I know this article is late, being a month into the release of Forgotten Realms, but I still wanted to get it written and out there since I greatly enjoy stats.
Halfway through Kaldheim, I was destroyed by a totally off-meta surprise win deck. I liked it so much that I figured out how to build one of my own. As of this writing, it's been nearly two set releases and I am still playing the same deck. What is this fun deck? I just call it "Walls". You can read more about it HERE . There's a couple variants of it, but I've found mine works well enough to leave it alone. There's also been no new additions to it in the past few sets, so I just keep on keeping on.
Anyway, I am still enjoying this deck, it's still fast and fun to play and the win rate is still acceptable enough to keep rolling with it.
Since I didn't post a post-gameplay stats for Kaldheim, some of the new spreadsheet changes were missed. Since then I have added a dashboard that is fed data from each of the various pages in my spreadsheet. It gives me a nice clean look of all the data in one single place.
This is what my dashboard looks like. The following screenshots are all clips from this dashboard.
One major change I had to add to this set's spreadsheet was a Mystical Archive draft/collection sheet. This was kept separate from the regular draft sheet since the MA cards aren't actually part of the Strixhaven main set. I basically just copied my collection total sheet, and modified it for just MA cards. The MA cards were not calculated into any of my Strixhaven card totals. You can find more of all of this info in the Strixhaven Post Collection stats article.
All stats recorded via hand after each match and double checked using MTGAHelper. My customized spreadsheet then calculated the rest and all of the running totals.
My only goal was 4 wins per day, and keeping the daily quests from backing up.
I completed every event, including FNM @ Home and all other extracurricular free events that were offered.
Gameplay dates range from 4/15/21 to 7/8/21.
I was pretty happy with my 63% win rate for the Walls deck. I'm still playing it a month into Forgotten Realms. The total time was about an hour less, I think one of the events overlapped one of my other items like Brawl or something. The next table shows actual game play time.
You can see I didn't really play any other decks.
I hope you enjoyed looking over these stats as much as I enjoyed recording them and working on my spreadsheet.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.
Strixhaven was not a set I really had much interest in. While I liked the Harry Potter movies, I am not a super fan. I've only see the seen the series one and a half times. I also hated college to the point that I dropped out to pursue a more meaningful trade.
So all of that said, this set really wasn't very exciting for me with all of it's school spirit, classroom activity and Harry Potter related themes. I thought I would like it more because of Harry Potter, but that didn't end up being the case.
For the cards themselves, another set went by with nothing I really needed. My daily driver Walls deck was still holding strong with a decent enough win rate to not bother changing it or trying something else with the current meta. More on that in my Strixhaven post game play stats article coming at the end of the set.
This lead up to the draft experience. Once quick draft went live, I started cashing in my gold to open those packs, pick my cards and see if I could win any games just from rare and collection drafting only. After mostly losses, and seeing that much of what I picked wasn't heavily favored creatures in fewer colors of the pie chart, I decided to just skip playing the rest of my drafts and just go for the cards only.
This set seemed to be more about spells and such rather than creatures. I enjoy more creature based decks than playing a bunch of spells.
Once I started to coast over the peak of the collection gathering and get into start of heavy duplicate territory, I gave it a hard stop on drafting and then cracked all my Strixhaven booster packs.
Here are the results of all Strixhaven drafts and all Strixhaven booster packs. Wildcard totals will reflect older set packs obtained from the mastery pass.
A note on the Mystical Archive cards. These were tracked separately and not included with any of these stats. This will account for a lower total collection count since quite a few MA cards were drafted and there was at least one in every STX booster pack.
Strixhaven Booster Packs
All booster packs were free, earned through set mastery, mastery pass, codes and draft rewards. I did not purchase any packs for this set.
These packs were tracked independently from the draft, so all numbers reflect what can be expected if you only opened 60 booster packs for the current set and nothing else
Strixhaven Draft Stats
I completed 14 quick drafts. I did not do any premium drafts for this set.
Draft stats do not include any booster pack rewards.
Strixhaven ICR / Crafting Stats
I only crafted one uncommon from this set in order complete a deck for the standard singleton event. All others were obtained as ICRs from regular play, free events and as mastery pass rewards.
Total Strixhaven Stats
This includes all data from Strixhaven cards collected via all methods above.
Wild card stats include 59 set booster packs18 older booster packs.
But what about the Mystical Archive? I included separate stats for this since it was not actually part of the Strixhaven main set.
Stats keep improving...
I fixed a few flaws in my stats spreadsheet, had to add a completely separate tracking chart for the Mystical Archive and continued to improve on the dashboard.
More on the stats tracking improvements in the Strixhaven post game play stats article coming soon.
I was happily playing my Historic Elves this month when out of nowhere a similar deck to what I am about to show you surprised me. It beat me turn 3-4 and I was powerless against it. It was irritated that such jank should beat my carefully crafted Elves deck that I had to go look at my tracker to see what I just got beat by. I only saw a few cards, but quickly formed my own list that seems to work pretty well for me.
Here's what I came up with:
How does it work?
It's fairly simple. Slam down harmless 0/x creatures, then drop Assault Formation and attack all-in for the surprise win.
You absolutely must hard mulligan for Assault Formation in your opening hand. There will be games where you won't get it so just concede and start another game. This is a pretty forgiving deck. I've mulliganed down to Assault Formation and 2 lands several times now and still pulled off a fast win.
Lets go over what each card is best used for:
Ornithopter is an excellent free drop, especially on turn 1. It's also our only other flyer to add some evasion in to the deck.
Shorecomber Crab and Aegis Turtle are both big beefy creatures that seem so innocent on the first turn or two. Once Assault Formation is played, they are serious threats that are hard to remove and can steam roll over most of your opponent's early creatures.
Assault Formation is the main card of this deck. Without it, your creatures are absolutely useless.
