Magic: The Gathering Arena enters open beta

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There’s something, well… magic about Magic: The Gathering.

For the past 25 years (!) it’s brought together players of all ages, casual and competitive, to tap the power from picturesque lands and to duel with cards depicting fantastic creatures, steampunk-ish artifacts, and the occasional gothic horror. It’s a game that encourages the skills of careful deck construction, knowing your opponent, and forming a strategy yet being able to adjust tactics on the fly.

I played it frequently when I was younger but drifted away around the time I went to college. Fast forward a decade-and-a-half to an invitation from Wizards of the Coast to contribute dialogue for new Planeswalker characters set to appear in Magic: The Gathering Arena, as well as help out on other forthcoming narrative features. Of course I said yes…

And then immediately had to look up what a “planeswalker” was.

While the core game remained largely the same, a lot of the details had changed — rules were expanded, robust lore was added with each expansion, and fierce competition emerged as other games tried to provide a similar experience. After I got thoroughly caught up, I worked closely with the team at Wizards Digital Games Studio, as well as a few former colleagues, to write and refine the dynamic voice-overs that would come from the virtual versions of these physical cards.

It was a fresh challenge from an old pastime, a chance to re-join the community, collect and build a deck, get beaten repeatedly by some really adept eleven-year-olds… and in the end it was a lot of fun.

Magic: The Gathering Arena is now in open beta for Windows PCs. Want to know more? Watch the trailer below or head over to the official website — magic.wizards.com/mtgarena — where you can download the game.