A New Future: Magic ARENA

Magic: The Gathering – the game that started it all.

No other game has been as influential on the trading card game market than the one that literally laid the groundwork. Yet, Wizards of the Coast have lagged significantly behind other entries in the field – such as Hearthstone. Yet that is all set to change. Big things have small beginnings, but in this case, Wizard’s of the Coast is about to drop a monolith on the gaming world.

Although there were attempts to break into the digital realm via annual releases, Wizards never managed to establish a large enough player base with their digital entries.

Hell, the best that could even be called a platform is Magic the Gathering: Online – and let’s be honest, with its 1990s aesthetic and unwieldy UI, MTG:O was never more than a way for top-tier players to practice their skills by cutting down on the downtime of having to find a game at a local shop.

Enter Magic the Gathering: Arena – or as we like to call it: what Wizards should have done years ago.

Although we may be sitting atop our throne of salt that it took Wizards this long to get their act together and simply copy the winning formula from Blizzard – we are absolutely over the moon that they did. At first glance, you’ll find that Arena looks as if someone planted the entire dev team in front of Hearthstone and said: “Make me that”.

And make it they did. Arena has many telltale markers of being Blizzard-inspired: cards become icons as they’re dropped onto the playfield, animations that bring card effects to life have been meticulously polished, and even the telltale “card slamming into enemy face” is there for your enjoyment. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Wizard’s are heaping it on Blizzard.

All of this “stealing from the best” is already making the digital future of Magic that much brighter. But to write off Wizard’s attempts as merely a copycat attempt would be disingenuous.

Arena encapsulates much of what has made Magic tournaments great over the years: sealed deck tournaments, constructed ladders, and dozens of ways for players to get cards through dominated opponents.

Even though Arena features daily and weekly quests that will give players gold, cards, and booster packs, its wonderful to see Wizards carrying forward the best of what Magic has to offer into a new domain.

Despite with all it’s got going for it, Arena is still in beta. Basic functionality such as friends list and social tab are currently non-existent, and there’s no way that we’ve found to interact with other players during a match other than canned text speech – which may be for the better.

Ultimately, Wizards are lining up a platform that could last them for years into the future – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Magic is a platform that has sustained itself with growing numbers for 25 years, and to see it flounder in the digital age would be nothing short of a travesty.

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