The Problem With Magic the Gathering Online

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I enjoy playing constructed standard, Planeswalker, duel deck, Momir Basic and Commander games in MTGO, but the problem is there is no way to play casual games on a level playing field.

With the duel decks, Planeswalker and Commander, decks can be altered and customized giving players the advantage.

The only way to play games in a level playing field is to play the core set theme decks in the "free trial" section where the decks are not custumizable.

I find this frustrating because I don't have the time or mental power to customize my own decks.

Anyone else agree?
Welcome to MTGO
Casual magic makes no direct revenue to WoTC so therefore gets no direct development. Asking for anything else, is futile. Best suggestion is to find people that play like you do and friend them and/or clan with them. Best of luck to you.


I find this frustrating because I don't have the time or mental power to customize my own decks.

Anyone else agree?



Customizing decks is half the point of the game.  You might like Duels of the Planeswalkers.  It's inexpensive to buy on Steam and you can play only the pre-built decks (only slightly modifiable).  
Many people feel the way you do. They go here:

www.wizards.com/MagiC/Digital/MagicOnlin...

and simply build one of the winning deck lists. 

Sounds like you should be playing limited, not constructed.

Of all the problems with MTGO, I don't think this is THE problem.  As the other posters have pointed out, there are some alternatives available.  The best one being making in-game friends so you can be comfortable with the deck the other guy is bringing.
I certainly disagree. Your notion of a "level playing field" does not exist in constructed, by definition. Limited play would be your closest approximation.

But even in limited, where the available card pool is not dependent on your willingness to spend money, you still can't pretend that deckbuilding is an unwanted part of the game. Maybe to you it is, but that makes you the exception. The skill in magic is simply not exclusively to play a deck well, it is also to create one well.

If you are not prepared to invest time and energy in that, you'll just have to accept that those who do will have an advantage over you. Just as footballers who train have an advantage over those who don't; it just comes with the territory.
Free Speech
Free speech is the right to speak your mind without government censorship and without fear of extralegal retaliation like harassment or violence. That’s all! Free speech doesn’t include the right to speak your mind on any forum anywhere. The government may not prevent you from speaking, but private parties, like blog owners or corporations, aren’t required to let you use their property as your platform. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be believed or to be taken seriously. People may mock, ridicule or laugh at what you say, or they may reject it outright. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be listened to. People who don’t desire to hear your opinion can hang up on you, block you on social media, change the channel, close the browser tab. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to bombard people with harassing messages or otherwise force them to pay attention to you against their will. And free speech doesn’t include the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever for your expressed opinions.

Anyone else agree?



I agree this is an issue.

I also don't understand how Nushae says an even playing field does not exist in constructed. As far as I am aware the original poster is not complaining about issues of monetary value of constructed decks, but even if he was and that is what constitutes an "even playing field" then surely it also exists at the very least  for the subset of players able and willing to get 4x of all cards in a given format.

Personally I don't mind the deck building (I enjoy it) but I still find it very frustrating that there are not enough tools for me to conveniently regulate the playing field - this doesn't mean I just want to stomp practically anytime I don't have extremely bad draws* because I find any games of a big power disparity between decks unpleasant. Even having a bunch of buddies to play with works badly because the Clans don't work as well as they should and so on. In any case if you don't like deckbuilding you may be playing the wrong game.

*I could do that by playing a tournament level deck in the casual room, which I believe is griefing on the level of ganking someone many levels below you in MMOs, but some people are into doing just that.

Personally I don't think limited is a good option for players looking for a level constructed playing field. Limited is a bit limited (pun intended) for that purpose with a lot of strategy types absent.

Other suggestions were basically already mentioned. You started with one yourself: play the free trial decks. That is a guaranteed even playing field and is casual.

