Last updated on January 20, 2023
There’s lots of things for you to look at, think about, and experience when you’re new to MTG. Thankfully there’s a lot of help for new players in Arena. From the entire new player experience offering a simple tutorial and plenty of cards and pre-con decks to start your collection, to store items tailored specifically to helping new players get a bit ahead, you’re definitely not alone.
Now, if you’re reading this, I imagine you’re probably a new player and the above does, in fact, apply to you. Who knows, maybe you’re an experienced player who just never got the bundle and is thinking “what the heck, should I?”. Likely not, but I don’t know you. I’m not psychic! Whatever the case, you’re surely here to figure out if it’s worth shelling out five bucks for.
So, let’s get into that, shall we?
The MTG Arena Welcome Bundle and You
Pursuit of Knowledge | Illustration by DiTerlizzi
Before we can talk about whether or not the bundle is worth it, we need to know some stuff.
In MTG Arena, there are two ways to play, at least in terms of the store: free-to-play (F2P) and pay-to-play (P2P). It’s pretty self-explanatory, but it basically means whether or not you spend money to play the game. Arena is a free platform to download and play, so the game itself is F2P, even if it's possible to spend money in the game's store. But is it pay-to-win? That’s where they usually get’cha.
However, I would say that you absolutely do not need to spend money to be competitive in Arena. It’s 100% possible to grind your way into the cards and decks that will give you a chance to put yourself on the map in competitive MTGA.
Wildcards make getting specific cards much easier and are the only way to get individual cards, anyway. Really you should hoard them as much as you can until you know what deck you’re working towards, but I am the worst person to give that advice. I’m that player huddled over a pile of mismatched nonsense cards in the back of Arena going “shiny cards, precious cards” like a bad impression of Gollum.
I just really wanted a janky amass deck, OK?
Then there’s the Vault, which is a nice thing that helps you along as you collect cards and eventually rewards you with a handful of Wildcards. Daily/weekly rewards not only give you gold and ICRs, they also give Mastery XP which just nets you more stuff. And if you’re not into events and prefer to just buy packs with your gold, check out our best packs to buy article to help you pick the best option.
The whole system is, obviously, designed to reward you for playing. The more you play, the more you get, the easier it is to play and win, the more you get… You see where I’m going with this, yeah?
Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, let’s move on to what you’re really here for.
OK But… What's In the Bundle?
So, the welcome bundle. What do you get when you buy it and how do you buy it?
Well, you buy it from Arena’s store in the “Bundles” section—it shows up in the “Featured” section when you first open the store, too—and it costs $4.99 USD. It’s also a one-time purchase, meaning once you get it, you can’t buy it a second time.
If you do buy it, you’ll get a cool 2,500 gems and five of the current Core Set packs to start you off. Not that bad for a new player, we’ll be honest.
But, is it actually advantageous to buy the bundle instead of just grabbing the gems from the store? Let’s talk about that.
Real Talk: Is the Welcome Bundle Worth It
OK, so we’ve established that you’re probably a new player but could also be a veteran who just never got the bundle and is kind of curious. As a new player, the bundle sounds like a great deal. As a veteran, though, you’ve probably got gems coming out of the wazoo and either already completed your Core Set collection or have as much as you care to.
In both cases, though, it’s important to know if the bundle is a good deal, at least if you're considering it. Let’s do the math, shall we?
The Facts and the Fiction (As Told by Me)
Number Crunch | Illustration by Stephen Daniele
All right, if you ask me personally, I’d say the welcome bundle is worth it. At face value with my rudimentary math skills, it looks like it’s legitimately a good deal and that’s good enough for me. Do I want to break out the calculator and crunch the numbers to figure out if I should get the bundle or the gems? Hell no! So, my instincts telling me that it’s a good deal is what makes it a good deal in my eyes.
Is that how it works? Of course not. Does that mean I didn’t buy the welcome bundle when I first started based off just that? Psh, please. Of course I bought it. Then again, I’m also able to write off the purchase on my taxes so, I mean, that helps, but never you mind that!
I can see that my own misguided reasoning isn’t good enough for you, though, which is fair, so let’s take a peek at the broader community’s opinion.
The general consensus is that the bundle is a good first (or only) buy, along with the Mastery Pass but that’s neither here nor there. You get a bunch of premium currency to get you started—the best thing to spend it on would be events, IMO—and five of the current Core Set packs. Nothing crazy, but a good start as a new player.
There’s plenty of talk in the community, both old and new, about “going optimal.” Basically, finding the right balance between things to optimize your time, money, and just generally what you put into the game vs what you get out of the game. It’s a good philosophy to follow in anything you do that requires either time or money or both, but if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck in Arena, it’s a good thing to keep in mind.
