MTG Arena artwork for Niv-Mizzet, Parun

[Update]: Today's patch has been delayed due to overwhelming criticism. More information will be coming "soon".

MTG Arena devs have just released their State of the Beta update, and to say it has caused a bit of a controversy would be a gigantic understatement. To start off with the positives, it is worth mentioning that today's update (December 13th) will bring with it the first iteration of a ranked systems. You'll be able to compete against other players in best-of-one matches, progress through various leagues, and eventually earn a couple of card packs and some gold for your troubles. Not exactly innovative or particularly rewarding, but for anyone looking for more competitive matches, it's certainly a step in the right direction.

The changes to the constructed best-of-one and best-of-three events, however, are unfortunately just terrible, and I do not use those words lightly. Both events will now cost 600 gold to enter and will reward exactly the same prizes, meaning that playing best-of-three matches is going to take more than twice as long for absolutely no benefit. This alone would be bad enough, but I'm afraid it gets worse.

For whatever arcane reason, Wizards of the Coast will soon be removing Individual Card Rewards (ICR) from the competitive events, and in their place adding small amounts of gold. So instead of getting three guaranteed uncommon cards that have a 15% chance to become better, you will now receive these prizes for each of the 600 gold events:

0 wins: 100 gold

1 wins: 300 gold

2 wins: 400 gold

3 wins: 600 gold

4 wins: 800 gold

5 wins: 1000 gold

6 wins: 1300 gold

As you can plainly see, things are not looking good. In order to achieve a tiny bit of progress you will need to get four wins, with everything else being more or less a waste of time compared to simply playing in ranked. But the most disappointing thing here, at least for me, is that these changes will remove any surprise or wonder these events once held.

Even when I ended up with a bad run I never felt terrible because I'd always get a couple of cards for my trouble, some of which I eventually ended up loving so much I created entire decks around them. I probably never would've found out I love Izzet decks if I didn't randomly receive Niv-Mizzet and a Crackling Drake in the same event, and removing that sort of reward system is a massive disservice when it comes to the quality of the new player experience.

Whether you agree with me or not, I would highly recommend you go to the official forums and have your voice heard. MTG Arena developers have already implemented changes based on overwhelming feedback, the most recent ones being the addition of five extra beginner decks for each player, so there is a chance they will reconsider these event changes as well.

To learn a bit more about the upcoming update, as well as what the ranked ladder will bring to the table, you should head on over to the official website.