Now’s the time to dive in to Magic the Gathering Arena

Posted on February 26, 2021

Hello and welcome, I am MrsLlante and I’ll be your tour guide into the wonderful world of Magic the Gathering. With the recent Kaldheim expansion combining Vikings and Metal, now is as good a time as any to get stuck in.

Magic the Gathering (MTG) is a Trading Card Game (TCG) created in 1993 by Richard Garfield and published by Wizards of the Coast. Over the 28 years of the game, there have been hundreds of thousands of cards printed that are playable to this day, with a few exceptions. I was introduced to Magic by my wife back in 2007 and haven’t looked back. It’s an easy game to play together with friends over beers and banter on a Saturday night, and we have done so for many a year. We always found ourselves, ‘bringing a deck’ along to a gathering just in case there may be a magic game to be had.

The game is easy to learn but takes a while to master. Think of yourself as a wizard, battling another wizard with a chasm between you both. You cast spells (play cards) from your hand to try and beat down and destroy the other wizard. Will you shoot fireballs and lightning bolts? What about summoning Godzilla to come and overrun your opponent? (Yes Ikoria had alt. art Godzilla cards!) Will you raise the dead or deal in blood sacrifices? Or you know, just casually power up vehicles with cats. The combos are almost endless and the board state is rarely ever the same. Oh, and sets drop like 2-3 times a year, so there are always new cards and new mechanics to bring new stories and enjoyability. It makes MTG an incredibly versatile and replayable game!

So have I got you interested yet? Good.

Magic the Gathering Arena (MTGA) was released in 2018 as the new online platform to enjoy the card game. Whilst it isn’t the first online version of MTG, it is becoming the more popular one for new and old players alike. It is free to play and easier to jump into than its predecessor Magic The Gathering Online (MTGO). The development of MTGA is constantly evolving to meet the player base expectation and has grown a lot since the early BETA.

Now I know that MTG may seem overwhelming to newcomers, but Arena eases new players into the MTG universe with easy to follow tutorials and tooltips to help guide you gently but firmly into the game. Unlike Hearthstone though, the tutorials are nowhere near as tedious. The ranking system is really intuitive and I highly recommend every player start with bot matches until confident and only use ranked matching. The amount of meme and jank decks on the ‘Play’ format is disheartening even for a seasoned player. MTGA is free to play, however it does come with a cash shop, mainly for cosmetics, pets and entries into limited and tournament events.

They offer a ‘Mastery Pass’ which rewards you as you play. What I love most about the quests is it isn’t ‘win’ based. You could earn 500 coins for playing 25 lands, casting 20 red or green creatures or even attacking with 30 creatures. If you play your ‘daily’ goals it encourages you to step out and play decks you wouldn’t normally do so. I find MTGA rewards players just for having a go. To get more cards so you can build more decks you can earn them quite easily, without spending real money. When opening packs you’ll also earn ‘Wild Cards.’ These can be traded for any card of the affiliated rarity. Unlike in paper magic where one Mythic Rare card could be worth .25c while another is $250, in Arena all Mythic Rares are worth a Mythic Rare Wildcard! This makes competitive decks absolutely accessible for everyone as it isn’t locked behind a paywall.

The newest set to be released on MTGA (and in real, physical form for those who prefer it) brings us to the frozen plane of Kaldheim. The world is full of Norse based mythology to life which features Vikings, monsters and gods. There is nothing more metal than Vikings, so Wizards collaborated with various bands like Mastodon, Amon Amarth and Rhapsody of Fire to help promote and reveal cards before release. How cool is that? (There is a joke about swinging axes here but it’s lost on me). The set is incredibly fun to play and perfect for a first time player.

Not to mention that this year has a couple of super interesting sets that are being leaked. In April we Strixhaven the ‘wizard school’ and late in the year, which has the most adorable introduction to date. And of course the much anticipated Dungeons and Dragons crossover, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms! What better time than now to get into Magic and see what all the fuss is about?

You can download MTG Arena here and check it out. The new set, Kaldheim, is available in both digital and physical form now.