MTG Arena is Wizards of the Coast’s most recent digital adaptation of their popular collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering. Arena aims to replace many of their previous forays into the world of digital gaming while maintaining the core tabletop experience and it takes great strides in doing so. Having been in closed beta for some time to balance and test the various features Wizards has wiped all of the accounts and thrown the gates wide open with the beginning of the MTG Arena Open Beta.
Fans of the table top version and the previous Magic: Duels titles will enjoy MTG Arena as it has a similar feel and flow of play, but with a more polished finish and fully automated mechanics. Though the standard format is primarily being supported we have seen some unique game types, from pauper to singleton, slide into the closed beta that show promise for the future of the title. Coupled with the DCI support and physical code redemption we can also expect the ability to turn some of our physical table top play time into something valuable for our Arena play as well, which is huge for the longevity of the game.
Despite the hype, some push back has been felt from the Magic the Gathering online community as Arena will not support player to player card trading or selling which was a major aspect of its direct predecessor MTGO. An online exchange and marketplace had formed around this feature but without it the once notorious trading card game becomes solely a collectable card game. This decision has its pros and cons, but the general rumblings of dissatisfaction seem to be slowly fading and conceding to all of the things that Arena seems to be able to bring to the table.
As a free-to-play title Arena hosts an economy of both earned in game coins and purchased gems that can currently be spent on six card booster packs to increase your collection or structured tournament entry fees to play against other players for potential prizes. However, players can invest little or no money to progress with an fair in game reward structure for meeting various goals to earn packs, new decks, and coins to spend. As of this writing the balancing of the currency doesn’t seem to overly favor either earned or purchased. Though, with promises of additional cosmetic s and options becoming available we don’t yet know what will become of the market.
Overall, the direction and focus Wizards has taken with MTG Arena shows great promise for long time fans and newcomers alike. With tournaments, challenges, regularly scheduled events, and integrated support with their table top giant Arena has some great potential to be the digital CCG we all have wanted for quite a long time. I have played the closed beta for a few months and it really holds true to the table top experience as designed. It comes with all of the fun of deck building, even my janky builds, and the glory of playing. I’ve had almost as much fun playing MTG Arena as I have sitting in my local game store playing with friends; the biggest difference is that now I can do so without pants and still avoid all of the odd glances. So, don’t just take my word for it – the open beta is live now – go give it a shot and see how much fun Magic: the Gathering can be!