How MTG Arena duplication protection works
Guide MTGA Events
By: andreliverod - 28 Jun 2020
If you have played Magic: The Gathering on paper, you will find the boosters of MTG Arena quite different from those found in the paper version of the game. There are several hidden mechanics never explained in the game which is only found explained in patch notes from the developers, which is why we are taking a deep dive into this today and are trying to gather all the information in one place. If you are a new player you definitely do not know any of this, and even as a veteran you might find yourself learning something new. Let us start with the basic stuff.
The different types of booster packs
There are two different types of boosters in MTG Arena: The booster packs you purchase in the store and the Limited booster packs, also known as Draft/Sealed Packs.
There are two types of boosters in MTGA
The Booster pack
Booster packs are eight-card boosters containing five Commons, two Uncommons, and one Rare/Mythic. The Rare card can upgrade to a Mythic with an indicative rate of 1:8. A single pack costs 1,000 gold or 200 gems through bundles. Packs can be purchased for gems only in bundles of 3, 6, 15, 45, and 90. Custom amounts of packs can't be set when buying them in bulk. Purchasing via gold requires no confirmation. Booster packs don't contain welcome deck cards. The truly unique thing about these packs is that you can earn Wildcards in these packs, which are cards that can be exchanged for any card in the rarity you get. In addition to this, opening these packs gives you progress on the guaranteed Wildcard wheel, which when filled gives you additional Wildcards.
The wildcard wheel
These booster packs also contain additional hidden mechanics that help you with your collection which we will go through in the next section.
The Limited Booster pack
Limited formats in MTG Arena covers Drafts and Sealed, there are also something called Cubes but this is a Limited format using "Phantom packs" which is cards you play with but do not get to keep.
These packs mirror those you find in paper magic, they contain 14 cards not counting the basic land. The way Draft works are that you buy three of these Limited Boosters, open one of them and pick a card from that pack and pass it around a "Draft table". You then get another pack from the person sitting by your side which they picked a card from, this goes on in a circle until all cards have been picked and then everyone opens up their next packs and do the same. So in drafts, you will not keep all the cards you open in a pack, but in the other format called Sealed, which uses six packs you will open all the packs and keep their content.
What you have to be aware of is that the Limited Booster packs do not have any kind of hidden protection mechanisms attached to them, the packs are completely random and have no duplication protection like the "Store booster packs" you find in MTG Arena.
You might hear people telling you that playing the limited formats is what you need to do to get cards for your collection, this is true if your goal is earning as many cards as possible in the most cost-efficient way. What many ignore is that if you only play constructed formats, buying and opening booster bought from the store packs is completely fine as this is the best way to earn Wildcards that can be exchanged for the exact cards you need to finish your deck.
If you are looking for a tool that tells you what metagame decks you can build with your collection, get the MTGA Assistant extension! It will look at your collection and tell you what decks you can build.
How duplication protection work
The Booster pack containing eight cards is a bit special, it uses something called duplication protection on all Rare and Mythic Rare cards. What this means is that if you own a playset of a card (4 copies of a specific card) that is either Mythic or Rare you will not open said card in these boosters. If you happen to own all the Rares or Mythics in a set you will instead be given Gems! In MTG packs there is one thing you not many people realize and that is that even if a card has the same rarity as another card it does not necessarily mean that they appear at the same rate, there are some cards that appear more than others. It is like a rarity within a rarity, this is something you often see in video games like Diablo where some rare items "drops" more often than others. With duplication protection, however, you will not keep on getting the same card over and over but can eventually open all the cards in the set without relying on luck to complete your collection.
How reprint protection work
New with the June 2020 patch is a "reprint" protection, which came to life after users complained about having to use their resources to acquire cards they already own from other sets. Reprints have been a thing for a long time and in Paper you would just trade away the cards you already own earlier versions of, but in MTG Arena there exists no such option. So Wizards have made a tweak to how this work. As an example, we will look at the reprints in the M21 sets. The reprint protection only works for Rare and Mythic Rare cards and in Core 2021 there are 5 reprints of the "Scry lands" which also exists in Core 2020:
Here is how it works
- If you've collected a playset of a fully reprinted card, we will be adjusting the rate at which you'll receive these cards in store boosters. We're defining "full reprints" as a card that shares both the name and artwork of a card that already exists in MTG Arena.
- You will only receive a copy of fully reprinted cards from a pack after you have received playsets of all other rares and mythic rares (i.e. the same thing we do with a card if it's banned in Standard).
- If you already own a playset (four copies) of a card that is fully reprinted, you will only receive further copies of that card from store boosters if you already own playsets of all other rares and mythic rares from that set (i.e. the same thing we do with a card if it's banned in Standard).
- The game will check this against your entire collection. For example, if you own three copies of Fabled Passage from Throne of Eldraine, and you open a fourth in Core Set 2021, the game will adjust the distribution rate of this card in both Throne of Eldraine and Core Set 2021 booster packs now that you've completed a playset.
- This change does not impact Limited boosters; you will still receive them at their original distribution rate in Draft or Sealed events.
- This change only applies to fully reprinted rares and mythic rares; we will not be adjusting the distribution rate of fully reprinted commons or uncommons.
Within MTG Arena there is no collection summary where you can see how many cards of each set you own. You have to manually scroll and count in the collection browser. If you are interested in getting a full overview of how many cards you own, try out our MTGA Assistant tool for MTGA. It gives you a full overview of how many cards in each set you own, together with an overview of your complete collection progress and divided by rarities and colors.
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