Will Core Set 2021 bring good value for this set? Lets find out!
WotC released the mastery pass information early again. While we don't know what levels we will get what rewards at, we can look at past mastery mass tracks to have a pretty good guess. This will only be needed to figure out the break even point. Total value can still be obtained if you plan to complete the entire track.
How long is Core Set 2021?
The length of Core Set 2021 (M21) is longer than Ikoria, clocking in at the typically stanard time frame of 90 days. The Mastery Tree is 90 levels total, with level 91 and beyond giving out uncommon ICRs, the same as the previous mastery passes. M21 runs on Arena from 6/26/20 with it's last day being 9/23/20. The release date for Zendikar Rising on Arena starts 9/24/20. The paper release for M21 starts the weekend after.
For active players, I am still recommending the same model of playing 4 wins per day to maximize your gold farming ability without running into burnout.
Doing so averages out to 1135 XP per day over the course of the week. With 90 days of play, you should be at Level 102. This gives you plenty of time to reach the final level of rewards.
Here is what this looks like calculated out:
In fact, to be more accurate, we can use MTGAHelper's excellent Mastery Pass Calculator to figure this out for us once the new pass goes live.
Where do the values come from?
All values have been carefully traced back to actual money that you can spend in the game through gems, or using gold to gem conversion rates. Everything in the game can be traced back to an actual dollar amount at this point in time. Even individual random cards, which includes ICRs.
For more information on real world Arena values, please click on my article HERE.
Free Mastery Track
Lets start by looking at what is available for free from the basic set mastery track.
Ikoria free mastery track includes the following:
So all of you F2P players are getting $49.98 in value for just playing the game. That's excellent value for zero dollars spent!
Paid Mastery Pass
Now, lets see what the paid mastery pass gives you for this set.
M21 mastery pass includes the following:
This gives us a combined total of $186.93.
Thoughts on the M21 Mastery Pass.
Lets say you aren't interested in the cosmetic items. You are still getting $42.09 in value for virtual items at just under $20 worth of gems. This is still a pretty decent value for any active player.
One change from this pass over previous passes is that the older booster packs offered this time around are still all in standard, and will be for the next full rotation. Also they are including the current M21 booster packs as well, bringing the value up even more.
I really don't see anything negative about the pass, even if you are only interested in the non-cosmetic items.
Is the Core Set 2021 Mastery Pass it worth it?
Typically I would add in a few various Yes, No and Maybe comments here. Because all of the booster packs included will still be legal in the post-rotation standard, as well as the increase in gems over Ikoria, and the included premier draft token, this is an excellent deal. The cosmetics are just the icing on the cake.
With Ikoria wrapping up, I have reached the end of the mastery pass. With the exception of the random uncommon ICRs past level 80, I won't really be receiving any more cards for my IKO collection, nor will I be receiving any more booster packs.
As a Free-to-Play (F2P) player, let's take a look at what all I received this set. I won't bore you with a long rambling blog story, but will instead just get straight to the stats.
I got a kick start with free drafts using my free Theros draft token, free Ikoria draft token, and the token included with the mastery pass. Before we get too far, my mastery pass was paid for from last set's gem earnings, so it was free for me.
I went ahead and played the token drafts while I waited the two weeks for quick draft to start. I saved all Ikoria booster packs earned to open until after I had finished quick drafting. I went ahead and opened booster packs from older sets that I received from the mastery pass.
Once Ikora quick draft went live, I did 19 back-to-back drafts, bringing my self up to 22 total drafts. I only rare drafted and selected cards that I didn't already have, and then skipped playing the games. Yes, I get a lot of flack for this, but I don't care. While I do enjoy playing draft in person with my friends, I don't enjoy playing draft with strangers online. You can read more about Collection Drafting HERE.
Since Ikora was a much shorter release period, I stopped at 22 drafts and started saving for M21 quick draft.
I used MTGAHelper as my tracker to help figure out what I did and did not have while drafting so as to avoid duplicates as best as I could.
22 IKO Drafts + 46 IKO Packs Totals
This data includes just the drafts and saved booster packs that were opened immediately after, as well as a couple ICRs I had obtained up to this point.
All Packs Earned
All booster packs were all earned through the set mastery, mastery pass and free codes, and one daily deal using gold.
These stats include both IKO and older packs combined. I could extrapolate the IKO only stats on request if anyone wants that info. I have massive spreadsheets with all of this hand-tracked data on it. I have per-card stats for each current set, but I do not track individual cards for previous sets while playing and tracking the current set. For previous sets, I only track the numbers, such as how many rares, commons, wilds, vault status etc, but not the individual card names. Older set card names are irrelevant to the current set's stats. They do contribute to the overall wildcard count and wheel track, so this is why they are included as card counts only.
I will have another article comparing IKO only pack openings against each other in various amounts and against drafting, you can see my previous article on this subject for Theros HERE. This future will include total set collections based on opened packs only.
Older packs were all opened as I received them. IKO packs were only opened after I finished drafting, and subsequently after receiving each one. I will have a
All Booster Pack Stats
These booster packs include all packs opened during the IKO set release. There were
Total IKO Collection
After drafting and opening packs, I still acquired another 20 booster packs. Here are the collection totals for the full amount of everything IKO that I acquired. These numbers also include ICRs acquired via daily play, event and mastery pass rewards.
I believe I have run out of stats to ramble on about, so this will conclude this set's collection stats for myself.
