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By: stsung, Ren Stefanek
Feb 27 2018 12:00pm
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There are many articles around the web talking about why playing Magic Online is better or why it is worse depending on what site published the article. This site is dedicated to Magic Online and that is why people will most probably talk about Magic Online being somehow better - because it is better for us which, of course, doesn't need to mean that it is better for you.

To recapitulate here are several things that these articles usually talk about. They are either considered pros or cons. That is something up to you to decide.


1. Playing 24/7
One of the pros that is often mentioned is that we can play 24/7. It's not entirely true because Magic Online has downtimes from time to time but in general that's how things are. If we want to draft at 4 am we can just open Magic Online and join a draft League. In real life, drafting at 4 am is not probably going to happen unless you and 7 of your friends decide to draft at that hour (and honestly finding 7 players to play even at a reasonable time is difficult). This can also turn into a con but most of the time playing on Magic Online allows us to play Magic. Players with children don't often have time to attend real life events for example. Players that want to test for big events and need to play as much Magic as possible also switch to playing online because it is easily accessible and allows us to simply play more Magic.

2. Card availability
Getting cards on Magic Online can be done within minutes on the secondary market. It's not likely that there would be no bot with a certain card unlike in real life where certain shops don't need to have those cards available. This can mean sometimes that we don't get the cards we need at the moment we need them. Trading on Magic Online is often considered a drawback though because it requires a serious knowledge of price trends and also requires time. While it takes less time than trading paper cards it takes a considerable amount of time. If not done properly it costs a lot of money and that is probably why many people consider the trading aspect really bad.

3. Rules Enforcement
Magic Online will force us to follow the rules of Magic. We can't break them (most of the time) and Magic Online gets them right (most of the time). In paper, both players are to keep the game state where it should be. Not being able to do so results in penalties. Sometimes though players try to take advantage of this and some are rather successful at this. Unfortunately it's the less experienced players that suffer because they are afraid to call a judge, are not attentive enough or do not understand the game that well. Full scale rules enforcement is also something that can create a negative player experience when the player is not able to understand the rules at this level. Many not so experienced players when shown how Magic Online works run away in fear.

4. Shuffler
Magic Online shuffles our decks which means that there is no room for cheating when shuffling a deck. There is nothing like insufficient shuffling. On the other hand many players think that the shuffler is biased somehow.

5. Timer
On Magic Online we have our own timer. A round lasts 50 minutes but we have 25 minutes to finish our match unlike in paper where both players just have to finish in 50 minutes time.

6. Travel expanses

Our 16 hours long trip to Italy began. I thought that we'd talk during the trip or sleep but no, electronic devices won.

We can connect to Magic Online's server from pretty much anywhere. Playing in a paper event though requires us to travel. That takes time and money.


7. Distractions
Playing on Magic Online happens on our computers and many players are used to multitasking when using their computers. That does not usually happen in a real life event. There though exist other kind of distractions - onlookers watching the game, too much noise, people talking etc.

8. Metagame
On Magic Online we usually get to see more of the metagame. It also evolves faster because there people prepare for paper events to beat what is currently being played. In paper the metagame shifts slower and for many players that do not travel that much big events it can be pretty much the same for a long time.

9. Draft picks

When drafting on Magic Online we see the cards we drafted. We can filter them anyway how we want to and we can also put cards we do not want to play in the sideboard area. At certain paper events (depends on rules enforcement level) we are not allowed to look at our cards while drafting. There is a time dedicated for that before each pack being open.


10. Bugs
Magic Online is not a perfect program and problems sometimes arise. These problems can range from a bad experience, totally wrecked event and bad handling of the situation to thinking that something works like this while it doesn't work like that according the rules (example paying a Convoke cost allowed us to tap and sacrifice Eldrazi Scions/Spawns to pay for the cost which is not actually possible.)

Each Magic Online player started playing online for a reason. The points above already talk about some of them. My reason was specific but generally translates into 'I want to play Magic'. I started playing Magic ages ago when Magic Online didn't exist but I had some experience with it since I used to play some limited on it. I was a 'paper Magic player' though during all that time and I played online when I couldn't play in real life. Things changed though, I couldn't stand the community and I stopped playing paper. Slowly I switched to online play. In this article I'd like to talk about what I had to overcome when switching to online as an experienced Magic player and what I also learned from playing on Magic Online. I will talk about switching from paper to online in my first article and in the second one I'll talk about what I learned when playing on Magic Online. Before I begin with my first article, I'll tell you why this topic came up.

