Wizards previewed Magic: the Gathering Arena, its newest digital game, today in a reveal stream on Twitch. MTG Arena looks like an upgraded version of Magic Duels, with all the Hearthstone-like sound effects and visuals, but with the full Magic rules engine. It will be free-to-play and will only be available on PC (to start).

Magic Duels + Full Rules Engine + Hearthstone = Magic: the Gathering Arena

The goal of Magic: the Gathering Arena is to combine the complexity and depth of Magic in a more user- and viewer-friendly package. The game itself automatically makes some decisions for you, such as which mana to use to cast a card, but will allow you to take control of those decisions if you’d like.

MTG Arena looks very much like an upgraded version of Magic Duels, Wizards’ previous attempt to make a Hearthstone-like version of Magic that was discontinued earlier this year. It has a similar layout and look as Duels, but with the over-the-top visuals and sounds that players have come to love in popular digital card games like Hearthstone and Eternal.

MTG Arena Is Free-To-Play

Just like its major competitors, Hearthstone and Eternal, Magic: the Gathering Arena will be free-to-play. You can download, play, and earn booster packs and cards for free. There will be in-game purchases, but they won’t be required to have the full MTG Arena experience.

MTG Arena Will Support Standard, Draft, and Sealed

Magic: the Gathering Arena will be focused on Standard and Limited, meaning that you likely won’t be able to play any eternal formats, like Vintage, Legacy, or Modern. Therefore, MTG Arena will be released with all of the cards in Standard for Constructed, Draft, and Sealed—with ranked ladder systems—and potentially digital-only formats.

Wizards is focusing on true Standard support with MTG Arena, meaning rotation just like in paper and MTGO, but they won’t commit to including older formats.

You will also be able to select your preferred basic lands for your decks. *Whew*

MTG Arena Will NOT Replace Magic: the Gathering Online

Chris Kiritz has a lot more to say on the future of Magic Online, which we will cover in-depth as more information develops there. Suffice to say, Wizards intends to support both platforms in parallel for now.

MTG Arena Will Be PC-Only…For Now

Magic: the Gathering Arena will be PC-only for its Beta period as well as at release. However, Wizards noted that the game is built in Unity, and could therefore be published on other platforms at some point in the future.

MTG Arena Will Likely Connect to Paper Magic…Eventually

Many players have been asking for a way to connect their real-life Magic experience, like earning byes with Planeswalker points, with their digital Magic experience. Wizards is looking for ways to connect MTG Arena with the paper game, potentially by awarding Planeswalker points in-game, but no decisions have been made as of yet.

There are currently no plans to integrate Magic: the Gathering Arena into Pro Play in the near future, but Wizards is exploring this opportunity. Hearthstone’s success with digital, professional tournaments means that MTG Arena will most likely be integrated into pro play eventually.

MTG Arena Is Being Developed In-House

Wizards created a new team, the Magic Digital games studio, to build the game, rather than outsourcing its development like they did with previous iterations of Magic Duels. Magic: the Gathering Arena is just the first game from this new in-house studio but Wizards isn’t ready to reveal any information about future digital games.

This Demo Was Just An Alpha

One of the most notable controversial changes from paper Magic was that a tapped permanent was merely grayed out with a tap symbol overlaid the card. Wizards stated on stream that this demo was just an Alpha version of Magic: the Gathering this representation was not necessarily set in stone

Sign Up for the Magic: the Gathering Arena Beta

You can sign up for the access to the Magic: the Gathering Arena Beta here. No date for the Beta, nor a release date for the full version of MTG Arena, has been announced as of yet.

Read the Magic: the Gathering Arena FAQ here.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for a while, here’s a quick timeline of Magic: the Gathering Arena:

Rich Stein contributed to this article.

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