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Setting Expectations: The First Few Weeks
Setting Expectations: The First Few Weeks
If you are reading this, you are one of those interested to find out how to make the best of your MTGPQ experience. This post intends to help you navigate the various pitfalls which a newer player will face and give you a better idea of what to expect for your time and effort.
Basic Routines & Good Habits
There are a few straightforward tasks which everyone should try to complete:
- Collect your Daily Rewards (scroll down on the main screen all the way to the bottom)
- Collect your Free Booster (refreshes every 2 hours and is found in the Vault)
- Win 4 games in Training Grounds (TG) every day for 15 Crystals and some Runes (TG is found on the Events page)
- Play through Story mode to get a feel of the game and to earn some Crystals and Runes
- In particular, play through the Story Mode Training introducing new set mechanics to get the free cards from completing the training
- Try to participate in Events to the best of your abilities
- Do NOT join Trial of the Planes (as a new player, unless it's on the 30-Crystal discounted entry fee offer)
- If you want to collect cards from the Ixalan set, play Across Ixalan when available on Mondays to Saturday and get at least 1 win for the Ixalan booster pack but ideally hit maximum Progression
- Do not spend your Jewels (yet), these are the purple currency
- Save your UID somewhere (this is the number at
the bottom of the Settings page and is greatly important for recovering your
account in case anything bad happens) or better yet, take a screenshot of the Settings page
The unfortunate fact is that MTGPQ has a few pitfalls which can drastically worsen a new player’s play experience. The ones to highlight are:
- Spending your in-game currency on obtaining the wrong cards
- Levelling your planeswalker too quickly or levelling the wrong planeswalker
- Moving up the Colour Mastery tiers too quickly
- The ‘Wall’
Always bear in mind that your chances of victory will be influenced by a multitude of factors. These include your card collection, your planeswalker collection, your Colour Mastery tier, your opponents and RNGesus. The main factors you can control are your card and planeswalker collection, and your Colour Mastery tier.
With that in mind, we will first cover the significance of the distinction between Standard and Legacy, followed by suggestions how to spend your in-game currencies, an overview on Colour Mastery, and what the ‘Wall’ is. Hopefully after reading through the next few sections, you will understand why the aforementioned points are pitfalls and how to avoid them. That will then be followed by looking at the value of spending money in this game and some useful statistics on card drop rates to round off the general areas one should know about in MTGPQ.
Standard and Legacy
In MTGPQ, there are Standard and Legacy events. Standard events are restricted to cards from Origins and the four latest sets. When you tap the info button for each event, Standard events will have a display circling the sets which are valid. Legacy events will not. Note that all cards from Free Boosters will be from Standard sets.
In-Game Currency and What to Spend On
There are 4 primary currencies in MTGPQ.
Runes (the silver stuff): These are used for levelling your planeswalkers. They are also used for unlocking an additional deck slot when your planeswalker is at level 60.
Crystals (the gold stuff): This is your primary currency for obtaining new cards. Crystals are used for purchasing most card packs, for purchasing planeswalkers and as the entry fee for Trial of the Planes and Across Ixalan. Deck slots can also be purchased with Crystals. Once in a blue moon there may be special offers which can be purchased using Crystals.
Jewels (the pink stuff): This is the currency designated by the developers for end-game players to have an easier path to pursue the Mythics and Masterpieces available in-game. They are used mainly for purchasing packs from the Masterpiece Collection although there are occasionally special offers available for purchase in Jewels.
Orbs (shown on the Booster Crafting page): This is the currency that enables everyone to eventually work towards a complete collection. Whenever you open a duplicate card, they are automatically converted into Orbs and Runes.
What should I spend on?
When players ask what they should be spending on, they are typically asking about what to spend their Crystals on. Whether to spend on cards or planeswalkers first, and which set to focus on getting cards from. There are varying opinions on what to spend on first, but I’ll set out my personal recommendations as follows:
1. If you don’t have a decent collection of cards to work with, having strong planeswalkers will not help you all that much. So at the very beginning, focus on procuring cards first. Also coalition events usually have secondary objectives which are better achieved by cards from the latest set. Coupled with the power creep in the game, it is typically better to be purchasing cards from the latest set (or two).
