Over the weekend I had the joy of being able to test MTG Arena, Wizard’s newest digital product, and to speak with members of the team developing MTG Arena at Wizards of the Coast. Even in its Alpha version, MTG Arena is without a doubt a huge upgrade over MTGO. I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. I’ve written in the past about my issues with MTGO—a platform Wizards insists isn’t going away soon—but after playing MTG Arena I really hope that it will be.

MTG Arena is everything that Magic players who have wanted a digital outlet have been waiting for: beautiful, realistic, enjoyable, and most importantly well programmed. Dan Tovar, WoTC’s Digital Products Manager, made it very clear how long and hard Wizards has worked to make this product everything the fans have been asking for and more. Tovar said that building a platform that will provide a strong base so cards always interact properly was their top priority.

MTG Arena was designed for both the experienced player and the new player, with the final product having different modes available for the end user that are easy to toggle. Are you an experienced player? You can set the game to pause at every step and will only move forward once you approve. New to the game? The game will slide from step to step for you as you cast your spells and declare attackers and blockers.  It’s really impressive that the design team was able to keep every type of Magic player in mind, from the new player to the kitchen table player to the Pro. 

It was also designed with ESports in mind, adding beautiful animations along with voice overs for the different Planeswalkers. The game is more than just fun to play, it’s also fun to watch. But Wizards was also practical—they knew that people would want to be able to play this game on the go so they are going to have the ability to toggle those animations off for those who don’t enjoy them or who have battery life to preserve. Listening to what they’ve done with this game made it very obvious that what players have been saying for years has not been falling on deaf ears. Wizards has been without a doubt listening to every word we say, waiting for the moment they could show us what they’ve been working on for us.  

Right now Wizards insists that MTGO isn’t going anywhere. They hope to continue working on it, updating it, supporting it, etc. But Elaine Chase did tell me during our interview that how Wizards moves forward with both MTG Arena and MTGO will be decided by the fans. After having played the Alpha version of MTG Arena, I hope that Wizards ends up moving everything to MTG Arena because it was such a great interface and experience. Right now Wizards plans on just using MTG Arena for Draft and Standard when it comes to digital content but as I said above, they have left the long term very open. I wouldn’t necessarily run off to sell your MTGO collection, though. Remember that this game is just moving into Beta testing, and even if it does entirely replace MTGO, that is most likely a five year plan at best.  

Multiple Wizard employees over the weekend told me that MTG Arena was Wizards’ attempt to bring Magic into the modern era. I can say without a doubt they are on the road to success. I went into this weekend ready to be disappointed—especially as I’m not a fan of Duels—but wow did they prove me wrong. If digital MTG content is something that you enjoy I strongly recommend joining the Beta.

Keep an eye on Hipsters Twitter because we have some extra priority access codes for the Beta that we’ll be giving away.

Sign up for the MTG Arena beta here!

Kate hails from Worcester MA and also does a bit of Card Altering. Check her Stuff out on Facebook! She mainly plays legacy and modern though will occasionally find herself playing EDH.

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