We were able to take a look at Magic: The Gathering Online 2.0 from Wizards of the Coast at E3 2003. The new game won't be so much an expansion pack for the original game as an entirely revised product. Wizards of the Coast has ambitious plans for the online game--on July 28, the company will release the brand-new "eighth edition" of its basic card set, and it will simultaneously release Magic Online 2.0. Essentially, you'll be able to pay $14.99 for a "starter kit" that will contain two packs of cards, an instruction booklet, and the Magic Online 2.0 game CD, and from there, you'll be able to play the game in whichever format you like.
Wizards of the Coast anticipates that some players may wish to cross between the online and printed-card versions of the game, and it apparently has plans in place to let them do just that. However, Magic Online 2.0 will also feature numerous improvements based on suggestions from fan feedback, such as a much-improved beginner's area, which will feature five "test decks" that can be used free of charge simply to practice playing the game--complete with an animated slide show that will explain exactly what each card is doing and why. In addition, Magic Online's sizeable staff of more than 70 moderators will continue to be on hand to maintain the game and provide help for new players. New players will also get the benefit of the new trophy case, which will display both your record and your opponents' records (and give you a better sense of which opponents are as inexperienced as you are, and which players are highly skilled veterans). However, experienced players will benefit from Magic Online 2.0's new "red zone," a highly competitive area that will admit only players who have a tournament ranking that exceeds 1,800 (a very difficult score to obtain).
In addition, the new game will feature a new "casual card trading room" that will indicate which players have rarer, more-powerful cards by how many card folders are stacked on their tables. Players will continue to be represented online as avatars (small cartoon characters, such as a genie, a tiger, or a knight), and beginners will be able to find other beginners to trade with at a glance by looking for players with only one or two binders. They'll also know to steer clear of high-stakes matches with accomplished players, whose avatars will be covered in various accoutrements (such as hats, cloaks, and suits of armor) that may be won in tournaments or special events. Magic Online 2.0, which will feature both the expanded basic set and the recently released Legions expansion set, will be released this summer.