Last updated on September 28, 2021
Professor Onyx | Illustration by Kieran Yanner
If you’ve ever played a digital card game in your life, then you’ve probably played against somebody who used an emote at you — or used one yourself. It might have been after your opponent top decked a sweeper or miscalculated a combo, but emotes are all you have — the sole method of communication between you and your opponent in MTG Arena.
They’re the only way to greet each other at the start of a match or to say “GG” at the end. And the intentions behind them are just up to interpretation because of their limited scope.
Arena has steadily increased its animated emote collection over the past few sets, expanding the way players express themselves in a match. But its emotes aren’t free from controversy or Twitter firestorms.
It isn’t uncommon to see players using “Nice!” or “Oops” in an attempt to tilt an opponent. And we’ve recently seen ethical discussions about the use of these totally legal methods of trying to gain an advantage to win.
Let’s dive right into this wonderful world of emotes in MTGA!
What Are Emotes and Why Use Them?
Hedron Alignment | Illustration by Craig J Spearing
Emotes are short, pre-programmed phrases that you can use inside MTGA that act as the sole method of communication during a match. The base set of “classic” emotes allow you to say “hello” and “GG,” compliment your opponent, communicate that you’re thinking on a play, and remind your opponent that they have priority. You can even say “oops” and “sorry,” which have some very obvious room for use in any attempts to further tilt an opponent. More on this later!
WotC very obviously intends Arena to be a mobile-friendly game. Part of that is ensuring communication is easily accessible. It’s tedious to type out common messages on a phone or tablet, and emotes solve that problem.
Wizards started expanding MTGA’s suite of emotes with the launch of Zendikar Rising. The launch brought the largest single collection of emotes, including both animated stickers and 15 unique text emotes. Kaldheim brought an additional two unique animated emotes.
Each new set after Kaldheim brought a unique package of three stickers per bundle which become available in the Arena Store for 1,000 gems or 5,000 gold. No new text-based emotes have been released since Zendikar Rising.
How Do You Mute Emotes?
Sometimes seeing an opponent spam “Hello!” nonstop or claim “Good Game” before that time has come can be distracting and even annoying. Whatever your reason, muting an opponent to hide their emotes is quite easy and only requires two clicks.
1. Click your opponent’s avatar
2. Click the “Mute” button
List of Emotes in MTG Arena
The all-time classic “Hello!” emote. Nothing special to see here. This isn’t the first or the last time you’ll come across it in a digital card game. You’ll absent-mindedly click this at the start of each match and that’ll be the entirety of your all-business relationship with this button.
Now this is an emote with some serious room for evildoing. It has the simple congratulatory option when your opponent rolls a 20 on their Swarming Goblins but some would say it’s even more appropriate when they roll a one.
“Thanks!” is the obvious response when your opponent actually uses “Nice!” in its intended manner. Although there’s room for this when your opponent misplays and accidentally yields their turn right back to you or sarcastically when the game gives you your fifth land draw in a row.
This will probably be your least used emote. It’s a good signifier to let your opponent know you’re not AFK or running down the clock in bad manners (BM), but you usually won’t be going to the emote wheel and clicking this when you’re calculating lethal or what your best attacks are.
This emote doesn’t have much serious use. It can’t really alert somebody who’s in their bathroom or kitchen that you passed the turn. It has a much stronger spot in the BM category where your opponent is obviously making decisions and you’re looking to throw their attention off or not-so-politely ask them to hurry up.
Now this is an emote with serious implications. WotC likely intended for this to be used when you genuinely make a mistake, but everyone and their mother knows its real use. This is a lot of players’ go-to button for when they draw their game-ending bomb, top deck the perfect removal, or wombo-combo their opponent into the next draft. Using this emote in that way is totally legal but may not be the recommended route if you’re trying to be an ethical player.
This emote, similar to “Thanks!”, can’t be used unless your opponent already emoted “Oops.” Long time Hearthstone players will remember the classic “sorry” emote that existed until 2016 which was exclusively used to BM opponents in matches. This limitation of requiring your opponent to say “Oops.” first works around that complication.
Rounding out the classic we have “Good Game.” This’ll be your last action in any match (assuming you’re not on too tilted) before you concede or possibly Alt-F4. This emote can also be used as an “in your face” button when you know you clutched a win, similar to “Oops.”
Zendikar Rising Emotes
Zendikar Rising marked the first addition of new emotes to the game in the form of both animated Zendikar hedrons and new text emotes. The animated emotes convey a variety of emotions that weren’t exactly communicable with the classic emotes. Things like sadness with the blue crying hedron or love and friendship with the purple heart hedron.
A series of text-based emotes were also introduced in Zendikar Rising which have a variety of options based on what’s going on in the game. These range from telling your opponent to slow it down with “Too Fast” or revealing your aggressive intentions with “Rushing Ahead.”
Here’s the list of ZNR text-based emotes:
- Rushing Ahead
- Inferno Spark
- Rebirth Death
- All of Us
- Zendikar Restless
- Iona No Longer
- Swarm Rise
- Gnarlids Follow
- Grab a Leg
- Turned Around
- Worry Much
- Obey Cooperate
- Too Fast
- Backup Plan
- Dawn Adventure
Kaldheim brought two new animated emotes to your collection with the “Shephard Glee” and “Reaper Shrug” emotes.
