1. What is Arena?
Arena is an online strategy game being created by Chinaren and Key. It's like Magic the Gathering, in that players can collect virtual "cards" which they can use to create armies and fight each other; however, Arena has more potential for creativity, in that you can not only collect cards, but create your own. You can create any kind of creature, item, or spell you want - from orcs and elves to robots and mutants to rings of power and teleportation devices. Eventually, you'll be able to forms guilds to combine your cards with others, create your own playing fields, compete in tournaments, and much more.
2. What's it like now?
The game is in the very early stages of development, and so what we've got so far is pretty primitive. There's a draft set of basic and advanced rules on the wiki (along with a QuickGuide and a page on rules variants), a list of basic and advanced creatures and items with rules to create more, and a simple gameboard for play (see the Game Mechanics section of the basic rules for tips on using the board). There are rules for magic spells - the spells themselves, along with the ability to create more, are coming later.
3. Can I play it?
Yes! We're looking for playtesters, and if you're reading this, you've been invited to try out what we've got and give us feedback to help make it better. To get started, first look over the basic rules, then get familiar with the gameboard and the list of creatures. To play, you'll need to find some time with another IFian when you can both be on the gameboard together (eventually we'll have a solo mode where you'll play against the computer, but for now, you need two to play). Check the Arena forum to find an interested player and set up a time.
4. Is there a regular time for games?
Not currently, but check the Arena forum for updates. We'll try to set up times when anyone who wants to can find an opponent.
5. What should I give feedback on?
Anything and everything would be helpful. But there are a lot of things we already know we're going to change - for example, adding graphics and more cards, making the board more functional, etc. The things we're trying to work out right now and most looking for feedback on are the rules, and specifically whether the game is easy to learn, fun to play, and gives you the chance to be creative in combining creatures or coming up with new ones. You can give feedback on any of this in the forum.
6. Why is this at the City of IF?
Although Arena is not a storygame, like storygaming it does combine gaming with creativity and social interaction, and so we think that IFians might enjoy it, especially in this early stage where we can all help develop the rules. Once the game is built for real, we don't know whether it will be released on the City of IF site or on another site; partly that depends on how the playtesting goes.
7. Why doesn't the game board take away the creature who lost the combat?As described in the Basic Rules, Game Mechanics section, the game board does not know the rules of the game. It won't resolve combat for you or prevent you from making an illegal move. It's only an aid to help you convey your moves to your opponent and keep track of where the pieces are.
8. Can I make rules changes?
Yes, but not directly. To make sure all the rules changes are well-tested and will improve the game, the Basic and Advanced Rules in the wiki are protected from editing. But if you have a suggestion for a rules change, make it to the Variants page. There it will be open for other playtesters to see and try out in their games; as the change is tested, people will discuss on the Variants page or in the forums, and eventually it will be decided whether or not your change is incorporated into the rules. Don't be discouraged if it isn't - we're trying to keep the rules as simple as possible, so many quite reasonable changes won't make it in. But any change that gets tested helps us understand the game better and so is useful.