Thursday, November 20, 2014

Leagues Delayed, but they Sound like Hearthstone

Yesterday, Chris Kiritz, the Digital Manager for Magic Online, announced that the return of leagues to Magic Online will not, in fact, happen this calendar year as had been projected. According to Kiritz:

As we expected, the design of the new version of Leagues required several major changes to Magic Online. One of these core requirements is to support a large number of players who are all playing in the same League. This change obviously requires extensive testing and refinement. To meet this need, we simply need more time to make sure the Leagues can support the number of players we want and that experience stays consistent under production load.

This announcement was no-doubt met with no little bit of cynicism, since to many it feels like Wizards has been promising to reinstate leagues ever since version 3 was released, and thus far they have failed to demonstrate any actual progress to that end. Fortunately, it appears that significant progress has actually been made, and in upcoming beta releases for Magic Online they will be testing leagues extensively. In fact, if you're interesting in being part of the beta testing process, they are accepting applications here.

But what really caught my eye as I was reading this article was the description of how leagues will work. Listen to this:

Putting this all together creates a system where players can participate in a League at any point and not be at a disadvantage. Players can join at any time, play their matches at any pace, and then earn prizes based on how well they perform. Once they have finished all their matches, they can rejoin the same League and do it all again. This allows players who cannot commit to more than one or two matches per week participate in the same League as a player who can play five matches per day. Couple that with a large player base, and you have a system that lets Magic Online players tailor their experience in a way that fits into their busy lives.

This sounds remarkable like how Arena works in Hearthstone; it's an asynchronous experience where participants are matched up in real time, and can play as few or as many matches as they want in a sitting, with some upper and lower limits of what constitutes completing the event. If this is in fact the case, this may be one of the best things to happen to Magic Online since I joined. While I am certainly wary given Wizard's overall track record with Magic Online, I am cautiously optimistic about what leagues could mean to my own participation in Magic as a hobby.

What do you think of the announcement? Do you think this is the right course of action for leagues, or is this taking it in the wrong direction? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. I absolutely think they are taking a page out of Hearthstone and Solforge's books, and that this is a great thing. If it works like it sounds like it should, I'm really looking forward to this implementation of leagues.

  2. They should really stop giving dates for the release of leagues.