For many new MTG Arena players, building your collection can be a frustrating and daunting task. To build a good collection you will need to go down either the path of spending real money, or by playing for free.
Playing for free is actually very rewarding in MTG Arena. Wizards of the Coast is extremely generous when it comes to player rewards and letting people play for free. This has caused an up-rise in the Magic: The Gathering player base over the past year, leading many people to become top competitors in localized and world tournaments as well as giving people an interest in spending money on their physical products.
With fame and fortune dangling from a stick, many players want this, but many players don't have that kind of money to spend in order to achieve this quickly.
New players are often lost with no ability to get the cards they need, so they quickly spend all of their wild cards and gold earned on opening booster packs as soon as they get earn them. This is a bad use of strategy, and will continue to leave players in a rut of small eclectic collections creating a bad card pool.
The good news is that it is very easy to get out of this rut. The bad news is that it will take a little time and patience to do so.
If you've got time, and enjoy playing for free, this is the advice for you.
The problem here is that new players aren't sure what they are doing, and then often take bad advice about how to get started.
New players are given a small pool of cards to start with, a few wild cards and some gold won by various means. In the excitement to open booster packs and see new cards, new players quickly spend all of their gold and open random packs that won't help them build a usable collection. It's a pure gamble at best each time they open a booster pack or two and when they don't get what they need, they open more.
They then turn to their small collection of wild cards they obtained during the New Player Experience, and quickly craft all their cards for decks that they just can't finish, or craft the wrong cards for what they are wanting to do. Often new players change their minds halfway into a deck build and now they are out of options without spending real money.
Without any good cards, you can't build good decks. Without good decks, you are stuck in the rut of struggling to play the game. When you struggle at anything, your enjoyment is sapped away.
But, there's hope!
The solution is quite simple, yet time consuming. It is available for all of those with patience. It has worked for many people, and all of those that took the patience path have been rewarded with magnitudes of Arena riches and have never been left wanting for cards ever again.
Does that sound awesome? This can also be you if you follow this path of advice, just as I did.
1 - Don't spend your wild cards
Don't spend your wild cards, except when absolutely needed.
It's exciting to craft all those Mythics and Rares. And often there is advice to "craft all the shock lands" and such, but in doing so, you just wasted the most valuable resource you have in the game. You will likely not use many or any of those cards you excitedly crafted.
I've been there, done that. I have multiple copies of Ghalta now, not realizing that Legendary meant that I could only play one of each of those cards at a time. I ended up never using that card in anything competitive. I did this for several others as well, and regret every last one.
2 - Figure out what type of deck you enjoy playing, then stick with it!
Hopefully you've been reading up on popular decks with decent win rates by now. If not, then take the time to join an online community to ask questions, get advice, etc on what you should build. Read blogs. Watch youtube streamers. Get some ideas of what looks fun.
Once you determine what may be the most fun, or best option based on your card pool, see what you can put together using what you already have.
See if you can substitute key cards for similar cards and give those a try. Play a few games and see how you enjoy the deck. You may find you don't like that style of play, so you now don't have to waste wild cards finishing the deck.
Try different styles and themes of deck. Keep building what you can with what you have until you find someting that you really enjoy that you can afford to fully put together with what you have.
If you find one you really enjoy playing, only craft half of the needed missing cards and then check to see again how it plays. If it's better, then try playing it this way for a couple of days to see how it does. You may find it's powerful enoguh to get you by for now.
If you determine you must have those last few cards in the deck to really make it shine, then, and only then, should you craft the remaining cards.
Do everything you can to save your wild cards. You may find you will need them later if you need to change something in your deck.
Once you have something that has a decent rate of at least 50%, or close to it, stick with this for the remainder of the set you're currently playing through. It's going to need to last you.
You're going to lose a lot of games, but that's what it takes. If you end up with a higher win rate deck, you will be ahead of the curve and will struggle far less.
Stick with this deck, learn it inside and out, tweak it, get advice from people on forums, watch online videos, read blogs. Make that deck work for you, even if it has a lower win rate. It's going to need to carry you through for the next month or two.
3 - Stop spending gold
This part is very important, and leads to the patience aspect of getting out of the new player rut.
In order to get to where you want to go, you need to stop spending gold immediately. No matter how much you want to open more booster packs, or want those cosmetic items, don't do it. There will be a far, far greater rewards for you if you simply wait.
I will explain what to do with this saved gold later on in this article.
4 - Play every day
This is the other important piece of the patience game. You really need to play every day if you want to get ahead. At the very least, play every 3 days, so as not to let you Daily Quests back up and go wasted.
Play to win 4 games per day at the very minimum and complete your daily quest.
If this sounds like a lot, hear me out. This is a proven plan that won't burn you out and cause you to hate the game. This is the minimal effort needed in order to gain your success later on.
If your deck even has a 50% win rate, or somewhere close, then stick with the struggle. Again, you will reap greater rewards soon enough, and with much better decks.
