Last week I pondered if I as a Hearthstone player could advance to a more complex CCG like Magic. The answer was ultimately (spoilers) yes. With a proper introduction, Magic 2015 drew me in. But can it keep me?
I don’t think there was ever any real risk of abandoning Hearthstone for Magic entirely. If anything, I intended to play both simultaneously, swapping them out as the mood strikes. Thanks to the impending release of the Curse of Naxxramas expansion, Magic was given an even tougher task: to keep me coming back for its own unique qualities despite the allure of a Hearthstone expansion.
(I don't think it's any coincidence that Hearthstone's expansion is coming out so close to Magic, mind you. Blizzard is nothing if not clever.)
Magic isn't coming to the match unprepared. Over the last week I've found myself dipping into the two in almost equal measure, but for different reasons. Hearthstone is pure multiplayer, as I jump between Ranked and Casual matches, trying different deck strategies or honing my skills with one I'm satisfied with. As someone who only occasionally gets into multiplayer shooters, it reminds me of that sensation. It's relaxing, even when facing off against tough opponents, to know your strategy and to execute it.
Duels of the Planeswalkers certainly has a multiplayer component, but it hasn't attracted me in the same way. Perhaps because I'm still getting a handle on my cards, I've stuck more with the single-player content. Fortunately, this is a trait Magic has in spades, and that Hearthstone lacks for the time being.
Even after finishing the main quest areas to complete the campaign, I was happy to dive back into the single-player portion to grind for cards. The Collection screen helpfully outlines the percentage of cards you've obtained, and you can always gain more by exploring the planes to earn more card packs. The post-completion battles are unique on their own, bringing up distinct combat puzzles not found in the main game. The completionist in me immediately resolved to collect 100% of each card type--except perhaps Premium cards, which can only be obtained by buying boosters.
Having a task to complete tends to keep me motivated, and along the way I'm making my deck better and honing skills for multiplayer. The plan, ultimately, is to dive into multiplayer more completely, once I feel better prepared. That gameplay loop has kept me going, making sure I earn a pack or two per day alongside my Hearthstone daily quests.
Naxxramas poses a threat to this too, though. Obviously the new sets of cards will be the focal point long-term, but to earn those cards you'll have to play through single-player content. Blizzard has promised this will force new ways of thinking and building your decks to specialize against these overpowered foes. It's not entirely unique, seeing as it sounds exactly like the aspect of Magic that keeps drawing me back. As Naxx looms large, though, I'm wondering if I'll keep my resolve towards catching "em" all in Magic when my comfort-food game offers a similar mechanic.
I sincerely hope it does. Despite feeling more out of my depth in Magic, I've really enjoyed my time with it. I want to differentiate my card games, and I'd like to learn more about the one with a more enduring legacy. That makes this week critical for my newfound Magic habit. Naxxramas' month-long roll-out will lead me straight into the busy autumn release season. If Magic loses me now, it probably won't get me back.