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Magic: The Gathering - Battlegrounds is a real-time strategy battle game for the PC and Xbox based on the well-known Collectible Card Game of the same name. Developed by Secret Level and published by by Atari in 2003, it bears little resemblance to its parent in terms of gameplay - rather than a turn-based card game, players take part in a dynamic and fast-paced Wizard Duel using a small selection of spells and creatures.


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Battlegrounds features these tropes:

  • Actually a Doombot: According to Word Of God the Mishra faced in this game wasn't actually the real Mishra, but rather a rogue sleeper agent.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: At the end of the day, all of the characters might as well be props, since this has no conncetion to MTG's actual plot.
    • Adaptational Heroism: Akroma seems to be treated as a slave and happily departs when defeated. In contrast to the fanatic whose only purpose in life was to kill an admitely evil person, no matter the cost.
    • Adaptational Jerkass:: Arcanis is a complete cipher in the card game, while the Arcanis of Battlegrounds is a Smug Super Insufferable Genius.
    • Adaptational Villainy: Ihsan is not an outright good guy, but his evil actions were done against his will due to Baron Sengir's control over him. Sengir doesn't exist here, and he spouts generic Card-Carrying Villain crap.
  • A.I. Roulette: Since he doesn't use Mana to activate his spells, this is one of the few saving graces players have against Mishra. At any given time he could summon one Elvish Warrior or five Havoc Demons.
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  • Anti-Air: Green's Giant Spider is the only ground creature in the game that can attack fliers.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • The Red creature Retromancer deals damage to any player that targets it with sorceries, including its owner.
    • Blue has the sorcery Counterspell, which cancels out any spell your opponent is attempting to cast, provided you're quick on the draw.
    • The sorceries Tranquility and Demystify (Green and White, respectively) are the only spells that can destroy enchantments.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Most damage can be reduced by a duelist's shield, but Soul Feast drains 4 life whether the enemy duelist is shielding or not.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: 'Trample', an ability exclusive to Green, allows creatures to immediately move on to a new target after destroying an enemy, only respawning after directly damaging the opposing player.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Dual-colored decks. The obvious advantage is that you have greater flexibility when designing your deck, and certain colors complement each-other nicely. The disadvantage is that each color uses its own, separate mana bar for casting - effectively halving your mana accumulation and therefore making expensive, high-tier spells nearly useless in all but the most lengthy matches.
  • Big Bad: Mishra.
  • Big "NO!": The Black duelist Keroc exclaims this after being defeated.
  • Blood Knight: Maraxus even helpfully spells this quality about himself out for players when announcing that he hungers for the blood of those he will conquer. Kuldan doesn't literally hunger for blood, but he also can't wait to humiliate his foes in battle.
  • Blow You Away: Black's DLC spell, Plague Wind, destroys all non-Black creatures. The Black DLC creature, Reiver Demon, also has this effect when first summoned.
  • Boss Rush: The final chapter of Quest mode is a series of rematches with the boss characters, followed by Tsabo Tavoc and Mishra.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Carnophage and Juzam Djinn, both low-to-mid-tier Black creatures, drain a single life point from their controller whenever they respawn. While Black has plenty of sorceries dedicated to rejuvenating health, these creatures can quickly become an outright liability if a Blue duelist starts spamming Unsummon to force constant respawns.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Avatar of Might - the most powerful Green creature in the base game - normally costs eight mana to summon. However, if your opponent has five or more creatures on the field and you have none, the Avatar will instead only cost two mana.
  • Counterspell: A Blue sorcery that only costs one mana to cast, and thus is among the fastest and cheapest spells in the game. Casting it instantly cancels any spell the enemy duelist is in the midst of channeling, leaving the mana wasted. Perfect for pre-empting high-cost creatures or devastating sorceries like Overrun, grinding down the opponent's mana bar, or just annoying him.
  • Cumulonemesis: Air Elemental, one of Blue's strongest creatures, is essentially an animated cloud.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Zayel, one of the Blue duelists, is never seen wearing shoes or sandals.
  • The Dragon: Tsabo Tavoc.
  • Downloadable Content: Ten DLC spells were released on the original Xbox Live, two for each color. All the DLC spells were high cost and extremely powerful, and with Xbox Live for the original Xbox shut down in 2010 this content was Lost Forever.
  • Dull Surprise: Not that the protagonist's voice acting is ever particularly emotive, but the reaction she has to her mentor's betrayal at the end of the game is notably flat and wooden.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Mishra has a gravelly, smokes-too-many-Phyrexian-cigars rasp of a voice.
  • Fiery Redhead: Kuldan and Volita. Fittingly, they're both Red duelists. The Warrior Angel, one of White's higher-tier fighting creatures, is also a redhead.
  • Giant Spider: Green's Giant Spider.
  • Harmless Freezing: The Blue sorcery Deluge and DLC-only Blue sorcery Time Stretch paralyze creatures (and in the latter case, enemy duelists themselves!) for a set period of time.
