Howdy, and welcome to MTGStorm's in-depth guide to your first few days in MTG Arena!
This guide is intended for readers that are just starting out, or are considering starting, their Magic Arena journey, and wish to try the game strictly as F2P players.
We won't cover in this article the intricacies of playing MTG itself, nor the how-to's of drafting or deckbuilding (we have a ton of other articles covering those topics, and the in-game tutorials also do an okay job in that regard), but rather how to clear all the tutorials, how to unlock all the Starter Decks, which game modes to play, and some suggestions about what goals to pursue during your first few days in Magic Arena.
And do all of the above without spending a single cent, or single wildcard.
What's a wildcard, you wonder?
Well, let's jump into it!
Table of Contents
- Untap Step
- MTG Arena: From Account Creation to Unlocking All Game Modes
- Magic Arena Economics 101: Packs, Dailies, and Wildcards
- Game Modes! So Many Game Modes!
- End Step
MTG Arena: From Account Creation to Unlocking All Game Modes
Magic Arena Account Creation and First Tutorial
At account creation, you'll be asked how much Magic have you played.
As far as I've tested (across a couple of different accounts), regardless of how you answer the game will start with the Basic Tutorial.
If you happen to be new to Magic The Gathering (and doubly so if you're new to card games in general), I recommend playing the whole thing through – it's five battles, in which a very talkative floating spark will guide you through the basics of MTG, against five equally talkative opponents.
If you are experienced in Magic (or find that your opponents just won't shut up…), then fear not: you can skip the tutorial!
For some reason, the option is quite well-hidden, but it's overall pretty simple:
1. Click on the Adjust Options (the Gear icon) in the upper right-hand side of the screen, then select View Account.
2. On the Account Screen, select Skip Tutorial and confirm your choice.
Either completing or skipping the tutorial will reward you with five mono-color decks, and unlock the next game mode, the Color Challenge.
And, by the way: you can always replay the Tutorial later if you wish (or play it for the first time if you've chosen to skip it).
Unlocking All Game Modes in Magic Arena
If you go "by the book," sort to speak, the game will lead you through these three steps:
- The Color Challenge, which asks you to face four AI opponents, and then one human opponent, before you can unlock the next game mode, Starter Deck Duel,
- The Starter Deck Duel, that lets you choose from among ten preconstructed dual-color decks, and asks you to defeat three human opponents before unlocking the next game mode, the Spark Rank,
- The Spark Rank, a Constructed queue in which you need to win several games against human opponents, with any deck of your choice, before unlocking all remaining game modes.
There's an option to skip all these steps, though, and unlock all the game modes right away!
The Color Challenge and the Starter Deck Duel will still be available for you to play as much as you want (and grant rewards if you complete them), but the Spark Rank will be gone for good (and automatically give you the rewards for completing it).
My recommendation is to unlock all game modes right away since, as we'll see, having access to all modes will allow you to gather resources faster, and I believe the Spark Rank is a bit of a grindy waste of time. But if you're in doubt, just go "by the book" – you can unlock all game modes whenever you wish.
If you do wish to unlock all game modes, just repeat the exact same steps as for skipping the tutorial: click on the Gear icon on the top right, then on "View Account", and you'll notice that the "Skip Tutorial" button now allows you to unlock all game modes.
I'll go "by the book" for the remainder of this section, in case that's what you wish to do.
MTG Arena Preconstructed Decks #1: The Color Challenge
After completing (or skipping) the Basic Tutorial, the talkative spark will nudge you toward the Color Challenge: choose a preconstructed single-color deck and face five opponents with it
For each color:
- The first four opponents will be bots, and you need to beat one to advance to the next – the games are rigged in your favor, and you usually draw the exact card you need, but if you're new to Magic the Gathering, you may need a couple of tries to clear some of them.
- The fifth will be a human opponent – you don't need to win this match, just play it, and this particular color will be complete.
You will get a bit of gold and wildcards (we'll get to wildcards soon, I promise!) after clearing each color.
If you haven't unlocked all other game modes yet, clearing just one color in the Color Challenge will unlock the next game mode, Starter Deck Duel.