2a. Most events have nodes which require planeswalkers of certain colours. If you don’t have a planeswalker of the required colour you can’t participate, depriving you of the chance to earn progression and ranking rewards. Although the Origins planeswalkers are rather weak overall, their 50 Crystal cost can be recouped rather quickly through the additional rewards you will earn from being able to participate more in events. The caveat is that you should at least have decent cards in the colour of the planeswalker which you are getting as planeswalkers can only use Colourless cards plus cards of their own colour(s).
2b. Other mono-colour planeswalkers cost 295 Crystals whereas dual-colour planeswalkers cost 650 Crystals. Colourless and tri-colour planeswalkers cost 850 Crystals. Either of which will take a long time for a new player to accumulate and will still only allow you to participate in one node as you can’t assign a single planeswalker to multiple nodes. If however, you have plenty of Crystals (whether through hoarding or spending money) you can consider to skip straight to better planeswalkers depending on which of the better ones are available in the Vault. Not all 295 Crystal or 650 Crystal planeswalkers are worth spending on. Safe picks dual-colour picks are Kiora, Saheeli Rai and Teferi. Other dual-colour picks to consider are Nahiri, Huatli (Radiant Champion) and Samut. Fairly safe mono-colour picks are Elspeth and Koth of the Hammer.
3. When you have a decent card collection and planeswalkers to contest in all colours, then options start opening up for you. You may choose to get stronger planeswalkers, or cards from other sets which you have less of, or even choose to save up in preparation of upcoming planeswalkers or the next expansion.
On Runes, levelling up your planeswalkers will unlock abilities and improve stats. The trade-off is that matchmaking for PvP is based on planeswalker level so you are likely to face more challenging opponents. There is no single best rule on how to level your planeswalkers, but the general consensus is that there is no rush to level them to the max level of 60.
Colour Mastery and Why It Matters
Colour Mastery is both a boon and a trap. Its intention was to differentiate players of different skill levels to allow players to compete with others of similar levels by splitting everyone into 4 tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. You earn Colour Mastery points by using a card repeatedly in your decks, with Common / Uncommon / Rare / Mythic / Masterpiece giving 2 / 4 / 8 / 16 / 16 Mastery points when mastered to the colour(s) of the card (or half the points to all colours if Colourless) respectively. However, the implementation was not done in the best of ways.
Consequently, what happens is that players are lured by the prospect of greater rewards in higher tiers and some choose to intentionally master cards to reach a higher tier only to find that they cannot compete as their card collection is way weaker than what is needed to compete at that tier. And the biggest problem is that there is no way to drop back down to a lower tier, so these players are stuck having to fight against opponents with decks that outclass theirs completely. This can be the deathblow that kills any fun you might have in MTGPQ (at least for quite a long while) so avoid making this mistake.
Another consequence of this system is that it somewhat discourages experimentation with cards as mastering too many cards will push you more quickly towards a higher tier. This is unfortunate but the only option at the moment is to try to avoid mastering bad cards and to consciously only master the better cards you currently have, especially when your collection is small and you are still gaining new cards at a decent rate.
At some point (primarily if you are a Free-to-Play player) you will find that you are not getting that many new cards but your collection still isn’t good enough to compete for top ranking within your tier. This is in part due to MTGPQ not having a surge of packs for newer players like many of the other Gacha games do, and also in part due to the sheer number of cards that are available in the game (Standard stands at 923 cards as of the start of October 2018, Legacy has 2,152).
Don’t be too worried about this. At this point you would hopefully already be in a coalition with people whom you can identify with or share similar goals with. Take this time to better learn the intricacies of the game rather than feeling like you have to rush to process new cards all the time. At some point, you will break through the wall and maybe you will find that you are then ready to take on greater challenges in MTGPQ.
Also take heart that the introduction of Booster Crafting and Orbs means that your duplicate cards will now gradually contribute to you getting to open a new card for your collection. The in-depth details of the system and the conversion rates can be found here.
Do I need to spend money on this game?
Let’s work our way down from the extremes.
Is this game Pay-to-Win? The short answer is no. The game gives a decent amount of rewards if you can complete the various events each day. Being in a coalition will also help you improve more quickly through the advice and the additional coalition rewards you receive. This will allow you to build up your collection to be able to perform better in future events.
Will you be able to be instantly or quickly competitive? No. As previously mentioned, your card and planeswalker collection play important roles in determining how competitive you can be. Your desired planeswalker can take weeks to cycle into the Vault for purchase. You may not get a particular card you want from a set regardless of the number of packs you open from the set. Instead you may only be able to craft it with Orbs much further down the road. Even with Booster Crafting, there is still an element of luck involved if there are other cards in the crafting pool of the card which you want.