  • Healing Winds: White's DLC sorcery, Blessed Wind, resets its caster's life total to 20. Great when comboed with White's DLC creature, Serra Avatar, which has a power and toughness equal to its controller's life total.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Wrath of God - a White sorcery that instantly destroys all creatures on the field.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Each character can taunt as a gameplay mechanic, with 3 different lines apiece.
  • Increasingly Lethal Enemy: Do not send Suntail Hawks or Wind Drakes up against a Sengir Vampire. All they'll do is make the Vampire stronger.
  • Intangibility: Blue's DLC creature, Tidal Kraken, is functionally intangible, as it cannot be blocked by any other creatures. Period.
  • In the Hood: Arcanis the Omnipotent wears a face-obscuring hood at all times.
  • Killer Gorilla: Green gives us Gorilla Chieftain and Ancient Silverback.
  • Lizard Folk: The Red creature Retromancer is a Viashino, the traditional MTG Lizard Folk race.
  • Life Drain: The Black spells Vicious Hunger and Soul Feast can drain life points from creatures and the opposing duelist, restoring the caster by an equal amount.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: In the story mode cutscene, Arcanis's arena (Mestidin College) collapses after he is defeated.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Maraxus of Keld.
  • Mana Drain: Mana Short, an upper-tier Blue spell that depletes your opponent's entire mana bar.
  • Mass Hypnosis: Red's DLC sorcery. Insurrection, takes control of all the enemy duelist's creatures and sets them to attacking their summoner.
  • One-Hit Kill: Green's DLC sorcery, Biorhythm, resets each duelist's life total to the number of creatures they control. Since each duelist can only control 5 creatures max at a time, that means the life total is going down to five minimum, and if the duelist has no creatures on the field at all, it's game over for them.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Warrior Angel and Angel of Retribution, as White creatures. Among the duelists, we have Arkoma, the Angel of Wrath.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Defiant Elf, Warrior Elf and Llanowar Elf, as Green creatures. Tenera and Entorin are elvish duelists.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Red has Volcanic Dragon, and Blue has Wind Drake and Fighting Drake.
  • Our Genies Are Different: Juzam Djinn for Black and Mahamoti Djinn for Blue.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Red magic gives us Raging Goblin, Goblin Hero, Goblin Sky-Raider and Goblin King.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: For Black, we have Krovikan Vampire (ground, resurrects defeated enemies under its owner's control) and Sengir Vampire (flying, gains extra strength and toughness for every enemy it kills).
  • Plant Person: Multani the Maro-Sorcerer.
  • Playing with Fire: Red, naturally, gives us the sorceries Engulfing Flames, Scorching Missile and Inferno, which all deal immediate damage.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Red duelists - Kuldan, Volita and Maraxus - are all explicitly warriors. They even carry swords rather than the magical staffs favored by most other characters.
  • Reviving Enemy: Any creature with the Regeneration mechanic is this as long as its controller has the two mana to regenerate it.
  • Secret Level: As the developer for this game was actually called "Secret Level", it shouldn't be a surprise that they snuck one into the game. Sadly, it's not all that interesting visually, nor does it have a unique battle theme (reusing the final boss theme instead).
  • Self-Damaging Attack Backfire: The Black sorcery Hellfire and Red sorcery Inferno both inflict damage on the caster as well as the enemy and their creatures.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: 'First Strike', exclusive to White, is a creature ability that allows your creatures to instantly kill any enemy that has toughness equal to or lower than your creature's strength.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Red's Magma Giant releases a shockwave whenever it is summoned, doing 2 damage to each duelist and each creature. Great for when the AI is spamming the very overused Suntail Hawk + Warrior's Honor combo.
  • Spider People: Tsabo Tavoc is a Phyrexian with a humanoid upper body and the lower body of a mechanical spider.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: The Blue enchantment Cowardice is essentially a continuous version of this, as it causes any creature targeted by a sorcery to respawn, neutering users of Guided Strike, Reckless Charge, or Giant Growth (among others). This effects the caster's creatures as well, however.
  • The AI Is A Cheating Bastard: In Quest mode, the enemy duelist will regenerate Mana much faster than you can, even if you mash that 'Y' button until it breaks.
  • This Cannot Be!: Akroma's line upon defeat, verbatim.
  • Transflormation: In the story mode cutscene, Multani is transformed into a tree after the boss battle with him.
  • Under Boobs: Zayel.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The Blue sorcery Spelljack. On paper it sounds really cool, allowing you to steal an enemy duelist's spell as they cast it and take it for your own. In practice, most spells cast faster than Spelljack, making it useless unless a duelist is casting a really strong, really slow spell like Soul Feast or Overrun.
  • Weaponized Offspring: Green's DLC creature, the Living Hive, spawns a 1/1 green insec creature for each 1 damage it inflicts on the enemy duelist.
  • When Trees Attack: Green's Rushwood Elemental.
  • Wizard Duel: Even moreso than its parent franchise, due to the players actively running around a small arena and casting spells in real-time.
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