And the talkative spark will challenge you to a duel, too!
Some extra observations:
- The Color Challenge is always available (as in, you can complete each color whenever you feel like it) – the rewards are not amazing, but every bit helps, so I'd recommend doing so eventually (like, some time when you need a bit of relaxing, low-effort grind),
- Sadly, fighting the bots does not advance your Daily Quest (we'll talk a lot more about them later), nor count towards your Daily Win.
MTG Arena Preconstructed Decks #2: Starter Deck Duel
This is, in my opinion, one of the best additions to Magic Arena (back at launch, this game mode didn't exist, even if Starter Decks were already a thing).
The gist of it is:
- You get to choose from ten dual-color decks,
- You fight players that themselves only have one of those ten decks.
It's as level a playing field as a rookie can dream of, and if you're new to Magic The Gathering then you'll probably spend quite a bit of time in this game mode, checking the gazillion things the game has to offer (spoiler: and that's only a tiny fraction of all the mechanics and interactions you'll find later in the game! =).
The Starter Deck Duel offers a bunch of rewards:
- For the first three wins, you get a random card, and the final win rewards you with Gems (one of the in-game currencies),
- Every deck you win with gets added to your card collection: you can use the whole deck, or any card from that deck, in any other game mode that the card is legal for.
If you choose to unlock all game modes (which, as said above, I wholeheartedly recommend), you get all the Starter Decks right away – you still need to win the required number of games to also get the random cards.
Like the Color Challenge, the Starter Deck Duel is always available – and, since opponents are human, games played in this mode do count towards Daily Wins and Daily Quests.
Check the Codex
Now would be a good time to listen carefully to that talkative, floating spark, and check the Codex (which is the "?" icon on the upper right):
Make sure to at least skim through all the topics, especially "Ways to Play" – the Codex does a great job of explaining the basics, and we won't cover those topics in this guide except when recommending which game modes you may want to focus on first.
The Spark Rank
If you haven't unlocked all game modes yet, after clearing the Starter Deck Duel you'll unlock the Spark Rank. This is a ranked queue, and the introduction to MTG Arena's ranking system, where you fight against other Spark-ranked rookies.
The format is technically called "Constructed": you can use an exact copy of one of the preconstructed Starter Decks if you want to, but you can also tweak them with any of the cards you have (for example, if you've unlocked two Starter Decks that share the White color, you can use the White cards from deck A to improve deck B). Or you can try constructing a whole new deck with the cards you've got!
We won't go into much detail here about the Spark Rank for two reasons:
- Deckbuilding is way beyond the scope of this introductory article – in fact, it's probably one of the most difficult skills in card games in general, and
- As far as my experience goes (after testing the Spark rank this week in a couple of new accounts I created for this article), the Spark Rank is a bit of a waste of time. Better just jump directly into the "real" Constructed queue (where you'll start at Bronze rank).
At any rate, your choice: once you either get your Spark to max rank, or you decide to manually unlock all the game modes, the Spark rank will be gone for good. At that point:
- You will have access to all the Constructed PvP modes (currently: Standard, Alchemy, Historic, and Explorer), where you'll start at Bronze rank,
- You'll have access to Brawl, which is another Constructed format but with a different ruleset (check the Codex for details),
- You'll have access to all the Events. You've already seen the Color Challenge and Starter Duel events, but you'll see a lot more – in particular, the "Jump In!" game mode and the Limited formats, which we'll cover in a bit,
- You'll receive all the Starter Decks that you didn't already have, and you'll be able to use all their cards for any Ladder or Event that those cards are legal for,
- You'll get three packs as rewards.
And here's where the REAL Magic Arena starts for good, so let's get into the basics of how you accrue resources: packs, gold, and cards.
Magic Arena Economics 101: Packs, Dailies, and Wildcards
Magic Arena's economy is fairly complex (and one would say that purposefully so, as is the case for F2P games…), so before we jump into game modes, let's break this down.
Take A Walk on the Wildcard Side
Wildcards are Magic Arena's "crafting" system – if you've played other video games this will be fairly intuitive, but if you come from Paper Magic this may be new to you, so in simple terms: in Arena, we can print Magic cards (and they are totally legal to use!).