My plans for M21 are about the same. I am on track for having roughly 110,000 gold by the time M21 quick draft goes live. This, plus the draft token from the M21 mastery pass should afford me another 23 drafts. Since there appears to be a lot of re-prints and other not too exciting stuff with M21, I may cut it short and just start saving for Zendikar. There is also Jump Start to think about too, so I may save some for that, though that will all be mostly for Historic, which I don't play as much.
Due to the COVID-19 quarantine going on in the USA and around the world, and most game stores closing their doors to public events during this time, many of us have nowhere to go to play for Friday Night Magic (FNM).
Entering stage left is WotC, who stepped up to keep all of us Magic players entertained on our weekends. Over the next 3 weeks, they are hosting a new event on Arena to cater to the Friday night crowd. These events are free to enter, and have rewards. What's more, these events actually look interesting!
Prizes so far include 2 random rares for completing 2 wins, and then if you post a screen shot of your event screen to your WPN associated Local Game Store's (LGS) social media outlets, they are supposedly going to message you back a code for digital sleeves in Arena. They state quantities are limited. We'll see how this goes. I am skeptical.
You can see all 3 of the sleeves here: MTG Arena Sleeves Gallery
I have about a dozen LGSs in my area, so I picked the one that I frequent the most, which is Cool Stuff Games in Waterford Lakes, the local brick and mortar store for CoolStuffInc.com.
The first event for March 27, 2020 is the Challenger Deck event. In this event, you get to play with each of the 4 2020 Challenger decks, as much as you like, until the event ends. I won't go into a review of each deck, that has been done many times over on other sites, so I will instead just give my experience of the one deck I played with.
I was excited for this event, as I was considering picking up the Cavalcade Charge deck. It includes some highly played cards for RDW, all in an affordable package.
Unfortunately I realized very quickly how broken this deck was, and I don't mean broken in a good way. Right away I found that they jammed the Cavalcade shell from the Eldraine era together with the RDW shell from the Theros Beyond Death era. This makes no sense.
Sure, Bone Crusher Giant, Rimrock Knight, Runaway Steamkin and Embercleave are highly played cards, but not in Cavalcade. Meanwhile when you do get Cavalcade of Calamity down, good luck getting 1/1 haste creatures out when all you have in your hand is everything that is not a 1/1. What good are the above mentioned cards with Cavalcade of Calamity? Steamkin rarely stays a 1/1, and equipping any 1/1 with Embercleave makes Cavalcade not trigger anymore.
I was a Cavalcade player all through Throne of Eldraine, and then I switched to RDW after drafting all the needed cards during Theros Beyond Death. I know both decks very well, and I enjoy them both very much. This new Challenger deck is trying to do two things at once, and it does not work very well.
The designers appeared to be taking the win-cons from both games and only putting in the best of those cards from each deck. You are then left with a weak deck that doesn't finish as quickly as it could. I was left feeling pretty disappointed.
You can see in the above screenshot from my MTGAHelper logs how much slower this deck is. The top 5 games are my daily Win-4 regiment. I am using the current THB RDW shell without Steamkins (I use Grim's instead). It's a much faster game. The bottom 4 games are the Challenger Event games. You can see how much longer the games take to close out. Granted, this is a very small sample size, and opponents were figuring out what they were doing, as was I, but they took twice as long to play out.
While I do enjoy long drawn out games, I don't enjoy them when playing a deck that is supposed to be a fast deck. They've managed to turn it into a mid-range deck as you are waiting for enough pieces to put one of two win-cons together, rather than just assembling your one single win-con.
While I still had fun playing, I was frustrated with my opening hand options and my card draws. This is a deck I would buy, then split it in half and build each respective deck as they should be. Maybe that's WotCs intention? If so, that's both good and bad. It's good in that I now have two pools of cards that I can fill in with missing cards for 2 full popular decks that I really enjoy playing. It's also bad in that off the shelf, this is not going to be as competitive as it should be. It's too slow.
...Update: I went ahead and pre-ordered this deck from my LGS, CoolStuffInc. The value is excellent and I have enough other parts to finish both decks with.
I don't know how the other decks will play out, I ran into Simic Flash, Golgari Adventures and the Fires deck while playing. I pretty much knew what to expect from each one already, so I was quickly trying to figure out how to salvage this broken RDW deck to compete against them.
My two rare ICRs were Soul Diviner and Temple of Silence.
I hope you all enjoy this event. I feel this is an excellent marketing move for WotC to make this event free, using off-the-shelf products that will be available next week in stores. If you like what you see, these are retailing for about $25-$30 per deck in their pre-order state right now.
You can get them here: 2020 Challenger Decks
An ongoing debate in MTG Arena is how to spend your gold in order to build your card collection. There are opposing sides on the best way to achieve the most glorious collection: Open a bunch of booster packs or do a bunch of ranked drafts.
This is a debate that both sides have feverishly argued over. Up until now, only the draft side has had any solid information to back their side. I decided I wanted to help inject more date into this debate by showing both sides using a small sample size.
So, without further adieu, here is what the data shows so far:
How data was collected
Draft data was collected while I performed my own ranked drafts. As I made each and every pick from each and every pack, I recorded what I picked. This took many hours and a large and complicated spreadsheet to calculate all of this data.
Arena booster pack data was collected much in the same way. After opening each Arena booster pack, I recorded which cards were in each pack. I also recorded all wild cards found in each individual pack as well as tracking the wild cards gained from the wheel.
A user on Reddit contacted me and stated he would share his pack openings with me once he got to 100 booster packs of the current set, which is THB as of this writing. He then videoed himself opening each of these 100 packs one at a time. I was able to capture data from every card in every pack, pack wild cards as well as the wheel wild cards. I really appreciate this individual reaching out, as I would not have been able to open 100 packs on my own due to cost.
