In the five years that MTG Arena has been around, the game has certainly had some ups and downs. Between major improvements to the free-to-play economy, Alchemy, and game-breaking combos, development has been mixed. Thankfully, in recent times the state of the game has been getting steadily better and the future looks incredibly bright.
Between Pioneer Masters, Modern Horizon 3, and Commander in the far future, MTG Arena has a lot in the works. Before all this gets released, however, there’s still a lot for players to enjoy. For the release of Murders at Karlov Manor, Wizards is finally fixing one of the game’s most interesting ideas.
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, soon Sparky is going to shut up as well!
Story Decks You Can Actually Use
For The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, Wizards of that Coast introduced Story decks for the first time. Exclusively available on MTG Arena, these decks wonderfully played into the set’s theming and franchise’s story. On the surface, this was a great way to get new players involved, however, there was a major problem…
Rather than being easily accessible for both players new and old, the first MTG story decks had to be crafted. Considering they contained upwards of 24 rare and mythic Wildcards, this was no small feat. Since these decks weren’t competitive and just designed to get players into the spirit, this seemed like a major misstep.
Following on from this initial experiment, MTG Arena’s story decks have now finally found their stride. In a welcome change of pace, Murders at Karlov Manor makes story decks practically free to play. After a 2,500 gold entry free, these decks can be played with for an entire week! Beyond just having fun, players can also earn six card styles by playing this event.
With six decks to play with, this event should offer fans a flavorful taste of Murders at Karlov Manor. In theory, this should be incredibly fun and successful, however, this taste comes three weeks after the set’s launch. By this point, Murders at Karlov Manor will hardly be new anymore, so players will likely just kind for rewards.
At the end of the day, since they’re a fraction of what they used to cost, Story Decks have seen a dramatic improvement. Unfortunately, they’re still a long way away from what MTG Arena players actually want. Ideally, each set would launch on Arena alongside its own story-based campaign that can be played. In reality, the development cost for such an idea keeps it out of reach.
Sparky Finally Shuts Up… Soon
As much as MTG Arena has been on an upward trajectory, recently, it has taken a step backward. A few weeks ago, for some strange reason, Sparky decided they wanted the spotlight and they weren’t taking no for an answer. Typically, players only interact with Sparky when completing the tutorial, however, now they’re everywhere.
Much to the annoyance of MTG Arena players, Sparky has consistently commending players for completing Spark rank. Occurring whenever a player opens up the home page, it’s incredibly easy to be bombarded with this spoken message. As you can imagine, this gets very annoying very quickly, leading to constant complaints.
Thankfully, last week it seemed like this issue would be solved at long last in a monumental patch. Unfortunately, despite the hopes of players, Sparky is still causing an annoying ruckus for many, but not all, MTG Arena players. As if this wasn’t bad enough, this update broke Arena even more, with several card styles breaking and becoming unreadable.
Following this disappointment, many players were rightfully wondering what on earth was going on. Mercifully, Wizards has now provided an answer. Explaining themselves in the latest MTG Arena announcements post, Wizards revealed they were doing behind-the-scenes work. Specifically, Wizards was “upgrading Unity, […] to deliver future upgrades and improvements.”
Considering the future plans for MTG Arena, this engine work is undoubtedly vital, even if it causes problems. According to Wizards, these problems shouldn’t be too long-lasting, as they’re aware of what’s gone wrong. While a specific date for a new patch hasn’t been provided, a slow rollout starting next week is tentatively expected.
Alongside this plan, Wizards states they’re at “work to get that Sparky fix out as quickly as we can.” Hopefully, this fix can arrive quickly as we’re sick and tired of hearing about Spark rank.
Horizons on the Horizons
With patches in the work and Murders at Karlov Manor a week away, Arena should be back to normal soon. While this is definitely good news, it may only be a matter of time before there’s a massive shake-up. As we mentioned earlier, for better or worse, Modern Horizons 3 is coming to MTG Arena in Q2. Once it does, the Historic and Timeless formats are likely to be forever changed.
If it is anything like its predecessors, Modern Horizons 3 will be loaded with a new level of powerful cards. Practically guaranteed to warp the Modern meta, it’s clear that Historic and Timeless will be changed too. Depending on what is pre-banned and restricted, these formats may have a completely new metagame before too long.
Right now, we don’t know exactly when Modern Horizons 3 will launch, however, we should fairly soon. At MagicCon: Chicago, Wizards will tease players with a first look at this upcoming set during a massive Preview Panel. We’ve not seen anything yet, but we’d be surprised if we didn’t see a few superpowered new staples to get excited about and/or dread.
This preview panel will be happening on the 23rd of February, 2024, so keep your eyes peeled for then.