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Magic: The Gathering Arena looks super complicated

This is absolutely not a Hearthstone clone

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The 2017 Magic: The Gathering World Championships was held last weekend in Boston, Massachusetts. Nestled into two full days of over-the-head, tabletop streaming coverage was another look at Magic: The Gathering Arena, a modern, online version of the classic collectible card game. You can watch the entire demo match in the video embedded above.

One thing that’s clear from the segment is that this isn’t a dumbed down version of the world’s most popular tabletop CCG. Some of the attack animations, the sound effects and even the border of the playspace are reminiscent of faster, simpler games like Hearthstone. But Arena is a much more complex game, and an authentic interpretation of the tabletop game’s modern card sets.

Check out the clip below, from about half-way through the full video.

In this exchange, one player has the option of attacking multiple targets while the other has the option of assigning multiple defenders to those attacks. There’s different status indicators, different counters in play and multiple stacks of cards with different relationships to one another. There’s a lot going on here, and the challenge for the developers will be to make it all work first on PC. Then, if they’re lucky, it can potentially make the jump to tablets.

But Arena isn’t just a design challenge. It’s also a test for a new and unproven development team. The game is being built in-house by a new group within Wizards of the Coast. The PC beta begins later this month, and you can sign up here.

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