Introducing Hautli – Magic: Manastrike’s White/Red Planeswalker

The latest free-to-play mobile game instalment of the franchise that should need no introduction has received a new update and, with it, a new Planeswalker. 

Magic: Manastrike is mobile game developer Netmarble Corp’s first foray into the illustrious franchise Magic: The Gathering, taking its vast lore into a new direction as a fast-paced PvP strategy game. You can check out our full review of the new game here, but to summarise: so far, so good. 

The latest update for the game introduces White/Red Planeswalker Hautli, a new Planeswalker skin, the new Ikoria Battlefield dimension and a patch to balance out the stats of certain cards. 

 

 

New addition Hautli is a White/Red Planeswalker who, when summoned, offers sustained recovery to the player’s summoned unit with the highest HP with her passive skill, while her active skill inflicts damage and knockback in a circle with her flying blades. A brand new skin has also been introduced for White/Red Planeswalker Nahiri, an ancient Kor warrior with a special power over stone. 

Both are now available through this Ikoria-themed season of Magic Pass alongside the new Ikoria Battlefield dimension; a heap of themed content for this season including an Ikoria lobby background and map once you hit rank 6. If you’re wondering where all of this Ikoria content has sprung from, it may have something to do with the release of MTG’s 84th expansion Ikoria: Lair of the Behemoth.

The final part of the update includes some balancing patches to a select few cards by increasing or decreasing certain stats. Here the developers have paid close attention to the frequency in which cards were used, noting how some may be over or underpowered, then adjusted attack power and HP accordingly to level the playing field. It gets a big thumbs up from us. 

You can check out the full details of the changes via Netmarble’s announcement post here.

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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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First Information about Cryptic’s Magic: Legends Revealed

We’ve known for a while now that Cryptic has been working on a Magic: The Gathering MMO but now we finally have the first details about Magic: Legends.

 

To start with, what we thought was going to be an MMORPG is actually an isometric action/RPG similar to Path of Exile or Marvel Heroes. It seems that Cryptic actually struggled for a while over what type of game it would be, even after the announcement was made in 2017. Here’s a quote from Cryptic’s Stephen Ricossa about that. “We went back and forth a couple of times on the type of game. We initially were like, ‘Oh, we’ll go with the kind of traditional MMO camera. And then we were like, ‘Maybe we’ll do a third-person action game.’ But because you’re summoning so many things, and especially the exciting big monsters, you were looking at a lot of Earth Elemental butt and things like that because you’re running around trying to find dudes to fight.”

This was just one part of a long article in Game Informer magazine. The whole thing uploaded by Redditor DoubleSpoiler and if you want to read it you can find it in the link below.

We also got our first glimpse of the game itself as Cryptic has updated its official site with information about two worlds as well as two of the classes in the game. First, there is the Mind Mage, who does exactly what you might think, uses psychic powers and telekinesis. The second is the Geomancer, with stone and lava attacks. There are three additional classes on the website that are listed as coming soon. This is the same for the worlds. The two that are revealed are the volcanic island of Shiv and Benalia, a church-state on the plane of Dominaria.

 

Finally, once again thanks to Game Informer we have our first look at the gameplay of Magic: Legends which shows off some pre-alpha footage and lets us see both of the classes that have been announced in action.

 

The fact that the game isn’t an MMORPG as had previously been announced has come as a bit of a disappointment to a lot of people. Still, there are others who are quite excited too. If you’re one of the ones who are excited about the game you can sign up for a chance to take part in the official beta right now.

 

 

Source: Reddit, Game Informer, and the Official Site

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New Magic: The Gathering MMORPG Announced at The Game Awards

In case you missed it a new Magic: The Gathering MMORPG was announced during The Game Awards last night. The cinematic trailer for Magic: Legends was shown during the award show and if you missed it you can watch it below. Magic: Legends is being made by Cryptic Studios, the team behind the Neverwinter MMORPG, Star Trek Online, and Champions Online.

There have been rumors about this MMO swirling around the internet since May 2017, then in June 2017 Perfect World and Cryptic announced that the game was, in fact, being made. But that was all they said at the time. Since then there has been no other announcements about the game until The Game Awards when the cinematic trailer was dropped.

You can register to take part in the beta on the official site which is a bit barren right now. Cryptic has said that more information about the game will be revealed in January 2020. You can be sure we’ll be keeping an eye out for that.

The team creating Magic: Legends is being led by former Star Trek Online Executive Producer Stephen Ricossa, who had this to say about the game. “Cryptic Studios is known for making games based on franchises we love and this is no exception. We’ve assembled a team of talented developers who are incredibly passionate about Magic: The Gathering and share a collective deep knowledge of the franchise. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the multiverse to life in a way that fans have never experienced before.”

Other quotes about the game:

“It’s an incredible time to be a Magic: The Gathering fan,” said Yoon Im, CEO of Perfect World Entertainment. “As huge fans ourselves, we are excited to once again collaborate with Wizards of the Coast. With its rich, immersive worlds and satisfying spellcasting system, Magic creates the perfect setting for an MMO action RPG spun into an epic fantasy adventure that players will want to continue exploring for years to come.”