Below is a breakdown of where these booster packs and drafts came from.
All of my own gathered data was hand written into a spreadsheet, then double checked using MTGAHelper for accuracy.
While this sample size is extremely small, this data will still tell us something useful.
If you have data you would like to share, please let me know and I will give you details of exactly what is needed so that we can start increasing our sample size.
50 Booster Packs
This data shows what spending 50K gold, or $50 on a pre-release bundle, will get you when opening 50 Arena booster packs.
As we can see, these numbers are close enough that we can get a good idea of what to expect if you open 50 booster packs from a particular set.
Data set 2 is just pure RNG luck with the extra mythics. I would just average these out into the rares from the other two data sets for a more accurate idea of what you can expect from 50 booster packs.
The data shown here is completely stand-alone, having been recorded by hand and calculated in a spreadsheet. Each set of 50 was opened with and without various amounts of drafting that may or may not have taken place before the booster packs were opened. The only reason this is mentioned is that it may effect the number of unique rares and mythics shown due to duplicate protection. This amount of booster packs opened will in no way come close to duplicate protection with gems. Vault progress is stand-alone in that it was calculated via spreadsheet and not viewed from within Arena. You can confidently use these numbers as a good indicator of what to expect when opening 50 Arena booster packs.
100 Booster Packs
This data shows what spending 100K gold will get you when opening 100 Arena booster packs.
Again, these 100 Arena booster packs were opened after doing 20 drafts, but is completely stand alone data.
10 Ranked Drafts and 12 Booster Packs
For those looking to spend 50K gold on ranked draft for collection building, this data will show you what you might expect from your efforts.
I did not play any of the draft games. I collected my cards, quit and started the next draft. I have an article explaining this process for those that don't enjoy playing draft, but want to build their collections using the ranked draft method.
The 12 booster packs are calculated based on the 20% chance of getting 2 packs when you complete a draft after 0 wins. This % chance will increase with the more games you win per individual draft.
20 Ranked Drafts and 24 Booster Packs
For those that saved 100K gold to spend on ranked draft for collection building, this will give you a good idea of what to expect for your efforts.
The 24 booster packs are calculated based on the 20% chance of getting 2 packs when you complete a draft after 0 wins. This % chance will increase with the more games you win per individual draft.
Lets compare the two methods against each other.
I broke these down into 50K and 100K gold sections for an easier way to compare each method of spending your gold.
The numbers highlighted in yellow are the highest numbers of each method. From this we can make a simple comparison between them.
The only real positive from opening packs instead of drafting is that you acquire a lot more wild cards. But, what if you already had all of the previous sets, and you were going to use these wild cards to make up for the fewer cards you got from opening packs?
In the data below, I added in each wild card to each rarity to show what they make up for this particular set.
This data tells a slightly different story depending how much you spend.
For 50K gold we can see this change
For 100K gold we can see this change
Interestingly enough, we have the same number of total Rares with this sample size.
What does this all mean?
What this shows us is that if you want a larger collection, especially at the uncommon rarity, ranked draft is the better method.
If you want gems, ranked draft is the only option.
If you want wild cards you can use for sets other than the set you just opened packs or drafted for, then only opening booster packs is the better method.
The amount of wild cards gained from only opening booster packs does not make up for the large deficit of missing cards from that particular you just opened packs for.
To make the packs-only method worth your while, you will want to be using your wild cards for sets other than the set you just opened packs for. You will also need to be OK with the lack of uncommons you received. Keep in mind you will most likely need to spend some of these wild cards on this particular set for the missing uncommons, should you need those. Doing so brings your total usable wild cards to a lower number to use for other sets since you ended up spending them on this set.
Now, all of that said, uncommon wild cards are the most bountiful and easy to receive of the 4 card rarities. They not only show up at a faster random rate when opening packs, but you receive one from the wheel for every 6 packs you open. If you only open booster packs, this may make up for the deficit of uncommons for your specific needs and you may be OK with this.
I hope you found this data interesting and insightful.
I am not swaying any particular method of spending your gold to build a collection. I will leave it up to you to make your own conclusions on what you want out of the gold you spend.
What I generally see is that if you do roughly 20-22 ranked drafts, you end up obtaining nearly 100% of the entire common and uncommon playset. After this, you will want to spend all remaining gold on opening booster packs if you still seek more rares and mythics.
Personally, I prefer the draft method. I find that most of the interesting cards are at lower rarities anyway, and I can do far more brewing with these cards than with many of the rares and mythics. That is just my opinion for my play style and what I want out of my collection.
Remember that having more rares is not always a good thing, but having the right rares is.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
This page will be a running log of changes to the Arena Current Values when the occur.
Calculations can be found on my shared Google Sheet: Arena Calculated Values
Not much has changed. It appears that WotC is dialing in what people are willing to pay, as well as their conversion rates. Rates have been kept the same for many months now.
As far as changes go, the only change in the past month was for sleeves. There was a daily deal on country flag sleeves for 1,500 gold / 300 gems. This brought the average value of sleeves down from $5.63 to $4.30.
There are no other changes to report. I have not messed with the individual card values pricing at all, I may pick back up on that project later.
I did not have a March update, since it was so close to the Feb update, and nothing had really changed.
I have a new calculation that I added in. Individual card values.
WotC is selling individual cards via Historic Anthologies I and II. With this, I was able to calculate the cards values. Since there is no actual value on each rarity or card itself, we can only go by a bulk purchase price at this time.