You must have Assault Formation in your opening hand. Mulligan until you do. If you have too few cards, just concede and start the next game. It's rare you don't get it by at least the 2nd or 3rd mulligan. Just make sure you leave yourself with at least 2 lands of different colors and you can still play Assault Formation, then just whatever creatures you draw. I've won several games with a 3 card starting hand. The deck is pretty forgiving to get you going.
The downside to this deck is that if Assault Formation is destroyed or removed somehow, you may as well concede, as the rest of the game will be spent waiting to draw another, and your opponent will have recovered by then. Players don't typically run much Enchantment removal, so you're usually safe from this. It does happen once in a while though.
Tower Defense can be used in 3 different ways.
The first is the obvious one-shot kill. If your opponent doesn't bother blocking because you don't have enough for lethal, then Tower Defense will almost always be a fast lethal strike.
Secondly, you can use it as a defensive move, both blocking and attacking. If the opponent has creatures much larger than you that you are having a hard time playing around, you can use this to beef up your big creatures to kill their big creatures. The same goes for blocking, let them attack in with their big creatures, and then play this.
Third, you can use this to avoid a non-destructive board wipe. Quite a few board wipes just do mass damage. This can boost your creatures above the minimum toughness needed to beat most of these board wipes.
Stern Dismissal can be used in multiple ways as well. Remove something in your way of attacking or an opponents enchantment, or use it to save your own Assault Formation enchantment from being destroyed, or one of your creatures.
Because this deck moves very fast, we want to make sure we have fast mana. 20 mana seems to be plenty for this deck to work quickly. Keep in mind 70% of your cards are 1 mana. One playset of cards is 0 mana, and then your most important card is only 2 mana. You don't need a lot.
Because you are trying to hit hard and fast and end the game by turn 4 or so, you want to make sure you always have mana available in the way of not using any tap lands.
So far after playing this deck daily for 9 days straight each morning, I have a decent 65% win rate in the BO1 Play queue.
What surprises most people is the odd assortment of cards. I am playing both mono-green ramp cards and mono-blue mill cards, along with some random useless blockers. Most opponents don't think twice about it and just think it's either one of the two variants, when it's really neither one. Instead Assault Formation gets dropped and all of those useless creatures are suddenly a massive threat.
This morning I went 4-0 in just 8:34 mins. Yesterday I went 4-2 in 15 minutes. The deck is fast. Here's some examples of what to expect with good opening hands.
Game 1 - Against Shrines
Turn 1 - Island, Ruin Crab
Turn 2 - Forest, Aboreal Grazer--> Breeding Pool, Aegis Turtle
Turn 3 - Shorecomber Crab, Assault Formation, attack all in.
Opponent didn't even get going yet with their shrines and instantly conceded.
Game 2 - Against Zombies?
Turn 1 - Island, Aegis Turtle, Ornithopter
Turn 2 - Hinterland Harbor, Shorecomber Crab, Arboreal Grazer-->Breeding Pool
Turn 3 - Hinterland Harbor, Assault Formation, attack all in.
Opponent conceded with a few creatures and a saga out on the field.
Game 3 - Against Mono White Angels/Lifegain
Turn 1 - Breeding Pool, Arboreal Grazer-->Breeding Pool
Turn 2 - Hinterland Harbor, Aegis Turtle, Merfolk Secret Keeper
Turn 3 - Ornithopter, Assault Formation, attack all in, opponent didn't block
Turn 4 - Attacked all in, Opponent didn't block since I did not have lethal and he was just getting his lifegain going. I then activated the Assault Formation ability to +1 all my creatures and killed him.
Game 4 - Against Toski shennagins of some kind
Turn 1 - Forest, Gilded Goose-->Food Token
Turn 2 - Hinterland Harbor, Ruin Crab, Shorecomber Crab
Turn 3 - Forest, Merfolk Secretkeeper, Assault Formation, Attack all in with no blocks.
Turn 4 - Forest, Arboreal Grazer, attack all in. Opponent had critical mono green stuff out that he didn't want to die, and I did not have lethal showing. He did not block, so I activated Assault Formation's ability to +1 everything, and killed him.
Now the next 2 games I lost. The first loss was because the opponent destroyed my Assault Formation. I waited 2 more turns and conceded. The second loss was because I got greedy and was just loading the board with all my creatures. I was going to drop Assault Formation on the next turn for a glorious attack, except the opponent looked at my hand and discarded my Assault Formation. Word to the wise, don't be greedy, get that thing down ASAP.
The game above was a quick turn 3 win against the hard to beat mono white lifegain angels deck.
I mulliganed down to 5 cards to get an Assault Formation and 2 lands in my hand.
Turn 1 - Breeding Pool, Aegis Turtle, Ornithopter
Turn 2 - Breeding Pool, Assault Formation, Attack.
Turn 3 - drew a Tower Defense, I figured the opponent wasn't going to let his two key pieces die, so he didn't block. I played Tower Defense for lethal.
Yes, that's a turn 3 win against that lifegain angels deck, with only 2 lands, and a 5 card starting hand. It's very forgiving!
What Doesn't Work
It does not play well against full on deathtouch decks unless you have enough flyers out to outlast the opponent. If not, just concede.
It does not play well against Golgari decks that seem to find all the things to kill your stuff with, and then can also destroy your Assault Formation. Cards like Thought Seize and Assassin's Trophy is an immediate concede.
Any control that takes your Assault Formation, such as Skyclave Apparition, or other white/blue enchantments that can steal your stuff. Just concede and start the next game.
Obviously if you don't have a great opening hand and slam out a bunch of creatures and get overwhelmed by the opponent, then you may as well concede unless you can somehow kill all their stuff (Assault Formation ability or Tower Defense).
I hit all of these examples the very next day and only got a 50% win rate. The day before I didn't see as much of these examples and ended the day with a 65% win rate.
These are just examples of perfect opening hands. Even a bad opening hand can be mulliganed a couple times to become a good one and still be perfectly playable.
I tried this deck out in the BO1 Historic Ladder, but only made it to mid silver before getting stuck with the more powerful meta decks, and that included a ton of losses. My win rate was not good in ladder play.
