What you choose to put in your deck is also very important. MTG Tactics gets rid of the random draw element and instead allows you to pick 5 spells to take with you into battle. Usually, would have 5 copies of each spell at your disposal and can cast any number of them per turn, assuming that you have the mana. As you level up your planeswalker, you gain more spell slots, so that at level fifty you might have 10 or 12 different spells at your fingertips. You want to play with different planeswalkers, you will have to level up each one.
Some spells, though, will be a bit more restricted. "That's going to be determined by rarity of effect," Loder said, taking a cue from the card game. "Black Lotus, for example, has always been on the restricted list [in Magic]. You can't run with four of those, that's just silly. There's going to be a few things where we're going to build that in right away and say, 'That's a one-off. You can put one of them in [your deck].' You may have more, but you only get to put one in in this particular format. We just think that's going to be a lot easier to deal with." I appreciate the notion that having four of a super rare spell doing a spectacular effect will not be able to be used against me 5 times, and it's cool that this design element has an analog to the card game.
The metagame features are what's going to keep this game alive. When MTG Tactics is released early to mid fall 2010, there will be a campaign featuring a storyline that travels across a map with many locations. A daily mission will allow some variety in the kinds of PvE combat you can do. You will, of course, be able to duel other players online and the matchmaking system promises to pit you against appropriate opponents. There is a store available through the game which will allow you to buy boosters of cards to add to your arsenal, the price of which will be comparable to buying a pack of Magic cards at your FLGS. SOE plans to release new content periodically (don't they always) but it hasn't been decided if that will necessitate a subscription fee or if just buying boosters will make you eligible to download the new hotness.
I was keen to find out more about the auction house, where you will be able to buy and sell individual spells, as well as trade amongst your fellow players. "Initially, because there isn't going to be enough of a [user] base, you are going to be able to buy specific [spells]. What we're hoping is that the trading part gets as robust as other TCGs that we've done where anything you want is out there," said Loder.
From what I've seen and played, MTG Tactics works on both a tactical and TCG level. If you've ever dreamed of Magic being played in a more tactical 3D environment, with creature's mobility and ranged attacks coming into play, then Tactics is definitely in your wheelhouse. I've spent so much on Magic cards in the last few days here at Comic Con. Damn SOE and Wizards for providing me with yet another outlet to drop down dough to try to get that one mythic rare. Damn you!
Greg Tito's luggage will be about 10 pounds heavier on the return trip due to Magic cards alone.