Magic: The Gathering Arena

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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.

History[edit | edit source]

First mentioned on August 3, 2017,[2] its reveal was on September 7, 2017.[3] The sound effects, colors, and overall design of the battlefield are similar to the competing Hearthstone video game. MTG Arena would be available to download with no fee and is a free-to-play game. Players looking to enhance their game experience will have the opportunity to do so through play rewards and in-game purchases, but 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.[4]

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.[5] 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") is now best-of-one and is referred to by WotC as "Arena Standard" outside of the client. Arena also retains best-of-three play modes, but they are now called "Traditional" (e.g. "Traditional Play", "Traditional Ranked", "Traditional Draft").

Starting March 28, 2019, the game will have its own tournament named Mythic Invitational featuring a $1,000,000 prize pool.[6]

Date Added sets Other notable changes
2017-09-07[7] Alpha version revealed.
2017-12-04[8][9] Start of the Closed Beta.
2018-01-18 Economy changed and collections wiped.
2018-03-22 NDA lifted. Economy changed and collections wiped. New starter decks added.
2018-04-26 Economy changed. Paid economy and events added.
2018-06-07[10] Standard banlist introduced. Economy changed. More event types added.
2018-07-12 Tutorial games added. Economy changed.
2018-09-27[11] Start of the Open Beta. Collections wiped. Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, Welcome Deck 2017, Amonkhet, and Hour of Devastation removed.
2018-11-15[12] Implemented the “Direct Challenge” feature in preparation for other social features (e.g., friend lists).
2018-12-13[13] New ranking system introduced. Seasonal rewards for Constructed and Limited ranks added.
2019-01-17[14] Duplicate protection (5th copy) for rare/mythic and other minor economy changes. Best-of-three Ranked.
2019-02-14[15] Discord integration added. Deck builder overhaul and improvements.
2019-03-27[16][17] Unlockable/purchasable cosmetics (card styles, card sleeves, and avatars). “Practice Matches” versus AI. “Mastery Tree” progression system.

Play modes[edit | edit source]

Free Play[edit | edit source]

Play[edit | edit source]

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".[18]

Traditional Play[edit | edit source]

Best-of-three matches with sideboarding.

Ranked[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Best-of-three matches with sideboarding. Count as two wins or two losses (depending on match results) for Constructed rank progression.[19]

Events[edit | edit source]

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.

Constructed Event[edit | edit source]

Entry fee: 500 gold or 95 gems. Best-of-one matches; run ends after seven wins or three losses.

Rewards based on total wins are:

  • No wins — 100 gold and three uncommon or higher cards
  • One win — 200 gold and three uncommon or higher cards
  • Two wins — 300 gold and three uncommon or higher cards
  • Three wins — 400 gold and three uncommon or higher cards
  • Four wins — 500 gold, two uncommon or higher cards, and one rare or higher card
  • Five wins — 600 gold, two uncommon or higher cards, and one rare or higher card
  • Six wins — 800 gold, one uncommon or higher card, and two rare or higher cards
  • Seven wins — 1,000 gold, one uncommon or higher card, and two rare or higher cards

Traditional Constructed[edit | edit source]

Entry fee: 1,000 gold or 190 gems. Best-of-three matches with sideboarding; run ends after five wins or two losses.

Rewards based on total wins are:

  • No wins — Three uncommon or higher cards
  • One win — 500 gold, two uncommon or higher cards, and one rare or higher card
  • Two wins — 1,000 gold, two uncommon or higher cards, and one rare or higher card
  • Three wins — 1,500 gold, one uncommon or higher card, and two rare or higher cards
  • Four wins — 1,700 gold, one uncommon or higher card, and two rare or higher cards
  • Five wins — 2,100 gold and three rare or higher cards

Draft[edit | edit source]

Limited rank seasonal rewards

Entry fee: 5,000 gold or 750 gems. Best-of-one matches; run ends after seven wins or three losses. Events rotate through previous Draft formats every fortnight. Match results affect Limited rank.

Players pick cards from three Draft packs over 14 rounds each. All drafted cards are kept by the player. Players then proceed to construct a deck with a minimum of 40 cards using their drafted cards. Deck construction and drafting times aren't limited, and players draft against robot opponents whose picks are influenced by MTGO data. After the Draft match window closes, players get rewards according to their win record.[20] Draft has its own ranking system.

Rewards based on total wins are:

  • No wins — 50 gems and one pack (20% chance of two instead)
  • One win — 100 gems and one pack (22% chance of two instead)
  • Two wins — 200 gems and one pack (24% chance of two instead)
  • Three wins — 300 gems and one pack (26% chance of two instead)
  • Four wins — 450 gems and one pack (30% chance of two instead)
  • Five wins — 650 gems and one pack (35% chance of two instead)
  • Six wins — 850 gems and one pack (40% chance of two instead)
  • Seven wins — 950 gems and two packs

A similar game mode in Magic Online is called Friendly Single-Game Draft League.

Traditional Draft[edit | edit source]

Entry fee: 1,500 gems. Best-of-three matches with sideboarding; run ends after five wins or two losses. Format is always the latest-released Standard-legal set.

Rewards based on total wins are:

  • No wins — One pack
  • One win — Two packs
  • Two wins — 800 gems and three packs
  • Three wins — 1,500 gems and four packs
  • Four wins — 1,800 gems and five packs
  • Five wins — 2,100 gems and six packs

Limited-time events[edit | edit source]

Brewer's Delight[edit | edit source]

Entry fee: 250 gold or 50 gems. Best-of-three matches. Rewards are cards selected by designers to help build fun, non-meta decks.

