Seth probably better known as @SaffronOlive says: “It’s Time to Stop Comparing Magic Arena to Magic Online”. @Peer_Rich, founder of Snapcardster strongly disagrees. We need to compare Magic Arena to Magic Online until things change. In this short response, @Peer_Rich will bring up some counterarguments and reasons why “We Shouldn’t Stop Comparing Magic Arena to Magic Online”.

Magic Arena is great. Period. When Wizards first announced the closed beta on Twitch I was rushing to my computer to sign up. When I was studying in 2014 I played three seasons of Hearthstone semi competitively, but never tried to reached legend. It was just to much time commitment. I’ve bought MTGO for a fiver, signed up for some draft and limited action and was instantly disappointed (no need to explain). A few weeks after preregistering for MTG Arena I received the golden ticket to play my favorite game in a Hearthstonish-client. The first reaction: THIS IS AWESOME.

My honest opinion: For Magic to be competitive, MTGO needs to be replaced in the long run. Do it slowly, but do it eventually. Going forward I’ll quote and respond to Seth’s statements.

[…] the community is divided. Some people love the casual kitchen-table feel of the game’s free-to-play aspects. Others hope that it will change and mold itself into an eventual Magic Online replacement, fit for competitive play and huge big-money tournaments.

The community is not divided. Both scenarios are very likely and highly appreciated. It’s is not a zero-sum game to build a fun but competitive client (see Hearthstone).

Wizards’ original digital client’s failings make people skittish about Arena, but at the same time, some of the more requested features for Arena(like chess clocks, the ability to auto-yield to triggers, and the like) are things that Magic Online has been doing for years.

On Arena, you can have highly competitive matches already without chess clocks. It’s just different. I believe Arena has it’s competitive future even if those features will not be implemented. It’s just a different way of playing magic. As long competitors know what they sign up for and it’s fun and fair, there is no need to equalize all systems.

Adding a chess clock to Arenawould make the game more suited for competitive play and would help ensure that every fringe deck is playable, but it would come at the cost of slowing down the other 90% of games.

You can run only premiere events with a chess clock or even mimic the real life system of judges watching.

When you type “Human” into the Magic Online deck builder you get 6,735 results. This is a feature rather than a bug, but it still makes the game overwhelming for new players. Similarly, as of yesterday morning there were nearly 50 events listed on Magic Online.

This is more like sloppy UI design rather than a problem of card pool size. You could ask the player in the onboarding process about his favorite formats and filter those unrelated or banned cards. A filter option for standard-legal filter turns 6,735 cards into 173.

Arena Is Not a Magic Online Replacement

Correct. That’s what the official statement says. In my opinion it should become one. Why?

  1. New people don’t sign up for Magic Online
  2. Standard, Sealed, Draft will be played on MTG Arena going forward
  3. Advertising one game is already hard, let’s focus on the better client: Arena

Which ultimately means: even calculating with a small churn rate, the player base of Magic Online will shrink dramatically. And since Standard, Sealed, Draft are available, Arena and MTGO compete already in those formats.

Magic Arena will not replace Legacy, Vintage, Eternal Cubes, Commander. That’s for sure, but what about Modern?

Magic Arena should replace primary formats

I strongly believe in high REL organized play events in MTG Arena. This means we’ll be enjoying Standard, Sealed, Draft and hopefully Modern in MagicFest-ish environments.

Yes, current enfranchised players love Modern, and some even love Legacy and Vintage, but adding 25 years of cards to Arena, along with a bunch more events to support these cards, hugely increases the complexity for new and intermediate players, who mostly play Standard and Limited anyway.

And this is where things are becoming more and more interesting:

A non-rotating format will come to Arena, eventually

To put the nail in the coffin for MTGO in a few years

At some point Wizards will run into the problem of non-playable cards on Arena due to rotation. It would be unclever and uneconomic to not reuse those again, which means there will be a modern-ish arena format coming up.

Should we have two similar but different formats? No!

That’s why the end goal should be a Modern playable format on Arena. With the new release of Guilds of Ravnica we received shocklands and I’m 100% positive that fetch lands will return.

Making a case for the Top 50 Modern cards

Making a case for the Top 50 Modern cards

Looking at the Top 50 most played Modern cards of October 2018 it becomes clear that introducing Modern in Arena by reprinting cards is not impossible. While cards like Jace, The Mind SculptorJace, The Mind Sculptor should never be standard-legal again, 49/50 can pretty much appear in Standard at any given time.

For Paper-Magic and Arena it would be an impressive step for wizards to increase their reprint frequency. Reprinting Modern staples more often is something The Professor has proposed very very clearly.

By distributing only 5% of the Top 100 Modern cards in standard legal sets (avg. 250 cards, 12 cards per set) it would only take 8 sets to introduce  Modern Lite. That’s only two years to bring the most played Modern cards to Arena, without doing something different. No need to “go back in time” and “start from scratch”.

  1. People love Modern staples in Standard sets
  2. It’s literally less work reprinting cards than coming up with new card designs
  3. Throw in some non-standard Modern Masters sets on Arena and you’ll get the Top 1000 cards in less than three years.

When all Grand Prix and Pro Tour formats: Standard, Draft, Sealed and Modern are available on Arena, there is no future for Magic Online other than support for Legacy, Vintage, Pauper and Commander. I think MTGO is perfectly fine for those formats, since they haven’t received “official support” by Wizards anyway.

Let’s continue comparing Arena and MTGO until Modern becomes a thing and MTGO is fully replaced for all primary formats.



Peer made his first steps in magic business with the sleeves brand: Bordifies.com. Since 2016, he's devoting himself to build the safest way to buy and sell magic cards with Mage Market.