This deck is more of fast deck to get your daily 4 or so wins in and move on.
Anyway, I hope you found this deck tech fun, exciting and useful. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or tweaks you can think of.
I really enjoy off-meta decks that do well.
Kaldheim releases tomorrow! Hooray!
Zendikar was the set that made me quit playing Standard. I was so bored of the same decks every day, and I refuse to play tier1 control or any of those other controlish long game 3+ color decks. Thanks Triomes, thanks a lot. I don't find these decks fun to play against. I also don't see the fun in just denying my opponent from playing the majority of the game while I do nothing but wait until I have enough lands to play my one big thing. It's just boring gameplay to me. I was also bored of mono red, as I played two complete set releases with mono-red. I wanted something new with more action, so I started playing Historic.
Welcome to Historic! The land of opportunity and limitless fun.
Or so I thought...
Historic, I realized quickly, was also the same 4 decks over and over again. But, they're different decks! It was new and fun for a while, then turned into the same thing I hated standard for. Most days it's either U/W control, Rakdos Sacrifice or some combo of 3 color deck that all does the same thing, which is counter all your spells and board wipe you on turn 4 every game. They're pretty easy to play around because they're all exactly the same. It just comes down to luck of the draw and if you get to go first or not. I quickly started conceding after a turn or two after I saw what was up.
I love playing magic, but if I don't get to actually play the game on my end, then it's no fun, so I concede and find the next opponent, hoping they don't have one of these specific decks, or that my hand is better this time, or the opponent misses a land drop or card draw or something to give me the edge.
Despite all of that, I had more fun. I think it's because I was able to play a deck architype that was competitive that I enjoyed playing. I went with Historic Elves. It's all creatures except for a set of Collected Company, which a large majority of the time is really just equal to two more creatures. So basically a 100% creature deck.
I love the synergy of the elves. They either give themselves mana or buff themselves. Some duplicate themselves to make more elves or more buffs. My finisher for a while was Craterhoof Behemoth, until later on I switched over to Ghalta, Primal Hunger. Ghalta was just easier to cast early on, especially since the last month of gameplay has been a large majority of just U/W control, so I was never able to get Craterhoof out anymore. Ghalta can be dropped as early as turn 3-4, hoping to miss the big board wipe or a counterspell early on.
So with all that said, I started with Zendikar standard on the Arena release day, playing Mono White Lifegain then changed to Mono White Enchantments for a week. By early October I switched to Historic with my old Historic Merfolk deck and finally by mid October I had crafted the Historic Elves deck and have been tweaking it ever since.
I really, really enjoy the Elves deck. So much so, I built a commander deck out of it for my weekly gaming group. I'm also considering buying the new elves commander precon for Kaldheim.
Well, you came here for stats, so here's my Zendikar Rising Gameplay Stats.
All stats recorded via hand after each match and double checked using MTGAHelper. My customized spreadsheet then calculated the rest and all of the running totals.
My only goal was 4 wins per day, and keeping the daily quests from backing up.
I completed every event, including FNM @ Home and all other extracurricular free events that were offered.
Gameplay dates range from 9/17/20 to 1/27/21.
We can see here I played Historic Elves for the majority of the duration of the Zendikar Rising set. Since my weekly play group started playing in-person again over the late summer, we stopped playing direct play games online, so that's why that one has zero games.
Historic Elves did pretty well IMO, with a 58% win rate, and I even enjoyed many of the losses or quickly conceded and moved to the next game, so really not much time loss there for that kind of rate.
The only other stats I didn't show here was my ranked play rank. My best Standard rank was silver 4. My best Limited rank was bronze 1. I'm not much into the grindy nature of ranked play, so I stick to the casual queues and play out my daily 4 wins each day.
I wish I could say I had fun with Zendikar Rising, but as soon as I switched to Historic, I rarely saw a ZNR card. We'll see what this new set brings. I am looking forward to more new Elves and a Viking theme. That new Kaldheim showcase art is stunning!
Will Core Set 2021 bring good value for this set? Lets find out!
WotC released the mastery pass information early again. While we don't know what levels we will get what rewards at, we can look at past mastery mass tracks to have a pretty good guess. This will only be needed to figure out the break even point. Total value can still be obtained if you plan to complete the entire track.
How long is Core Set 2021?
The length of Core Set 2021 (M21) is longer than Ikoria, clocking in at the typically stanard time frame of 90 days. The Mastery Tree is 90 levels total, with level 91 and beyond giving out uncommon ICRs, the same as the previous mastery passes. M21 runs on Arena from 6/26/20 with it's last day being 9/23/20. The release date for Zendikar Rising on Arena starts 9/24/20. The paper release for M21 starts the weekend after.
For active players, I am still recommending the same model of playing 4 wins per day to maximize your gold farming ability without running into burnout.
Doing so averages out to 1135 XP per day over the course of the week. With 90 days of play, you should be at Level 102. This gives you plenty of time to reach the final level of rewards.
Here is what this looks like calculated out:
In fact, to be more accurate, we can use MTGAHelper's excellent Mastery Pass Calculator to figure this out for us once the new pass goes live.
Where do the values come from?
All values have been carefully traced back to actual money that you can spend in the game through gems, or using gold to gem conversion rates. Everything in the game can be traced back to an actual dollar amount at this point in time. Even individual random cards, which includes ICRs.
For more information on real world Arena values, please click on my article HERE.
Free Mastery Track
Lets start by looking at what is available for free from the basic set mastery track.
Ikoria free mastery track includes the following:
So all of you F2P players are getting $49.98 in value for just playing the game. That's excellent value for zero dollars spent!
Paid Mastery Pass
Now, lets see what the paid mastery pass gives you for this set.
M21 mastery pass includes the following:
This gives us a combined total of $186.93.
Thoughts on the M21 Mastery Pass.
Lets say you aren't interested in the cosmetic items. You are still getting $42.09 in value for virtual items at just under $20 worth of gems. This is still a pretty decent value for any active player.