Singleton[edit | edit source]

Entry fee: 500 gold or 95 gems. Run ends after seven wins or three losses. The deck can only contain up to one copy of any card, excluding the basic lands and cards like Rat Colony, which allow the player to include any number of copies.

Pauper[edit | edit source]

Free-to-play mode. Best-of-one matches; run ends after five wins or two losses. Constructed format limited to only common cards.

Momir's Madness[edit | edit source]

Entry fee: 500 gold or 95 gems. Best-of-one matches; run ends after five wins or two losses. Format uses Momir Basic rules with a 60-card deck with 12 of each basic land, except with 20 life and a card pool limited to the current Standard format.

Sealed[edit | edit source]

Entry fee: 2,000 gems. Best-of-one matches; run ends after seven wins or three losses. Players construct a deck with a minimum of 40 cards using cards they obtain from six Draft packs. All cards from these packs are kept by the player.

Rewards based on total wins are:

  • No wins — 200 gems and three packs
  • One win — 400 gems and three packs
  • Two wins — 600 gems and three packs
  • Three wins — 1,200 gems and three packs
  • Four wins — 1,400 gems and three packs
  • Five wins — 1,600 gems and three packs
  • Six wins — 2,000 gems and three packs
  • Seven wins — 2,200 gems and three packs

Features[edit | edit source]

Standard format was added in June 2018,[21] 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[22]).

Starter pack[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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)[edit | edit source]

When you launch the game, you will automatically be taken to the first of a series of new tutorial games.[23] These short games will review the basics of playing Magic: The Gathering Arena as you battle against different computer-controlled opponents.

Exclusive cards[edit | edit source]

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 the White cards are accessible to players, and Standard-legal for MTG Arena (marked with {Tick}).[23] The rest are Tutorial-only (marked with {Cross}).

Sanctuary Cat from Dark Ascension and Spiritual Guardian from Portal are the only cards already printed in paper Magic.

{W} White

{U} Blue

{B} Black

{R} Red

{G} Green

Deck building[edit | edit source]

A player can build up to 30 decks (60 in the future[24]) 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, and GRN for Guilds of Ravnica.[25] 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.

Currency[edit | edit source]

There are two in-game currencies forming the basis of the MTG Arena economy.[26]

  • 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.[27]
    • 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[edit | edit source]

Booster packs are eight-card boosters containing five commons, two uncommons, and one rare or mythic rare.[26] 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.

Three packs per week (one for every five wins) are rewarded through a weekly quest. The weekly quest resets every Sunday morning. These packs won't have banned cards inside.[28]

Draft packs[edit | edit source]

Draft packs contain 14 cards, mirroring tabletop drafts (the basic land has been removed).[26] Any cards you draft will be automatically added to your collection.

Free rewards[edit | edit source]

Daily[edit | edit source]

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.

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 [29] 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%).[29]

Individual cards planned to be earnable through play.[26] 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

Weekly[edit | edit source]

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.[29]

Redeeming a mythic Wildcard

Promotional code[edit | edit source]

In the Store page, you can put these following non-unique promotional codes for extra rewards.

Additional rewards can be obtained by buying Prerelease Kit, or Planeswalker Decks, these codes are unique.[30]

Wildcards[edit | edit source]

Wildcards are special cards that have a chance to appear in the place of each card at any rarity in every booster you open.[26] 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[edit | edit source]

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

Beginning in April 2018, players earned 3.3% Vault progress for each eight-card booster pack they open. As of July 2018, you no longer earn Vault progress for opening packs.[31] Every time you get the fifth copy of a common or uncommon card will earn you progress towards your next vault opening:[27] 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 jewels.

  • 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.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Jeffrey Steefel. (June 13, 2017.) "Magic Digital Next Update",, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Twitter announcement from @wizards_magic
  3. Jeffrey Steefel. (September 7, 2017.) "Everything You Need to Know About Magic: The Gathering Arena",, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Charlie Hall (April 23, 2018). "Magic: The Gathering is testing out digital codes in physical packs of cards."
  5. Aaron Forsythe and Chris Clay. (January 31, 2019.) "The "And" of MTG Arena",, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. The MTG Arena Mythic Invitational. Wizards of the Coast (2019-01-31). Retrieved on 2019-01-31.
  7. Magic: The Gathering Arena World Premiere Stream
  8. Chris Cao. (October 25, 2017.) "MTG Arena Closed Beta Incoming",, Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Chris Cao. (November 21, 2017.) "MTG Arena Closed Beta Starts December 4",, Wizards of the Coast.
  10. State of the Beta for May 30, 2018
  11. Chris Cao. (September 19, 2018.) "MTG Arena Open to All Starting September 27",, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. HOW TO: Direct Challenge
  13. December State of the Beta: Rank 1.0 Breakdown
  14. January 17 - 0.11 Release Notes
  15. Feb 14 Patch Notes
  16. March 2019 State of the Beta: In like a Leonin
  17. Chris Clay. (March 20, 2019.) "MTG Arena: State of the Beta - March 2019",, Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Best-of-One Starting Hand and Mulligan Rules
  19. FEB 1 - Hotfix Notes
  20. State of the Beta for May ... - Magic the Gathering: Arena
  23. a b July 12, 2018 Update — Release Notes
  24. MTG Arena Forums
  25. State of the (Open) Beta - September 26th, 2018
  26. a b c d e Chris Clay. (January 17, 2018.) "Developing the MTG Arena Economy",, Wizards of the Coast.
  27. a b State of the Beta for April 25 - Magic the Gathering: Arena
  29. a b c Wizards of the Coast. (January 09, 2019.) "MAGIC: THE GATHERING ARENA – REWARD DISTRIBUTION & DROP RATE INFORMATION",, Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Magic: The Gathering Promotions

External links[edit | edit source]