MTGO as a phenomenon has been gaining steam for the past couple of years. Although I could have joined a few years ago, I had no interest in obtaining “fake” cards. Why would anyone buy into this? As a Magic old-timer I regarded MTGO as WotC’s way to prove Barnum correct about there being a sucker born every minute. But as I kept watching friend after friend decide to use MTGO, my penguin curiosity got the better of me. After playing MTGO for a week, I am now an addict of it. Let me tell you why you should be too.
First, about the “fake cards” thing. Yes, these are not actual cards. Yes, should WotC go under you will not have them. But you never have to worry about them getting soiled. You never have to worry about buying one and wonder if it is truly mint or not. You don’t have to worry about your opponent being a schmuck and handle your cards too roughly or messing them up because he is gorging himself with the McGreasy Burger and fries combo he just came back with and did not have time to finish before the round started.
As for how much money is involved, it depends on how much you want to spend. Besides, think about how much money you would have to spend to go to a tourney. If you’re a regular PTQ player, you may use a full tank of gas to get there and back, which at today’s prices could cost you $20 at least. Add to this having to buy food during the day and the now-confiscatory entrance fees that WotC is mandating, and it’s cheaper just to stay home. At home you can go to the bathroom whenever you want, and you can eat whatever you want. You can wear anything, if anything, you want in front of the computer. It’s an amazingly liberating thing.
You can start an MTGO account for free if you have an 8th Edition Core Set Two Player Game. But buying one at the store could cost you $12.99. Even at $10 you are not getting that much bang for your buck. The only reason to get this to start playing MTGO is if you really want foil Elvish Champion
s for your real life and online decks. The cards provided to you by using the activation card are so dirt cheap to get at Cardshark or on various MTGO rooms, due to their commonality, that it makes little sense to go this route.
Sub Type: Lord
Artist: D. Alexander Gregory
Text: All Elves get +1/+1 and have forestwalk. (They're unblockable as long as defending player controls a forest.)
The better option is just to pay a $10 start-up fee on the Wizard’s site to start playing MTGO. Don’t worry; you get the money back in credit. So the big question is how to spend the credit. Well, for starters its cheaper just to get the cards you want on Cardshark or by wheeling and dealing on MTGO’s marketplace and auction (more on that later) rather than playing potluck getting boosters or tourney packs on the MTGO stores. Auctions and the Marketplace often have packs cheaper that you can get them on the MTGO store. Therefore, the best way to spend the credits is on event tickets. This is the currency of MTGO, and you can get bargains on MTGO if you have these tickets to spend. Since tickets are impossible to find online for much less than the MTGO store, you might as well spend it here. However, you may want to look at the available cards in a theme deck and compare them to Cardshark. For example, the Fifth Dawn Stampede
Deck costs $11.29 at the MTGO store, but buying all the component cards on Cardshark would cost you $14.78. While this is due to Eternal Witness
|Set: Fifth Edition|
Artist: Jeff A. Menges
Text: All attacking creatures get +1/+0 and gain trample until end of turn.
’s high demand, this does not mean you can’t keep this in mind for future reference. Just remember that you can buy “almost” every common ever published on MTGO at Cardshark for 5 cents, notable exceptions like Armadillo Cloak
|Set: Fifth Dawn|
Sub Type: Human Shaman
Text: Whenever Eternal Witness comes into play, return target card from your graveayrd to your hand.
($2 apiece) notwithstanding. Thus, be a smart shopper and you will go far.
Type: Enchant Creature
Artist: Paolo Parente
Text: Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has trample.Whenever enchanted creature deals damage, you gain that much life.
Another way to get commons is to go to various chatrooms on MTGO. Typing anyplace in MTGO “/join free” puts you in a room where people are expected to beg for cards. However, there tends to be far more beggars than givers here. A better option would be to type “/join trivia” or “/join hangman”. People often award prizes for those who get the answers right. For trivia the prizes are usually 1pt for a common, 4pt get you an uncommon, and 8pt gets you a rare. For hangman it’s common to get the card you guessed. Be warned that sometimes hangman has two rounds, with round 2 being just for those who did exceptionally well during Round 1. And please don’t spam the boards with constant silliness or type 4-5 straight letters during hangman. The host may just block you and then you can’t play or win prizes. Playing these games also helps you lose your “newbie” status.
One could always use their tickets to buy stuff at the auction. Typing “/join auction” gets you there. However, the action tends to get crowded and fast and it will be impossible to know if you are getting a good deal. Plus, if it is a good deal, people will drive up the price. You could also go the already-establish Marketplace, but things go so fast there that it is impossible to keep up. It is the spammiest area on the site.
One piece of advice. Be sure to click on MTGO’s help button and then click on where it says Chat. It will give you all the shortcut keys. Pressing Ctrl+Q at the same time, and then pressing another button, makes many of the images. This includes mana symbols and smiley faces.
Now a word about clans. The main use of a clan is to have one common place where real-life friends can chat with each other. However, most clans are there just because someone decided to start one. Hanging around in the clan room is the best way to have someone ask you to join. A clan is useful starting out as it gives you people to play against. The thing is, very few clans that are worth joining would actually invite a MTGO newbie to join them. Expect to join a minor one, and hope to worm your way to a better one.
In a week or two, you should easily lose your newbie status and be rocking and rolling on MTGO. And when you do, feel free to thank me for the help. My handle on MTGO is “Bedford”
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