Not So Massively: Four things I wish I’d known when I started Magic Legends

    
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Inevitably after a couple weeks in a new game, you’ve learned a few things that you wish you’d known from the start. For me right now, that game is Magic: Legends. While I can’t go back and tell my past self what I know now, I can share it with you, the community, in the hopes of offering a smoother ride to others as the game moves through its soft beta and on toward hard launch.

For movement, keyboard is king

ML has two different movement control schemes you can choose from: a standard click to move set-up such as you’d find in most isometric ARPGs, and a WASD set-up more similar to what you find with over the shoulder camera games.

The click-to-move set-up is on by default, but it never worked right for me. I was constantly moving toward enemies I meant to attack. This is an issue that can arise in any click to move ARPG, but it seemed a lot worse here. Maybe it’s a bug that will be fixed in time, but it frustrated me enough I decided to try keyboard movement instead.

It’s so much better. The issue of moving when you mean to attack, or vice versa, is completely removed, and it just feels so much better. You do need to get used to adjusting the camera a lot to attain fine control, but after a short learning curve it starts to feel quite natural. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to click to move, even if it gets polishing.

What to spend on

Magic: Legends is relatively generous as free to play games go, especially now that the Dimir Assassin unpleasantness has been cleared up, so I do think that playing entirely free is a viable option, but of course, the experience will be better if you splash a little cash.

Naturally, you also want to get the most bang for your buck, and there are definitely some purchases that are more worth it than others. It should go without saying, for instance, that the random booster packs aren’t worth it. The odds of getting anything truly good from them are tremendously small.

So what is worth it?

One of the best purchases is the premium Battlepass. While the free track of the pass is also pretty rewarding, naturally the premium track is better. For a pretty reasonable $10, you can get access to a wealth of costume pieces, skins, and resources. Most of the more desirable rewards are found in the first 30 levels, too, so they’re not the most challenging to get.

The other best buy is the deck and loadout slots. The best part of the game is the flexibility of its build system, but by default you have only two slots for loadouts and decks. You can just keep tinkering with your existing loadouts, but it’s definitely more convenient to be able to save multiple and switch between with a single click. Thankfully, loadout and deck slots are pretty reasonably priced at $5 a piece.

The rest of what you find in the shop amount to nice-to-haves, but there’s nothing that’s going to make a huge difference to your experience of the game.

Upgrade your lands before your spells

In the physical card game, land cards are your main source of mana, but in Magic: Legends, they serve a different purpose. Leveling up the Aetheric Core in your realm lets you build lands, and these in term reduce the spell page cost to level up your spell cards.

When you’re first starting out, this can seem like a minor perk, but you’ll soon realize just how important it is. While spell pages drop constantly, the number you need for to level up each card increases rapidly as you climb through the levels. You’ll end up starved for spell pages very quickly if you’re leveling your cards as fast as you can.

This is where lands come in. If the number of lands corresponding to a certain mana type is higher than the level of a card of that colour, the spell page cost to upgrade that card is reduced by a whopping 75%. For example, if you have four plains, any white cards of level three or lower have the 75% spell page cost reduction applied.

It is therefore crucial to efficient leveling that you rarely if ever upgrade a card until you’ve upgraded the corresponding lands enough to benefit from the cost reduction. It might slow your progression a little bit in the short term, but it will save you a lot of grinding in the long term.

How creatures work

One of the great things about Magic: Legends is the incredible variety of creature cards you can use to summon minions of all kinds. If you like playing pet classes in ARPGs, this is definitely a game for you. The downside, however, is that a lot of the mechanics around creatures are explained poorly or not at all.

One example is how to understand your creatures’ health and damage stats. Similar to creatures in the physical card game, each creature has a power and toughness rating, which will be displayed in a format like “1/1” or “2/3.” Where it gets confusing is each card also lists health and damage in the large numbers you’d expect from an RPG of this kind. A creature might list, say, 233 DPS and 4352 health.

How it actually works is that the power and toughness ratings are actually a multiplier for the other stats. To use a simple example, say you have a 2/3 creature that lists 100 DPS and 1,000 health. That means its actual stats are 200 DPS and 3,000 health.

It’s not super intuitive, and there doesn’t seem to be anything in the game that explains it, but it does have the advantage of helping you calculate exactly how much benefit your creatures get from various buffs, as there are a lot of cards and items that temporarily buff your creatures with effects like “+1/+1.”

Another important stat is Creature Points (CP). This is a little easier to understand, but the game still doesn’t explain it very well, so it can still be confusing at first. You’ll notice creature cards generally say something like “creature – 2 points.” This is the CP cost, which determines how many creature cards can be in your deck.

Each deck has a limit of 12 CP, and beyond that, you can’t add any more creature cards to it. More powerful creatures cost more points, while weaker creatures cost less.

If this seem as if it might put an end to your dreams of a traveling murder zoo, fret not. The limit is fairly generous, and there are numerous ways to get around it. Many items and cards allow you to summon additional creatures, and these won’t count towards your CP limit. The trade-off is these creatures have timed life, rather than persisting until killed like creatures with a CP cost.

That brings us to the final murky creature mechanic: What happens when you use a creature card after that creature has already been summoned? Given how complex the above mechanics are, you won’t be shocked to learn the answer is, “It depends.”