There are 80 cards in Historic Anthologies I and 100 cards in Historic Anthologies II. There are also the special art lands they are now selling, the Unsanctioned full art lands, and Unsanctioned Hidden Squirrel lands. Unlike the Theros Nyx Lands, these particular lands are not being sold as "cosmetic".
Based on this, and the fact that you can use basic lands infinity times, I am going to go out on a limb her and say each land bundle has 20 of each land to help calculate an actual real world price for them.
I figure that most decks have 24 lands, most people use special castle lands or dual lands for most mono or duel colored decks, and then 20 regular basic lands would be the minimum you would need to fill out your deck for a cohesive look.
Based on this, I figure that each land is really 20 lands each, and therefore 100 total lands for the purchase price of each of the two land bundles.
Calculating out each gold and gem value of each bundle, the values come out to 4 different dollar amounts, bringing the average to $.17 per card.
I don't know if I will keep this value or not, as it seems a stretch to add in the lands this way, but it's the only logical way that I see since nobody just purchases 1 single land, and gets to use it 20 times in each deck in a real paper deck, meanwhile the other bundles you actually need and get 4 individual copies of each unique card.
Gold dropped a little. Card styles had even more wacky pricing in the "daily deals" area of the store, making their values drop slightly. Uncommon wild cards went up slightly in value, as did the Gold per Gem exchange rate.
With the release of Historic Anthologies II, the exchange rate will be changing once again.
They have priced this at 4000 Gems or 25,000 Gold. This adds one more different rate of 6.2500, bringing the total number of different rates to 5.
We now have:
This moves the rate from 5.7325 to 5.8359, and thus lowering the $USD value in the game economy.
2/29/2020 Rate Calculation Adjustment!
Going into March, we see more sales happening in the Daily Deals section of the store. I decided to not count these as part of the exchange rate simply because they are sales. But of note, it seems they are keeping the values in the Daily Deals to a 5 Gold per Gem rate, regardless of the wildly changing random prices they are putting on things.
After looking over all the various rates, I decided to change how the Exchange Rate is calculated. Instead of counting every different item I see in the entierty of Arena, and averaging them together, I am only going to average together the different exchange rates found.
For this we have 4 different rates showing:
This averages out to 5.7325 Gold per Gem. This of course will change the values of everything, but I believe this is a much better way to calculate this value going forward.
Today marks the February Update and with that comes new things in the store.
We have the introduction of the "Daily Deals" which I believe is going to wreak havoc on the values of everything with their "sales". Some have new rates we can use for conversions too, which helps, but doesn't help.
I added in the Brawlers Guildhall cost into the conversion rate as well since it seems to be sticking around. I decided that even if it changes the pricing, I will start to include any and all items or events into the conversion rate if they have both a gold and a gem cost listed.
We also have the coveted Theros Beyond Death Full Art Lands, each color bundled with a Nyx basic land. These are being sold for 3000 gold, so basically 2 card styles for that price, which actually lowered the value of card styles this week from $2.26 down to $2.21.
The Secret Lair first bundle of 7 sleeves is also now available. These are selling for 600 gems or 4000 gold each, giving us another data point to use for conversion rates.
The changes are shown below
Today we have a new event that has appeared: Standard Treasure.
The Gem to Gold rates are different for both costs, so we now have yet another item to use for our Gold to Gem conversion rates.
Standard Treasure costs either 500 Gems or 2500 Gold, which is equivalent to $2.90 and
$2.50 respectively (as per previous rates). This averages out to 5 gold per Gem, which is currently the same rate of a Booster Pack.
This changes the Gold per Gem rate from 6.0833 to 5.8667.
I also added a few more data points that I had not previously looked at that will change the average values of everything as well. I included both the Standard and Historic Events (95 Gems or 500 Gold) and Traditional Standard (190 Gems, 1000 Gold). These both come out to the same rate of 5.26 Gold per Gems. Since the Standard and Historic events are the same rate, I only included a data point for a single one.
This changes the Gold per Gem rate from 5.8667 to 5.6942.
I am also starting to track the Traditional Draft costs, as this is one of the few items you can directly purchase via Gems.
The full updated list is as follows:
Previously we had Sleeves at 1200 Gems, with the one lone Gold obtainable sleeve, Liliana Yoshitaka Amano, at 4,000 Gold. This stayed this way for a long time, leading me to believe that that would be the standard Gold price for a sleeve.
As of the previous update, WotC has bucked the trend of sleeve pricing, and we now have new Exquisite sleeves (Cryptic Command and Lightning Bolt) at 8,000 Gold. I feel that this no longer represents a representation of Gems vs Gold because of the direction they are going with premium products, so I removed Sleeves from the conversion chart.
Because of this removal as a data point for Gems vs Gold conversions, this lowered the amount of items available with direct Gem and Gold costs, and thus has changed the values.
This changes the Gold per Gem rate from 5.533 to 6.083.
We also have a Standard Event that costs either
What this has done is lower the values, and thus the cost, of each item in the game across the board.
The full updated list is as follows:
What is Collection Drafting?
Collection Drafting is drafting for the sole purpose of building your collection. This goes beyond Rare Drafting, where you pick the rares each time, but still pick other specific cards in order to build a winning draft deck to play with.
Collection Drafting has no intention of winning any games or really even playing the games, unless you just want to. By playing, there are more gems on the line to win, but your card pool will be left with sub-optimal picks, leaving you with the jankiest of jank to play with. Its often not worth the time. But go right on ahead if you love jank! Just remember the majority of other people probably picked their card pool to build winning decks with. Personally I don't enjoy playing the draft games, so for me, I am perfectly OK skipping the game play.
