You know the drill: your opponent has basically established their win by playing some cards that you can't answer (for simplicity's sake, we'll call it Key/Vault), but they don't have a means on the board to reduce your life total to zero yet. You can't win, but they haven't exactly won either. What do you do?

In paper, I realize this question is more complicated and people often advise caution in attempting to play out the game, because it opens the door to accusations of slow play or stalling for time. But on MTGO, where you each have your own clock that acts as its own meta-resource, does the correct action change? In a practice game I'll generally just concede and move on with my life, but in league or tournament play there are prizes on the line, and taking 3-5 minutes off your opponent's clock by making them play out potentially a bunch of turns in order to actually win could end up winning you the match later on--but is that seen as legitimate, or what? How do people feel about leveraging the clock strategically in this way, and what's the etiquette here?

last edited by craw_advantage

I think it's fine to make them find the win condition and actually kill you when there's prizes on the line, especially if it's game one since the "I'll scoop if you show me your kill condition" isn't an option online, so there's actual strategic value to playing it out as well. Though you just have to determine how valuable that X minutes of your life is to you, and whether you need the time for other things in the middle of the event (e.g. restroom/food break).

last edited by revengeanceful

I agree that it is ok to hold out for a win condition. It's justifiable to want to see what their plan to win the game is. That way you know if you are dealing with a mentor plan, tinker, tendrils, etc... I don't hold it against opponents when they do this to me and I hope they don't when I do it to them.

That said, once they demonstrate a win, I scoop every time. I don't like to get wins via the clock. It's an unfortunate necessity of MTGO and overall I like that each player gets equal time.

My opponent once demonstrated their loop and I didn't scoop. They seemed annoyed when they finally won five minutes later. Joke's on them. I never saw the loop because I had run to the bathroom for a quick bout of explosive diarrhea.

I've lost with storm trigger on the stack but not being able to click "same targets" fast enough. I've no problem with that, i just need to play faster. Time is a resource that needs to be managed well.
That said, when i combo off and my hellbent opponent instead of f6ing (or just at least pass priority 'normally') waits an arbitrary amount of time at every priority pass to make me miss seconds i think it's a bit annoying. But still, it's not at problem if i play quickly the whole game.

I really wish we just played with chess clocks.

@topical_island The Magic Online clock is essentially a chess clock, right? What am I missing?

@brass-man Yeah. I love it. I wish there were cardboard equivalents. Folks have told me that they don't think that's wieldy at all. I'd like to see it tried, even as a gimmick. Anyone who's seen much blitz chess... it's possible.

@topical_island I can understand why it isn't used in paper tournaments--having to hit it every time you pass priority is a lot, and it would add a dexterity component to the game that would put Falling Star to shame. But having gotten used to it on MTGO it really is fantastic. Paper tournaments would be much improved if they found a way to make it work, and it boggles my mind that Arena doesn't use it.

Online Magic is not the same game as paper magic, and in online magic, your match clock is a resource just the same as your life total or cards in hand. I don't believe there's any etiquette requirement to scoop a game of MTGO under any circumstance, nor any shame in drawing out a lost position when your opponent's clock is in the red zone (after all, perhaps they're winning because they spent a far larger amount of time than you in the tank optimizing their play earlier in the match?)

However, I will concede games as a courtesy in certain situations:

  • overwhelmingly lost positions in game 3 when the opponent still has copious time remaining on their clock
  • when the opponent has played a lethal Tendrils and just needs to click "same target" a billion times
  • when the opponent is comboing off and (a) I'm confident I have no interaction or counterplay, (b) the opponent is playing quickly and it does not appear clock time will be relevant in the matchup, (c) I'm already familiar with the full contents of the opposing deck, and (d) there is no chance of the opponent fizzling, losing to their own Mana Crypt, etc.

Certain circumstances nearly guarantee I will force the opponent to play the game out:

  • they have been whiny or salty in the game chat
  • they have been showboating with storm count or Mentor triggers instead of finishing games quickly.

@craw_advantage To be fair, it would add some dexterity, albeit small. Again though, if you've ever seen rapid chess, hitting a button over and over isn't that hard. Captain hook could honestly do this. If an octopus were playing vintage, doing the clock would literally be the only component of the game that it could do. It really isn't the brain surgery people make it out to be.

Honestly the thing it would change most is probably encouraging people to shuffle faster. That would be the dexterity component. But honestly I'm ok with that. If I'm in a match that draws on time and I took 14 mins of it shuffling and they took 6, I should probably lose.

You guys forget that Chess only has 1 move and 1 step per turn. It's way easier to deal with punching a button for the clock in Chess than it is in Magic and its 907 priority checks every turn.

@fsecco said in MTGO Clock Etiquette:

You guys forget that Chess only has 1 move and 1 step per turn. It's way easier to deal with punching a button for the clock in Chess than it is in Magic and its 907 priority checks every turn.

QFT, imagine Paradoxical going off and not begin able to F6!

@john-cox said in MTGO Clock Etiquette:

@fsecco said in MTGO Clock Etiquette:

You guys forget that Chess only has 1 move and 1 step per turn. It's way easier to deal with punching a button for the clock in Chess than it is in Magic and its 907 priority checks every turn.

QFT, imagine Paradoxical going off and not begin able to F6!

On Friday, I didn't realize the proper way to stack my Mentor triggers and automatically yield to them and I ended up taking a turn that took several minutes to complete, just from spending dozens of seconds at a time placing triggers onto the stack.

last edited by thecravenone

@Topical_Island People have talked about chess clocks in magic forever ... at least on TMD for at least a decade. I don't hate the idea, but I couldn't imagine it ever catching on in tournament play - it's a huge barrier to a game that already has a lot of barriers ... that said, who's stopping you? If people can get groups of friends together for little tournaments with full proxies, custom banned lists, non-swiss player elimination, or entirely new formats ... if Old School players can hold 50 person tournaments where draws are determined by flipping a Chaos Orb ... surely you can buy a chess clock, play a match, and come back here and tell us how fun it was 🙂 .... I mean look at this is a sexy piece of decor right here.

Back on topic for the original post. There is no accepted, consensus etiquette for this kind of thing.

Personally I'll usually concede here, but it's not an ethics thing - I just get bored easily, or if I'm streaming it's just bad television, or I just desperately care about my opponent liking me more than I care about winning.

I don't (personally) think there's any ethical problem with drawing out their clock on MTGO, basically I agree entirely with @evouga

It is worth noting though, that this is not consensus, and if you draw out the clock on MTGO, some number of your opponents will think you're an asshole, and some number of those people will publicly complain about the match online. You have to decide for yourself whether or not that's something you care about.

@brass-man You know what, good call man. I already own one. My wife and I will play a match with a clock.

While I think a chess clock is certainly cumbersome, I personally love the concept of a clock on players. Too many players use a disproportionate amount of clock time in paper matches.

While I think clicking the clock back and forth for every single interaction is tedious, it certainly would be a good technique to move along a slow player.

Positive scenario:
Active player casts a spell.
Other player hems and haws about whether to respond.
[Active player click the clock back to them]
They respond more quickly.

The less socially developed Magic players or aggressive angle shooter-types could easily use this type of clock management as a bullying technique or technical advantage. Might make the game technically better, but the gaming experience massively worse.

But definitely worth testing @Topical_Island . Looking forward to your thoughts!

last edited by joshuabrooks

If it's a situation where I would have conceded in RL Magic, I will concede in MTGO as well. While it may be "incorrect"to do so, I'm not interested in using the clock as a resource and don't feel any satisfaction from getting wins through the chess clock.

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