Note: I am a very long time player, so if you are new, this might be the product for you. Me? No.
I am an avid limited player. Whenever I have the choice, I will preferably draft. I get that some others would rather just take these and play, but I often actually enjoy the drafting process more than the actual gameplay.
I tried this three times. I played a total of 7 games, with only one loss and six wins. Based on this, I would like to think that this means that this particular format rewards skill, but that would indicate that I’m just that much better than the average player. This might actually be true in this particular environment, since I suspect many of the players are less used to the intricacies of limited, which this format resembles much more than standard, which I assume is the most played format.
The three decks I played were:
Heavily Armored Garruk
(I might have changed the names somewhat.)
As you start the queue, you get to pick one from three possible boosters, after which you get to choose another from a similar batch. You don’t get to see the list of cards in the booster, but those are sort of available on the mothership, although these are for the paper version, so not all of these exist on the Arena. Part of the problem is that in some cases you have up to four different versions of the deck available, so you can’t know which one you are choosing. Not that the differences are that big. They seem more like a joke than anything else. I guess the idea is to make certain cards more difficult to get, but the difference between the versions of a specific booster with the same name seems to be two cards.
Gameplay itself felt like something along the lines of a poor Core Set limited. Most of the mechanics are quite boring and there isn’t much of good interaction, which can lead to difficult situations. Gladly, there wasn’t an actual boardstall at any point in these games, but there were a couple of situations, where the opponent had some expensive way to keep me from attacking (such as [card]Riptide Laboratory[/card] + [card]Exclusion Mage[/card] and [card]Tolarian Kraken[/card] + [card]Arcane Encyclopedia[/card]), but knowing that they kept using all their mana and they didn’t have much interaction in their decks besides that, they were still losing the game. It would just take a little more time.
The manabases are awful. Especially the vampires were difficult to play with the requirement for double colored mana. That was actually the reason I lost the one game. This is definitely better in some decks than others, but this could have been easily fixed by having more Thriving-lands in the decks or perhaps just in those with those color requirements.
There are some feel bad cards. [card]Angel of the Dire Hour[/card] isn’t exactly what one would like to thrash a new player with, but WotC seems to think it’s fine. (Admittedly, I’m not sure if this is only in the paper version.) And what’s wrong with the person who decided [card]Whelming Wave[/card] would be a good idea?
Admittedly, the gameplay was better than standard, as there was at times actual decision making and it was also better than most sealed, but that’s as far as I can go. Still, I can’t really justify the expenditure of 2000 gold or whatever it was in gems (400 or 500, I forget) with the poor prizes.
TL;DR: I am not a fan.