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Great moments in PC gaming: Grabbing that first Draft win in Magic Arena

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Magic: The Gathering Arena

(Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Developer: Wizards Digital Games Studio
Year: 2019

Magic: The Gathering can be a harsh game to master. I've been playing for longer than some of you have been alive, and I've enjoyed the highs and lows that come with any game that's based on luck as well as skill. You can play perfectly but still come up short, or you can throw your cards down with reckless abandon and somehow pull a win out of it. I'm certainly no master, but I still enjoy it.

The best games are those where you're ripping cards at just the right time, playing to your deck's strengths, and trying to fathom what your opponent can draw to beat you. Those are the games you remember. And they don't have to be in-person either, as Magic Arena proved during the lockdown. Just the game, a good expansion, and a decent interface is enough to create these memories.

Magic Arena supports plenty of formats, including mini-tournaments that play far quicker than they ever can in real life. Quick Draft is the easiest of these to get into, where you draft against bots instead of real people. There are no time limits on your picks and the next pack is passed to you the moment you pick a card, which is great, although on the downside the bots can make some weird choices, so it's not always the most realistic draft. 

Still, once you've got your pile of cards and made your deck, you then get to play against real people, and this is where those memories are made. Ridiculous bombs, beautiful deck synergies, last-minute rips, disconnects, and outrageous aggro plays can all make for a fun drafting experience. It's a shame you can't enjoy a scattering of trash talk at the same time, but that's probably best left to face-to-face tournaments anyway.

Ideally, at the end of it all, you'll hit seven wins before you amass three losses. That way you cover your entry fee and then some and, importantly, can do another draft. There are seven players between you and this goal though, and they want the same thing. 

It can be tense and more often than not frustrating too. You're generally matched based on your current season ranking, so at the start of each month it's pretty easy to pull out a win or two, but as you progress it gets tougher and tougher to string those wins together. Winning a draft is never simple, even if you have a brilliant deck. All of which contributes to making that first win feel good, like proof you've got a bit better at Magic—one step closer to mastering it. 

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.