Magic: The Gathering Arena is about to see its Standard format become as large as it has ever been. An interview with the development team revealed that Arena Standard will be getting a massive update on June 7, and every card that is currently legal in the paper version of Magic's Standard format will finally be available online.
For those unfamiliar, Magic: The Gathering Arena is Wizards of the Coast's latest attempt at digitizing the massively popular trading card game. While an online client has been available for some time in the form of Magic: The Gathering Online, it is often criticized as being buggy, bare bones, and aesthetically displeasing. Arena simplifies the game somewhat by shrinking the card pool and providing less complex gameplay states than its real-life counterpart, but the trade-off comes with card animations and a much more dynamic user interface.
The June 7 update will add cards from the Kaladesh and Aether Revolt sets, alongside the 2017 Welcome Decks, to Arena's already impressively large card pool. That will effectively catch the online client up with its paper counterpart, meaning those interested in testing for real life events or improving their fundamentals will now have the means to do so in Magic: the Gathering Arena Standard.
To further increase the consistency between Magic's online and offline offerings, the current banlist for Standard will be implemented into the online client as well. Banned cards are removed from a given card game's format because they warp gameplay in unproductive ways, so the loss shouldn't be too bad.
The most exciting addition to Magic: the Gathering Arena Standard will be the freebies that Wizards of the Coast has decided to give away to celebrate the update. According to the development team, active players will be gifted two of every single Kaladesh/Aether Revolt uncommon, one of each rare and mythic rare, and four of 15 pre-selected cards from both sets. The latter is likely to be a pool of the most powerful or popular cards, giving deck builders a leg up in getting the cards they require for their strategy of choice.
Overall, Wizards of the Coast has a clear direction for Magic: the Gathering Arena Standard that didn't seem as transparent just a few months ago. While the client continues to appeal to newer players, the addition of new sets adds complexity, which should win over veterans from the paper Magic game or other online card games like Hearthstone or Gwent. It's a step in the right direction for a company that, despite its paper trading card game dominance, has yet to find its footing digitally - and is quickly seeing the window of opportunity close, with companies like Valve and its upcoming Artifact game moving in on an already niche demographic.