MTGO Leagues and MTGO Challenges are not enough to keep Vintage alive

I love playing Vintage. I hate playing it on MTGO. Most Vintage is played on MTGO.

That in a nutshell is the problem that I am trying to address. I have all of the paper cards for Vintage but most people that play Vintage do not have the cards. Solution - allow players to play proxies. Paper proxy tournaments are not well attended. So, paper needs a very solid community around it.

Vintage is played on MTGO, there are Leagues and Challenges. Challenges last a long time and usually do not promote deck diversity. How do we get more people to play Vintage on MTGO?

Is there a path to change MTGO to be fun? I know there has to be a way to change the tournament structure to make this better.

MTGO is not fun. Never ask what would make me sit in front of that awful program for 8+ hours. No thank you.

  1. Graphics - very laggy, cannot quickly navigate without risk of crashing the program

  2. Sound quality - absolutely terrible

  3. Entry cost - $500+ for a digital deck within an outdated program

  4. Lack of players - nearly impossible to get a casual game in the tournament practice room and often wait 10+ minutes for a league game

  5. Commitment - one game at a time on demand is fine on Arena. But even a best 2/3 match is unacceptable when you’ve got diapers to change

In person events are more desirable because I get to remove myself from an environment id otherwise be entrenched with responsibilities. Try telling your mother in law you can’t tend to your crying child because your opponent is trying to time you out with the chess clock. #pointless

last edited by LieNielsen

I guess this was not a good topic, or worse yet - there are no ideas on what to do.

I play Old School, I have been looking into playing some Old School events. I joined some facebook groups and jumped on the Discord. Old School does not use MTGO, but they have a lot of events.

They developed their own platform to play webcam games, the platform is called Tolaria. This is an amazing community. I think that the Vintage community has a lot in common with the Old School community, and we need to learn from them.

Is there a way to develop, encourage or foster what Old School does here? Playing Old School is actually more expensive than Vintage since there are not proxies and the Swedish rules actually dictate that you must use unlimited cards not Revised. I do not know if the cost is the only barrier anymore.

I watched Justin Gennari discuss the Vintage Meta here and he mentions that Vintage is a small community. The Old School community is small. The community may not grow very fast and most likely will shrink over time.

Somehow Old School is thriving and I would like to figure out how we capture some of that. I'm looking into some community organizing but I'm just not sure where to start or what to do here.

last edited by moorebrother1

I think there's a fundamental difference that explains what you are seeing as a homogeny in Vintage decks on MTGO and a thriving in-person/webcam OS community.

Vintage, like most competitive formats, will always be dominated by "Spikes." They play deck X, tune the hell out of it, and get netdecked a ton so that you have a lot of Vintage tournaments full of the best "tier" decks with the same pilots all trying to win - even if they play a deck they don't enjoy to do so. That's not ALL Vintage tourney players, but it's a lot of them.

OS, on the other hand, is full of late-30s-50ish-year-olds trying to capture the nostalgia of the game as it was in the mid 90s. They embrace ":The gathering" as much as the "Magic" part of the game - and now they are old enough to afford the expensive cards and drink beer while playing! They love jank and winning with crazy combos and pet builds, even if their win-rate is sub .500. They like to meet with similar-aged people, down a few beers, play the game as they remember it when they were teenagers, and have FUN above all else. That's something you're just not going to find in a competitive online Vintage scene. You'll only find that with an OS community that occasionally also plays Vintage (like the Romancing the Stones guys in Austin, TX). Even then, the "spikes" come out in the Vintage scene and netdecks pop up in that same group. OS is not really conducive to spiking tourneys like that, and the player who has the most fun with the jankiest build is the true winner in OS.

In addition to Magic, one of my biggest passions is powerlifting and other strength sports. One of the trends that you'll notice among the strength training crowd is "aging out", where participants grow too old to compete with the fresh meat. Their bodies break down, their training is cut short by trying to raise a family, and their T levels are beginning to diminish.

When this happens, some athletes leave strength training altogether. But some yearn for the years where they peaked, wanting to relive those moments. Thankfully the system has put a lot options in place for the population that wants to continue. Masters is the biggest, creating age brackets for older athletes to compete all the way up to their 60s and beyond. Some switch to brute strength sports like Strongman and the Highland Games over powerlifting and weightlifting. Their bodies don't have the joint flexibility anymore, but the "dad" strength of just years of training can still be used.

Comparing Old School and Vintage is unfair in this regard. Playing any format with an easily accessible online component requires time investment that a lot of former Vintage players have aged out of. Like it or not our brains start to break down just like the rest of our bodies. Old School is the Masters of playing Magic, where you're pitted against your age bracket and don't have to worry about all the training time you've lost. You can take a year off to start a family, and when you come back there are zero new cards to learn.

The growth in Vintage comes from those that are new to the "sport". They take interest, start training, and fall in love just like we did when we were kids. The way to keep Vintage going is to encourage those kids to play and to be a mentor to them. It was fun when we were able to pull heavy weight, but now we can't and this newcomer can. We can either become the coach, or we can become resentful.


This is a nice post. I like it. That said, have you ever read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns? Do you know when Tom Brady will retire? There’s something sexy about the old man using his last breath to get it done. And yes while younger players have more time and drive to succeed, the older generations shouldn’t be completely disregarded. #DownButNotOut

Sticking to the real world example, it's true that Tom Brady hasn't aged out and has more rings on his resume than some franchises. I'm not here to tell people to move on, but to give them perspective in cases where they already have. Most importantly, I'm hoping to tell players that they can have a purpose outside of the highest levels when they decide to move on. My dream to become a Tom Brady went unfulfilled, but I was able to pivot my dream and become a Tony Romo instead. I still throw around the pigskin from time to time, but deep down I'm much happier knowing that at least one person started playing Vintage because my commentary resonated with them.

