weren't they making an online version that you can play and not have to smell your opponent?
There is an online version, but the fact you have to buy boosters, and the only way they'd send you the cards in physical form is if you collected a whole set, AND it's fugly, meant that I left my one trial game with a bad taste in my mouth.
apparently it's going through a re-design
It's in open beta. You need to have an account already to play the beta. Dunno if it's still up, because I haven't tried it in two weeks. All you can really do in the beta is draft. I don't want to give too many details about the client, because it is a beta, but the interface feels clunky.
Personally, I think Magic Online is crap to begin with, but that's because you can get the same experience from hitting up FNM, but you actually see (*gasp*) people. It's a good learning tool, I guess, since you really need to understand how the priority and stack in the game works, and it can be complicated to explain all the different phases of combat.
I don't keep playing Magic for the game - it's overly complicated and nearly impossible to introduce new players, I keep playing because of the friends I've made in playing.
it just seems to me there are infinitely better ways to spend your money than 100 bucks for a box every 3 months to keep up with the current trends.
Never ever buy a box just to crack open packs. Never even buy packs just because. Always ALWAYS draft. You'll get 3 hours of fun, for $12-15 depending on where you live. If you've never drafted, you're missing out on the funnest way to play magic. Sure, it's more expensive than just buying and opening a box, but considering that sets are designed for limited environment play, 75% of the cards you'll open in a box will never reach a deck. If you need singles for a deck, just buy singles. There's very few times that opening a pack will be more advantageous than just buying singles.
I haven't bought a pack for the sake of opening a pack in close to two years. I always go straight to the rare, and am usually disappointed.
This guy's my new hero.