By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Magic the Gathering: Arena is Wizards of the Coast‘s next digital iteration of Stainless Games’ Magic Duels. They have taken over development and have created a glitzier version which I appreciate. This update sports a new engine to allow for easier integration of new cards (and perhaps old too) when this product comes out of Beta testing. This change may happen very soon. On March 26th, new features will open up and Dominaria is being added. I am more excited to play this new set more so than owning the cards.
I played this set during the prerelease weekend and did better than expected. The practice I got in with the video game helped me win a few games than be smeared. WotC’s goal to bridge the two formats worked. Soon, I can ditch Duels in favour of Arena once the testing tag is removed. I may still continue to show up at some local game store events, but I feel like I’m done “paying” to play. As long as Arena has a mode for casuals, I will be sold on this new product. I have far too many hobbies where I sink just as much money into, and those I’m not too deep into will have to go. Daily quests for coin rewards are far more appealing to take on. Packs of cards now have wild cards that can be exchanged for specifics pieces. This feature is terrific, such that nailing any card is possible. To do this for the physical game means spending a lot of money for multiples of a killer card.
In the Beta product, this product focuses on player vs player battles. Coming changes include “best of one” events (no clearer definition is offered in the press release), an improvement in how to earn currency and added features. I am hoping narrative elements (much like in Duels for starting players) will be included, and perhaps also a test mode for experimental decks. Playing against opponents around the world is enjoyable, but I want a space where wins and losses are not recorded under DCI league. Supposedly, this feature is available in Magic Online; however, this iteration is as old as the Commodore PET displayed at the Royal BC Museum — it’s not a user-friendly system.