- Wildcards come in four rarities (Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Mythic), and with one wildcard you can craft one card of the same rarity.
- Wilcards come almost exclusively from opening Booster Packs – you can check all the details in WotC's official article about Drop Rates, but roughly speaking you should expect a couple of Mythic, half a dozen Rare, and about a dozen Uncommon and Common Wildcards every 30 packs you open.
- Wildcards are "set-agnostic", so to speak: if you get a Rare Wildcard from a Streets of New Capenna pack, you can use it to craft any Rare you want, from any set available in MTG Arena – you can even save the wildcards to craft cards from future sets, once they become available.
As long as you have an interest in any of the Magic Arena Constructed formats, wildcards are going to be your main (and most precious) resource.
The Golden Grind
As a new account, you'll be able to get quite a few Boosters as a welcome gift from WotC (we'll talk about that right next), and from time to time there may be other freebies, but as a F2P player you'll mostly have to grind for them:
- You can buy them in the shop with Gold, which you earn by fulfilling Daily Quests and getting Daily Wins, or
- You can get Boosters as reward for Events, which cost Gold to enter,
If you do well in Events, you'll also get Gems as rewards, which you can use instead of Gold in the shop or to enter Events (the exchange rate is around 15:1 – if you're wondering why not something simpler, like 10:1, that's F2P Econ 101 to you!)
You can, of course, circumvent all of the above and acquire Gems from the shop by waving MTG's most powerful card: your credit card! But we'll stick to our F2P guns throughout this guide and assume that's not an option you'd like to consider for now. =)
So, to recap, MTG's Arena Econ 101:
- You get Gold from fulfilling Daily Quests, and accruing Daily Wins,
- You use Gold to either buy Booster Packs from the Shop, or pay the entry fee for Events,
- If you do well, most Events will reward you with Booster Packs and Gems (which you can use instead of Gold for further purchases and entry fees).
Getting Ahead of the Packs
As said above, one of Magic Arena's main sources of cards, and for all practical purposes the sole source of wildcards, are Booster packs.
And, when you start a new account, you can get your hands on quite a few of them!
Some are fairly obvious, and you've probably already seen them: in your Mail (in the top right) you'll find several emails from the fine folks at Wizards of the Coast, giving you a handful of packs from the latest expansions. These are just click' n' grab, not much to say about them!
Then, there are codes, that you can redeem for a handful of packs in the Store – here are all the codes that, to my knowledge, are still working (tested them all on May 4, with a new account):
|PlayBRO||3 The Brothers’ War packs|
|PlayDMUA||3 Alchemy: Dominaria packs|
|PlayDMU||3 Dominaria United packs|
|PlayHBG||3 Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate packs|
|PlayAlchemyNewCapenna||3 Alchemy: New Capenna packs|
|PlaySNC||3 Streets of New Capenna packs|
|PlayNEOAlchemy||3 Alchemy: Kamigawa packs|
|PlayNEO||3 Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty packs|
|PlayVOW||3 Innistrad: Crimson Vow packs|
|PlayMID||3 Innistrad: Midnight Hunt packs|
|PlayDND||3 Forgotten Realms packs|
|PlayKaldheim||3 Kaldheim packs|
|PlayZendikar||3 Zendikar Rising packs|
|PlayM21||3 Core Set 2021 packs|
|FNMATHOME||1 MTG Arena Promo Pack|
|PlayIkoria||3 Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths packs|
|PlayTheros||3 Theros Beyond Death packs|
You enter each code in the Store tab, claim your reward, and presto! If you have any trouble, here's a handy article about How to Enter Codes with a detailed step-by-step.
But, Wait… Should I Open My Booster Packs Now? Or Later? Or…?
This conundrum may make little sense to you if you come from other digital card games (some of them don't even have packs, to begin with!), but it does come up in MTG Arena quite a bit, given that Arena has a lot of different sources for cards.
Here's the thing: Magic Arena has a bit of a convoluted Duplicate Protection system (which you can read in detail from WotC themselves if you wish) that, long story short, only applies for Rare and Mythic cards, and only applies for Booster Packs.
