I don't think you are wrong at all - MTGO is just a completely different animal. Some people like both, some prefer one over the other. Both certainly have their list of merits and flaws ... you just have to decide for yourself if you think MTGO is worth it for you.
Here is a question for those who are on MTGO but play a good deal of Paper too. How do you buy cards? Are you buying cards for both platforms? I just bought 2 boxes of Dominaria. I bought Karns and Damping Sphere on Paper. I bought the Damping Sphere on MTGO but Karn is very expensive so I'm unsure of whether or not to buy him there.
I'm just looking for perspectives here.
Here is a question for those who are on MTGO but play a good deal of Paper too. How do you buy cards? Are you buying cards for both platforms? I just bought 2 boxes of Dominaria and so Karns and Damping Sphere on Paper. I bought the Damping Sphere on MTGO but Karn is very expensive so I'm unsure of whether or not to buy him there.
I'm just looking for perspectives here.
I've been wanting to get on MTGO, but I can't stand the idea of spending all this money on something digital that I already own in paper...
@moorebrother1 on Karn specifically:
when just considering the "monetary value", I would wait on buying. the set hast just been released, normally most of the cards are getting cheaper over time, because the new set gets drafted a lot (hence the cards entering the "MTGO system"). Karn will maintain its current price tag or get even more expensive if he is getting played in standard or modern a lot (cause that's mainly what most people playing online, sometimes pauper and legacy can affect the prize as well, the latter especially with the team pt coming up). Otherwise, he most likely will decline over time (to a 7-17tix range maybe?!).
On the topic of "buying into MTGO" in general:
the value of mtgo digital cards isn't just a plain downward trajectory. Even if one isn't going 5-0 in leagues consistently or win challenges etc., the trading system of MTGO makes it possible to at least in some way "grind yourself" to a sizeable collection, even with the cupple of tix you get by creating a new account. (that and the existence of third party bots is probably why they are using a different economy model within MTGA)
I think this relates to what @Chronatog is asking, and I am neither from the US nor a lawyer so I don't know (and maybe wotc adresses the gains aspect in their terms and conditions?!), but there are some patterns to be observed in the online economy as a whole as well as in specific cards.
For example just as right now every new standard set release will cause a (slight and often just temporary) drop of prices for i.e. some modern staples. A same temporary decrease can be observed with reprints of staples within Masters Sets. There are articles (i.e. over on mtggoldfish) that are explaining those patterns more elaborately and in depth than I am able to.
Moreover and other than in paper (where it is much much slower and more lineal), the value of those staples is of a rather fluctuating nature, with some seemingly having some kind of "invisible" bottom and top as well as on different amplitudes.
There are and have been even more of what some may call opportunities, from using arbitrage between bots to reacting quickly to real life implications (spoilers, cards on camera during pt coverage, you name it) - in some ways, the MTGO economy can be perceived as a stock market on speed sometimes. On a lower scale (since one can't just buy millions of one card), but with much larger percentual changes and maybe even more of a "safety net" since it is such a small ecosystem with just so many things that can influence value.
I don't know if it is legal, but it is at least possible.
Hope that gives at least some perspective to the financial aspect of the topic. Plus: excuse my bad writing since I am no mother-tongue speaker.
@moorebrother Occam's Razor, it's probably your perception more than anything.
To your larger question, you sound like a better player than me. But I will say that I've gotten much better in the last 3 or 4 years, and mostly this is by watching really good streamers. I watch a lot of high end mtg streams, as well as go and chess players. I watch anyone who is willing to talk through their though process and who is rigorously logical. The slower and more maniacally rational, the better, because it gets me in the mindset where my job isn't to win, but to make good decisions. When I'm playing crappy, its usually because I'm tired and I've ceased to recognize that decisions are even being made. I don't even consider that I can wait to fetch until I have more info... that sort of thing. So watching people who never don't consider things, that helps me a lot.
Paypal reports to the IRS at payments totaling $20,000 and with 200+ payments received in a year. If you don’t meet both of those criteria then PayPal doesn’t report. Personally I don’t report if PayPal doesn’t report. Every time I have cashed out I have received less than I put in originally. Even though I think technically I should report my cash out value I won’t because it seems weird to me to report it as income when I used my already taxed income to put into magic online and then just lost value before withdrawing.
Leovold brings up several good points. I wouldn't treat it as income unless it actually were income. For example, in my $7,500 above, I probably only invested close to $1,000 beforehand. The rest were prizes or card investments. Secondly, I cashed out with a check from MTGO Traders. Since that could have been reported, it's more important to self-report. Last, I don't tend to agree that "if they can't trace it, I don't have to report it" meets ethical norms. YMMV.
@chronatog MTGO prizes are in digital objects of no value. Only if you "cash out" do you realize reportable income. FWIW, when I sold off $7500 worth of digital cards last year, I reported those on my taxes.
Stocks in ones brokerage account are also digital objects. However, they have value. Many so-called crypto-currency investors learned in a painful way that their tokens also have value.
Since everything on MTGO is valued in tickets and, to my knowledge, one ticket is one dollar as WotC sells tickets at this price, perhaps there is a preponderance of evidence indicating that digital objects on MRGO have value.
Anyway, I'm not arguing about how it should be. I'm trying to understand how it is now or can be in the nearest future. Magic is a hobby and as any hobby it cost money and time, but provides some economic utility. So that's alright to spend money on your hobby directly or indirectly through taxes. It's not right to create any complications with the IRS.
Is there any official explanation from WotC?
@chronatog WotC has clarified over and over again that the ticket has no market value. I'm fairly certain you agree to such when you agree to the end-use license agreement. Just because you have the power to unload such on ebay or paypal doesn't mean you have the right. Of course, just because WotC says something is of no value, doesn't mean the IRS won't determine otherwise, but until the IRS does, WotC has no interest in stating otherwise.
The league is just an awful experience. I had stopped for many weeks and tried again last night and just cannot stand playing there. I'm going to finish this one and I'm done. I just hate it. And the challenge is even worse, I cannot give up an entire Saturday afternoon to sit in front of a computer with no personal interaction.
@oestrus It goes up over time - since it reset at the last downtime, we'll see >100 numbers for a bit, then it will grow as people become stagnant until the league is reset again in June.
The overall time it takes to get an opponent is pretty consistent with what I'm used to.