Blog: Analysing the unusual Magic: The Gathering MMO, Magic Legends

The next weblog put up, unless in every other case renowned, was as soon as written by a member of Gamasutra’s neighborhood.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are these of the writer and no longer Gamasutra or its parent firm.

Last week, Magic Legends (an Action RPG MMO in response to the Magic: The Gathering universe) started it’s Open Beta duration, and as an loyal MTG fanboy I had to personal a look at out it out.

After loads of hours casting spells and travelling thru planes killing every part that had a health bar, I judge I’ve viewed ample to personal a total knowing of the sport mechanics and what intentions for the sport are.

So when you happen to’re serene questioning for contributors that might perchance serene play or fine must know the fundamentals, here is my like a flash evaluation and predictions:


For contributors which might perchance be no longer conversant in it, we are able to account for Magic Legends as a free-to-play Diablo-tackle MMORPG essentially based in the stylish Magic: The Gathering collectible card game (about which I’ve already spoken at my weblog).

The game is available in PC in loads of shops including the Tale Store, and is predicted to be launched later in this twelve months in Psand Xbox.

Magic Legends has a be conscious-n-genuinely feel which strongly remind Diablo and varied Action RPGs (isometric pov, click on-to-attack, and a great deal of others).

The game is largely the latest MMO’s developed by Cryptic Studios (Star Scurry Online, Champions Online…), which is subsidiary of Excellent World Leisure (a video games writer genuinely expert on free-to-play MMORPGS).

These of us personal launched tons of MMOs, and are amongst the most realistic consultants on this style in the industry appropriate now.

A exiguous surprisingly, coming from devs worn to exercise a equivalent formula for many of their video games, Magic Legends either simplifies, eliminates or hides some aspects which might perchance be normal of MMORPGs tackle Guilds, Crafting, Merchandise Looting or Tradehouses.

As a substitute, it places a super focal level in the motion gameplay and persona development.


The game has a exiguous bit of an frankenstein effect, because it mixes mechanics from MMORPG, Action RPG and CCG:

  • From Action RPG, it gets the strive in opposition to system, which requires a high degree of micromanagement and a high actions-per-minute (APM) ratio.

    That is essentially since the participant needs to accommodate enemies and attack by clicking on them many instances (since the sport doesn’t lock enemies. Avid gamers must click on for every attack, tackle Diablo), as neatly as solid a unfold of skills which might perchance be as tense when it comes to timing, positioning as they might perchance be on a MOBA.

    A peculiarity when in contrast with most varied Action RPGs is the sport aspects a quantity of spells which summon companion creatures which allow you on the fight unless killed.

    A harmful level is that the visuals of the sport design it a exiguous bit refined to place enemies, which as soon as in some time are too neatly camouflaged with the ambiance.

    That is essentially problematic since the sport requires players to be repeatedly tapping on enemies to attack.

    The game might perchance’ve benefited from adding cell-shading graphics or some determined account for on devices (tackle League of Legends does), which might perchance help design them more recognizable.

An example of micromanagement: The Rending Throw (Q) skill of the inexperienced planeswalker launches a spinning axe to the enemy and requires the most realistic space to hit loads of enemies. Impartial like this, quite loads of the abilities require dexterity to maximize its mark.
  • From MMORPG, it gets both the instanced dungeons system that players can raid and grind solo or with others, and a unfold of upgrade axises (Equipment, Artifacts, Traits…).

    Curiously, the sport seems to lack the looter factor on the cases: Enemies quick depart as soon as killed, no longer shedding items, gold, and a great deal of others. As a substitute, it’s ending cases which grants rewards.

    This makes balancing more uncomplicated (designers can put endless enemies with out having to ache about the means dropped rewards), but can design the dungeons a exiguous bit unexciting, and might perchance potentially steal the principle interplay of players having to impart who retains the looted stuff.

Instanced Dungeons example: Beforehand achieved levels might perchance also be replayed with varied stutter & prerequisites. One way to maximize squawk material mark worn in Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter 5 too.
  • From collectible card video games (CCG) it gets spell deckbuilding, which is largely the most uncommon and innovative feature of Magic Legends.

    What’s that? On high of the couple of class-essentially based skills, the participant has a characteristic of casteable spells, which might perchance be impressed by the actual playing cards of the CCG.

    The spells loadout of the persona (deck) might perchance also be reconfigured earlier than the mission, so characters of the equivalent class might perchance personal very varied skills in response to the playing cards they’ve serene and added to the deck.

    One other attention-grabbing level of this deck is that the spells are no longer available all of the time: At any given level, the participant has up to 4 spells available (tackle her hand in MTG). Once the participant casts a spell, its slot shall be refilled with a unusual random card from the deck.

    So, as you would moreover see, this does personal a strong inspiration from the Hand & Deck relationship of the cardboard game.

    A closing level is that all these card spells personal a varied mana mark (which gets stuffed over time), and so introduces a extra layer of complexity on deckbuilding, in response to having to combine less precious more cost effective playing cards to help biking, and managing the truth that playing cards might perchance require mana from varied colors.

