Last updated on March 21, 2021

Toothy, Imaginary Friend MTG card art by Zoltan Boros

Toothy, Imaginary Friend

It wasn’t that long ago that MTGA was a friendless wasteland where you were forced to play your games with strangers. Since just December of 2019, though, we’ve had access to a new feature: the MTG Arena Friends List.

But we didn’t get here without a couple of bumps along the road, and there’s sure to be plenty more ahead as well. So, how did we get to this point, and what should we expect in the future for the Friends List?

The History of the Friends List

The Friends List has been a point of contention in the MTG Arena community for quite some time. The open beta launched in September of 2018, and players started asking about the potential for this feature almost right away. In fact, the Friends List has been a recurring topic over on the MTGA subreddit.

Recurring Insight MTG card art by Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai

Recurring Insight

Some posts only mention wanting the Friends List while others rant about various changes and additions being implemented before the Friends List. Which, to be fair, there’s been a lot of. Especially considering that the Friends List wasn’t added until long after Arena officially launched.

In fact, there were so many of these posts that new tabs started to open in the Æther somewhere and this is what my browser looked like:

MTG Arena subreddit friends list post tabs

Suffice it to say, there has been many a discussion regarding social features in the MTG community, both recently and since Arena was launched.

A Rocky Start

All right, so the community has been clamoring for social features for a long time. And though it took quite a while to get there, Wizards didn’t… totally drop the ball. Long before the Friends List was implemented, they added what even they called a quick fix to stave off the social feature pandemonium (if only for a little while): Direct Challenges.

Direct Challenges, Pre-Friends List

This was likely a hastily put-together, probably not-very-thought-out feature and it really showed. Players had tons of issues with their challenges not sending properly, if at all.

Roar of Challenge MTG card art by Viktor Titov

Roar of Challenge

There were no notifications and no accepting or declining challenges. Instead, both players would challenge each other to end up in the same “queue”, so to speak. Direct Challenges would sit in wait in this empty queue either until an hour had passed, at which point they would be kicked, or until the challenged player sent their own Direct Challenge in response.

To make matters worse, because each player had to send a Direct Challenge to the other in order to play, they both had the chance to select their own set of match options. If the players chose different options, say player A chose BO1 while player B chose BO3, an “options mismatch error” message would pop-up and they’d have to start all over again.

Repeating Barrage MTG card art by Dan Scott

Repeating Barrage

Oh, and sometimes you didn’t even make it that far. Display names with spaces in them didn’t work properly, which was never fixed. You would have to manually re-enter the space in the display name. This isn’t a super big deal, but giving players what should have been a temporary workaround instead of an actual fix isn’t really the best look.

The Friends List Reception

The first whisper that we heard about the Friends List finally being added to MTG Arena was in the September State of the Game last year. Wizards announced that this would be the first of many social features to be implemented including messaging friends and sharing decks. It seems like this wasn’t meant to be, though, as the October announcement saw the feature delayed.

And then November came along and WotC announced that the Friends List would be added to MTG Arena in that month’s update. A week later and players’ hopes were dashed when the MTG Arena Twitter account posted this:

MTG Arena twitter post on friends list delay

Source

December chills brought the cold shoulder with a hidden burst of cheer. If you had been hoping to get some updates in the State of the Game, you would have been sorely disappointed. However, the Friends List feature was in fact implemented on December 12 during the game’s scheduled update.

Its reception was less than warm, however. Expectations were high since the community has been asking for the feature for so long. But when it seemed like we were finally getting it, there were not one, but two delays. Some players were even unaware that the feature was even implemented in December.

MTG Arena Friends List release responses

x x x x x

It wasn’t all salt (some of those did make me laugh, though), as some people were genuinely thankful and happy that the feature was finally added.

What the Friends List Looks Like Now

The Friends List has been live for just under two months now, so it’s high time we take a look at what we’ve got. And though Wizards has mentioned future possibilities, there is lots more that I’m sure we all want to see sprout from this.