The solution I usually take is not perfect as it is also limiting but is the only one that works fairly consistently (but not always) - I drop the casual requirement and play at the highest level of the playing field possible in places where it is reasonable to expect everyone else is doing the same. This does mean that you won't be able to play a lot of different decks (something that is a true loss to me) but it tends to be an even playing field. If what bothers you about non-casual play is the pay to play problem, there are still unsanctioned ways to play non-casual with an even playing field that are free to play: you can expect people at the tournament practice room** to be running decks at the highest level of the playing field as well (although it is sadly fairly frequent that they aren't, but at least there it usually isn't because they are intentionally griefing you), PREs are also a good option and if you are willing to pay then the 2-player queues are even more guaranteed to provide an even playing field.

** note that I believe the TP room to be incorrectly included under the "Casual" section, a section which should be renamed Unsanctioned to be perfectly clear and correct.

Ivo.

Anyone else agree?



I agree this is an issue.

I also don't understand how Nushae says an even playing field does not exist in constructed.



No offense Ivo, but I literally wrote "your notion of" in front of "level playing field". Please carefully reread what I wrote and discover that we are saying the same thing.
Free Speech
Free speech is the right to speak your mind without government censorship and without fear of extralegal retaliation like harassment or violence. That’s all! Free speech doesn’t include the right to speak your mind on any forum anywhere. The government may not prevent you from speaking, but private parties, like blog owners or corporations, aren’t required to let you use their property as your platform. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be believed or to be taken seriously. People may mock, ridicule or laugh at what you say, or they may reject it outright. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be listened to. People who don’t desire to hear your opinion can hang up on you, block you on social media, change the channel, close the browser tab. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to bombard people with harassing messages or otherwise force them to pay attention to you against their will. And free speech doesn’t include the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever for your expressed opinions.

Anyone else agree?



I agree this is an issue.

I also don't understand how Nushae says an even playing field does not exist in constructed.



No offense Ivo, but I literally wrote "your notion of" in front of "level playing field". Please carefully reread what I wrote and discover that we are saying the same thing.



I don't remember taking offense unless people outright insult me, so don't worry about stuff like that. I think we are just interpreting the OP's notion of level playing field. From his original post I thought (and think) that he has a similar notion to my own - it is entirely possible that my opinion is biased because I'm talking about what I know, my own concept of "level playing field". If it is my own notion, I'm certain that you can find it in MTGO constructed even currently and even what I designate as unsanctioned (and "free to play"), but as I noted I did need to pretty much abandon the "casual" part of it (with some pity as it means a lot more cards are useless for me).

I'm hoping that v4 makes it easier to organize in-client groups of buddies in categories. I have a few that I know I can count on for some true casual concoctions, but they're not that frequently around when I'm online.

Ivo.

nowadays casual is about 300 dollars ;)

Seriously though casual it hard to define as everone much like other things has one.  That is why it is my opinion it should be renamed.  It is also my opinion that it should have been done 8 years ago...

That merging thing has got to be a pain!

Wizards should stop programming thinkgs

To the OP hit me a PM in client if you see me.  Tell me your not looking for a powermatch but something relaxed.  I will start with my basics only deck and we can work our way up the chain from there.

GL...Finding a playgroup online.  It is not impossible but takes some work...HF

I gtg

GG all

PS we should sticky the shuffler/casual threads maybe that would help ?

lol prob not

ttfn lmao!

