Wizards of the Coast has released details on how Magic: The Gathering Arena‘s free-to-play and paid structures, and its first game events, will work.
The Gold economy that’s being used to purchase card packs is still there, but a paid microtransaction currency has also been added, called Gems. Gems will allow players to buy card packs and entry to the new events: Quick Draft and Quick Constructed, which Executive Producer Chris Cao called a “test of our best of one modes” during a press conference call earlier.
Events will hit the game alongside the Dominaria block update to Arena, and the events will likely work on a monthly or weekly schedule depending on the event in question.
Now, onto details of the two new event types themselves.
Quick Draft is a weekend-only mode built around drafting 40-card decks against 7 AI-controlled players. These AI competitors will remove cards from the pool. Once drafting is completed, human players will be entered into an event together to compete until players have either seven wins or three losses.
You do have to pay either Gold or Gems to enter a Quick Draft, but the rewards are actually quite good. Whatever the outcome, you get to keep all the cards you drafted. And based on your win total, you get card packs, and possibly Gems. Including Gems as a reward for Draft is an interesting way to incentivize the event, and to help the best players stay in the game.
Quick Constructed games will give you a chance to take one of your previously made decks for a spin. They’ll work similarly, but will run at all times and cost less in-game currency to enter and give lesser rewards—cards and gold only, not gems or packs.
One major restriction to Arena that might turn some players off is that the game will only include Standard format cards. Wizards didn’t disclose what cards that rotate out will be used for, but we’re guessing it’s some form of card crafting or conversion. There’s already the Wildcard system, where rare cards can be converted into any similar rarity of card.
Another potential turn-off is that Arena has no trading system, we talked about how the team is handling the economy previously.
And for those of you concerned about potentially predatory drop rates on rare cards, Wizards plans to publish drop rates for packs once Arena hits Open Beta. They’ve also reiterated that no gameplay content will be exclusively accessible via real-world money.
The Closed Beta is ongoing, and Wizard is constantly working on tweaking the experience. The dev has said that they will wipe the card database of all players prior to open launch, while refunding the equivalent in premium currency so players from the Beta can get back to roughly where they left off.