MTG Arena State of the Game – July 2021: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

Today, July 2, Wizards of the Coast published the State of the Game for Magic: Arena, detailing upcoming changes and adaptations for the upcoming set Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, as well as some details on what the development of Arena will look like in the coming months. Here are a few of the highlights for those who don’t wish to read the full article:

  • Showcase styles, including the land module frames, will be available on MTG Arena.
  • The horizontal layout for the Arena deck builder will work on mobile devices.
  • A new “Cancel Blocks” button will work in the same way as Cancel Attacks.
  • The “Add Lands” function will work properly for 100 card decks.
  • FNM At Home is being moved to Tuesdays and Wednesdays and will be called Midweek Magic.
  • Pioneer Masters development is on hold in the interest of supporting Historic in other ways.

The full post from Wizards is available below, along with the most recent MTG Arena announcements post.

MTG Arena: State of the Game – Adventures in the Forgotten Realms

You Meet in a Tavern

Greetings! We’ve got a few things to cover, including more about Magic‘s debut take on D&D with Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and several quality-of-life improvements and visions for the future.

Pull up a chair, and let’s begin.

Contact Other Plane

For the last several years, we have launched a core set each summer, but this year is different. Instead, we’re taking a journey into Faerûn with Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Here, we’re bringing the world of Dungeons & Dragons to Magic: The Gathering—you’ll find all the things you’d normally expect from any Magic set, like new mechanics, powerful cards, and a great Limited environment. And, if you have ever played or even heard about D&D, you’ll recognize many familiar favorites—we’ve got dungeons, dragons, dice, and a host of new tweaks and old friends.

Dungeons

Venturing into dungeons is a classic part of many D&D campaigns, and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is bringing that to Magic as well. This set introduces dungeons as a new card type to Magic. These cards don’t go into your deck or sideboard. Instead, they start outside the game and come into play when a card tells you to “venture into the dungeon.”

Delver's Torch

There are three dungeons in the set, and you’ll be able to see each of them alongside any card that references dungeons. On desktop platforms, you can hover over a card and right-click on it to flip through the dungeon options. On mobile, you can press and hold on the card to see a list of the dungeons (much like the way cards in a mutate stack are shown).

If you’re not in a dungeon already, whenever you “venture into the dungeon,” you will choose one of the three dungeons in the set to enter:

Dungeon revealed

You’ll start in the entrance, the first room at the top, activating the triggered ability in that room. As you continue to venture deeper into the dungeon, you will often be offered a choice of which room and triggered effect you want to choose next:

Dungeon choose room

Until finally you reach the end of the dungeon, completing it. If you venture again, you can choose to go back to that same dungeon or select one of the others. If you want to learn more about dungeon delving, check out our dedicated article.

Many cards in the set offer different ways to venture into dungeons or get bonuses for having completed dungeons, giving players multiple strategic approaches:

Dungeon cards

Of course, dungeons are known for the mighty foes they contain, and among the most fearsome, there are . . .

Dragons

Dragons are another key piece in any D&D adventure and also a classic part of Magic. Adventures in the Forgotten Realms offers a host of Dragons, from legendary foes like Ebondeath to classics like the Red Dragon and the Queen of Dragons, Tiamat.

Dragon cards

Not to be outdone, the preorder and Mastery Pass are also offering up a range of chromatic dragon pets.

Dragon pets

Dice

While dungeons and dragons are certainly iconic and familiar for D&D players, few things are more beloved and feared than the dice. For the first time in black border, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms brings rolling a d20 to Magic.

Dice cards

There are several cards in the set that will have a variable effect based on how well you roll a twenty-sided die (d20). Each has a table to describe what result the roll will get you, often with a nice bonus for managing to roll that natural 20. Of course, MTG Arena will handle the die rolling and tables for you, so you just get to enjoy the results, but you can read up on all the details here if you’re interested.

Die Roll

Discovery

Playing D&D is all about storytelling, and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms brings a few new tweaks to help the cards tell stories as well.

For example, the basic lands have flavor text with the seeds of adventures or callouts to familiar places in the world:

Flavor lands

To make sure you can enjoy this on MTG Arena, we’ve tweaked the presentation of flavor text. If a card doesn’t have any rules text, the flavor text will now show directly on the card.

Several cards also get flavorful words attached to their abilities or options. These don’t have any mechanical impact, but they call back to well-known traits or abilities or just help a card tell its story.

Flavor Words

The world of Faerûn also has a rich history, with many characters that fans have followed through stories, campaigns, or other games. Adventures in the Forgotten Realms brings dozens of these familiar faces to Magic, so you can fight alongside old friends (and foes!) or discover new ones.

Legendaries

Even the card styles will feel familiar to D&D fans, with creature styles evoking classic Monster Manual illustrations or land styles that call back to original adventure modules:

Module land/Rulebook Owlbear Styles on battlefield

(Yes, that’s a land on the left there!) All these styles will be available on MTG Arena, appearing in a mix of events and Store bundles as usual.