If you love to play draft games, then this article is not for you. This article is specifically for those looking to build a larger collection for their constructed needs through a more optimal system of obtaining those cards.
How do we get started?
We will need a few things to get started:
First of all you need gold, and lots of it!
If you just started playing Arena, this is still the preferred method of obtaining a large collection quickly, and this article is still for you. This will help you get ahead of the curve when it comes to amassing a large collection and a better card pool to start out with.
Many of us have spent the entire previous set grinding away for gold. For those that have, hopefully you should have roughly 100K gold at this point. For those that don't, this method will still benefit you greatly. I have even broken this down into 50K gold to show you what you can get from even half of that vs just opening up packs.
Unopened Booster Packs
Whenever a new set comes out, you may be tempted to start opening those shiny brand new booster packs. WAIT! Don't open them until you have completed all of your Ranked Drafts.
This will help force even more good rares your way in the end. This will also be your source of wild cards, though waiting until after draft has no bearing on the wild card outcome.
Just know you won't be getting any wild cards in the draft process. They come strictly from the regular Arena booster packs.
You will need to install a tracker that tracks not only your collection inventory, but also shows you the best draft picks for both limited and rare drafting.
One such tracker is MTGAHelper. You can read my guide on how to install and configure it here: MTGAHelper Installation
The tracker will help you keep track of what you do and don't already have in your collection. This helps produce far fewer duplicates. The limited and rare draft pick information will help you pick the stronger cards first, which will be even more important if you have less gold to draft with.
This article will will show MTGAHelper being used as examples throughout. This article is not sponsored by MTGAHelper in any way. I simply enjoy using it for my own needs.
How much did I spend?
I started with only planning to do 20 drafts this time. I wanted to save my gold for any events that came up between now and the next set. I figured at some point the Theros Full Art Lands would be available, so just in case its via an event, or gold, I will have the extra gold. If not, I have saved plenty for the next set.
Also, I was not as interested in this set as the past few sets, so I really didn't need to go for all the rares. 20ish drafts would be plenty for 100% commons/uncommons and at least half the rares. I'm good with that!
How long did it take?
Drafting all of these sets only took several hours, mainly because I was writing down every single card picked for my spreadsheet. You could easily blow through 20 drafts in an hour or so if you hustled through.
I had so much fun picking cards that I ended up doing one more draft for a total of 21. This also gave me the exact amount of booster packs I needed to get data on an even 50 Arena Booster packs I would be opening afterwards and collecting data on too.
I'm ready to collect! Now what?
Now that you have gold and a tracker installed, lets get started! Go ahead and start up your tracker if it isn't already open, and then start up MTG Arena.
By default, MTGAHelper is set to automatically pop up when you start a game or start a draft.
What do we have here? Lots of cool information to use to help you with your collection building.
LSV/Channel Fireball Limited Values
These values are based on Luis Scott-Vargas's (LSV) picks for Limited play, which are the strong cards you will want if you are going to play out your draft games after you have finished drafting your cards.
These values are not necessarily useful for constructed, but can still give a good indicator on power level. If a card is strong in one format, there's a change it may be strong in other formats. If you mouse over the value for each card, you will see a quick description of what LSV says about the card and why he picked it.
You can also go to Channel Fireball's website and read up on LSV's Constructed rantings for each card, which may be of more value for what you are going to be using these for.
For more information on LSV's picks and articles, head over to Channel Fireball.
MTGAHelper Rare Draft Pick
This next indicator will show you what picks are the best for Rare Drafting. I am not fully sure how this is weighted, as it seems to be pulling information based on decks I am tracking on the MTGAHelper Website... of which I am not currently tracking any decks.
On the MTGAHelper website, there is a "Deck Sources" under the advisors drop-down that is letting me track decks from different websites. I have one from Aetherhub selected, so it's possibly it's tracking the top meta decks from Aetherhub and relaying this information back to me in the form of this Rare Draft pick.
Cards in your Collection
This is the number I am most interested in. I want to know how many of these cards I already have in my inventory so I pick only cards I need and avoid as many duplicates as I can.
For MTGAHelper, this number will only update between drafts, so you may want to keep your tracker's website open to make sure you don't grab a 4th copy of a card if you're getting close to 4 copies.
My Collection Picking Method
Now that you have the basics of what you are looking for, I will explain how I make my own picks.
For each and every pick screen that wheels my way, I look at the top few cards to make sure there are no Rares or Mythics that I missed. The first pick of every pack will have your guaranteed Rare, but sometimes the bots will not take the Rare as their first pick, so you may have a Rare show up on subsequent picks. I have seen Rares show up on pick 4 and 5 before, so always check before clicking on a card.
Once I make sure there are no rares on the screen, I look at the LSV ratings on the tracker and pretty much always go for the strongest rated Uncommon.
From here I will keep picking Uncommons until there are nothing but Commons left. After that I will continue to pick Commons based on the strongest LSV rating.
One caveat to this for me is that if there are specific cards I really want to upgrade my daily decks with, I will always pick those first over any other Common or Uncommon. Once I have all 4 of what I absolutely want, I will go back to selecting the strongest LSV rated card.
If you are going to be doing 20+ drafts, you can rest assured that you will get roughly 99% of both the commons and uncommons, so don't worry about passing some over, as they will most likely show up again.
Keep in mind too that after you finished doing your Ranked Draft, you will have a ton of Arena booster packs to open, which will often fill in the rest of the Commons and Uncommons you are missing.
My point is, for 20+ drafts, don't worry about Commons and Uncommons, you will usually get 99% of the full playset of both of them.
