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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:02 am 
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This is my one week + review of the MTG Arena open beta release with just over a week in. It will probably be quite lengthy so I summarise at the start with the summary TLDR review.

TLDR Summary

MTG Arena open beta is now over a week old. For the traditional MtG game play mechanics and sophistication, card pool and graphics and look and feel it is THE BEST iteration of the game WOTC have commissioned or produced. It reaches and exceeds the look and feel of Magic Duels, it has the full set of magic cards making it STANDARD MTG . That was always a certain criticism levelled at Magic Duels despite it being popular and supported well by customers ”... but it’s not standard magic and does not have the full set nor the correct phased priority mechanics as per full rules .... arguement”

But no longer with MTG Arena - it’s full STANARD and supports FULL authentic priority and phases. It support free play, standard constructed and draft and sealed modes but more on that on the full review as there are certain limitations to be aware of.

Currently it only supports the PC platform but it’s strongly suggested it will support MAC OS (virtually confirmed) and gaming and mobile platforms (not confirmed) in future.

It does not currently support being able to play with a particular opponent (e.g. against friends) nor does it support multiple players currently. The former has been again suggested (not confirmed) whilst the latter is probably unlikely (apologies to the 2 Headed Giant devotees in particular.)

It is not clear either if it will ever be cross platform (irrelevant for now as it is only PC but other platforms are a certainty). It is not clear however if this will be cross platform if it happens which will also be a consideration for those wanting to play on mobile platforms if and when released in addition to a traditional pc based platform (keyboard and mouse).

So it is definitely a strong recommendation for anyone who has ever played a version of Magic the Gathering (paper or digital) and also recommended for new players as both the tutorial and first week experience will allow you to enjoy what is arguably one of the best CCG’s ever invented. SD

DETAILED REVIEW

The History

With the demise of Magic Duels and a wealth of down right angry customers (in particular the lack of the final HOD mini set release as an appropriate “swan song” for Magic Duels it was not clear how many Magic Duels players in particular might be prepared to support the new MTG digital game (which was not even officially named at that point).

When Magic Arena was announced and the closed beta sign up (with a raft of NDA clauses for anyone signing up) after quite a few criticisms of the look and feel the game evolved and those who had signed up to the closed beta could play and provide feedback to the development team but were not allowed to talk about it in any open forum or create any content for public consumption). Even at this early stage there were some very high profile members of the NGA Duels community who were not sure if they were going to bother with it. One notable content creator in particular but I am pleased to say he finally joined the MTG Arena closed beta and today is one of it’s best content providers on YouTube and Twitch TV.

The game was still not standard but had the sets from Dominaria Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan. There was a basic 1 v 1 mode and the promise of a Best of 3 that never materialised. It was an indication of future things to come. The economy was only coins initially with gems I believe coming when they upgraded to full standard. At this time this added Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation for full standard. Core set M19 was added as Arena moved into the post large sets era with the release of Core Set 2019, Dominaria, Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan being standard at the commencement of open Beta in September 2019 adding the Guilds of Ravnica set into standard at the beginning of October 2018 when the open beta was finally launched (prior to this the closed beta required and invite code that towards the end of the closed beta WOTC issued 5 closed beta codes to be shared to each current participant in the closed beta release.

The Economy

One prime factor of interest to both former players of Magic Duels, those joining the closed beta from Magic Duels or through other routes and new players was what the economy in MTG Arena would be like, in particular as previous DOTP iterations up to DOTP 2015 had a fixed limited card pool and a fixed cost for the base set and additional expansions. Magic DOTP 2015 introduced full deck building (earlier DOTP releases allowed fixed changes via a fixed sideboard per deck and Magic DOTP 2014 introduced a limited sealed pool where players could build their own decks from a fixed limited random pool of available cards up to a maximum of 9 Booster packs (14 cards) from the limited 151 card pool. It introduced the spectre of micro transactions into the DOTP series which was later deployed in the next in the series DOTP Magic 2015 but for the first time set ‘certain’ premium cards behind a paywall thus splitting the players into the pay to win versus the fixed fee payers for the first time. Eventually the ‘premium cards’ were made available via standard play through certain win bonus awards.

The next series was Magic Duels which continued the free building freedom and the concept of free to play (arguably and in reality you could earn every single card and additional features: avatars, card backgrounds, etc via free play).