I wrote a status on a social network asking people what should I write about in my next article. One of the fellow Magic players asked me to write about the differences of playing in an online or paper event. This is a bit too narrow as a topic because it mostly comes down to the experience the player in question has with Magic Online client and playing with physical cards. Depending on that experience it can differ vastly nor not at all. Which led me to realize that there is actually quite a long learning process involved.

When talking about the differences of playing online and in real life one of the things that comes up often is that 'Magic Online makes players worse when playing in real life event' and that 'Magic Online makes players better at playing Magic'. I certainly agree with the latter, the prior statement is something I'm unsure of. In my case, I'd say it made me a better player in paper as well (second article). There are certainly things that can become obstacles when switching to playing with physical cards though. I talked about this matter with several players and many thought the same at first - Magic Online makes us worse at playing paper Magic. I asked why? What are the problems you encounter during a paper event? Most players in the end agreed that Magic Online doesn't teach them to play in real life, handling cards, keeping track of information, keeping the game state as it should etc. All these things overwhelm many players and they become distracted which can lead to misplays due to the players being tired and concentrating more on something that is new for them. The very same can be said about paper players trying to play on Magic Online though. It is not easy to just sit down, open Magic Online and enter an event without prior experience with the client. It can lead to many misplays or rather misclicks in this case. Let me tell you what problems I had to overcome.

1. First we need to learn and get used to it

When you enter a match on a freshly installed client it will show you the default hotkeys. They used to be different and that is why you may see people using F2 (1), F6 (6), F3 (5) etc. and understand each other. Those were the defaults in the past.

I do not remember much how my very first games looked like - it was ages ago. All I remember was a horrific experience that I did not want to go through again. If I were to play an event without having prior experience with Magic Online, I'd probably terribly lose. So the very first thing to do is to get used to it. Whenever I played online I had to concentrate way too much on what I was doing. I wondered if playing regularly would solve the problem. It did but it took quite a long time - longer than I expected. I knew that when I started grinding that I should be very wary about how many events I'd play in. At first I was able not to misclick for 3 hours and then I was prone to misclicking pretty much anytime and it was better to just stop playing then lose money (and nerves). It took weeks to actually get used to everything and teach my brain when to actually hit F2, F4, F6 or F3 (and when not) and how to setup auto-yields for abilities. I also had to figure out where to set my stops in order not to totally mess up (including setting stops temporarily) and figure out how fast or slow I can play in order to finish games in time. This is something all the players will have to go through first. All this is the same as learning how to shuffle your deck, draw a card in draw step, untap your permanents in untap step, tap your creature when you attack with them etc (with one exception, it will cost you games on Magic Online). If you don't remember how you started playing Magic just watch a new player play Magic. You'll see that they actually struggle with all these things.


Another problem I had with playing online which may not apply to everyone was that I had a very hard time seeing the actual game state. Even though everything was on the screen in front of me for some reason my brain just sometimes decided to omit something. I simply didn't see it. When I play paper Magic I lay out the cards in a very specific way. I have library on the left, graveyard just under it. Next to the library I put all noncreature permanents followed by creatures. In the row under that I put mana sources - moxen, lands etc. If I were to put the cards elsewhere I'd forget about them (for example if you would force me to have library by my right hand, I'd forget to draw each turn). Magic Online though puts noncreature permanents next to the lands to the right in the order you play the cards. It is a mess!

If you switch from paper to Magic Online you will need to discover how the interface works and then learn how to play fast enough not to time out. Even if you know what you want to do, clicking through everything takes time. Some people are fast right from the beginning but some players use up most of their timers. Each of us will operate Magic Online differently and it is up to you to figure out what's best for you. I don't use mouse much and mostly use just keyboard shortcuts (check those out). This way I can play fast but others are faster by just using the mouse.


There are exceptions to the behavior of Magic Online - it doesn't do something how we would expect it to do. We need to discover those and get used to them. For example when I played with Temur Energy I managed to 'Attack with All' several times and thus managing not to Exert my Glorybringer. Things like this can result in a game lost and that is something we want to avoid. Even though Exert worked like this right from the beginning there is nothing to tell us how it works. Those that are used not using the 'Attack with All' command found out that it let's them choose whether to Exert or not. Those using 'Attack with All' most probably learned about this the hard way - we attacked and we weren't prompted to choose whether to Exert or not.