Once I have finished picking my cards, if I feel like playing, I might play a game or two. I typically don't since my pics won't really be anything cohesive for winning. I am simply picking them for building constructed decks out of.
After playing or not, go ahead and end the draft, claim your prizes and move on to the next one.
That's basically it. There's nothing complicated to it if you don't plan to play any of the draft games out. You're simply hand picking all the cards you want for your collection.
MTGAHelper Draft Data
After each Ranked Draft, or any time you like, you can head over to the MTGAHelper.com website to check in on how you did.
The screen below shows all of the cards I acquired after my first draft.
The left column shows my inventory changes for each event. From this screen, you can see that I played a few games before doing a draft.
The right column shows all new cards acquired for this particular day.
Looking at the next screenshot, we can see what it looks like after 21 drafts.
If you scroll down the screen, you will see on the left side every single draft you did, and every card you got to keep, how much vault progress you gained, gems earned, booster packs earned and more.
On the right side, you can see every card acquired from all 21 drafts that I was able to keep. It does not show which cards got vaulted.
I waited until the next day to open all of my booster packs. The below screenshot is the results of all the booster packs I opened after doing 21 Ranked Drafts.
On the left hand column, you can see each and every pack that I opened, what I got to keep and what the vault progress was for cards that got vaulted.
Just like with the draft results, the right hand side shows all of the cards I was able to keep from all of the opened packs.
What can I expect to get from Ranked Draft?
I'm glad you asked, as I also just finished my Arena Theros Beyond Death Ranked Draft Data article!
You can find all of this information here: Arena THB Ranked Draft Data
In this article I go into more detail on what I actually drafted. I also break down various amount of drafting from 10 to 21 Ranked Drafts. I also break down what 50 Booster Packs alone will get you if you blow all of your gold on booster packs only instead of spending it on Ranked Draft.
Many people on social media will tell you that opening packs by themselves is the better way to go, and that doing Ranked Draft without playing any of the games is a waste of time, but the math does not lie. Ranked Draft will get you more useful cards in your collection for far less Gold, especially with lower amounts of gold.
What you won't get is a ton of wild cards. You will still get a lot from opening up all your saved booster packs, but not as many as if you had just spent all your Gold on booster packs alone. Of course with only opening booster packs, you also won't get all of the Gems that you get from Drafting.
You will need to decide what is more worth your while:
More Hand Picked Cards + Gems OR Fewer Random Cards + More Wild Cards.
Now, drafting will only take you so far in collection building. Once you get past 20-22 ranked drafts or so, it really starts to get saturated with common and uncommon duplicates to the point where it starts to negatively affect you for card collecting purposes per amount of gold spent. At this point I would advise switching over and spend any remaining gold you were planning to spend on booster packs. This will give you more rares you don't already have along with a ton of wild cards in the process. I never reach this stage though, as I only spend enough gold to do 20-22 Drafts (100K-120K Gold) each set and call it quits from there.
I hope you found this article helpful. I have been using this method for the past 4 sets released with great success.
Below is my collection so far.
These cool screenshots are taken from the Collection page on MTGAHelper.
THB and ELD are the two sets that I spent 21-22 drafts on. Core Set 2020, I did maybe 18? drafts. I don't recall. WAR and RNA I did maybe 10 drafts each as I was working to get out of the New Player Rut. GRN, M19, DOM, RIX and XLN I was not fully back into playing on Arena. I have been playing since Closed Beta and took a long while off before I got back into MTG again.
If you want to know how to get started on saving Gold for the next set, I would advise reading my article: MTG Arena: Stuck in the New Player Rut? It will explain how to get out of the rut of not having any Gold, and how to get ahead of the curve so that you will start to amass a large collection starting with the next set.
Arena Theros Beyond Death Draft Data
Finally, the wait for Ranked Draft on Arena is over with the new Magic: The Gathering set Theros Beyond Death. It's time to spend all of that hard earned gold from the past few months of grinding.
If you're only interested in my spreadsheet data, you can find it here:
THB Draft and Pack Data
For drafting, I used the Collection Drafting method. For a more indepth article on Collection Drafting, please see my article Arena Collection Drafting (THB)
Data on 21 Ranked Drafts + 50 Booster Packs
For the draft process itself, I focused on Rares and Uncommons as much as I could, then picked Commons as a last choice. Doing so netted me pretty much everything I was looking for out of this process.
21 drafts, not including opening the booster packs after, gained me the following cards:
After this I opened all 50 booster packs for THB that I had saved. This data is completely stand-alone, so it will show what you get from 50 booster packs, regardless if you draft or not. This is good information for those that buy the large booster pack bundles.
Combining both the 21 Drafts and the 50 Booster packs worth of cards and calculating in all of the duplication combined, this is what I ended up with for my totals.
From this we can see that I pretty much aquired the entire Common and Uncommon playset and more than half of the Rares.
At this point, the only thing you will be gaining from the draft process is 3-4 Rares per draft and 50 extra gems at a minimum, unless you decide to play it out.
You could chose to Rare Draft and play the games out at this point since you are no logner concerned with commons and uncommons. You can then take your time to build a proper draft deck and maximize winning for the extra Gems rewards.
For me, I got what I came for, so I was satisfied without playing any games.
Here are the few random stats that I received as well from the entire process:
I collected the Wild Card data from each of the 50 Arena booster pack opened as well:
Since the Wild Card wheel rate is published right in the game, it makes it easy to calculate guaranteed Wild Cards per packs opened.
