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Magic: The Gathering Arena ups the ante and launches into open beta today

The great granddaddy of collectable card wizard em’ ups is back in style, and cribbing a few style tips from Hearthstone today, as Magic: The Gathering Arena opens its doors to all, free-to-play. While technically now in ‘open beta’, that’s just a warning sign that the paint might still be wet, and a couple bugs may still be lurking around – there’ll be no account wipes from here. The game is effectively out now, and after playing the closed beta for a while, I reckon it’s a solid starting point for Magic novices and experts alike. Below, the launch trailer.

Magic: The Gathering Arena is the latest in a long line of digital adaptations of the venerable CCG, and probably the most accessible to newcomers so far. Its playfield and effects are unarguably modelled after Hearthstone, but it uses the full-fat tabletop rules, making it a far more involved and complex game where matches can stretch out far further. Fortunately, tutorials and a good number of new players means that there’s plenty of room to learn the ropes, even if (surprisingly) there’s no solo options here. No AI, no missions, just other players to tussle with.

The game currently contains the Core 2019 card-set, plus the Guilds Of Ravinca, Dominara, Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan expansions all at the same price. Completing the tutorial earns you a full starter deck of each colour to mix and match as you see fit, and you can earn extra packs through play at a decent rate. There’s also a $5 ‘Welcome Bundle’ containing 5 core card packs, plus enough gems (the in-game currency) for another twelve packs, which isn’t a bad buy-in price, all considered. As with Hearthstone, cards can only be collected, not traded with other players.

Magic: The Gathering Arena is free-to-play, and out now in open beta. You can get it here.

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