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MTG Arena Free to play guide

Guide MTGA 
By: andreliverod - 16 Nov 2019

Magic: The Gathering Arena has great free to play (F2P for short) options, not only do you earn gold on a daily basis, but you also have the opportunity to convert the base currency gold into the premium gem currency. This means that as a free to play player you have access to everything a paying player has, including all cosmetics options. Earning Gems can be done in certain Limited and Constructed events costing gold to participate in, the traditional draft event is the only one that only has a gem fee. This guide will describe how to optimize playing for free without having to purchase Gems. I have included sections for new players in MTG Arena, how to do your dailies quick and easy and some caveats on play modes towards the end of the article.

The first thing you have to do is ensure that you have redeemed all free codes. Head over to our article containing all codes for free stuff in MTG Arena, this is updated every time a new code comes out: All MTG Arena Codes - Free packs and card styles

Overview of all reward tracks from the left: The three daily quests, 15 daily wins, 15 Weekly experience rewards, Beginner reward track, and Seasonal pass rewards

Daily Rewards - Quests

Every day you get a quest worth either 500 or 750 Gold, you also get one chance to reroll the quest and they stack up to three quests if you wait three days. You will not receive any new quests if all three of your quest slots are full. It is therefore important that you keep at least one slot open for next days' quests or you will lose out on one. The daily quests also reward you with 500XP no matter what the gold reward is.

The most optimal strategy here is trying to reroll all 500 quests you receive and only completing 750 gold quests. Prioritize getting rid of 500g quests so you instead have a chance at a 750 reward. Log in daily to check the new quest and get a reroll chance. This is the best reward in the game as it outweighs the other rewards. Be sure to not miss out on completing quests just because you want to reroll into 750g quests, they do not come up that often.

Have some mono-colored decks in your decklists to breeze through the daily quests. None of the daily quests are about winning games, most of them are casting colored spells, the rest is casting creatures, lands, attacking and killing creatures. Make five simple decks in each color, keep have low-cost spells in them so you can quickly cast all the spells, add cards that draws more cards just to you get to cast more before the game is over. Use the Play queue and match against decks with low power to give you more time. You should play normal decks as that is more enjoyable but doing this is great for times where you just want to finish a quest quickly. Here are some quick tips on each color, the cards change over rotations so we will not provide decklists here:

White
Put in a lot of small cheap creatures to make your life easier with the "attack with x" creatures quest. Not that Exile creature spells do not add towards the "Kill x creatures" quest.

Blue
Put in all the draw cards spells you can find, in this color there are always a lot, making it very easy to cast x spells. Include some flyers too so you can attack with a couple of creatures to add to other quests.

Black
Be sure to include a mixture of kill spells and death touch creatures so you have a deck for "Kill x creatures" quests.

Red
The King of aggro, small aggressive creatures and a couple of burn spells help you out with attacking and killing creatures.

Green
Put in some mana acceleration cards and a couple of big creatures you can ramp into. This should help you a bit with both cast and kill creatures when you stomp through the opponent

For a full overview of the quest and daily wins rewards check this article out: MTG Arena Quest List


Daily Rewards - The 15 Wins track

There is also a reward track that resets every day giving you a reward for your 15 first wins of the day. It starts out with giving you 250 gold for your first win, 100 gold for the next three and then smaller rewards like random cards of smaller amounts of gold for the next 11 wins. In addition to this, the first 10 wins give 25XP each.

While it would, of course, be optimal to do all 15 wins every day while at the same time using decks that avoids your 500g quests, it gets boring quick. Doing 4 wins every day is better if you can take the grind, but don't worry, even just logging in to do 1 win for 250 gold or every three days complete quests gets you a lot of gold over the course of a couple of weeks. You want to optimize and not burn yourself out on the game. 


Experience and The Mastery Pass

Every new Season all players get a Season pass that provides a reward track that gives you a booster pack reward for every two levels you gain. There is also a Premium reward track you gain access to by purchasing the Mastery pass using gems. I went into detail on the Mastery pass in an earlier article if you want more information: MTG Arena Mastery Pass Detailed Guide

The Mastery Pass provides an additional reward track for the seasonal Pass

To summarize it for a F2P Player it depends on your goal. The mastery pass rewards you with a variety of things, gold, gems, cards, multiple cosmetic types, boosters. If you are a player that only cares about limited, don't want cosmetics or boosters packs you can ignore this as looking at only gold and gem rewards it gives you 2000 gems and around 10,000 gold for maxing it out while it costs 3,400 gems to purchase.

