New Player FAQ - *Start Here*

98 posts / 0 new
Last post

*Updated* - 8/13/2012


Hey and welcome to Magic: the Gathering Online! There is so much to Magic that it can be overwhelming at times, especially for new players. Added on top of that are the intricacies/eccentricities of the MTGO client and it's easy for a new player to have a case information overload.

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to make this New Player FAQ simple -- just enough to get you started off playing games (and having fun :D). Once you're settled in you can worry about tackling more complex issues by looking though the General MTGO FAQ, which is chock full of information - pretty much anything you would ever want to know (In fact, some of this was shamelessly pilfered from there ;)). Chances are, if you have a question that isn't covered here, it will be covered there.

Even though I wanted to keep it simple, some things ended up being a bit wordy. Trust me, if you take the time to read though it, it'll help you tremendously.

However, this FAQ is not meant to deter you from posting. If you have questions not answered in the FAQ, questions about the FAQ's answers, or just want to introduce yourself; feel free to make your own thread or post in someone else’s -- we'd love to hear from you :D. (For suggestions on how to improve this FAQ, please use this thread.)


 


Section 1 - Before You Begin


1-1 Completely new to Magic: the Gathering? An Introduction, Tutorial & an article series all beginning and returning Magic players should read.
1-2 MTG:Online Free Trial
1-3 Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?


 


Section 2 - Account Contents & Starting Up


2-1 What does a MTGO account come with?
2-2 I just signed up and I have these cards, are they supposed to make a deck? Where are my New Player Deck decklists?
2-3 What are these Gold Bordered (Planeswalker) cards for and how do I use (or get rid of) them?
2-4 What are New Player Tickets and how do I use them?
2-5 What are Event Tickets/Tix?


 


Section 3 - Acquiring More Cards


3-1 How do I buy cards?
3-2 Should I buy a Theme Deck/Intro Pack?
3-3 Should I buy Booster Packs? Should I open them?
3-4 What are Bots?
3-5 What is ‘Credit’ that bots use?
3-6 How to Trade and where to find trading partners/bots.
3-7 How to get some free commons.
3-8 Where can I get extra basic lands?


 


Section 4 - Playing MTGO


4-1 I don’t know what this word means on a card?  Keyword Definitions
4-2 Why can’t I play a spell/tap and attacking creature to stop it from attacking?
4-3 What are "Formats"? // Illegal card error when starting/joining a game?
4-4 I want to play constructed tournaments!!  Which ones should I look into?
4-5 Examples of New Players starting MTGO - threads of users who kept a “journal” about their experiences.
4-6 MTGO interface guides.
4-7 What is an ORC?
4-8 How do I find out more about Magic Online?


 


Section 1 - Before You Begin

This section details some of the things you should probably know before you purchase a MTGO account and various resources that will “get you up to speed” if you are a new or returning player, with regards to playing the game of Magic: the Gathering.

1-1 Completely new to Magic: the Gathering? An Introduction, Tutorial & an article series all beginning and returning Magic players should read.

Show
For those who are completely new to Magic: the Gathering, there is the 'New to Magic?' area of the site: www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/NewtoMagic.asp...
As well as a downloadable tutorial: www.wizards.com/magic/products/LearnToPl...


I highly suggest reading the Magic Academy Series, for both new players or players returning from a hiatus. It covers important concepts ranging from the very new player to the intermediate. If you read all of these articles, you should have a good initial understanding of the game from which to build off of....however, as time goes on and Magic evolves, the series is becoming out of dates in certain places…
www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...

For returning players (from before 6th edition), the rules for Magic got a bit of a clean up with 6th edition. The biggest change (and probably the best) was the introduction of "the stack". I suggest you read about it here: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


And, in July of 2009, Magic 2010 brought an interesting set of rules changes, one of which alters combat significantly. www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...


1-2 MTG:Online Free Trial.
Show
MTGO allows you to play the free trial before you purchase an account.  Once you have installed MTGO, you can find a link to a Free Trial Server on the logon page. This will take you to a server where you'll be given an anonymous name and you will be able to play with the 5 core set theme decks against others in the Free Trial. Using this, you can get a feel for MTGO's interface and see if it's right for you. Note that many things are turned off in the free trial, including chat and the store.

1-3 Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?
Show
The short answer is that it will cost only as much as you want to spend. The long answer is a little more involved and depends on what you are looking to do. There is no monthly subscription fee, unlike many other online games.  MTGO mirrors the cost of the paper game MSRP, namely $3.99 per booster, and $12.29 per theme deck (there are also Event Tickets, which cost $1 each and are used to pay the entry fee for sanctioned events and leagues). This upside to this setup means you are not forced to spend anything after your initial account creation fee of $9.99. If you want to go three months without spending anything, you can. And if you want to spend a few hundred dollars a week you can do that too. The downside is that most players find that they will need to invest additional money if they want to be competitive. Also, your paper cards will not entitle you to any cards on MTGO. You can not trade your paper cards for digital cards. Paper and MTGO are two separate platforms. As I said, accounts cost $9.99, but they come with some stuff (see next FAQ entry) 





Section 2 - Account Contents & Starting Up

This section outlines what a MTGO account starts with while defining all of the objects and their uses and how you can begin to use your new items.

2-1 What does an account come with?

Show
2 Event Tickets
4 New Player Tickets
1 Core Set Booster Pack (Don’t open this!)
“Planeswalker” Card Pack - for use in the Planeswalker format only
Around 300 cards from the most recent core set (mostly commons, some uncommons)

MTGO is installed with several pre-built decks that you can start out with.  They are made up of the 300 core set cards.  They aren’t very powerful, but they are something to start with.


Current list of Black Bordered cards included with a new account:


Artifacts

1x Chronomaton
1x Elixir of Immortality
1x Gem of Becoming
1x Ring of Thune
1x Ring of Valkas
 
 
Land

2x Evolving Wilds
30x Forest
30x Island
30x Mountain
30x Plains
30x Swamp
2x Reliquary Tower
 
Black

2x Blood Reckoning
2x Bloodhunter Bats
1x Bloodthrone Vampire
1x Cower in Fear
1x Crippling Blight
1x Dark Favor
2x Disentomb
2x Duskmantle Prowler
2x Duty-Bound Dead
1x Essence Drain
1x Giant Scorpion
1x Harbor Bandit
2x Liliana's Shade
2x Mark of the Vampire
2x Mind Rot
1x Murder
1x Public Execution
1x Ravenous Rats
1x Rise from the Grave
2x Servant of Nefarox
2x Tormented Soul
2x Veilborn Ghoul
2x Vile Rebirth
2x Walking Corpse
1x Zombie Goliath
 
Blue

2x Archaeomancer
2x Augur of Bolas
2x Divination
2x Downpour
2x Essence Scatter
1x Fog Bank
2x Harbor Serpent
2x Hydrosurge
1x Index
1x Jace's Phantasm
1x Kraken Hatchling
2x Merfolk of the Pearl Trident
1x Mind Sculpt
1x Negate
1x Rewind
2x Scroll Thief
2x Sleep
1x Switcheroo
2x Talrand's Invocation
1x Tricks of the Trade
1x Unsummon
2x Vedalken Entrancer
2x Watercourser
2x Wind Drake
 
Green

1x Acidic Slime
2x Arbor Elf
1x Bond Beetle
1x Bountiful Harvest
1x Centaur Courser
1x Deadly Recluse
2x Duskdale Wurm
2x Elvish Visionary
2x Farseek
1x Flinthoof Boar
1x Fog
2x Fungal Sprouting
2x Garruk's Packleader
2x Naturalize
1x Plummet
2x Prey Upon
2x Primal Huntbeast
1x Ranger's Path
2x Revive
1x Sentinel Spider
2x Spiked Baloth
2x Timberpack Wolf
2x Titanic Growth
1x Vastwood Gorger
1x Yeva's Forcemage
 
Red

1x Arms Dealer
2x Bladetusk Boar
1x Canyon Minotaur
2x Chandra's Fury
1x Cleaver Riot
1x Crimson Muckwader
2x Dragon Hatchling
2x Fire Elemental
1x Flames of the Firebrand
2x Furnace Welp
2x Goblin Arsonist
2x Goblin Battle Jester
1x Kindled Fury
2x Krenko's Command
1x Mark of Mutiny
1x Reckless Brute
1x Rummaging Goblin
2x Searing Spear
1x Smelt
2x Torch Fiend
1x Trumpet Blast
2x Turn to Slag
1x Volcanic Geyser
1x Volcanic Strength
1x Wall of Fire
2x Wild Guess
 
White
 
2x Ajani's Sunstriker
1x Angelic Benediction
1x Angel's Mercy
2x Aven Squire
2x Battleflight Eagle
2x Crusader of Odric
2x Divine Favor
2x Divine Verdict
1x Erase
1x Glorious Charge
2x Griffin Protector
1x Guardian Lions
2x Guardians of Akrasa
2x Healer of the Pride
1x Oblivion Ring
2x Pacifism
2x Pillarfield Ox
1x Prized Elephant
1x Rain of Blades
1x Serra Angel
2x Show of Valor
2x Silvercoat Lion
1x War Priest of Thune
2x Warclamp Mastiff


2-2 I just signed up and I have these cards, are they supposed to make a deck? Where are my New Player Deck decklists?
Show
So, you've just signed up and your collection basically consists of 300 cards, a core set booster, and 2 Event Tickets. Want to jump right in and play a game? You're going to need the decklists for those 5 decks that your account came with. To find them:
In your Deck Editor - Go into the deck editor. Click on the 'LOAD' button near the top of your screen. Then, select the dropdown menu and click "Themedecks". This will show you a list of folders, find the one named "New Account Decks". The 5 decklists are in there. There might also be older decklists in there as well.  Just look for the ones with the most recent year in the name.

When starting a game - Next to the 'Deck' field, click the "BROWSE" button. Then, select the dropdown menu and click "Themedecks". This will show you a list of folders, find the one named "New Account Decks".

2-3 What are these Gold Bordered (Planeswalker) cards for and how do I use (or get rid of) them?
Show
Those gold bordered cards are for use in a special format called ‘Planeswalker’.  Once you open the planeswalker pack, which comes with your new account, you can’t get rid of the cards. These cards are non-tradable and can only be played in the Planeswalker format only with other gold-bordered cards (you can’t mix in any black/white bordered cards, even basic lands).  Some people have trouble finding their gold-bordered lands when building a deck, the easiest way is to click the dropdown menu in your deckbuilder that is labeled starts as ‘All Cards (Online)’ and switch it to “Planeswalker”.  This will hide all non-gold bordered cards.

The purpose of the planeswalker set is three-fold. 
Firstly, it serves as a way for people to easily transition from the Duels of the Planeswalker game for the Xbox and PC (the decks contain basically the same cards as in the game).
Secondly, it provides new players a set of cards, for almost no money, which could not otherwise be given out so casually.  Many cards are traditionally very costly, and it would flood the market to give them to everyone in a non-gold bordered way.
Thirdly, it gives new players a format where they can have fun with little to no input of money.  It’s also fairly balanced because everyone has pretty much the exact same cards.


Depending on what you want to get out of MTGO, you may or may not want to use these cards.  If you just want to play MTG extremely cheaply and don’t mind not having all the cards or you want the same experience as DotP, but with the ability to deckbuild, then you’ll be quite happy with the Planeswalker format.  However, for most, the gold-bordered cards will just be a stepping stone onto MTGO as a whole.  It depends on the player on how long they want to play with the Planeswalker cards, for some it’ll be a day, others a week, and others will play for months, after you get a grasp of the system, you can move on to build your own decks and buy whatever cards suit your fancy to play “real” MTGO.


