Throughout recent years, the casual-focused format of Commander has exploded in popularity. Quickly becoming the most played format in the entire game, Commander is now guiding MTG’s development with new design philosophies and products. Despite the format’s immense popularity, however, playing the format digitally is easier said than done. After all, Commander isn’t even an option on the most popular digital client, MTG Arena. Thankfully, this may finally be about to change, at long last.
When it comes to playing Commander digitally, MTG players are left with very few options. Magic: the Gathering Online has a robust version of the format, however, the preferred way to digitally play Commander is usually via Spelltable. Built specifically to facilitate remote paper play, this app was widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic. While each of these clients offers an enjoyable Commander experience, neither perfectly emulates the tabletop experience. They are, however, leagues ahead of MTG Arena’s Commander-esque offering of Historic Brawl. Utilizing MTG Arena’s competitively meager pool of cards, alongside digital-exclusive Alchemy cards, Historic Brawl is hardly comparable with Commander, especially since the format only allows 1v1 games.
Thankfully, while MTG Arena has existed for many years without a proper Commander format, this may be about to change. Due to recent statements from Wizards, sadly, it seems 2023 won’t be the year MTG Arena gets Commander!
Is Commander Coming to MTG Arena?
Currently, Wizards of the Coast has not confirmed any explicit plans to release Commander on MTG Arena. That being said, however, recent statements from Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks heavily imply that Wizards is working on implementing the format. Speaking to investors in a conference call, Cocks revealed Wizards are “figuring out how we can get a true multiplayer experience beyond two players, for Magic digitally.” Specifically naming Commander as an inspiration, it seems almost guaranteed that a variant of the format is coming to MTG Arena in the future.
Despite Cocks not giving any concrete details, it nevertheless seems incredibly likely that Commander is in the works for MTG Arena. Unfortunately, however, there’s little word on when this feature could arrive on the platform. Following recent comments during Wizards 30th Anniversary Preview Panel at Gen Con, it seems MTG players may be waiting for a while.
Speaking about future plans for MTG Arena, Chris Kiritz specifically identified multiplayer formats as a major goal. Sadly for excited players, however, implementing this feature isn’t an easy feat. During the presentation, Kiritz mentioned an alternative multiplayer-focused Arena client may be needed. Thanks to development difficulties, Wizards is unsurprisingly keeping their cards close to their chests.
Optimistically, it’s possible multiplayer formats, such as Commander, may arrive on MTG Arena sometime in 2025. This estimate, however, is solely based on the context of Kiritz’s recent statements, which were made during a segment about 2025’s content calendar. Ultimately, MTG players are just going to have to wait and see what the future holds for this much-requested feature.
Is Commander Coming to MTG Arena in 2023?
As mentioned above, it is incredibly unlikely that Commander will launch on MTG Arena in 2023. Instead, players should set their sights on 2025 as the closest possible release date for the format. Should development kinks be worked out, it’s possible the feature may launch sooner, however, I wouldn’t hold your breath. As an important note, Wizards hasn’t given players an official date or timeline just yet.
While the prospective 2025 release window is a long way away, thankfully, MTG Arena players have plenty to look forward to in the interim. For example, Pioneer is finally coming to the platform by the end of 2024. This is thanks to a Pioneer Masters set, which will finally bring a tournament-ready version of the format to Arena.
Alongside this major release, MTG players can also look forward to Khans of Tarkir. Unlike a traditional remaster set, this set will literally just be Khans of Tarkir. As if that wasn’t enough to get excited about, MTG Arena will also be getting Modern Horizons 3! Similar to what it is expected to do to Modern, this set should shake up the Historic metagame significantly.
Commander Cards Are Coming to Arena!
While the full implantation of multiplayer and Commander may be a while away, Wizards is giving players a treat in the interim. For the first time ever some of the unique Commander cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan are coming to MTG Arena! While this is obviously incredibly exciting, unfortunately, only four of the 49 new cards are being added.
With so few of the Commander set being added to MTG Arena, this might not seem like a big deal. Hopefully, however, it’s the exact opposite, as this could be Wizards taking their first steps forward Commander’s implantation. Sure, we’re still a long way away from 2025, but it looks like Wizards really does care about the future format’s health.
In case you’re eager to play with these new Commander cards, here’s a rundown of the new cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan.
- Admiral Brass, Unsinkable – Ahoy Mateys
- Clavileño, First of the Blessed – Blood Rite
- Pantlaza, Sun-Favored – Veloci-Ramp-Tor
- Xolatoyac, the Smiling Flood – Explorers of the Deep
Currently, there’s no word on whether or not these new Commander cards will be a fluke or part of an ongoing trend. Given that Wizards of the Coast is a business, we imagine this will depend on how successful this experiment is. Hopefully, given that we’d love to see more, Wizards will continue adding Commander cards to Arena throughout 2024 and beyond. Whether or not this will happen, however, remains to be seen.
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