Hello, and welcome to the third part of MTGO Academy’s brand new tutorial series! To keep abreast of the world of Magic: The Gathering considered in either its paper or online forms requires knowledge of myriad terms, rules, and community standards. But to play seriously on Magic Online (MTGO for short) adds even more to the list of need-to-knows. And we at MTGO Academy are here to explain all of the things that make Magic… well… magic! Part Three of the series presents information on online products and events that will help you to get the most out of your Magic Online experience.
Non-Interface Knowledge Vital for the Ultimate MTGO Experience
This part of our tutorial focuses on the products, events, formats and web-sites that are primarily exclusive to Magic Online. Most are supplementary to what is available on the paper scene, and many are great examples of why Magic Online is such a wonderful way to enjoy the game!
In this section, we highlight products that are for sale on Magic Online but have not been offered as paper items (for products that overlap, or are ‘paper-only,’ check Part One). These products exist for one of two reasons: (1) they are prohibited by the paper reprint policy, or (2) they are relevant only for Magic Online-specific formats. The most important item is the Event Ticket, Magic Online‘s method for charging for event entry. Importantly, Event Tickets (or Tix) are also the de facto currency within the Magic Online client (1 Ticket, or 1 Tix, is approximately equal to $1 American). Most of the other products are preconstructed decks, but there are a few random packs and bundle items.
Most non-multiplayer paper products get online releases, but the digital realm also has items that aren’t available in paper (due to reprint policy or the nature of the paper versus digital format of gameplay). Here are the unique digital items that you will encounter in the Wizards Store:
Event Tickets. Also known as Tix, these products have multiple usages within the client. They cost $1 to purchase from Wizards if you’re using United States currency, and they are used as a currency within the client. They are the most liquid of all assets you can hold in your MTGO collection! In addition to being digital money, Tickets also are used to enter tournaments (hence their name). It is noteworthy that every Event Ticket was at one time purchased directly from the WotC store, setting a rough (though not absolute) cap on the exchange rate between Event Tickets and publicly used currencies like the Euro or the US Dollar.
Event and Draft Packs. These packs contain everything a player needs to play a Draft or a Sealed Deck event on Magic Online; they include the exact number of packs and tickets required for entry. Sometimes (usually during a set release), they include special promotional cards but still only cost only the sum of the packs and tickets. Note that you have to break the bundle in order to use the boosters and tickets inside of it by ‘opening’ it.
Momir Basic Event Deck. Momir Basic is a special format played on Magic Online that consists of a deck of sixty basic lands (five of the lands are Guru promotional lands) and the Momir Vig, Simic Visionary avatar. It costs $9.99 in the United States.
Planeswalker Deck Packs. The Planeswalker format uses special, gold-bordered cards that cannot be traded from account to account. Each deck pack adds a few hundred specific cards of all rarities for only $4.99 in the United States. These are great products for those that want to learn Magic or play in a restricted, cost-efficient environment and are based on the game Duels of the Planeswalkers. Forum user ZeroDivide inspired us to make a full-length article, In the Beginning: All About Planeswalker Packs, detailing the contents of Planeswalker Deck Packs and explaining more about the product and format. Note that each new account comes with a recent Planeswalker Deck Pack!
Magic Online Deck Series. So far, there are only two of these (and both are for the Legacy format). These preconstructed decks are designed to play out-of-the-box in their respective format. Currently, Magic Online Deck Series products cost $29.99 in the United States and come with 2 Event Tickets in addition to the 75-card, preconstructed deck (including the 15-card sideboards). The two deck lists can be found on their product page entry.
Deck Builder’s Essentials. This product contains 2 Event Tickets and 220 commons and uncommons from the most recent Magic expansions. The received pile of cards usually features some build-around themes and mechanics from those sets. It is similar to the extra cards contained in the Deck Builder’s Tool Kit paper product, and it costs $4.99 in the United States. This product does not contain any Booster Packs.
Commander Theme Decks. These two theme decks were made for the Commander multiplayer format before it was officially supported by Wizards. At their inception, they each included many cards that were not yet released on Magic Online, but as of today, all of the cards have been released except those from Mercadian Masques Block. You can view the full deck lists for the two Commander theme decks here. They each cost $19.99 in the United States.
Since there is no reprint policy for Magic Online, you can expect to see more Magic Online-only products to come in the future!
One of the most important things to know about competitive Magic (and competitive Magic Online) is the taxonomy of tournaments that are played and what they have to offer the online gamer. Magic Online has grown a great deal in last several years, offering ways to qualify for both the Pro Tour and Worlds, but it also has a ton of events for the less competitive or busier (i.e., with their non-MTGO lives) players.
Magic Online’s official tournaments may be joined from five zones within the client, with Player Run Events being held in a few different locations (listed on their information post in the WotC PRE Forum). The schedule of official Magic Online events is found on the calendar at MTGOnline.com.