List of cards in each Planeswalker pack. New accounts come with most recent pack available during account purchase, other packs can be purchased from MTGO store.  community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


2-4 What are New Player Tickets and how do I use them?
Show
New Player Tickets were introduced with the New Account Starter pack update when M13 was released in 2012.  They are a great way for new players to get exposed to limited tournaments.

The New Player Ticket can be used to enter special 4-person tournaments (no other entry fee required).  These tournaments are called “phantom” events because, while you open boosters during the event to build your deck, the cards are not added to your collection after the event ends (you do keep the cards for non-phantom events).


There are two different types of these tournaments you can enter: sealed or draft.  In each, you are provided with phantom Core Set boosters from which to build your deck (40 cards total in deck).  Each event is 2 rounds total and you get to play both, win or lose.  At the end, a single player (of the 4) will have won both rounds and will receive a promo card.


New Player Ticket Announcement


These events are a great way for new players to get a taste of limited events without having to pay a bunch of money (limited events require you provide booster packs with your entry fee).  Limited has a learning curve, so it is not uncommon for new players to lose frequently when they start out, meaning no or few prizes, which effectively increases the “cost” of the event.  (The Swiss drafts that have been introduced help very much with this though, making it to where new players to play more (more experience and bang for your buck) and are more likely to get a prize (flatter payout).


2-5 What are Event Tickets/Tix?
Show
Tickets, oftentimes abbreviated as tix, were originally designed as the “entry fee” for online tournaments. Rather than handing the tournament organizer $5 to enter, like you would in real life, Magic Online includes Event Tickets as part (or all) of the entry price. The tickets are purchasable from the store for $1 each. Due to the ticket’s $1 value in the store, they have become the de facto currency of Magic Online and thus most people trade cards for tickets rather than other cards.


Section 3 - Acquiring More Cards

This section is geared towards helping new players learn about how they can get more cards (though buying or trading) by explaining some of the trading/selling systems that are in place on MTGO.  It is geared towards the budget minded player.  As such, there are many tips for getting the most for your money on MTGO.


3-1 How do I buy cards?

Show
Magic Online includes a store built into the client. Just click on the "Store" tab along the bottom of your Magic Online screen. Once you're done selecting items and adding them to your cart, click checkout and complete the process. Boosters and decks cost full retail prices ($3.99 for boosters, $12.29 for most theme decks/intro packs, and $1.00 for Event Tickets [all US dollars]). The game itself can be downloaded for free.
Once you complete checkout, your order goes to processing. Processing can take anywhere from 2 seconds to 24 hours, so be patient. It does usually get processed within five minutes, however, so don’t let that “to 24 hours” scare you off, it is more of a failsafe to keep techsupport from getting bombarded by impatient users. If you're logged on to the game when processing completes, you'll get a pop-up box announcing your new goodies. If you're not logged on, the products will show up in your collection next time you log on, though there won't be a pop-up notification. If you haven't gotten your products after 24 hours contact the Customer Service via wizards.custhelp.com with your account name and the order number included. Now, the MTGO store only sells boosters and theme decks/intro packs. To buy single cards or out of print boosters, theme decks, or intro packs, you'll need to trade with other players/bots. You can trade card for card or 'buy' cards by trading event tickets for cards. For more on this, I suggest reading the FAQ entry on trading and event tickets.

3-2 Should I buy a Theme Deck/Intro Pack?
Show
I would not recommend that players buy theme decks from the MTGO store. The main reason being that the contents of any given theme deck/intro pack can be purchased on the secondary market for 2-5 tickets quite easily. If you liked the look of one of the theme decks/intro packs (you could use one as a base for a theme and build off of it) and want to purchase the cards on the secondary market, the first thing you'll need to do is find the decklist. Luckily all the decklists are already saved on your computer for you to browse: You can load these up in your deck editor to get an idea for a deck and then take it from there, buying some/all of the cards in the deck from the secondary market, along with others you think will complement the deck. If you plan on this, I suggest using the wishlist feature to make trading for the cards faster and easier.

3-3 Should I buy Booster Packs? Should I open them?
Show
While at first glance it may look like the best/only way to obtain cards is to buy booster packs and open them, this is generally considered a less than economical way to go about things. This will make a bit more sense when you’ve gone though other sections of the FAQ, like ‘What are Event Tickets?’ and Trading, but bear with me for a moment. You see, the MTGO secondary market (buying from other players) is a pretty nifty place. The market is very liquid because of the ease in trading. Additionally, the card supply is, for the most part, pretty high compared to the demand. Both of these factors mean that the majority of cards are dirt cheap. You can get many rares for as cheap as $0.10 each, but, boosters cost $3.99 from the store. I think you can do the math :D. The cards you generally get from an opened booster pack are worth $1 or less on the secondary market... So opening a booster is almost equal to ‘throwing away’ $3. Now, you can certainly luck into opening a high dollar rare, but the odds are against it. Additionally, by purchasing singles, you can control exactly what you get, so that you get cards you want and not something you’d never use.

However, there is a certain feeling you get from ripping a booster - that sense of discovery when you see what you got. It’s basically a form of gambling and can be addictive :D. So, it can be a form of entertainment, like spending money to watch a movie.  I just want to make sure that people are aware they are paying a premium for that little slice of entertainment (the booster lottery). 


You may then ask, “Why does anyone buy boosters then? What good are they?” Limited You need boosters to play Drafts and Sealed deck tournaments. So, that’s what they are mostly used/opened for. One other thing, if you do want to purchase boosters, you can frequently get them cheaper on the secondary market than from the Online Store. Remember what I said about supply being higher than demand? Well, this goes for boosters too. You can almost always get them for less than $4 (4 tickets) by buying them from other players (usually 3 to 3.5 tix). And, if you find yourself with some boosters (perhaps you did well in a tournament or you have the core set booster that new account come with) you could:
* Try cracking it (most likely not worth it)
* Use it to enter a draft/sealed deck tournament
* Sell it on the secondary market for event tickets that you can then turn around and use to buy cards from bots, getting dozens of rares and hundreds of commons.


3-4 What are Bots?
Show
I've already thrown the word 'bot' around a few times. Bots are automated trading programs; it's as simple as that. People set them up so that they can trade 24/7. The majority of card buying and selling in MTGO utilizes bots. You can think of each bot as a different MTG retailer (i.e. comic shop or MTG card website). Some just buy cards for tickets; others only sell you cards for tickets, and some do both. You can still find people that will trade you card-for-card (called casual trading), but bots have proven to be extremely efficient and convenient so they've "taken over" the marketplace, so to speak.

Trading with a bot is fairly simple. When you enter a trade, a chat box will pop up wherein the bot should begin giving you instructions. This is also where the bot will tell you the price of a card if it wasn't listed in the classified ad. When you've selected your cards and the bot has taken cards/tickets from you, usually the bot will instruct you on how to finish the trade. Some just ask that you confirm, others need you to type something (like "done") before they will confirm the trade.

Now, there two basic types of bots: smartbots and "dumb" bots. Smartbots are able to set a specific price for every card in their inventory. When you select a card, the bot will tell you the price they charge for it. "Dumb" bots are incapable of variable prices for the things they sell (i.e. they sell everything they have for trade at a particular price, such as 5 cards for 1 ticket). Some "dumb" bots can set different prices for different rarities (i.e. 96 commons for 1 ticket, 20 uncommons for 1 ticket, or 5 rares for 1 ticket) Because of the ability to set variable prices, smartbots generally have very large inventories. One stop shopping, one could say. On the other hand, a "dumb" bot's limitation of selling all cards for the same price means they can only sell a certain subset of cards, thus they have a more limited inventory.

3-5 What is ‘Credit’ that bots use?
Show
As I said in the FAQ entry for Event Tickets, tix are the de facto currency with there worth being ~ $1.  Now, unlike every other currency in the world, there are no denominations.  There aren’t special tickets worth $20 nor are there fractional tickets worth 0.1 or 0.05 of a tix.  To get around this problem people do two things.  They either only buy/sell in whole ticket amounts (i.e. sell 2 items each worth 3.5 tix for a total of 7 tix) OR a bot will keep “credit”.  It’s basically the bot saying “I owe you this much.”  So, if you want to buy 50 commons at a bot that sells them for 0.01 each, you’ll spend 0.5 tix and the bot will say “I’m saving 0.5 credit for next time.”
Yes, this gets around not having smaller denominations for tix.
No, it is not a very good system
Two main problems with this system are: forgetting which bot you have credit on and trusting the bot.
For the most part, each bot on MTGO is autonomous, so credit will not be shared between them (except in certain circumstances).  This means that you need to keep track of each bot that you’ve left credit on.  It doesn’t do you any good to have credit saved on a bot if you have forgotten its username and never trade with it again; you’ve effectively thrown away that credit.  Thus, it is a good idea to add a bot to your buddylist when you plan to leave credit on it.
The second problem is trusting the bot.  You only have their word to go on that they will save the credit (or not go out of business within two weeks).  Now, the vast majority of bots (99.9+%) are honest and will indeed save your credit.  So a good rule of thumb is generally “don’t leave enough credit on a bot that you would be upset to lose it.”  This usually means some fraction of a single ticket.... It’s hard to believe, but some people actually leave multiple full tickets worth of credits on a bot, that is a very dangerous move.

3-6 How to Trade and where to find trading partners/bots.
Show
Where to Trade Trading (probably with bots) is the most common way to get cards on MTGO. First, I should probably familiarize you on where to go in order to find trading partners before I dive into the mechanics.
The Classifieds Board: Menu-->Community-->Marketplace-->Classifieds.
The classifieds is a place where anyone can post an ad, which will stay as long as the user is logged on or they remove it. At the top of the screen, there is a place for you to enter search terms in to filter the multitude of ads. Frankly, it's not a very good search. It uses exact phrases, so I suggest you keep your searches simple. Even to the point of searching for part of a card name rather than all of it (i.e. search for "Elspeth" rather than "Elspeth, Knight-errant"). You can also search for general things like "common" or "rare", but it won't reduce what you have to look through by much .

The majority of posts here in the classifieds are by bots, which frequently list big ticket items, hoping to 'lure in' someone shopping for that particular card. You'll find that searching for many card names return zero or very few postings. This is pretty common with less popular cards, especially commons and uncommons. I don't have any type of optimal strategy to find cards if they aren't showing up this way. You can randomly open trades until you find the card. Some of the larger dealers have websites which may allow you to more easily browse their inventory; you could try searching the internet in order to find said websites.

If you are looking for other players to trade card-for-card, try searching for "casual" or “human” in the classifieds.

How to Trade - Trading itself is a fairly simple process. Right clicking on any username (or classifieds ad) will give you the option to trade with that person. Once in a trade you can see the other user's tradable* cards and they can see yours. To select a card you want, just double click it. This will put the card in your "you get" pile at the bottom right. If you accidentally select a card you don't want, you can put it back by double-clicking the card in your "you get" pile. Once you have selected the cards and are ready to finish the trade, each user needs to click the "confirm trade" button near the top of the screen. When both players click this, the trade will go to the second confirmation screen. It is important to review all the cards in the trade during this step to make sure your trading partner isn't taking something they shouldn't. Once you've looked over the cards, each player clicks "confirm trade" again and the trade will then be completed.

