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Is It Worth It to Buy a Mastery Pass on Magic Arena?


This week, Wizards announced some big changes to Magic Arena, with the Fortnite-style Mastery Pass replacing weekly rewards. The idea is simple: the more you play Arena (and win), the more XP you will earn and the more rewards you can rake in.

There are technically two different Mastery Trees. One is a basic free tree that all players are a part of for free. This free tree basically replaces the old weekly reward system, which allowed players to earn three booster packs each week. With the new free tree, you can earn 36 Core Set 2020 boosters and five Mastery Orbs (which can be redeemed for card styles) between now and the release of the yet-to-be-named fall set that comes out the end of September, when the tree will end and a new one will begin. All of this is earned for free simply by playing the game, winning matches, and completing daily quests.



The second is the paid Mastery Tree. The Arena Mastery Pass opens the Mastery Tree, containing 100 levels, with each offering a reward. Each Mastery Tree is good for one season (basically on set release), so when a new set is released, a new Mastery Tree will come along with it and the old Mastery Tree will close, ending the opportunity to progress and earn rewards.

How Much Do You Need to Play?

You need to earn 1,000 XP to move up a level on the tree, and you can earn 800 XP each day for completing your daily quest (no matter how much gold the quest is worth), another 100 XP for your first win of the day, and another 50 XP each for wins two and three. In the end, this gives you the ability to earn 1,000 XP each day for completing your quests and winning three games—enough to move up one level on the tree. It's also worth mentioning that Magic Arena caps the XP system at 1,000 XP per day, so after you've earned 1,000 XP, additional wins and gameplay will not progress you further along the tree or earn you more rewards. That said, there will be events that reward XP, although none have been announced thus far (Wizards has said that these events will be weighted toward the end of the season, so we should expect to learn more in the future).

Cost

The paid Mastery Tree costs 3,400 gems (or $17 if you buy gems in the $100 bundle) for the tree itself. You can also pay 5,400 gems ($27) to open the tree and advance ten levels automatically. For this investment, you open up the ability to earn a long list of items, with a new item being earned each time you advance a level (which is daily, assuming you hit all of your wins and quests each day).

It's also worth mentioning that the Mastery Tree is retroactive, so you can wait, see how far you are progressing along the tree, and then choose to pay for the Mastery Pass. If you go this route, you will not only get all of the future rewards that you haven't yet earned when you reach the proper level but also all of the earlier rewards as well. Here's a look at what you can earn and the value of each reward, assuming you bought them for full price in the Magic Arena store (for the entire tree, scroll to the end of the article). 

Full Tree Value

 

Number Item Value
20 Booster Packs $20
2,000 Gems $10
5000 Gold $5
1 Card Sleeve $3
1 Exquisite Sleeve $6
20 Uncommon / Common Card Styles $50
25 Mastery Orbs (redeemed for card styles) $75
10 Mythic Rare Individual Card Rewards n/a
5 Planeswalker Deck Planeswalker Cards n/a
1 The Elemental Cat (plus upgrades) n/a
Total   $170

 

Reward Discussion

As you can see, for your $17 investment, you can get over $150 worth of items in a vacuum, but this comes with a few notes. First, there's extra value from 10 random mythic rares and probably some value from the five Planeswalker Deck planeswalkers. The Arena economy is so convoluted that it's hard to assign these items a dollar value, but they are worth something—especially the 10 mythic rares.

Second, these rewards assume you complete the entire Mastery tree, Right now, things are somewhat confusing. There are technically only 84 days in the Core Set 2020 season, which means even if you advance one level each day (the max under the cap), you're left short of the full tree. While we know there will be events that reward XP to help fill in this gap, so far, we don't know what they are or how much XP they will reward. Hopefully, Wizards will address this aspect of the Mastery Tree soon.

Third, as you can see, the biggest chunk of value is tied to cosmetics, especially card styles. While card styles are quite expensive, they don't actually help you play the game of Magic. So while the number of card styles you get from the Mastery Pass would cost $125 from the store (counting both the card styles and the orbs, which can be redeemed for card styles), this is based on the assumption that you'd be spending your gold or gems to buy common and uncommon card styles.

Finally, once again, this assumes you will complete all of the levels, which means you're playing on a regular (preferably daily) basis. If you're someone who plays a lot one day (maybe on the weekend) but then not much for the rest of the week, it's going to be hard (or even impossible) to actually hit all 100 levels because of the XP cap, so make sure to consider how you play Magic Arena. One of the hardest parts of breaking down the Mastery Tree is that its value is highly dependent on how you play the game.

Is It Worth It?

Assuming you can hit all 100 levels of the Mastery Tree, it is almost certainly worth the investment. It costs $17, and you get back $15 in gold and gems alone. Toss in 10 mythic rares, and even if you don't care about the card sleeves and other cosmetics, the Mastery Tree is a solid investment. On the other hand, you do need to be reasonably confident you will advance pretty far up the tree before the next set release and the Mastery Tree switches over for the investment to be worthwhile. Again, discounting the cosmetics (whose value depends mostly on how much you care about them), you'll likely come out a bit behind if you only complete half of the Mastery Tree, depending on how much you value random mythic rares. 

3,400 Gems vs. 5,400 Gems

On the other hand, paying an extra $10 to advance 10 levels is a more questionable proposition. Technically, 10 levels are worth close to $20 based on our estimates and current prices of the items you receive in the store. So, on its face, $10 for 10 levels is a good deal. However, as we talked about before, most of this is tied to the high cost of cosmetics. If you don't care that much about cosmetics, then paying an extra $10 isn't worth it. It probably is if you're trying to have all of the cosmetics possible, assuming you don't think you can hit level 100 naturally (i.e. without buying the higher-level pass).

Summary

Basically, the Mastery Tree is a great value if you are someone who plays Magic Arena daily and hits at least three wins (and your quests). If you are a weekend player or someone who doesn't hit all of your quests and daily wins, then the Mastery Tree still might be worth the investment, but it will depend on how far you think you can advance on your play schedule and how much value you put in the cosmetic rewards. My advice is to wait and see how far you advance before making the purchase—since there is no punishment for buying the pass on the very last day of the season, you can see how many levels you make it and what rewards you'll get for those levels and then decide whether those items are worth $17 (or $27). Apart from playing with some cool cosmetic items earlier and getting a few extra packs / cards along the way, there isn't a huge motivation to spend your money early unless you're confident you're going to grind most of the levels by the end of the season.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Are you planning on purchasing a Mastery Pass on Magic Arena? What level do you think you can reach before the next set is released? Are the rewards worth it for your play style? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com. 

Mastery Pass Levels


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