The free to play collectible tactics game based on Magic the Gathering hopefully won’t have summoning sickness.

As I’ve said before, mashing Magic and tactics games is pretty much a dream for me and I’ve been following MTGT development ever since I first caught a glimpse of it at E3 2010. Sony Online Entertainment was nice enough to ask me out to Denver last month to chat with the developers and SOE President John Smedley, and I got to have fun with the brief closed beta. I got an email stating that the beta was ending last night and to get my druthers out before the beta server shut down, but I didn’t expect the team to pull the trigger and announce a release date that’s so close. Magic the Gathering: Tactics will be available to download and freely play on your PC on January 18th, 2010 (a PS3 version is in the works for later this year.) That’s a mere 10 days away, just in case you’re not near a calendar and can’t subtract for yourself.

While I certainly enjoyed the time I spent with the game, and the improvements that the SOE Denver team made to the user interface in even the few days between my visit and playing the closed beta were well-designed and implemented, I didn’t expect MTGT to drop so soon. It’s not like there were huge bugs or glaring holes but I thought that it would be given more time after the holidays to get that thickly polished veneer that games crave.

But with SOE’s determination to continue to adapt and iterate on MTGT as a live game, perhaps a quicker release isn’t such a bad thing. And the improvements that could be made (tweaking of pricing, etc.) really need the data that can only be gathered with a live product.

Still, here’s hoping that SOE isn’t jumping the gun. Check out my video preview of Magic the Gathering: Tactics if you want to learn more.

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