These events usually correspond with the typically-played paper Magic formats, but there are a few specialty formats on Magic Online (showcased below). Magic Online‘s tournament offerings are also much more regimented than paper’s with respect to their scheduling, time limits, prize structure, and rules enforcement, as well as deckbuilding standards (because they are coded within the program and ‘fire’ automatically). Here’s a list of the most iconic Magic Online tournament structures:
MOCS. The Magic Online Championship Series offers twelve invitations to Worlds each year, as well as the annual Magic Online Championship held on-site at Worlds! Each slot (except one) is won through a large, invite-only tournament hosted after each MOCS season completes. As an added bonus, all players who qualify for the MOCS events get a special promotional card (and the Top 32 of the event get a foil version of that card). To qualify for the event, a player must accumulate 15 qualifier points (QPs) in a single season. Byes are awarded for players that get to 25, 35 or 45 QPs. Players may only use one account to play in a MOCS tournament (even if they have qualified multiple accounts). You can read all about the Magic Online Championship Series at the MOCS fact sheet page.
Pro Tour Qualifiers. PTQs are also offered on Magic Online for each Pro Tour. In addition to winning an invite to the Pro Tour, the online PTQ winners receive invites to a Magic Online Superdraft at the event. In the past, there have been sixteen online PTQs every season. You can find the most recent Magic Online PTQ information on the right sidebar at www.MTGOnline.com, the Magic Online homepage.
Release Events. Whenever a new set is introduced online (or an old set is released online for the first time), WotC puts up a series of special release events. These events usually include 8-Player Draft Queues, 64-Player Draft Premier Events (that are single elimination), Top 8 Sealed Deck Premier Events, and Sealed Swiss Queues with amazing prize payouts. These events typically have some of the highest attendance of all Magic Online events and offer great prizes for their cost. Their start date is typically on the Wednesday after the set goes on sale in the WotC store.
Release Championship Events. Players that Top 8 a Release Event that is also a Premier Event are invited to a Championship Event after the Release Events have concluded. These events are free to play in and are Sealed Deck with a Draft Top 8. Players may only use one account to play in a championship event (even if they have qualified multiple accounts).
Prerelease Events. These events occur the weekend before a set goes on sale in the WotC store. They typically last two or three days and have both Draft and Sealed Deck components. These events tend to cost a bit more than Release Events (with 20 Ticket Drafts and 30 Ticket Sealed events) and have worse prize payouts (but offer promotional cards).
Daily Events. These are, you guessed it, daily-offered events in the Daily Events room! They are scheduled to occur at a certain time but have to reach a minimum amount of required players (currently 16) to start. They run for a specific number of rounds and then pay out prizes based on record (not on standing). Daily Events are often an effective way to test out a new deck and earn a good prize payout for the time commitment. The best online players frequently participate in Daily Events.
Out-of-Print (OOP) Set Sealed Events. Wizards offers exotic sealed events every so often on weekends. These occur in the Premier Events room and require only Event Tickets to enter. Sometimes entrants get promotional cards just for signing up! These pay out based on Swiss record (and not standing).
NIXTIX/NIXPAX Drafting. These Drafts are similar to the OOP sealed events, but they also accept packs instead of Event Tickets as an entry option (and they are Drafts, not Sealed events, of course). This style of Draft event is usually available for one week in the 8-Player Draft room for a particular set. You can find the schedule for these events here.
8-Player Drafts. These are just the normal Draft events that are available for all current Standard sets and the most recent Classic release(s). The 8-Player Draft room is always highly populated with users.
8-Player and 2-Player Constructed. Many Constructed formats have 2-Player Queues where two players each pay an entry fee of 2 Event Tickets and compete in a match for a Booster Pack. Some formats offer Gold Queues where the entry is 10 Tickets with a prize of five Booster Packs. Select formats also offer 8-Player, single-elimination events with an entry fee of 6 Tickets. In general, if you have enough time to play in one, Daily Events are a better use of time and resources than 8-Player Constructed queues.
Player Run Events (PREs). These events are free tournaments, unaffiliated with WotC, that are hosted in and operated through miscellaneous chat rooms by Magic Online users. They usually offer prizes that are donated by their hosts and/or bot chains and online card stores. PREs are often crazy formats (or variations of formats) that are not filtered by Magic Online; they are also quite fun! You can find list of currently offered events here in the PRE forum.
This section focuses on those formats that are played in tournaments on Magic Online. There are even more formats if you look at the Banned & Restricted Lists for DCI-sanctioned tournaments. We will focus on the most popular formats — 4-Booster Sealed, Legacy (and its differences from paper Legacy), and Block Constructed (which starts when the big set of each block is released) — and touch upon other events that have been used for Magic Online tournaments. We’ll also highlight the PRE forum, home of many innovative and unique formats. These events have different characteristics than paper events and are, at the very least, worth remembering.
