MtG Arena Jumpstart: Historic Horizons Review

TL;DR: It’s just horrible.

Note: This isn’t about Historic, but the Jumpstart itself. I’m just going to say this much about that: The environment is even worse than it was before and the digital only cards take away a lot from the feel of playing MtG. (And who the fuck thought bringing the perpetual removal into Brawl was a good idea? How incompetent can you be?)

There are 46 different themes. You combine two, which means that there are over 2000 combinations of these decks. When they are unable to balance Standard, where they are using a lot fewer cards (while there are plenty of cards in Standard, only a relatively few of them are designed for constructed play), and have problems with balancing four deck EDH releases, and used to have problems even with two deck Duel Decks. They probably never had a proper QA anyhow, because the whole mess was two weeks late, so they probably never actually played the games on the platform, instead just mocking the random effects in some way. How much did that change the process and feel of the game? You know they are going to fail here.

And fail they did. Thusfar I’ve played with three different decks around and 15 games altogether. I’ve played (I might not get the names exactly right, but you get the idea):

Davriel Necromancers
Teyo Enchantments
Kiora Freyalise

(I’m not sure why I have so many planeswalkers here.)

The problem with the first two decks was that the games would take forever. There weren’t any meaningful decisions here. The games would just drag on with both sides just waiting for something to break the stalemate. Many of the games just stopped, because my opponent saw what was happening and decided that they had better things to do then to stare at my 1/4, 1/4, 0/3, 0/3 board and wish they had something to break through it.

Then, because there are so many different kinds of decks, the interaction doesn’t often do what you want it to do. In one game we were both playing enchantments and I had a Sythis, Harvest's Hand. Since I wasn’t attacking with it, they just couldn’t remove it. Sure, they had a Pacifism, but since I wasn’t going to block with Sythis anyway, it didn’t matter, so they were stuck.

Because you have so few cards that have actual weight on the result of the game, you are highly incentivised to just drop from the game if you don’t find it. There isn’t any penalty for doing so anyhow. Worse yet, you are highly incentivised to open new decks until you find one that is massively overpowered against the field as a whole, so I would expect the power level to be just stupidly high after a few days. So, be prepared to throw gold or gems at it.

The thing they did do right is that the manabases are constructed dynamically. Previously each pack would have eight lands, one of which was a Thriving land and the rest were basics (there were exceptions to this), but here it will balance the lands based on your deck, because there are a lot of two-color packs. I’ve still only played two-color decks, so I don’t know how the system handles more colors, but in a two-color deck you’ll get 7 of each basic, 1 cycling land of each color and 2 common lifegain duals. So, that’s… something.

While I wasn’t a big fan of the first Jumpstart, which was actually better in person, it was much, much better experience than this.

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