MTGO - Take 2
I decided to give MTGO another try and I decided to play my current paper deck. I have not tried a league yet but I have some opinions about MTGO that I want to share.
Here are my big lessons from playing MTGO:
Playing MTGO will make your understanding of the rules about MTG better but it will not make you a better paper player.
• I commonly make play mistakes due to mis-clicks or misunderstanding of cards on my screen that I would never make playing paper.
• There are things about the rules that I did not know, and MTGO exploits these. Leovold is beast against Oath on MTGO.
• The random shuffle on MTGO is vastly different from a paper shuffle where players aim for random distribution of cards.
The cost of buying into MTGO vs buying into paper is not worth it if you plan on staying in the game for any pro-longed period of time.
• Buying into the base for Vintage on MTGO is expensive it costs about $600 but optimizing a deck is also very expensive and many players including myself cheat by using sub-par replacements. Example – I needed Hurkyl’s Recall which is about $5 but initially I used Rebuild that is $0.05. This is a huge difference is how these cards work in addition to casting costs. There are several more examples like buying the right fetch lands for your deck versus using what you have already purchased.
• Paper cards mostly keep value and go up versus MTGO cards that lose value over time and rarely go up in value (I know someone will provide some counter example but generally MTGO cards do not go up in value).
• I would rather buy paper cards over digital cards any day and owning cards is a big part of my enjoyment of Magic.
The MTGO meta-game is not a reflection of what is played on paper.
• I keep proxy decks on me for testing and loaning out. These decks are my attempt to reflect the meta-game. I noticed that when a large group of paper players get together you see more quirky and innovative decks just due to the variance of people and the cards that they own.
• A lot of players do not see value in maintaining 2 card bases, and several players play limited events and play in other formats where they accumulate paper cards. If you win at a local event then you usually get store credit and most players grow their collect that way.
• There is generally more combo and aggro played in paper events versus MTGO
There is a small group of players that dominate MTGO. We see their names on mtgotop8.com and rarely see paper players names because most of the data from paper events is not collected in a reliable way.
I noticed that as I got better in MTGO it was not about how good I was at playing my deck but how good was I at beating certain players like guttershark or thepowernine on MTGO. That is not to say that playing against these players does not make you better. This is to say that when I play against my friend Ben Perry, Greg Kraigher, or Chad Teuscher who are all great players and play very different styles and decks I also become a better player and I have more fun.
I have learned a lot about being a better player playing against Kevin Cron and Aaron Katz because all of these guys are great players and no one sees their decks or ranking because we play on paper at a monthly local event that gets between 12-24 people.
I generally do not have any feeling that I am having fun playing MTGO. I often get bored or lose interest in matches. I crave interaction with people, and I like learning about my opponent while I am playing.
All of this as lead to me the conclusion, there is some value in MTGO but it is not nearly as large are people make it out to be. I love playing MTG against people in a face to face play-setting. I tolerate MTGO when I feel an urge to just play cards.