MTG Arena: State of the Beta – July 2019

Posted in Magic Digital on July 18, 2019

By Wizards of the Coast

You know what? It's been a long couple of weeks. I think we've all earned ourselves a little vacation.

Plane-Cation Chronicles

Pack your bags, wear comfortable shoes, and hold onto your Spark at all times—it's time to hit the Multiverse in our new Chronicles event series, Plane-cation!

For travel and scheduling purposes, here's a breakdown of each one of our scheduled stops across the Blind Eternities:

  • Each event will start on Sunday at 8 a.m. PT (15:00 UTC) and end on the following Wednesday at 11 a.m. PT (18:00 UTC). Players will have until 8 a.m. PT Wednesday to join the event.
  • Players will earn rewards based on the number of wins, up to 6 wins for each event.
  • Losses are not tracked; you can play in each event until you earn the rewards (or the event itself ends) without starting over.
  • No entry fee!

For those of you who participated in our War of the Spark Chronicles events, you'll notice a couple of key differences. For starters, we shortened both how long the event lasts and the number of wins required to earn all the rewards. We heard (and saw) that as each event and the Chronicles themselves continued, players began to burn themselves out and stop playing. That is pretty much the exact opposite of what we wanted to happen. So! These events will be shorter, both in how long each is available but also how many wins it takes to earn the rewards. We picked Sunday as the start date because it tends to be the day we see the highest number of players, and it also corresponds with when the weekly win counter resets. Another change with this event is that you'll earn a reward for every win, up to the maximum of six wins per event.

As for the rewards themselves, we decided to keep it pretty basic.

Taking the Scenic Route

As you play, you'll be able to pick up the perfect souvenirs from your sojourn across the Blind Eternities: each Plane-cation event will reward one of each of the five basic land types, using artwork based on the location. For our first stop, Ravnica, you'll be able to earn six new basic lands to add your collection: Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, Forest, and Forest. Wait, more Forest? On Ravnica? That seems . . . unlikely.

Well, while we try to find a map (and maybe a different tour guide), we also want to call out that your first win will also reward 1,000 XP. It's important to note that each reward can only be earned once, but for basic lands, that's all you'll need: once the basic land is added to your collection, you'll be able to add any number of copies to any number of decks.

In addition to the event rewards, you'll also be able to use gems to purchase additional basic lands and basic land card styles in the Store. And for those of you who get a little homesick, the event rewards will be purchasable for gold at a later date.

Basic Land Filter

We introduced this feature back in May, but we thought this would be a good time to mention important basic land filter information again:

  • The filter is located in the Advanced Filter options, next to card rarities (basic lands are treated as their own card rarity).
  • Basic lands are only viewable while the Advanced Filter option is selected; trying to search for "Swamp" without this filter enabled will not display Basic Land — Swamp cards.
  • Players can use the mana symbols to sort by color identity. For example, if both Basic Lands and the green mana symbol are selected as filters, the deck builder will display available Basic Land — Forests.
  • Players can also sort by expansion by using the set filter options or our advanced search tools (e.g., "e:rtr" will show Return to Ravnica basic lands if you have the basic land filter enabled).
  • The basic land filter is also available in Limited events (Draft and Sealed) during deck building.

New Events: Guild Battle, Standard Shake-Up, and Landfall

In addition to Pauper and Treasure Constructed, we're going to be trying out three new events for the Chronicles: Guild Battle, Standard Shake-Up, and Landfall.

Guild Battle

What, you thought the inter-dimensional threat of an Elder Dragon set on godhood would mean everyone on Ravnica would finally decide to just . . . get a long for a bit? Nah. With this event, you'll pick from one of ten preconstructed decks to play with, each representing one of the ten guilds of Ravnica. You'll be able to preview the decks before selecting which one to begin with, and if you decide to swap allegiances, you'll be able to pick a different deck between matches. Also, please note that what happens on Ravnica stays on Ravnica—the decks and the cards you use for this event will not be added to your collection.

This is the new technology for the game, and the first time we're holding an event where you pick a preconstructed deck that uses cards that won't be added to your collection, so any feedback on the process is greatly encouraged!

Standard Shake-Up

Just so we're all on the same page here, this is not an indication of any pending banned or restricted announcement. For those of you who remember our Closed Beta days, about this time last year, we held an event we called Brewer's Delight where we encouraged players to participate with their wacky brews or off-meta decks. Alas, some players must've . . . missed the memo, and entered the event with their finely tuned, highly competitive decks (purely by accident, of course). Well, to ensure there are no mishaps when it comes to deck submissions, we've decided to ban Teferi some of the current Standard staples for this event, and this event only.

. . . Okay, but seriously, we're banning Teferi. A full list of the cards banned for this event (and this event only) is below:

This event should be a great opportunity to allow you to try your hand at brewing a new deck, or see what your favorite jank can do with the top Standard decks being on a little vacation of their own.

Landfall

For this event, each player will start with an emblem that reads, "Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, exile the top card of your library. If that card is a land card, put it into your hand. If that card is a creature card, put that card on the bottom of your library and create a 1/1 green Plant creature token. If that card is a noncreature, nonland card, put that card on the bottom of your library, each opponent loses 1 life, and you gain 1 life."

Live long and flourish, little Plant buddies. Last time we checked, Zendikar could sure use it.

Improvements to the Game Installer and Update Process

Or as you, the player, would probably label this section: "Finally!" After the July 25 game update, you should notice some serious improvements with how Magic: The Gathering Arena handles updates to the game. First, you'll no longer be required to download and reinstall the entire game client with most updates. We say "most," as there may still be some patches that require a complete reinstall, but for the vast majority, you'll only be downloading the changes and not the entire game client again. Secondly, the game will also be able to "pre-download" certain files and assets prior to the game update going live, which means come patch day, the only thing you should have to download are those changes to the client. Combined, these two changes should greatly improve both the time and the bandwidth needed to keep MTG Arena up to date on your machines.

The only caveat is, you do need to install the July 25 game update first for these changes to take effect, and this update will be using the current installation method. But going forward, you should no longer expect to have to download the entire game client with each update, and the game will be able to pre-download certain assets prior to the game update going live. This has been one of those housekeeping improvements we've been working on for a very long time, and it's a major step toward other features and improvements we have planned for the game!

Everyone Needs a Log

For players who like to parse or peruse the game's log files, these changes to the game client combined with other improvements to game performance do mean that our log outputs will be changing with this update. For those of you who use tracking tools or software that rely on game logs, this may require you to update some things on your end. To help get you started, here is an example output ( .pdf / .txt ) of what a log file will look like after the July 25 game update.

Clean-Up Phase

Chronicles are back, new basic lands and card styles are here, and we're updating our update process. These changes, alongside additional bug fixes and performance improvements, are scheduled to go live on July 25, so keep an eye on our status page for the latest information on maintenance times.

Until then, secure your carry-on items, stow your tray table, and please remain seated until Sparky has indicated it's safe to move about the Planes.

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