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Is Trial of the Planes for You?

span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 718 Critical Contributor

Is Trial of the Planes for You? 

Many of you would have noticed the event Trial of the Planes (TotP) which appears on weekdays and is restricted to only one colour for each day. You will also have noticed that it has a 60 Crystal entry fee and may wonder whether the rewards are worth the entry fee. This guide will work out the math for you.

(For the side question of whether Across Ixalan is worth joining, see this post)

(For a summary, scroll to the tl;dr at the end of this post)

What is Trial of the Planes?

TotP was an event introduced shortly after the introduction of Mana Jewels to the game. Mana Jewels are 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 as well.

The event consists of 4 nodes, each with 3 charges. Winning in the first node unlocks the second node, winning in the second unlocks the third, and winning in the third unlocks the fourth and final node. There are no secondary objectives for the nodes; just aim to win. Unlike the other events, you are allowed to change your planeswalker for each node in-between matches and you can use the same planeswalker for multiple nodes if you wish.


Each node except the first will also have their own special rules making the matches more challenging than normal. The special rules benefit the AI player only. The effects for each node are:

Second Node (Hard Node): Opponent is Enraged (deals double damage to you) from the 5th round onwards.

Third Node (Heroic Node): Opponent is Supercharged (mana gains before mana bonuses are doubled) from the 5th round onwards.

Fourth Node (Legendary Node): Opponent is Enraged, Supercharged and draws 2 cards per turn from the 3rd round onwards.

Each win earns you 5 points whereas Progression caps out at 40 points and there are no Ranking rewards. So at 4 nodes of 3 charges each, you have a buffer of 4 games to earn maximum rewards in each Trial of the Planes event. If you manage to lose 1 game or less, you can avoid the Legendary node entirely and still hit maximum Progression.

TotP was introduced as an avenue for players to have a regular means of earning Jewels (though at the expense of a Crystal entry fee). TotP is the second best non-coalition event to partake in (after Across Ixalan) if one wants to earn Jewels quickly. But bear in mind that is a separate issue from whether TotP is worth joining for you at your current stage of MTGPQ. To evaluate that, we first need to determine the extent of one’s card collection. As TotP gives exclusively Dominaria 5-card packs as of 2.7.1, we will focus in particular on that set.

Stages of Card Collection

Fresh: These are players who have barely collected any cards in Dominaria. For simplicity's sake we will assume that most Bronze and some Silver players fall into this category.
Intermediate: These are players who have the majority of the Commons and Uncommons, some of the Rares and maybe a handful of Mythics. We will assume that some Silver, Gold and Platinum players will fall into this category.
Incomplete: There are players who have essentially all the Commons, Uncommons with likely a majority of Rares and are primarily hunting the Mythics (and masterpieces if applicable) in Dominaria. We will assume that many Platinum players fall in this category along with some high-performing Gold players.

At all levels of the game, a major appeal of MTGPQ to players is getting new cards.

When you have no or few cards in a set, the best way to get new cards is through opening new Premium Packs. This is because you stand the chance to loot new cards from all rarities: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Mythic, and Masterpiece (if the set has Masterpieces). When a new set is released, it is the same situation for everyone. However, as a player collects a greater and greater percentage of the set, the odds of getting a new card decreases. Nothing surprising.

At some point, the player gets such a high rate of duplicates (ie. such a low rate of procuring new cards) that one ends up primarily getting Orbs instead of new cards from Premium Packs. With the different rarities, inevitably the bulk of the yet unobtained cards will be from the Mythic (and/or Masterpiece) rarity. For instance, if one owns all the Common and Uncommon cards in Dominaria, each card pull only has a 6.85% of being a Rare/Mythic/Masterpiece card and hence the chances for a new card from packs become really low.

And that is where Jewels come in, as a resource for more targeted attempts at Mythics and Masterpieces. Especially as of 2.7.1, Mythic+ Packs (the 400-Jewel ones) will guarantee a new Mythic or Masterpiece. That makes it the best means of obtaining Masterpieces and of obtaining new Mythics in a set which is still unavailable for Booster Crafting. So let’s see whether TotP helps one to have a higher chance of looting new cards.

Reward Structure for TotP

Score

Bronze

Silver

Gold

Platinum

5

DOM pack

DOM pack

DOM pack

DOM pack

10

250 Runes

500 Runes

750 Runes

2 Jewels

15

500 Runes

750 Runes

1 Jewel

3 Jewels

20

750 Runes

1 Jewel

2 Jewels

4 Jewels

25

1 Jewel

2 Jewels

3 Jewels

5 Jewels

30

2 Jewels

3 Jewels

4 Jewels

6 Jewels

40

3 Jewels

4 Jewels

5 Jewels

30 Crystals


Opportunity Costs – TotP vs Premium Pack

In order to simplify our calculations, we will assume that the player will always achieve maximum Progression rewards. As TotP has an entry fee in Crystals, we will compare it against the typical best option for spending Crystals on to obtain cards: the Premium Pack. For parity in cost (300-320 Crystals), we will compare playing a week of playing Trial of Planes to a Premium Pack.