Deckbuilding in Magic Legends is more complex than skill setups on most MMORPGs and Action RPGS: The participant has to steal into consideration spell mana mark, colors, and a great deal of others…


Quite loads of the mechanics presented above seem somewhat though-provoking at a predominant stare, especially the postulate of deckbuilding your skills. Unfortunately, loads of of these mechanics be conscious better on paper than on fact, and the effect has been very criticised by followers.

Just a few of its points are:

  • Lack of attach watch over:  The way playing cards mechanic makes persona utilization very refined. Infrequently all I’ve are healing skills available and I’m casting them fine to cycle them out unless I way an offensive or creature spell.

    This makes the system very frustrating, and as a participant I’d prefer to restrict my deck to help away from any card rotation the least bit.

On high of this, since the spells belong to a colour, they’ll personal a equivalent look. So when presented on a dinky icon on camouflage and on an area that adjustments randomly, they’re very refined to distinguish. A lot of instances I’m casting the wicked spell.
  • Overwhelming micromanagement: Action RPGs and MOBAs are renowned for being very tense on dexterity from their players.

    However a minimum of in video games tackle League of Legends or Diablo, the abilities of a persona are repeatedly the equivalent, and as well they don’t cross round, so a participant can memorize the positions and combos. That is no longer that you just would moreover imagine on Magic Legends.

    Having to administer a giant range of semi-random showing skills arduous to distinguish between every varied is fine the tip of the iceberg of the complexity of the strive in opposition to system.

    The participant has to attach watch over also their mana prices, the positioning & route of the persona and spell casting, whereas repeatedly tapping on enemies to attack, on a high-tempo strive in opposition to… It’s fine too indispensable.

On account of this, my prediction is that the deckbuilding & way system will crawl away and get replaced by a extinct system: The participant shall be ready to equip ~8 skills, which is able to be repeatedly available with a cooldown.

Moreover for for the problematic card programs, the combo of mercurial paced motion gameplay on high of MMORPG seem to combine neatly for a means PVP mode, even though this aggressive layer appears to be like absent on the sport appropriate now.


By contrivance of monetization, the balance seems extremely aggressive: The smallest purchasable pack is 9.99$, whereas the most realistic is 199.99$, which is definitively no longer industry requirements on free-to-play in this day and age.

Then again it’s no longer most realistic the packs: Most in-game prices seem to range $10 to $25, which is somewhat expensive, and the sport even goals to to monetize on things tackle renaming a persona, which might perchance be aspects that in most cases are equipped to players free of charge in expose to fidelize them.

Infrequently, it’s no longer the more or less balance which fosters that unusual players build an extended duration of time customer relationship with a game.

Fragment of the aggressive monetization stutter is expounded to the truth that the arduous currency (ZEN) is shared between the full video games of Excellent World. Which contrivance that the ZEN from Magic Legends might perchance also be transferred and spent on Star Scurry Online.

At a predominant stare, this might perchance seem in an effort to add extra mark to the currency, but in fact it damages the replacement of adapt the economy of every game to the specifics of every of the video games: Star Scurry Online, a definite segment on the latter stages of its lifecycle, will doubtlessly require a more whale oriented formula to monetization than Magic Legends, which needs to hook payers and onboard them for a truly long time.

Additionally, this mark range contrivance that the sport is presumably no longer as effective concentrating on worldwide locations exterior T1 (which is uncommon given Magic’s huge world pull).

A key monetization element which I omit particularly is a subscription mannequin, which is a big monetization instrument on video games such as Elder Scrolls Online.

On ESO, the month-to-month subscription is sort of obligatory for any person who needs to play critically, because it grants advantages (endless crafting bag particularly…) the inability of which severely slows down grinding, but varied than that the rest of the purchases are mostly cosmetics (excluding squawk material enlargement packs).

As a substitute of a subscription mannequin, Magic Legends contains a Season Trip.

This feels less appropiate for a MMORPG because:

(1) it doesn’t provide permanent advantages,

(2) doesn’t personal a month-to-month paying periodicity and the price isn’t automatized and

(3) doesn’t slot in video games with a giant range of assorted available actions (be conscious, I’ve been having fun with for 2 hours and I personal 0% development!)

Infrequently, Magic Legends monetization system appears to be like very whale oriented (few payers that employ loads), reasonably than alive to about a out of the ordinary raise amount that is realistic by many of the sport neighborhood.

That is a mannequin corresponding to Cryptic’s very successful Star Scurry Online, but I genuinely feel it’s a inappropriate contrivance on this one, because:

  • It’s very out of touch with the normal market pricing. MTG: Arena, which shall we steal into consideration the major game of the franchise, is indispensable more cost effective and plenty more effective at attracting a greater target market.

    My affect is that such high prices will drive out the means target market.
  • As an IP, Star Scurry has some distance more recognizable characters than MTG.

    That is since the roster of characters in MTG is greater and with more evenly disbursed management than on Star Scurry.

    MTG has had loads of storylines over the route of the years, and switched the starring characters every few years.