So, for example:
- You play a bunch of March of the Machine Drafts ("Drafts" are one type of Limited Events);
- Through those drafts, you get four copies (that's to say, the maximum you can fit in a deck) of Etali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal Sickness;
- If you then open a bunch of March of the Machine Boosters, the Duplicate Protection system will make sure you never see a fifth Etali in those packs, and will generate another March of the Machine Rare (that you don't have four copies of) instead.
Whereas, if you follow the same steps but in the reverse order, that's to say:
- You open a bunch of MOM Boosters, and find four copies of Etali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal Sickness,
- You then participate in a MOM Draft, and grab a fifth copy of Etali,
- In that case, that fifth Etali copy, rather than turning into a Rare that you don't already have, will turn into 20 Gems.
So… what's the optimal process, then?
When should you open your Magic Arena Booster Packs?
That would depend on your preferred playstyle(s).
If you draft a lot, and also care about Constructed, you may want to follow the Path of Maximal Duplicate Protection and open your packs by the end of the Season (or whenever you feel you've drafted enough with this set). That way, the Boosters you open will enjoy duplicate protection and you'll expand your collection even further.
On the other hand, if you do play a fair bit of Constructed, you will need both the cards and the wildcards from the packs for assembling your decks of choice, so you'll need to open the boosters sooner rather than later. Above all since, when having a small collection, whichever strong cards you get first may determine which deck you'll focus on.
My rule of thumb would be:
- Try to gather as many cards from other sources (Draft, Event rewards, etc), to increase your collection as much as possible,
- Open your packs right before you're ready to craft your next Constructed deck.
In your current case, as a new account, that means:
- Make sure you've received all ten decks from the Starter Deck Duel – that's the main thing to keep in mind before opening your first batch of Booster packs: you'll get a lot of cards from the Starter Decks, so it makes sense to acquire the decks first and open the packs later,
- Play a few runs of the "Jump In!" game mode, which we'll cover in a bit,
- Go wild, crack your packs open, find out what cool cards you get! =)
From there, my recommendation for new accounts will be a bit of a hybrid approach (which in turn will depend on which Constructed deck you want to aim for, if any, and how much you like drafting):
- Decide which Constructed deck you want to craft (if any) – this topic itself is worth dozens of articles, and we actually do have several articles on this very same website, so I'll just offer a few suggestions by the end of this guide,
- Check how many Wildcards you'll need,
- Do a quick tally of how many packs you'll need to open to gather enough Wildcards to craft your deck (very roughly, as a rule of thumb: 1 Rare wildcard per 5-6 packs; 1 Mythic wildcard per 15 packs; check WotC's official documentation for the exact drop rates),
- Play whichever mode(s) you enjoy until you've gathered the number of Boosters you need,
- Open your packs right before you're ready to craft your deck of choice.
I believe the above is, overall, the optimal approach. Opening packs not only gives you cards and wildcards, but it also gives you information, since what you find in the packs may influence what deck you want to craft (if you're thinking about crafting deck A, but happen to open several of the Mythics needed for deck B, you may want to rethink your target). That means that, rather than crafting your deck one card at a time, it's better to wait until you have enough resources to craft it in one go, find out what's in the Boosters, reconsider your choices if necessary, and only then pull the trigger.
Remember: as a F2P player, wildcards are a precious resource.
Luckily, there's yet another source of Boosters in the game: the Mastery Pass.
The Magic Arena Mastery Pass
Mastery is Magic Arena's version of a Battle Pass – a system that rewards consistent, daily play.
As most Battle Pass systems out there, it has two reward tracks: the Free track, and the Paid track (called the Mastery Pass).
The Free Track is as straightforward as it gets. As you play, you accrue experience points (XP), and as you do so you'll get packs: about 2-3 per week. You can pretty much forget that this track exists (nothing to optimize here), and just enjoy the packs when you get them.
The Mastery Pass, you have to pay Gems for (and a big chunk of Gems at that). If you're good at Events, you'll eventually gather enough Gems to buy the Mastery Pass even as a fully, 100% F2P player.
So, the question is…
Should I Buy The MTG Arena Mastery Pass?
