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Video Game / Magic: The Gathering

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Several video games based on Magic: The Gathering have been made for various systems, falling into one of two categories: either direct adaptations of the card game into a digital format, or games that draw on the setting and characters more than the card game itself. Because of the complex rules and ever-evolving supply of expansions and cards to adapt, programming the A.I. of these games can be exceedingly difficult and require frequent updates.

List of Video Game Adaptations

Tropes found in the video games:

  • A.I. Breaker: While the AI of the Microprose game isn’t very smart by itself, it does seem to understand the game… until you play Black Vise. At this point the computer will do whatever it takes to reduce its own hand, even if the move itself is worse than just taking the damage or even if there's an obvious, obviously better move (using a card to kill his own creatures when he can kill yours, for example), and even if it's well below the four-card safe range.
    • We can do you one better: The enemy A.I will also do similar moves if it's above the seven card limit. And there are a few decks that can eliminate enemy lands with ease. Therefore, mana lock him, and he will be enchanting your creatures with Holy Strength in no time.
    • Also, while no pre-built deck combines Spellbook (no hand size limit) with Ivory Tower (Gain life every turn equal to the cards in hand minus four), should YOU make one and the computer gets both those cards on the field, he will proceed to play NOTHING.
  • A.I. Roulette: On the other hand, the computer has a particular talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory because it randomly selects its moves. It's particularly amusing to see it countering its own spells.
  • Artificial Brilliance: For Duel of the Planeswalkers, the programmers had a very difficult task in programming an AI that could deal with all the rule-changing cards of the game itself (and there are possibly more of them than in any other card game because of Magic's "Golden Rule", which states that the text of a card takes priority over the rest of the rules). Seemingly they succeeded. This refers mostly to the second game by that name and publisher. While the first game's AI was a remarkable achievement for its time, there was no way to provide it with hints on how to play specific decks, rendering a number of monsters crippled in the single-player game (their difficulty was instead balanced though life handicapping and chance of A.I. Roulette). (It also tended to cast any playable spell as soon as possible, and assume you have no castable spells, a greater weakness given the longer games 5th Edition tended towards.)
    • Also, despite cases of Artificial Stupidity mentioned above, Microprose game was capable of some very impressive plays, some of which even human players wouldn't think of, like using Jump to counter Basilisk + Lure combo note  or using Firebreathing on your creatures with Meekstone note . The former is even more impressive, since AI is reacting to the player having *just* this particular setup in play.
  • Allegedly Free Game: Arena advertises that it's free to download and play. However, befitting the card game the game is based on, you must buy booster packs to add to your collection to customize your original setup. Of course, most of the demographic that the game is aimed at expected they play the card game the game is based on.
    • Oh, and you need to spend real money to buy more chapters of the story mode. Much like Star Chamber.
    • Online also charges real-world money for in-game cards and for tournaments that give out prizes. Once you have the cards, though, "casual" play is free.
    • Magic Online works more-or-less exactly like the paper game, barring the availability of some older cards. It's not intended as a self-contained game so much as a client for playing the card game online.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: The Microprose game used wizard ones:
    Apprentice - start with 10 life, one color, enemies have X life
    Magician - start with 8 life, two colors, enemies have X+Y life
    Sorceror - start with 6 life, three colors, enemies have X+2Y life
    Wizard - start with 4 life, four colors, enemies have X+3Y life
    • You could further adjust difficulty by choosing your color; red, green, and white were easier than black and blue, just because of the low life totals.

  • One-Eyed Bats: The Eye bat creature from the Strixhaven: School of Mages set. It is a small, black bat with scruffy fur, red wings and a singular eye at the center.