Arena "Modern"

General forum

Posted on March 4, 2019, 5:45 p.m. by Eledain

Hello fellow magicians,

I'm pretty sure that after the next rotation there will be some kind of "eternal" format on MtG Arena with all the then rotated cards.

Rumors even say that Kaladesh and Amonkhet block will be legal then.

What do you guys think? Where should be the starting point? Which decks and archetypes would be dominant?

Curious for your opinions.

One short other question: what means PSA?

SynergyBuild says... #2

PSA = Public Service Announcement.

March 4, 2019 6:01 p.m.

octomjbber says... #3

This should have been implemented last rotation. MTGA should be about what the PLAYERS (ie customers) want, not some vision of the development team. Yes, significant improvements have been made since early Beta roll out, but still many issues. Bad economy, no chat, no bling, ridiculous pack price, etc. To many players like myself, we HATE standard but are stuck except for the minor events like Pauper, etc. We DEMAND Commander and Modern.

What starting point? That's easy, Mirrodin going forward. Tired of lame WoTc excuses, GET IT DONE! The most recent rotation sets have tons of rich, exciting cards to build spectacular decks, let alone those sets of REAL modern.

As far as Commander, some players in Arena already think it's a Commander game having a 100 card deck. Just adopt the rules, and as sets are added build both Commander and Modern bases at the same time.

Again, like a lot of what WoTc has done so far, but a long way to go.


March 4, 2019 8:22 p.m.

“MTGA should be about what the PLAYERS (ie customers) want”, and as a customer I want none of those rediculous changes.

March 4, 2019 8:35 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #5

octomjbber: why mirrodin?

March 4, 2019 8:52 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #6

mymanpotsandpans: how is an optional eternal format a ridiculous change?

March 4, 2019 9:03 p.m.

Vman says... #7

Im not really into another "eternal format" it means we got to divide the playebase a little more than it already is, spend more money if we wanna play everywhere as the meta in the kaladesh up format would be different too. I personally say, implement MODERN or just gtfo and keep it at standard.

Its alot of work, but i dont believe its impossible.

March 4, 2019 9:06 p.m.

skoobysnackz says... #8

PlatinumOne because that is the earliest modern legal set.

octomjbber, they have repeatedly addressed adding modern to Arena, and it simply will not happen. Ever. The amount of coding it would take to add all the modern sets as well as the new Standard sets and now also the new straight to modern sets would quite literally take decades. It is simply not worth it. On that note, if Modern isn't coming to Arena you can be sure Commander won't either. I'm sure they are working on variants of both to introduce to Arena, but it will certainly not be Modern or Commander as we know it.

Back to the question: I thought they had announced that Ixalan was likely to be the earliest set in the new eternal format they are working on. Personally, I would like them to go back to the Kaladesh block since it was already coded for the closed beta, but I'm not too optimistic about it.

March 4, 2019 9:20 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #9

skoobysnackz: actually the earliest modern legal set is 8th edition

March 4, 2019 9:28 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #10

skoobysnackz: also, "decades" is a real exaggeration. wotc can easily afford a team big enough to add all the necessary cards in a decent amount of time.

March 4, 2019 9:34 p.m.

skoobysnackz says... #11

My mistake, This link did not make that very obvious, but I have now confirmed that 8th edition was printed before Mirrodin.

March 4, 2019 9:36 p.m.

skoobysnackz says... #12

PlatinumOne Maybe, but to my recollection that was one of the main arguments given to not add modern to arena. Now I'm no expert in coding, but I think its fairly obvious that coding 25 years worth of cards and interactions would take an incredibly long time regardless of team size. I'm curious though, what do you think would be a "decent amount of time"?

March 4, 2019 9:43 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #13

skoobysnackz: i think they could easily do it in a single year. as of 1/14/2018, there were 19,989 cards in the game. 40 hours per week multiplied by 52 weeks per year is 2,080. if each card takes a full hour to code, a team of 10 people could knock it all out in a year.

March 4, 2019 9:59 p.m.

Arczer0 says... #14

IMO maybe not full-blown modern but “extened” format was already being considered, since there would be an outrage if all the money players sink in to cards evaporate just when the set rotate out.

March 4, 2019 10:18 p.m.

skoobysnackz says... #15

I'm pretty skeptical that it would only take an average of 1 hour per card given that MTGO still has some bugs, but that's an interesting calculation.