Next, find out for how long you can stay focused and take breaks when you feel you start messing up. The Magic Online interface will be something new and it takes a while to get used to it. If you find out that you play badly at first it may have nothing to do with your ability to play Magic. It can simply be caused by you being overwhelmed by the interface. This is something you may not even realize at first. I certainly didn't. One of the things that can also cause this is that simply you play more Magic than you are used to and you just don't realize it either. Since Leagues came to Magic Online we have the possibility to play one match after the other without any kind of downtime. This way we can finish a 5-round League in two hours. In 4 hours we can finish 10 matches. How do you look like after playing a 9-round paper event? Can you concentrate well? Those 10 matches condensed in 4 hours can be the reason why your concentration wears off.

2. Knowing what cards do

My very first match with Lands on Magic Online was in an event and I messed up sacrificing my Dark Depths. I should have played a game or two in solitaire mode first to find out what Magic Online actually prompts me to do.

I learned the hard way that being familiar with a deck in paper does not necessarily mean I'll be able to play it on Magic Online. There are several reasons for it. One is simply the fact that Magic Online asks us to do something. For example if we have Blood Artist in play and a creature dies we have to target a player. How many of you has ever told your opponent that the target is them? This is something that probably won't surprise anyone and doesn't give room for misclicks but let me give you another example. The very first time I played with Jace, the Mind Sculptor I messed the fate seal ability several times. I kept my opponent's Vampire Hexmage on top of his library when my Jace was about to go ultimate. Why did that happen? Whenever I fate sealed with Jace in paper the question often asked was 'Should I keep it on top?' and the answer was 'Yes' mostly. When I fate sealed and saw the Hexmage my immediate answer was 'No' and that is what I clicked without reading what was actually written on Jace 'Look at the top card of target player's library. You may put the card on the bottom of that player's library'. I didn't read the dialog either. Clicking 'No' thus meant the card stayed on top of the library and I lost the game. When I played Lands.dec for the first time on Magic Online I also made a total fool out of myself. In paper when I explain how Thespian's Stage and Dark Depths combo work I usually say something like this: 'I will make a copy of my Dark Depths with Thespian's Stage, due to the land being Legendary I'll have to sacrifice one. I'll sacrifice my [original] Dark Depths which will result in Thespian's Stage now being Dark Depths with zero counters on it because it did not come into play, triggering the 'if it has zero counters' effect.' So based on what I usually tell people I decided to click on Dark Depths. Unfortunately that's not how it works on Magic Online because you are actually choosing which Legendary permanent you want to keep (in this case Thespian's Stage). So I was left with Dark Depths with 10 counters on it and an opponent typing me some not so nice messages (and I lost the match).


How do I make my chosen exiled cards clickable so I can cast them?

Sometimes even if we know what the card exactly does something can surprise us. Once I decided to enter an event with UW Control. I messed up during my first two rounds because I couldn't figure out how to click through Jace, Architect of Thought's ultimate ability. It showed "Click any spell to cast it; click Cancel when done". I couldn't click on the spells I chose though and I didn't feel like pressing Cancel in order not to mess up even more. I pondered about what to do so long that I eventually timed out. I asked ORCs about this and my opponent but I didn't get an answer from either of them. In round 3 I finally decided to do something I didn't before. I right clicked Jace's ability and yielded to the trigger. Then it showed me the spells I could cast. I clicked on them, they put themselves on stack and after I hit cancel the spells resolved. While this may be an extreme case, there are many cards that may surprise you with their dialog. When I first cast Apostle's Blessing my creature gained Protection from Artifacts because that's what it asked about, it didn't ask me whether I wanted it to gain a protection from a color. When I cast my second Apostle's Blessing I clicked 'No' when it asked about Protection from Artifacts and then I was asked to choose a color. These are things that can cost you games and it is good to play few solitaire games before entering an event even if you know your deck, you may be surprised what the client will want from you.

At first read everything and learn what the client asks you to do and learn what cards exactly do. We all know what Jace, the Mind Sculptor does but how many of us is capable of saying exactly what the card says and asks the right question? I would advise playing a solitaire game also to figure out what triggers you want to yield to. One of the best examples is Sylvan Library which can eat a lot of time if you are not used to it.

3. Passing priority, no shortcuts
This is something that seems very obvious because the game doesn't let us do something out of sequencing order. In paper though there are certain things I learned to just announce and not actually do. For example, in one deciding game I forgot to use the ability of Hangarback Walker before casting Wrath of God. While my plan was to create three Thopter tokens, it didn't happen. In paper, I do not tap my Hangarback Walker to put a counter on it when it is targeted with a removal spell, I just announce it and that is the reason why I managed to mess this particular situation several times on Magic Online. In all those cases that 1 counter lost me the match.

