We sat down with Wizards of the Coast at PAX East, and brand manager Paul Levy showed us their wares. The biggest news was that the next standard card set, Magic: The Gathering 2012, will launch in tandem with a new version of the popular Duels of the Planeswalkers online game, which had previously sold over 500,000 units.
The new game will have numerous added features, and as Levy put it, "Magic 2012 is both the paper game and the online game. We've got a huge community in the analog world and we're expanding the digital community to bring them together." Releasing this summer, Duels of the Planeswalkers will be available on XBLA, PSN, and PC.
While Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 will feature many modes of play, fans at PAX East were able to preview the new Archenemy play mode. Archenemy embraces a "one versus many" style of gameplay, where a group of players teams up against a sole opponent. In order to even the fight, the archenemy is given a deck of twenty oversized "scheme" cards that will supercharge the powers of their normal sixty card deck.
This sort of gameplay is perfect for the online gameplay that Duels of the Planeswalkers will feature. Co-op gameplay has been increasingly popular, and here layers can team up against an enemy AI. As an added bonus, the game is smart enough to incorporate player AI that can step in should anyone drop out of the game. This casual play variant was first brought to the card game when Wizards released a series of four custom decks back in 2010. For those who hadn't played this yet, Wizards had also set up numerous demo tables where PAX attendees could team up to challenge one of the Magic event staff members.
But this is not where support for the casual formats end. There are also plans to release Commander sets, embracing what had previously been a community-managed play variant. A less serious free-for-all multiplayer game played with hundred-card decks, Commander is what Levy refers to as "something that competitive players have told me they play to relax." In total, there will be five different hundred-card decks. Wizards is throwing a lot of support behind this Commander format, going so far as to even hold a Q&A panel at PAX East with many of the leading community managers.