In some cases, creatures have activated abilities. For such creatures, using the card while the creature is up will cause them to use their ability. You’ll know this is the case because the card’s icon will shift to a gold tint. Do note that many creatures have abilities that they use automatically on a cooldown, which is a separate mechanic.

In my opinion, all creatures should have had the active ability mechanic, but for most of them, using the card again simply summons another copy of the creature, which replaces the old one. There is a brief period of a few seconds where both copies will be active and fighting for you, and you’re effectively healing your creature to full, so it’s not a total waste of mana, but it does feel a bit underwhelming.

One other thing that softens the blow is that some creatures have an on-summon effect, such as dealing AoE damage when they appear. So at least in those cases you can benefit from the on-summon effect when you summon an already active creature.

The world of online gaming is changing. As the gray area between single-player and MMO becomes ever wider, Massively OP’s Tyler Edwards delves into this new and expanding frontier biweekly in Not So Massively, our column on battle royales, OARPGs, looter-shooters, and other multiplayer online titles that aren’t quite MMORPGs.
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Kevin Smith

The only saving grace for me is the WASD movement. Don’t understand why every game doesn’t have the option for it. No reason today to not have that as an option. It’s the one thing they got totally right. It is a mess to try and click on an area to attack an not move without having to hold down the shift key or whatever you map it to. That is just a mess. Nothing like trying to attack that boss mob just to run right into it instead.

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Brian Barrett

Figured the ‘hold shift to not move’ was a 90s thing but hey….

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Greaterdivinity

Never tried KB movement, but with mouse it’s…pretty bad. TONS of pathing issues around every single map/building corner that you get caught up on, issues with (at least as sanctifier) you moving towards enemies you’re attacking with your primary, no force-move options…It may be better with KB, but I ain’t gonna play an ARPG like that and I can’t believe how rough/not great movement is at launch.

Honestly…I didn’t even see anything I really wanted in the cash shop. I agree that BP may be the best bang for your buck if you’re gonna stick around (…will you? [the royal you]). But I can’t recommend a single thing right now given the state of the game, IMO.

LORD YES UPGRADE LANDS! I wish the game was a bit more clear about this, thankfully I was warned early on to wait before upgrading cards. I honestly don’t even know why this exists as a system, it feels really bad and dumb and pointless and like they just wanted to get “lands” into your realm somehow. IMO would have been better if you spent on lands that granted you X amount (scaled based on how many lands you had) of its respective mana per day. Especially instead of the 48 hour mana generation thing. But my gripes about how painfully underwhelming your personal realm is from visual presentation to any lack of a clear reason to really be there is for another day.

The downside, however, is that a lot of the mechanics are explained poorly or not at all.

Fixed that for you : P

power and toughness ratings are actually a multiplier for the other stats

…how on earth did you/others even figure this out? Praise the players who spend dozens of hours of time figuring out basic mechanics like this that should be either immediately obvious (intuitive) or explained explicitly (tutorialized).

Creature Points (CP)

I ALMOST feel like the game touches on this but I can’t remember it for the life of me. It’s at least a good mechanic to prevent creature stacking in some decks, just glad it never caused me any issues when I built my deck >.>

The fact that a huge number of creatures are pointless to resummon is a big problem for me, and yet another in the long, long, long, long, long, long, long list of questionable design decisions made in this game.

I get it, many decks have sacrifice mechanics so you can resummon a creature easily but like…a lot don’t, and those extra creature cards without an on-summon effect (even if it’s weak, it’s at least a reason to burn the mana) are truly just wastes 90% of the time.

These are some good starting tips. Few other tidbits from my brief time playing before I entered the salt mines for the past few weeks…

– Don’t buy your second planeswalker class for money. DO NOT. The price scales considerably with each additional unlock and the first one is relatively cheap in your realm.

– Don’t bother with aether infusions if they ever come back to the game. It really is a noob-trap if you’ll be playing a lot, and is only really valuable if you have tons of Zen but not much time to play the game.

– DO NOT EXPECT THE STORY TO WRAP UP AT ALL. It doesn’t. No, “…in the next episode…” or anything. It just ends and leaves you wherever you left of with no direction from where to go. Don’t be surprised by that, just start mindlessly farming and upping your gearscore.

– LOOK AT GEAR AND RELICS CLOSELY! Seriously, the UI may be a nightmare (especially for gear), but this is where a good chunk of your unique interactions/mechanics come into play, not just passive stat buffs.

– You can upgrade individual stats on a piece of gear, and the % on the righthand side represents the amount provided compared to the maximum total (i.e. a white resist buff for 25 at 25% will cap out at 100 resist/100%), if the % is low you’re likely going to get a pretty big initial boost when you upgrade the stat at first but it will upgrade much less with each subsequent upgrade. It’s good for juicing a “low level” piece of gear to get it around your power level if you wanna try something new.

– Ethically questionable advice for anyone at endgame: The game is broken as hell and while they fixed the bug where turning in dailies on higher difficulty cause the rewards to scale based on that difficulty and not count towards your cap…they haven’t fixed it for skirmishes and whatnot. Apparently if you’re playing on Master in the overworld your functional cap is around 30K mana per-color each week, and with the supposed double-red mana weekend coming up, your red mana cap for that week could be as high as 60K…if anyone has the psychological and intestinal fortitude to do that kind of grinding >.>