I'm also going to note here that MTGO enforces a 75 item per trade limitation. If you want to get more than 75 cards, you'll need to do multiple trades. For example, if you see an ad where someone is selling "150 commons for one ticket", you will need to do two 75 card trades. In the case of humans, you'll just have to trust that they will allow you to trade with you for the 2nd set of 75 cards (having taken the ticket from you as you got the first 75 cards) For bots, they should be programmed to remember your 'credit' the next time you trade, allowing you to get the remainder of your cards in subsequent trades, but it again comes down to trust. There are also several ways to make trading easier. Heavy use of your filters can cut down on the cards you have to look through. You can also use the wishlist feature to make trading easier. You can use your trades with the Free Commons bots (see FAQ entry) to get the hang of where the buttons are and whatnot.

*Tradable - To mark a card in your collection tradable, you need to go into your collection and look under the card. Note that, only cards you mark tradable can be seen by those you trade with, and you must mark things tradable before beginning a trade.

Value - Now, regarding the economics of trading, to maximize the value of your dollar, you'll need to shop around. It's just like cutting coupons and shopping at many different stores -- there are bargains to be had if you look. You can save money if you put time into it, but you have to decide if the amount of time you put into it is worth what you save. This causes some people to be 'brand loyal', they’ll find a bot that has a good stock and they believe has fair prices and shop only there. Sure, sometimes they will pay a little bit extra, but they feel it's worth it because of the time they save by not having to shop around every time they want to buy something.  There is a balance here, time spent vs. money saved.  It’ll vary from person to person and is up to you to decide for yourself.  If you have disposable income but little free time, you’ll likely be brand loyal.  Conversely, if you have plenty of free time but a small budget, then you’ll likely want to aggressively shop around.

What to Trade for - Of course, you will only want to buy cards that you like and want to play with. This will mostly be dependent on the format you want to play, so I suggest you read the FAQ entry on formats before you choose which cards to buy.

3-7 How to get some free commons.
Show
There are a 2-3 bots in the classifieds that give away 64 free commons each. To find them, just go to the bottom left of your screen and go to:
Menu-->Community-->Marketplace-->Classifieds and search for "free".

Many ads will be displayed, but there are only 2-3 bots that are giving out free cards (occasionally, not all 3 will be online).  Make sure to scroll through the list to find all of them that are online. When you find one of these bots, you can then right click on the bot's name to trade with it. However, they are frequently busy so you may need to repeatedly try to trade with them or try again later.  Additionally, you may want to make sure that you read the FAQ entry on formats before selecting cards.  If you want to play a particular format, you don’t want to get cards that you “can’t use”.

3-8 Where can I get extra basic lands?
Show
Well, my first question is “Are you sure you need more basic lands?”  Your decks should generally be 60 cards, maybe one or two more.  Unless you are playing a format with a specific decksize (commander, 100 card singleton, prismatic, etc), then you really should stick with a decksize of 60 cards.  So, besides making a deck for those large-deck formats, you likely don’t need more than the lands your new account started with (you’d need 22-25 lands in your 60 card deck).

Now, let’s say you are trying to make a Prismatic or Commander deck and you DO need more basic lands - a perfectly legitimate scenario.  Basic lands are really crazy cheap, it would be a shame for you to have to waste some of your money (even a small fraction of a ticket) to get basic lands.  So, there are some ways to get free basic lands


The free commons bots (see FAQ entry), though it is a shame to ‘waste’ some of your free commons on lands.
Ask other players.  Yep, that’s right, basic lands are so dirt cheap, most experienced players have loads of them laying around that they’d be happy to give to you.  Now, the ORCs won’t really like you asking for handouts in the game room chats, so your best bet is to ask one of your opponents.  When you’re playing a game, if you get the impression your opponent is an experienced player (much more likely in the just for fun room) and you had a friendly match with them, don’t be shy to ask, the worst they can do is say no.  While there are some jerks on MTGO (as in all of life) there are many many very kind people who would be glad to help out by doing something as easy as giving a new player a few basic lands!


My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Section 4 - Playing MTGO


This section goes over some of the common problems new players run into when they begin to play games on MTGO.  It also has resources for how to start playing constructed tournaments on MTGO, learning more about the user interface, and gives examples of other MTGO user’s first experiences with MTGO.
4-1 I don’t know what this word means on a card?  Keyword Definitions.

Show
Many magic cards have keywords.  Things like Exalted or Scry.  MTGO has many many many keywords, so it is understandable for a new player to have trouble remembering (or learning in the first place) all of the different keywords. So, rather than teach you all the keywords here, I’ll tell you how to get MTGO to show you the definition of a keyword when you come across it.

When you’re in MTGO and you see a keyword, notice that it is actually highlighted in grey (any word highlighted in grey on a card is a keyword).  All you need to do is left click (and hold) with your mouse on the grey highlighted word and the definition will appear within 1-3 seconds.  Ta da!


4-2 Why can’t I play a spell/tap and attacking creature to stop it from attacking?
Show
MTGO enforces the rules of MTG very very very precisely and there are no “take-backs”.  Sometimes this makes it easier to do something on MTGO (rules wise) sometimes it makes it harder (“Woah, wait a second, I tap that before you can attack with it”).  So, MTGO forces you to know the rules of the game a little bit better so that you can perform things at the exact right time.

For tapping down blockers with something like Master Decoy or Downpour, the very latest you can do it is during the “Beginning of Combat” step.  If you wait until the “Declare Attackers” step (when your opponent indicates what creatures are attacking), then it is too late.  Now, you can always use your spell/ability earlier in the opponent’s turn, but it is ‘strategically best’ in most circumstances to use those type of things at the last possible moment.


Now, the problem is that, by default, MTGO doesn’t allow you to play spells/abilities during that step on your opponent’s turn...doesn’t make sense, does it?  So, you are going to need to change a setting on MTGO to allow you to do this, but never fear, it is very quick and easy to accomplish.


Along the left side of your dual screen, you will see a list of all the steps and phases of the turn.  If you right click on one of the steps you will get the option to add or remove a “stop” to that step/phase on either your own or your opponent’s turn.  A “stop” the term they call the process of telling MTGO “hey, stop here and allow me to do something”.  If you don’t have a stop set on a phase/step, then MTGO will skip right past it.


You may be wondering why MTGO even has this feature or why all stops aren’t turned on by default.  That is because MTGO has to stop and ask you if you want to play anything (which involves you clicking 'OK' ) every time there is a stop.  If there is a stop on every step, it will slow down the game.  Thus, they include the ability to set your own stops to reduce the amount of times you need to click “OK”


So, the long and short of it is that you need to set a stop to let MTGO know you want to play something, then you need to play your spells/abilities in the “beginning of combat step”


Note: Stops can also be changed in your MTGO settings (Menu-->Settings-->Gameplay)


4-3 What are "Formats"? // Illegal card error when starting/joining a game?
Show
If you are receiving an "illegal cards" error when you try to start or join a game, there are two common reasons why.
1) You are mixing gold bordered with non-gold bordered cards in your deck.  The planeswalker format only allows gold bordered cards (even land!).  And gold bordered cards can’t be played in any other format.  When you are building a deck with gold bordered cards, I suggest you go to the top of your deckbuilding scene and click the dropdown that says “All Cards (Online)” and switch it to “Planeswalker” (it’s near the bottom).  This will prevent you from building an illegal deck for the Planswalker format.
Do not use the “Add Lands” button.  This will add black bordered lands, you need to set the filter and look for your gold bordered lands.

2) Some of the cards in your deck are illegal for the Standard format.
Standard is the most popular format, so it’s the default format when you start a game in the game rooms and many of the games you try join will be Standard. Changing the format to Extended, Modern, or Classic when you create a game will "get rid of" this error. Now, you may not know what a format is….

Formats were devised as a way to keep Magic feeling new and fresh as well as providing a bit of accessibility to new players.  Magic has been around for a VERY long time.  Rather than have all cards legal, formats restrict what cards can be played by their age rather than their ‘power’.  This is so that the newest cards can be alone in a format whilst having formats that also include varying amounts of the older cards.  In this way, the “young” formats are always changing as new sets enter and leave, these younger formats are also easier for new players because they only deal with a (relatively) small number of cards, which are in high supply because they are currently on sale.

One more thing before I start.  Magic is generally measured in “Blocks”, traditionally a block is composed of 3 sets.  For example, Innistrad block contained the sets Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored.  Blocks usually share common themes.  The first set of a block is released in the fall of a year, with the next two sets being released around February and April of the following year.  Rinse and repeat.
So, to break it down, roughly by size:

Pauper
Oops, guess I lied.  I’m actually starting with Pauper, because it is one of the most popular formats for new players.  Pauper has a pretty large cardpool – any card released on MTGO at the common rarity (if a card was printed multiple times, if any copy is common, any version of the card is legal).  Considering the majority of every set is commons, this is a TON of cards.  So, if you get overwhelmed when faced with too many choices, you may want to start with Block or Standard, which have smaller card pools, but include rares and mythics.

Pauper has many advantages.  For starters, everything’s common, thus it’s crazy cheap.  Even the best tournament winning pauper decks are no more than ~$40, and that’s at the maximum.  So, you are going to be able to build a good deck for very very cheaply ($1-5).  On top of being cheap, it’s quite the fun format to play.  There is a good deal of variety in decks and it’s popular, so finding a game will never be a problem.  There are even pauper tournaments that you can play in!


Block
The block format only allows cards from the most recent block.  There should always be a decent amount of casual play for the current block.  However, the best use of this format is if you want to get into competitive constructed tournaments.  The nature of the format makes it easier to get into competitive play than the other formats. 
1) The decks are usually going to be relatively cheap (compared to the other formats, at least).  The block format is only available whilst the block is on sale; this is the same timeframe that drafting that block is most popular.  So, there is a large supply of cards from the drafters, making them cheaper.  Also, block decks will frequently be using cards that are in low demand because they aren’t good in other formats like Standard or Extended.
2) The cardpool is small.  If you start playing block in the fall/winter, the entire format is composed of a single set.  This makes it much easier to actually go through ALL of the available cards so you can try to build decks
3) In standard, there is frequently a ‘best deck’ or three.  When you want to make a deck for yourself, you have to ask the question “Why should I play this over the ‘best deck’ and can my deck beat it?”  In block, a ‘best deck’ is usually less defined.  Additionally, the power difference between what someone might consider the ‘best deck’ and many of the decks you could throw together yourself can be pretty small.  This is a result of the limited cardpool.  Any given deck has a limit to it’s power, which is lower than in the other formats with larger card pools.


Standard
As I said, Standard is the most popular format on MTGO.  It contains all cards from the most recent two blocks and their associated core sets.  Standard rotates once a year: during fall, when the first set of the next block comes out.  At this time, the oldest block and core set rotate out of standard (two core sets are standard legal for a few months in summer).

For example, in August of 2012 the standard format consists of:
Scars of Mirrodin
Mirrodin Besieged
New Phyrexia
M12
Innistrad
Dark Ascension
Avacyn Restored
M13

It may seem a little confusing at first, but after you go through the rotation once or twice, it makes good sense.

Example rotation: When Return to Ravnica is released in October 2012, Scars block and M12 will rotate out of standard, leaving only Innistrad block, M13, and Return to Ravnica.  The next rotation wouldn’t occur until October 2013 when the block after Return to Ravnica is released.

