Having only been released in 2018, MTG Arena, for better or worse, has a somewhat limited selection of MTG cards. Featuring only 7,741 out of the 25,348 MTG cards ever released, MTG Arena has a more delicate, almost curated, ecosystem compared to the main game. Due to this diminished selection of cards, new additions from Historic or Explorer Anthologies can cause havoc within the game’s unique formats. Similarly, a powerful premier set reprint like Lilinana of the Veil can effectively reinvent formats on MTG Arena. Ultimately, this means that many iconic cards from MTG’s 30 years of history are too powerful for MTG Arena. Recently, however, Wizards has been seriously surprising players by implementing some of MTG’s strongest cards through rather unusual means.
All Powerful Alchemy
Starting this trend with Alchemy: Dominaria United, Wizards flummoxed players by casually releasing the Power Nine onto MTG Arena. As some of the most powerful cards in all of MTG, this move was one hell of a surprise that seemed destined to ruin the game. Thankfully, to prevent the Power Nine from being the only cards that mattered, there was a catch with their arrival. Rather than simply appearing in the Alchemy set, the Power Nine instead had to be conjured into existence. This process was achieved by the new Alchemy card Oracle of the Alpha. Upon its reveal, this Bird Wizard seemed ready to ruin formats. In reality, however, the Power Nine in MTG Arena is little more than jank.
Despite Oracle of the Alpha’s questionable success, Wizards of the Coast is using this bizarre Conjure mechanic strategy once again. This time for Alchemy: The Brother’s War, Wizards is implementing the format defining Urzatron lands to MTG Arena. Following an initial tease during a Building Worlds video, these lands have been a much-anticipated arrival on the digital platform. Ultimately, while Wizards staff would attest that they were too powerful for Standard, they’re clearly not too strong for Alchemy. As with the Power Nine, however, the once format defining Urzatron lands have to be Conjured into your library. The adorable construct Urza’s Construction Drone can only achieve this feat.
Costing three mana, this Urzatron conjuring construct suffers from the same issue that Oracle of the Alpha does. Three mana may not be a high cost to play. However, the strength of the Urzatron lands comes from playing them as early as possible. Thankfully, Urza’s Construction Drone does allow you to Seek an Urza’s land when it attacks or dies to expedite the process. As powerful as the Seek mechanic is, unless the little guy sticks around for a few turns, this additional ability may be too little too late to make the Urzatron lands viable.
All Around Improvements
While there is plenty of new and exciting Alchemy: The Brothers’ War cards to enjoy, such as Argothian Uprooting, we know it’s generally not a favored format amongst players. Thankfully, Alchemy cards aren’t the only new addition coming to MTG Arena on December 13th. First and foremost, Explorer Anthology 2 also releases today to provide players with new much-anticipated Pioneer staples. Alongside these prized cards, MTG Arena is getting a new prominent feature that should keep players more informed.
Announced during the recent MTG Arena Release Notes Post, Wizards revealed that MTG Arena is getting a “Player Inbox.” In Wizards’ own words, the “player inbox is a new in-game feature that will allow us to better communicate with players.” Utilizing this new inbox, Wizards will provide players with “important news and updates,” as well as “qualification reminders.” Alongside this, players will also be able to claim promotional items and rewards via the player inbox without needing a code. To celebrate the launch of the player inbox and Alchemy: The Brothers’ War, players can claim six Alchemy: The Brothers’ War packs via the inbox once it launches. MTG Arena players will also be able to claim the new old Wastes land via the player inbox.
Responding to the announcement of the player inbox, several players commended Wizards for implementing this new feature. Reddit user u/hobomojo, for instance, remarked, “I can’t believe it’s taken this long for this kind of a feature. This is a pretty nice little upgrade.” Other players, however, weren’t so enthused about this direct channel from Wizards. “Babe wake up new in-game advertising just dropped,” u/_Saucy_Sauces_ commented. Meanwhile, players such as u/NebulaBrew and u/xTaq complained that they’re still waiting on promised features. “Nice to see some development going on. The first notification I want from the inbox feature is that the default land feature is ready.”
Despite missing out on the occasional supplemental set, MTG Arena has recently been going from strength to strength. With Explorer Anthology 2 releasing today and Shadows over Innistrad Remastered on the horizon, Wizards is undoubtedly keeping their path to Pioneer promise. Alongside this, new features and bug fixes are steadily being implemented into the game to ensure its continued health. If that’s not enough, worry not, as it sounds like Hasbro has some big plans for MTG Arena.
Speaking in a recent “fireside chat” with UBS, WotC President Cynthia Williams revealed that in 2023, “Arena will refactor our new player experience to improve onboarding for new players and help them quickly find the play experiences that appeal to them.” This new player experience is planned to coincide with MTG Arena’s launch on Steam. While it’s not been explicitly confirmed, this likely means that MTG Arena is coming to Steam in 2023.