Posted by Rob Kalajian as Miniatures
A few days before GenCon a wonderful box showed up at my door. Inside this wonderful box were several wonderful items, once such item being Magic: The Gathering Arena of the Planeswalkers. The wait for this game has been excruciating, but was it worth it?
While I have on major complaint (and a few minor) about the game, it was well worth the wait.
Arena of the Planeswalkers is a game of miniatures combat that feels like a rebirth of Heroscape. It’s been streamlined with a spell casting element mixed in, but those familiar with Hasbro’s earlier game will be jumping in with no problem at all. New players will also find the game easy to pick up and play with very little prep at all. My 10 year old son and I were in the thick of battle in around 10 minutes.
Let’s start off with the components. The cardboard terrain pieces can be arranged in different ways, and provide a nice, easy setup of the initial battlefield. Then the old Heroscape-style plastic tiles can be connected, stacked, etc… and be placed on the board to give some elevation. There’s also two large cardboard structures that you can use to provide some larger cover. I’m a bit sad there weren’t more plastic tiles in the box, as there’s not a lot to be done with two 3 tiles pieces and two 1 tile pieces. Thankfully I have buckets of Heroscape tiles to work with, but not everyone is going to have that.
The miniatures in the game are excellent. Each Planeswalker is pre-painted, while each of the squad units are a translucent color depending on their faction. As a cool side note, each unit in the squads are unique sculpts, so you don’t just have cookie cutter minis on the board.
How does it play? Like I said earlier, the game is a streamlined Heroscape with a spell system, and it all blends together very nicely. While the mechanics of play are fairly simple, it’s the unit powers and spell cards and how different combinations can be made to effect the game that really make Arena of the Planeswalkers a fun game. You’ve got the 5 major Planeswalkers and 2 squads each to choose from in the game, each with their own unique stye of play.
Play time is fairly quick, depending on the scenario chosen. The initial 2 player scenario can last up to 30 rounds, but my son and I wrapped the game around turn 16 with him wiping out my last units (Jace, how could you fail me!?)
So what’s my major complaint about the game? There doesn’t feel like there’s enough in the box. There’s not enough units, not enough plastic tiles, and not enough spells. Granted this is a introductory box with more stuff promised in 2016, but it feels like there could have been just a bit more included to hold us over until expansions start coming out.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the game, and I’m sure it’s going to see a lot of play, but I really wish there was more on the way for the holiday season instead of having to wait until after the New Year. Of course, I’m sure we’ll see some Heroscape conversions for the game from fans in short order.
Worth purchasing? For $30, you bet.
A copy of Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers was provided free for review by Hasbro, along with a few other goodies.
That reminds me. The other goodies packed into the box? Two 30-card Magic: Origins sample decks (green and white), a fancy PR letter, and a POP! Games: Magic the Gathering figure of Gideon.
Pretty sweet, and one of the best PR packages I’ve received to date.
Of course now I need to collect the rest of the figures in the POP! Games: Magic the Gathering set. Damn you Funko and Hasbro.
I thought the same thing about Battleship Galaxies (It could be the next Heroscape) but sadly it whithered and died on the vine.
I’m hoping that the Magic branding gives this game a boost to stay alive.