Since standard is the most popular format, many casual games are Standard and the Standard tournaments end up being the most well attended.  There are some cons to standard though…When extremely good decks rise to the top, their rarest cards become quite valuable.  This is through the sheer power of high demand.  A deck is good, a card in that deck is very good, it is rare and in moderate supply, everyone wants to play this good deck, everyone wants to buy this good card…prizes go up.
This can cause problems like $500+ decks.  Yes, it sounds scary, but you needn’t worry.
* If you are a casual player, you need to keep in mind that these are tournament level decks, not something you need to be playing in the casual room, nor is it something that  you’ll likely play.  If someone has a fully powered, expensive deck like that, they are more likely to go play in a tournament than play casual.  Though, you may occasionally run into someone playing a deck like this or, something like, the deck at half power, it shouldn’t be too terribly often.
* If you want to play tournament magic it’s still OK.  Firstly, not all decks are that expensive.  If you have a limited budget, there will be decks that are close in power level that are cheaper.  Or, you could start to think of it as an investment. Buying an expensive deck could help you win more prize boosters, which you can sell for tickets, and then recoup the cost of the deck.  Additionally, if you try to resell your cards before they rotate out of standard, you can recover a good deal of their cost – not 100%, probably not even 80%, but 50-70% should be likely barring odd market fluctuations.



Extended
In July of 2010 WotC changed the Extended format quite drastically.  Previous to that point, extended consisted of the previous 6 years of blocks and core sets…but, currently, Extended is the most recent 4 blocks and associated core sets.  It works the same way as Standard rotation; it just goes back 4 years instead of 2.  Some even call it ‘Double Standard’ because that’s basically what it is.

This format is still relatively new, so I don’t know much to say about it yet.  I think it has some promise, though.

Modern
Modern is a relatively new format.  It was created to give something between Extended and Legacy.  Additionally, the format was made to be non-rotating, since the only existing non-rotating formats have gotten enormously huge with 20 years of Magic cards having been released....
Modern consists of all cards released since they changed the card face.  This happened in 8th edition, so all cards in 8th edition onward (Mirrodin onward) are legal in Modern.  It has a banned list too: www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...


Legacy
In Legacy, you can play cards from any set or promotion released on MTGO.  The only exceptions are some cards that have been banned: www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.a...

Although not all of the early MTG sets have been released on MTGO (and never will be), they want to make MTGO Legacy the same as MTG Legacy.  This means releasing frequently played cards in Legacy in “Master’s Edition” (MTGO only sets) or as Promos to make them available to MTGO players.  Legacy, like classic, is nice because you can play pretty much whatever you want.


Classic
Finally, we come to Classic.  You may think it’s very similar to legacy, in which cards from all sets are also legal.  However, in Classic no card is banned.  Rather than banning, they restrict certain cards to one per deck: www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Resources.aspx...

This makes classic a very different format for tournament play, but I’m not sure if there is too much difference in casual play.

Now, you may be thinking that it’s a bad idea to play Classic in the casual room.  In theory, it is a bad idea.  All cards are available, so decks have the potential to be very very powerful and fast.  However, in practice, playing Classic in the Casual room can be quite fun.  Even more so than with standard, if someone has a fully powered Classic deck, they are more likely to take it to tournaments than play in the casual room.  Frequently, people play Classic casually because they just feel like playing with their old cards, don’t want to bother worrying about which cards are legal, or want to play with a single, favorite card of theirs that is only Classic/Legacy legal – but isn’t necessarily powerful at all.  There is actually a great variety of casual Classic decks, people play totally random things.  So, I suggest you give it a try once you’ve built up your collection a bit and have a few older cards (or even if you don’t).


Multiplayer
Yes! You can play multiplayer on MTGO.  It doesn’t look the prettiest and there are more bugs in multiplayer games, but it works (MTGO had an overhaul 2 years ago, multiplayer wasn’t quite ‘finished’ and other things are currently higher priority than fixing up multiplayer).  Previously, multiplayer had its own room on MTGO, but they have recently combined it with the other rooms.  Now you can start multiplayer games in the just for fun and tournament practice rooms

The most common formats for multiplayer are:
Commander - www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Resources.aspx...
Two-Headed Giant - www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Resources.aspx...
Free for All

Note that, on MTGO, the 2HG rules are different than in real life.  They have yet to implement the ability to share turns.  So, on MTGO, you and your other head take separate turns.  Also, each of you can only attack one of the heads.  This makes 2HG on MTGO basically 2v2 with shared life totals.




The easiest way to build decks legal for your format of choice is to use the filters along the top of your Collection, Deck Editor, and Trading screens. In the top-middle you will see a dropdown menu that is set to "All Cards(Online)" by default. Changing that to "Standard" will display only Standard legal cards that you own in your Collection and Deck Editor and it will display only Standard legal cards that your trading partner has up for trade when you are trading, likewise with the other formats/sets.

As a final note, legality is based on card name. Thus, if you filter for Standard and see a Lorwyn Oblivion Ring, it is standard legal because it was also printed in Magic 2013.

4-4 I want to play constructed tournaments!!  How should I start?
Show
There comes a time in the lives of most MTGO players where they want a little bit more than playing games solely for fun in the Starting Out/Just for Fun rooms.  They feel the need quench their competitive instincts...and try to win some prizes!  MTGO offers a very large variety of tournaments, both with regards to format and size/structure.  I’m gong to try and list these in terms of newbie-friendliness; however, there will also be an opposite correlation with ‘best prizes’.  This is not surprising; events with the best possible prizes are going to draw the most players, especially the good ones.

Before we begin
Show
For this FAQ entry, I’m mostly going to be talking about the structure of the events themselves.  Now, within each event structure, you still need to pick a Format to use to build your deck.  I listed some suggestions of which format you should play in the ‘What is a Format?’ entry of the FAQ, but I’ll recap some of that here.

Pauper: A great introductory format (or just great anytime).  Only commons are legal, so that makes it quite cheap with regards to building your deck.

Standard: The most popular format type.  However, some Standard decks can be quite expensive to assemble. The good thing is that there is usually a deck or two that is quite cheap and still competitive (just likely not the absolute best deck possible).  Frequently, these cheaper decks are very aggressive, usually Red, White, or Red/White.

Block: Aside from Pauper, block is probably the best format to start playing constructed tournaments with.  Block has a small card pool, so it limits the amount you need to learn.  Also, Block consists of only the very newest sets, so the supply of cards is extremely high, making them more affordable than later on, when they are still Standard legal, but after a new Block format has started (aka - about a year after you buy them).

So, when playing any of the below tournaments, you should likely be looking to play one that is based on Pauper or Block.

Also, when trying to choose a tournament, you’ll want to know the entry fee and the prizes.  You may notice that the description of each event is actually brightly colored text.  Well, those are actually hyperlinks to web pages that’ll describe most of the technical details of the event...so click them!


One last thing, if you want to get a feel for what other decks you’ll be playing with or to get some ideas on what you want to play, you can always browse the Decks of the Week archives.  Each week, WotC pulls all the decklists from 4-0 and 3-1 players in every Daily Event and lists them for you to see: www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Archive.a...


Player Run Events aka PREs

Show
I’ll actually be starting with the only event that isn’t actually ‘sanctioned’ by WotC.  PREs are exactly what they sound like, events run by other players on MTGO.  Frequently, these events have zero entry fee, which is great for the newer or more casual players.  However, this means that the prizes are generally pretty low, usually something like $5-20 worth of stuff split between the top players. This is both a good and bad thing, the low level of prizes can actually help to keep the super serious competitive players out of the picture.  They could be spending the same time on a PRE playing an event with a much higher possible prize payout.  The downside is the prizes are, well...small.  But, this event is mostly just for funsies, you might should just think of the prizes as a nice bonus.

These events are generally held in the “anything goes” room of MTGO...because that room is almost always empty.  One person will organize the event, meaning that they’ll tell you which people are playing which during every round and handle all the other logistics of an event.  Some may wonder where the prizes come from for these events?  Good question.  It just so happens that many of these events will be sponsored by one of the larger bot chains.  They use it as advertisement, which is pretty much how all sports around the world are funded.  Also, the prizes are frequently credit at the sponsor’s bot.  So, if you win, you may get 5 tix worth of credit, which you can then use to shop at that bot for whatever you want.


So, these events are a great way to ease yourself into playing tournaments.  There’ll be no real investment, other than your deck, and the atmosphere is friendly.  One other nice thing is that PREs are often the home of wacky/experimental formats like Tribal, Commons/Uncommons-only, etc.  To find out more about available PREs on MTGO, you should check out the PRE forum: community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/7584...


Constructed Queues

Show
On MTGO there exist queues for both constructed and limited tournaments.  Queues are on-demand tournaments that start frequently.  You join the queue and, as soon as the proper number of people join, the queue will instantly ‘fire’ and the event begins. 
The constructed queues are in the Menu-->Play-->Tournaments-->Constructed Queues.  Queues generally come in 2 varieties, though other types have existed in the past and new ones could be invented in the future.  They are:
2-Player Queues
8-Player Queues

2-Player queues are likely where one should begin.  They have the lowest investment (entry fee = 2 Event Tickets).  These events are single elimination 1 match (best 2 of 3) tournaments with only 2 players.  Each player is putting in 2 tix and the winner gets a booster pack as the prize.

8-player queues are 3 round, single elimination tournaments with...8 players.  The entry fee is 6 Event Tickets and the prize payout is currently 5-3-2-2.  This means that the winner gets 5 boosters, 2nd place gets 3 boosters, and 3rd/4th each get 2 boosters, with the other 4 players (who lost in the first round) getting nothing.  These are nice in that you can both make a profit and get (possibly) 3 round of tournament play in entertainment value.

As for the queues, the 2 player ones are probably the friendliest option for new players.  Daily events (below) are most likely better for a newer player than 8-player queues(and Daily Events could arguably be better than even the 2 player queues)


Daily Events (4-RND)

Show
Daily Events can be found in the Menu-->Play-->Tournaments-->Scheduled Events room.  These events cost 6 Event Tickets to enter but, unlike the queues, have a scheduled start time - you can go to the event room to see when an events start.  These events have the term “4-RND” at the end of their name

These events are Swiss style (as opposed to single elimination) events.  This means that you get to play every round of the tournament, win or lose).  Daily events are fixed at 4 round per event and can have anywhere from 16 to 128 players.  At the end of the tournament, you are awarded prizes based on your record.  Currently, a player who wins all 4 rounds (4-0) is awarded 11 booster packs and a 3-1 record (1 loss) will earn you 6 booster packs (with 2-2, 1-3, and 0-4 records getting you zero prizes).

Daily events are nice because you get a guaranteed 4 rounds of play (and practice!) in the tournament.  Additionally, they have quite good prizes if you can manage to go 3-1 or 4-0.  In this regard, they are much better than 8-man queues if you have a high win percentage.  However, if you generally win as much as you lose (50%), you may walk away empty handed from daily events, where you could win a couple of boosters in the 8-man queue.

Premier Events/PTQs/MOCS

Show
These are MTGO’s highest level events and are all found in the Menu-->Play-->Tournaments-->Scheduled Events room of MTGO.  Now, these are actually 3 separate things that I’ve grouped together.

Premier events - These are events anyone can play.  They are Swiss style events, similar to the Daily Events.  However, they are usually larger, both in amount of players and number of rounds.  100+ players may play in these events, and they’ll have 6+ rounds.  At the end of the normal rounds, there will be a cut to the Top 8 (every one else in the tournament is finished except the Top 8 players who play to see who the winner is).  These events are extremely top-heavy.  You will win very little prizes unless you can make the Top 8, but the prizes for the winner are extremely good.  These events are for two types of people: those who like long tournaments and those who think they are very good and can claim the top prize, so they don’t worry about the bad prizes for not winning. 