“We continue to expand the Magic: The Gathering multiverse, bringing our passionate fans unique, immersive Magic experiences across their favorite entertainment platforms,” said Eugene Evans, Wizards of the Coast Vice President of Business Development. “Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios’ Magic: Legends immerses fans into the Magic multiverse as a Planeswalker – a multiverse that continues to develop through Magic: The Gathering, Arena, novels and upcoming Netflix animated series.”

Source: Press Release, The Game Awards

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Hearthstone Battlegrounds – Brutal Battalion Fun!

Hearthstone has always been a game of pick-up-and-play styled fun. From randomized Tavern Brawls and crazy solo challenges, the game has never taken its playstyles too seriously despite the heavily weighted Championship and World Tournament brackets. Often introducing new off the wall rules through seasonal words, changing the game with combo-building eldritch horrors and interjecting light-hearted tones into dramatic storylines. In line with this theme, the Hearthstone team have injected a new gameplay mode into the versatile online collectible card game. Enter the Battlegrounds, the new free-for-all auto-battler slaughterhouse for commanders and soldiers alike!

The auto-battle has seen a big surge in popularity. Similar endeavours such as Dota Underlord and Teamfight Tactics do just as the name suggests; line up your units and they’ll engage in card-based warfare of their own accord. Crossing cardboard, they’ll attack one after the other until one side no longer has any foes standing. Rooted in the Multiplayer Online Batter Genre, auto-battlers distill the complexity into making plays between massive slugfests. For Card Game veterans, Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds play more like Yu-Gi-Oh! than it’s Magic: The Gathering roots.

Battlegrounds start off at a breakneck pace. Eight players will load into a match, selecting one of two randomly chosen heroes to work with. Some, like Ragnaros, can deal tremendous damage by spending the mode’s currency, while others like Patchwerk have a passive Hero Power. Each round begins with you loading into the Battleground Tavern headed by Bob (who will do something, when asked). There you can spend Gold which is generated once every turn like Mana in regular play, up to a maximum of ten. From there you can pick one of several options.


The first, and most obvious, is buying monsters. Your playing field can hold up to 8 at any time, including summonables. While you can store other cards and monsters in your hand, they won’t be doing anything when they aren’t on the field. You’ll start off with weaker rank 1 monsters, but can upgrade the tavern over time through large sums of Gold. Each rank up will unlock a new pool of additional monsters to draw from, but will not replace those already unlocked. Ergo, the more you unlock the harder it is to find duplicate creatures you may be looking for. And you’ll want to find them.

Assembling three of one card will allow you to create a golden, more powerful variant of the card. While this usually just results in a flat stat increase, it may also increase the power of certain Battlecry abilities. Playing a Golden Card will also net you a token to unlock a random creature from the next available unlocked rank. Giving you a choice between three powerful cards, which are often legendaries, these can rapidly evolve your gameplay and are worth cherry picking certain creatures. One must be careful about choosing which cards to play, as your board can fill up fast.

Like the main gameplay modes, your Battleground board has a limit to how many creatures you can play at one time. Unlike the main game, however, that cap is set at roughly 8 total creatures. This includes any additional minions your cards might summon, but fear not. You can certainly clear up the board by assembling a Golden Variant, but you can also sell cards in play to Bob while you’re at the tavern for one gold each. This, on top of the 10 gold maximum cap, stops you from buying and selling minions until you have the MOST optimal field, encouraging salvaging smart moves from what is available. Sacrificing is key to optimizing what you have.


During your preparation phase, you’ll set up your board by purchasing minions to add to your hand. If you don’t like what Bob offers, you can refresh his recruiting page for a nominal fee to improve your chances, or freeze what he’s offering to purchase after your next battle when your gold resets. Playing minions from you hand will allow you to sort out their placement on the board, as well as manage their on-summon abilities. Creatures with Battlecry, for example, will not use their ability when the next battle phase begins but when you play them during your preparation time.

After your board is set (or the timer runs out) you’ll be ushered into a Combat Phase. After randomly selecting your opponent, your two teams will duke it out against each other following Hearthstone’s traditional rules. Unlike other auto-battlers, however, the Azerothian AI is a bit smarter, striking your opponent’s row from their left to right. After a brutal gladiatorial combat session, those whose minions have survived will deal a certain amount of damage. Starting with the rank of your tavern as base damage, they then add the value of their minions ranks together to calculate how much damage they’ll do to your hero. Losing all of your minions to three Rank 1 minions hurts quite a bit less knowing they will only deal 4 damage, but knowing that player has a rank 5 inn can be devastating to your play.


Unlike Ranked or Competitive Play, the Battlegrounds aren’t meant to be completely competitive despite their full-frontal rating on its main menu. After playing a few games myself, it’s hard to see how it really could be; there’s simply too much luck and random number generation to consistently take home massive wins, let alone place within the top half of your game. There are roughly 10 heroes to choose from in the game mode, and every currently allowed card in Hearthstone seems to be up for grabs when you visit Bob’s inn!

There is, however, a sense of progression in the Battlegrounds though it’s currently locked behind a pseudo-paywall. Successive wins and participating in the system will unlock more options and flexibility in your playthroughs. Winning just one event will allow you to pick from one of three heroes instead of two, with additional brackets making future runs easier. Unlocking this progression system requires purchasing a pack from Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion: Descent of Dragons. With Battlegrounds in Open Beta and this in effect, its safe to say this will find its footing and a live release on December 10th alongside the newest adventure for Azeroth’s eccentric heroes.

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