Since we are forced to pass priority almost every time Magic Online players get used to thinking or stopping at times that are odd in table-top Magic. One of the things that was pretty common on Magic Online was crewing Vehicles at the beginning of combat. While this is something that is totally legal it was sometimes a bit odd (unless we have Toolcraft Exemplar around) in paper. That is because we have a shortcut for passing to combat which skips the beginning of combat step. While there may have not been any intent to cheat, some players could have run into problems when trying to crew a Vehicle after combat was announced.

Similarly when we forget to do something before we play another card (for example pinging with Lightning-Rig Crew), on Magic Online we usually have the window to actually still do it. Our card goes to the stack, our opponent gets priority and we get it back. At that moment we can still use the ability of Lightning-Rig Crew and get the card untapped after our Pirate comes into play. In paper this kind of a situation is most probably going to result in a judge call.

Using shortcuts in paper is something that allows us to proceed faster in the game. It can unfortunately also create problems when we somehow disagree on reality. Magic Online players are used to going through every single priority pass and there is nothing like a disagreement on reality. If we see a spell or ability on the stack we can still respond to it. This is so normal that we often use the time to think about what we want to do in the game. In paper when something is on the stack and we don't immediately respond we may not get the opportunity to actually do something (depending on our opponent) unless we stop the opponent while he's resolving the spell or ability.

One more important thing to note is this. When you want to do something during a step or a phase you don't have a stop, you will have to create a stop there (you need to unlock the stops bar first and then click on where you want to make the stop).

4. There's nothing like taking actions back, misclicks
Some players starting to play online will have to learn that there is nothing like taking something back. At non-competitive events this is something that happens commonly. A player makes a play and suddenly realizes that it wasn't the best idea and asks if they can take it back and often they are allowed to do so. For example what I see very commonly is that someone plays Brainstorm, puts two cards back and then decides that either the order was wrong or that they actually wanted to put different cards on top (it was often the case with Sensei's Divining Top). On Magic Online when you make a play or pass a priority it simply happens. There is no way to go back. If you click on two cards to put on top of your library they will simply go there.

Some of those things that we would like to take back are misclicks. They happen. At first they may happen more often. Even after years of playing, a misclick can happen. One of my misclicks that hurt the most was in a game of Vintage. I played in a Power 9 Challenge. It was my win and in round. We played the deciding game and I was running out of time. All I needed was to flip my Delver of Secrets and deal the remaining 3 damage. I had roughly 1 minute to do so. I had 7 cards in my library and my only card in hand was Dig Through Time (note that casting Dig Through Time was time consuming action because it required the player to put the cards card by card on the bottom, my client lagged and it usually took about 40 seconds to resolve the spell. I still needed to flip Delver and attack - 10 seconds). I knew that my library contained 6 lands and Ancestral Recall. I played Dig Through Time clicking on 2 lands and then I stared at the remaining five cards I had to put on the bottom of my library. All I had to do was to make sure Ancestral Recall was the last card. After I clicked on my 5 lands I suddenly misclicked. I put it second from top and I lost the game to time. I came up 10th, winning nothing, because of one silly misclick. This is something that would have not happened in real life and I was out of my mind. The good thing about this was that my misclick happened in the last round. If I were to play other rounds I'd be playing very upset and most probably I wouldn't be able to play well.

Many of us learned to cope with our own mistakes. When it comes to Magic Online screwing up our game, being it a bug or misclick, we usually feel differently. Knowing that what happened wouldn't have happened in paper Magic makes it worse. For example imagine naming a creature type for Cavern of Souls or Unclaimed Territory and misclicking. How in the world could that happen in real life? This is one of the things we need to learn to deal with.

Oops happened...


When we start playing on Magic Online we need to realize that what we do is the final decision. We also have to learn that any mistake we do simply happens and there is no way of taking it back. This can put players on tilt and we have to learn how to deal with that. It does not need to be bad decision that sends us on tilt, it can be a mistake that resulted from our inexperience with how certain cards work on Magic Online or simply a misclick or unfortunate pass of priority at the wrong time. Learn to stay calm at all times (at least most of the time).

5. Timer
For some the timer is an enemy, for some it is a friend. Sometimes a game can take a long time and we find ourselves in a situation in which we need to speed up our play. Under normal circumstances what you should keep in mind is simply having more time than your opponent. For those that are not aware of this, when your timer runs out, you lose the match.

