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MAGIC the GATHERING players who cannot find enough face to face opponents or who cannot get enough of this
amazing collectible / trading card game should look into playing MAGIC 2014 online, either using the PC or one of
the major consoles.

Once you have played a number of games against the in-game opposition you will have opened different realms and
new achievements. Of course you need to win games to unlock these bonuses.


The Expansion opens up with a background story and then offers you the choice of CAMPAIGN or CHALLENGES.
Once you have made your selection, a realm is opened, in Campaign for me it was INNISTAD and in Challenges it
was ALARA, and you can see you first opponent or a selection of challenges.

Choose your fight and look at the battlefield before accepting if you wish. Then your deck is shuffled, your hand dealt
and you are offered a mulligan if you don't like the draw. Magic then ensues according to the rules of the card game, but
with minor effects graphics, moving cards etc. You may not actually be holding real cards but you are playing real MtG.

Innistrad has several planes that unlock as you complete the previous one. These are your opponents:  Moorland Zombies,
Skirsdag Cultists, Angry Mob, Avacyn's Glory, you also have to unlock Planeswalker Duels. In Innistrad you also have the
added incentive (part of the background tale) of searching for a Pendant and gaining knowledge of Ramal - play the game and
it will all become clear.

When you play Encounters your opponent always has the same deck with the cards in the same order. You on the other hand
have a shuffled deck that you play as it comes. The idea is that you can learn the pattern of this opponent's play and eventually
with hindsight to start with, learn to defeat them. Each opponent has a different deck and a different style of playing so this is a
really good way to get used to and ready for Tournament play.

If you choose CHALLENGES then you are faced with the choice offive different experiences. These really test your knowledge
on how to use the cards you are dealt. In each case the game has already been played to very near its conclusion and the challenge
you have is to win, usually from a position that at first looks impossible or at the very least extremely weak.It is always your turn
and by using the cards in your hand to the very best of their capabilities you can win. None of these challenges are easy unless you
are a very experienced MtG player.
Mountain Assault: You begin with 6 lives and your opponent has only 2, though he has a Kird Ape and a Hydra in play against your
hand, land and the 1/1 Goblin Mountaineer in front of you.
Beat the Angel: You have 1 life left, your opponent has 2. He also has an undefeatable indestructible Platinum Angel. You have a Frost
Titan and Magus of Tabernacle plus your hand. Not being the most experienced player I tried a straight out Attack thinking that the set
up may have been a deliberate ploy to make me over-think. My attack knocked the opponent down to -6 so I thought I had sussed it, but
then they attacked and I lost. Something allowed the opponent to go beyond zero and survive and I missed it.
Unleash the Beast: You have 12 life against your opponents 18. His next card will exhaust your deck so you have to defeat him before
he can play it.
Riddle of Steel: Sets you against Knights which look weak but gain strength from others. You have 1 life your opponent has 31.
Spellstorm: This is where you show how good you are at combining spell use and power. Can you really win when your opponent has
65 life and you only have 1 ?

There is also a CHALLENGES CAMPAIGN which begins in Alara and where your opponent to begin with is Elspeth in the Hall of Champions.
You both begin a new game with 20 life each and a freshly shuffled deck and dealt hand. Elspeth plays White/Blue and Green. I defeated her
by using a fire-based red deck the first time I challenged her (very unlike me to won let alone on the first time of asking) and this opened up
Ravnica and an achievement.

Do you need the expansion ? In most games, especially board games you do not need any expansions as the game is a complete entity that
you can play contentedly and occasionally forever. With computer games, even those that allow you to play against multiple players from all
over the world, you will always want the next expansion otherwise your opponents may have something of an advantage over you. So I would
say in answer to my question, yes you do need this expansion.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015