MTGA Developers AMAA - February 2020

MTGA Updates 
By: andreliverod - 10 Feb 2020

WotC held an Ask Me Almost Anything Thread on Reddit! And I have compiled the most interesting questions and answers in this article. I you want to read the full thread, you can do so here: 


Can you please explain the rationale behind the 10,000 gold entry fee for the brawl days event. In addition, is this something your team plans to keep in place long term?

To answer Brawl, we need to go back in time a bit. We originally built MTG Arena for Standard players. Now we're moving beyond Standard, and that means going places which aren't exactly balanced for our Standard-focused rewards structure. That means we need to experiment to find the right balance, which is what we're doing with Brawl. 

We haven't found the right balance between availability/entry fees/rewards with Brawl. That's why we're testing all three right now. Direct Challenge play is outside of daily rewards and the most social  and casual way to play Magic in the game currently. The Wednesday Brawl queue is testing availability balance. Brawl Hall is testing earn vs rewards balance. In fact the 10K cost was set after simulating earn rate vs consumption rate of an average player. We haven't gone down the path of a permanent queue with no entry fee that limits daily rewards, but it is something we're exploring. What do you think? 

- Cao

In Ranked Standard, the goal of most players is to play the most-effective decks, which change nicely as the meta develops. In Brawl, many players are looking to play the decks they find fun, which change much less. For example, I Brawl as Vraska, and it's going to take something pretty massive to move me off of that.

- WotC_Jay

It was recently announced that there was an outsource of some Arena dev work to another company, are you able to say what they will be working on and what does this open up the internal team to work on? Should we expect to see more major features roll out in the coming months?

We didn't make any major changes to who is managing Arena's development. We are working with Skybox Labs to help bring the game to more platforms. And we are working with R&D to make sure our Pioneer and Historic play experiences are really fun. 

Should you expect more features rolling out in the coming months? Yep ūüėä

- Cao

What about the Vault?

We don't have any plans to get rid of The Vault. What we like about The Vault versus other systems we've tinkered around with is how it provides long-term value for your duplicate Commons and Uncommons. It’s hidden now on the main UI bar (until it’s ready to open) because an in-progress Vault doesn’t merit that kind of UI prominence. We should have a better way to see what your progress is, and it will likely make its way to the Profile page at some point.

- WotC_Jay

About bot and human drafts

We're planning for human drafts to work similarly to MTGO leagues, where you'll be playing against other human "drafters" outside of your specific pod.

Bot drafters will play against other bot drafters, human drafters will play against other human drafters. No crossing the streams!

- Wotc_Lexie

What is a good estimate for when human drafting will be coming out?

We're actively working on it, most likely the first half of this year!


Can we do asynchronous human drafting, the same as eternal?

Asynch human drafting: We've talked about this mode a lot, but right now we're focused on improving our bot drafting and adding human drafting.

- WotC_Jay

How are you improving the bots? How are we not going to get an Eldraine 2.0 where the set is great to draft with people but the bots force all drafts to go the same.

There are several things we're working on to improve the bots. One of the biggest is tweaking our tech so we can upload bot modifications more quickly and easily. We're also very eager for the additional data that Human Drafting will give us here. Also, the "two weeks on, two weeks off" structure we moved back to for THB draft will give us more time for balance and refinement on the bots to keep them working better.

- WotC_Jay

What are your plans for cube? Will it be a standard, historic or some other cube? The number one feature I would like to see in mtga is a cube with human drafting.

We'll play with a number of things, but we're planning to start with a Historic cube so we get the largest pool to choose from

- WotC_Jay


Can you tell us any details of the remastered sets? Like, the philosophy of how they are being developed?

We're working closely with R&D on the remaster process for these sets. The key goals are getting the bulk of Pioneer playables out to players soon and making great Limited formats. Cards that saw little play in either constructed or limited are the ones we're likely to skip here.

- WotC_Jay


When will you add custom keybindings? LSHFT+ENTER is an incredibly cumbersome key stroke.

These are on our list, but we don't have a defined timeline for them.

- WotC_Jay


What is the intended difference between the Historic and Pioneer formats? and Commander/EDH is obviously an extremely popular format. With Historic Brawl being explored with an upcoming event (a massive step towards full EDH), do the Arena team have any thoughts on allowing EDH format/decks in Arena?

We'll see where this goes, but the general direction we're thinking is that ultimately Historic will be the place where cards from across Magic's history can be played. Mostly the "Historic becomes Vintage" version from the other thread.

Right now Historic is available through the Play queue and Competitive Events. What we're trying to do with bringing the Historic Ranked queue up each quarter is to say that during this time, Historic is the focus of MTG Arena. Why it's not live all the time is we want to balance with Standard being the focus the other two months. But we're early on in the lifespan of Historic. We haven't even completed a full cycle of turning the Ranked Queue off and on again. We're going to see how players engage with it in mid-March.

Commander: Making something "feel like Commander" takes an awful lot of cards. The current cardpool may also not be deep enough to make 100-card singleton decks that feel different enough from each other. I think it will take some more card releases before we have enough for Commander.

- WotC_Jay


Will WotC consider putting out public "API" documentation for the log file, and the various events within, as well as keep it up to date when patches change the format?

We love that folks are developing tools using our logs. The recent change was made to improve performance because we were logging way too much. With that change, we also implemented QA steps to verify the log quality and make sure the changes get clearly communicated. We have talked about an API a lot, but it isn't on our 2020 roadmap.

- Cao

(Shameless plug for the AetherHub MTGA extension)

Are there still plans to add deck sharing to Direct Challenges?

Our goal is to get Deck Sharing out this year, just make sure to share jank only please :)

- WotC_Clarke


Any idea of when Arena is coming to Mac?

Last time we talked about it, we said it would arrive after Epic Games Store. That's still the plan. It's just not going to be "soon" after. Catalina (the latest macOS) requires 64-bit, which MTG Arena doesn’t support yet. So there’s background work to do first.

- Cao


I understand why some store items might be gems only, but why are some cosmetics only available for purchase with gold? Gems are generally considered the premium currency and the one that gets WotC actual money, yet gold is the actual limited resource. Why not offer either option for those gold-only items?

This is almost always for minor, technical reasons. We're working to solve those.

- WotC_Jay


Are multiplayer formats being considered? Regular Multiplayer, Two-Headed Giant, Emperor, Multiplayer with limited range, etc.

Are multiplayer formats being considered? Absolutely. Are they on the 2020 road map? Nope.

- WotC_Megan


Can you please give us a rough estimate of how long you're imagining it will take to get Pioneer up and running on Arena? 1 year? 3 years? 10 years? You must have some idea, thanks!

Depends on what you mean by ‚Äúget Pioneer up and running‚ÄĚ. We plan to have a major delivery of Pioneer cards this year. We plan to continue adding as quickly as we can after that, at least one new set per year, hopefully more. It will be interesting to find out where in that process it feels like it has enough of the cards that count to really ‚Äúbe Pioneer‚ÄĚ. We‚Äôre not sure what that will mean, or how long that will take.

- WotC_Lexie


When are we getting a mobile app?

Still on the road map, just not ready to talk about it yet.

- WotC_Lexie

Do you have plans to link our DCI numbers with our Arena accounts? That way we could get goodies for playing in all our paper events rather than 1 per account codes.

We aren't ready to talk about it yet, but there are talks about that!

- WotC_Lexie





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