Magic The Gathering Arena – Will It Be The HearthStone Killer?

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A few hours ago, the team behind Magic The Gathering’s digital products unveiled their next project: Magic The Gathering Arena. From the looks of it this seems to be the new iteration of what was previously known as Magic Duels (and before that ‘Duels of the Planeswalkers’) You can Check my Review of Magic Duels here. Magic Duels has stopped getting new content since the previous Major set “Amonkhet” and officially the game isn’t meant to replace it, but seeing as one continous where the other stops…

They announced the game via a live stream:

From the looks of it they have taken a lot of ideas from Hearthstone, mainly the concept of showing only the art and Power/Toughness of creatures when in play, requiring you to hover over the card to see it’s full body of text. They also seem to have stopped actually tapping the cards ( a method that shows which cards you’ve “used”, mainly for spent mana and creatures that have attacked) and now went with greying them out and showing a ‘tapped’ symbol on top. Nothing shown here is final though, as it’s only Alpha Gameplay footage. I do like that they kept the animations on certain cards, like having a Flying creature hover on the battlefield. There are more sound effects (dinosaurs roar when they enter the battlefield) and the Planeswalkers (the biggest focus in the story of the last few sets) are fully voiced. (again, something that feels like Hearthstone inspired)

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Flying creatures hover above the battlefield

I’ve played almost every possible version of Magic the Gathering (MTG) that has been released, but so far they have not yet come close to being as accessible as Hearthstone. But then again, I grew tired of Hearthstone eventually and still enjoy playing Magic on an almost daily basis so I guess it’s safe to say that I prefer the gameplay of MTG even though Hearthstone has the (far) better presentation. This new game seems to be their take on remedying that.

What do we know so far?

  • It’s free-to-play
  • It will release on PC first
  • It will come to other platforms later (likely iOS and Xbox One, like Magic Duels)
  • It will allow for both Constructed play (build your own deck) and Draft (Think Hearthstone’s Arena but vs other players)
  • It’s not intended to replace Magic The Gathering Online
  • At some point they intent to make it into an eSport
  • There are plans at somehow integrating the paper version into Arena (I think this will be done via awarding codes that will give you cards in the game)
  • It will launch with cards from the brand new set Ixilan (Pirates and Dinosaurs themed, which releases end of September)

If they truly want to take over the digital Trading Card Game world, it will be very important that they release it on as many platforms as possible, mainly mobile platfroms (iOs, Android) so people can play it on the go. Something the previous iterations never quite succeeded at, mostly because of MTG’s complexity as a game. I for one hope they get it right this time.

A dinosaur's ability has a fancy animation

A dinosaur’s ability has a fancy animation

There is currently no known release date, but you can sign up for the BETA now (a preference will be given to players familiar with the game and who have recently partipated in an MTG event or have played Magic Duels) – I, for one, have registered and hope to be part of the first few waves of players so I can provide my feedback as a longtime player of the game. If you care about the game and want to see the best possible digital version of it released, I suggest you do the same.

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Robby Bisschop
Belgian, male, born in 1987
I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.
About the author

Robby Bisschop

Belgian, male, born in 1987 I love videogames (mostly RPGs), anime, movies and Magic The Gathering.