How do I play Magic: the Gathering on the computer nowadays?

I have Shandalar and that old Magic game on my computer, but it doesn’t run so well, as I think it was made for Win95 and I have WinXp. I got it to run, but it’s clunky and I can’t control it very well.

Let me be clear: I don’t want to play with anybody. I just want a game where I can:

Build my own decks
Maybe "win’ some more
Play against the computer
Play any color

I don’t need the most modern, up-to-date gameplay experience. I just want to play some cards against the computer! I don’t want any of the social stuff. I just want to play by myself.

I see there is a new Magic game coming out but I am so out of touch I’m not sure what’s in it. I’m willing to buy it if it has the options I want.

Please help! I miss this game so much I’m reduced to plunking on Shandalar, but the interface is so bad now that I cannot avoid any fights, I just run right into them, and if the opponent plays more than four cards in a round, I can no longer see what they are playing as they go off-screen and there is no scroll bar. :frowning:

Moved Cafe Society --> the Game Room.

Thanks, though I was so hoping you had an answer for me!

The recent Magic releases (Duels of the Planeswalkers, DotP 2012, and the just-released DotP 2013) are quite fun for what they are, but they’re missing some degree of your number one item above: you don’t get to build your own decks. There are a number of pre-constructed decks in each, with some flexibility to switch cards in and out in the more recent versions, but nothing that will let you work from scratch or even relatively close to it. (And don’t get me wrong, these are actually really good presentations of the game, especially the newest version - they just don’t have full deckbuilding. The price is also right.)

The other big way of playing computer-Magic is M:tG Online, which has the same mechanics as the actual card game. In other words, you’re buying virtual booster packs to get virtual cards. As you can imagine, this can get expensive fairly quickly, and it’s hard to recommend unless you really want to get IN to Magic again. That said, you can actually have a lot of fun for a reasonable price if you get some friends together and do a sealed deck draft type thing, similar to how you’d do it in a live setting.

Alternatively, the SDMB can probably work on finding a way to make Shandalar run a little better… :slight_smile:

OTOH, Magic Online has no “play vs. computer” setting whatsoever; your only option is to play against human opponents, which can be annoying if you just want to beat up on an AI.

Inspired by this thread I wondered if there was an iPad app (for that). And there is! The basic game is free so I downloaded it. I have no idea if it has what you want or if it sucks, but if you have an iPad or similar, then… hey free!

I also wonder if they have a demo version of the PC game floating about somewhere so you can try it and see if it meets your needs.

Yet another option, if you don’t want to lay out the money for real cards, is one of the myriad tabletop-simulation programs. These generally have little or none of the rules of MtG programmed in, and just allow you to move cards around yourself between hand, battlefield, graveyard, etc., keeping track of all the rules yourself just like you’d do with real cards at a real table. Of course, since they don’t have the rules programmed in, they certainly don’t have AI opponents: You can connect to other players online, or your can play “solitaire”, playing both sides of the table yourself.

Another vote for magic the gathering duel of the planes Walkers 2013. Super fun game, challenging AI, different game modes, and cheap at $10. You can get it and the demo on steam.

There’s a Flash game called Elements that is similar to Magic. It scratched some of the same itch for me, anyways:
Or on Kongregate

It’s not quite the same (e.g. there are more “colours” and the game play is slightly different), but it matches your four requirements.

I’ll buy Duels of the planewalkers, then. I can give up deckbuilding if it means I can play all by myself. Sometimes I think we’ve gone way overboard on the “social” aspect of games. Sometimes I just want to be a big old grumpy misanthrope. :mad:

I won’t be doing MtG Online for exactly that reason - have to play with humans all the time.

I’ll try Elements, too.

M:tG isn’t exactly a solitaire game, though. It was designed from the ground up as a versus game. Frankly I’m surprised there IS player AI at all; the game is pretty dang complex.

I know - I’ve played it a lot, way back when. The AI isn’t always brilliant, but I don’t need it to be brilliant. I just want it to be fun.

