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Is Magic: The Gathering Arena Really Free?

The short answer is yes, Magic: The Gathering Arena is a completely free-to-play digital card game. There are no upfront costs to download or play MTG Arena. While in-game purchases can accelerate progression, they are not required to access the full experience.

Acquiring Cards and Progressing as a Free Player

As a free-to-play digital card game, naturally the question arises – how do free MTG Arena players acquire cards and make progress?

Daily Gameplay Rewards

There are a variety of rewarding gameplay loops that provide free players with the resources needed to build a collection over time:

  • Daily quests – These provide 500-750 gold for completing objectives like playing certain colors or casting X number of creatures.
  • Daily win rewards – You earn small amounts of gold just for winning games, up to a maximum per day.
  • Weekly win rewards – Earn uncommon and rare individual card rewards (ICRs) based on your total wins each week.

Optimizing daily gameplay to complete quests and max out wins gives a regular trickle of gold and cards.

Progression Systems

On top of daily gameplay, structured progression systems offer regular injections of resources:

  • Mastery Pass – Free track awards gold, booster packs, cosmetics, wildcards, and cards through leveling up.
  • Renewal Rewards – For logging in each day during the quarterly set release, earn free cards, styles, and packs.
  • Season Rewards – End of season ranking provides booster packs and cosmetics based on your Constructed or Limited tier.
  • Promo Codes – Wizards releases limited-use codes for free booster packs, card styles, and other cosmetics.

Draft and Events

Limited formats like Draft are another avenue for free players to expand their collection:

  • Quick Draft – Costs 5,000 gold to enter. At just 3 wins you earn enough gems for a free re-entry, plus the cards you draft and add to your collection.
  • Premier Draft – 10,000 gold entry fee but provides better rewards. Going "infinite" is achievable by averaging 5-6 wins.

Constructed events also reward gold, booster packs, and ICRs. While these require using a deck, daily gameplay provides enough gold to participate regularly as a free player.

Wildcards

The resources above provide wildcards, which are redeemed to unlock any card you need for deck building. Managing wildcards judiciously lets free players craft the cards they want most.

Viability of Competitive Play as a Free Player

Many wonder if MTG Arena’s free-to-play model allows players to be competitive without spending money. Let’s examine some key factors:

  • Meta decks often contain many rares/mythics. However, through wildcards earned from opening hundreds of packs, free players can craft the key cards needed.
  • Budget versions of tier decks can perform well. Lower rarity cards can substitute flex slots in many meta decks.
  • Limited formats like Draft are on an even playing field. Your collection doesn’t matter, just your drafting and deck building skills.
  • Reaching Mythic is achievable for skilled free players, though it may take 1-2 seasons of grinding.
  • Top Mythic ranks will be difficult without a broad collection, but lower Mythic is realistic.

I’m currently in Platinum tier as a free player. With dedication, practice, and optimizing daily progression, competitive viability is certainly achievable without spending on MTG Arena.

Wrap Up

To summarize:

  • MTG Arena is 100% free-to-play – no upfront cost, no restrictions on gameplay modes or social features.
  • Regular progression systems provide plenty of resources over time – gold, cards, wildcards, etc.
  • Reaching Mythic ranks and being competitive is realistic for skilled, persistent free players.
  • While spending accelerates acquisition of cards, it is by no means mandatory to enjoy MTG Arena.

So if you‘ve been curious about getting into this wildly popular trading card game, rest assured you can dive in completely for free and work your way up to competitive constructed play based on your time and skill alone. Give MTG Arena a try and experience the full depth of what Magic has to offer. The planeswalkers welcome free players and paying players alike!