Digital collectible card games abound these days, and some are better than others, but this take on one of the most popular games of them all is easily one of the best around. Wizards of the Coast have been making the tabletop version of Magic the Gathering for more than twenty-five years, so it's no surprise that Magic the Gathering: Arena is an incredible take on their physical game. CCGs (collectible card games) are by nature complex, and many of them stumble when it comes to initiating new players. Magic the Gathering: Arena does a great job with a multi-stage tutorial that feeds you what you need to know in small, digestible chunks. And once it's done, you're ready to jump into online versus play. Versus is less intimidating than it might be, thanks to a chat system that only allows you to pick from a preset list of polite expressions and a mute button that lets you turn your opponent off if need be.
While the game's complexity means you'll probably endure a good number of losses at the start, getting experience and rewards even when you lose helps to soften the blow. Outside the arena, simple quests give you something to work toward as well as a way to earn more currency. Some players are bound to feel limited by the relatively small free play area, (access to special events, decks, and modes costs a good deal of real-world money) but that's more of a veteran player problem. But new players will marvel at the brilliant graphics and figuring out how hundreds of cards interact. At this point in open beta, Wizards of the Coast is still working on the game, and that means you should expect imbalances, possible improper matchmaking, and the occasional glitch. Still, even with its current bugs, Magic the Gathering: Arena is on its way to becoming a great digital CCG—one well worth your time and disk space.