PTQs (Pro Tour Qualifiers) are very similar to the Premier events, except that the 1st place prize is an invitation to play (in real life) a Pro Tour event.  Pro Tours are large, invitation-only events that award $40,000 to the winner with a total prize purse of >$200,000.  However, you’re going to have to travel to the Pro Tour with your own money...but, for winning the PTQ on MTGO, you’ll be able to enter an event at the Pro Tour, only for the MTGO PTQ winners, where everyone gets $1,000 cash and a variable amount of MTGO boosters.  This $1,000 can basically be thought of as WotC’s refund of your travel cost to come and compete at the Pro Tour. 

MOCS events are similar to the PTQs, however, these events are invite-only.  But...how to earn an invitation?  Well, you see, most tournaments on MTGO award, in addition to booster packs, something called QPs (qualifier points).  For example, an 8 player queue awards 1 QP to the winner, and a Daily Event awards 3 QPs to everyone that goes 4-0 and 1 QP to everyone that goes 3-1.  During a month long “season”, if you can collect 15 QPs, then you’re invited to the MOCS monthly championship.  This tournament is also similar to PTQs and Premier events.  Really, it’s only the winner that wins something of extremely high value.  Similar to a PTQ, the winners of all the MOCS season championships during that year are invited to compete for the MTGO Championship, which is held in real life, rather than at home on your computer. The MTGO championship a minimum prize of $5000 cash, with more awarded to the winner.  This is, just like the PTQs, basically a way to pay for your travel expenses to attend the tournament (and more), though you have to pay to get yourself there in order to earn the prize. MOCS: www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.a...

So, there I’ve listed the types of tournaments.  Now, I’m going to give a detailed example of how I suggest a new player can begin playing constructed tournament while not spending too much money.


How to Start Playing Constructed

Show
I believe that the easiest and one of the cheapest ways to start playing constructed is with the Block format.  It is best if you can start in the fall (between mid-October and December), but any time of the year should work (though summer is a bit of an iffy time to start).

This is because the new block always starts in October, making that the absolute best time to jump into this format.  As I stated in other areas of the FAQ, the block format is nice because the cardpool is small.  This reduces the quality of the decks somewhat and (usually) allows for several different decks to share the title of the “best” deck.  This both makes the cards cheaper (the price of a deck is spread amongst more different cards) and allows you to build your own decks and have them be able to compete on a somewhat level playing field (the power level difference between the best decks and a random deck someone makes is less than with other formats like Standard or Modern, where the best decks are much stronger).


If you are able to start in the end of a year, you’ll be buying cards from a single set to play in the block constructed format.  The cards will be close to the cheapest they will ever be online (at least, while they are standard legal), because the set is being heavily drafted, so there is a huge supply of cards with not that much demand (economics!).


So, you’ve bought some cards from the most recent set, time to make some decks and practice with them.  You can make your own original decks or you can get “inspired by” (or just copy) decks that other people have done well with.  To see decks that have performed well, visit the Decks of the Week page: www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Archive.a...


To test how good they are, you’ll want to play some matches in the Tournament Practice room (for free!) before you spend your money on entry fees.  This will help you get a feel for what other decks people are playing, give you practice, and help you determine a sideboard.


After you feel that you are comfortable with your deck and your ability to pilot it, it’s time to join some tournaments!  The 2-player queues in the constructed queues room are low-risk, low-reward events that you may want to start out on if you are risk adverse.  However, if your goal is to get lots of practice for your money then you could join a Daily Event in the Scheduled Events room.  These 4-round events (for 6 tix entry fee) give you more tournament matches worth of practice per tix than the 2 player queues, but you will only walk away with prizes if you can win at least 3 of your 4 matches (though the prizes are very good - 6 boosters for 3-1 and 11 boosters for 4-0).


If you started with the 2-player queues, you can move up to the 8player queues and daily events when you gain more confidence.  8player queues have pretty good prizes, but Daily Events give you the most prizes for your entry fee.  The biggest problem is that they are scheduled, so you have to work around that and you can only play so many, the 8player queues can be played anytime you want.


Now, as the following sets in the block are released, you can get those new cards (hopefully by using tix you got from selling boosters you won) to update your deck or make an entirely new deck. 


After that block is done being released and the new block gets started you can repeat the cycle of playing block constructed.  However, at this point you will have all of the cards from the previous block (or at least all the ones good for constructed decks).  This will allow you to also start playing Standard.  It was ‘too expensive’ to start standard at the beginning when you didn’t have any cards, but now you have all the cards from the previous block and you’re buying the new block to continue playing  block constructed.  All that is missing are a few cards from the core set that you may want in a standard legal deck.  Also, not only do you already own the cards from the previous block, when you purchased them (a bit after there release, while everyone was drafting them), they were at close to the cheapest they will ever be (at least, while standard legal).  If you pay attention to the market, you can see that, when a new block comes out, the ‘good cards’ from the previous block rise in value.  This is because they are still good cards that people want to buy to play with in Standard, but there is very little supply because everyone started drafting with the new block.


So, from then on, you can continue playing block constructed.  You can also start playing Standard with little to no additional investment (well, there is your time, since you will be waiting a year before you can play standard).  From that point, if you are good, you can start to accrue winnings, which will allow you to buy cards for older constructed formats, if you are interested in playing something like Extended, Modern, or Classic.


So, in short, if you want to play constructed tournaments, play block constructed and you will:
Have low startup costs
Buy all your cards when there value is near the lowest it can be
Usually be able to make your own decks because of lower power levels
Be able to cheaply get into playing Standard after one year
Have a head start in playing standard because you know all of the good decks from the previous block constructed format


4-5 Examples of New Players starting MTGO - threads of users who kept a “journal” chronicling their experiences.
Show
Occasionally, a very kind individual will decide to chronicle their experiences starting MTGO on these very forums.  These are some nice examples of how people decided to start up (generally with a budget mindset).  They are listed in reverse chronological order. While the older threads will still teach valuable lessons, players who have recently started MTGO may be unfamiliar with the older cards and the New Account Starter kit contents changes somewhat over time.

The Adventures of mtgonoob: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
The Adventures of Yablo the Newb: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
The Adventures of wvc: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
The Adventures of dougnugget (new accounts came with a $9.99 coupon rather than the starter pack and planeswalker cards)
1) community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
2) community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


The Adventures of DastardlyDan: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...


4-6 MTGO interface guides.
Show
While some parts of the MTGO interface are intuitive...others aren't. Community members have pooled their knowledge to create some guides that will help you in navigating v3.
How to download v3 guide: puremtgo.com/node/709

Video Guide: puremtgo.com/node/660

Text Guides:
forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=8987...
forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=9766...
puremtgo.com/node/234

4-7 What is an ORC?
Show
ORCs are moderators for Magic Online and the forums. It's their job to make sure MTGO is a fun and safe place for everyone. ORCs can't play or trade while on duty, so don't bug them with trade requests or challenges. The primary duty of the ORCs is to enforce the Wizards Code of Conduct. If you misbehave, an ORC will issue you a warning. Just like in real-life Magic tournaments, a warning is a heads-up that you did something wrong. If you keep doing it, an ORC can mute you (you can't chat at all) or kick you from the game for up to 24 h. In excessive cases, punishment can be escalated immediately, skipping some steps. All conduct actions are reported to Customer Service, who can issue additional punishments, including extended bannings or even permanent removal. On the other hand, ORCs are really nice and helpful guys and gals to those who have honest questions or problems. If you ever have a problem or need help figuring something out, just ask one of the ORCs. ORCs can usually be found in the Support room (click the "Chat with Support" button on the Home scene), and they also wander around the other rooms. You can also type "/join Support" in any chat prompt other than Duel or Trade chat prompts.

4-8 How do I find out more about Magic Online?
Show
As I alluded to in the introduction, the General MTGO FAQ is the repository of pretty much all MTGO related knowledge. It's absolutely tremendous and can answer most questions. So, if you're the type of person who likes to learn everything there is to know about something before jumping in or you want to learn some more advanced features of MTGO, you should probably peruse the General MTGO FAQ! Also, Tempeseye has created a nice listing of v3 features that may not be so intuitive, you can check out his thread, too: forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=9766...

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
I'll try to do that. Thank for the help.
Where's the FAQ for new players who have problems making an account?

I'm on *DAY 4* of struggling to make an account and I still haven't even been able to enter this activation code burning a hole in my pocket. :|

http://blogthemagicgathering.blogspot.com/2009/03/now-with-mtgo.html

After struggling for 4 days, I've FINALLY gotten far enough in the process of signing up that it's telling me I have to buy an account for $9.99, but the reason I'm here is because I already bought a Core Set pack with an activation code, which MTGO III apparently won't let me enter unless I buy an account. I haven't even been able to get an account so I can be frustrated with MTGO like everyone else, I've been frustrated for 4 days and I still don't even have an account to be frustrated with. *exasperation*
Where's the FAQ for new players who have problems making an account?

I'm on *DAY 4* of struggling to make an account and I still haven't even been able to enter this activation code burning a hole in my pocket. :|

http://blogthemagicgathering.blogspot.com/2009/03/now-with-mtgo.html

After struggling for 4 days, I've FINALLY gotten far enough in the process of signing up that it's telling me I have to buy an account for $9.99, but the reason I'm here is because I already bought a Core Set pack with an activation code, which MTGO III apparently won't let me enter unless I buy an account. I haven't even been able to get an account so I can be frustrated with MTGO like everyone else, I've been frustrated for 4 days and I still don't even have an account to be frustrated with. *exasperation*

If you want to use an 8th/9th edition core set activation code you need to read this custhelp entry, it'll explain how you go about creating the account.
http://wizards.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wizards.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1363

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Why don't I have a Free Trial Server link on the logon page?
I only have Username & Password, and two butttons Cancel & Log On
Why don't I have a Free Trial Server link on the logon page?
I only have Username & Password, and two butttons Cancel & Log On

Because there is something wrong with your client, post in the Tech Help Forums

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Why don't I have a Free Trial Server link on the logon page?
I only have Username & Password, and two butttons Cancel & Log On

Just to make sure, the version you're using is version 3, correct?

Guess what? Chicken butt.

Um...I can't seem to find where the auctions are or have they not been implemented into v3 yet?
Um...I can't seem to find where the auctions are or have they not been implemented into v3 yet?

There is only one auction room. It is 'unofficial' and player run

Type /join auction in a chat box to join the room.

Guess what? Chicken butt.

Just to make sure, the version you're using is version 3, correct?

Yes, I downloaded it using the MTGOIII_Helper.exe I downloaded from the site just 2 days ago.
I then ran and installed it, Ran the installed program, let it update, and finally restarted the program which then offered me to launch or repair (after checking everything completed ok).
I tried launch that time, trying repair today... hopefully it will do something usefull.
Useful is always good. Now, what WOTC should have incorporated in the software is to allow users to playtest decks in any format amongst their members. Currently, any freeformat is restricted to theme decks 10th edition. Not too many there to play with. But, if we had the option to playtest the cards within a freeformat then, I believe, this game would be more enjoyable. For many reasons. It's daunting for newcomers to MTGO to know what to get other than boosters, etc., or singles, etc. Just my two cents.
I was wondering if the cost meant there was an initial $9.99 fee, then you get a 9.99 ticket or if the signup was free and there was some other way you got a 9.99 ticket.
The former. (See section 3, "Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?")
The former. (See section 3, "Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?")

yeah i read that but got confused as to whether the signup fee was 9.99 or something else would eventually cost me 9.99.
Hi, can someone recommend which deck of cards I should buy for MTGO? I haven't played for 6 years, and my collection of 60 cards (which was a theme pack) can only be played on Classic now. Back then, I didn't play that often at all. I am now hoping to buy a pack that I can play in Standard games and hopefully it won't be rotated out of standard too soon.