l8r
"They were civilized they even drank their blood from a cup"→James Silke/Frank Frazzeta "When the Cryptkeeper sticks 'em they tend to stay stuck"→Cryptkeeper "Do not blame the current developers if there is something you don't like about Magic Online. Chances are no one asked the developers for their opinion."→elf "They just look at me like I'm stupid and then I just say something like well you know WOTC does some dumb things sometimes."→wilmheath "Like just about everything I've experienced with MTGO and the Magic WotC website, I'm finding it difficult to..."→0rbit "the more general question is: at what point does an easily fixable interface issue become a defect?"→silentbobus "Imagine, only four years later and I almost have as much functionality as I used to."→Algona "WotC, you make an awesome game, why do you have to suck so bad at letting people have a fun time?"→MTGKaioshin "If you are all about playing as many games as possible as fast as possible and you KNOW you have me beat, then concede and move on"→Johnh2005 "Wow. You're a real pleasure to help. Good luck figuring it out by yourself."→tempesteye "2hg brokest of the broke"→Me, Myself & I "It's you against the shuffler."→jwark "this look like freeware that some kid down the street crafted up"→ProtossX "ask them if the world came to an economic end tomorrow, whether they think little printed pieces of paper could be traded for actual goods or services"→dangerlinto "You still have time before the buggy, non user friendly beta is shoved down your throat"→theminer575 Server status→ http://www.wizards.com/magic/magiconlineserverstatus.asp Love or hate me I was brought to you courtesy of V3!
I think we are just interpreting the OP's notion of level playing field. From his original post I thought (and think) that he has a similar notion to my own - it is entirely possible that my opinion is biased because I'm talking about what I know, my own concept of "level playing field".



Well, he literally writes, in a single sentence (emphasis mine): 'The only way to play games in a level playing field is to play the core set theme decks in the "free trial" section where the decks are not custumizable.'

This directly follows a complaint that ordinarily decks can be customized, which gives players (that do so) an advantage, and precedes a remark that he doesn't have time and effort to customize decks.

That really doesn't leave much room for interpretation: basically he knows that the only skill that he can/wants to leverage is "playing", not "deckbuilding", and he wants to eliminate all factors that would by default put him at a disadvantage. If you look at the responses in the thread, most ppl read his post that way, so I'm not an exception here.

You on the other hand say you disagree that I think there is no level playing field (unqualified) possible in constructed (which is not what I said) and go on to address issues of money and collection size, which are *clearly* not what the OP was talking about. So where I am directly addressing issues he mentioned, you are addressing issues that you think are implied.

Maybe you focused on the words "free trial"? The 'free' aspect of the trial is simply not what he is talking about, it's the noncustomizability.

It really bums me that I basically have to call you bad at reading in order to show that I'm right (I've agonized over this post and re-edited it at least 5 times), but I guess I'm too much of a Sheldon to let that stop me.... When I'm right, I'll fight.

If it is my own notion, I'm certain that you can find it in MTGO constructed even currently and even what I designate as unsanctioned (and "free to play"), but as I noted I did need to pretty much abandon the "casual" part of it (with some pity as it means a lot more cards are useless for me).



I hope I'm not hammering it home now, but whether you are the only one who considers "everybody has the same pool" or "no money required to play" as a usable definition of "level playing field" is not a question. Many ppl feel this way (including me, as should be apparent from my own response). But the OP is not one of them, and that is whose notion of level playing field we ARE talking about.
Free Speech
Free speech is the right to speak your mind without government censorship and without fear of extralegal retaliation like harassment or violence. That’s all! Free speech doesn’t include the right to speak your mind on any forum anywhere. The government may not prevent you from speaking, but private parties, like blog owners or corporations, aren’t required to let you use their property as your platform. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be believed or to be taken seriously. People may mock, ridicule or laugh at what you say, or they may reject it outright. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be listened to. People who don’t desire to hear your opinion can hang up on you, block you on social media, change the channel, close the browser tab. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to bombard people with harassing messages or otherwise force them to pay attention to you against their will. And free speech doesn’t include the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever for your expressed opinions.

Maybe you focused on the words "free trial"? The 'free' aspect of the trial is simply not what he is talking about, it's the noncustomizability.

It really bums me that I basically have to call you bad at reading in order to show that I'm right (I've agonized over this post and re-edited it at least 5 times), but I guess I'm too much of a Sheldon to let that stop me.... When I'm right, I'll fight.

(...)
I hope I'm not hammering it home now, but whether you are the only one who considers "everybody has the same pool" or "no money required to play" as a usable definition of "level playing field" is not a question. Many ppl feel this way (including me, as should be apparent from my own response). But the OP is not one of them, and that is whose notion of level playing field we ARE talking about.



