Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast hosted the long awaited MTG Arena Economy Talk on WeeklyMTG. This stream was slated to be the first of many discussions around the economy, as it’s a very controversial topic in the community.
There’s a LOT to unpack here, so we’ll go over the information that they had pre-planned to talk about. There was a lengthy Q&A section at the end of the stream, so check out our recap video where we go over those questions from Twitch chat as well.
Blake was joined by Chris Kiritz, who is the Executive Producer of Magic Arena. When Arena was being built, the goal of the app was to be fast, fun Magic, anywhere. They had to keep in mind all sorts of players, from new to enfranchised and everyone in between, when it came to designing the game’s systems and economy.
The Economy, as they define it, is any way that players interact with the game regarding acquisition of cards. This includes individual card rewards (ICRs), Gold, Gems, and even Time. The initial thought was that players would play games of Magic and slowly iterate on their decks. Over time, players would get their decks to the ideal state. Obviously this didn’t happen.
When designing the economy, they didn’t consider a “Dust” system, similar to games such as Hearthstone or YuGiOh Master Duel for a few reasons. Dusting is effectively destroying cards for resource to craft other cards. If a player destroyed a set of cards that they didn’t think were good, and then ended up being played, they’d have to go back and recraft them and it was overall a “feels bad” moment for the player.
This is where the Wild Card system came in, where instead of having players destroy cards to gain a resource, that resource was given to you up front when you opened packs. This aligned with the overarching philosophy that players want to have a collection of cards to play with, and as you obtained more cards over time, your deck would get better and you’d have more decks options available.
MTG Arena Economy Pain Points
With that in mind, the team went into some of the pain points that they were seeing from players. They only mentioned 3 of them in their material, and more were brought up in the Q&A. The first was that the economy was not favorable to the idea of collecting a whole set. If the overall philosophy was to collect, the economy was facilitating that well.
The second pain point was, in a similar vein, players who didn’t have that large collection of cards were not able to have the flexibility to play a bunch of different decks if they wanted to. They were committing Wild Cards to 1, maybe 2 decks and it’d take a long time to gather the resources to make another deck.
Lastly, they addressed that in the current landscape, Limited is the best way to build a collection. The ability to chain sealed or draft events, while gaining cards and resources was great. But for those players who don’t like limited, or who aren’t experienced in limited, this really wasn’t a viable option.
With these 3 pain points laid out, Wizards presented some solutions that they’re working on. A couple of these are short term (coming within the next month or so), and a couple are mid to long term project the team is working on.
Short Term Solutions
The first solution that Wizards is bringing to the game is a “Mythic Guaranteed Pack”. This tackles the issues of acquiring the last few Mythics of a set. These packs will have the Rare slot be a guaranteed Mythic or Mythic Wild Card, and these packs have duplicate protection.
The second solution that we’ll see soon is going to be the addition of a Wild Card Bundle. This bundle contains 12 Rare and 4 Mythic Wild Cards, and will cost $49.99. They didn’t speak to the frequency at which these could be bought, but this will be a real money purchase only. This is to try and tackle the issue of players not being able to build decks quickly, giving players direct access to Wild Cards.
Mid to Long Term Solutions
For Mid to Long Term solutions, there’s a few VERY positive things here. To tackle the “Limited to Collection” issue, Wizards will be revamping the constructed event rewards structure to align them with the card acquisition rates in limited. This will effectively allow players to enter with 1 deck, and start to start building a collection.
The other thing that the team is working on is a way to allow players to test decks out before committing Wild Cards to making the deck. This most likely will involve the ability to “goldfish” the deck against Sparky, the game’s AI.
In regards to Alchemy and the Economy, one of the major issues that was brought up by the community is that many of the cards in Alchemy are Rare. This is massively taxing on the Wild Cards of Players. Wizards talked about the distribution methods of these cards, and while packs are the current iteration, these can change.
Additionally, with the introduction of Alchemy, Historic has changed to be a “Live” format, one that can see rebalancing and rapid changes. Players are definitely concerned about this, and WotC shared that within the next month or two, we’ll see a new Non-rotating, True to Paper format come to Arena. This is meant to be the bridge to Pioneer.
As I said, there’s a lot to unpack here. If you’ve read through this and haven’t yet, go check out the video at the top of the article to hear some of my thoughts more in depth, as well as the Q&A section recap as well. Also definitely go back and watch through the stream from yesterday for more information.