Shortest answer: If you enjoy Drafting and play a lot then yes, it's excellent value. If you don't like Drafting, then most likely it's not worth it (as a F2P player).
- IF you enjoy Magic Arena enough to play every day (which you'll need to, in order to complete the Mastery Pass),
- AND there's enough time left in the Season to complete it (rule of thumb, you'll need about two months, depending how much and how often you play),
- AND you enjoy Drafting (because one of the Mastery Pass rewards is a Draft Token, which is worth 1,500 gems, therefore a big factor in deciding to buy the Pass or not),
Then yes, the Mastery Pass is excellent value: you pay 3400 gems, and what you get in Gold, Gems, and a Draft Token is worth around 3200 gems, so you're basically paying 200 Gems to get everything else, which is one amazing deal.
If you play Arena as F2P player, though, it will take you a while (and maybe a really long while) to accrue 3,200 Gems, so it's an easy rule of thumb in this case: wait until you do have the Gems, and at that point you'll for sure have enough experience to know if the Pass is worth 3,400 Gems to you.
The Daily Quests
Now, time to head to the Gold mines!
This is something that vets of other F2P games will find fairly obvious, since Dailies are part and parcel of the genre, but may be a bit of a head-scratcher for those coming from Paper Magic and with less gaming experience so, as usual, let's start with the gist of it:
- For all practical purposes, Arena's sole sources of Gold are Daily Quests, and Daily Wins,
- Daily Wins are as straightforward as it gets: you win games, you earn Gold. There are diminishing returns, though (the first win of the day gives you 250 Gold, the second and third give you 100 Gold each, then even lower) – the system is designed to nudge you into logging every day, but then frontloads the rewards to avoid making it too much of a grind. Your Daily Wins count resets daily.
- Daily Quests come in two values (500 Gold, and 750 Gold); you get a new quest every day, you can have a maximum of three active quests, and you can reroll one quest per day (you can reroll any quest, if you have more than one – as in, you can use today's reroll in yesterday's quest, if it's still active).
One way to go about Quests is to not fret too much about optimizing things here; just make sure that you:
- Reroll your 500-gold quest every day, hoping to get a 750 quest,
- Never, ever reroll a 750-gold quest, and
- Try not to accumulate more than three quests (since the fourth will be lost – you only have three slots).
But, you know, optimizers that we are, here are a few extra tips if you want!
- If today you have just one active quest, and it's a 500-gold quest, it's often a good idea to just ignore it – if tomorrow you get a 750-gold quest, then you can use the daily reroll on the 500-gold quest (whereas, if you finish the 500-gold quest today, and get a 750-gold quest tomorrow, the reroll will go to waste),
- Conversely, if you have several active Quests, always take a glance at which colors you Quests want you to play: you'll often find that you can target (or avoid…) several of them with a single deck of the proper colors.
So, for example, say your quests look like this:
At quick glance, a Blue/Green deck (usually known in MTG parlance as the "Simic" color pair) would be very efficient at clearing all three of these quests…
… but, as noted above, I'd probably want to leave one quest unfulfilled today (so I can reroll it tomorrow, if tomorrow's quest is worth 750). So I'd probably try to use a Blue/Red deck (usually known as the "Izzet" color pair) to grind gold today, so as to avoid fulfilling the middle quest. Or a Red/Black ("Rakdos") deck, to leave the leftmost quest for tomorrow, etc.
The above also showcases why I think the Starter Deck Duel is an amazing addition to Magic Arena: you have all the color pairs available, and can choose what colors to target right off the bat. You'll eventually want to move to your own decks, of course, and play either Events or one of the Constructed modes, but when starting out, the Duel is a good way to make sure no quest goes to waste.
And, after you fill your purse a bit…
What Should I Spend My Gold On?
If you don't hate drafting, then Drafts. MTG Drafting is yet another topic worth a ton of articles (and you have a super-quick primer in the in-game Codex), but for the purpose of this guide it suffices to say that, as long as you don't hate the game mode, it's probably the best way to spend your Gold and expand your collection early on.
