With the recent announcements from Wizards and Twitch Rivals, it’s becoming increasingly clear that MTG Arena is becoming the future of competitive play and WotC’s latest attempt at converting Magic into an esport. While now is the best time to get into Arena—the card pool is at it’s lowest,  making it easier to complete Standard—a lot of players will have the same issues as they did when starting Magic the Gathering in paper: having a collection of cards to build from. I’m here to help you build your collection as efficiently as possible. This will be aimed at mostly from a Free to Play player who has experience with Magic but there is nothing to stop you from investing more into MTG Arena!

The Welcome Bundle

I know I just said that this was aimed at the Free to Play audience, but the straight up value that the bundle provides is worth buying. Five packs of Guilds of Ravnica alongside 2,500 gems is an insane amount of value, offering up at least three drafts alongside five packs to start your collection! If you treat Arena as costing $5 and starting with 2500 gems, rather than free with an empty account, it is still a great deal.


For the first five days of your account, your first win each day will unlock a pre-constructed deck. Each contains one mythic and one dual land, which are important for your collection. After the fifth deck is unlocked you will unlock the rest of the pre-con decks, each in a dual-color combination. While you do not need to keep these decks, deleting them will not delete the contents from your collection.

Each day you’ll receive a quest to complete, alongside some weekly quests to complete. If you get five wins in a week, you’ll receive a pack of the latest set. Another five wins nets you another pack, and finally the fifteenth win in a week nets you a third pack. With your daily quests, you get the chance to reroll a single quest once per day. This should only be done if your quest is worth less than 750 gold, to optimize the amount of gold you are earning with your quest.

You can have a maximum of five quests active: one quest is for your packs per week, three are your daily quests which carry over on a  day to day basis until complete, and the final one is a quest line that resets each day. If you manage to assemble fifteen wins over the course of the day, you’ll receive a total of 750 gold and six uncommons (which have a chance to be a higher rarity). Fifteen wins in a day is a lot to grind, especially when the rewards are diminishing (and non-existent past 15), and you are using a pre-con deck, so my recommendation would be to aim for six wins minimum each day. That gives you 600 gold and one uncommon instead, which is a reasonable amount to achieve for players with less time.

Redeeming Codes

From time to time, there will be codes given out giving you some benefits to your account. The best way to keep on top of this is to follow @MTG_Arena on Twitter, where the latest codes will normally be announced. The previous code gave each collection a playset of some uncommons and a Standard-played rare in each color. Beta players received promo planeswalkers too. While we don’t know what codes are going to come out in the future, it is worth keeping an eye out.

While all paper players know that they should be supporting their LGS, now Arena players also have an incentive to do so as well. Attending your local pre-release (Ravnica Allegiance’s pre-release is January 19th and 20th) gives you a code for a free sealed event on MTG Arena! Six packs for entering, at least one pack regardless of how you finish in the event, combined with a day playing magic at a local store with players that enjoy the same hobby. It’s a great way to combine the two worlds.

Gems / Gold

So, here is the main way which you’ll be completing your collection: Drafts. For the cost of 5,000 gold, you get to draft 42 cards to your collection, with the opportunity to earn gems and potentially go infinite in drafts if you can win at least six best-of-one games. In comparison to buying packs outright from the store, you would only add 35 cards to your collection but have a chance of those cards being wildcards. With the initial investment of 2500 gems and daily quests, you can easily play around 5-6 drafts before having to dip into gold to play drafts. Even when you have run out of gems, you can easily recoup the gold in roughly four days of completing quests.

I have two main tips for drafting in Arena with an aim at building your collection. First, do not be scared to rare-draft. For example, in a Guilds of Ravnica draft, if your opening pack contains a Temple Garden and a Lava Coil, the correct pick normally would be to take the Lava Coil. However, taking the Temple Garden benefits our collection a lot more for constructed and saves on valuable Wild Cards. This is not to say that every rare should be drafted—if you opened something like Unmoored Ego instead, you should prioritize the draft. Second, we need to save all Wild Cards that we open. Rare Wild Cards are at a premium, making up the core of most Standard decks so we cannot afford to use them without knowing that we have enough to complete a deck. Arguably the most popular deck on Magic Online is the Izzet Drakes deck due to the low amount of rares and mythics the deck contains. It gives players a good chance to play constructed queues while also completing quests and earning packs.

In the end, your ultimate goal should be able to build up a collection of cards large enough for you to make an attempt at playing constructed and save enough wild cards to be able to forge decks when the new set drops in January. While you can achieve this through a Free to Play model, investing into more drafts (especially when drafts rotate from the latest set to previous sets) will help build your collection quicker. When Ravnica Allegiance comes out, we are going to be in a Standard with the best mana that doesn’t contain fetchlands since the previous Ravnica block was in Standard. My recommendation for Wild Card crafting would be to complete the cycle of check lands in Ixalan and Dominaria. Using the above methods, you will most likely have a set of the current shocklands so completing the standard manabase should be a priority.

As MTG Arena is fresh in everyone’s mind, there is one concern that appears to be emerging with the introduction of our first tournament on Arena. The concern that WotC doesn’t know how to progress with Arena as an esport. They have the statistic that over 97% of games on Arena are best-of-one, but introducing Ranked at a best-of-one format has stirred some unrest. People argue that this is not only going to warp Magic as a game but also that best-of-one does not represent the game at its best. Ultimately, there is variance in matches of Magic and best-of-three helps to mitigate this variance. If best-of-one becomes the norm, we will start to see a lot of inconsistencies between paper and digital. And that is something that WotC has tried to avoid in the past.

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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