Luck is a factor which will persist throughout your time with the game. There will also be luck involved in the card draw, board generation and opponents faced for each match. This is an important aspect of MTGPQ that one has to be comfortable with.
Will spending money help you be competitive more quickly? Yes of course. You need cards and planeswalkers to compete. Kickstarting your collection by being able to open more packs or having strong planeswalkers from the onset will help you to earn better rewards more quickly. This in turn will speed up your collection rate, which helps you build a better position.
Other useful information relating to spending money
The new planeswalkers out for cash will only be released for Crystals in the Vault at least three weeks later, giving those who pay for the planeswalker an exclusive period to utilise a planeswalker whose abilities are typically built to synergise with the latest card set and help greatly in hitting the objectives in coalition events. However, remember that planeswalkers will eventually be available in the Vault for Crystals.
Card Drop Rates
*new update* You can now see the drop probabilities for each pack in the Vault by tapping on the % button. Bear in mind that this probability is for the chance to draw at least one card of that rarity from that particular pack. This is different from the probability of drawing a particular rarity per card opened. Although the information below is no longer as relevant now that we know rates vary across card sets, it is still useful for setting expectations.
Octal and Volrak have done a fabulous job rallying the community to figure out the card drop rates. It’s all available here with some nice interactive tools in the “Summary & Interactive” tab:
For the purposes of this guide, what is important to know is that drop rates for normal card boosters, ie. those which come in the 5-card pack, Super Pack (5x3) and Premium Pack (5x5) configuration, are around 54.65% / 40.25% / 4.08% / 0.97% / 0.05% for Common / Uncommon / Rare / Mythic / Masterpiece. Premium Packs are the best option of the three for procuring cards as they come with an additional guaranteed Rare.
Additional handy statistics:
- You have a 78.4% chance of getting 0 Mythics in a Premium Pack. That means only 1 in 5 Premium Packs will yield any Mythic(s) on average.
- You have a 35.3% chance of getting 0 Rares in a Premium Pack (not counting the guaranteed Rare). That means 1 in 3 Premium Packs will not yield any extra Rare card(s) on average.
- If you have 24 out of 40 Rares in a set, that gives you a 60% chance for a duplicate when you get a Rare drop.
- If you have 10 out of 40 Rares in a set, that is still a 25% chance for a duplicate when you get a Rare drop.
Use this information to help you decide whether to open another Premium Pack or to save up for an incoming planeswalker or even just to save for a rainy day. If you have a high percentage of the cards in a set, you are liable to getting mostly duplicates in your next Premium Pack. At the stage where you have all the Commons and Uncommons from a set with a notable number of Rares, a Premium Pack may only yield 0 or 1 new cards on average.
Although these duplicate cards still yield you Orbs, one should consider whether their collection is in a good enough position that they can start saving Crystals for the release of the next set. An additional advantage of saving for the next set is that any duplicate of the new set opened within the first month of its release are worth 50% more Orbs than usual.
- New planeswalkers are added to the Vault on
Thursdays at 08:00 UTC
- Training Grounds starts/ends each day at 11:00 UTC
There have recently been constant changes to the event timetable. So please check the MtGPQ Sneak Peek thread for the latest official information.
(Check the MtGPQ Sneak Peek thread for this month in this forum for official information)
The advice in this guide should provide you with a strong foundation for MTGPQ. For more advanced discussions, I recommend to seek out an active coalition and/or the MTGPQ communities available (primarily the official forums, Reddit, Discord and Slack).
I would like to add a caveat that this guide is for players who are still finding their footing in the game. Certainly, some points will remain valid while others will not as you progress on in the game. One example being that if you are in the end-game phase for MTGPQ, Trial of the Planes actually becomes your best option for spending Crystals on as opposed to being an absolutely terrible option for newer players. (Read "Is Trial of the Planes for You?")
May you enjoy your time playing MTGPQ!
Sarahschmara for helping to collate information and feedback from the MTGPQ community
AlpacaArmy folks for giving me feedback on the guides and the motivation to do this in the first place
Ohboy for his feedback and suggestions
GoblinPile, YH1J, TeamTiger, SaltyBarals, blacklotus and MrCeeJ for their input on the guides
Octal9 and Volrak for their hard work on
collecting drop rates hence allowing us to evaluate the various options