Experience is almost like a third type of currency in MTG Arena, for every 1000XP you gain a level and by leveling you get rewards. You get 250XP for winning one match, stacking up to 15 times every week and 500XP for completing a daily quest. You also get a small amount XP for your first 10 daily wins. Reaching the highest level where you get the final form of the Pet requires you to get most of the 15 weekly wins, you can miss out on a couple but not a many. Getting 15 weekly wins and all the Gold rewards can all be done with three sessions spread over a week if you space it out and wait it out so all three quests slots are filled.

For Collectors and Spikes wanting tier 1 decks and people who like cosmetics, getting the Mastery Pass is a great value, especially if you think you can get up to the point where you get the highest pet level. While the length of a season and the amount levels vary, you can reach the top and get all Quest rewards by having three play sessions every week. 

Limited - The best way for building collections

In regards to both collection building and getting wildcards for redeeming rares and mythics for your decks, drafting is the best way to go about it. The optimal path here requires a lot of patience and doing this as a beginner to drafts is hard. Drafting not only requires a good grasp of how to play magic but you also need to know how to build a solid deck, this makes drafting the hardest mode in MTG, it tests all your skills as a player. There is also another limited event called sealed available right after a new set release, this is only available for gems and is a bit different from drafts in that you build a deck from six booster packs instead of drafting with three packs.

One thing you should note is that the pack you open in Limited events and use for drafts are not the same as those you purchase in the store, they contain more cards but the most important thing is that they do not give you Wildcards. The booster packs you win in limited events do give you wildcards as they are the same as the ones you buy. While drafts give the best value for building collections, this is only true if you are around average playing drafts and the skill level is a bit high since new players tend to shy away from these events. That being said it is one of the most enjoyable formats in Magic: The Gathering! Oh, and if you have never played a draft, you keep all the cards you pick in the draft! Hence the higher cost to play the format. That way even if you are not a good player yet, you still get to keep the cards.

A limited booster pack to the left and a reward/store pack to the right.


Drafting and how to optimize

To understand why draft is the best way for collection building you need to know about Duplicate protection and The Vault. When opening booster packs bought in the store or won in events, all mythic and rare cards have duplication protection. You cannot open a mythic or rare you already own with these packs. If you have all the rare and mythic cards in a set you will receive 20Gems instead of a card of one of these rarities. Common and uncommon cards do not have duplication protection, instead, when you open the 4th copy and beyond you will gain Vault progress which is a hidden treasure counter. When this counter reaches 100% you get a treasure chest with 1 Mythic, 2 Rare and 3 Uncommon Wildcards. The progression percentage is really small, and you will not see the Vault often, it is also prone to change at some point as Wizards has stated that they are working on a replacement which is why it is hidden away.

In limited the boosters are similar to the ones you purchase in real life and they contain more cards, while they are not protected by duplicate protection the same way, if you draft the 4th copy for any rare or mythic you will receive 20gems after the draft portion is done, 4th copy common and uncommon cards go to Vault progress.

Value drafting is a good way to build your collection, but it is important not to sacrifice too much of the deck quality during the draft, especially in the first pack. Do not go too much out of your way to pick a useless rare card when you have other good options that improve your deck. Concentrate on building the best deck possible and go further in the event which gets you rewards that enables you to draft more.

Building an MTG Arena collection the optimal way is nothing but a test of patience. Can you resist opening packs?

Optimizing with limited comes with the cost of saving the packs you win in the draft and sealed events. While you do not have to do this just understand that for pure collection building saving packs from the current set and just playing drafts is the best way to go. Since only playing limited will build your card collection every time you play. Then when you finally open your prize boosters they are protected will give you new rare and mythic cards because of the duplication protection system. Drafting a lot at the beginning of a set and saving boosters is a good idea and then opening all of them when you want to play Constructed is a great way for a solid collection boost. Opening reward packs give you  Wildcards in the pack and progress the wildcard counters for each pack you open.