The Magic Duels card set though varied from standard in two key ways, firstly the card rarity was limited to 1 only of each Mythic rare, 2 of each rare, 3 of each uncommon and the standard 4 for commons. Magic Duels also did not contain the full set of cards issued for each set but a limited subset set by the developers. For this reason it became it’s own unique MTG format and was well supported by fan based sites that organised tournaments for the series across the core platforms (PC Steam, XBOX and IOS) - both King of the Hill (KOH) and Swiss Knockout (Fight Club) tournaments were organised and available for the NGA community. Importantly the series allowed the arrangement of matches via a friends list.

The economy was exclusively based on coins that could either be earned through quests set, win bonuses or events. Coin bundles could also be purchased and cards were earned by buying booster packs from the in game store with coins earned through play (grinding) or purchased with real money.

There was a point in time however when ever card could be collected and thus the skill of deck building and playing (termed piloting a deck) allowed the best players in conjunction with the best deck builders to rise to the top.

In MTG Arena the game is also like Magic Duels in being totally free to play, however certain games modes can only be selected using a new currency type introduced on the latter stages of the closed beta, gems!

MTG Arena introduced certain features to True MTG paper play that were missing from the previous DOTP and Magic Duels products. The first of these is full side boarding. Being able to build a 60+ deck and create a 15 card sideboard. This could be used in certain game modes in a best of 3 (BO3) format where between each game in a 3 game match, cards can be swapped in and out of the sideboard to the main deck between games. This increased the sophistication and diversity for deck builder and players and matched the format of the professional organised MTG tournaments (the only difference being final matches in professional tournaments are Best of Five rather than best of three.

Some of the additional match formats currently available in MTG Arena are locked behind GEM purchases rather than being available via free to play gold coin earned in quests and other events.

In addition to enable the fact that buying booster packs results in a random set of cards (boosters contain 8 cards and award 1 Mythic Rare or Rare, 2 uncommon and 5 common cards).

To allow a more direct access to specific cards of a specific rarity MTG Arena introduced the “wildcard” concept into the game. Wildcards can contain a specific rarity in line with the standard 4 rarity types (Mythic Rare, Rare, Uncommon, Common) and allow you to convert the wildcard for the same rarity into any card from any set with that same rarity, even if you do not own one of the cards to begin with (the collection allows you to list both “owned” and “unowned” cards and the collection can be added to by selecting a card of the specific type that you have a wildcard for an converting it to a copy of that wildcard.

Currently the game allows the award of wildcards both randomly in booster packs but also by awarding them based on the number of packs opened. These packs can be from any pack earned either from free play gold or purchased via coins / gems in store or awarded in certain quests and events through playing the game.

They change the nature of being able to obtain a specific type of card for a specific deck and are tied directly into how much packs you opened so can be added by spending money to open packs and thus earning wildcards depending on the number opened. At least it puts the decision firmly in the hands of the player.

The current economy versus awards for wins is set quite reasonably (in this players oppinion) as you can earn up to 750 gold for a single quest (normally lower but quests can be rerolled once e.g. if award is 500). There is Normally an initial win bonus of 250 per day for first win, thereafter the wins are either much smaller gold awards or ICR’s (Individual Card Rewards). ICR’s can be obtained at random level of rarity so whilst much smaller percentage chance, it is possible to obtain a Mythic Rare card as an ICR for winning a particular amount of games.

In addition, following the initial pool of cards available (for which see below) there is a weekly limit set of 3 booster pack wins for 5,10,15 wins.

Booster packs are priced at 1,000 gold each or can be bought with gems in store. (600 for 3 packs)

Gems can be bought in lots with smallest being $4.99 for 750 gems, up to $99.99 for 20,000 gems.{so bulk purchase works out better, 200 gems per $ versus just over 150 per $}. This should allow you to do your own math on the economy.

Finally as MTG in general assumes a maximum of 4 for any card across rarity (I guess exceptions exist e.g. Pack Rat) so whenever you collect a 5th copy or beyond this is due to “accrue” into something referred to as the “Vault” but the developers are still considering the best and fairest method to handle this. The vault presumably is in place but hidden, so unlike previous versions it is possibly not possible or obvious how to check vault progress.

Finally highly recommended but only available to buy once is the Welcome Pack bundle. For $5.99 (GBP £4.78) you get 6 Core 2019 packs and 2,500 gems. The gems can be used for the limited sealed and draft modes available (2000 for the sealed and 1500 for draft) so overall the welcome bundle is worth getting as an initial addition to the pool of cards you get for playing (see section below on the actual initial collection and how the purchase of the welcome bundle can help you to start to build and modify what starts as a pretty decent set of starter decks - 15 in total. 5 mono colour and all 10 of the two colour decks!)