@mike-noble I really appreciate the perspective that have shared here.

When I was in my early 30s I had stopped playing magic entirely and I was very career focused. I was working a ridiculous hours as a consultant and I was climbing the corporate ladder, then I started to have anxiety issues and I went to see a therapist.

My therapist asked me one simple question: what do you do for fun? I had no answer. He asked me what did you used to do for fun and my answer was Magic, the Gathering.

I got back into Magic and I have had to slow down a few times due to career and family but it is still my source of fun. The reason for this thread is to figure out a way for this to keep being fun for people similar to me.

I like the spiky part of Vintage. I am a spiky Old School player, I placed 5th at the Player's Ball back in 2018.

I do not want to play against Jank.dec every round but I do want others to have their fun too. If paper events will be proxy for Vintage going forward but the "best" players are all on MTGO - How do we bridge that gap? Is it possible to bridge that gap?

I keep up with the format and I know how to play all of the current spiky decks but I do not find any of them to be fun at the moment. I need to find my fun and experiment a bit.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 The weird thing about MTGO is that a lot of jank decks can do really well if the pilot knows the metagame and the client well.
You like to think that doesn't happen in real life.

last edited by John Cox


Arguably every deck brian kelly has ever built follows this logic and he won the WC a while back.

last edited by Botvinik

@Botvinik I really like what Brian Kelly has done for Vintage. He's made me re-evaluate how I evaluate cards. That said I've seen people build zombie tribal discard decks a few minutes before a league. And go 4-1. Vintage online is a weird place.

last edited by John Cox

Playing on MTGO is terrible, I bought all the vintage cards and tried but it is boring. MTGArena is way better but historic format is not vintage even with archive cards.
Maybe if arena comes to have vintage on it could be better... but it seems very far from that right now.
On the other hand real cards are very expensive and even if I have them, I find very difficult to find time and people to play with...
that's it..
so if arena don't get better and we can try to have more spare time, we will still need low prices for cards in order to have people playing vintage... Wizard should reprint old cards, maybe in different graphic but with same power, otherwise paper vintage will die...alas..

last edited by caron

I do not want to focus too much attention on MTGO. It is where most Vintage is played today and that is not changing. I would like to look at leagues like Romancing the Stones in Austin and their success in getting people to play paper proxy Vintage.

Before the pandemic I had 2 choices of where to play paper Vintage, Cleveland, OH and Grand Rapids, MI. I live in Metro Detroit. Both of these options were about a 3hr drive in one direction for me. I ended up playing Modern and Old School in paper locally.

We had a Vintage scene in Detroit but Ben Perry (Shaman Ben) decided that he was done with Vintage and no one took over organizing for Vintage locally.

I am still connected to some of the players that used to play and I think there is interest with some of the Modern players to play Vintage.

Look at it this way, Justin Gennari is now a Vintage All Star. He won the Waterbury in May 2018. I played in the Star City Power nine event in June 2018, there was an NYSE in 2018 and we have a huge turnout for Eternal Weekend in November of 2018. I played in 3 paper Vintage events in the month of May in 2018 because I played twice in locally and drove to Ohio to practice for the Star City event.

I do not see any of this coming back when things open up. The Ohio Vintage group may come back with Nam Tran and Rajah James and other players that I have known for years. Maybe Kevin Cron will organize something in Grand Rapids. I can reach out to Jeremy Pinter here and see if we can get something going in Metro Detroit.

I see Vintage living on with very hard work in organizing. I look at Jaco in Chicago and he is an awesome TO, and his efforts with the Lords of the Pit grew Old School. I'd like to figure out some way to do that for Vintage.

Maybe it is just doing the hard work of organizing but I'm not sure who has the time for that with families and work. Honestly, I just want to show up and play because I just burnt out from Covid.

I may have exhausted this thread in seeking advice to help me figure out how to do the organizing locally to get Vintage back. I'll reach out the Local Game Stores I know in the area but that may not be enough. We need people to organize locally and do this work to keep Vintage going, that was my point. MTGO is not enough. Even if the Vintage Discord says that Vintage is growing, I have no idea if it is or isn't but I want paper back.

last edited by moorebrother1

Yeah you’ve got to just do the work. It may not be worth it though? I wouldn’t have high expectations to say the least.

@moorebrother1 said in MTGO Leagues and MTGO Challenges are not enough to keep Vintage alive:

I see Vintage living on with very hard work in organizing. I look at Jaco in Chicago and he is an awesome TO, and his efforts with the Lords of the Pit grew Old School. I'd like to figure out some way to do that for Vintage.

Is that the same guy who popularized/built the null rod white eldrazi deck?

@botvinik Yes, he wrote the book on White Eldrazi and he runs


Is an actual book like the one on gush or no? I would like to accumulate some vintage books for my living room table.

If you have the contact details of people, then leverage them and run your own events. Before moving countries, I used to run most of the vintage events in Sydney. If you want to play, that is what you need to do.

Since Eudo is now gone, I find myself wondering whether I am now going to have to do the same for the Bay Area.

I tried running tourneys in San Antonio. We have 2M people here, plus Austin an hour away and Houston 4 hours away. I tried 3 times and even put up my own moxen as 1st place prize. We never topped 16 people. You have to really do the grunt work yourself and advertise...and even then, turn out is likely low. There are just comparatively few Vintage players that still own the cards out there. Proxies help, but Vintage is really like 5% of the player base, if that. MtGO is misleading, as even if you see 500 players in a tourney, that's 500 WORLDWIDE. A paper tourney will only attract 95% of your players from a 2 hour perimeter. Far smaller pool.

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