Seriously Nushae it is no big deal, my ego is not that fragile!

At the top level of constructed you also don't need to do much if any building - you can copy and play. Or you can build/tweak once and be done. Whereas in the "casual" area as you don't know the level (and can't know it) you are always overshooting or undershooting which may make the OP feel he constantly needs to change the deck. I don't know.

If the OP indeed wants a surefire known experience (I wouldn't call that "level", I would call that pre-determined or something) then, as I suggested in an earlier post of mine maybe Magic is not the game for him - limited is arguably as bad as Constructed or worse on that aspect! In top level constructed there are often just 2 or 3 top decks that you repeatedly see. They may have variations in some card choices and be tweaked for a specific match-up. That is probably less variation (particularly in block constructed).

I also think there is a "format filters" for playing Duel decks online that didn't allow alteration of the respective duel decks - although it does allow any of the duel decks as far as I know, so you could get an Phyrexian against your Chandra or whatever. But maybe it allows every card in any duel deck to be used?

Ivo.
In my opinion, from my experience, MTGO is not only about playing themed decks (unaltered decks), but also customized decks that the players (all of us) bring to the table.  It is more than opening a box (digital or paper) and just playing these decks because from my point of view a limited format like the OP is talking about truly could not exist unless it was decks made of the same kind like all common etc etc.  Even when you think about it, there are a lot of decks that can easily out due other decks straight out the box, while other times it depends on the luck of the hand when it comes to unaltered decks. 

Truly in my opinion, having my deck handed to me by a more powerful deck just makes me want to do better with building the decks and strategies I use with them.  This is the reason I keep coming back to MTGO and even MTG, because of all the diversity involved with it.  It is not something strictly limited like a game of spades, it grows as you grow. 

As far as the limited format thing goes maybe a quick match format with only unaltered selected decks could be a way to go.  If you think about it, this kinda reminds me of the duels of the planeswalks decks and format that is available to play in the new player section.
The true genius of the game is it's flexibility while still having a rock solid foundation. Garfield did an amazing job, and R&D has done an amazing job of developing a way to keep the game fresh as well as fleshing out design areas. There truely is no right way to play Magic, there is only the right way to play for YOU. Everything else is just meh.
The true genius of the game is it's flexibility while still having a rock solid foundation. Garfield did an amazing job, and R&D has done an amazing job of developing a way to keep the game fresh as well as fleshing out design areas. There truely is no right way to play Magic, there is only the right way to play for YOU. Everything else is just meh.

I can definitlty agree with you on that
I would go even further than Nushae did and say there IS no level playing field in MTG. Customizable games and strategy games are by definition uneven. And even if you take the same exact decks and only play with and against them you will find the better player wins because their level of play is higher. It is extremely rare to find two players who are so evenly matched that neither can gain consistent advantage. It is true that some people are streaky but even so skill level also makes the playing field uneven. One of the reasons this is so is that there is hidden information. Another is the random nature of shuffling.

The reason why deckbuilding (customizing) is 50% of the skill of the game is because it allows you to take advantage of the inherent uneveness of the game. Not getting enough lands in your opening draws? Try learning how to mulligan properly. Try also adding a few more lands to your deck in favor of cutting some other cards. Perhaps try thinning the deck of extraneous nonland cards that bring the total over the minimize size. There are tons of things in deckbuilding to learn and some people are just more talented at it than others but the information is out there to gain.

To the OP my sugestion is the following:
 -Do not give in to your frustration when you lose. Learn from each loss. An international chess master I knew once said that he counted his losses as his stepping stones to becoming a better player and that I should be pleased with a loss that teaches me something. At the time I was a little befuddled but now I think this applies to any decision based game, particularly m:tg.

 -Look at the reasons for the loss. Did you forget to play a card at a crucial moment? Did you just never get your golden bomb or silver bullet? Did your opponent never run out of gas no matter how many answers you had? Did you fail to block properly? Did you tap the wrong land or tap out prematurely when the possibility of doing something in response to your opponent's plays was available? Experience will teach you.