Under Construction

The first few days with the game, the experience and what to expect

The game starts with a tutorial which although you can skip gives you a decent introduction to the basics of the game. Completion of the tutorial and the final Boss a certain Dragon Called Nicol Bolas gives your first five decks in the game. These are the 5 mono colour decks. These decks contain 4 rare cards each so are certainly playable with some practice for new players following the introduction to the game. It also starts your journey on the rank ladder as a beginner in the “constructed” ladder.

You will already have quests to complete and initially each day’s play will provide a 2 coloured deck to unlock simply by playing one game (win or lose). It’s at this point you can also start to play to complete the quests to add to your gold collection and soon enough to start either buying booster packs or exploring the other play modes available just by spending some of the free gold you have earned. Even if you have not purchased the welcome pack and have no gems it gives you a decent start into the game.

Initially it was going to be just 5 of the 10 dual coloured decks you could unlock. It appears it has changed with an update and now although you play daily to unlock the 5 of the dual coloured decks, after completion you have a simple task of dealing 100 damage to unlock the remaining 5 decks.

Each of the 10 colour decks are an upgrade already on the basic mono coloured decks as in addition to just having 4 rare cards in the collection each apart from BOROS contain 1 Mythic Rare card! Whilst the dual coloured decks do share some common rare cards from their mono coloured counterparts they do add new rare cards for each, with the exception of Boros each contain 5 rares and each contain 1 of the dual coloured rare lands for their deck colours. Boros has 6 rares rather than 5 to account for the fact it does not contain a Mythic.

As a result. Whatever your preference you soon within the first week have access to 15 magic decks, the 5 mono coloured variants and the 10 dual coloured decks. Given the 10 dual decks contain a powerful mythic card (bar BOROS) they are arguably good enough to start playing even before you have added any of the wildcards that you are provided with in your starting collection.

TBC ........




PS any features or queries for new or inexperienced players try hand indicate here and I will work into the detailed review SD

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Last edited by SquiderDragon on Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:22 am 
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No console version? :(

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:35 am 
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No console version? :(

I think that's what he meant by "gaming platforms".
I'm still absolutely positive WOTC had advertised this at the very beginning at least once as gaming consoles being supported also.
I guess they were being optimistic by listing PS and XBox and have since removed any game ads saying that. It will happen I'm sure but I think they have a bit more work to do before releasing those.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:36 am 
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So, this "Metagame Challenge"
The way I'm reading it is that in order to get 7 wins you conceivably have to play upwards of 21 games.
Bo3.
I can't sideboard worth a ****.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:37 pm 
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I’m worse, believe me

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There's a limited amount of fun to be had in a single game, and this deck will ensure no one has any of it.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:37 pm 
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Well I gave it a shot. Inevitably the match was versus a UW Teferi deck. Game 1 went to a Teferi Ultimate win for opponent. Game 2 was a win for me with a Vraska ultimate of my own. Game 3 sadly was another Teferi early play with the removal in 3rd game (Vraska’s Contempt) not showing up putting me off. Game 2 win came after also needing removal for 2 Teferi in opponents deck (and possibly more) so with the reliance on the draw against such decks and given one loss and done I don’t think it’s a worthwhile mode to play. I will leave it to the real “Try Hards” which I Guess is what it was built for. SD

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Check Out my You Tube Channel - Cube Draft and Random versus for AER. NGA iOS KOH matches. iOS Trials of the Elder Dragon tournament videos.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC29hO5 ... 71kNpJmjKg


Last edited by SquiderDragon on Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:37 pm 
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It will be cross-platform, because IIRC they built it on unity engine.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:01 am 
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Auunj, I suspect you are right but not sure on the launch date. As a minimum they would need to map the various commands to a controller, I guess they would not need to make changes to the UI otherwise. It should not be a big coding job. It’s still looking to be 2019 either way (you’d imagine to co-incide with the Ravnica Allegiance set due for January 2019.). I would expect the PC and MAC release at the same time and probably a confirmation on the date for the console, mobile platforms release. I am sure they will have added the friend versus mode by then so the tournament organisers can start to plan and get busy. I plan to organise the IOS event if and when they release it in conjunction with Cucho. SD

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eo plus cupiunt.



Check Out my You Tube Channel - Cube Draft and Random versus for AER. NGA iOS KOH matches. iOS Trials of the Elder Dragon tournament videos.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC29hO5 ... 71kNpJmjKg


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