Why Magic the Gathering players will find Path of Exile enjoyable

“Go, my pretty champion. I want that fine arse of yours to be the last thing I see.” - Piety

The Summer of 2023 has been a tumultuous time for the Magic the Gathering Community and the ARPG (Action Role Playing Games) community as big releases and announcements occured within that 3 month period. For the Magic Community, we got the release of Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth, which was a smashing success across all spectrums of the game, and Commander Masters, which is looking to be a huge bust currently. In the ARPG community, the release of Diablo 4 came around the same time as Lord of the Rings in June (I bought Street Fighter 6 instead of Diablo) and was received well with many happy for what the base game was and the potential it represented. For whatever reason Blizzard decided to reveal their incompetence after a fairly positive start and all that good will started to fade. As this started happening, Grind Gear Games held Exile Con showing off all the cool things happening in the Path of Exile, the primary competitor to Diablo 4, and fans were elated by everything on display.

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 Simply put, it doesn't but you also aren't playing Magic for 16 hour a days or even 2 hours for that matter. Many of us have other interests and hobbies aside from Magic with a majority of us enjoying video/computer games as well. There's a huge overlap with the RPG community (probably because most of us are millenials) with Path of Exile is one of the most prominent games within the genre among more enfranchised players. 

Breaking Some Eggs

At first glance, both games look nothing alike. Path being an action oriented game and MTG being turn based, the pace of game play is already different. These differences do matter as they are what you will be doing when you actually play the games. So I'm not going to tell you these differences are surface deep.

Quality Gameplay

It is when you look at the mechanics and design of both games that the similarities start coming up. Path of Exile's team often cite Magic the Gathering as a big influence. For context, Chris Wilson, one of the founders of Grinding Gear Games, is a big fan of Magic the Gathering and has used MTG as a reference point for describing the different aspects of Path of Exile. In his interview with Subtractem, Chris Wilson even used the word netdecking when he was talking about copying a build straight from the internet. The mechanics and their depths get the same deckbuilding gears going that often have Magic players sending random deck ideas and deck builds at 2am to their friends and social media. This is evident when you view these mechanics in Magic the Gathering terms.

Path of Exile's character customization is extremely similar to Magic's deckbuilding. Each piece of gear, the skill gem system, and the passive skill tree can all be seen as the equivalent of MTG cards. Each of these pieces work together to create builds much like the cards coming together to form a deck. The playstyles you can choose and create vary wildly from eachother. You may opt in to being a simple warrior who swings his axe or a powerful spellcaster who shoots lightning, but if you want something wacky you can choose to play an archer that reanimates his/her enemies as suicidal explosive zombies when you deal critical hits. There are even numerous occasions where new ideas, items, and mechanics are forgotten about only for them to become part of the meta down the line when the stars align and someone decides to pursue a build that can utilize these components. This is a phenomenon seen in Magic like when Death's Shadow finally found a place in the Modern (and occasional Legacy) metagame. A ton of player expression and experimentation is available, though not all of them are viable. This can be simply due to the fact that what you are doing is just not good, but even this reason can go deeper. It could that you do not have it tuned correctly or that it's not good for the content you are doing.  As you keep progressing through the game, you will want to refine your builds to maximize your character's damage and the character's survivability against Wraeclast's world much like refining builds to go against the meta.

Once you get to the endgame portion of Path of Exile, this is when I feel like the game truly opens up. While you start with the basics of mapping, your progression within this section of the game will allow you to customize your experience. You can choose what content you want to engage with and how they present themselves, evoking the idea of formats. Much like formats, each of the game's different endgame activity demand different types of builds if you want to excel at all of them. This adds on more replayability beyond doing the same thing as a different build. 

There's an endless dungeon that gets progressively more difficult as you go deeper, tower defense in your arpg, and even an auto battler. Grinding Gear Games understands the importance of player agency, which is why they offer so much variety in terms of content for Path of Exile. If you want to create some monstrosity of the system mechanics of the game, you can do that. There's so much freedom that you can "engage with the product, you want to engage with." Path of Exile even has official deviations from the base game if you wanted more variety: Hardcore, Solo Self Found, and Ruthless. 

If these comparisons not enough, you can engage with the in game economy. This is almost entirely player driven as all of the currency item can be consumed for crafting, which is where the best gear comes from. This means that every item has value and for those of us who still trade MTG cards and do MTG finance, you may rejoice in the possibility to trade into the better gear from the scraps you find in game. Much like Magic, items will fluctuate in demand and price throughout the season as people learn to understand them better or when flavor of the month emerges. This means you can speculate on ingame gear or ingame crafting items.

The Way Forward

If any of these things speak to you, I suggest that you check out the game. I'm a huge fan of it and really appreciate all the effort that GGG puts into their game. My favorite part is theory crafting and tinkering around with different builds as it is things that can just pop into your mind. The game is difficult when it comes to understanding the mechanics, but the core gameplay loop is simple and enjoyable. 

For anyone who cares about what I am planning to league start with for Trials of the Ancestors, I'm thinking about a Righteous Fire/ Fire Trap Chieftain (original I know), a slight variation of Pohx's Juggernaut Build. The Searing Touch will be my main weapon until I transition into a rare experimented sceptre and shield. The main idea is to easily hit 90% maximum elemental resistance and become hard to kill. Main goals are to solo Uber Elder since I have yet to solo that fight, then move on to the other pinnacle bosses. If I manage that in the league's time frame, I'm probably going to theory craft a build with trauma support and see if I can get the Uber Pinnacle bosses. Or just quit the league and wait till the next "set" drops.

If you guys are interested in the game but are overwhelmed just let me know in the comments and I can help ease your experience into the game.

Outside of blog writing, I've been streaming more on Rumble of the various games I'm currently enjoying, less effort and it doesn't take away from the writing. Video editting and Youtube weren't things I was feeling successful in the amount of effort made it more less enjoyable, while Rumble has been more receptive of me. If you want to take a look, just click this link here. I typically stream from 8PM Pacific- Whenever I feel like sleeping.

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