If you like Constructed, once you have a deck you're confident with you should check any of the Constructed events for the format your deck is legal in. They are a fairly efficient use of your in-game time as far as resource-gathering goes, and as long as you do well of course.
You can also just by Booster packs – as it currently stands, roughly speaking Boosters are an okay deal for spending your Gold, a fast way to get wildcards if you know exactly what deck you want to craft, and probably the best way to spend your Gold if you dislike Drafting and still don't have a strong Constructed deck.
And there's also an Arena-exclusive game mode, Jump In, so let's jump straight into this guide's last topic: the (many!) game modes available in Magic Arena.
Game Modes! So Many Game Modes!
This section will offer tips and suggestions about what to in MTG Arena once you unlock all game modes (which, in case you skipped directly to this section, you can do right off the bat, right after account creation: you can skip the first tutorial, and then unlock all game modes, as soon as you join the game, as described at the start of this article).
There's a ton to do in MTG, and it will heavily depend on what your preferences are, how much Magic experience you have, and above all what you find fun, so we'll just point out some details about which modes are more efficient for resource-gathering during the first few days of your Magic Arena journey.
MTG Arena: Jump In!
This is perhaps the strongest argument for skipping the Spark Rank grind and unlocking all game modes as soon as you join the game: among the rewards, you get five Jump In! tokens, which you can use right away.
Here's WotC's official article about Jump In!, and here's the gist of it: you pick half a deck (from among three options offered), then you pick the other half (again from among three options), and voilà, you get a deck to play against players with similar decks (you'll only face other Jump-In players).
The best part: you get to keep all the cards!
You can play as many games as you want, resign when you're done, and if you wish you can rejoin to select new packets and play again. Rejoining will, of course, consume one of your Jump In! tokens (or cost 1,000 gold when you run out of tokens).
We wouldn't be real gamers if we weren't ready to optimize the heck out of these five tokens, so my rules of thumb would be:
- Use your first token without too much care, to get a feel for the format,
- For your next 1-2 tokens, it's not a bad idea to first have a feel for the decks you get in the Starter Deck Duel, since you may want to focus on buttressing your favorite one (if, say, you find you like the White/Green Starter deck, then choosing White and/or Green decks in Jump In! may net you cards you can improve your White/Green workhorse with),
- For your last 2-3 tokens, go the exact opposite route: choose decks that are outside of whatever color combination you're focusing on for your Constructed workhorse.
When starting out, you won't have to worry about having the necessary decks to complete your Daily Quests: by jumping into the Starter Deck Duel, you are 100% assured you'll have a deck with the colors you need.
… it's not all unicorns and rainbows in Starterdeckduelland: games tend to be slow (which is of course very much the point of the event: folks are learning the cards!), and some decks are worse than others, so even if you may be fulfilling your quests, you won't be getting too many wins with some color combinations.
And that's what's great about Jump In!: if your constructed workhorse is, say, Rakdos Midrange, which comes in Red and Black, you can have a fallback Jump In! deck in, say, Azorius (that would be the White and Blue combination), so with just two decks you have most of your bases covered.
There's of course quite a bit of luck involved in the process (some of the Jump In! decks are stronger than others), but all in all, try to use your last couple of tokens to find a deck that you like, that doesn't share the colors of your main workhorse, and since you can play Jump In for as long as you want, now you have an okay Plan B for your Daily Quests.
If you happen to like the format a lot, you can keep resigning and trying new decks; personally, I think the entry fee (1,000 Gold) is not worth it (you do get a lot of cards, but they tend to be cards that don't see Constructed play, and if your focus is Standard, many of the cards are from older sets, bound to rotate next September), and would rather recommend saving the gold for other events (and, in particular, Drafts).
Midweek Magic Events
Pretty much every week, there are special events that start on Tuesday (2 p.m. PT), and run until Thursday (same time).
Some of them are Constructed, and therefore will probably require cards you don't have yet…
… but several of them give you the cards you need, so you can participate freely!
For example, last week there was a Phantom Sealed, and the previous week there was a Phantom Jump In! ("Phantom" formats work exactly the same as the regular version, except you don't get to keep the cards), and with no entry fee. So, even if they were Phantom, you could still play to your heart's content, which is not only good for the heart but also for your in-game purse: MidWeek Magic events do count towards your dailies!
