During the latest surprise stream of MTG Arena, several UI elements were featured that had not been seen publicly until that point. Let’s take a look at these new features and pass some judgement on this Alpha UI while there is still time for Wizards to act on feedback.
First up is the type search interface. Several cards in Magic require that the player choose a specific type or card for an effect to take place, such as with Metallic Mimic in the animation above. Magic has hundreds of subtypes and tens of thousands of cards so it is important to be able to quickly filter through all those options to find the one you are looking for. As you can see in the animation this type search attempts to intelligently filter down the options that are displayed to subtypes that exist in this particular game by default. 99% of the time this should allow players to find the correct value without having to search or scroll. If the value you are looking for is not in the pre-filtered list you can click the “Show All” button to list every possible value.
This UI element seems to be very easy to use and gets the job done without any pizzazz. The flatness of the assets is a bit jarring when compared to the other pieces of the battlefield that are full of texture and part of the world. The clip-art magnifying glass in the search bar does seem a little hokey, so here’s hoping that that is something that isn’t finalized.
Next up are the new keyword tooltips that appear when zooming in on a card. In the example above, Gifted Aetherborn has the Deathtouch and Lifelink keyworded abilities which are both defined and paired up with the icons that represent them. This feature is a must for players that are new to Magic. The amount of keywords in Magic can be overwhelming when first getting into the game, so having these reminders of what each keyword means is a welcome addition to the UI. This feature will also be great for players that are just new to MTG Arena since all of the icons that represent keyworded abilities are new and will need to be memorized to be an effective player.
A very much needed addition to the UI. I wouldn’t be surprised if the design of these tooltips don’t change during beta testing and exists exactly as it is in this screenshot upon release.
Cards Castable From Other Zones
Finally, we have the indicator for cards castable from other zones. In this particular screenshot, the three Dread Wanderer in the player’s “hand” are actually in the graveyard. They appear in the hand zone to indicate that they are castable with the “tombstone” icon with an upward pointing arrow indicating that the cards aren’t actually in your hand.
For a game that is trying to create an authentic Magic experience, this feels very odd. I have to imagine that Wizards has done multiple iterations on the best way to convey this information to the player, but this just doesn’t feel like the right answer. Normally your opponent can see how many cards you have in your hand. Do these cards in the graveyard also appear to be in your hand to the opponent? Hopefully, players that are more creative than I can suggest a better implementation that Wizards can implement.