Home Reviews Magic: The Gathering Arena review – could it be Magic?

Magic: The Gathering Arena review – could it be Magic?


For veterans of the form, Magic: The Gathering plays both elegantly and fluidly. In the 26 years since it launched, it has grown into the defining collectable card game, and now brims with intricate balance. Many will even tell you it is a near-infallible game.

Peering into the Magic scene from outside, however, can feel bewildering. To the non-aficionado the game can appear elaborately complex, fiercely competitive, and defined by the arcane art of building your own decks. That makes realising a digital version of Magic a rather tricky business. How to offer a meaningful version for old hands, while simultaneously welcoming the curious newcomer with an authentic experience?

The answer comes via very specific subsets of game design; ‘user experience’ and ‘user interface’. One could argue that the gameplay design was already in place for Arena. This is, after all, a very faithful ‘port’ of the paper game. But Arena succeeds in the way it delivers Magic the Gathering. From the tutorial to the gameplay flow, it presents a meticulously crafted way to explore and interact with the Magic system.

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