Trading card games are mainstreaming again, and companies like Wizards of the Coast are proving they can have their cake and eat it too with the release of MTG Arena. Wizards entered the tabletop gaming scene like a typhoon in 1993, blowing minds with stunning art and tactical gameplay with the now iconic Magic the Gathering.
25 years later, MTG still dominates trading card sales while other companies attempt to replicate its success.
Why Magic The Gathering Is Still Relevant
Riding off the lessons learned from Magic: The Gathering Online (2017), MTG Arena (open beta launch September 2018) is taking the online trading card experience to a whole new level. Available only on PC for the moment, MTG Arena is an FTP (free-to-play) game without the usual cash grabs and poorly designed mechanics gamers are used to dealing with.
Those who have never played Magic, or are returning after a couple decade hiatus, will find the systems easy to understand and the visuals stunning. Even the gameplay mechanics are smooth and adaptable, helping newbies play complicated symbiotic decks without having to memorize steps.
MTG Arena also makes sure new players have an abundance of pre-made mono and dual color decks to play with, allowing them to compete with others immediately. Five recent sets make up these pre-made decks (and booster pack purchases) which include Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, M19 Core Set, and the most recently released Guilds of Ravnica.
Patch Update To MTG Arena Open Beta
Wizards released an updated patch for MTG Arena on November 15, allowing for players to challenge their friends to an online match for the first time. While far from perfect (needing to coordinate with friend IRL first), developers are hoping to smooth out the kinks prior to its official 2019 release.
Other additions to MTG Arena beta online include links to an event calendar, video tutorials, along with articles on deck building and basic gameplay. Events include draft competitions and pre-constructed deck competitions, rewarding players with plenty of gold/gems, booster packs, and a variety of single cards (common, uncommon, and rare). Players can even unlock cards they don’t own through special wildcards awarded through booster packs, allowing for precise customization of decks.
MTG For A New Generation
MTG Arena is the flagship trading card game that’ll take Wizards of the Coast into the digital age, allowing for a whole new generation of gamers to experience what many have been for over two decades. It’s also for old guys like me, allowing for intense gameplay (without tapping into my retirement fund) after displacing my cards many moons ago. Grant it, there are a few minor bugs which need to be tweaked, but overall the entire experience is — dare I say, equal to playing IRL — making it relevant to everyone, no matter age, financial status, or skill.
The open beta of MTG Arena is currently available for PC. It’s free to download and free-to-play, with the option of spending money (but not necessary).