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

It's a competitive card game where players can collect cards from an immense library updated every few months with new cards. In this way, players can continually explore new mechanics and synergies, collect new cards and have challenging matches with great diversification and complexity.

History[ | ]

Magic- The Gathering Arena logo

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]

Standard format was added in June 2018,[6] Kaladesh block was included, along with introduction of Standard and its bans. Future banned cards are to be compensated with respective Wildcards (Rampaging Ferocidonand Ramunap Ruins not included.[7])

In January 2019, when MTG Arena was still only in open beta, it became clear that the extent of play exceeded WotC's wildest expectations. On January 21, 2019, a developer blog stated about the future of MTG Arena: "That said, MTG Arena is going to focus on doing some of those things differently or not at all and adding some things that only it can do. It represents a new way of playing the game, and we're embracing that."[8] 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 has been discontinued, and WotC afterwards 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 million prize pool (USD).[9] In the same year, the Pro Tour was revamped and some Mythic Championships were announced to be played on MTG Arena instead of tabletop.[10]

In June 2019, rotation was announced to happen with the release of the fall set of that year, Throne of Eldraine.[11] Players would be able to use cards from sets no longer in Standard in a newly introduced format called "Historic".

In December 2021, Alchemy was introduced as a fast and ever-evolving experience.[12][13] It intentionally diverges from the metagame of Standard and other formats to provide an alternative experience to play.[14]

In April 2022, Explorer was introduced as a mini Pioneer format, where all cards already implemented in the game, from core sets and expansions since Return to Ravnica are legal. Unlike Historic, Explorer was created to support "true-to-tabletop" gameplay, and thus does not use digital-only or Alchemy cards.

Mobile version[ | ]

MTG Arena became available for mobile play starting with Android early access on January 28, 2021.[15][16] Additional Android device and iOS support were announced for later that year. The app is accessible to players whose mobile devices meet the Android recommended specs through the Google Play store. Android early access includes cross-platform support and all cards and formats available in MTG Arena.

How to play[ | ]

Play modes[ | ]

Free Play[ | ]

Practice[ | ]

Sparky

Sparky

Practice matches can be played against Sparky, a little cat sprite that symbolizes a Planewalker's latent power, who 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. Sparky usually uses Mono-colored Starter decks.

Starter Deck Duel[ | ]

Players choose one of ten preconstructed decks — one for each color pair — to play against an opponent with the same deck pool. Each deck is rotated yearly with themes from that season's Limited archetypes. Players receive three ICRs as prizes to begin with, but the event does not reset even if the decks change.

Play[ | ]

Magic- The Gathering Arena icons

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".[11] It's a competitive unranked match queue against other players that can have decks with very different power. Often used to test a new deck in a more realistic environment than a match against AI, or to play different decks not ideal for ranking.

Traditional Play[ | ]

Best-of-three matches with sideboarding. Does not use the mulligan algorithm.

Ranked Play[ | ]

Constructed rank

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. Winning several times in a row improves the player rank assignation and the end-season rewards (seasons last one month). There are queues for the four Constructed formats on Arena; Standard, Alchemy, Historic and Explorer.

Traditional Ranked[ | ]

Best-of-three matches with sideboarding. Count as two wins or two losses (depending on match results) for Constructed rank progression.[17] Does not use the mulligan algorithm.

Color Challenge[ | ]

Once you've beaten the Tutorial, players will be directed to the Color Challenge to access the mono-colored decks. With player collects the card while beating the 4 planeswalkers. (Ajani, Chandra, Vivien, Liliana, Jace) and the final challenge is a match that either wins or loses. The mono deck is complete.

Events[ | ]

Events are competitive formats with an entry fee in gold and some exclusives to gems. These formats end after a number of wins or losses with a reward based on results. Some special events are available for a limited time only (just one week or even a weekend).

Features[ | ]

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. Each deck contains 6 rares:

Additional decks[ | ]

Ten additional dual-colored decks can be unlocked by playing daily. Each deck contains 6 rares and 1 mythic rare.

New Player Experience (NPE)[ | ]

When you launch the game, you will automatically be taken to the first of a series of new tutorial games.[18] These short games will review the basics of playing Magic: The Gathering Arena as you battle against different computer-controlled opponents. Which is scripted that could unlock to Color Challenge.