This helps us to figure out the opportunity cost of participating in TotP. What could one otherwise have spent the Crystals on? We aren’t comparing to purchasing planeswalkers for Crystals as the decision to spend Crystals on cards or planeswalkers should already have been made before moving on to decide which option to spend on to procure more cards.

Now the opportunity cost is different for players from each category due to the differing expected gains from a Premium Pack as well as the different rewards for different Mastery Tiers. Let's look at Incomplete players for the most straightforward example. All calculations will be based on the in-app published drop rates for Dominaria since that is the pack currently being awarded for TotP.

Expected Returns Comparison - Incomplete Category

Premium Pack: This option gives you approximately a 35% chance of drawing 1 or more Mythics or Masterpieces, plus a guaranteed Rare which is likely to be a duplicate. Opening 2 Dominaria Premium Packs gets you a 59% chance of drawing 1 or more Mythics or Masterpieces. On top of that, the guaranteed Rare has a high chance to be a duplicate for an Incomplete player. In short, Premium Packs are terrible value for Incomplete players.

Trial of the Planes: This gives you the same number of cards as a Premium Pack, hence giving you the same odds for drawing a Mythic or Masterpiece as the Dominaria Premium Pack. So, the difference is the guaranteed Rare versus the other rewards which for 5 x Trial of Planes are:

Platinum: 100 Jewels & 150 Crystals

This is 25% of a Mythic+ Pack from the Masterpiece Collection and a 50% rebate on the Crystal cost. Not only do you get 25% of a guaranteed new Mythic or Masterpiece (so 1 Mythic+ pack per month purely from TotP), you halve the price of your purchase with the Crystal rebate. All this at the expense of losing a guaranteed Rare which is likely to be a duplicate (100 Orbs) for an Incomplete player anyway.

Alternatively, if you re-invest the Crystals earned back into a second week of TotP, your 300 Crystals nets you 200 Jewels and 10 Dominaria 5-card packs. That is 50% of a guaranteed new Mythic compared to a single guaranteed Rare. Or if you spend your Jewels on 120-Jewel Rare+ Elite Packs (which I don’t recommend), you still have a surplus of 80 Jewels over just purchasing the Premium Pack. Don’t forget that you are also pulling double the number of Dominaria cards compared to a Premium Pack since you earned 10 x 5-card packs to 25 cards in a Premium Pack.

Gold: 75 Jewels & 3,750 Runes

This is 18.8% of a Mythic+ Pack and a negligible number of Runes. So playing TotP gets you a guaranteed new Mythic or Masterpiece in 5 ½ weeks. You’ll be devoting somewhere in the range of 3 to 5 hours each week to earning this advantage. Being also in the Incomplete category, your trade-off is the loss of a guaranteed Rare which was likely to be a duplicate (100 Orbs) anyway.

Put another way, you will be trading your time and 5.5 Rares for 1 Mythic+ Pack (and some Runes). Whether the trading in of the Rares is worth it depends on how many of the uncollected Rares one wants. Consider also that crafting 1 Mythic costs the same as crafting 5 Rares. Hence time aside, the guaranteed Mythic is probably worth the loss of 5.5 Rares pulls since these still have the chance of pulling duplicates. As long as 1 of the 5.5 Rares was a duplicate, the player has earned less from the option than a guaranteed Mythic when calculating in terms of Orb cost.

All in all, TotP is the best option for Platinum players with an Incomplete Dominaria collection. And Crystals permitting (see the Major Considerations section), it is a viable option for Gold players who are willing to spend more time and effort on the game to build up their Mythic/Masterpiece collection.

Expected Returns Comparison - Fresh Category

Premium Pack: A Premium Pack is likely to give a Fresh player 5+ to double digits of new cards. So lots of new cards and a guaranteed Rare too.

