Magic: The Gathering has been around since 1993, spanning twelve core sets and dozens of expansions. Sony Online Entertainment's Magic: The Gathering - Tactics draws upon these thousands of cards in the MtG library and introduces a classic video game strategy system to the mix. VG Chartz went on the behind-closed-doors booth tour for SOE to get a hands-on preview of the newest way to battle your fellow planeswalkers.
We started off looking at how you build your initial load-out before heading into combat. Tactics doesn't use a deck, lands for mana, or traditional card-drawing. Rather, you have slots to assign creatures and spells. These are all available to you so long as you have the mana to spend on them. More slots unlock as you level up your planeswalker.
Your planeswalker is your character for Tactics. He or she is similar to a king on a chess board. It is a piece on the board with its own attack and defense skills, but losing the planeswalker means losing the game. The planeswalker is also the origin of all your spells and your creatures have to be summoned adjacent to the planeswalker.
Your creatures have movement, attack, and defense stats as well as many of their abilities from the classic card game. Not everything is the same, however, since changing the game from CCG to strategy would leave many spells and creatures unbalanced. We did get to see the iconic Serra Angel, still white, flying, and first strike.
The alpha demo we saw featured a very small arena with little in the way of tactical impedance. While lands are not present in the classic Magic: The Gathering sense, the arenas take place on the five basic lands and have effects on the game. There will also be trenches, walls, and bodies of water to change how players use their creatures and spells.
While still a ways off from release, Magic: The Gathering - Tactics is looking to bring a very new experience to the storied card game franchise while still trying to retain the essence of Richard Garfield's original vision.