Also, since my original deck of cards consisted of just Red and Black cards, should I buy cards that are just Red and Black so that hopefully I can mix some of the cards (if they aren't deemed illegal)? Or does it not matter?

If there is another thread I should be looking at, could someone point me in the right direction? Thanks!
why i can active my account i enter the token code and hit submit but it doesnt do anything
Does it freeze up?
Close MTGO
Try to log on with your username/password
If that doesn't work, try entering the activation code again
If it still doesn't work, then contact customer service and they can activate your account
http://wizards.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wizards.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=489

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
I needz your help!

I just updated and added alot to the FAQ. It doesn't quite feel right. I'd like some suggestions. Sweeping changes, rearrangments, anything is fair game.

So, forums veterans, n00bs, anyone....what do ya think?

7/19 and before FAQ version
Hey and welcome to Magic: the Gathering Online!
There is so much to Magic that it can be overwhelming at times, especially for new players. Added on top of that are the intricacies/eccentricities of the MTGO client and it's easy for a new player to have a case information overload.

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to make this New Player FAQ simple -- just enough to get you started off playing games (and having fun :D). Once you're settled in you can worry about tackling more complex issues by looking though the main MTGO FAQ, which is chock full of information - pretty much anything you would want to know (In fact, some of this was taken directly from there ;)).

However, this FAQ is not meant to deter you from posting. If you have questions not answered in the FAQ, questions about the FAQ's answers, or just want to introduce yourself; feel free to make your own thread or post in someone else’s -- we'd love to hear from you :D.
[indent]1. Completely new to Magic: the Gathering? An Introduction, Tutorial & an article series all beginning and returning Magic players should read.
2. MTG:Online Free Trial
3. Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?
4. How do I buy cards?
5. What are Event Tickets?
6. What should I buy with my $9.99 coupon?
7. How to Trade.
8. How to get some free commons. :D
9. What are Bots?
10. Illegal card error when starting/joining a game? What are "formats"?
11. What are the Avatars for?
12. How do I get more basic lands?
13. What is an ORC?
14. MTGO interface guides.[/indent]




1. Completely new to Magic: the Gathering? An Introduction, Tutorial & an article series all beginning and returning Magic players should read.
Show
For those who are completely new to Magic: the Gathering, there is the 'New to Magic?' area of the site: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/NewtoMagic.aspx

As well as a downloadable tutorial: http://www.wizards.com/magic/products/LearnToPlayMagic.zip


I HIGHLY suggest reading the Magic Academy Series, for both new players and players returning from a long hiatus. It covers important concepts of the game ranging from the very new player to intermediate players. If you read all of these articles, you should have a very good understanding of the game from which to build off of.

http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/academy/49

Additional, for returning players (from before 6th edition) the rules for Magic got a bit of a clean up with 6th edition. The biggest change (and probably the best) was the intoduction of "the stack". I suggest you read about it here: http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=15160342#post15160342

In July of 2009, Magic 2010 brings its own set of rules changes, one of which alters combat signifigantly.
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/42a


2. MTG:Online Free Trial.
Show
Once you have downloaded MTGO, you can find a link to a Free Trial Server on the logon page. This will take you to a server where you'll be given an anonymous name and you will be able to play the 5 Tenth Edition theme decks against others in the Free Trial. Using this, you can get a feel for MTGO's interface and see if it's right for you.


3. Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?
Show
The short answer is that it will cost only as much as you want to spend.

The long answer is a little more involved and depends on what you are looking to do.

There is no monthly subscription fee. Unlike many other online games, MTG:O mirrors the cost of the paper game, namely $3.99 per booster, and $12.29 per theme deck (there are also Event Tickets, which cost $1 each and are used to pay the entry fee for sanctioned events and leagues). This upside to this setup means you are not forced to spend anything after your initial account creation ($9.99, but you will receive a $9.99 coupon for use in the MTGO store). If you want to go three months without spending anything, you can. And if you want to spend a few hundred dollars a week you can do that too. The downside is that most players find that they will need to invest additional money if they want to be competitive.

Also, your paper cards will not entitle you to any cards on MTGO. You can not trade your paper cards for digital cards. Paper and MTGO are two separate platforms.


4. How do I buy cards?
Show
Magic Online now includes a store built into the client. Just click on the "Store" tab along the bottom of your Magic Online screen. Once you're done selecting items and adding them to your cart, click checkout and complete the process. Boosters and decks cost full retail prices ($3.99 for boosters, $12.29 for most theme decks, and $8.99 for 10th Edition Theme decks, and $1.00 for Event Tickets [all US dollars]). The game itself can be downloaded for free. You can also buy the paper "Core Game," which will give you an outdated install disk for the previous version of MTGO. The paper Core Game also comes with a code that gives you the cards in the Core Game in your new account (but you don't get the $9.99 coupon) see this for how to create your account with this code.

Once you complete checkout, your order goes to processing. Processing can take anywhere from 2 seconds to 24 hours, so be patient. It does usually get processed within five minutes, however, so don’t let that “to 24 hours” scare you off, it is more of a failsafe to keep techsupport from getting bombarded by impatient users. If you're logged on to the game when processing completes, you'll get a pop-up box announcing your new goodies. If you're not logged on, the products will show up in your collection next time you log on, though there won't be a pop-up notification. If you haven't gotten your products after 24 hours, don't complain about it in the Support room -- they can't help you. Instead, contact the store via http://wizards.custhelp.com with your account name and the order number included.


5. What are Event Tickets?
Show
Tickets, oftentimes abbreviated as tix, were originally designed as the “entry fee” for online tournaments. Rather than handing the tournament organizer $5 to enter like you would in real life, Magic Online includes Event Tickets as part (or all) of the entry price. The tickets are purchasable from the store for $1 each.

Due to the ticket’s $1 value in the store, they have become the de facto currency of Magic Online and thus most people trade cards for tickets rather than other cards. However, due to inefficiencies in converting tickets back into cash and other market factors, the actual market value of tickets is usually less than $1 (i.e. you can buy tickets for less than $1 each outside of the MTGO store, but there is the risk of getting scammed involved).


6. What should I buy with my $9.99 coupon?
Show
Event Tickets

What? You need more explaination? Ok then.

Theme Decks/Intro Packs
Previously, WotC sold 60 card ready-to-play theme decks. I found these to be great for new players who were intimidated by the prospect of building their own deck. However, they have switched to 41 card Into Packs, which include an unopened booster. The big problem is that every format (except Freeform) has a 60 card minimum deck size. Thus, even if you purchase one of these, you'll still have to do a bit of deckbuilding if you want to play a Standard, Extended, Classic, or other format game.

Now, I also want to let you know that, if you still want to purchase an Intro Pack, it is actually cheaper to use Event Tickets to buy the contents of the deck from another player or bot as opposed to buying the Intro Pack directly from the store. The cards in most Intro Packs can usually be purchased for 2-4 Event Tickets. While this is cheaper, it takes more time, plus you have to navigate the trading interface. So, it's your decision -- do you want it fast and pay a few dollars more or do you want to spend some time to save a few bucks?

Now, the Intro Packs aren't all bad. You can use them as a jumping off point towards building your own deck. Before purchasing, you may want to look at the cards in some of the decks. Luckily the decklists are already saved on your computer:


The Market
Using event tickets to purchase single cards from bots is by far the most economical way to get cards on MTGO. As compared to opening booster pack, when buying singles on the secondary market you get more bang for your buck and you know exactly which cards you'll be getting. This is because the market is very liquid, making card prices quite low.
By going to the Classifieds (menu-->community-->marketplace-->classifieds) you can search for individual cards. Alternatively, since searching for many of the less popular cards will yield no results, you can just start trading with random bots until you find a well stocked one and get your cards from there.


7. How to Trade
Show
Trading (probably with bots) is the most common way to get cards on MTGO. It's a fairly simple process. Right clicking on any username will give you the option to trade with that person. Once in a trade you can see the other user's tradable* cards and they can see yours.

To select a card you want, just double click it. This will put the card in your "you get" pile at the bottom right. If you accidentally select a card you don't want or too many of a card, you can put it back by doubleclicking the card in your "you get" pile.

Once you have selected the cards and are ready to finish the trade, each user needs to click the "confirm trade" button near the top of the screen. When both players click this, the trade will go to the secondary confirmation screen. It is important to review all the cards in the trade during this step to make sure your trading partner isn't taking something they shouldn't be. Once you've looked over the cards, each player clicks "confirm trade" again and the trade will then be completed.

I'm also going to note here that MTGO enforces a 32 item per trade limitation. If you want to get more than 32 cards, you'll need to do multiple trades. For example, if you see an ad where someone is selling "96 commons for one ticket", you will need to do three 32 card trades. In the case of humans, you'll just have to trust that they will allow you to trade with you for the 2nd and 3rd set of 32 cards (having taken the ticket from you as you got the first 32 cards) For bots, they should be programmed to remember your 'credit' the next time you trade, allowing you to get the remainder of your cards in subsequent trades.

*Tradable - To mark a card in your collection tradable, you need to go into your collection and look under the card. Note that, only cards you mark tradable can be seen by those you trade with, and you must mark things tradable before beginning a trade.

Old-time boards member Bent, created a trading guide that will introduce you to the dynamics of trading on MTGO: http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-276046.html


8. How to get some free commons. :D
Show
First, read "how to trade". There are a 2-3 bots in the classifieds that give away 64 free commons each. To find them, just go to the bottom left of your screen and go to
Menu-->Community-->Marketplace-->Classifieds
and search for "free". You can then right click on the bot's name to trade with it, however they are frequently busy so you may need to try several times or try again later.


9. What are Bots?
Show
Bots are automated trading programs. The majority of card buying and selling utilizes bots that people run. You can think of each bot as a different card store in real life. Some just buy cards for tickets, others only sell you cards for tickets, and some do both.


10. Illegal card error when starting/joining a game? What are "formats"?
Show
If you are receiving an "illegal cards" error when you try to start or join a game, it is most likely because cards in your deck are illegal for the Standard format. Standard is the most popular format, so it is the default format for new games. Changing the format to extended or classic when you create a game will "get rid of" this error. Now, you don't know what a format is, of course :D. This Magic Academy article explains it quite well: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/academy/21

Now that you've read that, I'll let you know that the current standard legal sets are:
Lorwyn
Morningtide
Shadowmoor
Eventide
Shards of Alara
Conflux
Alara Reborn
10th Edition


11.What are the Avatars for?
Show
The Avatars are used in a MTGO format called Vanguard. It's explained well here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Article.aspx?x=magic/magiconline/vanguard
If you don't have Avatars in your collection, it is because you haven't opened your Vanguard Booster. Go into your collection and find the pack with a big 'M' on it. Right click that and select 'open'


12. How do I get more basic lands?
Show
If you're asking this question you probably don't know what an Avatar is either :D. Go into your collection and find the pack with a big 'M' on it. Right click that and select 'open'. Within that pack is the 5 basic Vanguard Avatars and 15 of each basic land. If you need more land, you can ask other players (especially me), you generally don't ever need more than 50 lands, so the majority of accounts accrue large amounts of excess lands over time.


13. What is an ORC?
Show
ORCs are moderators for Magic Online and the forums. It's their job to make sure MTGO is a fun and safe place for everyone. ORCs can't play or trade while on duty, so don't bug them with trade requests or challenges.

The primary duty of the ORCs is to enforce the Wizards Code of Conduct. If you misbehave, an ORC will issue you a warning. Just like in real-life Magic tournaments, a warning is a heads-up that you did something wrong. If you keep doing it, an ORC can mute you (you can't chat at all) or kick you from the game for up to 24 h. In excessive cases, punishment can be escalated immediately, skipping some steps. All conduct actions are reported to Customer Service, who can issue additional punishments, including extended bannings or even permanent removal.

