Interviewing the Founders of ArenaBrawl.net – Join the Brawl Matchmaking Revolution today!
Welcome lovely readers, I’m Drifter! I’m interviewing one of the founders of ArenaBrawl today, a pioneer of the latest Brawl matchmaking craze. This is Harjkun, and he tells me that since the latest Brawl announcement, his website traffic has been absolutely booming! Who wouldn’t want to be able to play Brawl for free, whenever they want, among the friendliest and most welcoming people in the Magic community? He’ll be answering a load of questions for us today, spilling the beans on the site’s future plans, and telling us why each and every one of us should come visit and play a few games today!
Note: Harjkun and I sat down and transcribed his thoughts together, so it will still be in my phrasing.
Drifter: Hi Harjkun! How are you today? Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and how you started ArenaBrawl?
Harjkun: Hi, I’m doing well! I’m one of the two founders of ArenaBrawl. The other founder is Arthmael and he’s here in spirit! We’ve been friends for nearly 12 years. We met at university, where we both studied Computer Games Programming. Thanks for having me, I’m really excited to talk to you and the Magic Arena community about the Brawl format, and how ArenaBrawl is bringing players together and building new friendships at no cost and at your convenience!
So what is ArenaBrawl.net?
ArenaBrawl.net is a free-to-use, non-profit Brawl matchmaking service. We provide Standard and Historic brawl matchmaking that isn’t freely supported by Wizards. The site allows you to be matched with other Brawl enthusiasts whenever you want. All you need is your Arena ID and a deck, and you’re off to the races!
Why did you start the site? Why was it such a great idea at the time?
Both Arthmael and I have full-time jobs, families, and real-life commitments that mean we weren’t always able to play Brawl on a Wednesday. For example, Arth fosters abandoned dogs with the aim of rehoming them to loving families and that’s a really big part of his life. We really enjoyed playing brawl in direct challenge mode – I would play some jank deck I built, and Arth would crush me with Teferi :(. We really wanted to be able to play with other people for a bit more variety, and we figured that they would be looking for the same experience and be unable to find it easily. Wizards weren’t supporting the format to the degree that we and many others wanted them to, so eventually we came up with a solution together to fix this.
What are you currently working on?
We are planning our next major development cycle with a whole host of fantastic updates including streamlining of the code, an improved UI, and play accounts. The community has been asking for a bunch of features which our accounts will give them: they can track win-loss ratios, who you’ve played against, allow you to chat with one another, report issues, direct challenge other ArenaBrawl members, and play additional game formats like Singleton, Pauper etc.
Our aim is to become a community hub for Brawl players on top of our matchmaking service. So it’s a really exciting time on the horizon for ArenaBrawl.net, with lots of great changes to come!
Why Brawl, why do you love it so much?
Brawl’s a really fun format that can be played in a ton of ways. You don’t need as many as four copies of a card; it’s much less stress on your wildcards and wallet. Commanders have a huge variety of different functions, can be used in a multitude of different ways, and that really enhances replayability. No two Brawl games are the same, whereas Standard games can begin to feel really samey, depending on the meta at the time (looking at you, Oko!). Brawl is great for anyone who has limited time and loves magic, but doesn’t want to have to grind for all those pesky Standard rares and mythics.
What do you think about the recent changes to Brawl?
Arthael and I aren’t fans of how Brawl is being supported by Wizards currently – the major issue being with the paywall; having to pay to play the format we love really limits the people who can afford to. 10,000 gold is no trivial monthly sum for free-to-play players. Having the option to play for free on ArenaBrawl really enhances my experience of Arena overall – I don’t want to have to choose between improving on my decks and playing Brawl, and ArenaBrawl lets me do both!
When Brawl was only playable on Wednesdays, it was even worse – I know a lot of people who are busy regularly on Wednesdays, and then you’ve missed your shot of playing your favourite format for an entire week. At that point, you wonder why you’re even logging in.
What have the recent changes meant for you?
Well, it crashed our site! On Wednesday, we had a huge spike of almost 400% in server traffic right after Wizards’ announcement. It really shows how many people were frustrated and looking for a better option. This allowed us to see how the site handles massively increased pressure, and to buff the servers to better deal with that.
What are the main reasons to use your site?
Our focus is on speed, convenience and simplicity of use. We preserve anonymity in our matchmaking and are the closest thing to the in-client service so we retain all the benefits that come with it, like the ability to queue again instantly so you can play Brawl whenever you want in just a few seconds.
The site is really simple to use – you copy your player ID from the arena client, paste it into the Player Name box on ArenaBrawl.net, select your format, and click find a game. You’ll be matched with someone in just a few seconds and if both players accept, you’ll receive your opponent’s player ID. Once you match with someone, the site will give you instructions on how to direct challenge.
What do you think the future holds for Brawl and for your site?
We really hope that in the future Wizards implement free and better supported in-client matchmaking. In the event that they do, we plan to be even more relevant with new features and new services, and broaden our support of the Magic community. Until this happens, we’ll continue enriching our matchmaking services.
We would love to work with Discord communities to combine the benefits of their social interactions with our existing matchmaking.
You mentioned the site being non-profit. How can we as a community help you grow?
Since our launch, Arthmael and I have been covering all the financials: hosting costs, server upkeep, server maintenance costs and anything else that crops up. We’ve fed back any donations we’ve received right back into the site, directly financing new servers and new hardware to provide smoother site performance and an improved user experience.
Many thanks to any and all donators! If you’d like to contribute, here’s a link but don’t feel obligated at all: https://arenabrawl.net/donate. I’ve been on stream with Sunyveil, where he suggested I open up a Patreon, which we’re currently figuring out rewards for.
Thanks for your time today! Do you have any closing thoughts for our audience?
The more vocal the community is about what we want, the more likely we are to be heard. You’ve shown by using our site that there’s a need for change, and we’ve done our best to deliver on that front.
We will continue to be as vocal and transparent as we can and we hope that you’re as excited for the upcoming features as we are. We’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions on those features, or on anything at all! Send them in via twitter, through the site or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to ArenaZone for hosting us for this interview today. A big thank you to the Magic community as a whole for supporting and promoting our site so much in its first month of release and to everyone who’s used the site so far. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this and I’ll see you in the queues!
So there you have it, that was the lovely Harjkun! As always, MTG Arena Zone is committed to helping Brawl players and the community in any way we can, and we look forward to working with ArenaBrawl.net in future to deliver the best experience for our shared audience. Thanks for your support!
About the author:
The MTG Arena Zone discord: https://discord.gg/SPYMExR. Engage with your favourite arenazone content creators there, myself included!