The world of Magic got a touch more exciting this past Friday when Wizards of the Coast premiered its new free to play game, Magic: The Gathering Arena. A sure competitor to games like Hearthstone and Gwent, MTG Arena brings the prolific card game from your local game store to the PC. While long-time fans of Magic will be quick to point out that there was already a PC client, Magic: The Gathering Online, this new iteration comes with a much needed visual and mechanical face lift – perfect for streaming and YouTube commentary. Wizards of the Coast also reassured its fans that Arena is not going to replace Magic: The Gathering Online, and it will still receive cards from upcoming sets like Ixalan. However, MTG Arena will now be the home of Magic’s Standard Format, while MTG Online will be the home of the older formats like Modern, Vintage, and Legacy.
So what sights did we see across this new frontier? Much to the relief of veteran players the card game remains the same mechanically. You still play and tap mana to cast spells, turns and phases work the same way as before – MTG Arena is the classic Magic: The Gathering in a sleek new package. Sound effects and flashy animations have been added to the game to show card importance (key rare and mythic rare cards) and denote mechanical effects like summoning sickness. MTG Arena also distinguishes tokens from other permanents on the battlefield through excellent visual design, by having a unique card border specifically for said tokens. Planeswalkers were also highlighted on the live stream, these cards will be full art cards when played on the battlefield, and have voice lines characterizing them as important figures in the Magic universe.
As mentioned above the game at its core remains the same as its tabletop counterpart. The developers made it clear that MTG Arena will give players the “full” Magic experience. That being said there will be different modes the game can be played in, the first being its default mode. In default mode the game is a bit more automated, for example when players cast spells mana will be tapped automatically for the player. This creates a smoother and quicker experience for those looking to just play some casual matches. For long time players however there is a “full controls” mode, which allows you to execute your game exactly how you want it to be played. While no release date has been announced you can sign up for the closed beta here.
Image Sources: Magic: The Gathering