Is Duels download only? I can’t go to a store and buy it? I don’t have a Steam account; I’m not much of a PC player normally (I know, throw bananas at me).

The AI is pretty good too. Or I’m pretty bad. One of those statements is probably truer than the other. But I’m not saying which!

Bananas!? I shall throw even larger produce in your direction madam!

But yeah. Digital only. On all platforms, as far as I can tell.

But it’s a small download. As long as you’re not on dial up it should go fairly quickly.

I will say this - you might not play many PC games now… but if you get Steam (and you should!) that won’t take very long to change.

When you can pick up some amazing single player games for $1-$5 fairly consistently it’s easy to build up a habit.

It’s not as earth-shattering as you think. :slight_smile: My SO is a HUGE PC player* and thus has a Steam account. It’s how I played Portal. So I’ll just ask him to download it for me.

*It actually works out great. I play on the Xbox; he plays on the PC.

I don’t have the newest version of the game, but the AI from 2 years ago wasn’t bad; it had some weaknesses (for example, not understanding about Giant Growth - ooh yes I’ll block your Grizzly Bear with the Air Elemental I just tapped out for; why would you be so foolish as to attack?) but, for example, showed reasonable intelligence in choosing what spells to counterspell and would hold creature-killing spells in hand instead of destroying whatever 1/1 happened to be on the board.

BTW, if you’re not in any hurry, Steam puts games on sale pretty regularly, and DOTP 2012 went on sale quite often. DOTP 2013 probably will too.
/wanders off to look up what changed/improved with DOTP 2013.

Edit: OMG, DOTP 2013 lets you choose what lands you’re tapping for mana? Am I reading that right? I’m sold. (Seriously, the land-tapping AI bugged the crap out of me in 2012.)

Of course, the complexity of the game and the difficulty of AI for it are the reasons it’s limited to mostly-preconstructed decks. The decks that come with the game are, as I understand it, fairly straightforward, and any combos in them are programmed in directly. It also means that the AI knows your deck, and hence knows which things to save a kill spell or counter or whatever for.

I’ve been playing it non-stop since it came out last week. It makes mistakes sometimes, but I’ve got it set on the middle difficulty level, and it’s still somewhat challenging. I’m not a very good player though.

In answer to the OP’s question, the reason nothing like what you’re looking for exists is that it’s reasonably close to impossible for an AI to be able to deal with the complexity of the real game. The card pool in the '90’s game that you’ve been playing is a lot smaller than the paper game (by a couple orders of magnitude, even), and no AI can process all the myriad interactions possible. It’s quite astounding that the original game let you build your own decks at all.

The current game does allow some deck construction – each deck starts with 60 cards and you can unlock a further 30 for that deck. (Some of these are copies of cards already in the baseline version, but some are new.) Whenever you unlock a card, it just plugs it in your deck, which gets bigger and bigger, but you can take out cards you don’t want instead. (Not basic lands, though – that’s fixed.) Once you get a small handful unlocked for a certain deck, it can be useful for sideboarding.


The way the original game worked was almost like an RPG. Basically, you wandered around the magical land of Shandalar and as you wandered, you battled people. Kind of like Pokemon, I guess. You could battle creatures of any color, go into dungeons, towns, etc.

When you battled, you had to put up an ante of a couple of cards, as did they. When you won, you took their cards. You could also buy cards at towns. Using these cards and the won cards, you could assemble or reassemble your deck.

The goal was eventually to defeat the top wizards of each color.

There was also a portion of it that was just straight card-playing, and here you had access to all of the decks in the library to build a deck. Now I had the original game + two expansions so I had a ton of cards. It wasn’t updated beyond that, so there was still a limit, but that was still hundreds of cards, and cards of each color, and even non-colored cards. You could put as many cards as you wanted in your deck.

…Seriously, I think I’ll just go back and play that game again, clunky as the interface is.