New MTG Arena Mastery System

Updated July 11th, 2019

Revamped Mastery System

Wizards heard the masses who were crying like infants who’d crapped their pants and made changes to the Mastery System. Gone are the daily XP caps, gone is the 200 XP for 3 daily wins, and returning is the familiar 15-win weekly rewards. These numbers below assume you are not purchasing levels, but earning them through game play.

Before

  • 800 XP for daily quest
  • 200 XP for first 3 wins per day
  • Capped at 1 level/day (1000XP)
  • Weekly limit of 7 levels (7000XP)

After

  • 500 XP for daily quest
  • 250 XP for first 15 weekly wins
  • Weekly limit of 7 levels (7250XP)
  • Now you don’t have to play every day to still achieve the max weekly XP in the Mastery System (just every 3rd day, as long as you finish your quests)

Updated July 3rd, 2019

Initial Impression of the New MTG Arena Mastery System

After some technical difficulties getting connected, I was able to get on and play a few matches around 8PM ET on July 2nd. Unfortunately, the launch did not go as smoothly as I’m sure Wizards had hoped. Mixed with people’s apprehension about the new Mastery System, it was not a banner day for MTG Arena.

Mastery System Pros

  • I can get all the rewards I would earn for the Mastery Pass, even if I don’t buy it until later (I don’t have to commit to buying the pass now)
  • It appears they hope to account for missing XP needed to get to level 100, starting with a promo code LevelUp, which gets you 2 free levels. They also plan to have special events that reward XP. If these are regular/reasonable events, that could be cool, but if they’re higher-priced events, or “special” (RNG) events, like Omniscience draft, this becomes a “Con”.
  • The overall feel of the system is pretty polished, it makes me want to play and unlock things

Mastery System Cons

Almost every one of the “Pros” from above, unfortunately has a counterpoint in the “Cons”.

  • Too slow! As stated above, I’m excited about unlocking all the things and getting cards, boosters, etc. I’m not excited about doing it tomorrow…when I’m too busy to play. I hope to get some time to play each day, but I’m probably going to miss XP rewards.
  • The feeling of being “finished” after a few games. Last night, I played 5 games and had achieved everything I could in the Mastery System. Sure, I could have won a few uncommons and a bit more gold in dailies, but I didn’t have time for a draft/sealed event, and wasn’t interested in playing more constructed with my pre-M20 deck, so I just called it a night and watched Roseanne on Pluto TV.
  • If you’re like me, and you get a chance to play Arena every couple or few days, the system just feels like a clingy girlfriend/boyfriend. It’s like, “Sure, we had fun tonight, but we don’t have to make plans for tomorrow before the end of the date”.

In short, I don’t think the weekly reward system was better. I actually like the Magic Arena Mastery System, what I did like better about the weekly rewards was being able to mow through 15 wins when I had time to play, and what I don’t like about the Mastery System is feeling like I need to force time to play every day to get the same rewards.

From a Business Standpoint for Magic

Firstly, I was once a “whale” (a person who spends loads of money) in paper Magic. I’d easily buy 3-4 booster boxes per set, along with fat packs, drafts, sealed events, etc. Like Arena, my only real interest was the cards. Sure, I’d win a playmat or something from time-to-time, and I would use it, but I didn’t buy them. As you can imagine, immediately unlocking the pet cat, wasn’t a motivator for me to buy the Mastery Pass. As a result, I didn’t buy the pass yesterday, as I’d originally intended. When the system was first announced, I envisioned unlocking level after level and earning boosters and card rewards immediately. The way many of us mowed through the first 10-20 levels in WoW when rolling a new toon.

As stated, I’d fully intended to buy the Mastery Pass. Now, it’s likely, since I’m very busy right now, I won’t progress enough levels to make purchasing the pass worthwhile at the end of season. So, interestingly, in a bid to increase monetization, Wizards may have actually relegated me more to being a F2P player for this expansion.

Original Post

Probably the biggest change in the upcoming release of MTG Arena for Core Set 2020 is the introduction of the Mastery System/Mastery Tree, which will replace the weekly reward system of 3 packs for your first 15 wins.

