Category Archives: Magic Online

6 things you should be doing on Magic Online

Lately I have been reading (and listening) about managing your magic online account a lot, and these are six good practices I am starting to do right now and will continue to do to get the most of my mtgo experience. It is not just about going infinite or even making money, I think these are thing you should do to improve your overall experience with the game. These are mostly centered in limited play, as it is what I play the most.

1. Draft only 8-4s and Swiss
I went over this in a previous post, but I think it is important to make the point again: 4-3-2-2 queues are not good EV, it is a waste of your tickets. You either are good enough to play 8-4s and get more return of investment or you should still be playing swiss and improving your limited play (while still getting more value for your tickets).

2. Never use the “14 tickets” option when paying for a draft
When joining a draft, you have three options to enter: pay with three boosters and 2 tickets, pay 14 tickets or buy a draft set from the MTGO store. We all know the third option is garbage, but there are a lot of people that still use the 14 tickets option regularly, and that is also wrong. If you go to the Classifieds section, you will always find easily boosters of the current set for between 3.2 and 3.5 tickets. That means that for the three boosters you will pay, regularly, 10 or 11 tickets. That is one or two tickets that you will save from the 14 tickets option. And there are times, like Dragon’s Maze, that tickets go waaaaay cheaper. If you are like me and draft a lot, that adds up. It is a great way to save some money.

3.  During release week, play some sealed events
Is the best way to build up a collection of the current set, as you will get more rares than in two drafts (which would be the equivalent in number of booster packs), for less tickets. And that’s without taken into account prizes. If you manage to do it decently on the event, you will really see why this statement is true. This collection you are building, will either pay for more drafts later on or help you build your standard deck.

4. Rare draft
I know, I know, you are a PTQ grinder and you want to test the format and learn, so rare draft won’t help you. Well, that is only partially true. If that rare will help you pay for another draft, you will get twice the experience, while not loosing that much in terms of game play testing. What you need is set a threshold, the number of tickets worth for a card you will never pass, a threshold you are comfortable with. For M14 for example, my threshold is 5 tickets. And that means there are not many cards I won’t pass.

If you actually start to rare draft, bear in mind that the chase rares of the set will be more valuable early on, so don’t be afraid to sell them in the first weeks. This will allow you to play more and get them again.

5. Record (or stream) your drafts and share them
The best way to improve is to play against better players and learn from them, and from your mistakes. Playing against better players in MTGO is easy. But the most difficult part is to identify your mistakes. You will most times justify them or think that you lost because of mana screwed or other silly reason. That is why having external input is really key to keep improving. If you have a group of friends that you trust, go ahead and record your drafts and share them with them and ask them what they would differently. If you don’t have the luck to have that group of friends, share the videos with the world, or, why not, stream them live. There will always be people willing to help you out and give you feedback. And please, be humble an accept the feedback, don’t disagree with everything and try to think why they are telling you that play or pick was a mistake. Is the best way to learn.

6. Don’t feed the trolls
Unfortunately, MTGO is full of angry and bitter players that will insult, try to bother you with stupid banter or blame everything on luck or the shuffler. Don’t respond, don’t tilt because of them. It is their problem if they want to play the game like that, but don’t let them screw with your head and hinder your experience.

The draft queues conundrum

After a small hiatus, I’m back to writing about my Magic journey to become a better player. Since I last wrote, I’ve played several PTQs, I have qualified and played all the WMCQ, with small success (always around top 32, never breaking in to the top). Also, I am back playing MTGO. I am trying to play every other day, and this has brought a lot of questions, as there are things that are not really obvious.

One of the first dilemmas I came across as I reentered the online world had to do with drafting: which draft queue is best for me? As a regular listener of Limited Resources podcast, I understand that the 4-3-2-2s are not the best ,value wise. Almost in any instance, doesn’t matter your level or win percentage, the return value you get from either Swiss or 8-4 queues is better. [This is a good article to understand why, by Joseph Bono].

