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Magic the Gathering Arena is coming to mobile, but can it beat Hearthstone?

(Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast)
(Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast)
Modified 13 Jan 2021, 01:05 IST

One of the longest-running and most complex collectible card games ever made will be coming to Android later this month, but can Magic the Gathering Arena compete with other online collectible card games?

Hearthstone shook up online card gaming when it released in mid-2014, and showed that online gaming was in desperate need of a well-made, collectible card game.

Hearthstone has since had its player base normalized. Only the most dedicated fans sticking around long term, leaving room for Magic the Gathering Arena to break into the mobile market.

What is Magic the Gathering Arena?

Magic the Gathering Arena is the most recent attempt to port the incredibly complex card game into a digital space. Although it has always had an online counterpart, Magic the Gathering Online had never achieved the widespread appeal as the physical card game. This was, in part, due to its clunkiness and lack of a free-to-play option.

Magic the Gathering Online is like the physical game. Players must purchase, trade, or acquire each card they intend to play with before they can even begin building a deck.

Magic the Gathering Arena is a streamlined version of Magic the Gathering Arena Online. It'll provide players with free cards and the ability to earn in-game currency to buy booster packs, alongside a rudimentary crafting system.

While Magic the Gathering Arena lacks the ability to buy or trade for specific cards, the fact that it can be played without requiring an upfront investment will help new players pick up the game.


This, combined with the fact that it features a very easy to learn user interface and offers visual cues to point out timing and rules interactions, makes Magic the Gathering Arena a great place to start learning the game.

The Magic the Gathering community is widespread and full of excellent content creators that make the game fun and interesting. Arena is one of the best ways to get started.

Current problems with Magic the Gathering Arena

While Magic the Gathering Arena is a good first step into the game’s universe, it has some notable issues that anyone looking to play should be aware of beforehand.

Magic the Gathering Arena has arguably one of the worst monetization schemes among all online collectible card games. The game lacks a way for players to turn unwanted cards into a resource, and there’s no way to purchase the exact cards needed to complete a deck.

As a result, a deck that costs roughly $200 in paper, where players purchase the exact cards they need on the secondary market, could effectively cost four times as much on Magic the Gathering Arena.

This only applies to players aiming to build a specific and highly optimized deck. Anyone who wants to earn cards and build fun and interesting decks out of whatever they have can enjoy Magic the Gathering Arena as much as anything else. Wizards of the Coast will likely need to address this issue if they ever want Magic the Gathering Arena to earn widespread appeal.

Published 13 Jan 2021, 01:05 IST
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