Why Should You Play on MTGO?

A reader on the LR Community Subreddit asked if they should join MTGO. Longtime listener and friend of the show Zach “zvazda” Orts had a great response:

The short answer is: Yes (assuming that’s what you want).

I was originally reticent like you were about MTGO. Magic is an expensive hobby and I was already spending more money on it in real life than I wanted to. I noticed the addictive tendencies in myself (jonesing to open a booster, and then another and another) and I figured that if I always had the ability to draft it would become an unending money sink.

Eventually I got a gig in Alaska. I sent an email to Marshall and Ryan saying that I would have to count on them to give me my magic fix for four months. Ryan sent back a one-word response: MTGO!

I downloaded it in Alaska and made the rule that I would put in 14 tickets every Friday. I could draft if I had the resources in my account, if not I would have to wait. The first week, I only got one draft, but the majority of the weeks after that I would get 2-4, with the possibility of more if I opened some sweet money. I played exclusively swiss, but I got very, very good at grinding out value on MTGO very quickly.

I still play exclusively swiss, I’ve built up a bit of a nest egg and I draft whenever I want without really thinking about it (and I don’t even put money in MTGO that often either). About 6 months ago I sold a large amount of my paper collection for MTGO credit and that hasn’t even come close to running out.

If drafting fiscally were the only reason to join MTGO, I think it would be enough. But there are other upsides:

It’s the best way to improve your game. Having access to your game replays and raredraft files is monumental for looking back and trying to find holes in your game. As you’ve seen, many people will post their raredrafts to the reddit and get feedback on them.

As Ryan always said: MODO is a harsh mistress. MTGO will teach you the rules better than you could ever understand them in real life. It will teach you not to pass priority unless you want to. It will teach you where to set stops.

Convenience: You can draft whenever you want. Not only can you draft at 3 in the morning while the pizza guy brings you a pizza. You can do dishes in between rounds. You can do push-ups in between rounds. You can watch netflix in between rounds. It maximizes your not-playing time in a way that an LGS just can’t.

Sure, you’ll have a few frustrations with the client. But, honestly, those frustrations are far less than the frustrations I have with heading out to the LGS.

A few tips:

  1. Watch some draft videos first. Get used to how the client is going to look in game.
  2. You will lose some games to mis-clicks initially. That goes away! I mis-click maybe 4 times a year now.
  3. Draft Swiss!
  4. Never concede!
  5. Be conscientious of your clock. It can be a real advantage and I have one countless matches by clocking my opponent.
  6. Always buy your packs from a bot and tickets from the store.
  7. I use mtggoldfish.com to track the prices of the rares that I’m holding so I know when to sell them off.
  8. Try to look ahead for when you’re going to want to sell rares. You will always (except on prerelease weekend) get better prices by posting in the classifieds and being patient (it normally takes 1-2 days). If you need to sell a rare to draft TODAY, then you’re gonna have to go to a bot, and you will get less value.
  9. (SELF PROMOTION). I made this draft tracker which you can use to see how much you are spending/draft:https://lrcast.com/magic-tracking-spreadsheet-walkthrough-by-zach-orts/

Mine is currently hovering at around -2.5 tickets/draft, but I know that oraymw has managed to keep it at about -.5 tickets/draft.

Good luck.

And I’m zvazda on MTGO too :). Say hi!

3 thoughts on “Why Should You Play on MTGO?

  1. Someone on twitter brought this up, and someone at the reddit did as well. I thought it was worth responding to here:

    Which queue you should enter is a very nuanced conversation. “Draft Swiss!” was intended for the novice MTGO player, not as the final word on which queue makes the most sense for you.
    I’ve posted elsewhere on the reddit what makes sense as far as queues, but I think it’s worth reposting here:
    You should always play either swiss or 84 (these both pay out 12 packs where the 4322 queue only pays out 11. This loss of EV will add up over time).

    If your win rate is below 50%, you should always play the swiss queue.

    If your win rate is above 50%, 84s make sense from a ticket EV standpoint.

    If your win rate is above 61.7%, 84s get you more matches/tickets spent.

    If your win rate is about 72.7% you can “go infinite.”

    I play exclusively Swiss because it lowers my variance so that I can consistently get the drafts I want. I know that 100 tickets will get me between 33 and 50 drafts. Whereas it’s possible in an 84 that 100 tickets will get me 6 drafts. I also like to be able to play all my matches.

    It’s also sometimes difficult for me to carve out 3 hours to draft. I frequently will start my draft so it will finish in time for me to go to sleep. If I donk out in the first round, I probably don’t have time to jump in another draft, while maintaining the same schedule. 84s would not allow me to maximize my allotted draft time.

  2. Thanks for the great advice! What is the easiest way to figure out your win percentage? I also recomend phantom sealed. Its only 6 tixs and after 2 you can usually get at least a 3rd one in with the phantom pojnts you win.

    • Zach (above) was kind enough to share an excel spreadsheet he made with the LR community.

      Link: https://lrcast.com/magic-tracking-spreadsheet-walkthrough-by-zach-orts/

      I use this to keep track of my win/loss, I usually start a new one with each new format. One day I hope to pull all the data into a database so I can run some queries.

      I’d recommend tweaking it a bit to fit your preference (colour coding, add a worksheet that tracks the money you sink in MTGO and when you did it, etc)

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