MTG Arena, WOTC’s new streamable, watchable, and highly enjoyable online platform has been picking up steam this month. It’s even challenged Hearthstone for stream views, which MTGO was never able to do.
The last bastion of holdouts has been the stalwart grinders. It makes sense, since individuals who are most deeply entrenched in the old ways are often the most resistant to change. MTGO still offers more cards, formats, and competitive opportunities, so it makes sense that it continues to curry favor with many in the competitive crowd.
In terms of fandom and attracting new players, Arena cannot be beaten or ignored, which is why I’ve been writing about it so much over the past few weeks:
No matter whether you are a seasoned grinder or a beginner to Arena, I’ve got some useful tips and strategies for maximizing your resource management as you make your way through the early stages. In particular, I’ll focus on how to get the most out of wild cards.
Drafting for Fun and Value
I’ll start with my primary strategy for building up my collection: “Value Drafting.”
I’ve found doing Drafts to be the best source of value for quickly building my collection on MTG Arena. Don’t be afraid to “rare draft,” and take tournament staple rares and mythics even if they are not in your colors. I do, and I regret nothing.
Unless there was a Watery Grave in the pack, because I’d pick that.
The fact that it is easy to recoup at least some portion of your entry by winning a handful of matches makes it pretty reasonable to chain a bunch of Drafts together. I’ve been playing the same $20 I bought into Arena with two weeks ago and have playsets of most of the GRN commons, uncommons, and rares. Keep in mind that doing the daily tasks also allows you to earn gold, which can be used to do Drafts.
As you draft and win more packs you also end up acquiring more wild cards, which is the primary way of acquiring staple rares and mythics from other sets.
Avoid Using “Wild Cards” on Bad Wild Cards
The daily tasks are an important aspect of collection building in Arena, as they allow you to unlock gold, cards, packs, and even entire decks. The more games and achievements you complete, the more stuff you earn.
When you first start playing you may be tempted to use wild cards to improve the quality of the preconstructed decks you begin with. While it may seem intuitive that having a better deck means you’ll win more, keep in mind that if you do, Arena will simply pair you against other players with more advanced decks. I strongly encourage you to resist the urge to use wild cards right off the bat.
If you are going to craft something using a wild card, make sure that the card you are crafting is something worthwhile for Constructed down the road.
For instance, Leonin Warleader is kind of a house in the lower levels of the Arena where people are mostly playing with decks full of weak commons and uncommons. It was in one of my first decks from a precon, and every time I drew it I won the game. I resisted the urge, because I knew I’d regret using a rare wild card on something that likely wouldn’t make the cut in a true competitive deck.
I actually haven’t redeemed a mythic or rare wild card yet. I’ve chosen to save them for when I’m ready to build my first true Standard deck to play in events, which I will be doing on my Twitch stream this weekend if you want to check it out:
While I recognize the value of holding onto those elusive rare and mythic wild cards I also don’t want to play bad decks full of awful cards. I’ve basically just been redeeming common and uncommon wild cards and trying to get the most bang for my buck. Common and uncommon wild cards appear much more frequently than rares and mythics (duh!), so I’m more willing to spend them since they are easier to replace.
When it comes to getting maximum value out of common and uncommon wild cards I tend to follow these simple rules:
- Don’t redeem wild cards for cards that are in the set you are currently drafting if you can avoid it. The past two weeks have been GRN Drafts, and I’ve managed to lock in a full playset of the commons and uncommons simply by doing Drafts. The new Draft format appears to have just changed over to Dominaria. So, if you are planning to draft Dominaria, consider holding off on using wild cards for staples from that set.
- Use your wild cards for cards that actually go into Standard decks you’d like to eventually play. Don’t be tempted to load up on Leonin Warleaders to beat up on players at the bottom of the barrel. You’ll level up regardless and as your ranking improves, you’ll regret not having those valuable wild cards to spend on cards you actually need to compete against more competitive decks.
Consider using rare and mythic wild cards on cards you will be likely to use in the future.
Common and Uncommonly Good Wild Cards for Lower Level Play
Upgrading your deck by redeeming common and uncommon wild cards is a great way to improve your deck and participate in the deck-building experience. If you are able to do the daily tasks and get a few Drafts in, it’s pretty easy to create a steady stream of common and uncommon wild cards.
I’m going to go down the list by color and rarity, and list some of the best value common and uncommon wild card targets that will help your deck today and the deck you build three months from now!
Top Blue Commons
You can’t really go wrong with cheap and efficient counterspells or library manipulation. These are all great cards and Standard staples, which make them good additions to any deck regardless of competitive level.
Top Blue Uncommons
The Merfolk precon only comes with three Adepts, so if you are planning to rock that powerful deck, consider picking up a fourth. Sinister Sabotage is a great catch-all value counterspell that slots nicely into any control deck.
Top Red Commons
These cards should all look familiar because they are Standard Red Deck Wins staples. You can’t really go wrong building around them. Keep in mind that these are all cards that come in various precons, so you don’t want to redeem for playsets since you’ll earn 2-3 copies just from doing daily challenges.
Top Red Uncommons
Another really good Red Deck Wins tool that is worth redeeming an uncommon wild card for. A reasonable card in several popular archetypes.
Top Green Commons
Green is the color of mana and ramping out giant monsters. You’ll need rare wild cards to unlock most of the best monsters but these various mana fixing cards are a great use of common wild cards.
Top Green Uncommons
Green has a lot of uncommon threats that feel like rares. In particular, Vine Mare is amazing and feels really unfair to play against with an unfocused and underpowered deck such as the ones people play in the early stages of Arena.
A deck full of Vine Mares + Blanchwood Armors is a great way to win a bunch of games very quickly.
Top Black Commons
Cheap interaction and removal is always good, and these are cards that have Standard Constructed applications. If you are going to try and build B/G “The Rock” style decks, be sure to include some incidental life gain like Moment of Craving to outlast the red decks in a topdeck war.
Top Black Uncommons
Black has a lot of powerful uncommons. No matter what kind of deck you are trying to build there are ways to make it better.
Ravenous Chupacabra is the first card I used a wild card to redeem. I still use it in a bunch of different decks. Pair it with Find // Finality to create a loop of threats and focused removal to grind an opponent out.
Top White Commons
Cheap 1-drops that slot nicely into Boros Mentor decks.
Top White Uncommons
While white doesn’t have a ton of great options at common, there are many amazing white uncommons. There’s pretty much 50% of a White Weenie deck right here!
Obviously, this isn’t meant to be some concrete rule for how to build decks on Arena, but rather a guide of solid options for leveling up. By all means, be creative, have fun, and play the cards that you enjoy. But keep in mind that not all cards are created equal and that getting the most out of every wild card use is ideal.
I really liked drafting GRN because there were so many powerful guild color commons and uncommons worth building decks around. In particular, Boros and Dimir are both deep in playable commons and uncommons.
Basically, one of my early strategies was to draft a bunch of Boros and Dimir and build 60-card Constructed decks based around all of the best cards:
Decks loaded with these strong multicolored cards are effective at racking up wins in the early stages of Arena and as you draft you can begin to sprinkle in rares and mythics if you are lucky enough to open them.
Keep in mind that multicolored cards tend to be more powerful than single color cards, so if you are building a 2-color deck, the commons and uncommons in your combination are a great place to look for inspiration without having to spend rare wild cards.
You don’t need to spend a bunch of cash to have fun playing Arena. Even if your endgame is to play Standard, it is very possible to acquire the cards with a little bit of patience and smart wild card usage.