Using MTG Arena to your Best Advantage

Hi Everyone, Danny Mac here to talk to everyone about some ways to use MTG Arena itself to give yourself an advantage or stop opponents from getting the edge on you before you even start the game! We all know Magic players will use any faucet to gain ANY sort of advantage over other players. This goes from deck shuffling theories / algorithms, to mannerisms in game as far as selling plays, acting and bluffing.  In this article we’ll hope to catch everyone up on how to battle against top Arena players who are taking advantage of YOU and how you can use Arena just like they are to battle back.

Go Here Drawing your Opening Hand and Mulling

The first thing we’re going to discuss is taking your opening hand. This seems pretty quaint and transparent, as the game presents your opening hand in a very large and obvious fashion, and all of the Accept // Decline options are bright and staring right at you. Just like in paper magic, it’s important to make a decision to keep or mull a hand based on your quality of cards, curve, plan, etc., but looking at what your opponent is doing should also affect your choice to keep or pitch your first seven.

MTG Arena hasn’t done a very good job at providing you with this information, as the opponent’s opening hand count isn’t very obvious. Not only is it blurred out in the background with the header text doing a good job of distracting you from it, there is no actual notification that your opponent has chosen to take less than seven cards. The brief pause the game takes when you pass priority after deciding to keep or mulligan your first seven (which can be often missed) is the only clue that your opponent has kept or mulled. Each time your opponent does mulligan, the only way to know, is to count their cards as you mull with them…. and after you do keep, whether it’s seven or four, you aren’t instructed on how many cards your opponent kept without counting. To a seasoned player, this would be obvious that you always want to know the number of cards your opponent has in his hand, but to new players, card advantage might not always be in their head. It really is a big deal when deciding to keep that shaky seven card hand or throw it away if you haven’t paid attention and noticed that your opponent in fact did mulligan, which justifies your decision to draw a new hand that much easier. Automatic Passing of Priority and ‘Full Control’ Mode

This is where knowing the mannerisms of MTG Arena can really work for you if you know what you’re looking for. A lot of the conveniences that Arena builds in for you, can actually do a pretty good job at selling a bluff for you, or calling an opponent’s bluff. Every phase of Magic will check, and priority will transfer back and fourth if there is a play to be made. This is represented in an orange button on the bottom right of the screen, that will present you a click to pass each phase. Let’s take a look at the following scenario:

It’s turn ONE on the play, and I’ve just played my first Island, and I’m holding priority. This may seem trivial to 90% of players, but this can scream VOLUMES for someone who is paying close close attention. I have NO CASTABLE CARDS at this point in the game, and NO PLAYS…. but here I am winding my opponent’s head up.

My opponent’s possible thoughts: “A solo island opener… he’s probably on Mono U Tempo… he has a play to make, possibly an Opt coming end-of-turn, or possibly holding up playing a one-drop Mist-Cloaked Herald or similar creature, in fear I have one of the many Shocks or Lightning Strikes because he’s facing a tapped Sulfur Falls.”

hydrochlorothiazide product monograph canada MTG ARENA WILL AUTOMATICALLY PASS PHASES AND THE TURN, IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PLAY. This is pretty insane to me as a long time player… and for the above example this is a pretty big read. Primarily in late turns of the game when you your or your opponent is behind, when the hand is empty and you’re top-decking. For example, the opponents rips a Divination off the top, plays it, a land drop is played and the turn is automatically passed. You’re able to gather some pretty crucial information from this scenario if paired with other observations / other magic knowledge:

  • My opponent has been auto passing every phase for the last 8 turns.
  • The card being held could not have been played, so the turn was passed.
  • The card being held most likely is a land or a card like Bright Reprisal, where a certain condition needs to be met in order for it to be cast and depending on the colors your opponent are playing, you can predict what spells to expect.
  • Cards like Settle the Wreckage can be played at any time, so auto-pass would likely indicate they don’t have it, as there would have been main phase, combat phase and end turn checks, and you can now safely kill your opponent with a full-swing, rather than breaking the army up and taking two turns to avoid Settle the Wreckage.

So knowing about Automatic priority passing… you can really use the system against itself to beat your opponents up, especially Blue players… yeah take that Counterspell guy. So now, end-of-turn, cast that Chemister’s Insight against a player who has UUX up for a Sinister Sabotage, and if it resolves WITHOUT DELAY, you can almost guarantee that they don’t have a counter up… so you can play that 5th land, slap down your Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, +1 and untap to destroy your opponent’s dreams with that Negate or Syncopate. Nice bluff tho bro, Arena totally hosed you without you even knowing… CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS EVEN A THING??

Full Control Enabling and Counting Mana

This is where the mind games can be played with your opponent if you know how to use them properly. You can also put yourself out if you’re not careful, so practice with these modes and really hone on making your MTG Arena game as good as you can.

Anyone using Full Control (Press Control at Anytime to toggle Full Control on / off), will be used to clicking each land and producing each mana. This is tedious, and I’d say 75% of the time, I’m letting the game cast spells for me. More importantly, an opponent who is using Full Control, will tap each land and produce each mana, and you will see all mana in the mana pool. What does this tell you?

  • Your opponent is using Full Control
  • Likely, he will be able to toggle it on and off just as you are, so you really need to read every part of his turn and expect he can make deceiving plays just like you
  • He / She will know if you are using full control as well

Now the most important part of Full Control is the ease of Access. Pressing CTRL turns it off and on instantly. For me, this means full control is mostly always on. I toggle it off to cast any spells, and immediately turn it back on. This gives the perception that I’m in normal auto mode, (individual lands aren’t tapped, mana pools aren’t made), and that pauses in every phase could be a tell that I have spells to play, and I’m opting not to. WOOSH. You really need to play with it, and get it down to a Science though, there’s no doubt in my mind that Auto-mode should even exist, as it gives away SO MUCH information that can be picked up from older players, and for new players…. well… sucks right? Just let that sink in…………………….

That just about gives you a quick-ish overview of things to look for, without going into a monotonous level of detail. Not only are you playing against the other human player, you’re playing against the system too… but it can turns out to be quite your friend if you can read it, process it and effectively manage it correctly.



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