Trial of the Planes: Bear in mind that this gives the player an equal number of packs and hence an equal number of new cards as the Premium Pack excluding the guaranteed rare. The additional benefits reaped are:

Silver: 50 Jewels & 6,250 Runes

As a Fresh player, a chance to loot Rares matters still. So we look at the Rare+ Pack for which 50 Jewels is 41.7%. Those proportions aren't exactly close to the guaranteed Rare from the Premium Pack. 50 Jewels is also 12.5% of a Mythic+ Pack which put another way is sacrificing 8 Rare draws for a single Mythic/Masterpiece. That translates to a two-month wait to accumulate enough Jewels for a Mythic+ pack solely from TotP, in which time additional new Rares could have helped to round out a player’s collection and possibly improve their Event performances for greater rewards.

Bronze: 30 Jewels & 7,500 Runes

For a Fresh player in Bronze, the numbers become 25% of a Rare+ Pack or 7.5% of a Mythic+ Pack. It’s a sacrifice of 13 Rare draws for a single Mythic/Masterpiece which is a three-month wait to accumulate enough Jewels for a Mythic+ pack solely from TotP. So the effect is magnified.

As for the Runes, they are actually negligible because the player has to win 40 matches of TotP to obtain all the Progression rewards for 5 TotP events. With 100 Runes per win on top of the Progression rewards, that's 11,500 Runes for the Bronze player and 10,250 Runes for the Silver player. If the player instead chose to play and win 40 matches in Story Mode - Heroic Encounters, they would earn, at 250 Runes per win, 10,000 Runes at no risk. That additional 1,500/250 Runes from picking TotP hardly matters.

Hence TotP doesn’t look too good for a Fresh player unless they are desperate to earn more Jewels for some reason.

Expected Returns Comparison - Intermediate Category

The main difference between this category and the previous ones is really that the Intermediate player still has decent chances of looting new cards from opening typical packs and still has some chance of the guaranteed Rare from Premium Packs being a new card.

While this does not change the conclusion for Intermediate players in Silver or Bronze (don’t play) and Platinum (play if you have the time and Crystals), Intermediate players in Gold have to think whether the gradual build-up to a guaranteed Mythic/Masterpiece is worth the trade-off of looting less guaranteed Rares.

Are There Any Other Major Considerations?

Yes! The most immediate consideration is whether you want to open any more Dominaria cards. If you don’t, then spending the Crystals on TotP may be less favourable as you are diverting Crystals away from opening cards in another set which you might desire more.

Which leads into our other big consideration whether one has the Crystals to keep playing TotP while having enough Crystals for other needs in the game including purchasing new planeswalkers, opening Premium Packs for various sets, and saving up Crystals for the upcoming set.

If a Platinum player plays all Training Grounds, Across Ixalan and TotP events each week, they would be earning a net of 15 Crystals over the week. Without TotP, this would be 165 Crystals per week. Of course, this is before adding in the Crystals earned from the other events in the week which can add anywhere from 100 to 300 Crystals depending on the week’s event roster. But it is important to compare the difference in baselines and consider whether one is saving Crystals at a quick enough rate for whatever they are planning for.

If a non-Platinum player plays all Training Grounds, Across Ixalan and TotP events each week, they would instead lose 315 Crystals a week! This unfortunately makes TotP an unsustainable event to participate in for non-Platinum players. One possible way of considering when to play TotP is that if an Incomplete player was considering purchasing a Dominaria Premium Pack, they could instead play TotP to squeeze that bit more out of their Crystals.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Once in a while, the developers may have a special discounted week of Trial of the Planes going at a 30 Crystal entry fee. Under this special case, TotP is worth playing for all tiers. Even for Bronze, 150 Crystals for 5 x 5-card packs is a good discount on a Premium Pack at the expense of a guaranteed Rare. Any additional wins are just a bonus.

Tl;dr Bronze and Silver players should stay far far away from TotP. Gold players with fairly complete Dominaria collections and who still want to open Dominaria cards should play TotP instead of opening a Dominaria Premium Pack. Platinum Players who still want to open Dominaria cards should learn to budget their Crystals properly and keep playing TotP. Remember, 400-Jewel Mythic+ Elite Packs now give a guaranteed new Mythic or Masterpiece.

Comments

  • NinjaENinjaE Posts: 122 Tile Toppler
    How do you feel booster crafting has affected this analysis?
  • span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 718 Critical Contributor
    @NinjaE That's a very good question! The best way to look at it is to try to value all the different resources we spend and get from Trial of the Planes in terms of Orbs.

    Unfortunately, while I have worked out some numbers, I have yet to find a satisfactory way to explain and display the information. There's a particular complication in valuing Jewels which I have to figure out before I can post any detailed replies publicly.

    But the summary is that Trial of the Planes is now only worth playing for Platinum players. If you're in Gold or lower, don't touch it at all.

    The drop in value for Trial of the Planes essentially comes from Crystals increasing in value due to duplicates now yielding value in the form of Orbs.

