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Magic: The Gathering’s new digital version will be released this month

One year after beginning its open beta, Magic: The Gathering Arena goes live Sept. 26

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Magic: The Gathering Arena, the newest iteration of the original collectible card game, will be released on Sept. 26. The date is just one day shy of the one-year anniversary of the launch of the open beta.

The launch of the free-to-play Windows PC game will coincide with the release of Magic’s next set of cards, called Throne of Eldraine. Players will be able to earn and play cards from that set before the physical release on Oct. 4. Today’s announcement was accompanied by the release of a new CGI trailer for that card set on YouTube. We’ve embedded it above.

Arena itself was developed in-house by a new team at Wizards of the Coast. I first got my hands on Arena in March of last year, and immediately fell into a groove with it. Since then it’s become my preferred method for test-driving new physical Planeswalker decks, which now come with a code to unlock the included cards online.

Where the rubber meets the road will be consumer sentiment about purchasing cards in-game. An innovative wild card system allows players to earn the ability to pick and choose which cards they want to add to their collection. Personally, I’ve been keeping my powder dry until the game goes live, waiting for stability and equilibrium in the in-game economy before I invest time and treasure in collecting.

Throne of Eldraine itself certainly has my attention. In today’s press release, Wizards describes it as a setting “where Grimms’ Fairy Tales and Arthurian legends collide.” On his personal Tumblr, head designer Mark Rosewater says the set was developed “top-down,” meaning that the thematic idea drove the design process rather than mechanical concerns. The trailer is surprisingly lighthearted, a welcome change of pace from the game’s last few story beats which permanently killed off a major character.

The Arena beta currently offers a limited-time mode called Brawl. Available now until Sept. 9, it will allows players to bring one legendary creature or one Planeswalker along with 59 other Standard-legal cards of their choice into a match.

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