One change from this pass over previous passes is that the older booster packs offered this time around are still all in standard, and will be for the next full rotation. Also they are including the current M21 booster packs as well, bringing the value up even more.
I really don't see anything negative about the pass, even if you are only interested in the non-cosmetic items.
Is the Core Set 2021 Mastery Pass it worth it?
Typically I would add in a few various Yes, No and Maybe comments here. Because all of the booster packs included will still be legal in the post-rotation standard, as well as the increase in gems over Ikoria, and the included premier draft token, this is an excellent deal. The cosmetics are just the icing on the cake.
With Ikoria wrapping up, I have reached the end of the mastery pass. With the exception of the random uncommon ICRs past level 80, I won't really be receiving any more cards for my IKO collection, nor will I be receiving any more booster packs.
As a Free-to-Play (F2P) player, let's take a look at what all I received this set. I won't bore you with a long rambling blog story, but will instead just get straight to the stats.
I got a kick start with free drafts using my free Theros draft token, free Ikoria draft token, and the token included with the mastery pass. Before we get too far, my mastery pass was paid for from last set's gem earnings, so it was free for me.
I went ahead and played the token drafts while I waited the two weeks for quick draft to start. I saved all Ikoria booster packs earned to open until after I had finished quick drafting. I went ahead and opened booster packs from older sets that I received from the mastery pass.
Once Ikora quick draft went live, I did 19 back-to-back drafts, bringing my self up to 22 total drafts. I only rare drafted and selected cards that I didn't already have, and then skipped playing the games. Yes, I get a lot of flack for this, but I don't care. While I do enjoy playing draft in person with my friends, I don't enjoy playing draft with strangers online. You can read more about Collection Drafting HERE.
Since Ikora was a much shorter release period, I stopped at 22 drafts and started saving for M21 quick draft.
I used MTGAHelper as my tracker to help figure out what I did and did not have while drafting so as to avoid duplicates as best as I could.
22 IKO Drafts + 46 IKO Packs Totals
This data includes just the drafts and saved booster packs that were opened immediately after, as well as a couple ICRs I had obtained up to this point.
All Packs Earned
All booster packs were all earned through the set mastery, mastery pass and free codes, and one daily deal using gold.
These stats include both IKO and older packs combined. I could extrapolate the IKO only stats on request if anyone wants that info. I have massive spreadsheets with all of this hand-tracked data on it. I have per-card stats for each current set, but I do not track individual cards for previous sets while playing and tracking the current set. For previous sets, I only track the numbers, such as how many rares, commons, wilds, vault status etc, but not the individual card names. Older set card names are irrelevant to the current set's stats. They do contribute to the overall wildcard count and wheel track, so this is why they are included as card counts only.
I will have another article comparing IKO only pack openings against each other in various amounts and against drafting, you can see my previous article on this subject for Theros HERE. This future will include total set collections based on opened packs only.
Older packs were all opened as I received them. IKO packs were only opened after I finished drafting, and subsequently after receiving each one. I will have a
All Booster Pack Stats
These booster packs include all packs opened during the IKO set release. There were
Total IKO Collection
After drafting and opening packs, I still acquired another 20 booster packs. Here are the collection totals for the full amount of everything IKO that I acquired. These numbers also include ICRs acquired via daily play, event and mastery pass rewards.
I believe I have run out of stats to ramble on about, so this will conclude this set's collection stats for myself.
My plans for M21 are about the same. I am on track for having roughly 110,000 gold by the time M21 quick draft goes live. This, plus the draft token from the M21 mastery pass should afford me another 23 drafts. Since there appears to be a lot of re-prints and other not too exciting stuff with M21, I may cut it short and just start saving for Zendikar. There is also Jump Start to think about too, so I may save some for that, though that will all be mostly for Historic, which I don't play as much.
Due to the COVID-19 quarantine going on in the USA and around the world, and most game stores closing their doors to public events during this time, many of us have nowhere to go to play for Friday Night Magic (FNM).
Entering stage left is WotC, who stepped up to keep all of us Magic players entertained on our weekends. Over the next 3 weeks, they are hosting a new event on Arena to cater to the Friday night crowd. These events are free to enter, and have rewards. What's more, these events actually look interesting!
Prizes so far include 2 random rares for completing 2 wins, and then if you post a screen shot of your event screen to your WPN associated Local Game Store's (LGS) social media outlets, they are supposedly going to message you back a code for digital sleeves in Arena. They state quantities are limited. We'll see how this goes. I am skeptical.
You can see all 3 of the sleeves here: MTG Arena Sleeves Gallery
I have about a dozen LGSs in my area, so I picked the one that I frequent the most, which is Cool Stuff Games in Waterford Lakes, the local brick and mortar store for CoolStuffInc.com.
The first event for March 27, 2020 is the Challenger Deck event. In this event, you get to play with each of the 4 2020 Challenger decks, as much as you like, until the event ends. I won't go into a review of each deck, that has been done many times over on other sites, so I will instead just give my experience of the one deck I played with.
I was excited for this event, as I was considering picking up the Cavalcade Charge deck. It includes some highly played cards for RDW, all in an affordable package.
Unfortunately I realized very quickly how broken this deck was, and I don't mean broken in a good way. Right away I found that they jammed the Cavalcade shell from the Eldraine era together with the RDW shell from the Theros Beyond Death era. This makes no sense.
Sure, Bone Crusher Giant, Rimrock Knight, Runaway Steamkin and Embercleave are highly played cards, but not in Cavalcade. Meanwhile when you do get Cavalcade of Calamity down, good luck getting 1/1 haste creatures out when all you have in your hand is everything that is not a 1/1. What good are the above mentioned cards with Cavalcade of Calamity? Steamkin rarely stays a 1/1, and equipping any 1/1 with Embercleave makes Cavalcade not trigger anymore.
I was a Cavalcade player all through Throne of Eldraine, and then I switched to RDW after drafting all the needed cards during Theros Beyond Death. I know both decks very well, and I enjoy them both very much. This new Challenger deck is trying to do two things at once, and it does not work very well.