This data shows the wheel rate in action:
Data on 10 Ranked Drafts + 10 Booster Packs
Lets say you just started out, or you have read my article MTG Arena: Stuck in the New Player Rut? and only have 50K gold to spend. What does that get you exactly? We'll I'm glad you have read this far, beacause I also broke that information down just for you!
This is what 10 Ranked Drafts looks like:
Here is what opening 10 Arena booster packs looks like:
And finally, here is the combined data for 10 Ranked Drafts and then opening 10 Arena booster packs after.
Now as an encouraging note, you will most likely get more Arena booster packs rewards than just 1 per draft, but this is the guaranteed published rate. For the first 10 Ranked Drafts that I did, I actually got 12 Arena booster packs, so my total cards and wild cards would have actually been greater than what the grand total shows.
50K Gold Comparison:
Ranked Draft vs Arena Booster Packs
Now for the controversial conversation that everyone loves to talk about. As a new player, should you spend your gold on Ranked Draft or just open Arena Booster Packs?
Well, I'm glad you kept on reading this far, because I also have this exact data as well.
Since typically newer players have less gold to start with, I am only comparing what you can do with 50K gold, since this is a nice obtainable number, even halfway through a set release.
From this comparison we can see:
Also take into consideration that those 50 booster packs are all completely random cards. You may not get anything you need, or you may get lucky and get everything you need. You may also get a ton of duplicates, and thus wasted gold. You never know.
With Ranked Draft, you are able to hand pick the cards you want and need first. You also get more kept cards for your collection.
Unless you just really need those few extra wild cards, Ranked Draft is still the preferred method for building your collection.
Keep in mind too that after a certain point, Ranked Draft will have less return, typically after 22 or so drafts. From this point if you still need to spend more on getting more rares, you should switch over to spending gold on Arena Booster packs, as you will get a better return on Rares you don't have, plus more wild cards.
How does this scale?
This is what nobody seems to have any data on, and I don't have the funds to just open 100 packs to find out.
As Theros continues on, I will keep collecting data on each free Theros pack that I open, but even this will only give me another 30 or so packs to gather data on, rounding out at 75-80 or so packs opened. (For ELD, I obtained 86 free booster packs from the entire season, including draft rewards and everything I got for free from the F2P Mastery Track and free codes. )
If there is anybody out there that has opened 100 Booster packs from a single set and recorded every card opened and every wild card gained per pack, I would love to see that data so that we have something to compare with for further research. Please contact me! If you have money sitting around and would like to donate it to help the community find this out, please contact me! I would love to collect this data to share with the entire Arena community so we can have this data once and for all!
What would 100K Gold get you?
We know what you get when doing Ranked Drafts from multiple sets worth of spreadsheets, not only from myself, but from others.
Speculation for opening 100 booster packs is that the duplicates would start to ramp quickly with no way to protect against this, as you would with the draft process, but you would receive twice the wild cards as shown here with opening 50 packs since that is at a set rate.
I don't want to speculate any further with any kind of projected calculations since it would leave us open to misinformation, which is the last thing I want to inject into the already toxic social media conversations out there. I'll just stick with the facts.
Hooray! A new set is released!
Theros Beyond Death was released today on Arena, and with that another Mastery Tree filled with awesome and exciting rewards as well as another paid Mastery Pass track chock full of even more rewards!
Even though the Mastery Pass has typically been an excellent value for active players in the past, we still like to look into each new pass to see what actual real world value you are receiving from the 3400 in Gems that it costs. Some of you get the pass for free from draft rewards, others fork out $20 of hard earned money. We will discuss what you are getting in return for supporting the game.
How long is Theros Beyond Death?
The length of Theros Beyond Death is a bit shorter than the Throne of Eldraine, clocking in at only 91 days this time. The Mastery Tree is 90 levels total, with level 91 and beyond giving out the uncommon ICRs just like the Eldraine Mastery Pass. Theros Beyond Death runs from 1/16/20 with it's last day being 4/15/20.
For active daily players, we can calculate roughly 1 level per day (per weekly average). At this rate, you should be able to complete the Theros Mastery Tree in 91 days, or sooner, considering they are still giving out the same extra 25xp per win for the first 15 wins of the day.
In fact, to be more accurate, we can use MTGAHelper's excellent Mastery Pass Calculator to figure this out for us. It shows that I should finish at level 106 if I continue to only play my 4 wins per day for the next 90 days. This gives some nice cushion for being able to travel or not being able to play for a short period of time.
Where do the values come from?
All values have been carefully traced back to actual money that you can spend in the game through Gems, or using Gold to Gem conversion rates. Cards themselves have no value, and neither do ICR's. Everything else in the game can be traced back to an actual dollar amount.
For more information on Real World Arena Values, please click on my article HERE.
Free Mastery Tree
Lets start by looking at what is in the free path of the Mastery Tree.
Theros Beyond Death Free Mastery Tree includes the following:
So all of you F2P players are getting $55.04 value for just playing the game. That's a pretty good deal for zero dollars spent!
Paid Mastery Pass
Now, lets see what the paid Mastery Pass gives you this season. Arena has a big label stating you get "$200+ Value when fully unlocked". I am not sure how they are calculating their values, but we can use my real world values to see what you're actually getting for your hard earned time or money when purchasing the Mastery Pass.
Theros Beyond Death Mastery Pass includes the following:
This gives us a combined total of $194.85, which is less than the $200+ stated value from WotC, but does confirm my values are pretty close to what they are using.
Lets say you aren't interested in the cosmetic items. You are still getting $41.87 in value for virtual product from just under $20 worth of Gems. This is still an excellent value for any active player.
Thoughts on the Theros Beyond Death Mastery Pass.
