MTG Arena December 2020 State of the Game Discussion

by in Magic: The Gathering Arena | Dec, 9th 2020

The holidays are approaching us card game fanatics, and that means only one thing! We’re ready to talk about the latest from MTG Arena in December 2020’s State of the Game address! This is a monthly blog post where we talk about what MTG Arena has planned, and offer some thoughts. The first portion of this is apparently very contentious (if you’re a token fan, that is). We’re going to talk about the Token/Scute changes, another Arena Open, and the events coming in December (like a Cube Draft, and Historic Brawl!). 

This isn’t a huge amount of news, unfortunately. But it’s still important to talk about regardless. On the Esports Talk front, you can also look forward to another Standard decklist blog! It should be dropping towards the end of the week, with some fun decks to use in Standard, preferably the BO1 scene. So let’s talk about official news!


MTG Arena can technically see 2,147,483,647 creature tokens in play at once. By the time you reach that number, the client’s almost assuredly going to crash at least once. This change likely comes primarily as a result of the Scute Swarm creature, which always makes more of itself. It has a Landfall ability that creates another 1/1 Insect token. However, if you have at least six lands in play, you create a copy of Scute Swarm instead.

You can probably see how quickly this spins out of control. MTG Arena’s devs point out that the game rules engine needs to resolve every single trigger every single time. So you wind up creating possibly hundreds of tokens a turn. It’s so bad games can probably crash without even having any in them. That’s due to the strain these infinite token decks have on the servers.

The solution? As of the December 2020 update, some restrictions are coming for creature tokens. This won’t affect tabletop MTG Arena, because you don’t have to worry about a physical, real-life game crashing from creating hundreds or thousands of tokens a turn. Here is the official new errata:

  • Each player will be allowed a maximum of 250 tokens on the battlefield at the same time.
  • If an effect would create a token past this limit, it instead does not; mana will be spent, cards will be tapped, permanents will remain sacrificed, etc., however, no additional tokens will be created if you are already at the maximum number allowed.

This result came up based on match data. Most games will come to a conclusion well before the 250 maximum is reached. In addition, players can still run Scute Swarm without destroying the games of other players (which is a good thing). MTG Arena also points out in the State of the Game of December 2020, that this limit has been in Magic Online for years now.

It makes sense, and I understand it. But I can also see why players are a little upset. It can feel restrictive to people who easily trigger hundreds of tokens a turn (see Scute Swarm and Elfball decks). Wizards also made sure it won’t adversely affect the competitive scene as well. 250 creature tokens in play aren’t really that bad. Not to mention, if some die, you can make more. Just not more than the 250 cap. It’s not that bad, friends.

The Arena Open Returns Soon

The next Arena Open is almost here! It kicks off on December 12th and 13th, but this time there’s a twist. December’s Arena Open is a Historic event! You can play Best-of-One or Best-of-Three on Day One, but Day Two is only Best-of-Three. There is a little fine print though.


  • You must be 18 years or older to participate.
  • Regional eligibility restrictions apply, void where prohibited.
  • Receiving monetary rewards requires having or creating Wizards, DCI, and i-Payout accounts.
  • Refer to the official Terms and Conditions for complete details.

The best part of the Arena Open? You can win 2,000 dollars by going undefeated on Day Two! In order to qualify for Day Two, you need to gain 7 wins in Best-of-One or 4 wins in Best-of-Three. The rewards are greater in Best-of-Three because there are more matches to take part in. That makes sense, even if I personally prefer Best-of-One. 

Here’s the pertinent information:

Day One

Format: Best-of-One or Best-of-Three Historic Constructed

Start: December 12, 2020, at 6 a.m. PT

Signups End: December 13, 2020, at 3 a.m. PT—you’ll still have a few hours to complete your current run, but you won’t be able to join after this deadline.

Event End: December 13, 2020, at 6 a.m. PT

Entry Fee: 20,000 Gold or 4,000 Gems (both Best-of-One and Best-of-Three)

Entry Reward: Kaldheim Promotional Sleeve

Day Two

Start: December 13, 2020 at 6 a.m. PT

Signups End: December 13, 2020 at 8 a.m. PT—you’ll have until the event ends to complete your matches, but you must join during this 2-hour window.

Event End: December 13, 5 p.m. PT

Format: Best-of-Three Historic Constructed

Event Record: 7 wins or 2 losses

This is very exciting! If you make it to Day Two, getting 6 or 7 wins will net you a cash payout (2,000 USD, 1,000 USD), and Kaldheim Qualifier Weekend Eligibility. Getting 5 wins still get you 20,000 Gems, and Kaldheim Weekend Qualifier Eligibility for December. Historic is intense, and a fast-paced mode more often than not. We have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of Mono-Red Goblin decks rampaging across the mode. Perhaps this time I’ll actually have time to participate! I’ve missed out on the last two, sadly. 

Events and Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 era has really hampered people’s ability to play in person. Thankfully, we can still get our card game fix online, safely, and secure. That of course means there will be several fun events dropping in MTG Arena as indicated by December 2020’s State of the Game. 

From December 12th until December 20th, the Arena Cube will be available. There will be a Best-of-One and a Best-of-Three on top of that! Arena Cube is an exciting way to draft an insane deck and give it a whirl online. Another fun draft is coming as well, in the form of Tinkerer’s Cube. That will be available in the Best-of-Three, with the same cost as the Best-of-One. 

Standard Shakeup Event Guide and Decklists • MTG Arena Zone
Standard Shakeup is back!

Standard Shakeup is coming back on December 19th through the 25th, and after that, Historic Shakeup will run from December 26th through January 1st. You’ll have to make do with whatever decks you can build that don’t have banned cards in them! It’s a fun way to approach deck construction. Historic Brawl will be around from January 2nd – 8th, with no entry fee, which is the best part! We’re just waiting on it to be a permanent fixture of the game.

This update is coming tomorrow (Thursday, December 10th). It’s not a major patch, other than the Token change. There will be some miscellaneous bugs being fixed, and if you want to read the full article, it’s right here. The best part, for my money, is the Arena Open. I love the idea that players who aren’t pros can win money by being good at MTG Arena. You don’t have to travel, you don’t have to have years of experience. Simply build a deck, be confident in it, and get some wins! It’s just the best. 

All that’s left for us is to see what’s going down in Kaldheim. As soon as spoilers start coming, we’ll have them for you, don’t worry!


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