Sprout MTG card art by Anthony S. Waters

Sprout

Current State and the Community’s Requests

The Friends List as it stands now is pretty simple, allowing you to add players by their display name (including #####) or the email associated with their account. You can currently have up to 200 friends (this includes outgoing requests that are still pending) on MTG Arena, and friend requests never expire.

A notification (of sorts, we’ll get to that in a second) appears when you receive a friend request, and you can block incoming requests in general if you so choose. There’s also an option to block an unlimited number of players through the Friends List, though only the first 50 that you block will be displayed in MTGA.

You can reject friend requests, which will also clear it from your pending queue. The other player will not be notified that you rejected the request, though, it’ll just get permanently stuck in their outgoing requests.

You’ll also now be able to send Challenges to any online friends. The player who sends the Challenge sets the match options (BO1 vs BO3, 60-card deck or Brawl, and coin flip options) and all the receiving player has to do is accept. The only two known issues at this point revolve around this aspect of the Friends List.

Aspect of Gorgon MTG card art by Willian Murai

Aspect of Gorgon

If two friends simultaneously send each other a Challenge, they’ll both be stuck in an outgoing Challenge waiting on a response. The current workaround is to simply have one friend exit out of their outgoing Challenge and accept the one they were sent (i.e., don’t send each other Challenges, have one friend send and one friend accept).

The second issue comes up if you receive a Challenge from a friend while you have the play blade open and change any of the game parameters e.g., you were challenged to BO1, but you want to play BO3. This will leave your friend in a locked state. The workaround for this is to not change anything when you receive a Challenge and instead cancel out of it and resend it with the changed options.

And we’re getting some updates in March 2020! This game update should see you now able to message your friends in Arena, along with the ability to manually mark yourself as “Busy” or “Offline”. There’s also an update to the emote system as we’ll now be able to respond to “Nice” with “Thanks” and “Oops” with “Sorry”. It’s not much but, seeing as there’s no way to add an opponent you don’t know IRL, it’s… well, something.

How Tos, Step-by-Step

Now that we’ve talked about what you can and can’t do with the Friends List, let’s show you how to actually do those things! We’ll keep this updated whenever new features get added, so consider this your one-stop-shop for all things Friends List.

Finding Your 5 Digit Number

1. Open the “Profile” tab—your username along with the five-digit number associated with your account will be displayed on the top left

MTG Arena Profile tab

Blocking All Friend Requests

1. Click the “Adjust Options” menu on the top right

MTG Arena Adjust Options selection

2. Click “Account” at the bottom of the Options menu that appears

MTG Arena Account options menu

3. Select the “Block Incoming Friend Requests” checkbox at the bottom of the Account menu

MTG Arena Block Incoming Friend Requests option

Adding Friends

1. Open your Friends List

MTG Arena friends list button

2. Click the plus icon at the top of the list

MTG Arena friends list

3. The “Send Friend Request” pop-up will appear—input the display name and five-digit number or email of the person you want to add and then click “Send”

MTG Arena send friend request screen
  • If the request is accepted, your new friend will appear in the Friends List above your Sent Requests, Incoming Requests, and Blocked Users (if you have any)
  • Pending requests will appear in your Friends List under “Sent Requests”
MTG Arena pending requests

Accepting and Rejecting Friend Requests

  • When you have a pending friend request, the friends icon will have a fiery glow and jump around a bit
MTG Arena friends list notification

1. Open your Friends List

MTG Arena friends list button

2. Your pending requests will appear under “Incoming Requests”—click the red minus sign (left button) to reject the friend request or the green checkmark (right button) to accept it

MTG Arena pending friend request

Unfriending and Blocking Friends

1. Open your Friends List

MTG Arena friends list button

2. Right-click on the friend you want to unfriend or block and then click the appropriate option, either “Unfriend” or “Block”

