“The panic is amusing, but the real fun comes when the spell passes and the villagers start looking for a scapegoat.” - Ludevic, necro-alchemist – Hysterical Blindness, Innistrad
I love MTGA. After all, it lets me play Magic the Gathering whenever I want! Recently, however, I have seen a lot of negativity towards MTG:Arena and how WOTC are dealing with it in general. I put most of it down to just people moaning for the sake of moaning, but I just wanted to give my thoughts as a casual player.
I think MTGA is great. Like I said, just the presence of Arena means I can actually play Magic all the time! It’s still in open beta, which means there is constant work going in to make it better, refining bits and making the experience even more enjoyable. So why all this hate? From what I have seen, lots of it comes from the assumption that WOTC will slowly drop paper Magic in favour of this new fancy way of playing MTG, and honestly, I think that’s crazy. Wizards of the Coast know what they're doing, tabletop Magic is the lifeblood of the community, and will always be that. I would be shocked if in a few years the decided that paper Magic should be wiped off the metaphorical table. Actually owning MTG cards, collecting them and playing real cards onto a real table feels amazing, and will always be my favourite way of playing the game. Even though I don’t get to play it very often, that IS Magic to me, as well as most of the community too (I assume).
Arena helps bring new players into the game. With easy(ish) tutorials to play through, and a free to play format that helps get newbies hooked, Arena is a great way of teaching the rules to a whole new audience, and that is so exciting to me. The fact I can get my friends who play PC games to “at least give it a try”, it’s fantastic! And I don’t think it’s just for the new players either. It gives existing players like me a chance to try out new formats; Draft, Sealed, Pauper and Singleton are all game modes that I never would have played without Arena, simply because I don’t have the playgroup or means to try out all these formats!
What would I like to see from MTGA? Definitely some more casual formats. I appreciate Commander would be a big task to bring onto arena, just because the card pool isn’t easily supported, but Brawl, a standard only little brother of Commander? That would be awesome! There is a lot of work involved before that: friends lists, multiplayer formats and the like, but I don’t think it’s too much of an unreasonable dream.
From the special events (Valentine’s Day Singleton, for example), to earning packs and grinding up the ranked ladder, to accessing previously unattainable formats such as draft, Magic the Gathering Arena has allowed me to experience parts of this game that I previously would never have access too. It has given me the drive to play standard and get involved with the community more. For what it’s worth, I think Arena is a brilliant way to play Magic, for new players and existing players alike, but for me, Arena could never replace the feeling of collecting, sleeving and playing real cards.