I certainly appreciate that Wizards of the Coast added in another co-op mode to the game, and while it can be a good amount of fun some times, at other times Archenemy mode becomes down-right frustrating. Luck becomes a huge factor in this game mode due to the schemes to the point where it feels like it’s impossible to win when certain schemes come into play at certain times in the game. For example, one time I was playing a game against Garruk’s green deck. He drew a scheme that allowed him to put several 0/1 plant tokens on the table, then the next turn a scheme that allowed him to put several 1/1 plant tokens down. The next turn he prompty used Overrun and decimated us. Another frustrating tendency is the AI’s desire to target one of the players over and over. The Archenemy can only attack one player at a time and only that player can block him. It’s not very fun at times to find yourself repeatedly on the end of a stompfest with your friends helpless to do much to aid you. I forsee many games of Archenemy ending with one player being eliminated early on with only the ability to watch her other two teammates struggle onward. Frankly, I’m bewildered as to why the hitpoints of players aren’t shared like they are in Two-headed Giant. This simple alteration would do much to address this flaw of the game mode. I’m certainly going to keep trying at Archenemy, because the idea of the game mode is very appealing to me, but I may wait until I, and the people I’ll play the mode with, have unlocked more cards for our chosen decks so as to give us as much of an edge as possible.
The lobby system (Archenemy lobby)
As far as decks and deck-building go, the decks are reasonably varied in color and playstyle. Some decks make a return from the first game with a reasonable amount of card changes to make it feel somewhat different (e.g. Sorin’s vampire deck and Gideon’s weapon deck), but the overall theme is preserved. Some decks are radically altered from the first game in both cards and theme (e.g. Jace has an illusion creature deck now instead of focusing on interrupts), and some decks are completely new to DotP 2012 (e.g. there’s now a mixed blue and green deck). A couple of decks and planeswalkers are noticeably absent from DotP 2012, such as Elspeth’s pure white deck with fliers and Liliana’s pure black deck with discards, but hopefully there’s enough variety with the ten decks in the game that you can find a couple decks you like. Though I heard rumors that the deck-building would be a little more free in DotP 2012, as far as I can tell it’s the same as in the first game. You can take cards out of the preset decks (but your deck must be at least 60 cards), but that appears to be as far as customization goes.
DotP 2012 was about what I was expecting from the game. It looks a shade prettier than the first game, offers a couple new modes, and allows online co-op, but in most other areas it feels pretty similar. If you’re like me and played the heck out of DotP and its three expansions, you’ll most likely enjoy DotP 2012 just as much due to its expanded content and new or altered decks. If you didn’t like DotP, then its likely that not enough has changed in DotP 2012 to get you to like it any more. And if you’re new to the series and wondering if this installment would be a good time to jump in, I’d say this is a great starting place. With the aforementioned expanded features and 10 decks as opposed to 8, there’s probably no real reason to go back and get the first game before this one.
The Co-Op Experience: Two players can play locally in a Two-Headed Giant match, or three players can play online in the cooperative Archenemy Mode.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.