Keep an eye out for these – they are great for a relaxed change of pace.
Alright, full disclosure: I'm a big, die-hard fan of MTG Drafting. That's of course ENTIRELY subjective, but I wanted to point that out to let you know that I may be biased on this topic…
… but, still: as long as you don't hate the format, and you do at least okay in it (which, admittedly, may take a few bumps first!) Drafting is a very good way to increase your Arena card collection, above all when you still lack a solid Constructed workhorse.
In other words, Drafts would be my recommended destiny for your hard-earned Gold -- and, if you do happen to like it, it may end up being your go-to MTG Arena mode (some folks mostly play, and some even only play, Draft).
We won't get into details (guess what: yet another MTG topic worth a mountain of articles!), but the super-hyper-short version would be: Drafting is like Jump In!, except that instead of assembling your deck by choosing two halves, you assemble your deck by choosing cards one-by-one from three different packs. But Draft and Jump In! are exactly the same in that you get to keep all the cards you pick (even if you don't end up putting them in your deck).
The most important tip to share in this guide is: if you've never drafted before, stay away from the Traditional and Premier draft events for now (those are the ones that cost 10,000 Gold to enter), and get your feet wet in the Quick Draft (that costs 5,000 Gold to enter). It's not just the entry fee: in Trad or Premier, you draft with other players, so there's a strict limitation on how much time you can spend thinking about your picks -- on Quick Drafts, on the contrary, you draft with bots, and you can think through your picks (and check some handy tables for what to pick) as much as you want. In all Draft modes you then play against humans (not bots), but for learning the ropes, drafting with bots is surely better.
By the way: playing just a single run, and even if you are at the bottom of Bronze, will unlock the Ladder rewards for that Ladder tier.
If your feet happen to feel happy, we'll delve deeper – but that's for a future article!
MTG Arena: Constructed Formats
Did I mention that some of these topics are way too complex to be covered in a single article, and would need rather a dozen?
Well… for MTG Constructed, that's not actually true.
For Constructed, there are literally dozens of entire websites, some of them older than some of their readers, not to mention thousands of content-creation and professional-playing careers devoted solely to MTG Constructed formats.
So, the only bit of advice we can offer here is: remember, wildcards are a precious, scarce resource.
And, therefore, you will probably want to do a bit (or a whole lot) of research before deciding which deck to craft.
Very, very broad rules of thumb:
- If interested in a deck, try to first see it in action. Facing it on the ladder is a good way (many of us end up playing a deck that, at one point, steamrolled us on the ladder and made us go: "Whoa… now that was cool!"),
- See if prominent players have videos about it (be aware that their results, and your results, may vary, even if it's the exact same deck…)
- Consider building the budget version first: you can be a bit more liberal with your Common and Uncommon wildcards (even though they are still scarce when you're starting out!). Rare and Mythics, on the other hand, are really hard to come by.
- Be aware that your mana base (ie your Lands) is crucial, and dual- or triple-color decks tend to have a very expensive mana base – conversely, mono-color decks, like mono-Blue Tempo, get away with just playing basic lands, making it much cheaper.
Above all, always keep an eye on MTG Tier Lists, and articles like recommended decks for getting to Mythic, to know which decks are the strongest. You may prefer a different (and not as strong) deck and that's perfectly fine (fun is, after all, the crucial factor here!), but at any rate, do try to do a bit of research before committing your hard-earned resources.
And that would be it for this introductory guide to Magic Arena! Thanks for reading all the way (or, hey, if you just scrolled down, I won't hold it against you; that was quite a big chunk of words, let's face it! =).
Magic The Gathering is a wonderfully complex game, with tons of different formats, and Magic Arena adds all the trappings of F2P video games on top, so it can be a bit confusing at first.
But, fear not: if you have any doubt, or happen to have further questions that this guide didn't answer, we're here to help – feel free to poke me or MTGStorm on Twitter, or stop by the MTGStorm Discord, and just ask away.
Hope you've found this Magic Arena guide helpful, and good luck in the queues!