 -Never be afraid to ask for advice from those who beat you. They might not be forthcoming but they might also give you words of wisdom. Better yet, many a generous soul will be inspired by an effort to learn so those cards you do not have that you covet might be given because of that effort. Not saying you should seek handouts but be aware that some players do reward earnest students.

 -If the playing field is uneven for you because of the quality of your cards: Learn the market and learn about ways to earn tickets that do not involve someone's credit card. (Article writing, entering player run events, trading off less useful cards, etc.) In the same vein realize that even one ticket can net you a number of cards that are cheapish. Use the advice you gain to inform your decisions when buying/trading for cards.

This is stuff I have needed to learn and some of it painfully since I can be quite thickheaded. If worse comes to worse there are many people in the game who love to pontificate in chat. Feel free to start a discussion and see what people say. Many different ideas about what makes a good game exist and you may find those who fit your comfort level by having this discussion. I recommend personal messaging those who do and getting to know them. Part of being online and not just playing some game against AI is the social aspect.

Winter.Wolf

I would go even further than Nushae did and say there IS no level playing field in MTG. Customizable games and strategy games are by definition uneven. And even if you take the same exact decks and only play with and against them you will find the better player wins because their level of play is higher. It is extremely rare to find two players who are so evenly matched that neither can gain consistent advantage. It is true that some people are streaky but even so skill level also makes the playing field uneven. One of the reasons this is so is that there is hidden information. Another is the random nature of shuffling.



You can't include the players' skill in the definition of what the playing field is. You strive to create a level playing field in an attempt to make players' skill the ONLY factor, so by definition it can't be part of it.

There certainly is a level playing field in magic. Luck equally affects both players, each player has the same access to every card*, each player has the same amount of time, so unless one player is somehow restricted in any of these factors, the playing field definitely is even. All that matters is the combination of who is the better deckbuilder (which is a strategic skill) and who is the better player (which is a tactical skill).

Now if you only want to test deckbuilding, you will need to eliminate the factor of play skill (eg. you might have the same two players play the deck several times). Or conversely, if you want to test only playing skill, you might want to eliminate deckbuilding by having everyone play the exact same deck (this is akin to duplicate bridge).

* I am aware that more money means more access, but the game does not enforce your budget or make certain cards illegal for only some of the players. So in principle all cards are equally available to all players.
Free Speech
Free speech is the right to speak your mind without government censorship and without fear of extralegal retaliation like harassment or violence. That’s all! Free speech doesn’t include the right to speak your mind on any forum anywhere. The government may not prevent you from speaking, but private parties, like blog owners or corporations, aren’t required to let you use their property as your platform. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be believed or to be taken seriously. People may mock, ridicule or laugh at what you say, or they may reject it outright. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be listened to. People who don’t desire to hear your opinion can hang up on you, block you on social media, change the channel, close the browser tab. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to bombard people with harassing messages or otherwise force them to pay attention to you against their will. And free speech doesn’t include the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever for your expressed opinions.
Casual magic makes no direct revenue to WoTC so therefore gets no direct development. Asking for anything else, is futile. Best suggestion is to find people that play like you do and friend them and/or clan with them. Best of luck to you.



i almost agree with this. while i do do a good bit of limited events, the bulk of my buying of mtg and mtgo cards is to build casual decks. the revenue stream for casual decks, is not quite direct nor is it very constant. it mostly peaks when a new set comes out. us casual players are after things that are not tourney calibre only - we like the fun cards as much as the money cards - and we go after things of the lower rarities just as much as the more mythical ones. i begin collecting a new set by first building up playsets of commons and then uncommons. then i set about building things; and tracking down rares i want.

i am a casual player, and a deck builder. at last count i had around 1,250 decks saved.

