Is the MTG Arena Mastery Pass worth it?

Guide MTGA 
andreliverod · July 11, 2019 · 7 min

The Mastery pass is sparking a lot of controversy in the MTG Community. In this article, we will explore in detail what you really get and if it is really worth it to purchase the Mastery Pass.

There is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to the Mastery System, things are still up for change and it will probably be tweaked by Wizards. We will explore the Mastery System as released with the July update of MTG Arena. If you want to read up on how the Mastery System works, please check out this article beforehand, as we will assume a basic understanding of the system: MTG Arena Mastery System Guide 

The most important part to note about the Mastery Pass which costs 3.400 Gems is that purchasing it is retroactive, giving you all the earlier level rewards even if you buy the Pass at a later level. You do not have to worry about purchasing the Mastery Pass before you start leveling up, this way it is easier to gauge if it is worth it to you at a later point.

Article Update (our feedback is already in effect!)

  • Purchasing levels is going away at the end of this month, they feel it made things worse.
  • Doing events and getting promo codes we should be able to earn a minimum of 15 levels 
  • Events are going to be condensed at the end of each set
  • Mastery was designed to peak at level 80, they are changing their mind based on feedback
  • The first Promo Code giving 2 free levels is: LevelUp and PlayM20 for three booster packs
  • Link to article by Chris Cao

Article Update no.2 There will be a complete overhaul of the system! Expect a new article with a calculation of the new rewards.

Amazing rewards for grinding to level 100

The Elemental Cat, the Chandra, Flame’s Fury avatar, as Chandra Mastery Pass card sleeve
20 booster packs (x5 GRN, x5 RNA, x5 WAR, x5 M20)
2000 Gems
10.000 Gold
20 Card Styles
25 Set Mastery Orbs (each can be redeemed for card styles on the Set Mastery Tree)
10 Mythic Rare ICRs
5 Planeswalker Cards from the Core Set 2020 Planeswalker Decks
Uncommon and Rare Elemental Cat visual upgrades.
Exquisite Chandra Card Sleeve (Exquisite = Card Sleeve with VFX)

All of this is for reaching level 100 and it does not even include the reward from the free track. It is great value at first glance as you are paying 1400 Gems when you subtract the gem reward for a ton of booster packs, gold, Mythic ICRs, avatars, card styles, sleeves, and avatars. There is no doubt that these are some really nice rewards. The problem comes as we explore more of what is required to reach level 100. A big grind is sure to be expected, there is no doubt about it, there is nothing wrong with that and it is also part of the fun. However, there is a phenomenon from the mobile world called Time-gating that plays a big role in all the complaints we are seeing about the system. To understand the problem let us explore the rate at which you gain XP.

Each level is exactly 1000xp each, which means to reach level 10 you need 10.000xp and reaching level 50 requires 50.000xp. Completing daily quests no matter if it is a 500 or 750 gold quest gives you 800xp,  you get 100xp for your first daily win and 50xp for your second and third, which amounts to 1000xp every day, 1 level per day, it is as simple as that. In addition to this, there is an x-factor which is there are some events providing extra XP and also some codes, this does probably amount to a couple of levels each season, but we have no exact data on that. 

The problem is: There is about 12 weeks or 84 days in each season! Meaning you will have to play every day for 84 days to get the maximum value, and even then you will not reach level 100!


Time-gating, The final boss of Mobile gaming enters MTG Arena

This is the root of the discussion going on, the way you have to earn these extra rewards requires you to play every day to maximize the XP. While the daily rewards of 800xp stack up to three days, the extra daily 200xp requires you to play on a daily basis. The bad part is that even if you commit to this you will not reach the maximum level, counting on the XP x-factor you will probably be around a max of lvl90, best case scenario. Now how do you get the last 10 levels then if it is unreachable? 

It all makes sense when we factor in the ability to buy 1 level for 250 gems. Say you reach level 80 or 90 at the end of each season, you will be looking at 2.500 - 5.000 gems extra to reach level 100 and get all the rewards. Not only are you grinding every day but you also have to pay "extra" for getting maximum value. Now you do still get a lot of value out of your initial purchase of 3.400 gems and no one is forcing you to buy the Mastery Pass as the game is perfectly playable without it. But the whole ordeal leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many people. Even if it is worth it, this is not the path people want to see MTG Arena take. You are buying the Mastery pass for 3.400 gems thinking you will be able to grind it out if you spend enough time playing Arena then suddenly getting hit with a paywall at the last stretch of the way, not good, not good at all.


Is it worth it for you?

Ignoring the time-gating issue and the feel bad, let us look closer at the pure value here, what level you can expect to achieve as in regards to how much you play Arena and the rewards you get. We will not calculate in the x-factor here but go with what we know for simplicity sake. We have to break it down to player types first. Calculating 1000xp per day and accumulating all the 800xp rewards on days they do not play. The rewards here do not include those from the Free Mastery track, only the Mastery Pass.

