One of the most exciting new features in Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers is the sealed mode. For the first time in the series, players can build a deck from cards randomly drawn from booster packs and try their luck against other players or the single player sealed campaign. Eager to try it out, I went straight into it after starting up the game for the first time.
My initial packs were not impressive. I didn’t get a single mythic rare card in any of them, and the rares I did get were underwhelming (kind of like my luck when buying real cards). Still, playing with cards you might not normally use is part of the appeal of this kind of deck building, so I made the best of it and put together a white and black deck. There were not enough cards to form a single color deck from my starting grabs, but that didn’t seem to be a problem for my first opponent in the sealed campaign who played with a single colored blue deck.
By the end of the battle I was sure of one thing: my opponent’s deck was not formed from a random set of boosters. This was clearly a pre-designed 40 card deck. How disappointing. I had initially hoped to enjoy playing through Sealed Mode over and over again, facing unpredictable opponents and using different cards every time. Instead, it turns out the campaign consists of a series of battles against six mono-colored pre-designed decks.
Now there are several pieces of bad news and one piece of good news. The good news is that you unlock 3 additional booster packs while playing through the campaign. The first item of bad news is that once you’ve unlocked the last of those boosters, that’s it; you won’t be getting any more cards. If you want to try again with a new random set of cards, you will have to use the second of your two save slots. After that, you have to spend $2 to buy an additional save slot. Now here’s the really bad news: You cannot delete a save file in the sealed mode of Magic 2014.
I’m going to say that again: You cannot delete a save file in the sealed mode of Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers, and you are only provided with two save slots. Once you’ve played through them, you CANNOT play through the mode again from the beginning unless you spend more money. It’s as though a game mode you paid for is no longer available to you.
As far as I’m concerned, this is nothing short of a bait and switch, and I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty upset about it.
It’s like the developers completely misunderstood what makes playing a sealed format fun in the first place. The fun of sealed formats in real life Magic: The Gathering is building a deck from a random set of cards and playing it against decks built in the same way. Once the tournament is over, the resulting deck is not important at all, and is almost always dismantled. Yet in this game, players are forced to keep those decks even after completing the campaign and are prevented from enjoying the fun of drawing new cards again without spending more money. The only thing a player can do with their sealed mode deck once they are done with the campaign is try it against another player’s sealed deck. Of course, if you happen to get bad cards locked into both of your save files, that’s not going to be much fun either.
What can I say? This is a total disaster. I reached out to Wizards of the Coast on the subject, but did not receive any reply. What should be the most exciting new feature in Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers is instead a shameful blemish on an otherwise enjoyable title. For what it’s worth, the game plays well, and I will go into that in more detail in the full review. At $10, this is still a great value to fans of the series and the card game. But you might want to pretend that the sealed mode isn’t included if you decide to spend the money. For more on Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers, check out our review.