A few words on Magic Online
I love Magic Online more than any other computer program. I learned how to play limited from playing endless matches on Magic Online. While I may yearn for some of the “old days” when it comes to Magic Online, I do like the new program and the beta has some nice things going for it. For all that is well and good, there are some things that I would like to see added to the program in order to make it even better.
The first thing that I would like to see added to Magic Online is voice chat. Communicating what you like to do in multiplayer is hard enough in real life, but on Magic Online text based chatting is the worst. While I think that the majority of the time I would not use this particular function in random pick up games, it would be nice to sit down with five of my buddies and chat away while we killed some time slinging spells. Most of my career playing Magic has been multiplayer Magic. We would spend most nights just huddled around a table playing for six or seven hours straight only stopping to get soda or go pick up more of our friends. I would love to see Magic replicate this social aspect of the game in the digital world. Most of my friends now live hours sometimes states away. Having a native way of voice chat would make these engagements more memorable. This leads me to the next thing that I would like to see.
Player Run Events. I think for Magic Online to take the next step it needs to have Player Run Events be an actual thing. I would love to see what some of the bigger tournament organizers in the paper world could put together online. Considering how Star City Games Open Series has single-handedly saved the North American Magic scene. Now, the game is doing better than ever and I would love to see the kinds of turnouts that an Online Open could get. Here comes the best part, if Wizards wanted a piece of the action they could always take a cut or have strict scheduling that would limit the size of these events or the amount of them that could be run. I realize that this would cause a lot of issues in terms of logistics. I mean what kind of effect would it have on the servers, and if god forbid the events crash or the program crashes and who would the players come talking to most likely not the people who ran the event. And even if they did, it would be hard for them to push through refunds to people unless they did all of the ticketing outside of the game. That being said, I think this is something that they should seriously consider. There are so many people running events on their own events that would benefit of having it’s own room on the program. I would love to see more people doing their own thing and I would love to see a whole new independent Magic scene that could arise from Player Run Events.
The next thing that I want to see is the thing that is most likely to be coming back. Leagues. Leagues are a great way to play limited on a budget. You pay a sealed deck and you can play all month on one cost if you want to. I think the problem that really came with doing leagues is prize support, it was just paying far too much. Here is the thing, playing in the old league system was a lot like playing a lottery ticket. If you didn’t get a great pool, you had no real reason to keep playing. You had a certain amount of matches that counted for league matches in a week and once you were done with those, the only people who would be left to play would be those trying to get good tiebreakers for the top prizes, if you didn’t get a particularly great pool and lost out early in the league, you were far more likely to just stop playing and never even open the screen again. However, if you did have a great pool, you would be grinding out a ton of matches whether you wanted to or not. Here is what I propose. Same structure as before, you start with six boosters, you’re allowed to add a booster each week, you can play in as many matches with that pool as you would like, only the first five matches count towards your league win or lose record. Here is where the twist is, I think they should do the prize payout weekly. Let’s say you get a 5 – 0 record in the first week, you get paid for it that week. But the rub comes, you can no longer play for prizes in the rest of the league. You can still play with the sealed pool and you can see how you stack with the rest of the players in the league, but your matches won’t gain you any prizes. Now, I know there are kinks in this system as well, but it does reward players playing well, and if the goal is to play a lot of Magic for cheap you can still do that and it gives grinders a way to get their prize packs out of the leagues earlier. There can be other prizes as well, for example, best records that didn’t go undefeated in a week or there can be options to forgo your prizes and go for more by having each week “count”. The point is, I would love to see grinders doing league matches on Twitch each week. It would be awesome if there was a more varied prize structure because we all know that Magic means different things to different people. Leagues can be as casual or as cutthroat as each specific customer wants them to be. And giving the customers the choice on the experience will give the brand more value in the future.
You may have noticed a pattern in this article, I want to Magic Online to be less about “business” and move more to include casual ways that people play Magic. A few other ideas that I would love to see materialize is casual draft formats. Right now, we get Cube drafting every so often between releases of new sets, but there are few other formats I would love to see on Magic Online. First, Two Headed Giant Sealed. The format is typically very popular at Grand Prix side events as well as Star City Games Opens. With the addition to voice chat to the program, adding in Two Headed giant events would be amazing. I also realize there are a lot of logistics issues with multiple players, especially in a program that isn’t known for it’s stability, but I think this would bring an entirely different crowd to Magic Online. One of the reasons why I started playing Magic Online in the first place was because the store in town did not sanction enough limited events. So, I went online to play in events that my store did not do. I think players would migrate to a service where they could do something that they can’t do at their local store. I feel this is why the old format drafts do so well for Magic Online. The last one I would love to see included in Magic Online is Reject Rare Draft. This format if you’ve never played it is pretty amazing, people just bring 45 terrible rares and you kind of shuffle them all up and make boosters for every then draft as usual. While it does depend on who brings what, and you do kind of have to make sure people skew more on the creature side then anything else, it is a very fun format with crazy card combinations that you don’t see too often. Like I said, this is all dependent on who you play cards with, but it would be a fun and interesting format that among friends, would be great to add to Magic Online.
This article seems like it is just focusing on the negative aspects of Magic Online, that isn’t my intention, the new program seems great and all the planned additions are all exciting and I can’t wait to see some of those come to fruition. The only other thing that I would love to see added to the program is an auction house style trading system. All other games do something similar to this and it would be something that I think would be highly beneficial to the program.
Either way if you are a fan of the digital game then the future is very bright, bright indeed. If you want to check out Magic Online yourself here.