the closest direct revenue stream thatotc gets from casual players is when we purchase stuff in the online store. the magic online player rewards program offering points for money spent there, as well as a few points for just logging on shows that they understand, appreciate, and want to give something back to those of us who dont do much eventing. it is small, but it counts.
I would go even further than Nushae did and say there IS no level playing field in MTG. Customizable games and strategy games are by definition uneven. And even if you take the same exact decks and only play with and against them you will find the better player wins because their level of play is higher. It is extremely rare to find two players who are so evenly matched that neither can gain consistent advantage. It is true that some people are streaky but even so skill level also makes the playing field uneven. One of the reasons this is so is that there is hidden information. Another is the random nature of shuffling.



You can't include the players' skill in the definition of what the playing field is. You strive to create a level playing field in an attempt to make players' skill the ONLY factor, so by definition it can't be part of it.

There certainly is a level playing field in magic. Luck equally affects both players, each player has the same access to every card*, each player has the same amount of time, so unless one player is somehow restricted in any of these factors, the playing field definitely is even. All that matters is the combination of who is the better deckbuilder (which is a strategic skill) and who is the better player (which is a tactical skill).

Now if you only want to test deckbuilding, you will need to eliminate the factor of play skill (eg. you might have the same two players play the deck several times). Or conversely, if you want to test only playing skill, you might want to eliminate deckbuilding by having everyone play the exact same deck (this is akin to duplicate bridge).




The point I was making is that when you play a strategy game you are automatically (automagically?) on an uneven playing field. Expecting/demanding fairness is an unrealistic approach to learning the game. Luck is indeed a factor that some could say levels the playing field because of the unexpected results of drawing that one off card you put in.

But here is the thing: REALLY good builders attempt to build out the luck from their deck. A bad/good draw for them is much less impactful than for someone who just slipshods a deck together without much thought. In addition, one person may be flooded but have a plan to deal with that by playing their cards differently while another player may be famined because they didn't think to mulligan. It would not be much of a game if your draws weren't random. As long as you could figure out the best deck to play with and how to play it to win you would be assured a win vs any deck not your own. And mirrors would come down to who knew the mirror better and had the most correct response to it.

You are right that I was including skill level where the OP wasn't because I think the OP is wrong to assume that skill level isn't part of this discussion. If you are interested in improving the quality of your games you need to look at all aspects of it, not just the ones that are most convenient for you. Thing with Skill however is that there is always someone better than you, at least for most of us. (I am not really sure that is true at the topmost levels of play.)

If someone ISN'T interesting in learning how to be better at the game I am a little at loss for words since I expect people to yearn for improvement not to settle for stagnation. Now this doesn't mean I think we should be striving for pro status (unless we really want that) but just perhaps learning more each game even if in tiny increments.

* I am aware that more money means more access, but the game does not enforce your budget or make certain cards illegal for only some of the players. So in principle all cards are equally available to all players.



With all due respect (because you are certainly due a lot) I must disagree here as WOTC has created situations deliberately to limit the release of certain cards for their collectability's sake. (Reserved list, FTV (printed for a very short time then oop), The initial printing of Alpha/Beta). It is a healthy thing to do for collectables and it shows they understand how collectors think. It is true that if you have a big enough wallet even the out of print cards can become "available" for a price but even so sometimes it is a bit harder. For example some alpha rares were cornered very quickly and go for exhorbitant amounts so that collectors (with OCD perhaps) are forced to pay through the nose to complete sets when the rares are typical ones that would go for pennies or maybe a few dollars at most.

It was also certainly hard for some players to get ahold of reasonably priced FOWS for instance and while Tarmogoyf has yoyoed up and down for large chunks of time it has also been ridiculously priced as is Vindicate and Pernicious Deed and a few others. Jace the 2nd comes to mind. Though he is MUCH more reasonable now.


