Where’s the fanfare?
“Standard” (the use of recent, non-rotated cards) is very contentious in Magic: the Gathering right now (it always is, at some point!). Extreme use of cards like Field of the Dead and Golos (as well as Oko) are making some people angry, which is exactly why paper Magic fans are flocking to other formats (modes). In Magic: Arena, that’s not so easy.
This past week the “historic” format was added to the game: but like myself, thousands of Arena players had no idea it was actually implemented. That’s because Wizards quietly added it to the game with zero fanfare, updates, or UI indicators. Once I was told historic was added, I had to hunt for it. When making a new deck you have to click the selection menu in the top right, then select “historic” to create a deck for it. It currently has no special queue in the main menu and is completely hidden.
Given the approach to the format earlier this year (requiring double wildcards to forge new historic cards, a strategy that was eventually abandoned), I can see why Wizards would be so reticent to sweep historic under the rug. It’s not standard after all, their main money maker, but with no resell market in Arena, it makes even less sense to support historic when it could help keep the game fresh during standard balancing mishaps.
At a minimum, Wizards needs to re-introduce historic and make it a bigger deal. Although it will cause some execs to cringe a bit initially, it’s better for the long term health of the game if more modes are available on a regular basis. Once someone quits Magic out of frustration and lapses, it’s way harder to pull them back in. Fans love Magic, and it’s a chief reason why they’ve created so many versions of it to play (some of which Wizards has adapted themselves) to keep that spark going.
While we’re on the topic: brawl once a week isn’t cutting it either. This is exactly the same sort of stuff I talked about in my review. While Magic is a fantastic game, preserved well in Arena in theory, Wizards has a long way to go when it comes to understanding what makes a good service game tick.