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.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 Your personal problems doesn't make the client bad cuz that's what the shoddy programming is for.

@gremlin-lord As a Solution Architect, I agree with that position and endorse this opinion.

@moorebrother1 Then why complain about not knowing how to play magic as a reason why MODO is bad? If your random list of FNM champions are so good then why hasn't oath leovold come up at your LGS?

@gremlin-lord Maybe my bad writing is confusing. I learned that Leovold, hurts Oath more than I could have imagined. This is not a complaint piece, but for us old players more a view point.

The health of Vintage is heavily reliant on keeping players engaged and attracting new players. MTGO helps attract new players in some respect but it fails on other levels - like playing in large paper events.

This is not meant to be a complaint but more like lessons I learned based on advice I received from players on this site.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 What do you mean by large paper event? Half of last years champs top 8 plays MODO including the winner and finalist.

@gremlin-lord I keep hearing this argument and I said in my piece and have continued to say that there is value in playing MTGO for some people.

I have played against people who play a lot of MTGO and people who are not on MTGO at all and I cannot see a significant difference in their play.

What I can tell you, when playing in a non-proxy event - you need cards.

I have a lot of cards and I encourage players to try vintage by showing them decks and how they work.

The 400 or so players that played at Champs mostly showed up to have fun not to be world champion.

@moorebrother1 I appreciate that you're talking from personal experience, and I absolutely agree that MTGO is not worth it for everyone, but I really think you're underselling it in some cases.

Playing MTGO will make your understanding of the rules about MTG better but it will not make you a better paper player.
...
• There are things about the rules that I did not know, and MTGO exploits these. Leovold is beast against Oath on MTGO.

Exploiting the rules is a funny way to say "understanding the rules." Leovold is a beast against Oath in paper, before you didn't know that, and now you do. How is that not MTGO making you a better paper player?

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.

I think it's completely fair to want to stay out of having a digital collection and buy paper cards instead. That's completely subjective and a lot of people just prefer it. I don't think it's fair to have a conversation about the value proposition of digital cards without mentioning that most people can't afford $20k for vintage deck. There's something off about you saying you didn't want to spend $5 on a Hurkyl's Recall on magic online while also saying you prefer paper cards.

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.

The current vintage champion is Andy Markiton, who was the best performing vintage player on MTGO for months before he owned a paper vintage deck. Three of the top performing MTGO players are Andy, Brian Kelly, and Rich Shay, who are well known for their performances in paper events. Anecdotally my friend Akash Naidu was primarily a non-vintage player, started playing vintage on MTGO because it was easy to get games in, and now pretty consistently top 8s any large paper vintage events he attends. There is a strong correlation between good MTGO finishes and good paper finishes. That doesn't mean that playing online is guaranteed to make someone a better player, but it makes some of the best players better.

There's a lot of reasons to dislike MTGO, and if your core point is that you learn faster against human opponents, I think that's absolutely correct ... but I don't think there's a good argument that MTGO doesn't regularly produce stronger players.

finally ... as an aside

• The random shuffle on MTGO is vastly different from a paper shuffle where players aim for random distribution of cards.

Don't says stuff like this. This is cheating. I know you didn't mean it that way, but it is. If a player is aiming for anything other than randomization while they're shuffling their cards, that player is cheating. If you're getting dramatically different draws with your paper decks than the same deck on MTGO, consider trying a new shuffling technique.

@moorebrother1 You said that MODO fails to transition new players to large paper events when Andrew Markiton was MODO first paper second so please stop erecting straw men.

@gremlin-lord I never said that, I said that I have seen players converted in Vintage at our proxy events

@moorebrother1 You said MTGO helps attract new players in some respect but it fails on other levels - like playing in large paper events but honestly Brass Man does a heck of a lot better explaining basically everything including my bit before about shuffling.

A barbell doesn't make you stronger, but lifting it with correct form, on a consistent schedule, and pushing your limits sure as hell does make you stronger.

MTGO is no different.

Honestly, I'm feeling a little ganged up on here. I just spent $1500 trying to play online when I already own all of the cards.

My experiences on MTGO have been a mixed bag. I see on this site that people use data and anecdotes from MTGO all of the time.

I have a high level of respect for people who play at Championship levels, I'm trying to get to that level. My observations were meant to highlight big differences from playing paper to playing MTGO.

I used language not to judge or demonize and I put this into context of a "In My Opinion" view.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 That's totally fair for you to say. I think some players (like myself) who have played a lot of MTGO can get defensive about this subject.

I think some of the points you brought up might be too-broad generalizations that won't apply to most people ... but I also think there are plenty of completely valid arguments against playing online, and I don't think any less of players who decide it isn't for them - it's not always for me, either.

The Game isn't even released and i am already waiting for Mtg: Arena to feature Vintage. To be honest the game flow is pretty fluent and the full control mode seems like it can handle Vintage play patterns and complexities, as someone who still refuses to buy into mtgo, Vintage on this new platform might just loosen my wallet.

Edit: Yes i know its far from finished, there are many features missing like a play history (did he scry on top with that preordain 2 spells ago?) Also Vintage, and other true eternal formats, will probably be the last thing added into that client, not being able to trade might also make it hard to the needed cards, though the wildcard system might handle this well. I just want to say, that if wizards does this correctly, the client has potential.

last edited by Aelien

@aelien I can’t provide a specific source, but recall seeing somewhere along the way that Eternal formats will never see the light of day on Arena. It’s basically only for draft and standard. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Vintage on Arena

I was thinking about playing in the league and I noticed that the number of players currently in the league was down to 42 from over 100 about a month ago. I also just checked the results from this weekend https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/vintage-challenge-2018-04-22 and there were only 32 players.

Is there a downturn in MTGO competitive play or is this just a timing issue?

I prefer paper events over MTGO and I don't play in any of Challenges myself, I will occasionally play in a league but rarely.

@moorebrother1 It's a timing issue. Each league is timed up with new set releases, of which Dominaria was just released. When you go to the league page, make sure you keep track of the "League Ends" date, as that will show you when the fewest # of players will be, and the following day would begin the new league.

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