The designers appeared to be taking the win-cons from both games and only putting in the best of those cards from each deck. You are then left with a weak deck that doesn't finish as quickly as it could. I was left feeling pretty disappointed.
You can see in the above screenshot from my MTGAHelper logs how much slower this deck is. The top 5 games are my daily Win-4 regiment. I am using the current THB RDW shell without Steamkins (I use Grim's instead). It's a much faster game. The bottom 4 games are the Challenger Event games. You can see how much longer the games take to close out. Granted, this is a very small sample size, and opponents were figuring out what they were doing, as was I, but they took twice as long to play out.
While I do enjoy long drawn out games, I don't enjoy them when playing a deck that is supposed to be a fast deck. They've managed to turn it into a mid-range deck as you are waiting for enough pieces to put one of two win-cons together, rather than just assembling your one single win-con.
While I still had fun playing, I was frustrated with my opening hand options and my card draws. This is a deck I would buy, then split it in half and build each respective deck as they should be. Maybe that's WotCs intention? If so, that's both good and bad. It's good in that I now have two pools of cards that I can fill in with missing cards for 2 full popular decks that I really enjoy playing. It's also bad in that off the shelf, this is not going to be as competitive as it should be. It's too slow.
...Update: I went ahead and pre-ordered this deck from my LGS, CoolStuffInc. The value is excellent and I have enough other parts to finish both decks with.
I don't know how the other decks will play out, I ran into Simic Flash, Golgari Adventures and the Fires deck while playing. I pretty much knew what to expect from each one already, so I was quickly trying to figure out how to salvage this broken RDW deck to compete against them.
My two rare ICRs were Soul Diviner and Temple of Silence.
I hope you all enjoy this event. I feel this is an excellent marketing move for WotC to make this event free, using off-the-shelf products that will be available next week in stores. If you like what you see, these are retailing for about $25-$30 per deck in their pre-order state right now.
You can get them here: 2020 Challenger Decks
An ongoing debate in MTG Arena is how to spend your gold in order to build your card collection. There are opposing sides on the best way to achieve the most glorious collection: Open a bunch of booster packs or do a bunch of ranked drafts.
This is a debate that both sides have feverishly argued over. Up until now, only the draft side has had any solid information to back their side. I decided I wanted to help inject more date into this debate by showing both sides using a small sample size.
So, without further adieu, here is what the data shows so far:
How data was collected
Draft data was collected while I performed my own ranked drafts. As I made each and every pick from each and every pack, I recorded what I picked. This took many hours and a large and complicated spreadsheet to calculate all of this data.
Arena booster pack data was collected much in the same way. After opening each Arena booster pack, I recorded which cards were in each pack. I also recorded all wild cards found in each individual pack as well as tracking the wild cards gained from the wheel.
A user on Reddit contacted me and stated he would share his pack openings with me once he got to 100 booster packs of the current set, which is THB as of this writing. He then videoed himself opening each of these 100 packs one at a time. I was able to capture data from every card in every pack, pack wild cards as well as the wheel wild cards. I really appreciate this individual reaching out, as I would not have been able to open 100 packs on my own due to cost.
Below is a breakdown of where these booster packs and drafts came from.
All of my own gathered data was hand written into a spreadsheet, then double checked using MTGAHelper for accuracy.
While this sample size is extremely small, this data will still tell us something useful.
If you have data you would like to share, please let me know and I will give you details of exactly what is needed so that we can start increasing our sample size.
50 Booster Packs
This data shows what spending 50K gold, or $50 on a pre-release bundle, will get you when opening 50 Arena booster packs.
As we can see, these numbers are close enough that we can get a good idea of what to expect if you open 50 booster packs from a particular set.
Data set 2 is just pure RNG luck with the extra mythics. I would just average these out into the rares from the other two data sets for a more accurate idea of what you can expect from 50 booster packs.
The data shown here is completely stand-alone, having been recorded by hand and calculated in a spreadsheet. Each set of 50 was opened with and without various amounts of drafting that may or may not have taken place before the booster packs were opened. The only reason this is mentioned is that it may effect the number of unique rares and mythics shown due to duplicate protection. This amount of booster packs opened will in no way come close to duplicate protection with gems. Vault progress is stand-alone in that it was calculated via spreadsheet and not viewed from within Arena. You can confidently use these numbers as a good indicator of what to expect when opening 50 Arena booster packs.
100 Booster Packs
This data shows what spending 100K gold will get you when opening 100 Arena booster packs.
Again, these 100 Arena booster packs were opened after doing 20 drafts, but is completely stand alone data.
10 Ranked Drafts and 12 Booster Packs
For those looking to spend 50K gold on ranked draft for collection building, this data will show you what you might expect from your efforts.
I did not play any of the draft games. I collected my cards, quit and started the next draft. I have an article explaining this process for those that don't enjoy playing draft, but want to build their collections using the ranked draft method.
The 12 booster packs are calculated based on the 20% chance of getting 2 packs when you complete a draft after 0 wins. This % chance will increase with the more games you win per individual draft.
20 Ranked Drafts and 24 Booster Packs
For those that saved 100K gold to spend on ranked draft for collection building, this will give you a good idea of what to expect for your efforts.
The 24 booster packs are calculated based on the 20% chance of getting 2 packs when you complete a draft after 0 wins. This % chance will increase with the more games you win per individual draft.
Lets compare the two methods against each other.
I broke these down into 50K and 100K gold sections for an easier way to compare each method of spending your gold.
The numbers highlighted in yellow are the highest numbers of each method. From this we can make a simple comparison between them.
The only real positive from opening packs instead of drafting is that you acquire a lot more wild cards. But, what if you already had all of the previous sets, and you were going to use these wild cards to make up for the fewer cards you got from opening packs?
In the data below, I added in each wild card to each rarity to show what they make up for this particular set.
This data tells a slightly different story depending how much you spend.
For 50K gold we can see this change
For 100K gold we can see this change
Interestingly enough, we have the same number of total Rares with this sample size.
