Magic: The Gathering Arena First Look at Mobile Gameplay & Control Details

Magic: The Gathering Arena, the popular card game from Wizards of the Coast, is heading to mobile later this month. The company announced that the early access for the mobile version will be available for Android devices on Jan. 28 (iOS support will launch later this year), and today, we get our first look at how the gameplay on mobile devices looks like as well as the controls for the game.

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Credit: Wizards of the Coast

In the January 2021 MTG Arena State of the Game, Wizards shared screenshots of mobile gameplay for Magic: The Gathering Arena as well as descriptions of how the controls are different compared the original PC version. Mouse clicks become taps, and scrolls become swipes.

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Credit: Wizards of the Coast

The developers changed the battlfield layout to balance playing on the smaller and slightly more rectangular aspect ratio that mobile devices use, such as changing the location and size of player avatars. The gameplay is similar to the desktop version, but the mobile version has touch controls. Wizards provided an example: "When determining your opening hand, you tap the respective button to keep or mulligan, and if you choose the latter, you tap to select and drag cards to your library from your hand."

"Tapping each respective zone (graveyard, library, exile, etc.) will bring up a browser that will allow you to inspect any known cards, as well as to see the current number of cards in that zone," Wizards added.

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Credit: Wizards of the Coast

To give players a better view of the battlfield, your hand may appear "tucked". They will re-appear if you tap the cards in your or your opponent's hand, making them easier to read and select. Tapping and holding a card lets you examine it in detail (like mousing over a card when playing on the PC). Tapping the battlfield will tuck them away again. Wizards said that there are also automatic tuck and untuck behaviors, where MTG Arena will do the work for you. "Our goal was to make it feel relatively natural once you start playing with it, however, you always have the option to tuck or expand your hand as you deem fit," they added.

Here are the other notes Wizards shared:

COMBAT CONTROL
During the combat phase, you select the creatures you wish to attack with by tapping them. When declaring blockers, tap your creatures, then tap the creature you wish to block, or tap and drag from your creature to the creature you wish to block.
ADDITIONAL GAMEPLAY SETTINGS
Tap your avatar to use emotes and view your timeouts or select and hold your avatar to enable or disable full control. Tap your opponent's avatar if you wish to mute them or see their timeouts. When applicable, an arrow labeled "undo" will appear on the top right of the screen that you can tap to undo certain actions.
Additional gameplay options are available under the settings menu, which you can access by tapping the cog wheel in the top right.
DECK BUILDING
Viewing your collection and deck building is very similar to the experience on desktop, with the previously mentioned changes for touch controls. You swipe left or right to browse through your collection, tap cards to add or remove them from your main deck, and tap the sideboard button to toggle between your deck and your sideboard.
You will be able to sort your collection using all the tools available on desktop, including search or advanced filters. When deck building on a mobile device, we currently only support the layout as shown (two rows of cards when viewing your collection, list view of your deck).

MTG Arena Drafts on Mobile Devices

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Credit: Wizards of the Coast

During the MTG Arena draft, tapping the card once will select it as your current pick. You can confirm your pick by either quickly double-tapping the card or selecting a card and dragging it to your list. However, the Early Access for Android devices won't make sideboarding available during the draft portion of the Draft events. All cards will appear on the mainboard, but Wizards notes that they will add the ability to sideboard during an in-progress Draft events at a later date.

The MTG Arena developers are focused on bringing the game to mobile devices this year. In the developer road map they revealed, the iOS Early Access will be arriving soon.

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Credit: Wizards of the Coast

It's also worth noting that they are planning to make MTG Arena available for Tablet support. The table also confirms their plans to release Historic Anthology 4 and Pioneer Masters in the near future.

Related: New Magic: The Gathering Comics Announced For April 2021

MTG Arena Early Access will launch for Android devices on Jan. 28.

Are you excited to play MTG Arena on mobile devices?

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