MTG Arena: State of the Game – December 2019

Posted in Magic Digital on December 10, 2019

By Wizards of the Coast

Performance Check-In

As we've done with our two previous State of the Games, we wanted to start things off by touching on our progress with performance improvements. This month will be a little shorter than previously, as our November game update showed significant improvements in all the areas we are currently monitoring.

  Before November Game Update After November Game Update
FPS Drops 88% of Players 25% of Players
Hitches 40% of Players 6% of Players

There's still work to be done, particularly for issues impacting memory allocation and usage (aka "memory leaks"), but our code refactor seems to be doing exactly what we hoped it would and is significantly reducing both the frequency and severity of FPS drops and unresponsiveness.

We hope most players have begun to see improvements, and the December game update will bring a few additional changes targeted toward memory allocation.

Brawlidays

Last month, we also talked about balancing the desire for more on-demand play while also ensuring that there are different and exciting experiences every time you play. However, when it came to all the play modes and formats that MTG Arena currently supports, there was one format in particular that has been at the forefront of something that players would like to see more of.

We're introducing a Brawl event with a one-time entry fee, available from December 12 to January 16. For 10,000 Gold or 2,000 Gems, you'll get into the event and receive one copy of a card we are adding to Brawl.

This is our first experiment with a long-term event in a pass style like this, so we're already planning to make some iterations based on player feedback and participation in the event. Ultimately, our goal is to do more events like this with Brawl, and potentially other formats in the future.

Let's talk about the event structure:

Brawlidays

Event Dates: December 12–January 16
Entry Cost: 10,000 Gold or 2,000 Gems
Event Record: None! Play as many games as you like until the event ends.

Once you've joined the Brawlidays event, you'll have access to a Brawl queue that will let you play against others all day, every day until the event ends. For everyone else, you'll still have a Brawl queue available every Wednesday, and you can still play against your friends any time using Direct Challenge.

But the event structure isn't the only thing we're experimenting with . . .

For our Commander aficionados out there, this is probably a familiar face—which is exactly why we're adding Rhys the Redeemed to MTG Arena for play in both Brawl and Historic. In Brawl, you'll be able to use Rhys the Redeemed as your commander or slot him into any deck that shares the appropriate color identity. We know this deviates from tabletop Brawl (which will remain Standard only), but just as we are with Historic, we're working closely with R&D to find ways that we can expand MTG Arena's available card pool to bring more fun and exciting experiences to our game.

Players who join Brawlidays will receive a copy of Rhys the Redeemed after earning their first win in the event, and Rhys will also be craftable using Wildcards for players looking to complete a playset for Historic play.

Historic

Speaking of Historic, let's talk about what changes are coming with the December game update and what plans we have for this format going forward. Since the introduction of Historic Anthology 1 and the launch of our Historic Ranked queue, we've been keeping a close eye on both the queue health and the meta as the format begins to develop.

While we're fairly happy with both the diversity of decks and how the new cards have helped shaped the meta, we have identified a few problematic cards to the format that we plan on suspending with the December game update. And if that sentence makes you furrow your brows in confusion, it's because we're also introducing the concept of "suspending" cards in Magic: The Gathering Arena. From a gameplay perspective, a card that is suspended will not be legal (and therefor unplayable) in a format, but our intention is to be more flexible with which cards are suspended and when, compared to more traditional bannings. Suspensions will be a temporary measure lasting for a Historic Ranked season, at which time we will either remove a card from the list or move it to being fully banned:

Card Suspensions

If you're interested in learning more about our banned versus suspended philosophy and how the two differ, as well as a deeper dive into why these particular cards were suspended, you should check out our companion piece to the State of the Game, the aptly named Historic Suspension Announcement.

Historic Events

In addition to our Historic Traditional Ranked queue that is currently active, we're also looking to provide more ways for you to enjoy Historic as a format in the upcoming weeks:

Historic Artisan: December 20–December 30

We're bringing the Artisan format (common and uncommon cards only) to Historic next week. Enter for 2,500 Gold or 500 Gems and play as much as you want. Your first 5 wins will net you 5 unique card styles.

Dominaria Ranked Draft: January 3–January 16

Yes, Dominaria Draft will be returning with the new year and will follow the same entry fee, event structure, and rewards as our other Ranked drafts. We know that this has been one of the most popular Limited environments in recent years (if not, ever) and is also a great way for players to expand their Historic collection.

Historic Challenge: January 11–13 We will also be introducing the Historic Challenge, a Constructed Best-of-Three event with a high entry fee—and prizes to match:

  • 8 Wins: 15,000 gold, 40 Historic boosters, Treasure Hunt, and Gaea's Cradle Card Sleeve
  • 7 Wins: 10,000 gold, 20 Historic boosters, Treasure Hunt, and Gaea's Cradle Card Sleeve
  • 6 Wins: 8,000 gold, 12 Historic boosters, Treasure Hunt, and Gaea's Cradle Card Sleeve
  • 5 Wins: 6,000 gold, 8 Historic boosters, Treasure Hunt, and Gaea's Cradle Card Sleeve
  • 4 Wins: 4,000 gold, 4 Historic ICRs (individual card rewards), and Treasure Hunt Card Sleeve
  • 3 Wins: 3,000 gold, 4 Historic ICRS, and Treasure Hunt Card Sleeve
  • 2 Wins: 2,000 gold, 4 Historic ICRs (individual card rewards), and Treasure Hunt Card Sleeve
  • 1 Win: 1,000 gold, 4 Historic ICRs (individual card rewards), and Treasure Hunt Card Sleeve
  • 0 Wins: 4 Historic ICRs (individual card rewards), and Treasure Hunt Card Sleeve

The event will cost 10,000 gold or 2,000 gems to enter, and players can play until 8 wins or 3 losses (whichever comes first). The Historic boosters will be evenly divided between the four non-Standard sets currently in MTG Arena.

Deck Sorting

. . . Do we need to say more?

As we continue to expand on the variety of events and formats that MTG Arena is looking to support, we're aware that it has become quite daunting to keep track of which New Deck is your new New Deck versus the New Deck that is your Brawl New Deck, when actually the deck you were thinking of was Imported Deck (3).

Questionable decisions regarding deck naming aside, starting with the December game update, you'll be able to sort your decks by format, color identity, alphabetical or last modified, search for them by name—or a combination of the above.

While we have a few more quality-of-life improvements planned for the December game update, this is one we wanted to call out in particular because we know it's been something players have been requesting for quite some time!

Cleanup Phase

The December game update is only a few short days away, arriving on December 12, 2019 at approximately 8 a.m. PT. Additional details are available on our status page, where you can also find the last information on any on-going maintenance or update times.

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