MTG Arena: State of the Beta – June 2019

Posted in Magic Digital on June 27, 2019

By Wizards of the Coast

With a new card set on the horizon, we've brought back Jay Parker, MTG Arena's new game director, to tell you more about the core features and core set coming to you July 2 with the game update.

Core Power to You

Okay, so how exciting can a core set be? It's about the basics, the fundamentals, and ensuring that Magic is fun and accessible to everyone. Also the return of scry lands, Leylines, a new cycle of legendary wedge creatures, one ferocious pup, a really big hammer, and three Chandras (well, there's also the Planeswalker Decks, so make that four Chandras). If you haven't checked out the Core Set 2020 Card Image Gallery, we highly recommend doing so—because there's a lot this set has to offer.

And while you may have seen some of these cards, mechanics, and keywords before, their return to Standard means that starting next week, you'll be able to play with them on MTG Arena.

Are you excited? Because we're excited.

Core Set 2020 also gave us the opportunity to try new things with how we develop and implement card sets, efforts we hope you will feel as soon as you get the chance to play. For the first time ever, our development team ran an internal league in addition to our normal QA process to test the card set, so that everything from the draft picks to the visuals to the card interactions could have an extra layer of polish. We were also able to tackle some quality-of-life and long-standing gameplay improvements, such as making sure the act of revealing a card is less disruptive. Without naming any cards in particular, we've also improved how the game handles holding priority between phases, and attack with all should now work for creatures with certain combat stipulations (such as 1/1 red Goblin tokens with haste that attack this turn if able).

The one other change with this update is yes, the release date is July 2, and yes, since swapping the release date because of a holiday also changed up a few other dates, here's the current list of scheduled Core Set 2020 events in MTG Arena:

  • July 1: Early Access Event
  • July 2: Core Set 2020 Release Date
  • July 2–26: Core Set 2020 Sealed
  • July 8–Fall 2019: Core Set 2020 Traditional Draft
  • July 19–August 2: Core Set 2020 Ranked Draft

More info on all of our upcoming events can be found on our event calendar.

Ranked Draft

On the topic of the event schedule, there is something else we'd like to call out. Starting with Core Set 2020, once the current set is available for Ranked Draft, it will remain as a drafting option until the next set is released. This is something we know that players have been asking for, and since we've reached the point where we feel like we can support multiple Ranked Draft formats simultaneously, we are more than happy to make this option available. Yes, multiple. While the most recent set will be available, we're also going to continue to provide a second Ranked Draft event that will continue to rotate every few weeks. Starting in August, the schedule for Ranked Draft will begin to look like this:

  • July 5–19: War of the Spark
  • July 19–Fall 2019: Core Set 2020
  • August 2–16: Rotating Ranked Draft
  • August 16–29: Rotating Ranked Draft

As always, we'll be keeping an eye on things (specifically, match waiting times and the quality of matchmaking) to make sure that it's still an enjoyable experience for players regardless of their preferred Ranked Draft fort.

Mastery System—and Meow!

Back in February, we introduced a revamped tutorial and on-boarding system for players new to Magic: The Gathering Arena, generally referred to as the "New Player Experience" (or NPE for short). This new system changed the way players unlocked decks and rewards, adding more autonomy to their choices as well as a more interesting way for players to learn the basics of Magic: The Gathering Arena. We received a lot of positive feedback with the new system, so we decided to expand it beyond something just for new players. With Core Set 2020, we're introducing a Set Mastery system to help players explore the latest card set release—and earn more rewards in the process.

All players will gain access to the standard Set Mastery system, with the Mastery Tree and reward track (which will replace the Weekly Win rewards). Each Set Mastery will be available once a new set is released on MTG Arena, and players will have access to it until the next set releases. Using Core Set 2020 as an example, players will have access to the M20 Set Mastery starting on July 2 and will be able to earn rewards from the Core Set Mastery until the release of our fall set.

Okay, so where does the cat come in?

Players looking to earn even more rewards can do so by purchasing a Mastery Pass, which expands the number and types of items players can receive by playing. In addition to more booster packs, the Mastery Pass adds gold, gems, individual card rewards, card sleeves, and, yes, an Elemental Cat companion to your rewards. Your new feline friend will celebrate your victories, comfort you in defeat, and . . . yep, cough up fur balls (or are they fire balls?). Players who purchase the Mastery Pass will gain access to the Elemental Cat and it's five color options immediately (yes, it's WUBRG; yes, we checked), and as you increase your Set Mastery, you will unlock additional upgrades for your cat companion.

The Core Set Mastery Pass can be purchased for 3,400 gems and will be available starting on July 2. Just like the Set Mastery, the Mastery Pass will be available until the next set is released, and whenever you decide to purchase it, you'll receive all the Mastery Pass rewards up to your current level.