The welcome bundle is a great example of going optimal. It is cheaper to buy the bundle than to buy the gems and we’ll do the official math to prove it in just a sec. But not only that, you’re also saving the time that it would take to farm the gems and packs if you went full F2P and didn’t buy anything at all, choosing instead to grind your way up to it. Which is true in any case, really, but at least the bundle is cheap and a good deal.
Let’s Talk $$
OK, now let’s get technical. The whole thing that I didn’t want to do because it seemed like a waste of time over a measly five bucks. Don’t worry, I’ll do all the heavy lifting for you so that you don’t have to spend a bunch of time or thought on it, you just get the results of my blood, sweat, and tears. You’re welcome.
So. The bundle is $4.99 USD and you get 2,500 gems and five packs. Let’s break that down into what it would cost you if you bought the gems and then used them to get packs, while still having at least 2,500 gems left.
We’re gonna have to fudge the numbers a bit and do some assuming since there’s no 2,500 gems or five packs options in the store, which I’m pretty sure is a very intentional thing on Wizards’ part. I’ll do the nonsense math to get the “true value” of it all, but first let’s take a look at the reality of the situation with what’s actually possible to get from Arena’s store.
First, we’ll look at packs, since we need to know how many gems it takes to get five packs to know how many gems we need to get in total. Don’t forget, we need to have 2,500 gems in our account after we buy the five packs.
So, six packs costs 1,200 gems, and there’s no discount if you buy the six bundle or two three bundles, so each pack is worth 200 gems. Unfortunately, buying individual packs is going to cost you gold and not gems and converting one to the other is a whole other mess that I’m absolutely not getting into (hint: drafting), so let’s just settle on six packs for now and move on.
For gems, we know that we would need 3,500 if we could buy five packs but we can’t do that, so we’ll settle with needing to get 3,700 gems. Either way, though, we now run into a problem because uh oh, would you look at that, there’s no gem bundle for either of those numbers. We’re landing between the just-short 3,400 and way-too-much 9,200 options.
So, the reality? You’d need to buy 9,200 gems for $49.99 USD in order to have at least 2,500 gems left over after buying the six pack bundle, which costs 1,200 gems. Alternatively, you could get 3,400 gems for $19.99 USD and be down to 2,200 gems after getting the six packs which isn’t that far down from 2,500.
There’s no but, I’m just showing the options here.
And either way, that’s… already kind of ridiculous. To match the welcome bundle, you’d need to spend fifty dollars? Insane. And even if you went a rung down it’d still be a whopping twenty bucks, and you’d be down 300 gems. Sure, you’d have an extra pack, but we already established that they’re only worth 200 gems, meaning you spent four times as much and basically got 100 gems less in value. That’s not ideal.
All right. So, the bundle is better than the alternative if you’re looking for a cheap buy. But what if you’re just looking to get the most bang for your buck and don’t care how much more you have to spend to do so? Now it’s time for the dumb math.
The Fun Math
We know packs are worth 200 gems, but how much IRL money are gems worth? This is a bit more complicated than the packs ‘cause you actually get a discount the more gems you buy. Let’s look at the cost for gems at the lowest tier and the highest, and then we’ll average out for a happy middle, shall we?
The 750-gem pack costs you $4.99 USD, same as the welcome bundle, which makes each gem worth $0.0066533333. The biggest pack, 20,000 gems for $99.99 USD, values the gems you buy at a slightly-rounded-up value of $0.005 (it’s actually $0.0049995, if you wanna follow along with our math for some reason). Not a huge difference, sure, but if we took the lowest bundle’s cost and added it up to 20,000 gems, it’d cost you about $133.07 USD. Yikes.
Averaging the two numbers out gives us a cost of $0.0058264167 USD per gem. So.
Five packs at 200 gems per pack is 1,000 gems, plus the 2,500 gems included in the pack gives us a grand total of 3,500 gems worth of stuff in the welcome bundle. With our averaged value, that makes the bundle worth about $20.39 USD. Hell, even with the cheapest gem price from the 20k set, the bundle would be worth $17.50 USD, so no matter how you look at it, you’re getting a really good deal.
You're Welcome Bundle
Gravitic Punch | Illustration by Randy Vargas
All right, I’ve done my math and now I’m tired, so we’re gonna wrap this up so we can all go on our way. What pleasantries do I usually close these out with? Hope you learned something, we appreciate your support, leave a comment, check out our Patreon… I think that’s about it, yeah?
Oh! If you’re a new player looking to get as much as you can out of your time in Arena, whether you’re a casual player who just wants to brag about how awesome they are or if you’re looking to punch your way up the ladder to Mythic, check out Arena Tutor. It’ll help you learn the ropes by tracking your games and teaching you how to draft—one of the best ways to build your collection and make bank, TBH.
All snark aside, we legitimately appreciate your support. I don’t have any good, on-topic questions to ask you, so comment whatever comes to mind (MTG-related, you heathens) and we’ll have a chat!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: