Step in the (MTG)Arena

Next Thursday Magic the Gathering Arena is coming to Android in an early access build along with the new viking themed set Kaldheim.

If you played MTG back in high school, went to college away from your play group, tried MtG Online once or twice before being lost in its bonkers bad interface and drifted away from the game, MTGA is a great way back into the game, especially now that it's on mobile.

Arena looks much more like Hearthstone as opposed to MTGO's 90s point of sale terminal aesthetic. Cards are readable and huge, the keywords have hover over explanations, the intricacies of priority and phase order are streamlined, but you can still take over to do weird stuff if you need to. It taps your mana for you (if you want it to) and has a much more modern economy. No more searching for trades in a sea of bots, you get wildcards as rewards for opening packs that you get as rewards for winning. Depending on how much time you have, free to play is very doable.

We're coming off a streak of very good limited sets, and Standard is finally in a very healthy state that hasn't been seen in years. Give it a shot, the water's fine.

If anyone wants to share their Arena user names I'll update this post and list them here.

MichaelDMcGrath: MichaelDMcGrathq#31782
espercontrol: EsperControl#31574

My relationship with mtg is odd. I think the only game mode I really enjoy is the most awful of the lot: vintage

I will never own a vintage deck. _insert usual holy smokes card prices are crazy speech here_

There was a desktop client many years ago that was essentially just table top simulator, it did no rule checking or enforcement but let you out cards down. I used that to play vintage with a friend, where we could just add whatever cards we wanted and play, rather than needing a mortgage to fill out the list.

Sorry for derailing!
I think perhaps the format I like after vintage is draft/limited, perhaps I’ll check Arena out soon

@rejj#14670 do you remember which client this was? I think I used to play Dominion on Cockatrice and I think their MtG setup sounds similar

My only major problem with Arena is that at last when I played it…


@MichaelDMcGrath#14648 Depending on how much time you have, free to play is very doable.

...being able to build and test the decks I wanted to play would mean free-to-play is like a part-time job.


Ooohhh dang I totally remember using that. That was fun.

This all sounds interesting though. I'll probably check it out when it comes to mobile. I haven't touched my decks in years but it'd be great to get back into it.

@Gaagaagiins#14678 That's fair. I almost exclusively play limited, getting a viable Historic deck through ftp sounds like a nightmare

In 2018 Arena was in beta, Dominaria was set to release soon, I was living in Greensboro NC, and I had not played the game since 2009.

In 2000 I bought a starter deck, a green-white precon from Prophecy, a widely derided set. I didn’t know that: I was just coming off Pokemon cards and chasing a similar high. Magic looked rad as hell. It still looks rad as hell. I put a ten dollar bill on the checkout counter of Media Play in Toledo Ohio and walked out, unknowingly changed.

I played at Interlochen Arts Camp in Traverse City Michigan, 2001. I placed second in a tournament, and won another preconstructed deck, this time the blue green one from Invasion. The game made a little home inside me.

In high school I went to my first prerelease, Coldsnap. I got a DCI number. I still have that card somewhere. I played during high school so much and so often that I taught other people how to play, I built decks that resulted in house rule bans of cards, I became A Magic: the Gathering Player. I fell deeply, madly in love with the game.

In college I attempted to get people into it, but the group never coalesced. After a M10 draft, I put the game away for a while, checking in sporadically. I never turned away from it, but it wasn’t something I could afford, in every sense of the word.

In 2018 I heard there was going to be a new set in the game's first setting, Dominaria. Teferi, Jaya Ballard, Benalia, all of it was coming back. Dominaria, the world that survived a war of brothers, an ice age, an invasion, a false god, the fabric of reality shredding itself. Apocalypse after apocalypse, and Dominaria was still here. Not just surviving but thriving.

I told myself I’d check that out, that maybe it would be nice to get into Magic again. To have something like that in my life.

one night that year I came home in a terrible state, roiling with dysphoria and self-hatred and wanting to be anything and anywhere other than I was. I turned on YouTube. It recommended me a video of Nationals that year. Justin Andrus was playing a blue-white-black deck. That had always been my favorite style of play, patient and controlled. The deck was labeled on screen as "Esper Control." I used to play Esper Control.

"That's my name," I whispered to nobody, without even realizing I had said anything. "I don’t ever want to be called Greg ever again. My name is Esper."

EsperControl#31574 is my Arena account. please, add me! i'd love to counter your spells.


@MichaelDMcGrath#14672 do you remember which client this was? I think I used to play Dominion on Cockatrice and I think their MtG setup sounds similar

My brain wants to say it was called "Magic Workbench", but a quick search does not seem to validate that being the case.

I was into MTG back when it first released and played/collected until Ice Age. I sucked. Lost a lot. But I loved the concept. I tried getting back into it off and on through adulthood, but I never had anyone to play with.

Last year my daughter got curious, and I took full advantage of that ("AH HAH! I now have someone to play with. You're trapped!", I proclaimed) and we both dived into War of the Spark at our local brick n' mortar game store. Both (re)discovering MTG and having Dad/Daughter time. We really got into drafting at Friday Night Magic events every week. Then the pandemic hit, and now it's just kinda ... dead.

I was into Arena for a bit. I crafted a Black/Green Massacre Girl/Sir Konrad/Moldervine Reclamation/Loaming Shaman deck that I was super proud of, that did fairly well, but around Theros I kinda fell out. I think maybe cards in that deck rotated out? I don't remember.

BUT! I really like paper MTG, and fell in LOVE with the Commander format ... but again, the pandemic kinda killed that. One thing I am chomping at the bit for is to just get to go play Commander again IRL. It was my big game thing away from video games. :P

I was playing around … ‘97-ish. Weatherlight, Tempest, Stronghold era sets were in-print at the time I believe. Late enough that A/B/U was very much not available, but early enough that I have a bunch of Revised, Ice Age, Legends, and whatever else. I don’t have enough to put a coherent vintage deck together, but if I cared for it I could probably do Pauper?


@Syzygy#14731 I wonder every so often about how I could sell my early days cards

Every couple of years I have those same thoughts. Every time I look, I'm surprised by how much the prices have inflated. Although, all the prices you see are for "fresh / mint" cards, and everything I have very much has been well played.

It was a cold, windy night in Berlin. Unexpected heavy rain was the last straw and I abandoned my walkabout, taking shelter in a rough-looking bar in Kreuzberg. I had a great night, chatting with some of the regulars, enjoying a local metal band through a terrible PA system and drinking copious amounts of cheep beer.

Then, at 11pm sharp, the music stopped and all the lights came on. Some people immediately left as a group of half a dozen leather-clad, bad-looking dudes with beards and face tattoos entered. I stood up, assuming an uncharacteristically early closing time for dubious purposes. Just then, every single person left in the bar gathered round a big table in the middle of the room and got themselves in order. It was a Magic The Gathering night! My new buddies invited me to watch. It was an unexpected and memorable evening, but remains my only experience of the game.

@billy#14751 that's an amazing exposure to magic haha

I don't really know much about the competitive scene. I used to play casually with my buddies. I guess we played standard? 60 cards in a deck, nothing fancy. This was maybe 5 years ago.

That is, we played casually... until the dragon deck.

We all had our different decks with different play styles. I really liked to experiment and build decks around different characters or creature types as oppose to play styles. I had a blue/white deck that was all angels and cats and a blue/black dark wizards deck. My favorite was my "spirit" deck, a blue/white/green with lots of trees, animals and deities. I also had a red/green deck built entirely around three transforming werewolves.

Now I always preferred buying booster packs and just building with what I got. I loved the random variety and challenge this posed to deck building. But my friends starting getting into min/maxing and ordering cards off of Amazon. They would research the best combos and order the right amount of cards to pull them off. They had some pretty good decks, but I was always able to compete with them.

Until the dragon deck... One of my friends built this red dragon deck that ruined magic for all of us. Using combos of artifacts and enchantments he was able to consistently get a slew of overpowered flying creatures onto the field and take you down to less than 10 health in maybe 4 turns. It was ridiculous. None of us stood a chance. We implored him to build another deck, but he insisted we "git gud". I didn't want to spend the time he did researching cards; I liked being casual about it and the rest of the guys just couldn't keep up. We eventually quit playing magic and moved onto Pokemon cards... which he promptly ruined for us as well.

I don't blame him, really. He had a craft and he honed it, and who can fault that? I do miss my cats and my angels and my wizards though, and wish we could go back to the days of carefree games with a six pack on the table.

just hit mythic for the first time ever and I gotta say: I feel pretty cool right now

@espercontrol#15152 Congrats! That's amazing

I worked in a comic shop from 2008-2010 and was always intrigued by Magic but overwhelmed at stepping into that world. I bought a starter deck and a bunch of boosters, opened everything and put them in a binder where they sat for a few years.

A friend who was super into the game wanted to teach me. He built a deck from what I had and then destroyed me over and over. I wouldn’t touch the game until Arena.

I got really into it early on and stayed with it almost up until the native macOS release. I just started to feel the grind of what happens with a lot of F2P games with a battle pass of some sort.

Fatigue set in and I moved on but seeing everyone’s posts here has me excited to jump back in.

_Edit: I'm all set back up with the client and my username is dracula#75349. I'll send requests out to those who have dropped their names here!_

Trying very hard not to talk about ridiculous old card prices, however I just saw this and can't help myself and must share.


(of course nobody would ever _play_ a card like that, it is purely an abstract asset of value, but still. lordy.)

@rejj#15285 there's a YouTube channel where this guy opens these old packs he saved as a kid and he opened an Alpha Black Lotus. His reaction is priceless:

I‘m bumping this thread because something monumental is happening to Magic the Gathering in just a few weeks: the release of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt. IMH will be a cool werewolf themed set and a return to one of Magic’s most tried and true realms, with lots of graveyard recursion and fun call backs to the classic Universal Studios monster movies of the 30s. More importantly it is the start of a new year of Standard, and Throne of Eldraine, Theros Beyond Death, and Ikoria Lair of Behemoths will all rotate out of the premier constructed format.

For those who haven't kept up with the game recently these sets have been an unprecedented disaster for competitive Magic. After a couple underpowered sets the dev team overcorrected and printed some truly broken cards. For the first time since 1996 a card was banned from Vintage, the format where ostensibly every card ever printed, including the famously busted ones like Black Lotus and Ancestral Recall, is allowed. On top of that, an entire new mechanic had to be nerfed in all formats, and dozens of other cards from the sets were banned in multiple formats. Even with the unprecedented bans and nerfs the cards from these sets dominated Standard, with cards like Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower showing up in any deck that could cast them regardless of what their gameplan was.

On September 16 they're finally gone, and we will have an enjoyable Standard again for the first time since early 2019. Rotation also marks the smallest amount of cards available to play, meaning its the best time for new players to join. You won't have to grind for the best cards in 8 different sets, and everyone will be on relatively equal ground not knowing yet what works and what doesn't. If you've been thinking of trying out the game or jumping back in after a hiatus, you couldn't pick a better time. Preview season has already started, and the new cards look real neat. Fun twists on staples like shock and doom blade have already been shown off, and the set features gorgeous Gustave Dore-esque block print full art lands.

Jump on in, the Magic's fine

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