Within the wide and ever-changing world of MTG, there are always a few constants you can rely on. Blue players will always have that Counterspell, for instance, and Black Lotus will always be expensive. Alongside these fundamental truths about the universe, MTG players will always be able to enjoy their favorite format.
Bizarrely, it seems the last of those truths isn’t always the case. Not on MTG Arena, at least. With formats that briefly rotate in and out, players are stuck with a rather limited selection of what they can play. Still, at least the core format choices won’t just randomly go walkabouts and disappear from MTG Arena… Wait… What do you mean that Premier Draft is missing..?
Gone and Definitely Not Forgotten
Update: As of now, this issue has been resolved and Premier Draft has returned to MTG Arena!
Yesterday, many MTG players looking to enjoy Wilds of Eldraine as usual noticed something rather unusual. WIlds of Eldraine Premier Draft was just gone. Not visible on the main page, not the events tab, the beloved MTG format simply up and left practically without explanation!
As you can imagine, after realizing this oddity, many players quickly took to social media to share their frustration. Understandably upset at not being able to start player drafts, many wondered what was going on. Thankfully there was a simple reason behind this sudden disappearance; server troubles.
Sharing the answer on Reddit, u/WotC_Jay simply explained that “Drafting is being unstable right now, so we’ve temporarily disabled it while we sort things out.” While this obviously isn’t an ideal situation, thankfully, Jay explained it was little more than a brief delay to proceedings.
“If you’ve completed the drafting portion, you’ll be able to resume your event once we’re able to turn drafts back on. Sorry for the delay, but you won’t lose your progress.”u/WotC_Jay
Over on Twitter, the MTG Arena account stated that the issue should be fixed “some time tomorrow.” Since this all happened yesterday, that tomorrow has already arrived, and the issue is supposedly fixed. Looking at the MTG Arena Status Page, that certainly seems to be the case, as the issue is listed as “Resolved.”
Unfortunately, while the MTG Arena Status Page may say one thing, the game has a different story. Booting up MTG Arena at the time of writing, the Premier Draft option is still nowhere to be found. Considering the issue is meant to be resolved, this is obviously hardy ideal for players looking to enjoy some Drafts. As WotC_Jay said, however, this should only be a momentary disruption to proceedings.
The Problems Don’t End There
At the end of the day, player Draft going down for a day on MTG Arena is hardly the end of the world. After all, you only have to wait a day ish for the feature to return as if nothing happened. That being said, however, this digital problem does have some worrying implications for the future of MTG.
While they do have some awesome possibilities, digital MTG cards have a lot of problems. Not only is this true for Alchemy, but it’s also true of Urza, Academy Headmaster. Utilizing the AskUrza.com website, this MTG card requires the internet to be functional. This begs the question, what happens when the website goes down?
For this card, we technically already have the answer. AskUrza.com no longer exists. Instead, it has been replaced by a section of the Wizards website, which houses Un-Set recourses. Providing information about Devil K. Nevil and Urza’s Fun House, this redirected site is theoretically incredibly useful.
Unfortunately, however, at the moment, the website is completely broken and entirely unusable. Filled with un-intractable black voids, almost all of the website’s features have been made completely useless. The only feature to escape this fate is Urza, Academy Headmaster’s ability list which was made into a PDF.
Thankfully, these Un-Set cards are all silver-bordered/Acorn cards and don’t see competitive play, limiting the problem somewhat. While this is a silver lining, the affected cards are still worse for wear, Urza’s Fun House and Stickers especially.
Mercifully, while the website is broken at the time of writing, Wizards of the Coast is vaguely aware of the issue. This is thanks to Tumblr user Supaquazi who notified Mark Rosewater that the Un-Recourses aren’t working. Hopefully, this will lead to a fix in the future.
The Dangerous Digital Dilemma
Currently, as we’ve said before, a few broken Un-Set cards and a temporarily removed MTG format aren’t the end of the world. These issues are very fixable and should hopefully be being worked on when Wizards can. While this is good, and the right thing to do, there are obviously issues with maintaining digital assets.
For MTG Arena, these issues are sadly unavoidable thanks to it being a digital game. Like all digital games, bugs sadly do exist, even if only briefly before being patched out. For digital cards like Urza, Academy Headmaster, there’s evidently the same potential for issues that harm playability, even on paper.
Right now, this is almost a non-issue, however, Wizards has hinted at internet-requiring MTG cards being a possibility in the future. Brought up by Mark Rosewater in 2022, these hypothetical cards are, for better or worse, still a long way away. Despite this, however, it’s nonetheless a potential avenue for development in the tool kit.
“We thought ‘have to go to a website’ crossed the line into acorn. Maybe one day it won’t, but we’re nowhere close to it currently.”Mark Rosewater
Thankfully, even if the internet-requiring MTG future does arrive, it shouldn’t suffer from AskUrza’s problems. After all, if these hypothetical cards are eternal-legal, they’ll be more important and deserving of more upkeep. This would hopefully maintain any website without fault, allowing for cards to be played. That being said, physical backups would always be welcome, just in case.