Magic: The Gathering Arena’s Chris Clay details planned fixes to the ‘fifth-card problem’


Although fan reception to the open beta/soft launch of Magic: The Gathering Arena has been largely positive, there’s one glaring issue that’s had the community in a tizzy for some time now — the so-called “fifth card” issue. For the uninitiated, the short(ish) version is this: As MTGA has no trading or dusting system, once a player has acquired a full playset — i.e., four copies — of a given card, when they acquire any additional copies of that card, the additional copy effectively disappears and instead provides progress toward opening the Vault, which contains three uncommon, two rare, and one mythic rare wildcard, which can be exchanged for any card of the corresponding rarity.

As it stands, however, the amount that each duplicate card contributes toward filling the Vault meter is minuscule, with mythic rare duplicates providing a paltry 1.1% progress increase and commons providing a completely insignificant 0.1% increase, resulting in many players hoarding packs rather than opening them and losing value on duplicate cards. The devs have promised that they’re looking at the issue and planning to make some tweaks, but they hadn’t given any concrete details until Game Director Chris Clay stopped by the forums yesterday to give players an update on the situation.

The full post goes into pretty substantial detail about how the devs see the problem and how they intend to approach it, but the takeaway is this: The devs agree that right now, acquiring additional copies of cards of which you already have a full playset is unsatisfying, and right now, they’re looking to remedy the situation by implementing a system that they’re calling “duplicate protection.” What this means, essentially, is that the devs want to “make it so when you open packs or earn cards, you only receive cards that you have fewer than four copies of.”

Obviously, making a change like this has far-reaching effects on the game’s overall economy, so the devs stress that they’re going to have to take some time to make sure they don’t end up breaking the game’s long-term viability; as such, players shouldn’t expect the fifth-card situation to be fixed until “sometime in Q1 of 2019.” Although the posts in response to Clay’s update seem to be largely positive, many players who have already opened numerous duplicate cards are curious about the prospect of retroactive compensation, which Clay does not mention. Nevertheless, MTGA players should be at least somewhat pleased to have some firm information about what to expect going forward, and if you want to know all the details, you can check out Clay’s full post on the game’s official forums.

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