What does this all mean?
What this shows us is that if you want a larger collection, especially at the uncommon rarity, ranked draft is the better method.
If you want gems, ranked draft is the only option.
If you want wild cards you can use for sets other than the set you just opened packs or drafted for, then only opening booster packs is the better method.
The amount of wild cards gained from only opening booster packs does not make up for the large deficit of missing cards from that particular you just opened packs for.
To make the packs-only method worth your while, you will want to be using your wild cards for sets other than the set you just opened packs for. You will also need to be OK with the lack of uncommons you received. Keep in mind you will most likely need to spend some of these wild cards on this particular set for the missing uncommons, should you need those. Doing so brings your total usable wild cards to a lower number to use for other sets since you ended up spending them on this set.
Now, all of that said, uncommon wild cards are the most bountiful and easy to receive of the 4 card rarities. They not only show up at a faster random rate when opening packs, but you receive one from the wheel for every 6 packs you open. If you only open booster packs, this may make up for the deficit of uncommons for your specific needs and you may be OK with this.
I hope you found this data interesting and insightful.
I am not swaying any particular method of spending your gold to build a collection. I will leave it up to you to make your own conclusions on what you want out of the gold you spend.
What I generally see is that if you do roughly 20-22 ranked drafts, you end up obtaining nearly 100% of the entire common and uncommon playset. After this, you will want to spend all remaining gold on opening booster packs if you still seek more rares and mythics.
Personally, I prefer the draft method. I find that most of the interesting cards are at lower rarities anyway, and I can do far more brewing with these cards than with many of the rares and mythics. That is just my opinion for my play style and what I want out of my collection.
Remember that having more rares is not always a good thing, but having the right rares is.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
This page will be a running log of changes to the Arena Current Values when the occur.
Calculations can be found on my shared Google Sheet: Arena Calculated Values
This update is long overdue, but not much has changed since May.
The July 16, 2020 update brought the borderless planeswalker bundles, and with it a another price point to add to the card style pricing. Prices actually dropped from $2.19/avg to $2.14/avg overall, with these particular bundles being priced at $1.87 / 320gems and $1.60 / 1600gold.
The average price of avatars came down slightly, though that price decrease was for only one avatar, Basri Ket. While his gem price of 500 remained the same across the board, they lowered the gold price from 3000 down to 2500 for just this one avatar.
Not much else has changed. Gold/Gem/Dollar values are still the same.
Not much has changed. It appears that WotC is dialing in what people are willing to pay, as well as their conversion rates. Rates have been kept the same for many months now.
As far as changes go, the only change in the past month was for sleeves. There was a daily deal on country flag sleeves for 1,500 gold / 300 gems. This brought the average value of sleeves down from $5.63 to $4.30.
There are no other changes to report. I have not messed with the individual card values pricing at all, I may pick back up on that project later.
I did not have a March update, since it was so close to the Feb update, and nothing had really changed.
I have a new calculation that I added in. Individual card values.
WotC is selling individual cards via Historic Anthologies I and II. With this, I was able to calculate the cards values. Since there is no actual value on each rarity or card itself, we can only go by a bulk purchase price at this time.
There are 80 cards in Historic Anthologies I and 100 cards in Historic Anthologies II. There are also the special art lands they are now selling, the Unsanctioned full art lands, and Unsanctioned Hidden Squirrel lands. Unlike the Theros Nyx Lands, these particular lands are not being sold as "cosmetic".
Based on this, and the fact that you can use basic lands infinity times, I am going to go out on a limb her and say each land bundle has 20 of each land to help calculate an actual real world price for them.
I figure that most decks have 24 lands, most people use special castle lands or dual lands for most mono or duel colored decks, and then 20 regular basic lands would be the minimum you would need to fill out your deck for a cohesive look.
Based on this, I figure that each land is really 20 lands each, and therefore 100 total lands for the purchase price of each of the two land bundles.
Calculating out each gold and gem value of each bundle, the values come out to 4 different dollar amounts, bringing the average to $.17 per card.
I don't know if I will keep this value or not, as it seems a stretch to add in the lands this way, but it's the only logical way that I see since nobody just purchases 1 single land, and gets to use it 20 times in each deck in a real paper deck, meanwhile the other bundles you actually need and get 4 individual copies of each unique card.
Gold dropped a little. Card styles had even more wacky pricing in the "daily deals" area of the store, making their values drop slightly. Uncommon wild cards went up slightly in value, as did the Gold per Gem exchange rate.
With the release of Historic Anthologies II, the exchange rate will be changing once again.
They have priced this at 4000 Gems or 25,000 Gold. This adds one more different rate of 6.2500, bringing the total number of different rates to 5.
We now have:
This moves the rate from 5.7325 to 5.8359, and thus lowering the $USD value in the game economy.
2/29/2020 Rate Calculation Adjustment!
Going into March, we see more sales happening in the Daily Deals section of the store. I decided to not count these as part of the exchange rate simply because they are sales. But of note, it seems they are keeping the values in the Daily Deals to a 5 Gold per Gem rate, regardless of the wildly changing random prices they are putting on things.
After looking over all the various rates, I decided to change how the Exchange Rate is calculated. Instead of counting every different item I see in the entierty of Arena, and averaging them together, I am only going to average together the different exchange rates found.
For this we have 4 different rates showing:
This averages out to 5.7325 Gold per Gem. This of course will change the values of everything, but I believe this is a much better way to calculate this value going forward.
Today marks the February Update and with that comes new things in the store.
We have the introduction of the "Daily Deals" which I believe is going to wreak havoc on the values of everything with their "sales". Some have new rates we can use for conversions too, which helps, but doesn't help.
I added in the Brawlers Guildhall cost into the conversion rate as well since it seems to be sticking around. I decided that even if it changes the pricing, I will start to include any and all items or events into the conversion rate if they have both a gold and a gem cost listed.
We also have the coveted Theros Beyond Death Full Art Lands, each color bundled with a Nyx basic land. These are being sold for 3000 gold, so basically 2 card styles for that price, which actually lowered the value of card styles this week from $2.26 down to $2.21.
