This weekend I continued my journey through MTG Arena’s Core Set 2020 Mastery Pass. For those of you counting at home, this included days four (Friday), five (Saturday), and six (Sunday) of the Mastery Pass and I entered the weekend sitting at Level 6 (out of 100) with 800/1000 experience points accumulated towards level seven.

I’ve been going at this for a week now and I want to talk about value. I’ll dive deep into it later in this recap, but let me summarize my thoughts for you first. For me, the bottom line is that even though Wizards is essentially providing the same value they previously did (see my math below), they’ve created an exceptionally over-complicated system through which the rewards must be unlocked. What used to be as simple as “win 15 matches each week, resetting every Sunday” is now a system of moving targets, promotional codes, and having to meticulously plan out your week’s activity on MTG Arena.

When you create a convoluted system, as Wizards has done with their soft XP cap, you make it harder for your users to calculate the real value that you’re giving them. Because of that, you don’t really see a slew of articles titled, “Wizards Reveals Mastery Pass System, Awards Hundreds of Dollars in Cosmetic Upgrades for a Measly $20 Subscription!” or articles titled, “Free-to-Play Players on MTG Arena get $40 in Free Product Every 3 Months Just for Playing!” Those are true statements but they’re so hard to figure out on the surface.

Instead, what happens is your users hone in on the part of your system that impacts them the most which in this case the daily limit on experience points, and they pick it apart like a pack of hungry velociraptors because it’s the only thing they can do! It isn’t that your fans want to tear apart your system, it’s that you’ve only made one part of your system easy enough to understand and it happens to be problematic.

All of this is to say, sorry Wizards, you brought this on yourself. But enough ranting, because there is a lot of value to be had in playing MTG Arena and in picking up the Mastery Pass, so lets talk about my weekend on MTG Arena.

Friday began with a boost as Wizards granted everyone two more free levels with the promo code BroughtBack which shot me up to level eight. Picking up two more wins with my Azorius draft deck got me to level nine and finishing a daily quest left me 200 XP short of level ten. On Saturday I drafted an atrocious Naya proliferate deck because I can’t resist first-picking Ajani. I only won one game with it and picked up my mono-red Standard deck which hasn’t been updated since M20 released.

After some time in the Best-of-One Ranked queue I picked up two more quests and two more wins to reach levels 10 and 11 with only 400 more XP required to reach level 12. On Sunday I continued ranking up with burn spells to get to level 12 and end the weekend sitting 400 XP short of level 13. To recap, I jumped from level 6 to level 12 thanks to a promo code, finishing all my quests for the weekend, and jamming burn spells down all of your Nicol Bolas and/or Elemental playing throats.

Free Stuff (Pack Value: 1,200 Gems, Cosmetic Value: 600 Gems):

  • 6 Packs of Core Set 2020 (3 new)
  • 1 Mastery Orb

Premium Stuff (Cost: 3400 Gems, Pack Value: 900 Gems, Cosmetic Value: 2700 Gems)

  • 1 Pack of Core Set 2020
  • 1 Pack of War of the Spark (new)
  • 1,500 Coins
  • 200 Gems (new)
  • Chandra Avatar
  • Elemental Cat Pet
  • Chandra Art Sleeves
  • 1 Mastery Orb
  • Mythic Cards: 1x Mu Yanling, Celestial Wind (new), 1x Chandra, Awakened Inferno (new)
  • Card Styles: Gorging Vulture (new), Boreal Elemental (new)

Mastery Tree Card Styles Unlocked (Total Value 1,200 Crystals, Free/Premium Split 50/50): Raise the Alarm, Apostle of Purifying Light

By my estimate, which I’ll get to in a moment, I calculate that so far I’ve earned 2,100 gems of “pack value” and 3,300 gems of “cosmetic value”, though only 900/2700 of that is a result of the 3400 gems I invested in the Mastery Pass. That said, since we’re only six days into this “season” and only 12% of the way through the Mastery Pass, that must be pretty good value no?

I calculated this based on a very simple formula which is to say every pack awarded is worth 200 gems (the basic cost of getting a pack in game) and since 1,000 coins also gets you a pack, 1,000 coins is worth 200 gems. That gives us the constituent parts of the “pack value” with one exception: the Mythic Card rewards. These don’t come from full packs, so I don’t think they’re worth 200 gems, but its hard to really calculate their actual value so we’re going to leave it out for now.

The cosmetic value is a little more involved but is valued based on other similar products. Avatars, for example, cost 300 gems to purchase in the store. Art sleeves cost 600 gems for normal stuff and 1200 gems for premium stuff. Card styles can be confusing and have been a bit inconsistent so we’re just going to go with 600 gems which is what they mythic cycle of mono-colored creatures from M20 costs in the store right now.

How does this compare to the old system of being awarded three packs a week? Using the same system that reward was worth a total of 600 gems every week. We have about 13 weeks until “Archery” hits MTG Arena so we would have racked up 7,800 gems of “pack value.” The free track of the Mastery Pass system awards 36 packs of Magic 2020 which is a total value of 7,200 gems, 600 fewer gems than we used to get. These have been replaced with five Mastery Orbs which unlock card styles, a cosmetic value of 3,000 gems.

Of course, this assumes you can reach level 72 of the Mastery system to unlock all 36 packs. Is that the same as winning 15 games every week? Because of the soft-limit on how much experience you can accrue every day its hard to say. After all, that’s why we’re embarking on this journey anyways. The value is definitely there on the free side, but the time commitment requirement has definitely gone up. I won three games every day for the past six days, so I would have unlocked all three reward packs for the week. But if I couldn’t log in every day I still could have had more wins on some days and gotten my three packs but I may not have advanced to level 12 already on the mastery pass.

Are you also embarking down the Mastery path? Let me know how you’re finding it so far by leaving us a comment on Facebook or hitting us up on Twitter!

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