Magic: the Gathering Arena, Wizards of the Coast’s online version of Magic: the Gathering, has released M20, the most recent expansion in the game. However, this rollout did not go according to plan, as players have complaints about the new rewards system, low frame rates, and shoddy server connections.
The newest update in MTG Arena was a big one. It introduced a new rewards system, added the cards from the M20 Core Set, and changed some of the game mechanics to match changing tournament rules in Magic: the Gathering. It had the regular scattering of quality-of-life bug fixes as well, although in this case, the developers may have added more bugs than they solved. When the update launched, many players were unable to enter the game due to problems with the MTG Arena servers.
Even after the server issues were resolved, players experienced a noticeable drop in frame rate. Some players even reported frame rates at 10 FPS or lower. This has become enough of an issue that it has begun to affect gameplay.
Although a trading card game is not as strongly affected by low frame rate as, say, Starcraft, this issue is causing delays of several minutes in processing a single move. It seems to be affected more strongly by certain cards as well; animations associated with both “Tamiyo, Collector of Tales” and “Liliana, Dreadhorde General” cause lengthy delays in gameplay in games experiencing this frame rate drop. Some players have blamed this on the addition of the new rewards system, the Mastery Rewards.
This could be true, and something about the implementation of the Mastery Rewards system could have caused this frame rate drop – it’s about as likely as anything else in the update having caused it. However, this could just be players projecting. The new Mastery Rewards, which are a rewards tree that players progress through by leveling up and winning games, is not very well liked. It has been criticized for being too much of a grind. The Mastery Rewards changes the system from something that gave rewards that were more or less proportional to the amount of time put into the game into something that made the game an obligation to reach the best rewards at the top of the skill tree. Either way, MTG Arena making their rewards system into a game of its own should be less important than making their actual game work.