The Secret Lair first bundle of 7 sleeves is also now available. These are selling for 600 gems or 4000 gold each, giving us another data point to use for conversion rates.
The changes are shown below
Today we have a new event that has appeared: Standard Treasure.
The Gem to Gold rates are different for both costs, so we now have yet another item to use for our Gold to Gem conversion rates.
Standard Treasure costs either 500 Gems or 2500 Gold, which is equivalent to $2.90 and
$2.50 respectively (as per previous rates). This averages out to 5 gold per Gem, which is currently the same rate of a Booster Pack.
This changes the Gold per Gem rate from 6.0833 to 5.8667.
I also added a few more data points that I had not previously looked at that will change the average values of everything as well. I included both the Standard and Historic Events (95 Gems or 500 Gold) and Traditional Standard (190 Gems, 1000 Gold). These both come out to the same rate of 5.26 Gold per Gems. Since the Standard and Historic events are the same rate, I only included a data point for a single one.
This changes the Gold per Gem rate from 5.8667 to 5.6942.
I am also starting to track the Traditional Draft costs, as this is one of the few items you can directly purchase via Gems.
The full updated list is as follows:
Previously we had Sleeves at 1200 Gems, with the one lone Gold obtainable sleeve, Liliana Yoshitaka Amano, at 4,000 Gold. This stayed this way for a long time, leading me to believe that that would be the standard Gold price for a sleeve.
As of the previous update, WotC has bucked the trend of sleeve pricing, and we now have new Exquisite sleeves (Cryptic Command and Lightning Bolt) at 8,000 Gold. I feel that this no longer represents a representation of Gems vs Gold because of the direction they are going with premium products, so I removed Sleeves from the conversion chart.
Because of this removal as a data point for Gems vs Gold conversions, this lowered the amount of items available with direct Gem and Gold costs, and thus has changed the values.
This changes the Gold per Gem rate from 5.533 to 6.083.
We also have a Standard Event that costs either
What this has done is lower the values, and thus the cost, of each item in the game across the board.
The full updated list is as follows:
What is Collection Drafting?
Collection Drafting is drafting for the sole purpose of building your collection. This goes beyond Rare Drafting, where you pick the rares each time, but still pick other specific cards in order to build a winning draft deck to play with.
Collection Drafting has no intention of winning any games or really even playing the games, unless you just want to. By playing, there are more gems on the line to win, but your card pool will be left with sub-optimal picks, leaving you with the jankiest of jank to play with. Its often not worth the time. But go right on ahead if you love jank! Just remember the majority of other people probably picked their card pool to build winning decks with. Personally I don't enjoy playing the draft games, so for me, I am perfectly OK skipping the game play.
If you love to play draft games, then this article is not for you. This article is specifically for those looking to build a larger collection for their constructed needs through a more optimal system of obtaining those cards.
How do we get started?
We will need a few things to get started:
First of all you need gold, and lots of it!
If you just started playing Arena, this is still the preferred method of obtaining a large collection quickly, and this article is still for you. This will help you get ahead of the curve when it comes to amassing a large collection and a better card pool to start out with.
Many of us have spent the entire previous set grinding away for gold. For those that have, hopefully you should have roughly 100K gold at this point. For those that don't, this method will still benefit you greatly. I have even broken this down into 50K gold to show you what you can get from even half of that vs just opening up packs.
Unopened Booster Packs
Whenever a new set comes out, you may be tempted to start opening those shiny brand new booster packs. WAIT! Don't open them until you have completed all of your Ranked Drafts.
This will help force even more good rares your way in the end. This will also be your source of wild cards, though waiting until after draft has no bearing on the wild card outcome.
Just know you won't be getting any wild cards in the draft process. They come strictly from the regular Arena booster packs.
You will need to install a tracker that tracks not only your collection inventory, but also shows you the best draft picks for both limited and rare drafting.
One such tracker is MTGAHelper. You can read my guide on how to install and configure it here: MTGAHelper Installation
The tracker will help you keep track of what you do and don't already have in your collection. This helps produce far fewer duplicates. The limited and rare draft pick information will help you pick the stronger cards first, which will be even more important if you have less gold to draft with.
This article will will show MTGAHelper being used as examples throughout. This article is not sponsored by MTGAHelper in any way. I simply enjoy using it for my own needs.
How much did I spend?
I started with only planning to do 20 drafts this time. I wanted to save my gold for any events that came up between now and the next set. I figured at some point the Theros Full Art Lands would be available, so just in case its via an event, or gold, I will have the extra gold. If not, I have saved plenty for the next set.
Also, I was not as interested in this set as the past few sets, so I really didn't need to go for all the rares. 20ish drafts would be plenty for 100% commons/uncommons and at least half the rares. I'm good with that!
How long did it take?
Drafting all of these sets only took several hours, mainly because I was writing down every single card picked for my spreadsheet. You could easily blow through 20 drafts in an hour or so if you hustled through.
I had so much fun picking cards that I ended up doing one more draft for a total of 21. This also gave me the exact amount of booster packs I needed to get data on an even 50 Arena Booster packs I would be opening afterwards and collecting data on too.
I'm ready to collect! Now what?
Now that you have gold and a tracker installed, lets get started! Go ahead and start up your tracker if it isn't already open, and then start up MTG Arena.
By default, MTGAHelper is set to automatically pop up when you start a game or start a draft.
What do we have here? Lots of cool information to use to help you with your collection building.
LSV/Channel Fireball Limited Values
These values are based on Luis Scott-Vargas's (LSV) picks for Limited play, which are the strong cards you will want if you are going to play out your draft games after you have finished drafting your cards.
These values are not necessarily useful for constructed, but can still give a good indicator on power level. If a card is strong in one format, there's a change it may be strong in other formats. If you mouse over the value for each card, you will see a quick description of what LSV says about the card and why he picked it.
You can also go to Channel Fireball's website and read up on LSV's Constructed rantings for each card, which may be of more value for what you are going to be using these for.
