Much to Wizards’ delight, since launching in 2018, MTG Arena has been a fantastic vehicle for player acquisition. Offering a somewhat structured tutorial and a modern look, Arena has truly brought Magic into the modern age. Despite Arena’s player base building successes’ however, the game, unfortunately, is not quite perfect just yet. Many bugs and glitches, for instance, still plague the digital client years after they were first introduced. Alongside these technical issues, MTG Arena’s economy has left much to be desired throughout the game’s lifespan. Thankfully, this frustrating issue has improved significantly in recent years, with Wizards introducing free-to-play supporting features such as Golden Packs. Similarly, current MTG Arena events have been going from strength to strength, with Wizards being surprisingly generous.
For Phyrexia: All Will Be One, Magic: the Gathering is once again being pushed to new heights of collectibility. Somewhat worryingly, we could have said this exact same thing for the previous premier set, The Brothers War. This was thanks to the collector-focused Serialized Retro Artifacts, which sold for thousands of dollars upon release. Despite the precious cards Wizards created, this collectible promotion is already being ditched, with another experiment in its place. In Phyrexia: All Will Be One, Wizards of the Coast is going all out with unique art and foil variants. For better or worse, while this new experiment threatens to cause confusion, it appears to be a great success already.
Within Phyrexia: All Will Be One, chase cards such as Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines have six variants, each sporting unique art. This number is pushed even higher on paper, up to 14 variants, thanks to all the different foil treatments. As you can imagine, this litany of different art styles and foiling techniques poses quite a challenge for dedicated collectors. That being said, collectors appear to be more than willing to embrace this challenge, as the set’s fancy foils have been soaring in value.
On TCGplayer, for instance, the set’s most sought-after card is currently selling for upwards of $223 on average. While this is pre-order pricing, it’s clear that players want the Junji Ito Step-and-Compleat Foil Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines. Remarkably, it’s not just this stunning Junji Ito art that’s capturing players’ attention. Each of the Oil Slick Raised Foil mythics, and many of the Showcase Ichor cards are selling for significantly over the card’s base price. For example, a borderless Step-and-Compleat Foil Vraska, Betrayal’s Sting currently sells for $94.06 on average. That’s over eight times more than the basic version of the card, which costs just $10.97.
Welcome to Phyrexia
Thanks to how many unique artworks there are, Phyrexia: All Will Be One is poised to be seriously expensive on MTG Arena and on paper. That is, so long as you want to show off your style with the litany of art. Somewhat remarkably, however, despite the possibility to print money, Wizards is making it rather easy to get Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s most sought-after card styles. On MTG Arena, at least… Rather than sequestering the Ichor cards and Borderless Planeswalkers away behind a steep paywall, Wizards is offering them as rewards.
To kick off Phyrexia: All Will Be One with a bang, Wizards is launching the set alongside a series of compelling events. The first of these is the Compleatly Outmatched event, which runs from the 7th to the 13th of February. Offering players five Historic Brawl decks to pilot, this event provides a flavorful taste of the set alongside compelling rewards. These rewards are the Borderless Planeswalker manga card styles from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Judging by TCGplayer prices, these card styles are incredibly desirable, justifying the event’s 5,000 gold/1,000 gem cost.
Following on from the Compleatly Outmatched event, Wizards has even more to celebrate Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s launch. Running from the 13th to the 28th of February, Wizards is hosting the Welcome to Phyrexia Festival event. Comprised of five smaller Singleton Constructed events, this festival showcases the flavor of New Phyrexia’s many layers. Starting in The Autonomous Furnace and ending in The Fair Basilica, each event offers new card styles and gameplay mechanics. While the cost of 2,500 gold or 500 gems may put off some players, the five ichor card styles each event awards more than makes up for the cost.
Fantastically Flavorful Festival
Alongside promising a value-efficient way to acquire card styles, MTG Arena’s upcoming events are almost a flavor masterclass by Wizards. As the beginning of the end of the Phyrexian Arc, there’s no doubting the importance of Phyrexia: All Will Be One’s story. Outside of the set’s story chapters and Building Worlds video, however, this story is surprisingly easy to ignore. Unlike The Brothers’ War which featured a staggering 40 Story Spotlight cards, Phyrexia: All Will Be One has only 10. This isn’t uncommon for premier sets. However, it nevertheless somewhat squanders the set’s immense story potential. Thankfully, through the MTG Arena events, Wizards is bringing back some of this flavor by immersing players within the plane of New Phyrexia.
Within the Welcome to Phyrexia Festival, for instance, the Autonomous Furnace and Hunter Maze events are exceptionally flavorful. Offering Emblems that support the area’s color identity and themes, these events play into the set’s story-rich setting. Unfortunately, as interesting as these first two events are, the following three events merely just offer the Dominus card’s abilities as Emblems. Alongside this mild disappointment, these events won’t also feature any unique board elements to further heighten the set’s plentiful flavor. While this would require development recourses, it would nevertheless have been nice to see. Similarly, there’s no word whether Phyrexia: All Will Be One is getting a soundtrack.
Thankfully, the Compleatly Outmatched and Welcome to Phyrexia Festival are undoubtedly flavorful and mechanically interesting steps in the right direction. Better yet, this likely isn’t the last new and improved feature coming to MTG Arena throughout 2023. After five years, MTG Arena is finally getting a refactored new player experience this year, alongside launching on Steam.