Winter.Wolf

Telir, I see a long post that needs no new responses from my side. It's still blatantly wrong of you to think skill is something that prevents a level playing field - it's still by definition a factor that doesn't come into it. You seem to simply ignore that and bulldoze right on. Happy monologue.
Free Speech
Free speech is the right to speak your mind without government censorship and without fear of extralegal retaliation like harassment or violence. That’s all! Free speech doesn’t include the right to speak your mind on any forum anywhere. The government may not prevent you from speaking, but private parties, like blog owners or corporations, aren’t required to let you use their property as your platform. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be believed or to be taken seriously. People may mock, ridicule or laugh at what you say, or they may reject it outright. Free speech doesn’t include the right to be listened to. People who don’t desire to hear your opinion can hang up on you, block you on social media, change the channel, close the browser tab. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to bombard people with harassing messages or otherwise force them to pay attention to you against their will. And free speech doesn’t include the right to suffer no consequences whatsoever for your expressed opinions.
Telir, I see a long post that needs no new responses from my side. It's still blatantly wrong of you to think skill is something that prevents a level playing field - it's still by definition a factor that doesn't come into it. You seem to simply ignore that and bulldoze right on. Happy monologue.



Troll much? I expected more from the inimical Nushae. I guess the sometimes slightly hostile tone of some "discussions" leaves an otherwise fine poster a bit jaded and cynical?

No all kidding aside I do see your point and perhaps my response was a bit too wordy for the topic. I disagree with your point but I see it. I don't think we will profit much by debating this. In fact I am not even sure we are arguing about the same thing and does it really matter?

Winter.Wolf

The fact that these two are discussing so passionately shows just how deep this game it, and that's one of the many things I love about it.

MTGO is just an interface to play magic through your computer and it has a lot of benefits but I don't think they quite have the ability to automatically rate decks based on cards in it so that you can setup a match that only allows similarly rated decks. While that should certainly be possible, I'm highly doubtful that WotC would focus time on that when then there are many other aspects of the client that need improvements.

Since I don't think we'll be getting that any time soon lets look for other options. I believe that Duels of the Planeswalkers was made to, among other things, offer the kind of experience you are looking for while MTGO has other objectives so that's a good game to play. 

In the case of MTGO its just like real life magic. The clan idea others have suggested is a good one, so is just putting out your match on the casual or new player room and specifying the deck you have and requesting someone with a similar level deck join in. There are jerks who will enter you match with a tier 1 deck, but you will also find friendly people who just want to have fun.

After about a year of playing casual magic online I've made a few good buddies with similar tastes and I can usually count on them for a good fair game. May I also recommend the planeswalker format. It has fewer cards so its easier and faster to build a relatively powerful deck and its dirt cheap.
For a great source of information on the Pauper format check out Pauper's Cage!
Gabo I can't believe I didn't recommend DPA. It is indeed a pretty good format for those who have 0 budget who still want to play. It isn't very competitive but some interesting decks can be built with just the free pack you get.

I JUST posted an article a couple weeks ago talking about this very thing. (*bang head against keyboard*) IE: Why everyone getting the DPA set is a good thing. This is the very essense of why. Thanks for bringing it up.

Winter.Wolf

The point I was making is that when you play a strategy game you are automatically (automagically?) on an uneven playing field. Expecting/demanding fairness is an unrealistic approach to learning the game. Luck is indeed a factor that some could say levels the playing field because of the unexpected results of drawing that one off card you put in.



Telir,

I'm curious to your definition of "fairness" in this quote.  I think I understand (and fully agree with) the main thrust of the post - when you start playing a strategy game, you should expect to lose a lot more than you win - but I'm wondering what makes you say this is unfair?
Well I DON'T think it is unfair to lose in a game based on strategy if you don't understand the strategy. In fact I think it is the height of fairness as no one is making you play. BUT the idea of 'fairness' is what is at stake here not whether you are being treated unfairly but whether the expectations of fairness are realistic.