For more information on LSV's picks and articles, head over to Channel Fireball.
MTGAHelper Rare Draft Pick
This next indicator will show you what picks are the best for Rare Drafting. I am not fully sure how this is weighted, as it seems to be pulling information based on decks I am tracking on the MTGAHelper Website... of which I am not currently tracking any decks.
On the MTGAHelper website, there is a "Deck Sources" under the advisors drop-down that is letting me track decks from different websites. I have one from Aetherhub selected, so it's possibly it's tracking the top meta decks from Aetherhub and relaying this information back to me in the form of this Rare Draft pick.
Cards in your Collection
This is the number I am most interested in. I want to know how many of these cards I already have in my inventory so I pick only cards I need and avoid as many duplicates as I can.
For MTGAHelper, this number will only update between drafts, so you may want to keep your tracker's website open to make sure you don't grab a 4th copy of a card if you're getting close to 4 copies.
My Collection Picking Method
Now that you have the basics of what you are looking for, I will explain how I make my own picks.
For each and every pick screen that wheels my way, I look at the top few cards to make sure there are no Rares or Mythics that I missed. The first pick of every pack will have your guaranteed Rare, but sometimes the bots will not take the Rare as their first pick, so you may have a Rare show up on subsequent picks. I have seen Rares show up on pick 4 and 5 before, so always check before clicking on a card.
Once I make sure there are no rares on the screen, I look at the LSV ratings on the tracker and pretty much always go for the strongest rated Uncommon.
From here I will keep picking Uncommons until there are nothing but Commons left. After that I will continue to pick Commons based on the strongest LSV rating.
One caveat to this for me is that if there are specific cards I really want to upgrade my daily decks with, I will always pick those first over any other Common or Uncommon. Once I have all 4 of what I absolutely want, I will go back to selecting the strongest LSV rated card.
If you are going to be doing 20+ drafts, you can rest assured that you will get roughly 99% of both the commons and uncommons, so don't worry about passing some over, as they will most likely show up again.
Keep in mind too that after you finished doing your Ranked Draft, you will have a ton of Arena booster packs to open, which will often fill in the rest of the Commons and Uncommons you are missing.
My point is, for 20+ drafts, don't worry about Commons and Uncommons, you will usually get 99% of the full playset of both of them.
Once I have finished picking my cards, if I feel like playing, I might play a game or two. I typically don't since my pics won't really be anything cohesive for winning. I am simply picking them for building constructed decks out of.
After playing or not, go ahead and end the draft, claim your prizes and move on to the next one.
That's basically it. There's nothing complicated to it if you don't plan to play any of the draft games out. You're simply hand picking all the cards you want for your collection.
MTGAHelper Draft Data
After each Ranked Draft, or any time you like, you can head over to the MTGAHelper.com website to check in on how you did.
The screen below shows all of the cards I acquired after my first draft.
The left column shows my inventory changes for each event. From this screen, you can see that I played a few games before doing a draft.
The right column shows all new cards acquired for this particular day.
Looking at the next screenshot, we can see what it looks like after 21 drafts.
If you scroll down the screen, you will see on the left side every single draft you did, and every card you got to keep, how much vault progress you gained, gems earned, booster packs earned and more.
On the right side, you can see every card acquired from all 21 drafts that I was able to keep. It does not show which cards got vaulted.
I waited until the next day to open all of my booster packs. The below screenshot is the results of all the booster packs I opened after doing 21 Ranked Drafts.
On the left hand column, you can see each and every pack that I opened, what I got to keep and what the vault progress was for cards that got vaulted.
Just like with the draft results, the right hand side shows all of the cards I was able to keep from all of the opened packs.
What can I expect to get from Ranked Draft?
I'm glad you asked, as I also just finished my Arena Theros Beyond Death Ranked Draft Data article!
You can find all of this information here: Arena THB Ranked Draft Data
In this article I go into more detail on what I actually drafted. I also break down various amount of drafting from 10 to 21 Ranked Drafts. I also break down what 50 Booster Packs alone will get you if you blow all of your gold on booster packs only instead of spending it on Ranked Draft.
Many people on social media will tell you that opening packs by themselves is the better way to go, and that doing Ranked Draft without playing any of the games is a waste of time, but the math does not lie. Ranked Draft will get you more useful cards in your collection for far less Gold, especially with lower amounts of gold.
What you won't get is a ton of wild cards. You will still get a lot from opening up all your saved booster packs, but not as many as if you had just spent all your Gold on booster packs alone. Of course with only opening booster packs, you also won't get all of the Gems that you get from Drafting.
You will need to decide what is more worth your while:
More Hand Picked Cards + Gems OR Fewer Random Cards + More Wild Cards.
Now, drafting will only take you so far in collection building. Once you get past 20-22 ranked drafts or so, it really starts to get saturated with common and uncommon duplicates to the point where it starts to negatively affect you for card collecting purposes per amount of gold spent. At this point I would advise switching over and spend any remaining gold you were planning to spend on booster packs. This will give you more rares you don't already have along with a ton of wild cards in the process. I never reach this stage though, as I only spend enough gold to do 20-22 Drafts (100K-120K Gold) each set and call it quits from there.
I hope you found this article helpful. I have been using this method for the past 4 sets released with great success.
Below is my collection so far.
These cool screenshots are taken from the Collection page on MTGAHelper.
THB and ELD are the two sets that I spent 21-22 drafts on. Core Set 2020, I did maybe 18? drafts. I don't recall. WAR and RNA I did maybe 10 drafts each as I was working to get out of the New Player Rut. GRN, M19, DOM, RIX and XLN I was not fully back into playing on Arena. I have been playing since Closed Beta and took a long while off before I got back into MTG again.
If you want to know how to get started on saving Gold for the next set, I would advise reading my article: MTG Arena: Stuck in the New Player Rut? It will explain how to get out of the rut of not having any Gold, and how to get ahead of the curve so that you will start to amass a large collection starting with the next set.