Magic Online Goes Free to Play With Throne of Eldraine Plus Other Changes
Wizards of the Coast has announced some major changes and additions for Magic Online that will make it even closer to snuff with its fellow video game counterpart, MTG Arena. Among the myriad of changes that are coming for the platform, there is one that stands above the rest as the most surprising but welcome change.
Magic Online Goes Free to Play
Starting later this month, Magic Online will go completely free to play in terms of starting the game. This will put the game more in line with Arena where players can download and play the game for free right now besides simple microtransactions like buying new cards, the Mastery System, and so on.
The free to play change for the game will be going live when the new fall expansion Throne of Eldraine launches later this month digitally on the video game. The release date for the new card set as well as the free to play launch is set for September 26, which is just next week.
What this means is that players will be allowed to download the game and create an account for no fee, including choosing their own unique screen name, and more right from the game client itself. Prior to that change, players had to pay $9.99 for their online account unless they were part of the free trial servers.
That is all changing with the release of the next expansion as the downtime for the set is going to happen next Wednesday on September 25 in preparation. While this is happening and the new update is being applied to the game, Wizards of the Coast will be eliminating the online account creation system on the website as well as the Magic Online free trial servers.
Of course, those players who have already paid the fee will continue to play through the game by having a full account whereas the new players will be creating a “basic” account that will function slightly differently but otherwise the same as everyone else.
What the Magic Online Basic Account Will Include
This basic account includes hundreds of cards for free that players will be able to use to build decks to battle it out within the casual play areas that the game will offer. There is a new player starter kit that will be offered to all of the basic accounts that come with some sweet goodies at no additional charge.
The new player starter kit comes with two copies of every common and one copy of every uncommon card that is currently legal in the Standard match format. In addition, they will receive two player avatars for free that will be available for using online in matches and the like.
Those two-player icons are based on the Birds of Paradise and a seasonal avatar that will, presumably, change depending on what set we are currently in. For the upcoming expansion, the Magic Online free seasonal avatar will feature The Royal Scions Planeswalkers, which is based on the new card that features not one but two characters in one card.
However, there are some limitations, of course, for new players that use a basic account like being able to only have 20 different decks at the same time. Regardless, that is still a generous enough amount that will allow for players to create multiple decks for several of the match formats.
New players will also receive 20 new player points that are gifted to the player in order to give them a chance to try out new events in the game. These specific events will be designed to give players a taste of what the events are like if they choose to upgrade to a full account in the future.
This means changes for the player events as well, starting with the four-player draft mode that is become the Core Set 2020 Phantom Seal Deck League. This is a league where players will build a new deck and then battle it out against other players in three single-game matches. Players are able to take as long as they need to build their deck since it is a league.
The Planeswalker Deck Gauntlet is also being replaced by the New Player Modern Gauntlet League. What this league does is randomly give the new player one of six different Modern decks that are representative of the archetypes that are present in Modern and then have you play three multi-game matches.
The six basic decks that will be offered to players include mono-red burn, Izzet Storm, Gruul Titanshift, Jeskai Control, Dimir Mill, and mono-white blink. The two-player leagues will cost three new player points to enter them and you will be granted more points, depending on how well you do. If you don’t do well, you’ll only get one point back.
In both leagues, the cards and booster packs that the player gets will only be for that event so you won’t get them added to your collection. If you play through the league win no matches or only one of the three matches, you will get one new player point back.
However, if you get two wins out of the three, you will profit from the league and gain five-play points. Then, if you are able to get all three wins, you will gain 10 player points that will triple what you spent to get into the league. There are other restrictions that basic accounts have, though.
For one, basic account players are unable to chat, trade, or directly challenge other players in the game. But they will be able to add friends and block players when necessary. And though the player isn’t able to start chats or send challenges, they are able to respond to them accordingly.
So, if you are a full account player and want to challenge a friend directly or invite them to your clan, you can do this. However, the chat will still remain inactive for the new player unless changed by an admin, though, the process for this is uncertain.
When it comes to playing the game, new players have solid experience with the ability to redeem promo codes like everyone else and enter any events they meet the requirements for. But the in-game store is only available to players who purchase the account upgrade kit.
This is similar to the account fee from before and costs $9.99. It comes with two additional copies of every common card currently in legal as well as an additional copy of every uncommon card. Players will also get 100 play points to use in the game and 10 more new player points.
There is one final key detail worth mentioning regarding the new basic player accounts that you won’t want to forget. If you go longer than three months without logging in, the game may deactivate your basic account. So long as you stay active or upgrade to a full account, this won’t be an issue.
Changes for UI, Gameplay, and More
Beyond the new player accounts, there are other changes that will be coming to Magic Online that will be affecting everyone. This includes the new rotation for Standard that will be happening with the release of the next fall expansion.
There are four, yes four, expansions that are leaving the rotation with the release of Throne of Eldraine and that means none of the cards from those sets will be compatible in Standard from then on. Those four expansions are Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and Core Set 2019.
When the new expansion goes live at approximately 10 am PT, the Draft and Sealed modes will be available immediately for players to use. But there are some features that aren’t coming until a little later for Magic Online. This includes the redemption process that won’t begin until October 23.
There are changes to how many clicks a player will need to make when in matches as well for certain features like choosing whether or not to use a certain ability to sacrifice creatures and then choosing which creatures to sacrifice. This process will be simplified and players will be able to do it more easily.
To make the whole user interface much easier, the game is finally adding the click and drag to cast feature to the game. This is something that, honestly, is surprising that it took this long but is welcome nonetheless. Like in other card games, players simply need to click and drag a card to the field to cast or summon it. There are also some minor changes like making Adamant casting easier and better to do.
Speaking of avatars earlier, there are six new avatars that will be arriving with the new fall expansion. There is The Royal Scions new player avatar we already know about but you’ll also be able to find two avatars in the treasure chests. Those two are based on Flaxen Intruder and Inquisitive Puppet.
Last but not least, there are three prestige avatars that players will be able to earn for doing well and earning some trophies. Friendly trophies are worth one point while the competitive trophies are worth five points. Earning the prestige avatars will require the player to get a certain number of points.
If you are able to get five points, you will earn the uncommon prestige avatar that is based on the featured Planeswalker Oko, Thief of Crowns. As the rare avatar that is available, players who earn 20 points will get the prestige avatar that is based on Garrick Restored.
Last but not least, players who are able to earn 40 points in total during this upcoming season will get the mythic rare avatar that is based on Rowan Kenrith. There are plenty of new events that are planned for the next several months beyond just those leagues and events for the new players.
There are updates to the client that will be arriving with the release of the fall expansion. For the login area, the page is going to be visually updated to better use the space and have more links to the official website and social media pages.
The home screen will be getting a substantial update as well, with the removal of the text announcements that will be replaced by a larger visual message space. This will be similar to other games in better conveying various announcements and news in the future.
The Magic Online store will be updated as well to look visually better like the changes to the overall game from before plus a simplification of the navigation of the store. This includes the featured items section that will contain the event tickets and booster packs that you have acquired.
There will also be a deck products section where you will find the deck builder’s essentials and the Planeswalker decks. Last but not least, there will be a redemption section for redeeming those precious promo codes for gaining some new cards and decks in the online game.
Players won’t have to wait too much longer for all of these changes, additions, and more that are on the way. The official release of the Magic Online Throne of Eldraine card set will be happening none other than next week. We have one more week to go as everything will be changing next Thursday on September 26 at approximately 10 am PT.
Be sure to stay tuned here for the full changes and updates for the new cards and more that are arriving next week.