4-Booster Sealed. This Limited format is offered mostly in the Sealed Swiss Queues room. Since it only uses four Booster Packs, the minimum number of cards in deck construction is 30, rather than 40. Bombs appear frequently, and decking is a real concern, making this format play out quite differently than traditional Sealed.
Legacy Constructed (on Magic Online). There are a few differences between paper and Magic Online Legacy, some of them positive and others not so much. Firstly, not all Magic cards are yet available online. Sam Stoddard compiled a (now slightly outdated) list of these in a neat article on the intricacies of the online format. (Note that Urza’s Destiny has been released since Stoddard wrote this piece.) Secondly, you should note that only black-bordered dual lands exist online (which is awesome). Lastly, compare prices, and rejoice at the fact that the majority of Legacy cards are priced at a fraction of their paper counterparts!
Block Constructed. Block Constructed used to be a PTQ format and a Pro Tour format, but now it is just one of the most affordable Magic Online formats. (Well, it might still be a Pro Tour format, but who cares about that?!) Each year, a new Block Constructed format is formed when the first set of a block is released (around September); this one-year cycle and the inclusion of new sets every few months mean that the format (in a general sense) is almost always fresh for innovation.
The next few formats were once featured as flagship Premier Events for Magic Online. These events are no longer offered, but the formats are still supported (some with Daily Events and 2-Player Queues).
Pauper. King of the commons, Pauper is often (mistakenly) thought as a ‘budget’ format, even though many of its staples are more expensive than Standard rares. Pauper was originally just supported by the PRE community, and through that strong, dedicated community’s success, WotC made it into first an official format filter and then a supported tournament format. The PRE community for Pauper is still one of the strongest player-run event communities. In Pauper, only cards released online as commons (at some point) are legal to play.
Classic Constructed. Classic is an oddball format in the Magic world; it’s basically Vintage with a significant number of the most powerful cards missing, and it features its own Banned and Restricted list. Like Pauper, Classic originated through PREs before it had its own supported events. Most hope that Classic will eventually be done away with, and that Vintage will replace it (though this would involve the Power 9 being released online); whether the missing cards will be released online remains to be seen.
100-Card Singleton. This ‘Highlander’ format uses the Classic card pool, but it maintains its own Banned and Restricted list. It’s both a ‘big deck’ format (because each 100-Card deck must run 100 cards in the main, and 15 in the sideboard) and a highlander format (meaning only one of each card other than a basic land is allowed), lending itself to an interesting card pool, in which both highly powerful (Mana Drain) and niche playable (Utopia Tree) cards are run alongside one another with success. It gets bonus points for being ChrisKool’s favorite format, who has been quoted saying, “It’s like playing Limited, but none of the cards in your deck suck!” Sadly, it lost much of its player base when Weekend Challenge Events were discontinued.
Standard Singleton. This Highlander format uses the Standard card pool and requires a 60-card deck. Right after set rotation, the format is very short on what would normally be considered playable cards even in Block Constructed! Also, the metagame becomes defined fairly quickly after set rotation because, inevitably, the most powerful cards are obvious to most players. Similar to 100-Card Singleton, Standard Singleton saw waning support when Weekend Challenge Events ended.
Kaleidoscope. Recently, this format received a complete overhaul! Originally, it used the Extended card pool, but with the change in that format construction rules, the card pool became too confining for a format where only multicolored cards and lands are legal. Now, it uses the Legacy card pool!
You can also find more interesting, fringe formats in the PRE forum.
There are several web sites that deal specifically with Magic Online content. Wizards itself maintains some web space especially for Magic Online, but each of these sites should be followed regularly, as well. The major WotC pages are:
MTGOnline.com. This is the primary page for Magic Online event and resource information from Wizards of the Coast. It has a valuable Quick Links section on the right sidebar, as well as deck lists from Magic Online tournaments. It is also sometimes referred to as the “What’s Happening” page.
Magic Online Blog. The Magic Online blog lists build notes for the software updates, upcoming player awards or tournament promos, and occasionally other miscellaneous information. Build notes also list an estimated down time length, great for planning your Wednesday Magic Online play!
Magic Online Forum. This is where a player should go for technical help, discussion of Magic Online features (both program-related and event-related), and discussion of other Magic Online topics. It is frequented by Wizards of the Coast employees (and heavily regulated), so be nice and courteous, even if you are upset about something!
Last, but not least, we’re at probably the most important ‘basic information’ section from this part of the tutorial: Magic Online sites and stores have priceless resources for players, traders, and collectors! Of course, if you are reading this, you probably already know about MTGOAcademy.com (the best site for Magic Online-specific info), but there are quite a few sites (some of them even our competitors) that you should be checking out for information! This section runs through Magic Online strategy sites, web stores, and bot chains that you need to know.
