Thoughts from the pros on Magic: The Gathering Arena

Magic: The Gathering Arena

A new challenger has entered the digital card game arena to stand up to the likes of Hearthstone and Gwent, and it is none other than the granddaddy of card games, the one that started it all, Magic: The Gathering. Having gone into open beta only a few weeks ago, thousands of players have been able to take a crack at Magic: The Gathering Arena, and we talked to three pro-level players to give their thoughts on the new game.

First up is Rudy Briksza, who is a top player on the Star City Games circuit:

Daily Esports: What are your overall thoughts on Arena?

Rudy Briksza: As a competitive player, Arena isn’t appealing to me. It’s fine and looks flashy, and I hope it gets a lot of new players into the game.

DE: How do you think it is compared to other digital CCGs like Hearthstone and Gwent?

Rudy: I think Magic is the best card game out there but has lacked a solid online platform. I am hoping Arena helps make it [as] enjoyable to watch as it is to play.

DE: Do you think this is good for newer or less experienced Magic/CCG players?

Rudy: Arena does a great job at introducing the rules of Magic. There’s a ton of complicated rule structures in place and a lot of nuance, and Arena has done a good job demonstrating that to new players in a way they can understand.

DE: What is your favorite deck to use so far?

Rudy: I’ve been a big fan of the Frenzy Red deck. I like drawing cards and Experimental Frenzy is awesome. Runaway Steam-Kin is also a fun magic card. It isn’t overly broken, but lets you do a lot of fun things.

Next up we have Lee Steht, with 13 Pro Tours under his belt from the very first all the way to Belgium in 2015:

DE: What are your overall thoughts on Arena?

Lee: Much more appealing visually and gameplay-wise compared to Magic: The Gathering Online. A solid experience.

DE: How do you think it is compared to other digital CCGs like Hearthstone and Gwent?

Lee: It’s similar to many of today’s digital card games. It might not have the depth of Hearthstone, but it’s still early and can easily gain a following.

DE: What improvements would you suggest to improve the experience?

Lee: My concern is older sets (vintage, legacy, etc.). I will have a hard time playing eternal formats on Magic: The Gathering Online, and Arena. I’d say shut down MTGO [and] convert all accounts to Arena. That would be a major improvement.

DE: Do you think this is good for newer or less experienced Magic/CCG players?

Lee: I do think this is great for new players. Arena allows minimal cost to play with pre-constructed decks, allowing a player to get a feel of the game of Magic. As the player progresses, they can invest more and play in more competitive ways/formats.

DE: What is your favorite deck to use so far?

Lee: Mono Green has been my go-to deck to obtain daily goals and prizes. It’s fast and has big guys.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame player, Ben Stark:

DE: What are your overall thoughts on Arena?

Ben: Arena is definitely the future of Magic on the internet. Not having to tap lands when casting spells is amazing.

DE: How do you think it is compared to other digital CCGs like Hearthstone and Gwent?

Ben: It looks great. A lot like Hearthstone.

DE: What improvements would you suggest to improve the experience?

Ben: You should have the option to play or draw. Also, it would be cool if they had competitive draft leagues where you drafted against other humans, and non-competitive leagues where you draft against the AI.

DE: Do you think this is good for newer or less experienced Magic/CCG players?

Ben: Yes, definitely. It shows you what step you are about to go to, and the program does a lot for you. I think this is a much easier way to learn Magic than paper.

DE: What is your favorite deck to use so far?

Ben: I have been playing all limited (surprising, I know).

A big thanks to Rudy, Lee, and Ben for sharing their thoughts with us! If you want to try Magic: The Gathering Arena for yourself, check it out at Wizards of the Coast’s MTGA page. Also, make sure to follow Ben on Twitter at @BenS_MTG and Rudy at @TheNotoriousBza.

Kevin has been a fan of fighting games since he first walked up to a Marvel vs. Capcom cabinet at the tender age of 8 at the local arcade. (Kids ask your parents what an “arcade” is) He may not be very good, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying them.