On the other hand, ORCs are really nice and helpful guys and gals to those who have honest questions or problems. If you ever have a problem or need help figuring something out, just ask one of the ORCs. ORCs can usually be found in the Support room (click the "Chat with Support" button on the Home scene), and they also wander around the other rooms. You can also type "/join Support" in any chat prompt other than Duel or Trade chat prompts.


14. MTGO interface guides.
Show
While some parts of the MTGO interface are intuitive...others aren't. Community members have pooled their knowledge to create some guides that will help you in navigating v3.
How to download v3 guide: http://puremtgo.com/node/709
Video Guide: http://puremtgo.com/node/660
Text Guides:
http://puremtgo.com/node/234
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=898741
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=976671

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Whew, now updated for M10, plus added some of the suggestions.

7/30 and before (well, to 7/19 at least) version of FAQ, for reference
Hey and welcome to Magic: the Gathering Online!
There is so much to Magic that it can be overwhelming at times, especially for new players. Added on top of that are the intricacies/eccentricities of the MTGO client and it's easy for a new player to have a case information overload.

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to make this New Player FAQ simple -- just enough to get you started off playing games (and having fun :D). Once you're settled in you can worry about tackling more complex issues by looking though the main MTGO FAQ, which is chock full of information - pretty much anything you would want to know (In fact, some of this was taken directly from there ;)). Chances are, if you have a question that isn't covered here, it will be covered there.

However, this FAQ is not meant to deter you from posting. If you have questions not answered in the FAQ, questions about the FAQ's answers, or just want to introduce yourself; feel free to make your own thread or post in someone else’s -- we'd love to hear from you :D.

(For suggestions on how to improve this FAQ, please use this thread.)




[indent]1. Completely new to Magic: the Gathering? An Introduction, Tutorial & an article series all beginning and returning Magic players should read.
2. MTG:Online Free Trial
3. Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?
4. How do I buy cards?
5. What are Event Tickets?
6. What should I buy with my $9.99 coupon?
7. Should I buy a Theme Deck/Intro Pack?
8. Building your first deck.
9. How to Trade.
10. How to get some free commons. :D
11. What are "Formats"? // Illegal card error when starting/joining a game?
12. An example of a new player starting up MTGO (cheaply, to boot).
13. What are Bots?
14. What are the Vanguard Avatars for?
15. How do I get more basic lands?
16. What is an ORC?
17. MTGO interface guides.[/indent]




1. Completely new to Magic: the Gathering? An Introduction, Tutorial & an article series all beginning and returning Magic players should read.
Show
For those who are completely new to Magic: the Gathering, there is the 'New to Magic?' area of the site: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/NewtoMagic.aspx

As well as a downloadable tutorial: http://www.wizards.com/magic/products/LearnToPlayMagic.zip


I HIGHLY suggest reading the Magic Academy Series, for both new players and players returning from a long hiatus. It covers important concepts of the game ranging from the very new player to intermediate players. If you read all of these articles, you should have a very good understanding of the game from which to build off of.

http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/academy/49

Additional, for returning players (from before 6th edition) the rules for Magic got a bit of a clean up with 6th edition. The biggest change (and probably the best) was the introduction of "the stack". I suggest you read about it here: http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=15160342#post15160342

In July of 2009, Magic 2010 brings its own set of rules changes, one of which alters combat significantly.
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/42a


2. MTG:Online Free Trial.
Show
Once you have downloaded MTGO, you can find a link to a Free Trial Server on the logon page. This will take you to a server where you'll be given an anonymous name and you will be able to play with the 5 Tenth Edition theme decks against others in the Free Trial. Using this, you can get a feel for MTGO's interface and see if it's right for you.


3. Is MTGO Free? How much does it cost?
Show
The short answer is that it will cost only as much as you want to spend.

The long answer is a little more involved and depends on what you are looking to do.

There is no monthly subscription fee. Unlike many other online games, MTG:O mirrors the cost of the paper game, namely $3.99 per booster, and $12.29 per theme deck (there are also Event Tickets, which cost $1 each and are used to pay the entry fee for sanctioned events and leagues). This upside to this setup means you are not forced to spend anything after your initial account creation ($9.99, but you will receive a $9.99 coupon for use in the MTGO store). If you want to go three months without spending anything, you can. And if you want to spend a few hundred dollars a week you can do that too. The downside is that most players find that they will need to invest additional money if they want to be competitive.

Also, your paper cards will not entitle you to any cards on MTGO. You can not trade your paper cards for digital cards. Paper and MTGO are two separate platforms.


4. How do I buy cards?
Show
Magic Online now includes a store built into the client. Just click on the "Store" tab along the bottom of your Magic Online screen. Once you're done selecting items and adding them to your cart, click checkout and complete the process. Boosters and decks cost full retail prices ($3.99 for boosters, $12.29 for most theme decks, and $8.99 for 10th Edition Theme decks, and $1.00 for Event Tickets [all US dollars]). The game itself can be downloaded for free. You can also buy the paper "Core Game," which will give you an outdated install disk for the previous version of MTGO. The paper Core Game also comes with a code that gives you the cards in the Core Game in your new account (but you don't get the $9.99 coupon) see this for how to create your account with this code.

Once you complete checkout, your order goes to processing. Processing can take anywhere from 2 seconds to 24 hours, so be patient. It does usually get processed within five minutes, however, so don’t let that “to 24 hours” scare you off, it is more of a failsafe to keep techsupport from getting bombarded by impatient users. If you're logged on to the game when processing completes, you'll get a pop-up box announcing your new goodies. If you're not logged on, the products will show up in your collection next time you log on, though there won't be a pop-up notification. If you haven't gotten your products after 24 hours, don't complain about it in the Support room -- they can't help you. Instead, contact the store via http://wizards.custhelp.com with your account name and the order number included.

Now, the MTGO store only sells boosters and theme decks/intro packs. To buy single cards, you'll need to trade with other players/bots. You can trade card for card or 'buy' cards by trading event tickets for cards.


5. What are Event Tickets?
Show
Tickets, oftentimes abbreviated as tix, were originally designed as the “entry fee” for online tournaments. Rather than handing the tournament organizer $5 to enter like you would in real life, Magic Online includes Event Tickets as part (or all) of the entry price. The tickets are purchasable from the store for $1 each.

Due to the ticket’s $1 value in the store, they have become the de facto currency of Magic Online and thus most people trade cards for tickets rather than other cards. However, due to inefficiencies in converting tickets back into cash and other market factors, the actual market value of tickets is usually less than $1 (i.e. you can buy tickets for less than $1 each outside of the MTGO store, but there is the risk of getting scammed involved).


6. What should I buy with my $9.99 coupon?
Show
Event Tickets

What? You need more explanation? Ok then.

Using event tickets to trade for single cards from bots is, by far, the most economical way to purchase cards on MTGO. As compared to opening booster pack, when buying singles on the secondary market you get more bang for your buck and you know exactly which cards you'll be getting. This is because the market is very liquid, making card prices quite low. This works against those who like to open booster packs; very rarely will you get a rare that is worth more than the $3.99 that was spent on the pack.

By going to the Classifieds (menu-->community-->marketplace-->classifieds) you can search for individual cards. Alternatively, since searching for many of the less popular cards will yield no results, you can just start trading with random bots until you find a well stocked one and get your cards from there.

Now, before you go and start buying up cards like crazy, I suggest you read the FAQ entry below about 'Formats'. This will help you determine which cards to buy.


7. Should I buy a Theme Deck/Intro Pack?
Show
I can no longer recommend that players buy theme decks from the MTGO store...let me explain in detail.

Previously, WotC sold 60 card ready-to-play theme decks. I found these to be great for new players who were intimidated by the prospect of building their own deck and wanted to jump right into playing. Even when the Theme Decks were 60 cards and ready-to-play, they weren't the best deal for everyone. You see, the contents of any given theme deck can be purchased on the secondary market for 2-5 tickets quite easily. This meant that you'd be paying $5-8+ extra when purchasing the theme deck from the store. However, paying a bit extra would be worth it for some players because of the ease and speed of the process. You could call that bit of money a 'convenience premium'. So, it was worth it for some individuals who wanted to start immediately rather than bother with the time it takes to: do research, build a deck, learn how to use the interface, learn how to use the trading market, and then go out and obtain the cards; this was especially true for some older players who have more money than free time.

However, they have switched to 41 card Into Packs (which include an unopened booster). With this switch, the two saving graces of themedecks were lost. Every format (except Freeform) has a 60 card minimum deck size. Thus, if you were to purchase an Intro Pack, you will still have to do a bit of deckbuilding if you want to play a Standard, Extended, Classic, or other format game (see FAQ entry on 'Formats' if you don't know what these are). This doesn't do as much to alleviate the intimidation some new players feel when presented with the prospect of building their first deck and it completely removes the convenience that purchasing a theme deck could give.


As I've already said, you can buy the cards contained in any Intro Pack for 2-5 event tickets on the secondary market. So, one potential use that Intro Packs retain is the ability to act as a jumping off point towards building your own deck if you feel intimidated/overwhelmed.
Luckily all the decklists are saved on your computer for you to browse:


You can load these up in your deck editor to get an idea for a deck and then take it from there, buying some/all of the cards in the deck from the secondary market, along with others you think will complement the deck.


8. Building your first deck.
Show
In this section, I'm not going to go into things like how many lands or creatures you should put into your deck; Magic Academy does a fine job on that front. Rather, I'm writing this more to help explain how you can approach conceptualizing your deck and finding cards on MTGO.

First things first, To view every card ever printed on MTGO, go into your collection and set "OWNED" to >=0. This will let you browse though all MTGO cards. Similarly, if you go into your deck editor, you can UNCheck the "My Cards" box and that will allow you to build decks with cards you don't own.


Now, there are a TON of cards on MTGO. Seeing all of them there stretching to near infinity is a bit much. Thus, I suggest you use the filters (both in your deck editor and when trading for cards). First thing would probably be to sort by format, with Standard format being suggested for new players. (You may want to read the FAQ entry on formats, if you haven't already.)

There are several different ways to go about building a deck. You could concentrate on...
- a theme (Burn, Tokens, Counterspells, White Weenie)
- a tribe (Goblins, Elves, Knights, etc)
- a single unique, fun card (Doubling Season, Ignite Memories, Warp World, Eye of the Storm, Sigil of the Empty Throne)
- a multi-card combination ({Kamahl, Fist of Krosa/Goblin Sharpshooter}, {Izzet Guildmage/Lava Spike/Desperate Ritual}, {Shuko/Daru Spiritualist/Starlit Sanctum}, {Sharuum the Hegemonx2/Hissing Iguanar})
- or just a group of powerful/fun cards that you want to throw together.

It's certainly fine to just browse around and pick out cards you like, you don't have to get it right the first time :D. Decks aren't 'built', they evolve.

Now, if you're in need of inspiration. You can look though the vast array of Theme Deck/Intro Pack decklists to get started. The decks are purposefully built as unrefined, allowing you to switch out cards and tweak numbers to improve the deck.


There are also a huge variety of decklists produced from MTGO tournaments every week.
http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Archive.aspx?tag=Decks%20of%20the%20Week&description=Decks%20of%20the%20Week


As I said, your deck need not be perfect in its first incarnation. Through playing your deck, you'll learn things about it. Certain cards may not do much, ditch them. Certain cards may be MVP, you may want more of them. You may find that you have trouble with opponent's creatures, you may need more removal. You may find that you're getting too many or too few lands, tweak the numbers. So on and so forth.