Side note: WotC refers to these as “stickers” in the announcement for this set. They’re still sold as emotes and you can find them under the “Emote” tab in MTG Arena store.
Adventures in the Forgotten Realms
Innistrad: Midnight Hunt
Magic’s newest set release, Midnight Hunt, brings yet another three stickers to your arsenal. This go around we have a full moon behind an incredibly menacing wolf emote, Gisa, Glorious Resurrector waving at your opponent with a zombie hand, and a Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset emote.
Emote Controversy: Bluffing, Bad Manners, or Big Plays?
In totally unprecedented circumstances, Magic players managed to get mad about something emote-related and then argued about it on Twitter.
On August 31, 2021, Saffron Olive posted a clip from his stream where he uses the “Good Game.” emote to try and get his opponent to believe he was admitting defeat only to bait them into attacking with all of their creatures into Saffron’s Settle the Wreckage.
This was done as a “by any means necessary” way of clinging on and accomplished Saffron’s goal of wiping his opponent’s board, possibly extending the game and giving him a path to a comeback. This bluff led to a serious discussion in the replies with some equally serious (and heated) opinions and back-and-forth debate.
One of the top replies was from Marshall Sutcliffe, a well-known Magic announcer and co-host of the popular Limited Resources podcast. Marshall admitted the legality of the play but also noted it was “pretty unsporting” and that Saffron might want to re-evaluate the tone he’s setting as a “big name in the community.”
One of the rebuttals to Marshall’s opinion was a reference to Luis Scott Vargas’ famous vampire token bluff at the Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica Semifinals where Vargas reached and grabbed a vampire token, bluffing that he didn’t have a board wipe and was more interested in the token his only card in hand would potentially make to block. Interestingly, the card Vargas pretended not to have was also Settle the Wreckage, making this a nearly one-to-one comparison! It was also Marshall Sutcliff commentating who was astonished at the play and viewed it in a much more positive light.
These two scenarios have stark similarities but drew completely opposite reactions from the community. This was because of both the nature of the bluffs and the way in which Magic was being played. In Vargas’ case there was no confusion as to whether or not he was admitting defeat, unlike Saffron saying “good game.”
Saffron’s bluff is only possible through the nature of a digital card game. Vargas couldn’t say “good game” and then immediately after say “just kidding, also board wipe” in a paper game of Magic. While Saffron’s bluff is legal because of how communications are limited in MTGA, it’s still exclusive to that form, so Vargas’ bluff isn’t an exact comparison. With this in mind I can see the debate over Saffron’s bluff boiling down to the same admission of “it’s perfectly legal, but kind of scummy.”
As with all forms of online communication spam isn’t unheard of. It can be a serious form of distraction until you mute your opponent and some view it as a reason to report. It’s unlikely that WotC will take any action for reports like that, though, since muting opponents is incredibly easy and you can do it with basically no effort.
Ideas for New Emotes
There’s always room for expansion in a system of communication where you can’t create custom messages and users on the MTG Arena Reddit actually came up with some pretty useful (and funny!) suggestions.
Reddit user Alan0211 suggests a set of very candid and plain emotes that are incredibly useful nonetheless. A simple “BRB” or “mana screwed :(“ can’t really be used in a toxic way and they convey a very straightforward message to your opponent.
A “Bruh.” emote would undoubtedly be the most versatile and used emote if it were introduced.
Opponent resolved their bomb?
You played your bomb into a counterspell?
You get mana screwed and go 0-3 in your draft because you forced 5-color good stuff to try and make an obscure strategy work?
How Do You Get New Emotes for MTG Arena?
Getting new emotes is pretty simple so long as the ones you want are available. New emote packs released with each set are available in the MTG Arena Store until the next new set is released.
It’s hard to get emotes/stickers from previous sets. They are available in the promo packs for Midweek Magic/FNM at home, though. But you can only directly purchase the current packs from the store.
It is possible that these old stickers may be released temporarily in the “Featured” tab or as a daily deal, but Wizards hasn’t announced a schedule for these releases.
MTG Arena’s Emotes vs Other Games
Arena’s emote selection isn’t very different from the emotes of other digital card games like Hearthstone or Legends of Runeterra. In fact, they’re nearly identical.
Hearthstone has a similar set of basic emotes including “Hello,” “Well Played,” and “Oops,” which are also available to you in MTGA. Legends of Runeterra has animated emotes which resemble the newly released ones which communicate nonverbally.
Play of the Game | Illustration by Jung Park
Well, that wraps up the existing knowledge on MTG Arena emotes. If it isn’t here, it probably doesn’t exist
at least, I couldn’t find it! I hope you enjoyed this review of the emotes and all the chaos and debate they bring with them.
Are there any emotes you wish you had access to that haven’t been implemented yet? Let me know what you think in the comments down there or check out our Discord to find like-minded Magic players and discuss.
And since I’m assuming you’re an MTGA player, you need to check out our wonderful free app Arena Tutor. It will give you tons of statistics related to your games, track your deck, and even help you with draft! Give it a try.
See you around here again soon!