NPE Opponents[ | ]

  1. Kylea of Llanowar, Dominaria {G}
  2. Miirbo of Ravnica {R}
  3. Calubi of Ixalan {U}
  4. Viper Nang of Tarkir {B}
  5. Nicol Bolas on Amonkhet {B}{U}{R}

Deck building[ | ]

A player can build up to 75 decks 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" (SEt_ID's can be found here.[19] 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[ | ]

MTG Arena Gold

Gold

MTG Arena Gem

Gem

There are two in-game currencies forming the basis of the MTG Arena economy.[20]

  • 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, finishing Constructed events and leveling up in the Mastery Pass tree.
  • Gems — purchased for real money from the in-game store. VAT not included.[21] Gems are given out for winning matches in Limited-based events (some accessible paying gold).
    • 750 gems — US$/€ 4.99
    • 2,500 gems — US$/€ 4.99 (one time only purchase per account)
    • 1,600 gems — US$/€ 9.99
    • 3,500 gems — US$/€ 14.99 (one time only purchase per account)
    • 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.

Ranking[ | ]

In Ranked play either Limited or Constructed , there are six ranks, five of which use classically valuable materials: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond and Mythic. Each rank requires a certain number of wins to progress, with four gradations in each classification. Bronze, Silver and Gold require three wins per gradation; a player loses half a win's progress per loss. At Platinum and Diamond, a player needs six wins, and each loss is worth the same as a win. Limited ranking uses five wins a gradation in Platinum and Diamond but is otherwise the same. At Mythic, the player is placed at a percentage relative to the population, and at the top 1% they receive a pure numerical ranking. On the last day of every month, the ranks are reset and compressed, with Mythic players returning to Platinum 4 and the rest compressed in ranks below that. Players will receive rewards, including packs, gold, and card styles based on their standing at the end of the month.

Independent stress testing of the system shows an internal matchmaking and placement algorithm that persists between months, which is not something acknowledged publicly by the Arena team. The Mythic ranking calculations are also generally unknown.

Booster packs[ | ]

Booster packs are eight-card boosters containing five Commons, two Uncommons, and one Rare/Mythic.[20] The Rare card can upgrade to a Mythic with an indicative rate of 1:8. A single pack costs 1,000 gold or 200 gems through bundles. Packs can be purchased in bundles of 3, 6, 15, 45, and 90. Uncommon and rare Wildcards are guaranteed every 6 packs and every 30 packs the guaranteed rare Wildcard is upgraded to Mythic. 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.

A mythic pack sold for 1,300 gold guarantees a Mythic rare for those looking to collect those.[22]

Arena Golden Pack

Golden pack

Golden packs are special six-card boosters introduced in The Brothers' War that contain only rare and mythic rare cards.[23][24] Each pack contains:

  • One mythic rare from any Standard-legal set.
  • Two rares from the newest Standard-legal set.
  • Three rares from any Standard-legal set.

Each of the rare cards has a one-in-eight chance to be upgraded to a mythic rare. Golden packs cannot be bought directly but are awarded to the player as a bonus for each 10 booster packs bought. Draft packs and booster packs that are earned through play do not count towards earning a Golden pack.

Draft packs[ | ]

Limited packs on MTG Arena include the features of Play Boosters starting with Murders at Karlov Manor, including Special Guests and cards from The List. There are 13 cards in Play Boosters, smaller than draft packs of the past, and the guaranteed premium card is a second "wild card slot", as premium is not programmed into Arena. Any cards you draft will be automatically added to your collection. Because MTG Arena's older formats are different from those of tabletop Magic, the designers of MTG Arena have worked with the Play Design team on a few card swaps on The List.[25] Draft packs are generated ("opened") during Limited Events, costing 1500 gems or 10000 gold for human draft pods, or 750 gems and 5000 gold for automated drafts. Previous draft packs contained 14 or 15 cards, mirroring tabletop drafts, and premium cards were also removed.[20]

Free rewards[ | ]

Daily rewards[ | ]

Every day, players can earn up to 750 gold and 6 individual card rewards (ICRs) winning matches (up to 15 win/reward instances) while playing in Standard Play, ranked modes, or events.

Additionally, every 24 hours, players get a Daily Quest with a reward of 500 or 750 gold. Players can have up to three uncompleted Daily Quests at a time.

Daily Win Bonuses are counted for wins that occur every 24 hours after each server reset (at 3 am. PST, or 2 am. PST at summer saving time). The table below [26] outlines the rewards associated with each incremental win:

1st win — 250 gold + 25 Mastery XP 6th win — 50 gold + 25 Mastery XP 11th win — 1 ICR
2nd win — 100 gold + 25 Mastery XP 7th win — 1 ICR + 25 Mastery XP 12th win — 25 gold
3rd win — 100 gold + 25 Mastery XP 8th win — 50 gold + 25 Mastery XP 13th win — 1 ICR
4th win — 100 gold + 25 Mastery XP 9th win — 1 ICR + 25 Mastery XP 14th win — 25 gold
5th win — 1 ICR + 25 Mastery XP 10th win — 50 gold + 25 Mastery XP 15th win — 1 ICR

The ICRs included in Daily Win Rewards are uncommon Standard-legal cards (each Standard set is distributed equally), each of which have a chance to upgrade to a rare card (7%) or a mythic card (4%).[26]

Individual cards were planned to be earnable through play.[20] 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. This was replaced with a system that provides players with up to six per day, alternating with gold, after the fourth daily win.

