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, it fills the same product space. The game exists independently from Magic Online. It has been officially launched on September 26, 2019.
It's a competitive card game where players can collect cards from an immense library updated every few months with some new cards (expansion sets) added to the core set (also updated every year). For a new expansion added, the older leaves the Standard competitive format. In this way, players can continually explore new mechanics and synergies, collect new cards and have challenging matches with great diversification and complexity. The last expansions removed and the older core set are still available for other match formats (and competitions) in the game.
First mentioned on August 3, 2017, Magic Arena's reveal was on September 7, 2017. 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.
Standard format was added in June 2018, 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.)
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." 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 $1,000,000 prize pool. In the same year, the Pro Tour was revamped and some Mythic Championships were announced to be played on MTG Arena instead of tabletop.
In June 2019, rotation was announced to happen with the release of the fall set of that year, Throne of Eldraine. Players would be able to use cards from sets no longer in Standard in a newly introduced format called "Historic".
MTG Arena became available for mobile play starting with Android early access on January 28, 2021. 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, everywhere MTG Arena and the Google Play store are available. Android early access includes cross-platform support and all cards and formats available in MTG Arena.
How to play
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.
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". It's a competitive not ranked match 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.
Best-of-three matches with sideboarding.
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). A legal deck can only use the Standard format (cards from the last core set and the last 4 expansions released)
Best-of-three matches with sideboarding. Count as two wins or two losses (depending on match results) for Constructed rank progression. Legal decks uses additionally the last 1 core set and 3 expansions removed from the current Standard format.
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).
|Colors Included||Iconic card|
|Angelic Army||W||Inspiring Commander|
|Azure Skies||U||Riddlemaster Sphinx|
|Out for Blood||B||Knight of the Ebon Legion|
|Destructive Firepower||R||Drakuseth, Maw of Flames|
|Forest's Might||G||Aggressive Mammoth|
|Colors Included||Iconic card|
|Azorius Senate||W||U||Deputy of Detention|
|House Dimir||U||B||Doom Whisperer|
|Cult of Rakdos||B||R||Judith, the Scourge Diva|
|Gruul Clans||R||G||Ravager Wurm|
|Selesnya Conclave||W||G||March of the Multitudes|
|Orzhov Syndicate||W||B||Seraph of the Scales|
|Izzet League||U||R||Niv-Mizzet, Parun|
|Golgari Swarm||B||G||Underrealm Lich|
|Boros Legion||W||R||Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice|
|Simic Combine||U||G||Hydroid Krasis|
New Player Experience (NPE)
When you launch the game, you will automatically be taken to the first of a series of new tutorial games. These short games will review the basics of playing Magic: The Gathering Arena as you battle against different computer-controlled opponents.
To facilitate the creation of the NPE and to transition players smoothly into the normal play experience the designers introduced some MTG Arena-exclusive digital cards (). In 2020 this group of cards became part of a non-rotating Arena Beginner Set in the new monocolor starter decks. The Arena Beginner Set also expanded the list of cards that are only available in digital form.
- Soulhunter Rakshasa has a completely changed rules text in the Arena Beginner Set, compared to the NPE version.
- Inspiring Commander wasn’t made by the R&D team and it wasn’t run by the Council of Colors. If it had been, it wouldn’t exist because it breaks the color pie.
- An MTG Arena exclusive set with cards that can't be done in paper is a future possibility.
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" 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. 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.
- 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. 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.
Booster packs are eight-card boosters containing five Commons, two Uncommons, and one Rare/Mythic. 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 for gems only 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.
Draft packs contain 14 cards, mirroring tabletop drafts (the basic land has been removed). Any cards you draft will be automatically added to your collection. Draft packs are generated ("opened") during Limited Events. The cost to access the event is equal to the cost of the booster packs opened for the draft itself (5000 gold for 40 cards players receive), with the important difference that players can select manually what cards get in a wide pool of alternative (very useful for new players and at the expansion release time in particular, to populate favorite decks/colors with missing cards or more copies of them).
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  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%).
Individual cards were planned to be earnable through play. 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.
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 (more boosters, gold, gems, Rare/Mythic cards, orbs for card styles) but requires gems to be unlocked (there are events accessible with gold to win slowly enough gems even for f2p players). Mastery trees progressions end and restart when a new expansion is released (every 3-4 months).
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. Additional rewards can be obtained by buying paper Prerelease Kits, Planeswalker Decks or other paper products. These codes are unique. 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. 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 Set Mastery Orbs (which can be redeemed for card styles).
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 (so around 15.000 XP per month)
- 250 XP per weekly win completed (max 15 wins per week, so 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.
Set Mastery older than the current cannot be completed later.
A Mastery Pass, which can be purchased for 3,400 gems, expands the number and types of items players can receive by playing. 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.
Wildcards are special cards that have a chance to appear in the place of each card at any rarity in every booster you open. 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.
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:
- 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.
- Jeffrey Steefel (June 13, 2017). "Magic Digital Next Update". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (September 4, 2019). "State of the Beta - August 2019 (Part 2)". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Twitter announcement from @wizards_magic
- Jeffrey Steefel (September 7, 2017). "Everything You Need to Know About Magic: The Gathering Arena". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Charlie Hall. (April 23, 2018.) "Magic: The Gathering is testing out digital codes in physical packs of cards", Polygon.com.
- Aaron Forsythe and Chris Clay (January 31, 2019). "The "And" of MTG Arena". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- The MTG Arena Mythic Invitational. Wizards of the Coast (2019-01-31). Retrieved on 2019-01-31.
- Elaine Chase (December 6, 2018). "The Next Chapter for Magic: Esports". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Best-of-One Starting Hand and Mulligan Rules
- Wizards of the Coast (January 7, 2021). "Announcing MTG Arena Mobile Android Early Access". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (January 28, 2021). "MTG Arena on Mobile FAQS". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- FEB 1 - 0.11.01.01 Hotfix Notes
- July 12, 2018 Update — 0.06.00.000 Release Notes
- Assaultkitten (August 14, 2020). "Important Notice: Cards that are apart of the new player experience are subject to direct rules text changes.". Reddit.
- Mark Rosewater (February 21, 2021). "If Mentor of the Meek is still a break, why make Inspiring Commander on Arena?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (July 20, 2019). "Is an arena exclusive set with cards that can't be done in paper possible?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- State of the (Open) Beta - September 26th, 2018
- Chris Clay (January 17, 2018). "Developing the MTG Arena Economy". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- State of the Beta for April 25 - Magic the Gathering: Arena
- Wizards of the Coast (January 9, 2019). "MAGIC: THE GATHERING ARENA – REWARD DISTRIBUTION & DROP RATE INFORMATION". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic: The Gathering Promotions
- Chris Clay (June 27, 2019). "MTG Arena: State of the Beta – June 2019". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Andreliverod (July 3, 2019). "MTG Arena Mastery System Guide". Aetherhub.com.
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- Andreliverod (July 3, 2019). "Is the MTG Arena Mastery Pass worth it?". Aetherhub.com.
- March 2019 State of the Beta: In like a Leonin