A Look at Magic: The Gathering Arena, Is It Worth Playing?

Last Updated on September 21, 2019 by Michael Brockbank

Wizards of the Coast is pushing out yet another Magic game for computer systems. Magic: The Gathering Arena has a lot of potential, but I’m not sure it’s something that I’m going to dump a lot of money into.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun game. But I am on the fence on whether we need yet another game that will probably just become obsolete five years down the road.[template id=”145″]

The Trouble with Online Card Games

This is the third time I’ve played a Magic: The Gathering game on the computer. And each time, it reinforces why I have a trouble getting into them. It’s not that I am anti-Magic, but more of I’d rather play the real thing.

Pay to Win-ish?

Games like this are kind of pay-to-win. I mean, if you want to build an awesome deck, you need to buy booster packs. Which means you need to invest more money.

And this is especially true since you can only use the most recent three sets and the core set during play at most tournaments. To be honest, I just don’t have the money to keep up with trying to play competitively.

Losing Interest, then Support

I put a few bucks into the last Magic game that was released a while back. And wouldn’t you know it, people lost interest in the game. At which point, it no longer was supported and disappeared into the ether of the Internet.

Of course this is true with any video game, really. However, it just seems to sting a bit more when you invest money to buy “cards” to play and the game goes belly-up.

Getting Non-Tangible Assets

Perhaps the biggest issue I have with online card games is the fact that you don’t get real, tangible assets. It’s all digital. Which means if you lose your login info or if something happens to the game, all of those cards are gone.

Again, you face this with just about any online game. I can only imagine how pissed people are about H1Z1: Just Survive shutting down after they bought into the loot chests and supply drop boxes.

What Magic: The Gathering Arena Offers

Let me set aside the negative feelings I have towards online card games for a moment and dive a bit into what Magic: The Gathering Arena offers players. And from a game perspective, it’s actually developed well.

And I might spend a bit of time trying to grind out cards instead of putting money I really can’t afford into the game.

Nice Visuals

One of the positive things I can say about the game is that it has nice visuals. The layout of the matches is well conceived and the animations are great when casting spells or attacking.

In reality, there’s only so much you can do when creating a video game from a tabletop card game. However, it looks nice and has that Magic: The Gathering-feel to it.

Easy to Use Interface

The game itself has a great interface. Whether you’re playing the game or glancing through the card box to create a deck, it’s easy to manage. While I hope there is more added to the deck builder section, the game itself is fantastic.

Personally, I like how battle is handled both visually and audibly. The sounds and action add a bit to the experience as cards will smash into each other with loud crashes.

Then again, this is coming from someone who gets excited from the sound of a Siege Tank going off in surround sound from Star Craft.

Great Starter Tutorial

When you first load the game, you’re pitted against computer opponents in a short story line. Each chapter of this story goes through how to play the game in general as well as various things you can do in Magic.

For those who haven’t played the game before, it’s a great addition. And since you need to run through the tutorial before jumping into battle against a human player, I can see the benefit to help new people get a feel for the game.

By the end of the tutorial, you’ll earn a bit of in-game currency and a small starter set to build your decks.

Booster Packs

By accomplishing objectives, you can earn a small amount of the in-game currency. This will help you buy single booster packs later on to expand your library.

Currently, you have the option to buy packs from the most recent sets or the core card collection. It’s a theme that I’ve seen in past iterations of Magic as well.[template id=”505″]

Microtransactions Galore

Like any free-to-play game, there are going to be microtransactions. In this case, it’s the ability to buy booster packs. Of course this is a common element to Magic, especially if you play competitively.

After all, you want to build the best deck possible…and this is done by buying boost packs.

In this instance, I really don’t mind microtransactions. In reality, it’s money I would use to buy tangible cards from Walmart if I still had a group to play with.

The microtransactions in Magic: The Gathering Arena are quite a bit different from what you’d find in mobile games or loot boxes.

Although, I would like to point out how booster packs are similar to loot boxes that you’d find in something like FIFA. It’s a randomly generated chance of getting certain cards.

And according to some, it’s a form of gambling.

So I am curious as to how Wizards of the Coast is going to meet concerns like this, especially in places that have all but outlawed gambling mechanics in games.

Will I Continue to Play M:TG Arena?

I’ve been playing Magic: The Gathering off and on since its debut back in the 1990s. It was among some of my favorite card games, which included Spellfire and Netrunner.

But will I still have an affinity for it while playing Arena? I’m not sure, to be honest.

It’s not that I don’t like the game…but more of being too poor to dump a ton of money in something that may not have staying power. In five years, is this game going to fade away like so many others?

Maybe I’ll just stick to the real-life version at the local comic shop. At least that way, I can sell the cards on eBay at a later date.[template id=”543″]

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.