    Which contrivance that less hardcore Star Scurry followers will acknowledge Captain Picard skin and a Constellation-class starship tackle TNG’s Challenge-D, but lesser followers of Magic might perchance no longer acknowledge Garruk, that might perchance even be unknown by of us that played on the 2000s, earlier than the persona creation.

IP & Story

While presumably no longer basically the most excessive self-discipline, I genuinely feel that on Magic Legends it’s very evident the weakness of the MTG IP: Followers are in esteem with the sport mechanics, but no longer basically with the characters, the story and its (loads of) worlds.

None of the settings of MTG personal been neatly explored since the characteristic rotation system makes them dissappear every determined time.

Indirectly, when it comes to worldbuilding, Magic Legends is presumably any generic fantasy surroundings. Key characters from the franchise (Nissa, Garruk, Nicol Bolas…) either seem doing transient cameos or are missing totally.

And since the franchise lacks make stronger on varied media (no TV & motion photos, no comics, no novels…), even though they did feature extensively they don’t personal recognizable personalities which the players can name.

Top 6 Best Horus Heresy Books in 2021 - Fourth & Sycamore
Video games Workshop was as soon as ready to popularize its IP and key characters (Primarchs, heroes…) thru the most realistic-selling Horus Heresy novels, which featured loads of high tier writers tackle Dan Abnett. This created a fixed and genuinely effective overarching yarn on Warhammer 40okay. MTG hasn’t achieved that but.

IMO, with out licensing into varied media which lets in to popularize the characters and surroundings, the potentialities for MTG to successfully exploit the IP previous the major card game shall be very shrimp.

Expose: I do know that MTG has books & comics, but none of these products has reached the recognition of Video games Workshop’s Horus Heresy novels, and as a consequence of this truth in MTG more players are conversant in the gaming mechanics than with the lore, which is the reverse that occurs with Warhammer 40okay.

We can must see what occurs as soon as the MTG TV series is launched, though.

In particular, the initiating of the sport & tutorial was as soon as somewhat unexciting: Perfect a day out thru a random dungeon with an nameless ally, following an nameless foe.

As a comparison, on Star Scurry Online, the academic is a series of quests which design you (amongst varied things) fail to defend a complete planet in opposition to a Borg invasion.

Beta Points

The game has also gotten some flak as a consequence of loads of points, which I take a look at to be mounted earlier than the end of the Beta duration.

While I’ve skilled a unfold of concerns (the cinematics felt somewhat broken, some in-game descriptions had been confusing), the bulk of the concerns belong to 2 classes:

  • Depraved efficiency. I personal a RTX 3070 and I deserve to play on Excessive graphics as another of Ultra since the FPS fall loads. It doesn’t even creep too neatly on Excessive.

    Even in Ultra, the graphics didn’t be conscious very impressive, and I felt that the sport was as soon as lacking when it comes to antialiasing.
  • Collision & Pathfinding points. I skilled many concerns with enemies and allies getting caught on a corner as a consequence of failed pathfinding and no longer attacking, and my persona attempting to creep in opposition to the wall.

    I wouldn’t steal into consideration these points game-breaking, and it’s the invent of thing I personal will receive mounted at some stage in the beta duration very quickly.

Final Concerns

My deepest knowing is that the sport will at remaining grow to a equivalent measurement to varied products from Excellent World & Cryptic. Though I don’t judge that with out a radical alternate of their monetization, gameplay and more areas it will crawl significatively previous what the rest of their titles personal achieved.

I might perchance personal fallen sufferer to the hype heartbreak, but I don’t judge that Magic Legends is (and even goals to be) a huge game that captivates audiences in the equivalent contrivance as World of Warcraft, and creates a unusual generation of MMORPGS.

I judge that the notion for the sport is to belong to a 2nd tier MMO tackle Star Scurry Online or Neverwinter Online, and captivate a dinky segment of hardcore followers from a definite segment IP. No more and a minimum of that.

As for the build of the sport appropriate now, I’d sigh that the reception wasn’t obvious and clearly has many things to shine (bugs, AI system, the cardboard way system might perchance serene be reviewed, efficiency must be improved, monetization might perchance serene be rebalanced…).

However despite the concerns the sport might perchance personal appropriate now, the MMORPG style is identified for its miraculous comebacks: The reception of Star Scurry OnlineElder Scrolls Online and, more no longer too long ago, Fallout 76 was as soon as blended to remark the least.

And but at remaining they had been ready to change into indispensable better and successful products.

The MMO style is corresponding to a marathon, so it’s arduous to clutch the long creep of a game in response to its launch.

Thanks for studying this article!

I wasn’t planning to write anything else in March (because this month’s article on the correct formula to charge in-game items has mutated exact into a talk for an upcoming conference… I’ll attach you posted on this), but I seen the replacement to write one thing like a flash with this game.

Particular thanks this time to Ken LandenChong AhnSteve Palley and the rest of the GameMakers neighborhood, which seen an early draft of this and gave me extra feedback & suggestions.

Additionally, you would moreover add me as a first price friend in Magic Legends as JBRIOT#11418

Related Articles

Back to top button