In the manner of a bodyguard hurling themselves in front of a bullet, I am hurling myself in front of a story about Magic: The Gathering's digital free-to-play card game, Magic: The Gathering Arena [official site] in order to protect Alice and Brendan from it. SAVE YOURSELVES, FRIENDS!
1. I now just want to watch old news reports about Magic: The Gathering and enjoy everyone's hairstyles and outfits.
2. "Magic: The Gathering Arena is the first game developed in-house by Wizards of the Coast's new Digital Games Studio."
3. "The studio is creating a Magic experience with the full rules and ongoing content support for new card sets, just like the revered tabletop game. The game is designed and built for digital gamers without compromising Magic's core gameplay. Every element of the game design is focused on an engaging and dynamic experience, true to authentic Magic, to provide players and viewers fast-paced, exciting, and easy-to-follow matches."
So yeah, they're going HARD on the idea of staying true to the MTG experience but clearly being aware of the importance of streaming, so the idea of it being as fun to watch is a big 'un. Hi Twitch...
4. I don't play Magic: The Gathering, I just make various noises as people talk about it when we're at the pub after a games expo kicks out so I have no specific insight here other than being a digital card bodyguard. I'm also not entirely sure how this differs from Magic Online of Magic Duels, just that it sounds more comprehensive than Duels and more focused on newness than Online. Perhaps you can help me with that one in the comments?
5. It's kind of interesting how the game that people often use as a reference point when they talk about digital card games is getting its own digital version well after it feels like digital card game fatigue/saturation has been reached. Maybe I'm just basing that verdict off Brendan's ever-slumped shoulders as the genre is mentioned, but the response to Dota's card game being announced suggests I'm not wrong.
EDIT: I wrote "getting its own digital version" before I remembered about Online and Duels and then forgot to rewrite point 5 after doing point 4. The basic point about potentially missing the window for digital card game hunger remains, but obviously there's a bunch of digital history and figuring things out that this point originally ignored.
6. That said, people who like Magic are probably hungry specifically for a Magic game and not an approximation of some sort. There are obviously workarounds - Tabletop Simulator springs to mind - but officialness is a different prospect.
7. That might be a blessing OR a curse, given how obsessed with MTG I've know people have gotten.
8. There's a closed beta for Magic: The Gathering Arena so sign up for if you're interested and the studio say that testing sessions should begin later in 2017 with the first iteration of casual Constructed play "with cards from the Ixalan release".
I'll quote directly so you know a bit more about what that entails:
"During the Closed Beta, we'll start with Constructed play, where you can build decks using all 279 cards from the upcoming Magic set Ixalan. We plan to add Draft and Ranked Constructed later. Our goal for launch is to include all Standard-legal Magic cards. We have a long roadmap of features planned for MTG Arena and will share each one when we're ready for your feedback."
9. In case you saw the video length and went "ain't got no time for this!" the actual gameplay starts at 6:45.
10. There's an online FAQ if you had questions about PC system requirements and priority access. The latter is linked with your other MTG activities in ways that are hand-wavingly mysterious to me but CODES are involved.