Battlegrounds: Game or Tutorial?

With the start of Chapter 6, Magic: the Gathering — Battlegrounds finally stops leading the player by the hand. There are no more hints, and you never get a suggested (but overridable) set of spells to bring with you into each fight. Nor does the system still force you to use a particular color of magic — in fact, it finally allows the player to create mixed decks. It all feels like this is the moment when the tutorial finally ends and the game proper begins.

It may seem odd that this moment comes in the last and shortest chapter of the game. (Shorter in terms of number of fights, that is; due to the need to do more experimentation to discover an effective deck for each foe, it may well take longer to finish than the other chapters.) I’m guessing that this is because the designers regarded the entire single-player campaign as a tutorial for the two-player game. If so, it seems like they put an unusual amount of design effort into it, defining all those special gameplay constraints and trick duels that I wouldn’t expect to appear in two-player mode at all.

It all reminds me of a hypothesis I’ve held about certain games with disproportionately tough end bosses, where a major proportion of the time spent playing the game to completion is spent at the very end. (Jedi Knight comes to mind.) The hypothesis is that the designers must be approaching it from the perverse perspective that the boss fight is the real point of the game, and that the rest of the game is just a lead-up to it, to be gotten out of the way as quickly as possible so the player can focus on what’s really important.

So, from that perspective, I’m positing that the role of the end boss in Battlegrounds is taken by other human players. At least, I hope it is. Obviously there’s a real end boss to come, and I don’t know how tough it’ll be. But I’ll know for sure by the weekend.

No Comments

Leave a reply