MTG Arena unfriend and block options

3. A confirmation pop-up will appear asking if you’re sure you want to unfriend/block this person—click “OK”

MTG Arena confirmation pop-ups
  • Unfriended players will disappear from your Friends List
  • Blocked players will show up under “Blocked Users”
MTG Arena blocked users

Messaging Your Friends

  • You can’t open a chat window with an offline friend if you haven’t messaged them before
  • The number on your Friends List panel shows you how many of your friends are currently online
MTG Arena friends list online friend

1. Open your Friends List

MTG Arena friends list button

2. Hover over the online friend you want to message and then click on the chat bubble to the left of their name

MTG Arena messaging button

3. Type your message in the message bar and then hit “Enter” or click the arrow to the right

MTG Arena messages
  • You can press “Tab” to cycle through your chats and open the next one (if you only have one, it’ll just close the current chat instead and you can hit it again to reopen it) or “Esc” to close the chat window
  • If you have messaged an offline friend before, you’ll be able to open the chat window but won’t be able to send any messages until they’re online
MTG Arena messaging when friend offline

Marking Yourself as Busy or Offline

  • Marking yourself as Busy means you’ll still receive friend requests and messages, you just won’t get a notification pop-up for them
  • Marking yourself as Offline removes you from the social features and you won’t be able to receive any friend requests or messages

1. Open Your Friends List

MTG Arena friends list button

2. Click on the three-dots icon at the bottom right of the menu

MTG Arena Friends List status button

3. A pop-up will appear with three options: “Online”, “Offline”, and “Busy (Notifications Off)”—click the one you want to appear as

MTG Arena Friends List status options
  • If you mark yourself as “Offline”, your Friends List will be blank until you change your status to either “Busy” or “Online”
MTG Arena appear as Offline

Accepting and Rejecting Challenges

1. Open your Friends List

MTG Arena friends list button

2. Click on the play blades next to your friend’s display name to accept the Challenge or the red minus to reject the Challenge

  • Any friends that have sent you a challenge will have the play blades icon along with the red minus button available
MTG Arena pending Friends Challenge - receiving

3. If you accepted the Challenge, the Challenge setup menu will appear—click “Accept”

MTG Arena friends challenge Accept

4. The same menu will reappear now with an option to select your deck—click the big plus icon and then select/edit your deck and click “Play”

MTG Arena deck selection Play option
  • You’ll be brought to the queue screen while you wait for your friend to select/edit their deck and join you
MTG Arena challenge pending screen

Challenging Friends

1. Open your Friends List

MTG Arena friends list button

2. Click the play blades icon to the right of the friend that you want to Challenge

MTG Arena play blade Friends Challenge option

3. The Challenge setup menu will appear—change any settings at the top as you want to and then click “Challenge”

MTG Arena friends challenge setup
  • If your friend rejects your Challenge, you will receive a pop-up notification that they did so
  • A red minus button will appear next to your friend’s display name in your Friends List along with a loading wheel over their play blade when you have sent them a pending Challenge
MTG Arena pending Friends Challenge

4. Once your friend has accepted the Challenge, a “Challenge Accepted” notification will appear—click “Join Now”

MTG Arena challenge accepted

5. The Challenge setup menu will appear with an option to select your deck—click the big plus icon and then select/edit your deck and click “Play”

MTG Arena deck selection Play option

Goodbye, My Friend

There have been calls for more social features beyond just a Friends List in the game. This post on the MTG Arena subreddit covered some of the most common requests along with some others that we think would be a great add like observing games, sharing decks, and showing your collection and/or decks to friends.

Though WotC did say in their January State of the Game that they would be adding a messaging feature for friends in the next few months, so hopefully we’ll be able to tick off the most requested add-on sooner rather than later (no further word on sharing decks, though).