March 4, 2019 10:23 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #16

PlatinumOne - I would not say "wotc can easily afford a team big enough to add all the necessary cards in a decent amount of time." Wizards might be profitable, but Hasbro, its parent company, is really struggling right now. Besides, it might not be economically wise to spend the resources on the additional cards. There's no guarantee doing so would pull in enough additional users to justify the cost of the expansion to the cardpool. In fact, there is a chance you might drive away a number of your existing or likely customers, as they could be intimidated by the size of the options.

I think you are also drastically underestimating how complex this would be. You would not just be programming a bunch of cards, you would have to program dozens of new mechanics. You would need myriad new animations, which all take a considerable amount more time than an hour. You would have to allocate more memory to the game, which could result in performance issues. You would have to bug check uncounted card interactions. You would have to update the card search options, as it would otherwise be extremely unwieldy.

For point of reference--look at MTGO. That rendition of the game often has assorted bug issues, such as card interactions not working correctly (it's pretty common on the Rules Q&A forum to see questions like "I thought the rule was X, but MTGO did Y).

March 4, 2019 10:46 p.m. Edited.

PlatinumOne says... #17

cdkime: they can "say" they're "struggling", but its a multi-billion dollar company. and even if we assume 8 hours per card, a team of 80 could still do it in a year. how much do you think each of those programmers would get paid per year? 60k? thats 4.8 mill total. hasbro ceo made 11.7 mill in fiscal year 2017. adding eternal formats won't drive people away, because they'll still have the option of playing standard.

March 4, 2019 11:01 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #18


Hasbro is struggling--their stock has been in a general state of decline due to poor Q3 showings, in part because their biggest purchaser, Toys R Us, went belly up.

I also think you are vastly underestimating costs. A game developer makes an average of $101,932 per year (source: Glassdoor). But salary alone is not the only costs you would incur. There is healthcare, insurance, and other benefits for those employees. You need to rent space large enough for them to work. You need to maintain servers and allocate memory, both of which are expensive. Your electricity for those servers and for the computers your developers are using (which, since they're doing modelling, probably have energy-consuming graphics cards and processors) adds up quickly. Let's not forget the opportunity costs--if you sink a couple million into one investment, you might can't spend that million elsewhere that might be a more lucrative investment.

Ultimately, you'll be spending much more than 4.8 million.

That all ties back to my first paragraph--you need to turn a profit on the work done. If you spend X dollars, you need to make back those X dollars exclusively as a result of the work performed. Otherwise, you did not make back your new investment and your money was wasted.

That's not to say that it will not happen--WotC and Hasbro have the numbers necessary to make the cost-benefit analysis, while we do not. I merely think you are vastly underestimating some of the costs and vastly overselling the benefits.

March 4, 2019 11:50 p.m.

saj0219 says... #19

PlatinumOne, I would love to see modern on Arena, but I still think you’re vastly underestimating the time commitment. Consider the overwhelming number of interactions we’d need to code for: if we assume there are 12,500 cards in modern, there are over 78 million two card combinations. That is over 78 million interactions that need to be governed by some code. Now what happens if we throw in the possibility of a three card interaction? Over 325 billion combinations of 3 cards in modern...(these are all just combinations, by the way: I’m not taking order into account here).

Now, obviously these interactions are not all unique (e.g a cancel and wizard’s retort will do the same thing to a lightning bolt), but even if we assume just 10% are unique, that’s still a massive number.

For scale: there are a bit over 1 million 2 card combinations in standard and roughly 618 million 3 card combinations. Modern has 8x the cards, 77x the two card interactions and 525 times the 3 card interactions...

March 4, 2019 11:55 p.m.

PlatinumOne says... #20

cdkime: a game developer working on a big budget console game might make 6 figures a year, but not the guys programming mtg arena.

saj0219: not every individual "combination" needs a separate program. the number of unique interactions would more likely be less than 1% the numbers you listed. a Path to Exile isn't going to need a separate code for every creature it can target. it'll exile them all the same way.

TLDR: if anyones underestimating anything, its you guys underestimating wotc.

March 5, 2019 2:10 a.m.

saj0219 says... #21

Even there, that is not true. Without putting much thought into it, I can tell you Path to Exile will not interact in the same way with Slippery Bogle , Eternal Scourge , Phantasmal Bear , or Tarmogoyf ... the point is t that it’s almost always the same. It’s that there are 12,000 cards and millions, even billions of possible interactions that need to be checked.

And even at 1%, even at 0.5%, the scale difference between standard and modern remains unchanged. How many hours do you think it took them to make arena as is?

March 5, 2019 6:07 a.m. Edited.

