Magic: ManaStrike Interview: Producer Kay Kim on the Origins and Future of the Game

Magic: ManaStrike is a new way to play Magic: The Gathering on Android and iOS, offering a take on the card game that pushes it closer to games such as Clash Royale and Minion Masters. Following our review and the addicting gameplay that it boasts, we had the opportunity to speak with Kay Kim, the Netmarble US Producer for this game.

In our interview, Kim will talk about how the opportunity to develop Magic: ManaStrike came up, how players are reacting to the game, what is planned for the future, and discusses the possibility of taking the game into eSports territory.

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m Kay Kim, the Netmarble US producer for Magic: ManaStrike.

How would you describe Magic: ManaStrike to new players?

Magic: ManaStrike takes the Magic: The Gathering franchise and places it in a whole new genre—real-time PVP strategy. Players take the role of a Planeswalker, a powerful character who can summon monsters and spells from their deck to win the battle on a 3D real-time battlefield. Additionally, the Planeswalkers themselves can enter the battlefield. They come equipped with unique special skills which, if used strategically, can turn the tide of battle.

When did you acquire the Magic: The Gathering license, and did you immediately feel that it would be a good fit for the real-time PvP genre, or were other game concepts studied as well?

The original Magic: The Gathering game is a great strategy game with a 26-year history so, when we were approached by Wizards of the Coast to come up with a new gameplay experience for Magic on mobile platforms, we were excited. We realized it would be great to blend the strategy of the core card game with the fun and depth of a Player vs. Player (PvP) battler. We really wanted to bring the characters, creatures, and spells of Magic rendered in full 3D models on mobile.

From there, we worked closely with Wizards of the Coast to make sure it lined up with the rich history of the constantly-expanding Magic multiverse. We believe that the game will appeal to strategy gamers worldwide. It’s easy to pick up, but with a depth of strategy that will pose a challenge to master, all with the incredible characters and lore that Magic: The Gathering offers as a fantasy brand.

Magic ManaStrike Interview Planeswalker

How would you convince non-Magic: The Gathering fans to give Magic: ManaStrike a go?

This game is a combination of a fantastic IP with a lot of story behind it, and fun, rewarding gameplay. If you’re new to the Magic: The Gathering franchise, don’t worry! Magic: ManaStrike uses a new gameplay style that will be enjoyable for all players, but stays true to Magic: The Gathering’s roots. You can learn about the different monsters and spells as you play the game, and you can experiment with different Planeswalkers to discover which one is the best fit for you. And along the way, you’ll learn a little bit about their history and personalities.

And of course, you’ll be winning matches, leveling up cards, and getting more and more great rewards.

Many players are comparing the game with Clash Royale. However, I would say that it looks more like Minion Masters. Are you a fan of these games, and if so, how does Magic: ManaStrike improves on them?

At Netmarble, we are gamers first. We play many games across many platforms so we make games we want to play because then we know players will love them too. Magic: ManaStrike allows players to come in and learn the mechanics of the game. As their experience grows, players start to strategize more and become more engrossed in the game. Seasoned players can also come in and enjoy it right away. We feel we’ve created a game nearly anyone can love.

Magic ManaStrike Interview Nissa Revane

Can you tell us which one is your favorite Planeswalker in Magic: ManaStrike, and why?

Tezzeret is my favorite because of his high versatility in attacks. His basic attack is a huge AoE damage to ground units; when deployed, he summons an additional aerial unit which does an AoE attack as well. Tezzeret’s Gravity Sphere skill is great because it will pull enemies close to an area and stun them for a second. And his funky reggae hairstyle and general appearance look awesome in my opinion.

How is the overall player reaction to game balance, including the game-changing Planeswalker abilities?

Of course, players always have opinions about what is and isn’t working in the game. We have a discord where players actively discuss what they think. And we relay that feedback to the developers. Also, what might seem over- or under-powered early on might be viewed differently later. Regarding Planeswalkers specifically, some powers are more situational than others. Finding the best times and ways to use them can often turn a match around but will often require more strategic thinking.

That being said, we are carefully monitoring the game and will adjust things as necessary to ensure balanced gameplay.

Clearly a lot of work went into the presentation of the game, particularly the Planeswalkers. Was it an arduous task making all these stunning artworks come to life in the arena, given the small size of the units?

Using the Unity engine and working closely with the Wizards of the Coast team, we took our time to ensure the artwork stayed true to what Magic players have come to love while still putting our spin on it and bringing our expertise in mobile gaming.

Magic ManaStrike Interview Jace Beleren

Do you plan on adding new Planeswalkers and cards in the future? What kind of timeframe can we expect for content updates?

We are always adding new content to our games and looking for fun ways to keep our games fresh. As you know, we have just launched the game so right now we are focused on providing a great experience and ensuring players enjoy the game. There will be updates coming soon though, so stay tuned.

Do you have plans to take the game into eSports territory?

We aim to make our games as fun as possible for players. There is always a possibility for future esports plans if the demand is there from fans.

Anything else that you would like to add about Magic: ManaStrike?

We are very proud of what we’ve built for players and hope they continue to enjoy the game. And keep in touch. There’s more Magic: ManaStrike to come!

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