Magic: The Gathering Arena

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Magic: The Gathering Arena

Magic: The Gathering Arena, also called MTG Arena, Magic Arena, and MTGA, is a digital Magic game, created under the umbrella of Magic Digital Next by the Digital Games Studio. Though it is stated that is it not considered to be the successor of Magic Duels,[1] it fills the same product space. The game exists independently from Magic Online. It is currently under open beta development, and will be officially launched on September 26, 2019.[2]


First mentioned on August 3, 2017,[3] Magic Arena's reveal was on September 7, 2017.[4] At the time of its introduction, the sound effects, colors, and overall design of the battlefield were similar to the competing Hearthstone video game. MTG Arena is available to download with no fee and is a free-to-play game. Players looking to enhance their game experience have the opportunity to do so through play rewards and in-game purchases, but according to the developers purchases are not required to access the full depth of authentic Magic gameplay.

Unlike Magic Online, MTG Arena only focuses on the newest cards and game modes. It features the full card sets in Standard, with around 1,000 new cards added every year. Wizards of the Coast is exploring opportunities to connect real-world in-store play with digital play—for instance, giving rewards in MTG Arena for attending a Prerelease.[5]

Although still only in open beta, in January 2019 it became clear that the extent of play exceeded WotC's wildest expectations. Simultaneously it was announced that MTG Arena was going to focus on doing some things differently from tabletop Magic or not at all and would be adding some things that only it could do.[6] This includes the opening hand approach in best-of-one ("Bo1"); and the Duo Standard format, best-of-three play ("Bo3") without sideboarding but changing decks instead. Any "regular" play mode (e.g. "Ranked", "Ranked Draft", "Quick Play") was intended to be best-of-one and was referred to by WotC as "Arena Standard" outside of the client. Arena also retained best-of-three play modes, but they were called "Traditional" (e.g. "Traditional Play", "Traditional Ranked", "Traditional Draft"). However, Duo was widely deemed a failure and discontinued, and WotC later seemed to be moving away from best-of-one. Arena became ranked best-of-three, which has in fact become the default mode for competitive players and tournaments.

Starting March 28, 2019, the game had its own tournament named Mythic Invitational featuring a $1,000,000 prize pool.[7] In the same year, the Pro Tour was revamped and some Mythic Championships were announced to be played on MTG Arena instead of tabletop.[8]

In June 2019, rotation was announced to happen with the release of the fall set of that year, Throne of Eldraine[9]. Players will be able to use cards from sets no longer in Standard in a format called "Historic".

As of 2020, there are three primary tournament types on MTG Arena that will award Mythic Points: Mythic Invitationals, Mythic Qualifiers, and Mythic Point Challenges.[10]

In the winter of 2019/2010, Wizards of the Coast will be partnering up with Epic Games to bring MTG Arena to the Epic Games Store on PC, and shortly after a Mac version will be introduced.[11]

Play modes

Free Play


Practice matches can be played against Sparky, a little sprite that symbolizes a Planewalker's latent power, that guides the players through the tutorial when they start MTG Arena. In these practice matches, they are able to play a normal game of Magic against the AI. This can be used to test out new deck ideas, new cards, and new cosmetics. Sparky comments on the board state and replies to player emotes.


Battlefield keyword icons

Best-of-one matches. Mulligans appear the same as usual, except "the system draws an opening hand from each of two separately randomized copies of the decks, and leans towards giving the player the hand with the mix of spells and lands (without regard for color) closest to average for that deck".[9]

Traditional Play

Best-of-three matches with sideboarding.


Constructed rank seasonal rewards

Best-of-one matches. Players start at Beginner rank and advance from Bronze to Diamond (each containing four tiers) and end at Mythic. Opening hands follow the algorithm outlined above.

Traditional Ranked

Best-of-three matches with sideboarding. Count as two wins or two losses (depending on match results) for Constructed rank progression.[12]


Events are competitive formats with an entry fee in gold and some exclusives to gems. These formats end after an amount of wins or losses with a reward based on results.


Standard format was added in June 2018,[13] Kaladesh block was included last, along with introduction of Standard and its bans. Future banned cards will be compensated with respective Wildcards (Rampaging Ferocidon and Ramunap Ruins not included[14]).

Starter pack

Each player account starts out with three booster packs to open for each set available, as well as the five monocolored preconstructed decks:

deck name
Colors included Iconic card
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Tactical Assault W Serra's Guardian
Arcane Inventions U Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp
Graveyard Bash B Open the Graves
Dragon's Fire R Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Forest's Might G Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Additional decks

Ten additional dual-colored decks can be unlocked by playing daily:

deck name
Colors included Iconic card
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Auras of Majesty W G History of Benalia
Wrath of Mages U R Enigma Drake
Saproling Swarm B G Slimefoot, the Stowaway
Strength in Numbers W R Leonin Warleader
Walk the Plank U B Demonlord Belzenlok
Primal Fury R G Carnage Tyrant
Wing and Claw W U Azor, the Lawbringer
Chaos and Mayhem B R Rekindling Phoenix
Jungle Secrets U G Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca
Eternal Thirst W B Ajani's Pridemate

New Player Experience (NPE)

When you launch the game, you will automatically be taken to the first of a series of new tutorial games.[15] These short games will review the basics of playing Magic: The Gathering Arena as you battle against different computer-controlled opponents.

