MTG Arena Will Not Have Dusting System, Will Sell Rare/Mythic Wild Card Bundles

Weekly MTG touches on many issues regarding the MTG Arena economy

Spara’s Headquarters illustrated by WFlemming Illustration

Blake Rasmussen was joined by Chris Kiritz, Executive Producer for MTG Arena, on today’s episode of Weekly MTG to have the much anticipated discussion about the MTG Arena economy. The two talked for an hour and answered viewer questions, where they tackled the goal of MTG Arena and its economy, incoming improvements to said economy, reasons behind not having a dusting system, and an eventual non-rotating format on the client that matches a tabletop format.

To kick things off, Kiritz addressed the goal of MTG Arena and its economy. The main goal is for MTG Arena to allow access to fun and fast Magic for anyone, anywhere. The way players can go about playing and interacting with the game is referred to the economy, those ways being: gold, gems, Individual Card Rewards (ICRs), packs, and events that reward a variety of prizes. The economy is built around the idea of players being able to build and iterate on a few decks at a time by utilizing the in-game systems. This way players can earn everything in game for free by playing over time or by accelerating the process via purchasing packs with real money.

Kiritz continued to mention how the way players build collections and enjoy Magic is through opening packs. That was the primary target in the economy for MTG Arena and the intended process for players to build collections and acquire cards. This is mainly the reason for not having a dusting system in the game, similar to other games like Hearthstone and Eternal, where players can break down unwanted cards into a currency that allows them to craft cards of their choosing with that material.

According to Kiritz, the MTG Arena team never considered putting a dusting system in the game and it is currently “not on the menu.” They feel dusting is destructive and an unenjoyable experience, so they built the wild card wheel to take the place of it. By opening packs and completing the wheel to earn wild cards, the packs and cards you open automatically unlock wild cards to go to any card the player wants. This, however, doesn’t lend the player much agency of getting what they want quickly or by knowing what cards they do and do not want to have. This form of economy also doesn’t work well for players who want to collect entire sets or have all the cards available to them to build lots of decks. Players who want to dabble in many decks or completely swap archetypes are also hampered by this process, especially if they don’t want to play limited.

Some solutions Kiritz mentioned that they have in the works to help solve some of these issues revolve around two new options coming to the store. the first being a wild card bundle. For the first time on MTG Arena, players will be able to purchase rare and mythic rare wild cards directly from the store instead of opening packs. A bundle of 12 rare wild cards and four mythic rare wild cards will cost $49.99 and will not be purchasable with gems or gold. The other option coming to the store is a “guaranteed mythic pack.” For 1,300 gold, a player can buy packs of a set that are guaranteed to have a mythic rare card or mythic rare wild card in it. These are meant to help out players who want to have all the cards and complete collections. They will also be available in bundles. Both options should be included with the launch of Streets of New Capenna.

Some players familiar with the MTG Arena economy quickly pointed out that the wild card bundle wasn’t a particularly good deal. For those that buy 20,000 gems for $100 and then turn the gems into packs, $50 gets you roughly 50 packs that are good for the 50 rares or mythics you open, a plethora of commons and uncommons, and eight rare wild cards and four mythic rare wild cards unlocked through the wild card wheel tracker. So those that buy the wild card bundle are effectively trading 50 random rares and mythics and all the commons and uncommons for four rare wild cards.

The other major talking point was the introduction of Alchemy and the effects it has had on players’ view of the MTG Arena economy. Many players have requested refunds for cards that get rebalanced in Alchemy and Historic because it changes the functionality of the cards and the decks the cards are used in for both formats. Kiritz said that in order for designers to be able to freely tweak cards they can’t tie refunds into digital-only cards because they receive balance changes. He also said the team primarily balances cards for Alchemy, so unfortunately the impact can be larger for Historic and that is an unintended consequence that comes with Alchemy balancing. Kiritz said the idea of reverting cards back to their original form when they rotate out of Alchemy so that they can stay relevant in Historic is a possibility though they haven’t put that into practice yet.

Kiritz mentioned that a non-rotating format that matches a tabletop format is coming relatively soon to MTG Arena and that it is a “bridge to Pioneer.” What that format is, however, is unclear as Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has said Pioneer is a goal for MTG Arena and there isn’t a current format that falls between Standard and Pioneer in tabletop play.

The second half of the discussion involved Rasmussen and Kiritz answering questions from the Twitch chat. Here are some of the broad strokes of those questions and answers, varying from things that will come to MTG Arena, that could come to MTG Arena, or won’t be coming to the client at all.

  • Constructed events will work similarly to their limited counterparts in terms of prizes including packs and gems instead of gold and ICRs. This is expected around April or May.
  • They want to keep draft formats authentic, but draft formats that incorporate Alchemy packs could be a possibility.
  • The ability to set favorite basic lands is in the works and that technology will help them add duplicate protection to cards that get reprinted (so players won’t continue to open copies of Duress or other often-reprinted commons, as well as rare land cycles).
  • They are not considering an option to convert common and uncommon wild cards into higher wild cards because they do not want players to not be able to build decks because they do not have an common or uncommon. The over abundance of common and uncommon wild cards protect against this concern.
  • They are working on ways for players to earn daily rewards by playing and not just winning games.
  • There is potential for the option to let players use cards they don’t own if they play direct challenges with friends.
  • There will be more Historic Anthologies released.
  • There are no current plans for remastered draft formats at the moment, but they aren’t ruled out.
  • There are no conversations being had over allowing players to trade in wild cards for other in-game currencies.
  • They have no plans to address limited-only players who have no use for wild cards or cards they have in their collections.
  • They are against putting redeemable codes in booster packs because so many of them would go to waste.
  • They are not considering adding wild card wheel tracker progress for packs opened in limited events.

For more details, check out the official article from WotC that covers their concept and goals of the MTG Arena economy.