The wildcard track progresses for each store/reward booster pack you open

As a new player, even a lower win rate in Draft gives you value but if you are not able to win anything you should practice playing in ranked mode and test yourself with our app Draft Sensei. Still, getting 0 wins gives you 1 prize booster pack and 50 gems in addition to all the cards you drafted. If you only want to play Constructed you are better off playing in that mode and using your gold for paying for events or buying packs to acquire wildcards.

Tips for new MTG Arena players

As a new player, there are a couple of important things that are not explained very clearly in the game. The first is the Play and Ranked queues, the Ranked queues are what you expect you are ranked against other players based on your ranking. In the Play queue, however, you are matched against other players based on the strength of the deck you are currently playing.

The exact way your deck strength is measured has not been stated by Wizards but it has to do with how often the cards you have in your deck are redeemed by players of the game. If you use a popular tier-one meta deck that many other players have redeemed cards for you will also face other decks containing popular and strong cards. This means that by using one of the starter decks, you will only meet other starter decks and weak decks in general. Upgrading parts of the deck with some cards is fine, but too many changes and your deck changes tier level and meets stronger decks. All quests and daily rewards can be done in the Play queue so play here if you are new. 

In ranked, you can face tier-one decks from the start but they usually start to get more and more common from silver and up to gold. From gold, you need a powerful deck and be a good player to progress. In regards to rewards, there is not really any point in leveling past Gold. It is not too hard to reach this level just playing normally for daily rewards with a good deck and the rewards from there and up is abysmally small taking into consideration how many games and time is needed to progress.

When it comes to finding a deck to play in competitive events building a tier-one deck from scratch takes some time as they usually require a lot of rare and mythic cards. You would be best off starting in the Play queues and pairing against decks with the same strength or find some budget decks from the community using the DeckHub Search engine. If you want to build a stronger deck, take a look at the metagame section for Standard and find the decks that do not cost that many rares. Remember that the rarities listed here are a total of both the main deck and the sideboard: Metagame Standard.

There are several cheaper decks like mono-red aggro or other mono-colored decks that mostly use rare lands in their decks. Go for building those and replace the missing cards with cards you already have. You should aim for building a tier-one deck from the start, remember that building brews and trying out stuff with fringe cards is hard on your wildcards. Starting with a good deck before brewing and experimenting a lot pays off so you have a deck for grinding out those wins.

Should I buy packs?

If you are a limited only player this is an easy one, don't worry about buying packs and use gold and gems to buy event access. For everyone else that enjoys both formats or are primarily constructed players, buying packs gives you wildcards that can be redeemed for specific cards you need for a deck. You will quickly find out as a limited player that while you do get great overall collection progress, you will not have many wildcards if you only open booster packs from the event rewards. The great thing with buying and opening packs for gold or gems in MTG Arena is that it is not like in real life and many other card games where you have a small chance of getting the card you need. The wildcard mechanism makes it so that you can trade them in for any card in the game of the same rarity. You can open wildcards randomly in packs and in addition, there is a progress wheel towards wildcards in the open pack screen that progresses with each pack you open.

Do you need specific cards and are not really interested in limited? In this case, you should not hesitate to get packs. If you have the cards you need and just want to progress with your collection a better option is to use gems and gold for events where you can get a better return of your initial payment. Don't feel skilled enough? Play around on the ranked ladder and train for a bit before entering the events and at the same time earn daily rewards.

 

Can I play MTG Arena without paying anything?

Yes, you can, it is very easy to play MTG Arena without paying cash as it provides a very nice Free to play experience. But what is your time worth? A lot of people tend to not think about this question in general. Grinding for the sake of not wanting to pay anything is completely fine as long as you enjoy the game and have fun, but it does come with a cost. You pay with time, the most valuable asset in life, you can only lose time and not gain more of it, unlike money. Enjoy the free-to-play grind, I hope this guide helped you out! But do take into consideration that nothing really is Free to play, the F2P path takes a lot of time depending on what you want to achieve. If you do want to get a little head start there is a one-time Starter Pack in the store that gets you a good head start for a small amount of money.

 

About andreliverod

André Liverød Founder and CEO of AetherHub.com, techie, senior IT Network consultant, web dev, and MTG enthusiast. Likes to play with fire. You can follow André on Twitter.

"Nuts & Bolts Spike spends his energy looking within. He tries to understand his own internal flaws and works to improve them"

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