Now, to play your deck, you should probably start off in the New Players Room
It's generally populated by other new players with similarly sized card pools/experience levels as you. But, you could also run into a veteran player looking to give advice....or, rarely, a jerk bringing an overly powerful deck to 'beat up' newbies. No worries, it's just a game and you can always block unpleasant people.

Once your collection has grown and you've gained some experience, you'll probably want to move to the casual decks room. It has more players and could be considered the 'next level'.


9. How to Trade
Show
Trading (probably with bots) is the most common way to get cards on MTGO. It's a fairly simple process. Right clicking on any username will give you the option to trade with that person. Once in a trade you can see the other user's tradable* cards and they can see yours.

To select a card you want, just double click it. This will put the card in your "you get" pile at the bottom right. If you accidentally select a card you don't want or too many of a card, you can put it back by double-clicking the card in your "you get" pile.

Once you have selected the cards and are ready to finish the trade, each user needs to click the "confirm trade" button near the top of the screen. When both players click this, the trade will go to the second confirmation screen. It is important to review all the cards in the trade during this step to make sure your trading partner isn't taking something they shouldn't be. Once you've looked over the cards, each player clicks "confirm trade" again and the trade will then be completed.

I'm also going to note here that MTGO enforces a 32 item per trade limitation. If you want to get more than 32 cards, you'll need to do multiple trades. For example, if you see an ad where someone is selling "96 commons for one ticket", you will need to do three 32 card trades. In the case of humans, you'll just have to trust that they will allow you to trade with you for the 2nd and 3rd set of 32 cards (having taken the ticket from you as you got the first 32 cards) For bots, they should be programmed to remember your 'credit' the next time you trade, allowing you to get the remainder of your cards in subsequent trades.

There are also several ways to make trading easier. Heavy use of your filters can cut down on the cards you have to look through. You can also use the wishlist feature to make trading easier.


*Tradable - To mark a card in your collection tradable, you need to go into your collection and look under the card. Note that, only cards you mark tradable can be seen by those you trade with, and you must mark things tradable before beginning a trade.

Old-time boards member Bent, created a trading guide that will introduce you to the dynamics of trading on MTGO: http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-276046.html


10. How to get some free commons. :D
Show
First, read "how to trade". There are a 2-3 bots in the classifieds that give away 64 free commons each. To find them, just go to the bottom left of your screen and go to
Menu-->Community-->Marketplace-->Classifieds
and search for "free". You can then right click on the bot's name to trade with it, however they are frequently busy so you may need to try several times or try again later.


11. What are "Formats"? // Illegal card error when starting/joining a game?
Show
If you are receiving an "illegal cards" error when you try to start or join a game, it is most likely because cards in your deck are illegal for the Standard format.

Standard is the most popular format, so it is the default format for new games. Changing the format to Extended or Classic when you create a game will "get rid of" this error. Now, you don't know what a format is, of course :D. This Magic Academy article explains it quite well: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/academy/21
Simple Picture Explaination of Main Formats
The three main formats on MTGO. Formats are just subsets of cards. Classic being all cards, Extended being many cards (but not all) and Standard being a smaller subset.

IMAGE(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2566/3738871885_14b7c84532_o.jpg)



Now that you've read that, I'll let you know that the current standard legal sets are:
Lorwyn
Morningtide
Shadowmoor
Eventide
Shards of Alara
Conflux
Alara Reborn
10th Edition (Rotates July 29th 2009, to be replaced by Magic 2010 [M10])


It is suggested that new players start with the Standard format. Standard is the most popular format played and it has a smaller card pool in comparison to Extended and Classic. As a new player, you don't have many cards. Building a deck for the Classic format leaves you with a card pool of 5000-7000 cards. That's a lot to choose from. Standard's card pool is generally closer to 1000 cards. So, the reduced options are less overwhelming.

The easiest way to build Standard legal decks and buy Standard legal cards is to use the filters along the top of your Collection, Deck Editor, and Trading screens. In the top-middle you will see a dropdown menu that is set to "All Cards(Online)" by default. Changing that to "Standard" will display only Standard legal cards that you own in your Collection and Deck Editor and it will display only Standard legal cards that your trading partner has up for trade when you are trading.

Now, legality is based on card name. Thus, if you filter for Standard and see a 7th edition Birds of Paradise, it is standard legal because it was also printed in Magic 2010.


Now, there is nothing wrong with playing Extended and/or Classic when starting out. But, some new players don't like the prospect of having opponent's with a vast card pool (or 'Bag-O-Tricks') to pull from while you, as a new player, don't have many cards to build decks from. There is also the fact that it's slightly harder to find a game with a Classic or Extended legal deck. A Standard legal deck can be played in almost all formats, so you can join games without much regard to the format. But, if your deck is only Classic legal, you'll have to specifically look for Classic games (not that they aren't there often, you just can click on a game willy-nilly and start playing).


12. An example of a new player starting up MTGO (cheaply, to boot).
Show
Doug was kind enough to chronicle his first week playing MTGO. His thread shows how a new player can go about starting MTGO - buying cards, building decks, playing in the casual room. And, he does it all without even using the full amount of his $9.99 coupon!

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1213633


13. What are Bots?
Show
Bots are automated trading programs. The majority of card buying and selling utilizes bots that people run. You can think of each bot as a different card store in real life. Some just buy cards for tickets, others only sell you cards for tickets, and some do both.


14.What are the Vanguard Avatars for?
Show
The Avatars are used in a MTGO format called Vanguard. It's explained well here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Article.aspx?x=magic/magiconline/vanguard
If you don't have Avatars in your collection, it is because you haven't opened your Vanguard Booster. Go into your collection and find the pack with a big 'M' on it. Right click that and select 'open'


15. How do I get more basic lands?
Show
If you're asking this question you probably don't know what an Avatar is either :D. Go into your collection and find the pack with a big 'M' on it. Right click that and select 'open'. Within that pack is the 5 basic Vanguard Avatars and 15 of each basic land. If you need more land, you can ask other players (especially me), you generally don't ever need more than 50 lands, so the majority of accounts accrue large amounts of excess lands over time.


16. What is an ORC?
Show
ORCs are moderators for Magic Online and the forums. It's their job to make sure MTGO is a fun and safe place for everyone. ORCs can't play or trade while on duty, so don't bug them with trade requests or challenges.

The primary duty of the ORCs is to enforce the Wizards Code of Conduct. If you misbehave, an ORC will issue you a warning. Just like in real-life Magic tournaments, a warning is a heads-up that you did something wrong. If you keep doing it, an ORC can mute you (you can't chat at all) or kick you from the game for up to 24 h. In excessive cases, punishment can be escalated immediately, skipping some steps. All conduct actions are reported to Customer Service, who can issue additional punishments, including extended bannings or even permanent removal.

On the other hand, ORCs are really nice and helpful guys and gals to those who have honest questions or problems. If you ever have a problem or need help figuring something out, just ask one of the ORCs. ORCs can usually be found in the Support room (click the "Chat with Support" button on the Home scene), and they also wander around the other rooms. You can also type "/join Support" in any chat prompt other than Duel or Trade chat prompts.


17. MTGO interface guides.
Show
While some parts of the MTGO interface are intuitive...others aren't. Community members have pooled their knowledge to create some guides that will help you in navigating v3.
How to download v3 guide: http://puremtgo.com/node/709
Video Guide: http://puremtgo.com/node/660
Text Guides:
http://puremtgo.com/node/234
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=898741
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=976671

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Good update. And you beat the June EPotM. Good man.
Thank you, Erik.
The free trial version of MGTO lets you play with M10 theme decks now, not 10E ones. Small point but you might want to change that
The free trial version of MGTO lets you play with M10 theme decks now, not 10E ones. Small point but you might want to change that


My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
So, you've just signed up and you have 300 cards, a M10 booster, and 2 Event Tickets. Want to play a game? You're going to need the decklists for those 5 decks that your account came with.

Is this still true? For I just regged and all I got was basic lands and vanguard avatars...?
Is this still true? For I just regged and all I got was basic lands and vanguard avatars...?

My sincerest of apologies. You got a $9.99 coupon.

That's been what new accounts come with for years (since MTGO's inception, actually). They recently announced a switch to what I described in the FAQ...however I jumped the gun a little bit and updated it a week early, new accounts don't come with what I described until after the Aug. 5th downtime....I'm going to put a note at the top now.

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Aw jolly. Yeah the coupon that can't even get me a single draft. Yay.
If you plan to draft, you should be happier with $10 store credit than 300 random cards anyway... This way you only have to spend $4 extra for 1 more pack.
Yeah I just did that. Though there was also this lovely mysterious tax of $2.65. Still, for $16.sth I won myself a draft, elspeth and 3 packs for next draft, so I guess if I can offload the trash for 2 tix I get net gain of Elspeth, since the costs would be repaid.
That "mysterious tax" is sales tax or VAT at your standard country level (19% in Slovakia I think) - complain to your nearest national politician.
One'd think that wouldn't apply for overseas online purchase...

Anyway, a quick question, is it possible to input paper collection too (as in old versions) and perhaps then export it as text? I want to catalogue all my stuff and that'd save me a ton of time...
One'd think that wouldn't apply for overseas online purchase...

Anyway, a quick question, is it possible to input paper collection too (as in old versions) and perhaps then export it as text? I want to catalogue all my stuff and that'd save me a ton of time...

No. That feature was removed in the new version.

Guess what? Chicken butt.

Darn. I guess there ain't a similar software that could do it?
do Bots sell Tickets cheaper than Wizards store?
do Bots sell Tickets cheaper than Wizards store?

Well, bots don't, because it requires an out-of-game transaction (a bot is just a program for making trades in game).
Dealers and other players will sell tickets for less than $1 each (you generally have to buy 'in bulk', like 25, 50, 100, or more.

However, these transactions are completely outside the realm of WotC and are not sanctioned in any way. You'll have to accept any and all risk that may be associated with them.

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Whats a good price to expect for 50 or even 100? .85 on the 1.00?

I'm looking to build a Standard deck and do some drafting, so if I can find a way to do that a little cheaper I'll try.
It varies (like most currencies) I think we are around the $0.95 price at the moment. But check a couple of places as I don't follow this that closely.

I've bought the cards and made a deck Now how do I win at this?

If I spend .45 at one bot, does the bot give you .55 "change" back or is the rest left as credit?
If I spend .45 at one bot, does the bot give you .55 "change" back or is the rest left as credit?

Credit

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
Does the credit expire?

If thats the case it might be better to pay a little more for certain cards to get everything from one bot.
Credits do not expire. Please note however that credits are not an official feature of the trading system on MTGO. This means that bots are not obliged to follow through with this procedure and it can happen that the bot disappears or the owner decides to cancel all credits.
It is recommended to use a trusted source for your purchases.

Cheers,

Plejades

MTGO ACADEMY - Magic the Gathering Online Strategy, Articles, Videos, and Cards: The prime source for Magic the Gathering strategy.

http://www.mtgoacademy.com/

Long-time Magic grognard, and brand new Magic Online noob, here.

As far as I can tell, being on my Free Trial, I can't use the chat function at all. I've played several games, but in silence, with no way to inform my opponent when I'm thinking or to wonder aloud about something that doesn't look right. Am I just doing something wrong, or are Free Trial players indeed mute?

Also, is there a time limit on how long I can keep playing the Free Trial before I have to plunk down $10 for the full game? If the system allows it, I have enough other things to do, with both my time and my money, that I could make the Trial last for a month or more before I actually invest.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi