HomeReviews1.5/5 ReviewMagic Nations - Strategy Card Game Review

Magic Nations – Strategy Card Game Review

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Magic Nations may advertise itself as a card game, but it’s a mirage. There’s the promise of a card game, but just as you sit down to play it, it wafts away on the breeze.

What are we talking about? Good question. Let’s begin with the price. This is a game that is £12.49. Remember this price, because it informs everything that follows. 

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Now, we settled down to play Magic Nations – Strategy Card Game and immediately got a daily login bonus. A tiny red flag waved in our peripheral vision but fine, sure, we’ll take some free stuff. Then we played the tutorial. We’re unsure, but this might be the least fit-for-purpose tutorial that we’ve encountered in recent memory. It’s basically a game of Catchphrase: it reveals one small portion of the bigger picture and expects you to comprehend the complete game. It’s utter cobblers.

Still, we dived into the Campaign, playing as the default orc faction. The gameplay was simple enough (we’ll get into the game itself later), and we won the first game, and then the second and third. We were beginning to master the tactics, no thanks to the tutorial, and our XP and levels were going up. 

But then the fourth mission in the campaign hit, and we had our asses handed to us. A message proudly scoffed that the recommended power level for the mission was 2000 or higher, and we were well below that (power levels, it turns out, increase with the XP we gain). Okay, so we looked at the other campaigns, as there is one for each faction – orcs, humans, dwarves, elves, amazons and necromancers. As it turns out, only the orcs and elves are available on launch – the rest are due ‘at a later date’. Okaaaay, that red flag was waving a little more visibly now, but we pressed on. The elf campaign was 2400 coins – a kind of soft currency in Magic Nations – and we were given just about enough to purchase it with our £12.49 payment. So, purchase it we did.

The first elf mission trashed us harder than the orc campaign did, because we needed a power level of 3000 for this one – 1000 more than the previous one. We had just spent all our coins on a campaign that was irrelevant to us, and our currency vault was empty. So, what was left? Replaying missions netted us absolutely nothing. And the daily login system was exactly that – daily. It wouldn’t help us get better for a week or so.

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‘Quick Game’ was our only option, and this took us into the online multiplayer sphere. The player-count proudly notified us that 34 players were playing, but we never met them. Instead Magic Nations tried to make our opponents seem like players, but it was quickly clear that we were being paired with bots (they played on time and speedily, so couldn’t possibly be human). Infuriatingly, we were always matchmade with bots that were the nearest five levels to us. Which was fine while we were at the lower levels, but soon became problematic at level 8 or so. We were matched with level 10s, who had both higher power levels but also vastly superior cards. Losing gave us token XP and gold, so Houston – we had a problem. 

Magic Nations requires you to have a good deck, which means gold to purchase cards; and a high power level, which means playing games. So, you’re grinding losses for a thin drizzle of a reward, in the hope that it unlocks a card every five or six games. We shouldn’t forget that there are six decks here, too, one for each faction, so you have to do this dance six times over if you want to see everything Magic Nations has to offer. 

Magic Nations would have been a hard sell, even as a free-to-play game. It pushes scraps of reward under your door and expects you to subsist on them, and it’s nowhere near enough. It doesn’t have anywhere near enough content to slowly graduate you through the game, so you’re left grinding losses (and the occasional miraculous win) against bots, so that you can reach one of the few milestone campaign missions. And then you’re doing it again for the elves, while you wait patiently for campaigns that are promised in the future, but aren’t there yet. 

You can buy cards and booster packs, but the best cards are roughly £25 to purchase. £25! Remember that £12.49 asking price? As reviewers, we should focus on the game rather than the monetary model, but – heavens to Betsy – Magic Nations’ pricing is a giant gold-plated statue of an ‘up yours’ sign. 

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There’s a card game underneath it all, of course, but it’s mediocre at best. You have creatures, and only creatures, and they have attack, health and armour. Armour is just more health, really, so there’s only two stats on a given card. You attack, it chips off health; a creature dies, you replace it with another creature, until one side has no creatures left. There are a few smaller intricacies, but they don’t amount to much. Without any cards to play beyond creatures, this is the barest of card gaming bones, and it’s comfortably the most leaden card game we have played in recent years.

Without spells or other cards to mix things up, just monsters, it means that the horrible free-to-playness of Magic Nations rears its head again. Common cards have low stats, and can’t hope to compete. Rare, expensive cards have higher stats. If you want to compete, you need the rarer cards, and that means grinding for dozens of hours or putting down £25 for a card that will only work in one of the six decks on offer. 

Even as a free-to-play game, Magic Nations would have stunk. It has a Scrooge-like approach to rewarding you: it’s a thin trail of breadcrumbs to some slightly larger breadcrumbs. But Magic Nations is £12.49, which gets you a mediocre card game strapped to a microtransaction system that EA would have dismissed. At least you get to play other players in FIFA Ultimate Team; in Magic Nations, your reward is dull losses against a queue of bots. 

We have no qualms in saying that you absolutely, positively should not be tempted to invest that £12.49. It’s a trap.

You can buy Magic Nations from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

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