Pervavita says... #22

For the time to program, If we want Modern built into Arena WOTC will ether have to pay the 6 figure's for high/mid quality programmers or go with lower quality programmers at the 5 figure pay. WOTC is just a short drive from Microsoft (with heavy traffic we are talking about 1-1.5 hours commute); there is also other companies in and around that region that are high demand for programmers as well such as Amazon, Blue Origin (Space X competitor), Boeing, and any number of smaller tech companies.

My point is WOTC will have to pay more per programmer if they want it done faster to have competitive rates.

With all that being said they still have to program future sets so you can't realistically pull programing power from that pool of people.

Now by no means am I a programmer to know how much work really goes into programming so I make no predictions on the time it will take to program, bug check, skin, and so on. I am simply talking about the cost to get those programmers.

As to a big picture WOTC I am sure has given serious thought of putting Modern into Arena but they are vary far from being able to go down that road. We are in BETA so the basics of Arena for Standard/Draft are not even done yet and there we are talking about 10% the size and scope of Modern. With new standard legal sets every 3 months they still have to work that out well working out bugs in the system. I got off track of what I was getting at. WOTC knows Modern and EDH are popular so they will do what they can to get those onto Arena but they have priorities like making the system work. If they announce Modern is coming to Arena we just don't know when. We will have people complaining that it's not fast enough and unrealistically saying it would be easy to have it all done in a year. If and when Modern comes to Arena it will be years and we won't know it's coming until a few months out.

Onto the original subject. I do see an eternal format coming to Arena for no reason other then they have already coded it in. I know some people are complaining about the reset losing there Kaladesh and Amonkhet… that's BETA testing; we are not paying for the game, we are simply testing it out for WOTC for free to get the privilege of playing. Now how far back will this new format go? I suspect it will start back further in SoI as I think I heard some place (rumor mill engaged) that it was already programmed in. That would give us a bit more then a double standard or what was Extended in the past. I don't expect this to launch until the next rotation so they can limit the feel bads of rotation as well as give it a nice chunk of cards for us to play with that are outside of Standard.

As to EDH; that we probably won't see for a few years in anything we would call EDH or EDH light as WOTC still has to figure out 3+ players on Arena and how they will handle that. When we get it I'm thinking it will be EDH light with just our Extended (for lack of a better term yet) card pool and probably linked to the 2020 commander pre con launch.

March 5, 2019 10:34 a.m.

Boza says... #23

1 hour per card or 8 hours per card is not a realistic estimate. IN most basic terms, in order to add anything to the game, you have check every nested interaction it could be in (which is a lot for MTG cards) and make sure it does not break the rules of the game. Which is a lot to do. New sets have 250 cards each for that part, and sets are usually finished and sent to printers 6 months in advance.

Thus, Arena team have roughly 6 months to program 250 cards. Modern has about 50 times 250 cards in its pool. So, it will take the current team (no idea how large) 50X6 months = 25 years to complete this all. And that is without accounting for the fact that Quality Assurance is additive, so the more cards there are, the more time it takes to properly test them.

Adding modern, in a consertive estimate, will be 40-50 years worth of work for the current team to simply code the cards. That is not including any animation work and UI design, etc, which can add an additional 50% on top of the previous estimate.

And adding more people to a task does not ensure that it is done faster. Code is not written faster just because you have more people working on it - there are dimisnishing returns to adding more people.

TLDR: Arena will never have modern. We may get a form of Frontier though, depending on what happens in the next rotation in Fall 2019.

March 5, 2019 11:02 a.m.

SynergyBuild says... #24

Boza Really? Do you know how many Flying Men and vanilla 3/2s for 3 have been made?

Tons of random gain life taplands, vanilla creatures, or creatures with... trample or reach (or both like Archweaver , yeah that'll take days to code).

But SynergyBuild, tons of spells are in this game... like Firebolt or Advent of the Wurm , or complex multi-lined creatures like Ambush Krotiq .

While I understand there are complex cards, perhaps replacement effects like dredge, etc. could be difficult to make (but once done the code can be copied over from Darkblast to Golgari Thug ), and the mythics and walkers that need voices and animations can be difficult to get, but a vast majority are super easy to make. 50% could be done by just putting art and the keywords on the cards. Random discard spells, burn, countermagic, card draw, ramp, tutors, fatties, dorks, taplands, duals, etc. could all be so easy to make and the other 50% would just be cards with keywords like Battalion they'd create and copy between everything.

March 5, 2019 11:13 a.m.

