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Fans found MTG Arena’s secret card rankings, and they’re wild

MTG Arena fans have cracked a method for figuring out its matchmaking system, and the way it ranks cards is leaving many players irate.

Tibalt in manacles

Magic: The Gathering fans have cracked a method for showing how MTG Arena ranks cards for Brawl matchmaking, and the system seems horribly broken. Some of the most unpleasant cards you can run up against are ranked low, whereas the most highly ranked cards are completely baffling.

As you can see from this spreadsheet, each card is given a weight, from zero to nine, and presumably the matchmaker pits MTG Arena decks of a similar weight against one another.

You can find out how MTG Arena fans cracked the code in this article. Here, instead, we want to examine some of the most bizarre results this weightings system throws up, and see if we can use it to deduce anything about how Wizards of the Coast ranks Magic cards.

For starters, we should note that – as we mentioned up top – the weightings are a bit of a mess. The vast majority of cards are ranked at nine, but there are many inoffensive cards like Mist-Cloaked Herald and Ruin Crab with the same weighting (45) as powerful MTG dragons like Terror of the Peaks, the banned MTG planeswalker card Oko, Thief of Crowns, and all-star spells like Mana Drain.

And then there’s Paradox Engine. It’s made its way to the MTG banlist for Commander, combos with basically anything, and yet is still only deemed a nine.

Clown makeup meme showing MTG arena card rankings

As one fan, Reddit user Zawn pointed out, some cards with similar effects have vastly different rankings. Wrath of God gets a 45, while Day of Judgement – functionally the same in almost all cases – is all the way down at 18.

The lack of logic suggests the process is not done manually. Instead, it’s likely that Wizards collects player data, and gives cards a ranking according to how many wins and losses their decks rack up (no doubt that’s not the only factor, there’s probably some other arcane number crunching too).

This would presumably make cards only played by more experienced or dedicated Brawl players, rank heavier than more popular cards, regardless of their true power levels. We’d expect stuff that’s only accessible through wildcards or real money like the various anthology cards, to rank higher than recent Standard releases.

When you look at the very highest ranked cards, things get even odder. Zenith Flare and Tibalt’s Trickery are the only cards to rank above a 45, deemed a 216 and 180 respectively. That one’s a real head scratcher. We can see how Tibalt’s Trickery could be ranked very high to avoid combo decks that use it from being way lighter than they should be, but then why wasn’t the same thing done to cards like Treasure Hunt?

THe MTG card Zenith Flare

And  Zenith Flare is very hard to fathom. Who is playing Zenith Flare in Brawl?

Some fans have suggested that maybe MTG Arena only has one weighting for every MTG format. Zenith Flare was a menace in Ikoria Draft, and it was played alongside a bunch of rubbish cyclers that would presumably have extremely low weightings. Perhaps someone fudged the numbers to make the AI pick Zenith Flare higher in Draft, and it’s had a knock on effect in Brawl.

That might also explain why Ruin Crab, another Limited menace that the Draft bots undervalued at first, has such a high weight.

We expect that Wizards will make some effort to change up its system now that fans are aware of it, if only to prevent sneaky players abusing its flaws, finding undervalued, powerful cards they can pop into their decks.

Or they may just close the loophole that allows players to discover the rankings, then scramble them up a bit. Right now, we don’t know how often card weights get updated – if ever!

For more Magic content, check out the best MTG commanders you can run, or our guide to MTG Arena codes.