Tobold's Blog
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Second Chance Blown

As it turns out the new PvE mode of MtG Arena is a huge disappointment. Most importantly the AI is playing very badly, much worse than the AI in Magic Duels or other previous incarnations of Magic the Gathering on a computer. Something as easy as selecting the obvious creatures to block an attack isn't mastered by the MtG Arena AI.

Now for a new player the game gives you five mono-colored decks. Then you get xp for every practice mode win, so you level up to a cap of 30. And for each level gained you gain mastery orbs, which you can place on a board to get additional cards for your favorite mono-colored deck. Later you can even get five two-colored decks. Now this is not a bad system, especially not for real new players: You get to play against easy decks repeatedly until you learn how to play, and what the main characteristics of the five colors are. As a "new player experience" that is much,  much better than having to play against the sharks right away.

However for anybody who already knows Magic a little, the system falls flat. The AI only ever plays the same five mono-colored decks that you got at the start. While your cards get better, the AI doesn't get better decks. And it doesn't get any *more interesting* decks either. So long before you reach level 30 and get all the additional cards and decks out of the practice mode system, you are already extremely bored by playing against the same simplistic decks over and over with no challenge whatsoever. That also means that "practice mode" fails to do what is said on the label, help you to practice real decks.

What I found really mean was that the main screen of MtG Arena very prominently shoves quests and quest rewards in your face. Oh look, I can get gold for winning a game, or for playing 20 white spells! So I get my white deck and win a game in practice mode, and nothing. What the quests simply don't say is that their conditions aren't triggered in practice matches. That also means that after you reach level 30, practice mode simply doesn't have any rewards at all any more. Now I could understand PvP mode giving better rewards than PvE mode, but PvE mode giving nothing beyond enabling you to get a set of starter decks is a killer.

In summary, MtG Arena now has a better new player experience, but which still fails to give the player the cards and skills he would need to even start playing competitively. And MtG Arena still hasn't got a usable PvE mode.

- For new players, practice matches will contribute to daily quests objectives until they reach max level (Level 25).
it would be nice to see a modern Shandalaar, though the AI was no great shakes in that, either. Etherlords comes reasonably close as a single player CCG - there are probably more.

Magic is going to be the hardest of them all to code a decent AI for, though. Basically because the board is infinitely wide (and the large variety of wacky card abilities doesn't help.
@GoA I don't know where you have that info from, but it definitely isn't working like that now, and I am far from level 25.
Had a feeling that was going to be the case, even when I saw the previous day's post about giving it a try.

When PVP is the focus, doing a 'campaign' or even just interesting bots is a huge stretch goal that many games don't bother with.
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