Chosen by Heliod | Illustration by Zack Stella
In a world of custom playmats, deck boxes, sleeves, and foiled out EDH decks, customization is clearly an important feature for paper collectors of MTG. It’s also important for Arena players, but it’s been a bit more frustrating.
There are currently six different arts for Duress on Arena, and a variety of alternate frames. If I always wanted to use my favorite printing from the Strixhaven Mystical Archive, I’d have to choose it each time I built or imported a deck.
In March 2023, WotC finally gave users a version of a feature we’d been asking for since almost the inception of the program: “preferred printing.” It changes all of that.
But what is preferred printing and how does it work? Read on, friends!
First Sliver's Chosen | Illustration by Steven Belledin
Preferred printing is an element of MTG Arena that allows users to specify your “preferred printing” (i.e., the default style) of a card.
When deckbuilding, each card for which you have more than one printing has an icon on the top left that allows you to open the preferred printing interface to select the version of the card that will default to all your decks, similar to the way a player’s preferred sleeve, pet, or avatar can be applied as the default for decks.
You can set preferred printings of your cards either in the deck editor or in your “Collections” page, which is a button on the lower left when you open up Decks from the top left menu.
How to Use Preferred Printing
To use preferred printing, you need to be in the deck editor or your Collections page and search up the card or land you want. There’s an icon on the top left with two arrows. If you click that, it expands to show you all the printings of the card you have. You can also toggle the “Craft” button to see all the over possible printings you don’t have but could buy.
For example, here’s an old deck I’d forgotten was in my collection from many Historic metas ago. It’s a deck where I use Duress, and you can see the icon:
When I click that icon, you can see all the printings I have displayed. The one currently selected has its heart icon on the bottom right lit up and pulsing (kinda creepily, if you ask me!)
When I select my preferred printing, Arena will use that printing as I construct new decks. It’ll also use that printing when I import a deck into the client.
Yes, and no. In my Duress example above, you can see that my preferred printing is the Strixhaven card, with its specific card style. But there’s no other version of that card with that art, so maybe we need a different example.
With Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, you can see that I don’t have the preferred printing toggle on the top.
That’s because each art I have for Thalia is a different card style, which means I have to use the “Card Styles” menu on the top right to select one. You can also see that I can choose to have the basic printing of the card with no card style.
Preferred printing was supposed to smooth this procedure with the April 18th update:
Preferred Printing has leveled up, and it will now remember your preferred card style as well. This means that, for every card in the game, you can pick your favorite card style, and it'll be used for the collection view and whenever you add or import it into a deck.WotC
But complaints were scattered across social media. For myself, regardless of which card style I select, when next I search Thalia in the deck builder or Collection it defaults to the Mina Harker skin regardless of which style I select.
You have some work to do if you created a deck before March 2023. Arena doesn’t apply preferred printing choices backwards to previous decks, and unlike the “Apply Styles” button that pops up when you open an older deck for which you’ve since acquired card styles, there isn’t a similar button for preferred printing. I hope that’s on the menu for a future update, but until then, here’s what you need to do if you want your old decks to get up to speed.
Here you can see that the lands in that discard deck are all Kaladesh swamps.
For each card in the deck I want to shift to a particular preferred printing, I need to delete those cards from the deck and then readd them. In this case, for lands, I could just toggle down the swamps and then use the “Suggest Lands” tool, which would populate the deck with my favorite Swamp.
Drana's Chosen | Illustration by Deruchenko Alexander
An easier interface for this feature would be excellent, yes. But this is still a welcome change.
For me the only downside is the extra information gathered when I saw the burning towers on the Richard Wright Ravnica Mountain that told me my opponent was netdecking and playing something they’d copied from the internet. Sometimes that meant I could get away with things I couldn’t against experienced deck pilots. Sometimes I still got wrecked, because, you know.
Are you enjoying this feature? What are your suggestions for improvements? Let us know in the comments below, or join the discussion over in the Draftsim Discord.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!
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