As part of the five-year anniversary of MTG Arena, Weekly MTG welcomed Chris Kiritz and Ian Adams of the Arena team to talk about the past, present, and future of the client.
To celebrate five years of MTG Arena, players will receive daily rewards in their mailbox starting next Tuesday and running throughout the week. The rewards will not be log-in related, so if a player doesn’t play on a certain day, they can still claim the rewards later on from the mailbox. There is still no word on what type of rewards will be given out to players.
The top priorities for the MTG Arena team at the moment are maintaining Standard, followed by getting Explorer as close to Pioneer, particularly for competitive play. From there, the next highest priorities are the digital formats, ranging from Historic, Alchemy, Brawl, and Historic Brawl. The upcoming release of Khans of Tarkir is a big step forward in moving Explorer closer to Pioneer. The entire set is coming to MTG Arena, unlike remastered sets, and it will include delve cards and the fetch lands, but the team still hasn’t decided on where the fetch lands will be legal as of yet (other than in Draft and Sealed).
Along with bringing Khans of Tarkir to MTG Arena, Pioneer Masters will be be released next year and offer another Limited format while bolstering support for Explorer. Another draftable set coming to MTG Arena is Modern Horizons 3, which will introduce many new cards to Historic. Speaking of Historic, the no-bans Historic event that recently wrapped up provided the MTG Arena team data on the power of many cards players often ask to be returned to the format. On top of being a fun event for players, the developers were able to learn from the experiment as well.
In terms of format balance, Kiritz and Adams said that Historic and Alchemy have 15-20 decks in the top 20 percent of the meta, which is much more diverse than most tabletop formats. The MTG Arena team would still like to be able to implement more rebalances in these formats, but there is simply too much work on their plate to do so. They said the team was overly optimistic about the level of rebalancing they would be able to deliver to multiple formats when they introduced the ability to rebalance cards on the client.
The state of Explorer, simply put, was that the format is missing cards, they are aware of it, and they are genuinely working as fast as they can to get the format up to speed to Pioneer. Kiritz added that when trying to get new cards to Explorer, whether it be through Anthologies, new sets, or remastered sets, the roadblocks often are not the number of cards needed, but the number of unique mechanics and abilities from the cards. While mechanics like delve and cypher aren’t inherently too complicated to get on MTG Arena, there is more work to be done other than coding cards. Animations for mechanics, mechanic functionality, and player display for the different mechanics adds up when adding multiple cards with new-to-Arena mechanics.
Kiritz discussed the possibility of multiplayer Magic (3-4 players) on MTG Arena and mentioned the team is investigating ways to implement it on the client, but warned that there is a world where four-player Magic on your phone just isn’t good enough to clear the quality threshold of being released. If it does come to MTG Arena, it is multiple years away.
Quick Hits from the Weekly MTG Stream:
- Brawl has grown significantly in the past year, Historic Brawl more so than its rotating counterpart
- Premier play is at a good starting spot for MTG Arena, but nowhere near where the team eventually wants it to end up
- The MTG Arena team is currently in the exploration phase of an achievement system
- While Gladiator is a fun format to feature occasionally, the developers are wary of making it a regular queue on the client due to it being a fan-made and managed format
- The splitting of ranked ladders for formats isn’t outside of the realm of possibility, but not something the MTG Arena team has heavily considered as of yet
Read more of Kiritz’s thoughts of MTG Arena from his article 2023 Rotation State of the Game published today.