For example. If we were playing cards and I told you the rules and later changed them that would be you being treated unfairly by me. If on the other hand we were playing cards and I told you the rules but you didn't comprehend them, that would be an unfair situation for you but I would still have been treating you fairly. People expect to have things go their way and when they don't they assume unfairness. I am saying that you can expect to be in unfair situations in M:TG (or Chess, or Poker) and it be no one's fault.

It is certainly fair that pairings in tourneys are random but it sucks a lot to face a 2100+ player when your own skill level is many hundreds of points lower. In a subjective sense it feels unfair. (How many times did I have to play Eric Taylor for example? Too many, though poor Eric did not profit as much as he should since my points were meager to feed his rating and my contributions to his tiebreakers weren't great.)

Hope that makes some sense. (Tired but figured I give the explanation a shot.)

Winter.Wolf

Gabo I can't believe I didn't recommend DPA. It is indeed a pretty good format for those who have 0 budget who still want to play. It isn't very competitive but some interesting decks can be built with just the free pack you get.

I JUST posted an article a couple weeks ago talking about this very thing. (*bang head against keyboard*) IE: Why everyone getting the DPA set is a good thing. This is the very essense of why. Thanks for bringing it up.



I believe Gabo was actually recommending the $10 game DotP 2012 that is available on PC, PS3, & XBOX. This game is almost exactly what the OP was wanting: fixed decks with very little customization; however enough customization that you can start to see the possibilities of creating your own deck.

The DPA set is another good choice but DotP 2012 is probably better at first and then transition into DPA (as WotC would like all DotP players to do).
if you want no deckbuildihg at all, there is free trial (idk if its working though, havent checked for months)

DOTP2012 is another option but you can edit the decks by removing some cards.

however I believe it is pretty much boring to play the same decks all the time. I tried to play the DOTP2012 recently and did not like it ... but I did like it first time I played so it's a neccessary experience I guess..

the point is - when you play enough of pre-constructed decks, you may realize that deck building is essential part of the gameplay experience. when you lose, it's not only because you had a bad draw or bad playing decisions, but also because your deck was not on par with the opponent's. In DPA format you get the same cards your opponent has (ok you may need to spend a little more on  addition packs to get 4 card sets but it's not like you spend tens of tix per one card like in standard and other format, you spend $5 for dozens of cards that EACH may cost more than that in other formats) so your playing field is actually leveled: the skills is what matters - the skill of constructing a deck.
I believe Gabo was actually recommending the $10 game DotP 2012 that is available on PC, PS3, & XBOX. This game is almost exactly what the OP was wanting: fixed decks with very little customization; however enough customization that you can start to see the possibilities of creating your own deck.

The DPA set is another good choice but DotP 2012 is probably better at first and then transition into DPA (as WotC would like all DotP players to do).


Just to rectify, I was actually refering to both. In the second paragraph in my post I talk about the console and PC game Duels of the Planeswalker and in the last paragraph I mention the MTGO planeswalker format, which uses cards included in the Duels of the Planeswalker game. I'm not sure what players get this year, but I think they still get the initial pack that has cards from the original DotP but, as mentioned above, you can buy cheap expansion packs. 

I find that the planeswalker format is exactly what a lot of people who complain about magic being to expensive want. Its as if magic was a standalone boardgame with a few expansions, and all the cards were equally accessible. I assume the reason its not supported for competitive play is because that scheme is just not as profitable as the collectible card version. However, its still a fine format to get into when you feel like doing some light, casual gaming and don't want to spend. 

There is yet another format I could recomend: pauper.  It is relatively easy to build around 4 or 5 of the decks currently winning the dailies and premiere events in under 30-50 tix (you can build some of the cheaper ones for under 5tx). This is comparable to purchasing a full console game or a stand alone board game. With this you get 4 to 5 tier 1 competitive decks for the format which you can play for free as much as you want to get a grip on them. There are at least 10 different decks which are constantly winning so the format is varied enough to stay interesting for a while but at the same time the interactions between decks are much simpler that those found in the likes of standard or legacy so they are fast to pick up.

For a great source of information on the Pauper format check out Pauper's Cage!