trading.
  • When it comes to cash and casual players, MTGT works a swindle that Jace would be proud of.


Magic: The Gathering – Tactics is a mixed bag. The basic gameplay is extremely fun and well designed. The graphics are vibrant and amusing whilst the sounds add to the game. The interface is well designed and easy to navigate. However, the fact that the game requires a good deal of money or a lot of time grinding to be competitive really hurts the game.

I don’t mind spending money on good games. Game companies need to make money to make cool games for me to play. But paying four bucks for 10 virtual cards is a lot, especially when you don't know what you're going to get. You're guaranteed a rare per pack, but the odds are you won't get the color you want. The fact that you’ll have to grind dailies for at least a week to be able to afford decent cards off the auction house is a catch-22. You need to finish the campaigns to unlock the daily quest, and to finish the campaigns, you need a really good spellbook. If the prices were somewhat lower, that might reduce the sting a bit. Overall, the amount of money you’ll need to spend overall to be competitive in this game mirrors the real world trading card game, and unlike the TCG, you can't even trade cards with friends without a hefty auction fee.

Overall 65/100 - Average


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