Round two: fight!

Hearthstone vs. MTGA – Part 2: Deck-Building

Mtga vs hearthstone deck building

It’s in the cards. (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

MTGA and Hearthstone are arguably the two biggest digital card games on the market today. With millions of players, constant content updates, and thriving esports scenes, one can’t help but wonder: which one is the best?

Picking up right from the cliff-hanger ending of our last article, where gameplay wasn’t enough to elect a solid winner, today we examine something that affects play, but mostly happens outside of the game: deck-building.

Card pool

Come on, this one is not even close. Hearthstone has been around for a whole 6 years, which is no small feat, but Magic has been around for decades. The card pool difference is in the thousands, and more options mean more deck-building tools.

Mtga vs hearthstone deck building cards mtg

During 2018 alone, Magic: The Gathering dished out about 800 cards. No biggie. (Image credit: Wizards of the Coast)

Simply put, Magic has more cards, which means more keywords, mechanics, and interesting combinations. Gothic horror? Check. Merfolk? Check. Lava? Check. Godzilla? Even that. If you can dream of a deck, there is a pretty solid chance Magic has all the cards you’ll ever need.

Winner: Magic


A huge selection of cards to pick from can have a big drawback – analysis paralysis. Selecting a format to play could be exciting, but being presented with some 10,000 cards could easily scare even the veteran players away. This is where archetypes come in. Luckily, Hearthstone’s class system makes things extremely clear and provides visual guidance. It even puts pretty faces on its main deck types. That’s a big plus.

Winner: Hearthstone

User interface

No matter how many cards you’ve got to choose from, or what cool heroes are they divided across, deck-building is a complex enough undertaking and nobody has time to figure out unintuitive tools and figuring out mana curves or divide cards into even and odd mana costs.

This is why a good UI is extremely important for a digital card game. It’s great that both Hearthstone and MTGA have no problems here with their intuitive menus, advanced search functionalities, and even automatic fill-ins if you’re left with gaping holes in your deck!

Winner: Tie


Finally, deck-building is always more fun as a group activity. Every time a new expansion drops, the players are buzzing with excitement, searching for the latest “broken combo” or the top-tier deck right now. Forums, subreddits and social media platforms are perfect for the sharing of deck ideas, and both Hearthstone and MTGA support a code system for the easy importing of whole decks to the game client.

Though both games have thriving communities with tons of knowledgable and helpful players, Magic has one great advantage – in-person events with cards on paper. Nothing beats going to your local game club on a Friday, playing some games, bouncing some ideas off your buddies and then coming home to build the new brew inside MTGA. This is one massive advantage.

Winner: Magic

And it looks like Magic takes a slight edge today. Tune in next time, when we’ll examine another intriguing aspect of the two – lore and heroes!


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