It’s not easy to shell out money for a video game that’s ostensibly “free to play.” And make no mistake, Magic Arena is absolutely free and Wizards, to their credit, does a good job of making sure there are plenty of no-entry-fee events for everyone to participate in.

But, with each set release, Wizards puts together a few bundles targeted at different types of Arena players with various price points and Lost Caverns of Ixalan is no different. For this release we have three bundles to choose from, which we’ll detail below.

When we look at the value of each bundle we’re primarily concerned with three things:

  1. Pack and Gem Efficiency
  2. Individual Card Rewards (Variable)
  3. Aesthetics (Optional)

Pack efficiency refers to the rate at which we’re acquiring packs versus dollars spent. Our benchmark for this will be the standard non-bundle pack cost. The benchmark cost of a pack is 200 gems. Whether you buy 1 pack or 90 packs from the store, they cost 200 gems each. 200 gems costs $1.00 (technically 99.9 cents but we might as well round up here). So our benchmark is $1.00 per pack acquired.

The value of card rewards depends on the type of collector you are. For evaluating bundles we’ll identify two types of collectors.

Wildcard Hunters are players who want to build specific decks and use them across various formats. They are interested in the ability to select the format they want with the deck they want. For these collectors, wildcards hold immense value because they allow the player to build their next deck more quickly.

Set Collectors are players who want to have a complete collection giving them the option to play whatever they want whenever they want without having to worry about specifics like format or meta. For these collectors, individual card rewards hold immense value because they allow the player to complete their collection more quickly.

Either of these types of players can also be an Aesthetic Collector which simply means they enjoy collecting the various cosmetic enhancements the game provides such as sleeves, card styles, avatars, companions, and emoji stickers.

After reviewing the contents of each bundle we’ll provide three evaluations, one for each type above:

  1. Wildcard Hunter
  2. Set Collector
  3. Aesthetic Collector

Saheeli Pack Pre-Release Bundle

This is the most straightforward bundle. 50 packs. 50 dollars. A bonus Mythic Rare. Two bonus cosmetics. There isn’t a lot to talk about here since this matches our benchmark of one-pack-per-dollar. The only question is, do you need fifty packs anyways? Do you? Punk?

Wildcard Hunter

If you’re just looking to play a few specific decks then you can probably skip this bundle. The packs are just going to contain random cards you may or may not need and while yes, opening packs gives you wildcards, there are better ways to acquire packs than spending a dollar each.

Set Collector

If you’re looking to collect a full set of Lost Caverns of Ixalan, buying packs is going to be an efficient way to do so. If, for example, the set has 60 rares, then you’ll be looking to open at least 240 packs to acquire four copies of each card. Getting the added Mythic Rare Saheeli Rai card is a bonus, saving you from having to open more packs to pull one. That said, you don’t need to buy these packs if you think you can grind your way to more free packs.

Aesthetic Collector

If you’re a fan of Saheeli, then you can take comfort knowing that you’re not over-paying for the 50 packs that come with these beautiful sleeves and the ever-so-expensive mythic rare card style. However, if you’re not a Saheeli fan and you don’t think you’ll play this card too much, you don’t need this bundle to get packs.

Vito Play Pre-Release Bundle

So you like to play Magic do you? How much can you play for $25 then?

Entry into a Sealed event costs 2,000 gems while entry into a Player Draft is 1,500 gems. So for $25 you’re getting 5,000 gems worth of entry fees covered. If we go back to our trusty benchmark of 200 gems (one pack) per dollar spend, then you’re breaking even.

The qualifier play-in points are an interesting perk if you’re interested in the Arena Qualifiers. Qualifiers are invitation-only events that have massive awards and send the winner to the Pro Tour. If you don’t have an invitation, you can play in a Qualifier Play-In which costs 4,000 gems or 20 play-in points. So, if you’re going to actually use them, the play-in points are worth another 1000 gems, or $5.00.

Wildcard Hunter

Limited events are a great way to build up your collection, specifically draft events because you can pick the cards you want, and if you can perform well enough you’ll rack up plenty of gems and packs to keep going and continue to build your collection. Given that this bundle forces you to play specific events (one sealed and two drafts) you might want to pass over it in favor of just buying gems and entering the events you know you can do well in.

If however you’re interested in the Pro Tour route, then you may want to consider this bundle for the play-in points to help get you into a qualifier event. But if limited isn’t your forte then it might still be better to just buy into constructed events and earn your play-in points the old fashioned way.

Set Collector

Limited events are the best way to collect a set, but being forced to pick the events Wizards chooses for you can be a bummer. If you were planning on playing these events anyways, then you’re getting a few bells and whistles plus a free Mythic Rare. But if you prefer to just grind Sealed events for example you might want to just buy those entries yourself.

Aesthetic Collector

Vito’s aesthetic is alright. It’s not quite as good looking as Saheeli’s cosmetics. Unless you’re really into it for some reason, maybe you like vampires a lot, I wouldn’t recommend getting this bundle just for the Vito sleeves and card style.

Quintorius Pass Pre-Release Bundle

Mastery passes cost 3,400 gems which, at our 200 gems per dollar benchmark, should be $17. So right off the bat we’re getting some bonus value. Now the question becomes, does the Mastery pass contain $15 worth of content?

At its most basic, the Mastery pass will grant you 20 Standard-legal packs which is worth 4,000 gems on its own. There’s also one Player Draft token which is another 1,500 gems of value bringing us up to 5,500.

Oh, and there’s also 1,200 gems. Based on this alone, the value is up to 6,700 gems for the cost of 3,000.

Additionally there are avatars, companions, sleeves, and 11 Lost Caverns of Ixalan Mythic Rare Individual Card Rewards. There’s of course the caveat that you have to actually play the game in order to gain the rewards. So if you’re not prepared to get in at least a few wins a day and knock out most of these reward tiers then don’t buy the Mastery pass.

Wildcard Hunter

There’s no wildcards in the Mastery pass so you might want to skip it. The rewards are kind of all over the place and more suited towards a set collector looking for the value.

Set Collector

It’s hard to say no to the free value here. The added Standard packs will help with set completion and wildcard acquisition while the individual card rewards will also add up.

Aesthetic Collector

The value is bonkers from the Mastery pass. If you like avatars, sleeves, and companions (oh my) then the value here is very hard to pass up.

Final Thoughts

The bundles don’t add a ton of value compared to spending your cash in the in-game store for gems ($100 for 20,000 gems). The real value is for anyone looking for a complete set and aesthetics willing to buy the main components regardless and pick up the bonus mythic rare rewards.

If you prefer to grind your way to victory, and don’t care for cosmetics, then feel free to pass these by.

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.

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