ClassicQuarter.com. CQ is a Classic-specialty site run by dangerlinto. They also have some of the best resources for anyone interested in hard-to-find foils and an auction area!
MTGOAcademy.com. MTGO Academy specializes in offering a selection of high-quality Magic Online content, updated every weekday at midnight US East. It also features a store on its website and an online bot chain within the MTGO client (Academy_Sellbot). Videos on MTGO Academy are often intended to be as educational as possible for their viewers. Contributors are asked to make their Magic deckbuilding and gameplay decision-making processes as explicit as possible in videos and articles. However, some of their videos aim primarily to entertain. MTGO Academy also features useful tutorials such as this one, and some indispensable tools, such as the MTGO Notifier program and the DeckTech utility, which collects and organizes Daily Event and Premier Event player and decklist data from WotC’s “What’s Happening” page in an easy-to-read, searchable way!
PDCMagic.com. The Pauper Deck Challenge web site is the home to a popular, long-running PRE community. This site hosts a ton of Pauper resources, including the Gatherling, a large database of PDC decks.
PureMTGO.com. PureMTGO is MTGO Traders’ content web site. They feature a great deal of fringe format coverage and deal with many different aspects of Magic Online.
Lastly, you must be very familiar with the main players in the Magic: The Gathering Online economy (both in and out of the client). Also note the cartel-pricing nature of CardBot and all of the stores that license its technology. Most often, CardBot’s prices are the market prices.
CardBot. CardBot is the premier Magic Online bot software. Many large dealers use this software to run their bots in the client, but you can find CardBot’s own bots in the Classifieds section, too. CardBot’s own buying and selling protocols appear to control all of the bots using their software, meaning that all of the bots using the software have the same prices and the same buy lists (which is why sometimes they are referred to as a cartel). All of CardBot’s foils are sold on FoilBot. Cardbots are almost always well-stocked, and their prices are usually fair.
Cardhoarder (Bots and Web Store). Cardhoarder uses the CardBot software and sells singles through their web site.
TheCardNexus. The Card Nexus maintains a small bot chain with competitive prices. They are owned by a long-standing member of the MTGO community.
Creature Bots (no website). These are buy-only bots that use CardBot software. It is unknown whether they are distinct from the CardBot business or just unbranded CardBot bots.
MarlonBot. MarlonBot uses the CardBot software. All of the foils are on The Bot. You can check prices on MarlonBot’s web site.
MTGO Academy (Bots and Web Store). MTGO Academy sells a selection of cards, bot credits, and bundles through our website. Also, we currently maintain several bots in the client: Academy_QuizBot gives away free cards if users can answer a question successfully. Academy_Budgetbot sells cards priced at under 1 Ticket. Academy_Sellbot and Academy_Sellbot2 are stocked with top cards, boosters, and avatars at the best prices. Academy_Buybot offers to pay you in Tix for the digital items that we need and that you want to sell! More bots are slated to be added in the near future; we will keep you up-to-date with any new information regarding them. If you enjoy our tutorials and content, please use our bots and web store!
MTGO Library Bot (Bot for Rent). MTGO Library Bots are rentable via the MTGO Library website. You can pay a flat subscription fee or a percentage of sales and purchases. The site maintains a search feature to find which bots stock which cards, but it is not up-to-date (and all of the bots on it are not online at all times). There have also been security issues with this software in the past (where users accused the software of stealing information or cards). Despite these potential issues, Library Bots are at least functional, and they are widely used by renters and shoppers alike.
MTGO Traders (Bots and Web Store). MTGO Traders is one of the shining examples of how you can use Magic Online to make boatloads, neigh, shipyards of money! Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but Traders has been around for quite some time and seem to be the flagship for non-bot online retailers. The company also supports various Magic Online resources and Player Run Events. You might even be able to catch the owner, Heath, on the WotC forums or in the client (when he’s not surfing)! MTGO Traders’ bots use the CardBot software (and for the most part, CardBot’s buy and sell prices).
SupernovaBots. SupernovaBots are the only big bot chain that does not use CardBot software. They only deal in rares, mythic rares, and Booster Packs (as well as in foils of rares and mythics), but they have the most interesting algorithm for pricing. Over time, their sell prices decrease if no one has purchased a card (and their buy prices increase if no one sells them that card). You should use their website to figure out which bot has the card you are looking for (or to see if they have it in stock at all).
By crosschecking MTGO Academy’s bots, SupernovaBots, any of the stores that use CardBots and the Classifieds section of Magic Online, you should be able to get a general idea for what a card is worth in the current market.
We hope that this section has offered you a ton of informational resources about Magic Online; if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below! And then, join us for the final installment of this tutorial series, Part Four, for an in-depth look at trading and collection management within MTGO.