Exclusive cards

To facilitate the creation of the NPE and to transition players smoothly into the normal play experience the designers introduced some MTG Arena-exclusive cards ().

Some of these cards are accessible to players, and Standard-legal for MTG Arena (marked with {Tick}).[15] The rest are Tutorial-only (marked with {Cross}).

Sanctuary Cat from Dark Ascension, Serra Angel from Alpha, Spiritual Guardian from Portal, and Raging Goblin from Sixth Edition are the only cards already printed in paper Magic.

{W} White

{U} Blue

{B} Black

{R} Red

{G} Green

An MTG Arena exclusive set with cards that can't be done in paper is a future possibility.[16]

Deck building

A player can build up to 30 decks (60 in the future[17]) with 60 to 250 cards within each. Players start off with the preconstructed decks in their list of decks, though these can be deleted by the player if they desire. Players may choose any one of these decks at a time to play with for Constructed modes. The filters in the deck builder allow for viewing cards sorted by rarity, color, type, and/or ownership. It is also possible to sort by set by typing "e:SET_ID" into the search bar, with the SET_IDs you can choose from being the following: XLN for Ixalan, RIX for Rivals of Ixalan, DAR for Dominaria, M19 for Core Set 2019, GRN for Guilds of Ravnica, RNA for Ravnica Allegiance,WAR for War of the Spark, and M20 for Core Set 2020.[18] Specific cards can be found by typing their name into the search bar (e.g., Island). All filters can be removed by pressing "Reset" in the Advanced Filters menu.


There are two in-game currencies forming the basis of the MTG Arena economy.[19]

  • Gold — by winning games (750 gold total after the 14th win of the day; alternates with card bonuses), completing daily quests with a reward of 500 or 750 gold, and finishing events.
  • Gems — purchased for real money from the in-game store. VAT not included.[20]
    • 750 gems — US$4.99
    • 1,600 gems — US$9.99
    • 3,400 gems — US$19.99
    • 9,200 gems — US$49.99
    • 20,000 gems — US$99.99

Typically either gold or gems can be used to unlock packs, events, and more in the future. However, there are some events and cosmetic items that can only be purchased with gems.

Booster packs

Booster packs are eight-card boosters containing five commons, two uncommons, and one rare or mythic rare.[19] Single pack costs 1,000 gold or 200 gems through bundles. Packs can be purchased for gems in bundles of three, six, 15, 45, and 90. Rare Wildcards are guaranteed every 7.5 packs and mythic Wildcards every 30 packs. 45- and 90-pack bundles of Dominaria also contain Firesong and Sunspeaker, similar to Buy-a-Box-only addition for the paper release. Core Set 2019 includes Nexus of Fate in the 45- and 90-pack bundles, each containing one and two copies respectively. Guilds of Ravnica includes Impervious Greatwurm in the 45- and 90-pack bundles, each containing one and two copies respectively. Custom amounts of packs can't be set when buying them in bulk. Purchasing via gold requires no confirmation. Booster packs don't contain welcome deck cards.

Draft packs

Draft packs contain 14 cards, mirroring tabletop drafts (the basic land has been removed).[19] Any cards you draft will be automatically added to your collection.

Free rewards


Every day, players can earn up to 750 gold and six individual card rewards (ICRs) when they win a match (up to 15 win/reward instances) in any game mode (other than practicing vs Sparky).

Additionally, every 24 hours, players get a Daily Quest with a reward of 500 or 750 gold. It's possible to cumulate three of them.

Daily Win Bonuses are counted for wins that occur every 24 hours after each server reset (at 3 a.m. PST). The table below [21] outlines the rewards associated with each incremental win:

One win — 250 gold Six wins — 50 gold Eleven wins — One ICR
Two wins — 100 gold Seven wins — One ICR Twelve wins — 25 gold
Three wins — 100 gold Eight wins — 50 gold 13 wins — One ICR
Four wins — 100 gold Nine wins — One ICR 14 wins — 25 gold
Five wins — One ICR Ten wins — 50 gold 15 wins — One ICR

The ICRs included in Daily Win Rewards are uncommon Standard-legal cards (each Standard set is distributed equally), each of which may upgrade to a rare card (7%) or a mythic card (4%).[21]

Individual cards planned to be earnable through play.[19] Wizards of the Coast tested a system where for every match win, players would receive one card, up to 30 per day, but switched the system to higher daily gold rewards. The newest system gives out up to six per day, alternating with gold, after the fourth daily win.