    It is still worth playing for Platinum players, but is now very much dependent on whether one is willing to spend that additional 2.5 to 5 hours a week playing through Trial of the Planes.

    I'll update the post in detail when I figure out how to describe my findings.
  • ElfNeedsFoodElfNeedsFood Posts: 610 Critical Contributor
    Another aspect to consider is the no dupe rule is gone for Mythic packs, so the value of unobtanium has arguably decreased. That said, I’m Platinum and still playing. 
  • span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 718 Critical Contributor
    Another aspect to consider is the no dupe rule is gone for Mythic packs, so the value of unobtanium has arguably decreased. That said, I’m Platinum and still playing. 
    Well I never factored the reroll policy into the TotP analysis but that would be another change to consider for those who were playing it only because the reroll policy guaranteed a new card.
  • NinjaENinjaE Posts: 122 Tile Toppler

    As I am currently in gold, I really appreciate the advice - I'll stay away from it for now!

    That being said, when it was half price I played it and enjoyed it.

  • span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 718 Critical Contributor
    Also for anyone who is wondering if Across Ixalan is worth paying for, the answer is a flat yes.

    For all tiers, at the baseline you get a discounted Ixalan booster for the event entry fee of 20 Crystals. At Platinum tier, you'll also be earning a fair number of Jewels and a 30 Crystal reward on the final Progression tier. You'll need to win at least one battle in each node to unlock the next. But considering the nodes recharge and the ability to earn 15 points per battle from a win and the two secondary objectives, maximum Progression at only 40 points is really easy to hit.
  • GratefulDeadGratefulDead Posts: 4Age Unconfirmed Just Dropped In
    Thanks for the info! I wasn't sure if it was worth it since it seems to take forever to acquire the Jewels.
  • GentlemanlyGentlemanly Posts: 2Age Unconfirmed Just Dropped In
    Thanks for this.
  • Madhatter10why6Madhatter10why6 Posts: 2Age Unconfirmed Just Dropped In
    I think it's a waste of time and gems, across the Ixialan is a better value and less frustrating because your opponent gets all of the advantages in trials of the plains
  • bken1234bken1234 Posts: 2,241GLOBAL_MODERATORS Chairperson of the Boards
    I think it's a waste of time and gems, across the Ixialan is a better value and less frustrating because your opponent gets all of the advantages in trials of the plains
    For any tier other than Platinum, I agree with this. 
  • span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 718 Critical Contributor
    Guide's been updated to reflect the changes from 2.7.1! Let me know if you have any queries about this topic.
  • DBJonesDBJones Posts: 770 Critical Contributor
    I think adding a line at the beginning mentioning the new rule of no dupes in the mythic+ pack (and that the rare+ pack has no such rule) would be a good idea. Most of the people using the forum now probably know, but there's no announcement that will stay up for new visitors, and this is the question they would have where it becomes relevant.
  • span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 718 Critical Contributor
    DBJones said:
    I think adding a line at the beginning mentioning the new rule of no dupes in the mythic+ pack (and that the rare+ pack has no such rule) would be a good idea. Most of the people using the forum now probably know, but there's no announcement that will stay up for new visitors, and this is the question they would have where it becomes relevant.
    @DBJones
    I didn't mention it at the start, but I put it in the paragraph just before the reward table and also in the analysis for Incomplete Platinum players.
  • DBJonesDBJones Posts: 770 Critical Contributor
    @span_argoman, I did see those. I was thinking more that it would be nice to have a short guide at the start with a few important points. Something like "Bronze and Silver players probably shouldn't bother with this event, Gold players with solid collections might want to, Platinum players it's usually worth it if you have the time. The booster pack is nice, and jewels will get you elite packs. Rare+ can give you a card you already have, but Mythic+ is a guaranteed new card!"
    I'm the sort who reads the whole thing, I don't know how likely the average player is to do so.
  • span_argomanspan_argoman Posts: 718 Critical Contributor
    DBJones said:
    @span_argoman, I did see those. I was thinking more that it would be nice to have a short guide at the start with a few important points. Something like "Bronze and Silver players probably shouldn't bother with this event, Gold players with solid collections might want to, Platinum players it's usually worth it if you have the time. The booster pack is nice, and jewels will get you elite packs. Rare+ can give you a card you already have, but Mythic+ is a guaranteed new card!"
    I'm the sort who reads the whole thing, I don't know how likely the average player is to do so.
    Fair enough, I've added a tl;dr summary at the end of the post and a reference at the start of the post to it for those who don't intend to read the entire article.  :)
  • DBJonesDBJones Posts: 770 Critical Contributor
    Thanks, that's perfect!
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