My goal when it comes to Magic Arena and specifically when it comes to writing about Arena for the community is to maximize efficiency when it comes to spending gems and coins on the packs, bells, and whistles that Wizards of the Coast is constantly dangling in front of you. While my focus tends to be on the “free to play” side of the fence, there are plenty of players who spend money on the game but want to maximize their efficiency, and plenty of players who spend virtually nothing on the game, but when they do they want the most bang for their proverbial buck.

Allow me to introduce the Pre-Release bundles for the upcoming Brothers’ War expansion.

With every new Standard expansion to Arena comes two bundles available for several weeks up until the release of the set. In this case, the two bundles are available up until November 15th, a week from today, when Brothers’ War officially goes live for the masses on the platform (the set will be available in physical stores on the 18th for what it’s worth).

The first bundle is the “pack” bundle which this time around features Mishra, the brother who Gix corrupted. The second bundle is the “play” bundle which this time around features Urza, the brother who waged a centuries long war against Yawgmoth. Each bundle costs $49.99 and is worth your consideration if you play Magic on Arena.

Let’s start with the Mishra bundle, which features the following items:

  • Cosmetic Items
    • Mishra Sleeve
    • Mishra, Claimed by Gix Card Style
    • Phyrexian Dragon Engine Card Style
  • Individual Cards
    • 1 Mishra, Claimed by Gix
    • 1 Phyrexian Dragon Engine
  • Packs
    • 50 Brothers’ War Packs
    • 5 Golden Packs

Right off the bat, a pack of cards on Arena costs a base price of 200 gems. 50 packs therefore would cost 10,000 gems, which, at the best rate available, costs about $50. So just on value alone, the 50 packs of Brothers’ War make up the bulk of the $50 cost of the bundle. The added bells and whistles are where the unique value of the bundle comes into play. A card sleeve, two mythic card styles, and two mythic individual cards is nothing to scoff at. Even with a deep discount a mythic rare card style is going to cost about 750 gems. But if those aren’t intriguing to you let’s talk about the Golden Packs.

These packs are new to Arena and you can read all about them in the original announcement from Wizards of the Coast. Essentially, each pack has one mythic rare and five rares which each have a 1-in-8 chance to become a mythic rare. Every card will come from a Standard-legal set and two are guaranteed to come from Brothers’ War. The cards have duplicate protection which means, unless you have four copies of every single rare and mythic rare from all six Standard-legal sets, you’ll get cards you don’t already have.

A picture of a Golden Pack from Magic Arena which is a black pack with a large gold planeswalker symbol upon it.

But what’s their added value to the bundle? Nothing. The way you get these is at an exchange rate of one free Golden Pack for every 10 Brothers’ War packs you buy from the store on Arena. (Sorry, the packs you win in drafts don’t count). So since the Mishra bundle counts as buying 50 packs, you get 5 Golden Packs. So again, the $50 value is essentially the same as if you’d purchased $100 worth of gems and used half of them (10,000) to buy 50 packs of Brothers’ War.

So should you do it? If you like the sleeve art and you think you’ll get some use out of the Mishra cards (these are the two that meld together into Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia), then it might be worth it. There is a small bonus here in that you only have to spend $50 instead of spending $100 on gems to get the correct value for the packs purchased. That said, if you aren’t too keen on just buying packs, then you can also skip this bundle and just buy your packs the old fashioned way (or win them in events).

So what about the Urza bundle? What does a “play” bundle entail?

  • Cosmetic Items
    • Urza Sleeve
    • Urzan Sentinel Pet
    • Urza, Lord Protector Card Style
    • The Mightstone and Weakstone Card Style
  • Individual Cards
    • 1 Urza, Lord Protector
    • 1 The Mightstone and Weakstone
  • Play Tokens
    • 3 Player Draft Tokens
    • 1 Sealed Token
    • 5 Play-In Points
  • Other
    • Brothers’ War Set Mastery Pass

Once again, an impressive display but let’s see how it stacks up to the 10,000 gems that your $50 could otherwise bank for you. First off there’s the Mastery Pass which costs 3,400 gems. Whether or not you think the pass is worth that cost is a topic for a separate article (look for it next week!) but for now, we’re looking for another 6,600 gems of value from this bundle.

Premier Drafts are 1,500 gems to enter and Sealed events are 2,000 gems to enter. The tokens for four events add up to 6,500 gems bringing us to a total value of 9,900 gems between all of those entry fees plus the mastery pass. The final 100 gems gets us all of the cosmetics, two mythic cards, and five play-in points. If you’re not familiar with play-in points, you can turn in 20 of them to bypass the 20,000 gold / 4,000 gem entry fee on Qualifier Play-Ins which are part of Arena’s organized play system.

So once again it looks like we’re basically getting equivalent value to if we had just coughed up $99.99 for 20,000 gems, spent half of it on 50 packs and spent the other half on the mastery pass, three premier drafts, and a sealed event. If you’re waiting for a catch there really isn’t one. There’s basically only a few reasons to cough up the money for the bundles themselves instead of making the purchases directly:

  1. You enjoy the cosmetics/aesthetics in Arena and want to add the Urza and Mishra sleeves and card styles to your collection. If this is the case then you should rest easy knowing that the $100 you’re spending is getting you equivalent value in packs and tournament entries and that the non-playable part of the bundle is essentially an add-on just for you!
  2. You enjoy being technically correct about the fact that the bundles cost $99.98 while 20,000 gems costs $99.99 and you’re saving 1 cent by purchasing the bundles, in which case okay smart-ass, enjoy your penny saved!
  3. You’re a very competitive player and those five bonus play-in points are easily worth 100 gems

Those are the main reasons to purchase these bundles. Otherwise you might be better served purchasing 20,000 gems, or purchasing zero gems and just following my Brothers’ War free-to-play guide (also coming out next week!) on how to build up your collection without the benefit of the 50 packs, four mythic rares, mastery pass, and tournament entries that the bundle gets you.

On a final note, I do want to mention in passing that $100 per Standard set should be all that’s required of anyone to fully enjoy Magic Arena when it comes to playing Standard. So long as you aren’t necessarily looking to get into Alchemy, Historic, or Explorer, then the contents of these bundles, plus the determination to grind all 80 levels of the Mastery Pass should get you to where you need to be to play almost any Standard deck. I’ll be covering this concept more in next week’s free-to-play guide.

Lastly (I know I said final note, so sue me), for those of you who have been longtime readers and are wondering if this all means the spreadsheet might be coming back, yes, I can say the spreadsheet is coming back. It will look a little different than it used to, and to start it will only include Brothers’ War but I am already working on back-filling Dominaria United. For those wondering where I’ve been, my younger daughter just turned one a couple months ago, and those of you with kids can probably fully understand why I haven’t been grinding Arena for the past 18 months or so.

Am I back? I’m thinking maybe I’m back.

Rich Stein (he/him) has been playing Magic since 1995 when he and his brother opened their first packs of Ice Age and thought Jester’s Cap was the coolest thing ever. Since then his greatest accomplishments in Magic have been the one time he beat Darwin Kastle at a Time Spiral sealed Grand Prix and the time Jon Finkel blocked him on Twitter.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.