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The Golden Pack: Arena Boon or Band-Aid Solution?

Magic: The Gathering Arena has announced the Golden Pack, a booster filled with rare and mythic rare cards. How much do these improve the game's economy?

In Magic: The Gathering Arena‘s last weekly announcement article, Wizards of the Coast unveiled a new type of digital booster back debuting with The Brothers’ War, The Golden Pack. You can read more about this new booster and its contents here.

To recap that announcement and summarize this latest article, Golden Packs contain six Standard-legal rares or mythic rares. Of these, at least two will be from The Brothers’ War and at least one will be a Standard mythic rare. Each rare you would open has a 1 in 8 chance to upgrade to a mythic rare. This means that you can open 6 mythic rares in one pack!

These rares and mythics are duplicate protected, meaning you won’t open extra copies of rares and mythics you already own. If you already own four copies of all cards of the rarity of the card you would have opened, you will get gems instead. They will also advance your wildcard tracks, like opening any other pack does. On the other hand, you won’t be open to open wildcards straight out of Golden Packs as you’ll always get a card you don’t own or the associated gem amount.

One question that remained after the Arena announcement article was whether you would be able to get Golden Packs outside of The Brothers’ War Mishra preorder bundle, but we now know that Golden Packs will be a fixture of the digital client moving forward.

How the Golden Packs Work

Every Arena account will get a Golden Pack meter that gets you a pack after ten steps are completed. For the first iteration of the pack tied to the release of The Brothers’ War, this meter advances every time you buy a pack from the new set. For every ten booster packs you purchase, you get a Golden Pack!

This is the only way to advance the meter – you can’t work towards more Golden Packs by winning boosters in events. You can, however, progress the meter by buying pack bundles in the store. If you buy more packs than the number of steps left in your Golden Pack meter, the remaining packs will count towards future Golden Packs. This way, buying a large pack bundle will also deliver the satisfying reward of multiple Golden Packs to open.

the new Golden Pack on Magic: The Gathering Arena

Once the meter is progressed ten times and you receive a Golden Pack, it resets. You can open these packs like any other booster in the Pack opening page in the Arena client.

What Does the Golden Pack Mean for Arena Players?

If we look at the new Golden Packs at face value, there is a lot to like. Many players, especially those who don’t grind Limited events like Premier Drafts, resort to purchasing packs from the store using gold or gems to build decks for Constructed formats. For these players focused on Constructed, Golden Packs are a basically a freeroll.

Rare wildcards can be a significant bottleneck if you want to build a gauntlet of competitive decks. This only rings truer when you dip into older formats like Historic, especially if you haven’t been actively playing Arena for some time. For these types of players, Golden Packs are definitely a good thing.

The same is true, albeit to a lesser extent, for players who do play a lot of Limited. While avid drafters may not need too many wildcards to build decks, it does help to be able to buy packs and get more rares you don’t have on top of those. Overall, Golden Packs are a nice bonus for Limited grinders, but likely don’t do too much to encourage these players to dip their toes into Constructed.

On the other hand, Golden Packs ostensibly do little to address the core issue that many players have with the Arena economy: you can’t create or purchase wildcards to acquire the exact rares or mythics you need for your decks. If you look at other digital card games, Arena measures up pretty poorly in terms of flexibility of the economy. In Legends of Runeterra, you can straight up purchase wildcards using money, so you know your investment into the client is going right where you want it to.

Many other games allow you to “dust” or destroy cards you own in exchange for currency that allows you to craft the cards you need. Arena‘s economy is very rigid by comparison: you can only acquire rares through drafting them, opening them randomly in product, as random card rewards, or by redeeming the wildcards you get from Vault progression.

It can be easy to see the introduction of Golden Packs as a stopgap measure to appease critics, or a statement of continued conviction in the idea that the Arena economy does not need to be overhauled.

The Bottom Line

In the end, Golden Packs are better than nothing at all, and different players will be able to get varying degrees of utility from them. Of course, Magic players can and should provide feedback to the Arena team on whether this is a step in the right direction for the economy, or whether it does not do enough the make the game more friendly to a large portion of the playerbase.

Arena devs have certainly showed some willingness to listen to feedback and tweak certain aspects of the game’s economy, so it stands to reason that Golden Packs might look different after this initial release alongside The BrothersWar.

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Nicholas "INickStrad" Price is a writer and competitive Magic player from Manila, Philippines. He has played in high level events on paper, MTGO, and Arena, and spends his time drafting the latest set and improving at Constructed formats.

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