28, Sep, 23

MTG Arena Disaster Update Introduces Amazing Failsafe!

Article at a Glance

If you tried to play MTG Arena this past week, chances are the opening line of a recent article from Wizards of the Coast summarizes your experience rather accurately:

Well, this last week sure hasn’t gone as we planned.

MTG Arena ran into a series of bugs this past week, which crippled players’ ability to utilize the platform. Premier Draft, one of the most popular formats in the game, was down for multiple days. The game has otherwise been riddled with a variety of other smaller bugs, but this one was, by far, the biggest.

Unfortunately, the timeline to addressing every issue is still unclear, but what is clear is that we might not be out of the woods yet. The good news is that last week’s hiccups created a new failsafe for Premier Draft that will save a lot of problematic drafts. The bad news is that there are still some persisting problems.

An Indeterministic Date

Addressing players’ concerns for proper in-game functionality, Chris Kiritz, chief producer at Magic Digital, gave an honest answer: “we’re working on it but don’t have an official timeline yet.”

Kiritz writes that for some players, MTG Arena is functioning pretty much normally. Others are still experiencing some technical difficulties that the Arena team should be aware of.

“I know this isn’t a fulfilling answer, but it is where we are right now, and for that we’re sorry.”

Even though there are some things that still need fixing, MTG Arena developers do have the more egregious issues somewhat solved, allowing the previously inaccessible Premier Draft to function as normal for the most part. Here are the areas that have been fixed in a bit more detail:

  • Premier Draft is now up and running.
  • Following a double messaging issue, the MTG Arena player inbox is currently under investigation and shut down. This was in the middle of the MTG Arena anniversary event, so once the Arena team is confident that this will function properly, it will return and anniversary messages will continue.
  • The MTG Arena shutdown that occurred this Monday on the Pacific appears to be coincidental, but has made investigations into fixing issues more complicated.

In summary, while we do not know when MTG Arena will be back to peak condition, things are getting better, and the MTG Arena team is working on it.

Following this, Wizards of the Coast explained what exactly went wrong with Premier Draft and what was done to fix it – including a new failsafe that should help players avoid drafting with a mashup of unplayable chaff when Premier Draft servers experience a crash. This, however, does not mean fix the random card drafts when the problem is on the player side.

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A Huge Step in the Right Direction

For any who have played a Premier Draft before, provided you play a good amount of it, chances are you’ve had one of your drafts partially, or completely, randomized. This generally occurs when some sort of connection issue appears, disconnecting you from the client and making you unable to pick your cards.

In order to keep things running at a smooth pace, Premier Drafts on MTG Arena have timed picks, meaning that if you do not make your pick within a certain amount of time, you will get a card at random and get passed your next pack. This creates a mess of cards that is very difficult to turn into a working deck.

The alternative is one player slowing down an entire table, which could make Premier Drafts unplayable. What happens if one player disconnects or intentionally leaves the table? To avoid other players waiting forever, draft picks are timed to keep things moving.

While, most of the time, a randomized pool is due to something on the player’s side, whether it’s a power outage or your internet just stops working, Premier Draft disconnections occasionally are an issue on the server end, and that’s why Premier Draft was shut down last week.

“Last week, a sudden and unexpected database performance issue sprang up. Our services suffered from severe delays during database writes, where actions taken by players are recorded for future reference. Behind the scenes, engineers were scrambling to investigate and diagnose the issue. Most of the system continued to work as normal, with slightly noticeable wait times. However, the impact on Premier Draft was catastrophic.”

Ben Smith

Basically, things slowed down so much on the MTG Arena server end that players’ draft picks were timing out before players could even get access to the cards on their screen. Some draft screens were straight-up unresponsive and, long story short, players would get their picks completely randomized outside a few lucky ones because of how much delay there was.

This issue has now been fixed by an elite emergency Arena team dubbed ‘The P0 Live team’ – “a strike team of the people best qualified to solve P0 issues—critical issues more important than Priority 1.”

In order to prevent similar problems like this occurring in the future, Ben Smith introduces a new feature that has been implemented in Premier Draft:

“Players returning to a draft interrupted by a server crash can start a new draft on the same event without having to request reimbursement.”

This means that, if your draft was ruined by a server-based issue, you won’t need to hop on over to Wizards Help and ask for your money back. MTG Arena should now allow you to draft a new deck without issue.

This is Only on the Server End

The point to stress with this new feature is that randomized draft piles are not going to disappear forever. This should, hopefully, alleviate the problem when it truly is a server issue, but it won’t get around your wifi randomly dropping off. Those situations will still create randomized pools that you may need to stick with.

Alternatively, this could also have an unintended effect on a draft that crashes in the last few picks. Maybe your deck was absolutely incredible, had a playset of Imodane’s Recruiter and all the fixings, but the draft crashes on your last few picks. Instead of the final few inconsequential cards not mattering, you may be forced to redraft your entire deck, with the potential for it to be worse.

That said, as mentioned in Wizards of the Coast’s article, server-side issues are incredibly rare. While this new feature should help prevent players from having their drafts ruined by things completely out of their control, it will only fix certain issues that are completely out of their control. Sometimes internet providers simply run into issues and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Regardless, this failsafe should, hopefully, make things for the better for hundreds of drafts to come.

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