If you build something around aggro, your games should go much more quickly, allowing you to get through your daily grind much faster, even with the losses. If you play more of a control style deck, your games are going to take longer to get through. So, keep this in mind when deciding on your play style, knowing you're going to need to play that deck for quite a while to get you by.
If you are still having fun at the end of your 4 wins, go for a 5th win. This will give you the first ICR (Instant Card Reward) for the day, thus giving you more cards to build with. Doing a 5th win per day is an extra 7 cards per week, or 30 cards per month, that you didn't have. Keep in mind they are completely random and are from all sets in Standard, so working for that 5th win may not really benefit you much if you're going for something specific. If you're still having fun, just keep playing. Don't tire yourself out or you will not enjoy the game.
5 - Keep saving that gold!
How much gold should you save? All of it.
How much gold will you be saving? Lets look at some quick math:
4 wins per day + daily quest = 1050 gold minimum per day (averaged out over a week).
With a quick web search, you can find out when the next set will be released on Arena. Knowing this, figure out how many more days you have until the next set is released. Then calculate the number of days times 1050 gold and you should know how much gold you will have to spend.
If you just started playing and entered into the middle of a set release, your amount will be lower to spend, but this is what you need to get ahead, so focus on that rather than what you could have had if you started earlier. Only focus on what you can achieve.
80 days left of a set x 1050 gold = 84,000 gold minimum
50 days left of a set x 1050 gold = 52,500 gold minimum
33 days left of a set x 1050 gold = 34,650 gold minimum
You get the idea...
Even a minimal amount will help get your collection started. Just be patient, or this won't work, and you will always be in a rut.
5 - When a new set comes out, spend that gold!
Wait... wait some more. No, wait for it. OK NOW!
A new set has just been released. NOW you may spend your gold.
When the new set comes out, you have two options to spend your gold on. I would probably focus on one or the other, and not split between the two.
Option 1 - Open a bunch of booster packs.
This will net you fewer cards overall, but you will receive more wild cards in the end.
Option 2 - Ranked Draft
You will need to wait another 2 weeks for Ranked Draft to kick of for the new set, but it's well worth the wait. You'll have saved quite a bit more by then as well.
Ranked will net you more cards vs only opening booster packs, but you will receive fewer wild cards. The other advantages of Ranked Draft are: you get to hand pick all your cards, so you can pick what you want and need to play with immediately. You also get a bonus booster pack on completion, which will start earning you wild cards on top of being extra bonus cards, and you also receive gems on completion. If you want to play some draft games, you will earn even more. If you don't want to play the games, you will still come out ahead on cards, and of course gems.
There are many articles, advice and arguments over these two methods. You choose what you want to do. The main differences to choose from are, do you want a few more wild cards from option 1, or do you want a larger collection (and free gems) to work with from option 2. Both have their merits.
Regardless of the option you chose, look at your gold total before you choose. Only spend that amount. Do not spend any more than what you earned from playing through the last set up until you pick the path you are goign to take.
This is important because now you are fully set up for the next set, which will be the end of your rut.
Regardless of the option you chose, enjoy and use your new cards to upgrade your current deck, or build something new. Keep in mind that saving your wild cards is still very important. Only use what you need. Don't go crazy just because you have more wild cards now. You still need to get through one more set release before you are completely free from the new player rut.
6 - Start saving gold again
Now that you have spent all your gold on Option 1 or Option 2 for this new set, it is time to start saving for the next set, which comes roughly every 3 months.
This will take another large bout of patience, but at least you have more new cards to work with. Just keep at it.
From here you can use your daily gold calculations to figure out what you will have going forward.
Typically it's been 90-100 days between sets. This gives you easily 100K+ gold you can save for the next set.
7 - The Final Hump, You're Free!!!
Now that you patiently waited through an entire full set using what you have again, you should have 100K+ gold when the next new set released if you played 4 wins every day and did your daily quest.
Here is where it all pays off.
Again, choose Option 1 or Option 2 for spending your gold. This time you most likely have double the amount of gold to work with, thus doubling the amount of cards you received the previous time you did this.
Opening 100+ booster packs or running through 20+ ranked drafts should net you most of an entire usable collection at this point. You should be able to get nearly the entire playset of Commons and Uncommons, over half of the rares, and a handful of mythics, and of course more wild cards.
Again, save those wild cards. You will have even more now, probably enough to craft an entire Tier 1 deck if you choose. See what all you have, use only what you absolutely need and start having even more fun than ever before!
Figure out what you want to do with your massive collection now. You should have enough wild cards to go back and craft any cards from older sets now to build yourself the ultimate deck for your play style.
8 - You are free from the rut!
Now that you are free from the new player rut, you can continue to rinse and repeat saving your gold and spending it only on the new set each release for either Option 1 or Option 2.
Should you stick to this plan, you will never want for cards or wild cards ever again.
It takes patience, but if you really want to get ahead in this game, you must do this or your will struggle for a long time, much longer than the time it takes to get out of the rut.
I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Leave a comment below if you have questions or comments.