Robert Chesley

Magic Online Collection Building 101

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It’s been tough playing Magic Online lately.With the well publicized crashing of premier events like the MOCS (Magic Online Championship Series) and PTQs (Pro Tour Qualifiers) last weekend, it’s hard to find anything bright in a sea of negativity and bleakness. When one of the most well-known most-respected members of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame tweets that everyone should delete Magic Online it isn’t a good moment. While I’m not going to pretend to know how to fix the crashes or really what a successful company should do with their product. It does suck that this isn’t the first time (and won’t be the last time) that events get compromised due to program limitations. And it does suck that the compensation doesn’t equal the prize that is offered. And no one likes to reschedule 8 hour events. It really is what they have to do at this point. We will get a more stable, and intuitive program at some point… it will happen. The program is already far more stable than it was when I first started playing online almost TEN years ago.

Read Roberts previous article on Magic: Online

What I kind of wanted to talk about today was collection building. What do you do? Where do you start? When you’re first starting out playing Magic you are likely to kind of mimic the formats and the cards that your play group is playing. For me that was playing a lot of what is now known as Vintage. I started playing Magic when I was 13 years old, and I’m 29 now, that play group that I played with when I started has long since moved on. I still play with my father whenever we get the chance, but living hours away from each other that doesn’t make it as easy as you would think. I played a lot with a casual group for many years, but most of us have moved or moved on, and I now primarily play with my wife when we get the time or I play online.

But I’ve been struggling to figure out exactly what I want from my physical Magic collection. I’ve been slowly converting many of my higher priced cards into an investment for Magic Online. So far, I’ve turned a relatively few amount of cards into about a grand’s worth of investment into my future playing Online Vintage come June. The vast amount of choices on Magic Online is daunting for someone just starting the online game so here are a few general tips I give to people who are interested in making the jump from Paper to Digital.


First, set a clear goal. When I first started playing Magic Online my main goal was to get better at Sealed and Draft. I had been playing competitively at my local shop for a while, but it seemed every time we drafted or there was a big prerelease, and I played sealed deck, I was dead in the water. This was long before teaching tools such as “Duels of the Planeswalkers” made it easy to learn in a low-risk environment. I was on my own. So, first I read some articles figured out what was “typically good” and tried to emulate it. The best way to get better at draft or sealed is to play (or watch people play.) and That is what I did. I played in at least 2 to 3 drafts or sealed events in a week, and I got pretty good. At least good enough to win at my local store and good enough to play competently enough online. But lets not kid ourselves, Magic is an expensive hobby, and sealed, and drafting is actually on the high end of price points. Every time you want to draft there is a cost (whether that be packs or cold hard cash.) So how do you squeeze every last dollar out of your collection? Well, the easiest way is to get really good at Magic. To do that, you need to practice.

Today, there are low risk ways to practice without spending a ton of money. You can play in Phantom sealed events. They’re exactly what they sound like, for a small amount of tix you can get your sealed fix. If you are a modest player, you can probably get at least a match win or two every time you play one of these. If you 2-1 every phantom event you can play in six events for twelve tickets, which is actually a pretty good return on your investment if you are solely using this as practice. While gaining confidence and skill, you can move up to some of the other non-phantom events. Personally, I suggest playing in either the 4-3-2-2 draft queues or the Swiss queues if you want to draft. If you win a match you are very close to paying for another event, and if you pull a decent money card you can probably pay for 2 possibly 3 drafts that way. Playing in the Swiss queues is the best way to start out. You always get to play 3 rounds regardless if you win or lose the first match and you get a simple pack per match win payout (a lot of local gaming stores mimic this prize structure.)

If you’re looking to make money at Magic Online, and speculate on the market; here are a few tips that I’ve used in the past to gain slight advantages in terms of “best bang for my buck.” The first is being mindful of what cards are worth what money in the pre-constructed decks. For example, currently the “Political Puppets” deck is available from the online store at MSRP, 29.99. It contains a Flusterstorm, which you can easily sell in the classifieds for close to the cost of the deck (I believe it’s current price is 28 tix.) you now just acquired a 99 other cards for free. Some of them also have value, even if you only get 5 to 10 tix out of the rest of the cards in the deck you just got 35 to 40 dollars for 30 dollars. If you were planning on spending that money anyways on MTGO you can make the cost of the hobby a lot less just by being mindful of the market. The same goes for drafting if you see a money mythic or foil getting passed to you; it is far more beneficial to take the money card to fund another draft or even to fund entire decks online. Many players I know have some kind of price checking website or screen up when they are drafting so they can quickly check to see if picking up a random rare is worth it or not. Something to be mindful of.

What if you want to play constructed? How or where do you start? The easiest format to jump into on Magic Online is Standard. The cards are easily obtainable (though can be pricey as with Standard in the paper realm) and that format fires off the most events. In my opinion, the best investment you can make on Magic Online is picking up ten dollar Momir packs from the store. Momir is a format on Magic Online that lets you trade a land in your hand plus a mana cost for a random creature that is that mana cost. So, for example, I discard a land and pay 3 I get a creature that costs 3 mana. They hold Daily Momir tournaments, which cost of a deck is the cheapest on Magic Online, and while the game play is completely random you have a chance at earning prizes solely by playing that. The next format I would suggest is Pauper. Pauper is probably the cheapest of any “real” format on Magic Online, but that doesn’t mean it is cheap. Because of the format’s popularity many of the top tier decks can cost between 60 and 100 tix. Pauper is a format that only uses common cards, which lends itself as an easier to buy into the format. I’ve known players who only play Momir and Pauper, and they win enough so they can draft and play other formats with the prize packs.

As for what you should do it is up to you, I hope this gives you a little insight on how to get the most bang for your buck when you are starting out on Magic Online. As always you can scream at me on Twitter @Urzishra or urzishra14 on MTGO.

Special Note from the Editor:

Seriously? This Official Announcement went up quite literally a minute after we published this article, stay tuned as we figure out what is going on here.

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