What We Know About MTG Arena Mastery System

Mastery Levels in MTG Arena
Screenshot of Mastery Levels page 1/10 from the developer update video

Of course, this is assuming all the data presented in the video is accurate on release date:

  • Replaces weekly rewards (not daily)
  • There will be items you can win by playing for free
  • Completing levels earns rewards, apparently collecting XP completes levels. The official video indicates that “XP can be earned by completing quest and events”
  • By purchasing a “Mastery Pass”, which apparently come in 3400 gem and 5400 gem varieties, you can win additional prizes
  • The 3400 gem model lists a maximum attainable value of $200 (more on this in the “What We Speculate About MTG Arena Mastery Tree” section
  • The Mastery Pass apparently comes with a pet, which, it seems, everyone has been clamoring around the Wizards castle with torches and demanding. Meanwhile, I recently made fun of the concept and referred to how useless my World of Warcraft pets were.
  • The Mastery Tree provides some rewards by placing “mastery orbs” in sockets. From the video, we know at least one of those rewards is a card style.
  • Updated July 1st – Based on early access streamers XP can be earned at the following rate
    • 800XP for completing daily quests
    • 100XP for first daily win
    • 50XP for 2nd and 3rd win
  • Updated July 1st – 1000XP is one level
  • Updated July 1st – Levels can be purchased for 250 gems From an official Magic Article from Wizards, this feature will be available until the release at the end of this month, then it will be removed.
  • Updated July 2nd – Use promo code LevelUp to get 2 free levels (once you are able to login to the game)
  • Updated July 2nd – There will be other free codes and XP-earning events to-be-announced

What We Speculate About MTG Arena Mastery System

  • Most forum posters are speculating that you can mow through all the items in the Mastery System and collect all the rewards at your pace.
  • Some users have calculated (based on 100 levels in the Mastery System) that the 3400 gem Mastery Pass would, if you earned all the rewards, be worth
    • ~2000 gems
    • ~20 mythic rares
    • ~10,000 gold
    • ~20 booster packs (from standard sets)
    • various cosmetics
  • Some players are also speculating that free prizes end at level 60, and that’s why the video only showed the first 6/10 pages.
  • The graphic for the 5400 gem Mastery Pass states that you get “+10 Levels”, but lists the same “$200+ Value at Max Level”. Not sure what all the extra gems, coins, etc. in the exciter graphics indicate, but hopefully there will be more clarification before purchase date.
Mastery Pass Prices from Magic Arena
  • Mastery Tree orbs will be earned by winning with certain color combination decks
Mastery Tree from MTGA

What We Don’t Know About MTG Arena Mastery System

  • Most notably, we have no guarantee of what any of the rewards are. R&D might even change up from what’s shown in the developer update video.
  • Can a Magic player complete all the Mastery Levels at their own pace, or will they need to play every day, or on some schedule to receive all the rewards?
  • If a Magic Arena player completes some levels, then purchase the Mastery Pass, can they still earn those additional rewards?
  • Who in the name of Mindless Null was asking for pets?

MTG Arena Wildcards : What Should I Craft?

You’re building your MTG Arena collection, you’ve opened some packs and you’ve earned some wildcards. Wildcards are a great way to craft the specific cards you need to complete a sweet constructed deck, which you will use to ceremoniously send damage directly to your opponent’s face. As is often the case, after burning through your wildcards, you realize that your unbeatable deck has a 20% win rate against RDW. Potentially, you discover that most of the cards you crafted are of little use outside the “secret tech” deck you cooked up while feverishly studying spoilers. If your creation fails to mill, discard, land destroy, etc. your opponent into submission, your stuck with those cards. To get the most out of crafting your wildcards in MTG Arena, I urge you to consider the versatility of a card and where it is in the rotation cycle. Below is the expected MTG Arena standard rotation schedule:

SetRotation Date
IxalanFall 2019
Rivals of Ixalan
Dominaria
Core Set 2019
Guilds of RavnicaFall 2020
Ravnica Allegiance
War of the Spark
Core Set 2019

Wildcards for Land?

A wise Magic player once told me, “You can have all the best spells, but lose every time if you don’t have the right mana base”. This advice was given to me in reference the introduction of check lands in Magic 2010 and why I should be trading for playsets of them. This turned out to be sound advice, not only because they are great for mana fixing, but because they’ve been reprinted so many times since then. Check Lands have been in standard about as much as they’ve been out of standard since 2009. As you can see from my collection, I feel like their essential elements of constructing any multi-colored deck. As a result, they are highly versatile, and won’t just fit in handful of decks, which is the case with many one-dimensional rares you could choose to craft with your wildcards.

While I love check lands, and their propensity to be reprinted, one can’t overlook that shock lands aren’t set to rotate out of standard until fall of 2020. By that time the Standard+/ MTGA Eternal format should be off the ground, ensuring that these cards will also have a reasonable lifespan in your collection. One important detail to remember concerning shock lands is that, while they are not a basic land, they have the basic land types. So if a card states that you can “Search your library for a Forest”, then Breeding Pool, Overgrown Tomb, Temple Garden and Stomping Ground are all valid choices. This will be particularly meaningful if the fetch lands ever make their way onto MTG Arena, as shown below, you could sac a Misty Rainforest and fetch up an Overgrown Tomb.

To me, any of these dual-colored lands is a wise choice for your wildcards, but you’ll likely get more standard playtime out of shock lands, unless check lands are reprinted in Core set 2020, which we should know before long.