My first reaction was: “well, I am still rusty and I need to get better before playing 8-4s”. So during M13 and RTR draft seasons I almost only did Swiss queues. It seemed very smart at the moment: I needed to play more, so playing all three rounds was better to improve my playing skills, and the level is supposedly lower, so I can win more, and expect a better return value for my investment, both in money and time. And it was working. My win percentage rate was high and I was getting a more playing time, great to practice for the PTQ season.

My PTQs weren’t very good. I was out early in all of them, although I kept playing (and winning) on the losers bracket to get points for the next season, and experience. It was a little bit disappointing, as I was winning a lot on Magic online, and that should count for something, right? Yes and no. Let me explain: overall, my match record in all RTR season PTQs was good… but I was out early in all of them, because I was winning matches on the losers bracket. I wasn’t winning against the best players in the room, I was winning against the average PTQ player (just for the record, I am not undervaluing those players, some of them are much better than me, for sure). Extrapolating this to my MTGO win percentage: the best players play on the 8-4s for a reason: is not because of the EV (at least not only), is because of the challenge, and practice, that is playing against the best. So I was winning more because I was playing on the Swiss queues. There are other inherent problems on the Swiss queues, but we will address them on another time.

Life caught up with me, and while I was still testing for modern and standard seasons, I left again MTGO aside. When Dragon’s Maze was released, the lure to play a multicolor format was too much to ignore, and I decided to give it a go. Again, even though in the back of my head I knew it was not optimal, I started in the Swiss queues, with very bad results. Then I made one more realization: when I am not testing for a PTQ format, the thing that I like the most about drafting is to “solve the problem of how to draft the format”. The games are great, don’t get me wrong, but the actual solving the draft puzzle is something I really enjoy. And if one draft goes by the wayside, I want to start another draft, not play and loose three matches with it.

That’s when I realize that 8-4s where, in theory, better for me. If I loose in the first rounds, I can start immediately another draft. I may get less return value in number of packs won in theory, but in that other resource that I value a lot, my time, I am investing it better. So I jumped right into the 8-4s and started drafting. Imagine my surprise when of my first five 8-4s I won three of them, got to the final once and losing the other in the first round. In numbers: I got 28 packs in 5 drafts, that’s 5.6 packs per draft, way more than in Swiss queues with a perfect record.

Obviously, that win percentage wasn’t realistic, and since then I have played more and lost my fair share. But overall, I can say that jumping to 8-4 queues was the best thing for me, both in terms of return value in number of packs, time invested, and lessons learned. Also, when you win, is a lot more rewarding.

So, if you are like me and have doubts of what queue fits you better, don’t be afraid to jump into the 8-4 queues. You won’t regret it.

First Steps: Magic Online

One of the first things I wanted to do is reopen my old MTGO account. For someone with very little time to go to tournaments or play at a friends house without having to plan ahead, MTGO can be the only way to play regularly. Somehow, I have been ignoring this possibility lately, and my plan includes changing that trend.

I have had the account since forever and I have used it on and off. Mostly off, lately. So of course, after spending quite some time installing the client, it had to do a lot of updating. One hour later, at last I could click the launch button, just in time to discover I didn’t remember the password. Well, no problem, I can use the “Remember my password” option, right? No, it couldn’t be so easy: there was some kind of mantainance happening and I had to wait. Another hour passed but now I had my account active again, time to sell some cards and play some Magic.

Not quite. I was trying to sell some cards when the client crashed and I had to restart. And all of a sudden I remembered why I didn’t play more MODO, I don’t have the patience. Or at least I hadn’t, but now I am convinced I need this tool and I will make it happen. Whatever it takes.

The first thing I did once I jumped back in was to set all my collection as tradable, except for Ravnica dual lands, M10 dual lands and Zendikar fetch lands. Then I went directly to trustable buying bots (those of online stores like MTGOTraders or MTGOAcademy and started selling cards. I could have easily get better prices with other bots or selling the cards myself, but I need to invest time and as I said multiple times already, Time is a scarce resource for me. So I gladly took the 100 tickets I got from the bots and prepare myself… To close the client and go to bed. It was too late for me and I had to work in the morning, so my first draft would have to wait. This gives me time to prepare a little bit, gather the LRCast excel sheet and learning how and which stops I have go set up.

But be sure I’ll come back to you, MTGO.