Mandatory Friendship Shackles MTG card art by Franz Vohwinkel

Mandatory Friendship Shackles

As it stands, we’ll just have to wait and see what this Friends List turns into. Some in the community have pointed out that, with no extra features to speak of other than blocking friends, this feels a lot like a (definitely improved) rehash of the Direct Challenge with up to 200 saved opponents instead of just five.

What social feature do you want to see added to MTG Arena the most? Is there a social feature that you definitely don’t want to see? Let us know in the comments down below!

11 Comments

  • Avatar
    George Chalkidis February 19, 2020 3:38 pm

    It would be best to add in challenge mode that you can share decks with each other,if the other one have no decks then the friends copies the decks you have,and it is more friendly for ne wplayers as well.Also adding spectator mode would be good.

    • Nikki
      Nikki February 19, 2020 8:08 pm

      I totally agree! I feel like the Friends List is the bare bones social feature, but with not much else to do with other players it really does feel kind of pointless. Hopefully adding in deck sharing and spectating (at the very least) comes faster and has less hiccups than this did.

  • Avatar
    Chris February 24, 2020 7:51 am

    So you can’t send friend requests to people you encounter who you have a really good game with? Because you need their stupid 5-digit number? This means the only people you can play with are people you actually know in person. What’s the point of allowing 200 friends on the list then? Who in the world has 200 real-life friends, let alone 200 real-life friends who play MTG? I just played a really great game with someone–it lasted like 25 minutes, it was so great–and I wanted to play him again in the future. Guess I can’t because his 5 digits weren’t displayed, only his name was. Do I understand this correctly? They need to fix that.

    • Nikki
      Nikki April 2, 2020 5:24 am

      Hey Chris, unfortunately that’s totally right. It’s a bit weird it took them so long to add even the bare bones of social features. There are some workarounds to this (using 3rd party tools that get your opponent’s account info or checking logs), but the fact that you can’t just do it in-game is definitely a failure of WotC’s part.

      The best we can do at this point is wait and hope it doesn’t take them too long to make the friends list and social features in general actually useful.

  • Avatar
    Azrael March 3, 2020 4:02 pm

    I want to be able to friend someone I just played. If they appear sporting or have a nifty deck, why not? I don’t know they’re 5-digit number, so can’t add them currently.

    I also think being able to share decks or browse their collection would be good features.

  • Avatar
    ME March 18, 2020 6:35 pm

    Yeah, this is stupid. Why did social/community aspects of this game go down the drain since the days of DOTP? MTGA should really have been better, not worse than Magic 2015 and Magic Duels. We’re basically single playing this crap for no good reason… what a waste.

  • Avatar
    Francesco March 26, 2020 3:59 am

    What about implement a way to play draft with your friends? It will be much more fun than doing it with strangers.

    • Avatar
      Dan Troha March 26, 2020 8:53 am

      You could just do this with the draft simulator on our homepage. Do a draft of your favorite format with your friends. Export the decklist and import it into Arena, then play.

  • Avatar
    Jamie Case July 21, 2020 12:51 pm

    I would like live chat during the games. I don’t know if this message feature is actually live in games, but I used to love trashtalking with my good friends when we used to play real desktop Magic back in the day. Obviously it would have to be opt-in only, but why can’t you chat during games? That’s just dumb.

  • Avatar
    Meghan August 19, 2020 5:25 pm

    How do you add friends if you dont know them? Like if I play someone and the game goes So good. I’d wanna play again. But I dont know their e mail or 5 diget number.

  • Avatar
    Inkist April 16, 2021 7:10 pm

    I’d like to be able to set a note for my friends on my list. That way I know who exactly it is since people’s emails or in game names usually don’t match their RL name. IE: I’ve got a couple friends on my list that I’m pretty sure are some of the people I casually played with at my LGS but over the last year have kind of lost touch due to Covid and can’t for the life of me remember who exactly it is because their in game name is DaxxFightSmasher. Like, I think that’s Jeremy or maybe it’s Sam…I just don’t know. Would be a nice easy Add to set a note option. Just my two cents.

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