Analysis: Are Arena Preorder Pack Bundles Worth Buying?

Comparing Gem value of MTG Preorder bundles to buying gems from the store

Analysis: Are Arena Preorder Pack Bundles Worth Buying?

You’ve been slogging away on Arena, hoping to grow your collection and holding off making any unjustified purchases. For those who don’t want to wait, Wizards of the Coast releases 2 preorder bundles before the release of a set. Each is priced at US$50 and caters to very different players. While you can also buy most of these items directly through the Arena store or via events, you may be spending more than you necessarily need to. How much could you save by getting one (or both) of these bundle preorders?

Each bundle offers at least 14% more bonus value, compared to if you were to purchase Gems and then buy the bundle contents separately. The Pack bundle offers the best value, with about 21% surplus value over buying individual items through the store.

Assumptions and Disclaimers

Before we dive into the contents and price calculations, it’s imperative to lay out some assumptions. What is the value of a pack? Well, based on prices in store, one pack can be bought for either 1,000 Gold or 200 Gems, with the only condition being you have to buy a minimum of 3 packs when using Gems.

And since you can receive 9,200 Gems when you spend US$50 online, that will be our reference point for comparison later.

$50 gets you 9,200 Gems (or 46,000 Gold equivalent)

Secondly, for scenarios where the value in Gold/Gems cannot be explicitly calculated, such as art styles, sleeves, or events that don’t offer entry fees in Gold, we derived an estimate based on past Arena offers and prices. To some of you, these cosmetic items will hold lesser or more value, so take that into consideration when doing your own cost analysis.

Lastly, because almost everything on Arena can be bought through Gold, the free currency, there’s always a free-to-play path open to you, and is still our recommended option. But if you’re okay to spend some cash, then this analysis will definitely help in deciding between the preorder bundle or going ala carte.

Pack Bundle Contents and Value

The 1st of 2 preorder bundles for every set is aptly named the “pack” bundle because you’re getting 50 booster packs, as though you were buying a Draft Booster box from your local game store (LGS). Let’s do a stock take and list down the bundle contents and what they would be worth if priced at the Arena online store.

What You’ll ReceiveEquivalent Value (Gold/Gems)
50 Draft booster packs50,000 Gold / 10,000 Gems
1 copy of a (usually) Mythic Rare chase card1,000 Gold / 200 Gems (estimated)
1 art style of a chase card3,000 Gold / 600 Gems (estimated)
1 unique card sleeve2,000 Gold / 400 Gems (estimated)
TOTAL: 56,000 Gold or 11,200 Gems

In the Draft bundle preorder, you’re getting most of your value through booster packs, which is great if you’re someone looking to hit the ranked ladder immediately through Standard or Historic formats. The 50 packs will get you nicely started on the new set’s collection, plus you do get bonus 7 Rare and 1 Mythic Rare Wildcards that you can exchange for any card not in your collection. Note that you still get these Wildcards if you are buying packs separately, so it’s not a special bonus from the bundle.

An example of art sleeves (left) and card art styles (right).

The extra cosmetic items (art style, card sleeve) shouldn’t factor into your buying decision so much because they’re not going to help you win games, plus if you wait long enough, eventually some will appear in the Daily Deals section of the store, or as rewards for future events. There’s a considerable time gap before that happens though, so load up if you especially like the art and bonus styles on offer.

Now the big question is how much do you save if you were to buy all these separately?

While you don’t actually save money, you are getting 2000 Gems worth of additional value if you were to buy the preorder pack bundle instead of getting the items separately.

Play (Draft) Bundle Contents and Value

The 2nd bundle focuses on the drafting experience, and replaces the booster packs with Draft Tokens instead. These tokens were introduced quite recently in 2020, and are essentially free passes to various Limited format events (Premier Draft, Traditional Draft, and Sealed). If you’re new to drafting and the Limited formats, check out this nifty value comparison.

Here’s a breakdown of the draft bundle contents and value:

What You’ll ReceiveEquivalent Value (Gold/Gems)
Set Mastery Pass17,000 Gold / 3,400 Gems
3 Player Draft Tokens30,000 Gold / 4,500 Gems
1 Sealed Token10,000 Gold (cal. from Gems) / 2,000 Gems
1 copy of a (usually) Mythic Rare chase card1,000 Gold / 200 Gems (estimated)
1 art style of a chase card2,000 Gold / 400 Gems (estimated)
TOTAL: 60,000 Gold / 10,500 Gems

Apart from the Draft and Sealed tokens, which by the way do not expire, the Play bundle also comes with the Set Mastery Pass included. This pass has always cost 3,400 Gems, and includes an assortment of packs, random Mythic Rare cards, art styles, sleeves, Gold, and even some Gems returned to you. You do have to hit maximum level in the Set Mastery to receive all these rewards, and it often involves almost daily play completing quests.

If you were to buy all these items separately, it’ll set you back 60,000 Gold or 10,500 Gems. The Play Bundle gives you 1,300 Gems worth of extra value, compared to buying the items separately. In terms of dollar value, that’s about a US$5 bonus – not great but good for an extra meal at McDonalds.

Which is the Better Deal – Pack or Play (Draft) Bundle?

If you’ve paid close attention, you’ll notice that the Pack bundle holds more value in Gems, but less value in Gold, than the Draft (Play) bundle. That’s because certain events offer a discount if entered via Gems rather than Gold. For example, in the Draft bundle, a Premier Draft will cost 1,500 Gems or 10,000 Gold, which is what we’ve used in the calculations above.

However, based our Gold-to-Gems calculator above, 1,500 Gems is actually equivalent to 7,500 Gold, hence there is a discrepancy when comparing Gold amounts. Since real money can only be used to buy Gems, we’ll be using Gems as our deciding factor when calculating savings. We’ve already established US$50 can get you 9,200 Gems straight from the store, so how do the bundles stack up in comparison?

Spend US$50 in StorePack Bundle ValuePlay (Draft) Bundle Value
9,200 Gems11,200 Gems10,500 Gems
EXTRA VALUE: 2,000 Gems (21.7%)EXTRA VALUE: 1,300 Gems (14.1%)

Undoubtedly you’ll get significant bonus value when buying a preorder bundle instead of individually through the store. Of course, these take into account the cosmetic art styles and sleeves, so if these aren’t high on your priorities, the preorder price will be less attractive. This is often the downside of any bundle, in Arena or elsewhere, whereby you can’t mix and match components, so in effect you’re forced to buy as a whole just to enjoy a small discount.

End Step

Should get any of the bundles? US$50 is still a significant amount to pay upfront so you’ll have to reflect on your financial situation. Don’t go skipping meals to buy a preorder bundle, especially if you’re a casual player who is only playing once or twice a week.

However if you’re a dedicated player on either the Constructed or Limited formats, then either of this bundles offer a nice incentive for buying early and, essentially, buying in bulk. The Pack bundles are great for the Mythic grinders as it gets you some of top cards early, and use Wildcards to craft the rest.

The Play bundle is suited more for the obsessed Draft or Sealed player who play at least one event each week, and for those who are confident of reaching Set Mastery. Without achieving Mastery, you’d be missing out on a lot of rewards, making the upfront payment less worthwhile.

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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