Ravnica Allegiance MTG Arena promotion


Every week (resetting each Sunday at 9 a.m. UTC), players earn one pack of the latest set for every five wins (up to 15 wins), for a total of three possible packs per week. The rarity distribution and rates of the cards in Weekly Win Reward packs is the same as the packs you get in the Store.[21]

Redeeming a mythic Wildcard

Promotional codes

Non-unique promotional codes are sometimes released through social media or e-mail, which can be used to get free boosters packs, cards or card styles in the Store page. Additional rewards can be obtained by buying paper Prerelease Kits or Planeswalker Decks, these codes are unique.[22]

Set Mastery system

With Core Set 2020, the Set Mastery system was introduced to help players explore the latest card set release, and earn more rewards in the process.[23][24] All players gain access to the standard Set Mastery system, with the Mastery Tree and reward track (which will replace the Weekly Win rewards). Each Set Mastery will be available once a new set is released on MTG Arena, and players will have access to it until the next set releases. Between XP codes and events, players will be able to earn a minimum of 15 levels worth of additional XP on top of what they receive from Daily Quests and Win rewards.[25] Rewards include booster packs and Set Mastery Orbs (which can be redeemed for card styles).

Mastery Pass

A Mastery Pass, which can be purchased for 3,400 gems, expands the number and types of items players can receive by playing.[23][26] In addition to more booster packs, the Mastery Pass adds gold, gems, individual card rewards and card sleeves. Players who purchase the Mastery Pass will also immediately gain access to a digital companion. The companion decorates the battlefield, celebrates victories and comforts the player in defeat. As the Set Mastery increases, additional upgrades for the companion become available.


Wildcards are special cards that have a chance to appear in the place of each card at any rarity in every booster you open.[19] Wildcards have their own rarity of common, uncommon, rare, and mythic rare. Wildcards can also be received through opening The Vault. You can redeem a Wildcard one-to-one for any card at that same rarity.

The Vault

When you would collect a fifth copy (or more) of a card, you earn Vault progress instead of adding that card to your collection. The current contents of The Vault are:

  • Three uncommon Wildcards
  • Two rare Wildcards
  • One mythic rare Wildcard

Every fifth copy of a common or uncommon card will earn you progress towards your next vault opening:[20] When acquiring the fifth copy of a rare or mythic rare card, you will not get any Vault progress, instead you get a different card from the according set or gems.

  • Uncommon — 0.3%
  • Common — 0.1%

Opening The Vault requires getting duplicates through packs/drafting: 900 common or 300 uncommon duplicates. Duplicates progress define value of one mythic = two rare = 3.3 uncommon = ten common duplicate cards. Therefore, the value of a single Vault with one mythic, two rare, and three uncommon Wildcards is equal to three mythic Wildcards. That way a single Wildcard of any rarity equals 30 duplicates of the same rarity.

Card styles

Card styles "[combine] a parallax effect with extended artwork" to replace the front of the card with a pseudo 3-D animation.[27] See also list of card styles and their sources.


  1. Jeffrey Steefel (June 13, 2017). "Magic Digital Next Update". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Wizards of the Coast (September 4, 2019). "State of the Beta - August 2019 (Part 2)". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Twitter announcement from @wizards_magic
  4. Jeffrey Steefel (September 7, 2017). "Everything You Need to Know About Magic: The Gathering Arena". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Charlie Hall. (April 23, 2018.) "Magic: The Gathering is testing out digital codes in physical packs of cards",
  6. Aaron Forsythe and Chris Clay (January 31, 2019). "The "And" of MTG Arena". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. The MTG Arena Mythic Invitational. Wizards of the Coast (2019-01-31). Retrieved on 2019-01-31.
  8. Elaine Chase (December 6, 2018). "The Next Chapter for Magic: Esports". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. a b Best-of-One Starting Hand and Mulligan Rules
  10. Elaine Chase (August 14, 2019). "The Future of Magic Esports". Magic Esports.
  11. Wizards of the Coast (August 19, 2019). "Bringing MTG Arena to More Players and Places This Winter". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. FEB 1 - Hotfix Notes
  15. a b July 12, 2018 Update — Release Notes
  16. Mark Rosewater (July 20, 2019). "Is an arena exclusive set with cards that can't be done in paper possible?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  17. MTG Arena Forums
  18. State of the (Open) Beta - September 26th, 2018
  19. a b c d e Chris Clay (January 17, 2018). "Developing the MTG Arena Economy". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. a b State of the Beta for April 25 - Magic the Gathering: Arena
  21. a b c Wizards of the Coast (January 9, 2019). "MAGIC: THE GATHERING ARENA – REWARD DISTRIBUTION & DROP RATE INFORMATION". Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Magic: The Gathering Promotions
  23. a b Chris Clay (June 27, 2019). "MTG Arena: State of the Beta – June 2019". Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Andreliverod (July 3, 2019). "MTG Arena Mastery System Guide".
  25. Chris Cao (July 2, 2019). "Mastery System Check-In". Wizards of the Coast.
  26. Andreliverod (July 3, 2019). "Is the MTG Arena Mastery Pass worth it?".
  27. March 2019 State of the Beta: In like a Leonin

External links