MTG Arena code card

MTG Arena code card.png

Weekly rewards[ | ]

Every week players can earn 250 experience points for the first 15 wins in Standard Play, ranked modes, or events (resetting each Sunday at 9 am. UTC). At the moment every 1000 exp points earn (4 matches won) players level up in the Mastery Ranks they have. The basic Set Mastery rewards all players with 1 booster pack of the current expansion every 2 levels (and reset with every new expansion). The Mastery Pass rank adds more rewards of different types, detailed below.

Wildcard waste

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, experience to level up the player, Set Mastery and card styles on the Store page. The introduction of the player inbox alongside Alchemy: The Brothers' War allowed Wizards of the Coast to distributed promotional rewards directly to players, rather than be reliant on codes.[27]

Arena Code cards[ | ]

Additional rewards can be obtained by buying paper Prerelease Kits, Starter Kits or other paper products. These come with redemption cards with a unique code.[28] They often provide copies of the exactly same product on MTG Arena.

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.[29][30] All players gain access to the standard Set Mastery system, with the Mastery Tree and reward track. A new 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. Rewards include booster packs and five Set Mastery Orbs.

The player levels up through the Set Master gaining experience (XP), with 1000 XP per level. There are several ways to get XP:

  • 500 XP points per daily quest completed (around 15.000 XP per month)
  • 250 XP per weekly win completed (max 15 wins per week, around 15.000 XP per month)
  • Gift codes released (if not yet expired), in particular near the end of the season
  • Special events (often available for a very short time)
  • Direct gem purchase (1000 XP per 250 gems)

Through gift codes and special events, players will be able to earn an additional 15.000 XP (15 levels), over the daily quests and weekly wins.[31]

Set Mastery older than the current cannot be completed later.

Mastery Tree[ | ]

From Core Set 2020 to Modern Horizons 3, the Orbs given could be redeemed for a set of cosmetics. There were five branches, generally one for each color, with six slots in each, which lets non-mastery players complete most of one branch. The branches may have sub-branches, but often they were just six linear paths. Originally the tree was all card styles, using six rough card cycles in ascending rarity, but they expanded to avatars and card sleeves.

For The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, instead of the color wheel, it used the cards styles to map out the three storylines of the film trilogy, with branched-off avatars representing important characters.

From Bloomburrow, the branches were removed, and all 26 options were available for immediate purchase when orbs were procured. Some options would cost more orbs than others. The Mastery Tree was now renamed to Mastery Emporium.

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.[29][32] The distribution of the prizes vary depending on the time between releases, but there are some rewards that are consistent. Currently, the typical material the Mastery Pass rewards 1,200 Gems, 4,000 Gold, a Player Draft token, 10 random Mythics, and 20 boosters distributed in various older sets in Standard. Cosmetic rewards include thematic Pets, card sleeves, enough Orbs to complete the cosmetic tree, and some common and uncommon card styles. Prizes that make up the remaining levels include avatars, text emotes, sticker emotes, and some rares.

MTG Arena Ticket MH3

Ticket introduced for Psychic Frog's Horizon Hideaway prize wall

For Modern Horizons 3, a Historic supplemental set, a different player reward system dubbed the "Horizon Hideaway" was opened, running concurrently with the Outlaws of Thunder Junction track.[33] It used a different currency (tickets) instead of experience and granted players prizes related to that set, costing 2800 gems to enter. Unlike the track, players can pick and choose the prizes they desire, but there is no recouping the gem cost. This new formation could be due to feedback regarding the previous two Historic-only set releases of Alchemy Horizons: Baldur's Gate and The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth that reduced Standard-legal pack prizes available for Streets of New Capenna and March of the Machine respectively.

Wildcards[ | ]

Wildcards are special cards that have a chance to appear in the place of each card at any rarity in every booster you open.[20] Wildcards have their own rarity of common, uncommon, rare, and mythic rare. Wildcards can also be received through opening The Vault, or bonus ones every six boosters opened. You can redeem a Wildcard one-to-one for any card at that same rarity. This is called crafting a card. Any time a card is banned in any format, a wildcard for each copy of that card's rarity would be provided to the player. However, rebalancing will not provide any compensation.

