Spend or Save – Is Magic Arena’s Mastery Pass Worth Your 3400 Gems?

We all want to play Magic for free, but sometimes it’s okay to invest a little more precious resources to come out ahead. To those that are particularly sensitive to costs and value, Arena’s Mastery Pass can appear muddy in terms of value proposition and risky to embark on. 

Before we get onto the value train, we have to understand how the Mastery Pass works.

How Does the Arena Mastery Pass Work?

In its essence, a Mastery Pass is a reward system for playing on Magic: the Gathering Arena. The more you play, the more Experience Points (XP) you earn. Each level you achieve will earn a new reward on the Mastery Pass.

Magic the Gathering Arena's Mastery Pass is a reward system for playing regularly.

A Mastery Pass is conducted by seasons, often lasting the length of time between the launch of a new Standard set (e.g. Streets of New Capenna) to the next release. 

Because there is no consistent time frame between set releases, some Mastery seasons last longer and others will be shorter. Each Mastery Pass will thus also have a different number of levels. 

However, all Mastery Passes so far have cost 3,400 Gems, regardless of how short or long a season is. Does that mean a longer season will provide better value (i.e. more rewards) since the cost is always the same? 

Let’s analyse a particular season and break down its full rewards and equivalent value: 

Case Study: Streets of New Capenna Mastery Pass

The Streets of New Capenna’s Mastery Pass lasted for XX days between X and 7 July, 2022, with a total of 70 levels for full completion. As usual, its price is 3400 Gems, or about US$20 if you are purchasing Gems from Arena’s online store. 

Arena online store prices were used as a reference guide for reward value.

To provide a rough estimate of how much a certain reward is worth, we used pricing from the online store as a guide. For example, if you can buy a card style of a Common card for 500 Gold (100 Gems), that figure was used to calculate total value. 

Rewards for 100% Completion of Mastery Pass: 

  • 19 Booster packs – 19,000 Gold or 3,800 Gems
  • 4,000 Gold – equivalent to 800 Gems
  • 1,200 Gems
  • 25 Master Orbs for redeeming card styles and avatars – estimated 4,500 Gems
  • 25 prefixed card styles – estimated 12,500 Gold or 2,500 Gems
  • 2 Capenna sleeves – 6,000 Gold or 1,200 Gems
  • 1 Ob Nixilis avatar – 3,000 Gold or 500 Gems (discounted)
  • 3 prefixed Pets – 45,000 Gold or 9,000 Gems
  • 1 Player Draft token – 10,000 Gold or 1,500 Gems (assuming use in Premier Draft)
  • 10 random Mythic Rare cards from New Capenna – 10,000 Gold or 2,000 Gems

Total Estimated Value for 100% Completion: 27,000 Gems

Here’s a visual review of what rewards you can get from the Mastery Pass:

Over a cost of 3,400 Gems, a 100% completion of the New Capenna Mastery Pass promises a cool profit of 23,600 Gems, or around 690%.

Granted, a big chunk of this ‘value’ is tied up in cosmetic rewards, such as card styles, sleeves, avatars, and pets that don’t actually help you build your collection or play with different cards. 

Mastery Orbs are one of the rewards by completing the Mastery Pass.

If we take away those cosmetic rewards, you still net 9,300 Gems worth of real, playable rewards that will help you play more Magic. And that’s what we all ultimately want. 

Rewards for 50% Completion of Mastery Pass:

What if you don’t have time to play every day or are unable to complete daily quests? That’s okay, you might still be able to complete 50% of the levels. For Streets of New Capenna, let’s take a look at the rewards you can get by reaching level 35 (50% of 70 levels):

  • 8 Booster packs – 8,000 Gold or 1,600 Gems
  • 1,000 Gold – equivalent to 200 Gems
  • 900 Gems
  • 3 Master Orbs for redeeming card styles and avatars – estimated 1,500 Gems
  • 14 prefixed card styles – estimated 7,000 Gold or 1,400 Gems
  • 1 Capenna sleeve – 3,000 Gold or 600 Gems
  • 1 Ob Nixilis avatar – 3,000 Gold or 500 Gems (discounted)
  • 1 prefixed Pet – 15,000 Gold or 3,000 Gems
  • 1 Player Draft token – 10,000 Gold or 1,500 Gems (assuming use in Premier Draft)
  • 5 random Mythic Rare cards from New Capenna – 5,000 Gold or 1,000 Gems

Total Estimated Value for 50% Completion: 12,200 Gems 

Hitting 50% completion of the Mastery Pass isn’t that bad either. You only get 8 Booster packs and 1,000 Gold (less than half of full completion) but you do get 1,000 Gems.

You are also still getting the highly useful Player Draft token and 5 random Mythic Rare cards. 

Even when only 50% complete, with the Mastery Pass you will receive an estimated reward value of 12,200 Gems, 8,800 of which are profit.

Sleeves are considered cosmetic items as you don't actually need them to play Magic.
Sleeves are considered cosmetic items as you don’t actually need them to play Magic.

However, assuming you only value that which lets you play the game and leave out the cosmetic elements (sleeves, pets, avatars etc.), your take-home reward value is reduced to 5,200 Gems.

It is still a nice 1,800 Gems (or about 40%) profit over your initial outlay to purchase the Mastery Pass, so at the end of the day, you still come out on top. 

Does That Mean You Should Always Buy the Mastery Pass?

The most important consideration would be how confident are you of completing the full Mastery Pass? If you are playing a little every day for experience points, there’s a high chance you will reach maximum level and the answer is a resounding yes. 

Reaching 50% completion logically brings you considerably less rewards, and this makes purchasing the Mastery Pass less enticing. 

But both scenarios always turn up net-positive, even after you take away the pretty fluff that is padding the value. So buy the Mastery Pass only if:

  • You can complete 50% of all levels
  • If you have accumulated 3,400 Gems within the game, or if you have $20 to spare. 

To back our claim, we’ve bought Mastery Passes for the past several seasons, and by reaching 100% completion, the rewards far outweigh the costs.

End Step

Here’s the big secret to playing for free on Arena: you can earn Gems within the game to continually buy Mastery Passes for free and grow your card collection. 

It does require a little bit of daily commitment to play and complete daily quests, but by earning Gold through quests, you can then convert them to Gems! Read how we did it, and soon you’ll be playing Magic for free and not worrying about its costs!

Ted

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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