I think the inclusion of a Ranked Draft Token is an excellent reward. This not only gives players a chance to try drafting, but it also is the reward that keeps on rewarding. That 1 draft token is worth 45 hand picked cards, 1 bonus Arena booster pack (with the chance of more), and 50 Gems minimum. If you're good at drafting, this could potentially be worth 950 Gems total.
Also to note, the Eldraine Mastery Pass gave 2000 Gems, while the Theros Pass only has 1800 Gems total in it's reward path. I hope that this stays as a minimum for one reason.
1800 Gems is half of the 3400 Gem Mastery Pass. This means if you continuously get at least 1800 Gems with each pass, you then start to pay only $10 per Mastery Pass for all future Mastery Passes.
If you look at it this way: You get $193 in value for $10... every 3 months. If that's not a reason to support playing a game you love, then I don't know what is.
WotC TAKE MY MONEY!
So is the Theros Beyond Death Mastery Pass worth it?
YES!!! This is an EXCELLENT BUY!
As the set Throne of Eldraine comes to a close, and we excitedly await Theros Beyond Death tomorrow, I wanted to reflect back on all of my data gathered this past set and show you what my experience was in numbers.
I'm a dedicated player, but don't consider myself a hardcore player. I don't play ladders (except to get into bronze for a free booster pack) and I don't play sealed. I rarely participate in Historic or Brawl, though I do enjoy those formats though).
I enjoy collecting cards in both paper and "collecting" them in Arena. I like to build my collection to be able to brew decks of any type with, though typically I stick with one deck during the entire set for daily play to farm gold and rewards with.
After having to leave my beloved Merfolk 4.0 deck behind with rotation, I was forced to find something else equally aggro. I settled in on a mono red Cavalcade build. I picked a basic meta build to start with, but even on Day 1, I scrapped some of it and came up with my own card combo. I modified it twice more to end up with Cavalcade 3.0 for my final build.
I only spent $20 for gems on the Throne of Eldraine Mastery Pass. Thankfully I had enough left over, including what I earned from the Mastery Pass, to pay for the Theros Beyond Death Mastery Pass also.
Due to hand typing in most of this info into a spreadsheet after every single game, and double checking with a couple trackers I use, there are still bound to be some discrepancies from typos or forgetting to enter data. If something just doesn't match up 100%, then chalk it up to a typo, but know it's pretty close, and probably lower than the actual number.
For more information on financial values, check out my article:
MTG Arena: What Does Everything Cost? Real World Values Explained
I explain in depth how I derived these values. All of it can actually be traced back to monetary values.
Pre-Order Season Begins!
It's that time of the season again, Pre-Order time!
With the December 2019 Arena update came two new Pre-Order bundles.
The first bundle is the Ashiok Pack Bundle, which is the typical 50 packs, an extended art Planeswalker, and a special sleeve.
The other bundle, the Elspeth Play Bundle, is something new. It including the Mastery Pass, bonus Mastery Pass levels, and some cosmetic items.
All values discussed in this article can be found HERE
Just how much of a "Great Deal" is that label at the top? Lets find out!
Elspeth Play Bundle
Whats in it?
The Elspeth Play Bundle is $49.99 and includes the following items:
From this we can see that we are getting $66.33 of value... or are you?
What are we really getting?
If you are spending this kind of money already, we should assume you are an active player, willing to get your money's worth and willing to support the game.
That said, if you are an active player, you should easily be able to complete the mastery pass well before the end date. So what does that $14.50 worth of 10 extra levels get you?
Nothing you aren't already getting for the Mastery Pass entry fee. You're getting the immediate first 10 levels at a high cost. Any active player should be able to blow through the first 10 levels in a week.
Ok, say you get 10 extra levels past level 100, or however long the Theros Beyond Death set mastery lasts. Looking at the Throne of Eldraine set mastery, past level 100, you get some random rares and mythics and a little bit of extra gold in those extra 10 levels. Again, not worth anywhere near $14.50.
If we take the 10 extra levels out. We're left with $51.83 in value. This is not much of a savings. You're basically getting the two cosmetic items at a discount, which I guess is still a good deal, but just barely.
Take away the two cosmetic items, and you're now at a loss.
Who is this bundle for?
I would say that this is for players that really want the sweet Elspeth cosmetic items, people that enjoy playing Sealed on opening day, and people that are already going to buy the Mastery Pass.
It's unfortunate they stick those 10 "bonus" levels in there to fluff the bundle. It really hurts the value in a big way. Unfortunately, for now, this appears to be the only way to get the Elspeth extras.
This is not a "Great Deal" at all. It is just "barely" a small savings based on the cosmetics.
Ashiok Pack Bundle
What's in it?
The Ashiok Pack Bundle is $49.99 and includes the following items:
From this we can see we are getting $64.41 in value
We really don't need to break this down too much. Booster packs are worth $1.11/ea, and by buying 50 packs, you can already see you are saving over $5 off that price. The bonus Ashiok Card Style and Sleeve is just gravy on top.
This is a good buy!
Purchasing Both Bundles
Buying Both Bundles will set you back $99.98. For your efforts, you will receive the Kunoros pet for free. This same pet currently sells for $19.32 in the store.
You will need to analyze the Elspeth Play Bundle to see if this bonus pet value makes up for the huge deficit in value you receive in this bundle. If you again removed the 10 bonus levels and combined remaining value, you are at $101.82 in value, barely a dollar more than the purchase price. Of course then you get the free pet for $19.32, bringing the total value to $121.14.
Keep in mind too you're also getting what looks like an Owl pet with the Mastery Pass already. How many pets do we need?