Top 3 Cards to Craft with Wildcards from Each Rarity

After grabbing the lands you’ll need, below are some cards I consider great wildcard redemptions. For me, these are cards that either can easily have a deck built around them, or can easily be used to support a number of decks. In most cases these are spells that your opponent must deal with, or spells that deal with one of these aforementioned game-changing spells. As we approach the fall, it’s hard to recommend anything that rotates out of standard in 2019, if you’re primarily interested in playing standard. On the other hand, if you’re optimistic about the Standard+ format, I’ll include a couple of “honorable mention” recommendations from Ixalan/Rivals/Dominaria/Core 2019 sets.

Mythic Wildcard Choices

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’ a bird

God-Eternal Kefnet

I’ve had a lot of fun with Kefnet. His copy mechanic is great with card draw, burn or destroy/exile spells. At 4/5, he’s a formidable flying creature that will likely find it’s way back onto the battlefield in a few turns if he’s destroyed or exiled. Kefnet is a strong and versatile card that fits well into a number of decks, as a result, it’s a great choice for your mythic wildcard.

Flying, trample, card draw & life gain!

Hydroid Krasis

Hydroid Krasis is the swiss army knife of standard magic cards and well worth spending mythic wildcards to craft. Can’t decide between card draw spells, lifelink creatures, evasion and tramplers? No need to decide, drop 6 mana and you’ve got a 4/4 flyer with trample and you just gained 2 life and drew 2 cards…unless of course it gets countered 😢.

Then Skarrgan comes in the night!

Skarrgan Hellkite

He’s a hasty 4/4 flyer or a 5/5 flyer with a built in Chandra’s Pyrohelix, what’s not to love? I had a tough time choosing between Skarrgan and Ilharg, the Raze-Boar. Ultimately, my personal experience of winning games with an empty hand and Skarrgan’s direct damage ability make it more versatile as a wildcard target, in my opinion.

Rotating Mythics

If you don’t mind that these cards will rotate out of standard in the Fall of 2019, I highly recommend you craft them with your mythic wildcards. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager would be a great card even if he didn’t arguably have the best planeswalker in standard on the back. Nicol Bolas, the Arisen has 4 abilities and every one is a potential game changer. Rekindling Phoenix is simply irritating to play against. While Rekindling phoenix can be exiled, any other approach to removing it usually requires a 2 prong approach, and often an opponent is forced to lose a creature and commit to a burn/removal spell to ultimately rid the board of Rekindling Phoenix. Rekindling Phoenix is particularly useful again board wipes, like Kaya’s Wrath.

Rare Wildcard Choices

It’s my crab arms, isn’t it? That’s why we’re breaking up?

Growth-Chamber Guardian

Plain and simple, this card is highly versatile. As you can imagine, Growth-Chamber Guardian’s triggered ability is most meaningful with 4 copies. War of the Spark introduced a lot of new proliferate cards as well that make this card even more formidable and a great choice for a rare wildcard.

Assassin’s Trophy

Destroy any permanent for 2 mana. You can sit on this knowing you can handle most threats that enter the battlefield. Great for handling those pesky “exile a permanent” enchantments and dealing with unruly planeswalkers, like the next recommendation.

Ugin, the Ineffable

Ugin is great for creating a chump blocker that effectively results in a card draw. Opponents may even shy away from attacking to prevent the card draw. If an opponent’s permanent is problematic enough, Ugin can deal with that too, but I rarely use this ability until I’ve controlled the board and protected Ugin to a high likelihood of staying on the board.

Rotating Rares

Admittedly, there are certainly rares more frequently played in standard, but these are 2 I feel like are worth rare wildcard investments. Hostage Taker completely changed my winning percentage with Grixis Control. Sword-Point Diplomacy, in my opinion has a great deal of potential and is one of the most underrated rares in Ixalan.

Common & Uncommon Wildcard Choices

If you’re like me, you may have opened most of the commons/uncommons for the available sets on Magic Arena already, and/or are sitting on a pile of wildcards and can pretty much craft anything you need ad hoc, even if it’s for jank that you discover will never work after 3 matches. I’ll highlight a few cards to ensure you have in your collection.

There are lots of great uncommons, but these are just a few examples of cards I needed directly after their release, and, instead of waiting to get them in draft or open them, I just crafted them with my uncommon wildcards.

Most of these cards find their way into the majority of decks with their respective colors, so you’ll get a lot of mileage out of these. Particularly if you’re just getting started, these are some versatile cards to have. I included evolving wilds, as it is great for thinning decks, and I’m a sucker for landfall mechanics. If you don’t think you’ll need Evolving Wilds (you play RDW and never want lands coming into play tapped, for instance), you can save the common wildcard for something else you might play more often, like Savage Smash, Notion Rain, Titanic Growth or Defiant Strike.

Share your thoughts in the comments below. What would you recommend crafting with MTG Arena wildcards?