Rare and Mythic wildcards could be purchased in a bundle for US$50.

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:[21]

  • Uncommon — 0.3%
  • Common — 0.1%

When acquiring the fifth copy of a rare or mythic rare card, you will not get any Vault progress, instead you get 20 gems for rares and 40 gems for mythics. 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.

Card styles[ | ]

MTG Arena Cosmetic

Card style icon

"Card styles" are optional cosmetic treatments that change the way the front of a MTG Arena card looks.[34] The first card styles combined a parallax effect with extended artwork to replace the front of a MTG Arena card with a pseudo 3-D animation.[35] They were introduced in March 2019.[36] Another popular style was the stained glass style for War of the Spark planeswalkers.

Selected Styles[ | ]

Playing fields[ | ]

The playing field or playmat provides the backdrop to the gameplay. Most of them are themed around specific set. They can have moving and/or interactive elements and sound effects.

Companions[ | ]

Companions are animated creatures or objects that can be your pet on the playing table. As a cosmetic, they can be seen and interacted with on the battlefield. They do not impact gameplay or provide any kind of advantage. Most companions can be acquired through the Mastery Pass, with each new set providing new companions. They can be seen on the left and right side of the playing field.

Gallery[ | ]

References[ | ]

  1. Jeffrey Steefel (June 13, 2017). "Magic Digital Next Update". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Wizards of the Coast (September 4, 2019). "State of the Beta - August 2019 (Part 2)". magicthegathering.com. 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". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Charlie Hall. (April 23, 2018.) "Magic: The Gathering is testing out digital codes in physical packs of cards", Polygon.com.
  6. https://mtgarena.community.gl/forums/threads/27318
  7. https://forums.mtgarena.com/forums/threads/24665/comments/118198
  8. Aaron Forsythe and Chris Clay (January 31, 2019). "The "And" of MTG Arena". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  9. The MTG Arena Mythic Invitational. Wizards of the Coast (2019-01-31). Retrieved on 2019-01-31.
  10. Elaine Chase (December 6, 2018). "The Next Chapter for Magic: Esports". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  11. a b Best-of-One Starting Hand and Mulligan Rules
  12. Wizards of the Coast (December 2, 2021). "Introducing Alchemy: A New Way To Play MTG Arena". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Wizards of the Coast (December 2, 2021). "MTG Arena: State - Alchemy". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  14. David Humpherys (December 8, 2021). "Designing for Alchemy". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Wizards of the Coast (January 7, 2021). "Announcing MTG Arena Mobile Android Early Access". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Wizards of the Coast (January 28, 2021). "MTG Arena on Mobile FAQS". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  17. FEB 1 - 0.11.01.01 Hotfix Notes
  18. July 12, 2018 Update — 0.06.00.000 Release Notes
  19. State of the (Open) Beta - September 26th, 2018
  20. a b c d e Chris Clay (January 17, 2018). "Developing the MTG Arena Economy". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  21. a b State of the Beta for April 25 - Magic the Gathering: Arena
  22. Wizards of the Coast (May 25, 2022). "MTG Arena Announcements, May 25, 2022". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  23. Wizards of the Coast (October 26, 2022). "MTG Arena Announcements, October 26, 2022". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Wizards of the Coast (October 27, 2022). "Introducing MTG Arena Golden Packs". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  25. Wizards of the Coast (October 18, 2023). "Play Boosters on MTG Arena". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  26. a b Wizards of the Coast (January 9, 2019). "MAGIC: THE GATHERING ARENA – REWARD DISTRIBUTION & DROP RATE INFORMATION". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Megan O'Malley (December 12, 2022). "MTG Arena: Release Notes – Alchemy: The Brothers' War". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Magic: The Gathering Promotions
  29. a b Chris Clay (June 27, 2019). "MTG Arena: State of the Beta – June 2019". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Andreliverod (July 3, 2019). "MTG Arena Mastery System Guide". Aetherhub.com.
  31. Chris Cao (July 2, 2019). "Mastery System Check-In". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  32. Andreliverod (July 3, 2019). "Is the MTG Arena Mastery Pass worth it?". Aetherhub.com.
  33. Lee Sharpe (May 28, 2024). "Psychic Frog's Horizon Hideaway on MTG Arena". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  34. MTG Arena Admin (April, 2019). "Cosmetics FAQ". MTG Arena forums.
  35. March 2019 State of the Beta: In like a Leonin
  36. Chris Clay (March 20, 2019). "MTG Arena: State of the Beta - March 2019". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]

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