Does Magic: The Gathering Arena capture the feeling of the real game? Here's our hands-on impressions.
After implementing a basic economy in its closed beta earlier this year, Wizards of the Coast has released details on how Magic: The Gathering Arena's free-to-play and paid structures, and its first game events, will work.
Alongside the previously implemented gold economy, earned by playing matches, the closed beta will test a paid currency economy called gems. Gems will allow players to buy card packs and entry to the new events: Quick Draft and Quick Constructed, which Executive Producer Chris Cao called a “test of our best of one modes” on a press call.
Events, to be released alongside the beta’s upcoming Dominaria update, are what MTG Arena is calling its various tournaments and competitive challenges, and Cao implied draft and constructed were just the start. “Think of it as, things that happen all during the week or across the month that might be fun or surprising,” he said.
In a Quick Draft, to be offered on weekends, players will draft a 40-card deck against seven AI players, then play against other real humans who drafted in the same event until they get either seven wins or three losses. Wins are rewarded with card packs, all the cards you drafted, and interestingly, Gems—that’s the aforementioned premium currency you’d otherwise have to pay cash for. Entering a Quick Draft will cost either gold or gems.
Quick Constructed games will give you a chance to take one of your previously made decks for a spin. They’ll work similarly, but will run at all times and cost less in-game currency to enter and give lesser rewards—cards and gold only, not gems or packs.
Those game formats will only use cards currently in Magic: The Gathering’s Standard format. When asked what cards will be useful for when they rotate out of Standard, Cao said they’d talk about that later this year, but offered up a bit of a hint. “I think there’s flexibility we have as a digital product that may not be available to the physical product just due to the nature of the medium,” he said.
Of additional interest, the MTG Arena team said they intend to publish the drop rates of every card type at the start of their Open Beta, including their Wildcard system—the alternative to the “dusting” system seen in other online collectible card games. They have also ruled out trading mechanics, citing the difficulty of balancing the ability of players to trade cards with their ability to give out consistent rewards for in-game actions. The MTG Arena team, now that the premium currency is announced, reiterated that no gameplay content will be exclusively accessible via real-world money, and said that all premium currency will be refunded to those who bought it after the account wipe at the end of closed beta.
Magic: The Gathering Arena is currently in closed beta, though signups are open to anyone.