Ultra Grinder
Gets all the daily rewards for 84 days.
1.000xp x 84 = level 84 (84.000xp)
Reward: 1.600gems, 8.500 gold, 17 boosters, 24 Orbs, 8 Mythic ICRs, 17 Card Styles, 5 Planeswalker cards

Plays four days a week, doing all quests these four days. Spacing the days to get all the gold rewards available
((1.000xp x 4) x 12) + (2.400xp x 12) = level 76 (76.800xp)
Reward: 1.400 gems, 8.000 gold, 15 boosters, 22 Orbs, 7 Mythic ICRs, 15 Card Styles, 5 Planeswalker cards

Plays three days a week, doing all quests these three days. Spacing days to grab all daily rewards
((1000xp x 3) x 12) + (3.200 x 12) = level 74 (74.400xp)
Reward: 1.400 gems, 7.500 gold, 15 boosters, 21 Orbs, 7 Mythic ICRs, 15 Card Styles, 5 Planeswalker cards

Weekend Player
Plays Saturday and Sunday, doing all quests these two days.
((1.000xp x 2) x 12)+ (1.600xp x 12) = level 43 (43.200xp)
Reward: 800 gems, 4.000 gold, 9 boosters, 11 Orbs, 3  Mythic ICRs, 7 Card Styles, 3 Planeswalker cards

Casual Player
Plays one day a week, doing all quests this day
1.000xp x 12 + (1.600 x 12) = level 31 (31.200xp)
Reward: 600 gems, 4.000 gold, 6 boosters, 8 Orbs, 3  Mythic ICRs, 4 Card Styles, 3 Planeswalker cards

As there is no definitive answer, it is up to you to figure out if the Mastery Pass is worth it for you, People value Card styles, boosters avatars, etc. differently. But these calculations will give you a good overview of what you will get depending on how much you play. For many, the pet alone gives the incentive to buy the pass. The main focus on optimizing the Mastery pass is getting all the daily rewards and not focusing that much on the small XP rewards for winning 4 games every day. As demonstrated the gap between the Optimizer and the Weekend Player is huge, grabbing those 800xp quests is key.


Mastery Pass great value - but still a feels bad

For casual and weekend players it barely seems valuable considering missing out on a lot of rewards, their main incentive would be the pet. For the optimizer and above it gives a lot of value back, especially if you are a collector and care about card styles. The issue with the Mastery system is not really the prizes but the way it works, the way it time-gating prizes, not giving players the ability to grind out the 100 levels when they want. Forcing them to a play pattern by logging in every day to grab some wins will make it feel like a chore pretty quick. The fact that missing a couple of days will make miss out on XP reward does not help. Wizards have stated they are looking into making adjustments but the whole system really requires a big change in how it works to make the feelbad go away. We urge you as participants of the beta to voice your opinion on the system to Wizards of the Coast let them know how you feel about the new Mastery System, you should now have enough information to voice your opinion!


The Free track - Weekly rewards downgraded?

Lets quickly talk about the free track. As you can see from the overview in the MTG Arena Mastery System Guide, there is a reason that the Free reward track stops at level 72. Grinding to that kind of level is doable only if you do at least the Optimizer route. The old weekly rewards gave you 3 boosters for winning 15 times, this did not require you to log in every day but could be done in one sitting. Perfect for Casual and Weekend players that only had a couple of days they could play. Instead, you now have to follow the optimizer path and login every 2 or 3 days a week and get all the daily gold quests to level up, no more binge playing for rewards. So while the rewards in total might be the same with the Free Mastery track the way it handles seem like a downgrade from what we had.


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Yeah, mastery pass seems worthy 23$ but XP cap is nonsense. As it was stated several times, Fortnite approach (when you can reach maximum in a week or so) is much better.
I hope WoTC will make this right.
as a player who loves supporting in game purchases, i agree with the write up. hoping we get more tiered options for a mastery pass... this game continues to impress
@Makuum Thanks for that! Corrected now. Not only did you spot an error in my article. But this is actually wrong in the original post on the MTGA forums, where I copied it from! Right now it still has the wrong information
Thanks for the article!
I think it's 10.000 gold NOT 5000 gold (in your topmost listing of rewards) you get in the mastery tree. That's a huge difference.
You should update this.
100 XP per Win in Arena!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope u realize this. This System is awesome. U just have to calc. <3
Updated the top of the article with the new news plus a link.
Nice, so the official stance per Cao is,
"We actually don’t want most players to buy levels. So, we’re going to pull out the purchasing of levels with our release at the end of this month. We want folks to have an option to get our best deal by spreading it over time. We put the level purchase in to give players the option to get those last few levels they want. But, that has clearly made things feel worse."

Very happy that Wizards is receptive to its fans!
Meh, so there is a scaling system, people who want to pay always have the perfect deck, and all the cards. No different from the Mr. Suitcase in cardboard MTG. I already spend enough time playing that I get value from this. If I pay more for full value it is not a lot more. Rewarding people who support your game is not counter-productive. Especially if it makes the game more successful and they keep developing on it. Rather it is supported and robust than free and neglected.
If it's so. This is a stupid system... There should be no limit of xp per day as with starter experience every win after 1st would be 50xp. It's still not little - 2000 wins to do to get 100K xp.
@XtremeHammond That really seems like the situation right now! I will change the article and comment here if we get some updated info from Wizards.
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