Magic the Gathering is one of the most popular tabletop card games around. It’s also not the most easy to jump into as a new player. Magic the Gathering—Puzzle Quest is a combination of the card game and the easy to learn puzzle role-playing game.
When Puzzle Quest was released back in 2007, no one would have guessed it would resonate with players as much as it did. In fact it became an unexpected hit, garnering great reviews and selling a lot more copies than predicted. Puzzle Quest’s gameplay is simple. You play a match-three game, similar to Bejeweled, that gives your hero attacks and abilities to help them progress with in the game.
When I went to check out the game at PAX Prime, Benjamin Paquette, the creative director of the developer, asked me if I had played Magic or Puzzle Quest. When I told him I knew nothing about Magic, but had played a lot of Puzzle Quest, he was surprised. “Usually it’s the other way around,” he said. But at least there was enough an interest in Magic from the makers of Puzzle Quest to get the game going.
“We’ve been looking at working together for a while because we think the two are a great fit for each other,” Paquette said. Combining the card game with the puzzle game does actually make a lot of sense. Since you were gaining attacks and other options in for your hero in Puzzle Quest already, replacing that with cards is kind of a no-brainer. But at the same time complicating the gameplay with too much Magic-specific content could be a bad thing.
“We don’t want to overwhelm players who aren’t familiar with Magic,” Paquette said. That’s why the “decks” are pre-built with all the cards you’ll need if you don’t want to delve deeper into the Magic gameplay. Of course, seasoned Magic players have the option to take more control over their deck.
During my time with the game, I found it to be the perfect level of complexity. You choose one of five heroes (called Plainswalkers for those familiar with Magic) with a specific deck. All heroes have stats related to the colors you match in the puzzle game. For example, making a match with white orbs might be beneficial to your hero, while a red match might be bad. Making matches gives you cards, many of which are summoned creatures. As you make more matches, these creatures will attack the enemy’s creatures and eventually the enemy himself if he has no creatures.
As a fan of Puzzle Quest with a mild curiosity about Magic, this game looks pretty promising to me. It’s fun and it might just teach me something about Magic in the process.