Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths comes to MTG Arena tomorrow, and that means it’s time to take another look at how you, yes you, can collect every single rare (and mythic rare for the very ambitious) from Magic’s latest expansion set, without spending a dime! If you’re new to MTG Arena or to our Free to Play Guides in general, welcome! I’m excited to share this knowledge with you! If you’re already well-versed and just looking for how to update your tracking sheet, then scroll down to the big “How to Update Your Spreadsheet” section.

So how does this work? All of this is thanks to a little feature of MTG Arena known as duplicate protection. Basically, until you own four copies of every rare in a set, every (non-limited) 8-card booster pack that you open will contain a rare you don’t already have four copies of. The same is true for mythic rares. If you would open a rare or mythic rare that you already have four copies of, the server will replace it with a new rare or mythic rare respectively. Once you have four copies of each rare, if you open a rare you’ll get gems, and the same is true of mythic rares (fifth and further copies of uncommons will contribute to vault progress).

Now let’s get into it, if you want to collect every single rare (and mythic rare) from Ikoria (and every other booster pack expansion on Arena) follow these four easy steps:

  1. Track your collection including packs and singles using this spreadsheet
  2. Use all of your gold (and gems if you desire) to draft
  3. Pick any and all rares/mythic rares you don’t already have four copies of

Why Should I Listen to You?

If you follow those instructions, then the spreadsheet will tell you when you have enough unopened packs to finish your collection for a set. Basically, when the spreadsheet says “0 Drafts to Collect Rares” you can open all of your packs, at once, and you will end up with a full set of four copies of every single rare. You can continue to draft normally at that point, though if you want to also collect Mythic Rares you can continue to use the spreadsheet to know when you have enough packs again to collect them.

I cannot stress this enough: in order to collect your set for free (or as close to free as you’d like) you must not open your packs until math says its okay to do so. I can sympathize with the desire to get rid of that stupid glowing dot under the word “Packs” on the home screen of the Arena client but I implore you, for your sake and the sake of your bank account, don’t do it. Save your packs. Open them all when the time is right.

[Note: I first wrote about this topic when Throne of Eldraine came to MTG Arena, and if you’re interested in the detailed math equations I recommend reading the article I wrote at the time. This article also has some more detailed instructions on how to properly use the tracking spreadsheet.]

At this point people usually have two big questions: Why rare drafting and how much is this actually going to cost? The answer to both depends on how much time and how much money you want to put into your MTG Arena collection.

This Is the Part With Math

Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has 53 rares, so you need to open 212 rares in total to complete your collection, allowing you to build basically any Standard deck you want. Every 8-card booster pack you open outside of a limited event has an 80.2% chance of containing a rare. 12.5% of the time it will contain a mythic rare and 8.3% of the time it will contain a wildcard. So, to collect 212 rares, you need to open roughly 264 packs.

If you want to spend money and skip all the drafting required then I’m not going to stop you. Packs from the store are $1 apiece, so $264 dollars later you’ll be all set to start playing with your expanded collection. That’s not a bad price compared to what decks cost. You’ll essentially spend just over a grand a year to play Standard (plus another $120 if you want to play Brawl but that’s a story for another article).

But what if you, like most people, don’t have a grand to spend on digital Magic cards every year? Enter rare drafting.

Wizards gives out a lot of gold coins for free on MTG Arena. You can get 500 or 750 a day from your daily quest, up to 750 from daily wins, and a bunch more from the mastery pass (another topic for another day). Even if you just pick up 1,000 gold a day, you need to figure out how to spend it. A pack on its own costs 1,000 gold in the store, so if you only average 1,000 gold daily, you’re looking at 256 days of grinding to complete sets that come out roughly every 90 days. That’s not a good plan.

Wait, Rare Drafting?

Rare drafting is the answer to your prayers. For 5,000 gold you’re guaranteed at least three rares and/or mythic rares from the packs you open, at least 1.2 more packs (0.9624 rares) from your prizes, and 50 gems from your prizes (0.50 packs or 0.401 rares). So that’s at least 4.363 rares. If you opened five packs for 5,000 gold you’re only getting 4.02 rares. 0.343 rares may not seem like a big gap, but this is if you somehow manage to lose every single match of Magic you play.

If you win three matches, on average, you’ll get your three rares from the draft, 1.26 prize packs, and 300 gems (1.5 packs). But you can also then start converting every 750 gems (3.75 packs) into another draft worth 4.26 packs. Hopefully you’re starting to understand the big picture here. To summarize:

  1. Track your collection including packs and singles using this spreadsheet.
  2. Use all of your gold (and gems if you desire) to draft.
  3. Pick any and all rares/mythic rares you don’t already have four copies of.

And that’s basically it! The first set I personally did this for, as mentioned above, was Throne of Eldraine, which I was able to collect in its entirety. If it wasn’t for the Coronavirus pandemic screwing up all my free time I likely would have completed Theros Beyond Death as well. That said I’m only a dozen or so drafts away from finishing off that set as it is. I’m looking forward to using this method to collect all of Ikoria in the coming quarantined months and I can’t wait to hear stories of how this method was able to help you as well!

How to Update Your Spreadsheet

If you were already using version 1.2 of the tracking spreadsheet, then you’ll likely want to add the new Ikoria and Historic Anthology 2 tabs without having to mess with all of your existing data. However, because the new 1.3 version of the sheet has scripts attached to it, if you want those new features, as minor as they are, you may instead want to copy all your tabs from your 1.2 sheet into a new copy of the 1.3 sheet. You can easily do this by just making a copy of the 1.3 sheet for yourself, removing all of the tabs which you were already tracking in your 1.2 sheet, and then copy them from your 1.2 sheet into your new 1.3 sheet. The new scripts look for the tabs by name, so just keep the names the same and you’ll be set to go!

Don’t hesitate to hit me up on Twitter @RichStein13 if you have questions or need a hand or just have suggestions!

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