Boza says... #25

SynergyBuild - I extrapolated the 250 cards for typical standard set into 50 times that for 10 000 cards needed for modern. A typical standard set has a wide range of cards that range in complexity - from vanilla cards like Concordia Pegasus to more complex ones like Lumbering Battlement . That complexity is relatively the same for every set of 250 cards, so it averages out between low-complexity and high-complexity cards throughout Modern.

The majority of the time spent coding would be on complex cards. The same coder would probably have to spend the same time coding Ice Cauldron as 1000s of vanilla creatures.

Additionally, the design is more complex the further back you go. NWO and the set design streamline started 9 years ago. Prior to NWO, you could get a card like Ninja of the Deep Hours as a common, which is not likely to happen now. Thus even simple commons are problematic.

March 5, 2019 11:24 a.m. Edited.

Boza says... #26

Also, none of this answers the question - why do modern in arena at all? Arena is wildly successful as is, so why do such extraordinary amount of work for almost no gain? Modern will not work with the economy of Arena - there is no existing way to monetize these additions (can you imagine the shop having 80 sets of booster packs to choose from?), so why do it?

There is one way though - it is called Modern Horizons and specialized, curated set of cards enter the card pool.

As was mentioned, nobody playing Modern will care if Canyon Minotaur is programmed in Arena or not. However, what Arena can get is a set like Modern Horizons that introduces staples from Modern to the game.

Sure, that will result in Arena Modern, which will be different from paper Modern, but it is the only feasible way to do it.

March 5, 2019 11:34 a.m.

Pervavita says... #27

I'm sure there are other ways to make it happen, but nothing that is truly practice. We could have also flashback drafts, Modern Cube, and Horizons. All would work for getting Modern cards onto Arena. But yes it won't be the same as paper Modern.

The best they could do is have a Modern Masters set/cube and you keep the cards you draft with it all being Modern playable picking from the top 5-6 decks in Modern. We wouldn't have True Modern but it would be close enough with a new MM/cube every year doing effectively the same thing.

March 5, 2019 11:44 a.m.

Pervavita says... #28

We are however still looking at a few years out at best before we get even a hint of this.

March 5, 2019 11:44 a.m.

Boza says... #29

In my personal opinion, Arena should be about giving players more ways to experience MTG that are not available elsewhere or widely in paper - wild formats like the draft with an Omniscience emblem were amazingly fun and something that is not really fun to build for in paper.

I am a paper player - I have a modern deck, several EDH decks and Pauper decks... but not a Standard deck, as it is ridicously expensive to compete in Standard. I play Standard on Arena exclusively and I am glad I can get a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria for the same price as Phyrexian Scriptures .

The problem with Arena is where it needs to go from here. I think the best direction is - besides Standard, nowhere where the paper game is. Compare viewership on Twitch for the top Arena streamer and the top MTGO streamer. Arena is outperforming MTGO by a lot.

So as to not devour MTGO, Arena has to develop its own identity.

TLDR - I will personally use Arena for standard only, even if Modern were made available tomorrow. I prefer to play non-rotating formats in a paper setting.

March 5, 2019 12:06 p.m.

Boza says... #30

Additionally-additionally, I do not trust that the game that thinks that having direct challenges without a chat system, and is still without chat system, will be prioritizing Modern in any form. They need to work on the product and improve it a lot before they start on non-essetials like Modern. Here are the top 8 priorities:

  1. Chat.
  2. Better streaming integration.
  3. Actual schedule for formats and adequate rotations of formats within the game itself.
  4. The cancel button does not work during matching.
  5. Improved, less boring quests that are not "play cards of type X N times".
  6. Lobby system for drafting - reintroduce pods and provide an alternative to bot drafting.
  7. Various UI quality of life changes
  8. Improve the deck builder as it is extremely barebones (there have been steps in the right direction).

I would prefer any of these, and I say most of them are required for the correct functionality of Modern. You need the UI to be clear and streamlined - I have a deck with Theater of Horrors , Light Up the Stage and Risk Factor in it and all of those smush up your hand to be visible at all times you can play them. Imagine how that would be once you add Eternal Scourge , suspend, etc. to the mix.

TLDR - Arena should be a much better platform before Modern can be added.

March 6, 2019 7:05 a.m.

Pervavita says... #31

I'm not sure Chat will come. I would like chat but I'm thinking they are bypassing it to not have to monitor chat for bad behavior.

March 6, 2019 4 p.m.

Eledain says... #32

Allow chat only for people on the friendlist imo.

March 6, 2019 5:30 p.m.

Pervavita says... #33

That would work. To keep game play clean it could be a pop up window or side bar that you can set to the side of the game board so it's not part of the game directly.

March 7, 2019 9:57 a.m.

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