The Deck of Many (Horizontal) Things

Beyond Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, we have continued to work on improvements to usability and quality of life, particularly on mobile.

The main improvement with this release is that the horizontal deck builder now works on mobile devices, so you can get that familiar, pile-based view of your deck:

HDB

We’ve also added a new interface for adding or removing cards from the horizontal deck builder in Constructed modes. Instead of removing a single copy of a card, clicking on a card now brings up an interface to allow you to add or remove copies of that card. You can also drag the card out of the deck (PC only) as a shortcut to remove all copies.

HDB - Add/Remove

This interface only comes up where it makes sense to freely add cards, so you’ll see it in normal Constructed, but in Limited or Singleton events, it only works on the lands. There, a single click will continue to remove the card as it does currently.

You Happen on a Glade

Beyond the deck builder, we have continued to improve on the mobile user experience by making it easier to get into full control mode (you can now hold the avatar or phase ladder) and increase card size slightly for cards in hand and when drafting on tablet. Thanks to behind-the-scenes performance work, we have also been able to turn on shadows for higher-performing mobile devices.

On all devices we have added a new “Cancel Blocks” button. This shows as you are declaring blockers in combat, and it works just like “Cancel Attacks”—it gives you a handy way to clear out everything you’ve assigned so far so you can switch to a new plan.

There have also been other small improvements, such as updating the “Add Lands” tech to handle 100-card decks properly. See the patch notes alongside the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms for more information.

Circle of Dreams Druid

Rounding things out, we have a few visions of the future and notes on upcoming changes to share.

Midweek Magic: A New Take on FNM at Home for MTG Arena

We first launched FNM at Home in March of 2020 because players around the world weren’t able to keep in touch with their local game store in the usual ways. We wanted to keep the Friday Night Magic fun alive, even when we couldn’t engage in “The Gathering.” Thankfully, in-store play is available again in many locations, with more and more stores again offering in-person FNM.

With this in mind, we want FNM to go back to being a unique in-store experience, but we also want to continue the fun of MTG Arena‘s FNM at Home event.

So, we are updating our FNM at Home event to take place Tuesdays and Wednesdays, lengthening it slightly so it’s easier to play in, and renaming it Midweek Magic. It will keep the same structure, with no entry and two ICRs (individual card rewards) as rewards, and you will still be able to contact your favorite local game store for a code, either online or (where safe) in person. But now, you’ll be able to play in these fun MTG Arena events and free to spend FNM with your friends at your local game store.

The first Midweek Magic will run on July 13.

Pausing Work on Pioneer Masters

Historic experienced rapid growth and change over the last year, and it developed into a unique and compelling format. We are excited to have Historic feel distinct, and we want to continue to build on that.

Unfortunately, our schedule doesn’t have room to focus on growing that unique identity for Historic and fully supporting Pioneer. Some steps toward Pioneer will come as part of Historic’s growth, but we have paused work toward the Pioneer Masters sets for the time being. We do not anticipate a Pioneer Masters release in the next year. We have a solid plan for those sets, but for now, we will be focusing on expanding Historic in other ways.

Rotation Preparation

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms also marks the last set before Standard rotation this September. When Innistrad: Midnight Hunt arrives on MTG Arena this September, the four oldest sets will leave Standard, making way for a whole new feel for the format.

Throne of Eldraine, Theros Beyond Death, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, and Core Set 2021 will move to being legal only in Historic. This will leave Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, Strixhaven: School of Mages, Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, and Innistrad: Midnight Hunt as the Standard-legal sets.

Standard Rotation

As usual around rotation, MTG Arena will be making several tweaks to help ease the transition for players. With the upcoming release, we’ll be swapping out the dual-color decks earned from the Color Challenge so they stay legal after rotation. (Players who have already completed the Color Challenge will receive these decks next month, along with any cards they need to be able to play them.)

We are also starting Standard 2022 Play and Standard 2022 Ranked Best-of-One queues, where the older Standard sets are already out and only Zendikar Rising forward is legal. These modes give you a great chance to get a preview of what the post-rotation Standard might look like or just try out an alternate take on Standard. These will both start with the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms release and run until Standard rotation in September.

There’s a lot more to share about rotation, and you’ll see additional information both in game and later in July as we share more about what’s coming next for MTG Arena.

Cleanup Step

That’s all we have to talk about here before setting off into Adventures in the Forgotten Realms—dungeons, dragons, dice, and more coming to Magic in a way you’ve never seen before. We’ll be back soon to talk about some new things on the horizon, but until then, you can keep up with all the MTG Arena news in our announcements.

Paul

Dude from Vermont who likes to play Magic and Escape from Tarkov. Musician, writer, and gamer. Submit feedback or corrections to @Paul on the Discord.