London Mulligan

Lastly, a general reminder that with the release of Core Set 2020, the mulligan rules will be updated to the "London Mulligan" across digital and tabletop: each time you take a mulligan, you draw seven cards. Once you decide which hand to keep, you must put a number of cards from your hand equal to the number of times you have mulliganed this game on the bottom of your library in the order of your choice. If you mulliganed once, you have to put one card back, etc.

For those of you who participated in our War of the Spark Chronicles events, you may have already tried out these new rules as part of our technical test earlier this month. A big thank you to everyone who participated, since your feedback and reports allowed us to fix some bugs and improve the user experience. You'll be seeing the new mulligan rules across all formats and events in MTG Arena starting on July 2!

The Road to Rotation

If you're asking yourself, "Wait, what's rotation?," we suggest you start off by reading our Rotation Q&A. For everyone else, well . . . as you're probably aware, rotation is only a few months away. Come this fall, Standard will bid farewell to the Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and Core Set 2019 card sets. Since this is the first time that players and their MTG Arena collections will be going through rotation*, there's a lot to cover between now and then. No time like the present to get started!

*Technically, rotation happened last year as well, but it coincided with our Closed Beta account wipe.

The Big Questions—and Answers!

  • Fall 2020 – Rotation will happen with the release of our fall set, code-name "Archery."
  • No Collection Resets – There will be no reset, wipe, or removal of cards from your collection. Those cards will still be yours to play with in non-Standard formats! And as a general reminder, there are no plans for any future resets, wipes, rollbacks, etc. Barring what could only be described as a catastrophe on multiple levels, cards in your collections will stay there.
  • Amonkhet and Kaladesh Blocks TBD – Amonkhet and Kaladesh blocks will not be returning to MTG Arena with rotation. While we are still interested in finding the right way to bring these sets back to MTG Arena, we're holding off for now. We made this decision because the current Standard meta is pretty healthy right now, so we hope this will naturally lead into a healthy non-rotating format as well. As more sets are released and the historic meta develops, we'll continue to evaluate when it might be the right time to add these sets. They'll be back one day, just . . . not right now.
  • Historic PlayThere will be events and other ways you'll be able to use cards from sets no longer in Standard in a format we're calling "Historic." This will include a Historic Play queue (both Best-of-One and Best-of-Three), Direct Challenge, practice matches with Sparky, as well as some of our rotating events that are not beholden to Standard (such as Pauper, Singleton, etc.). Historic will be specific to MTG Arena, and we intended for it to be a fun and casual way you can continue to play with all the cards in your collection.
  • Renewal – We'll be adding some special events and rewards for players to help "renew" their collection for the new Standard environment as well as to show our appreciation for all of your support. We expect to have more information on this system sometime in August!

We will have more information and updates for you in the coming weeks, and if there are any other burning questions that this or our Rotation Q&A doesn't cover, be sure to let us know!

July 2 Updates

Events, ICRs, New Player Decks, Wildcards, and Booster Packs

Rotation is always an exciting time for Magic: The Gathering players, and we want to make sure that our players are ready to try out new decks as they explore a new meta. As part of this, there are some changes we'll be making with the July 2 update to further help players with their rotation readiness:

  • Events – With the July 2 update, we will no longer be scheduling Limited events for sets rotating out of Standard this fall. Draft and Sealed events will use sets starting from Guilds of Ravnica and going forward.
  • Individual Card Rewards (ICRs) – With the July 2 update, players will no longer receive ICRs from sets that will be rotating out of Standard this fall. Any ICRs players earn from events or daily win rewards will be from sets that are not rotating in the fall (Guilds of Ravnica, Ravnica Allegiance, War of the Spark, and Core Set 2020).
  • New Player Decks – The tutorial and Account Mastery Tree have been updated to reward new decks and card styles. For existing players: We currently intended to grant all players these updated decks by the time rotation happens so everyone will have access to decks that are Standard legal. There's some tech we need to implement first to make this happen, but we're working on it!
  • Wildcard Redemption – You will still be able to craft cards from rotating sets using wildcards! With this update, we did add an additional confirmation message when crafting cards that will be rotating out of Standard. Please Note: This does not take into consideration any cards that may be reprinted in Archery.
  • Booster Packs – Packs for rotating sets are also still available for purchase in the store. Similar to wildcards, with this update we're adding additional messaging to remind players that these sets will be rotating out of Standard.

Clean-Up Phase

New card set, new mastery system, new mulligan rules, and more coming to you on July 2! Full patch notes will be available once the update is live, so keep an eye on our status page for the latest information on maintenance times. For those of you eager to see more of these new cards and features in action, be sure to join us on July 1 for our Early Access Event!

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