We will from time to time get to a situation when it is us running out of time no matter who or what is at fault. At that time we should actually start playing faster, meaning that we click as fast as we can. This actually requires a good familiarity with the interface. A new player is likely to mess up trying to speed up things. Experienced player though won't have much difficulties with playing at higher speed than normal. Running out of time may also require us to do something else completely. Something that doesn't happen in paper events. If there are only certain things we need to do in order to win the game, it's often correct to focus just on those. For example, if you have several Planeswalkers in play and it would be the right play to use their abilities but all you need to do is attack several times, the right thing to do is actually just attack. For example Jace, the Mind Sculptor's Brainstorm ability takes a lot of time for my client and I know that when I have 30 seconds on my timer I can attack several times before timing out but I'd be able to resolve only one Brainstorm ability. It's better to try to actually win the game in time.

I had to take the risk and try to win the game in the fastest possible way meaning I couldn't afford casting any spell.

If you look at the screenshot above this is one of the matches I was running out of time (due to Magic Online crashing, not me playing slowly). I kept a good hand but I had 4 minutes on my timer. I tried to be as fast as possible and tried to avoid Balance or Monastery Mentor. My opponent got enough loyalty counters on Narset Transcendent to go ultimate. I could play Gush to find a Lightning Bolt that would mean I'd win the game next turn (but it wasn't likely) and I could also bounce the Planeswalker which would not allow me to play noncreature spells for the rest of the game. I decided not to do either because it would require at least a half minute if my opponent wouldn't respond to any of my spells. I also knew that the emblem may not be relevant because due to me being low on time I just couldn't cast them anyway. For that reason I also ignored Dack Fayden because I simply didn't have the time for it and it wouldn't bring me anything relevant. I was lucky to win this game but if I chose to play the normal way I'd time out.

25 minutes may seem not much to some but believe me, games can be finished in 3 minutes. I finished many matches winning with just few seconds on my timer. If you have 3 minutes to finish your game 3 it can be enough, just play accordingly. Devise the fastest route to victory even if it is risky. You have nothing to lose since the other outcome is always a loss. In the screenshot below I had to finish a game in two minutes and I didn't have time to wait for my opponent to either block with Delver or attack with it so I could block it. No time for Cryptic Command or Brainstorming. So I just went all in on aggro plan even though I was on Blue-White Control and my opponent was on Delver.

Winning a game with a UW Control takes time and I had 2 minutes when the last game started. That meant that I had to try to be the beatdown and win fast.

6. Not living in America

These times seemed really impossible for me. Fortunately we have Leagues now and we can play whenever we want.

When I was participating in paper events I usually played local events during the evening or premier events starting in the morning. When I started playing on Magic Online the events I were interested in were taking place at odd times for people living outside of America. I could draft whenever I wanted but when it came down to constructed I wanted to participate in Daily Events that were starting at 9pm and 3am. At first I didn't care much about these times because I was unemployed and I could simply sleep during the day and play Magic during the night. Premier events I wanted to play in usually started in early evening and ended in the early morning the next day.


I was relatively confident with my ability to play Magic online. I knew that I had the chances to place well. Note that for many players starting to play on Magic Online can be very difficult. The competition on Magic Online is said to be way higher than the average local game store one and I can imagine that clearly. At our LGSs though you have to be prepared to play competitive Magic. When foreigners come to play in our events they get crushed (and usually just stop coming there). I knew I didn't need to care about the competition on Magic Online because I could keep up, but there was a different thing I didn't realize would affect my play. The said events starting at evening and finishing in the morning were a problem because I wasn't used to playing at that time of day.

When the clock hit 1am I suddenly became very distracted and sleepy no matter how awake I was, no matter if I drank a coffee beforehand or if I got up at 8pm or 8am that day. I often started X-0 but then everything went awry because I simply couldn't concentrate. When playing at 3 am I just realized that the cards in front of me don't make sense. I produced several totally obvious misplays resulting in me losing my matches. The next day I usually watched replays of my games and I have to say that sometimes I just wanted to cry. For example in one of my important matches I didn't cast Lightning Bolt to kill my opponent who then thanks to my awesome 'misplay' won the Power Nine Challenge. When I watched the replay I knew that casting the Lightning Bolt was the right choice. In another match I chump blocked with Foundry Inspector when I needed to cast Wurmcoil Engine from my hand as fast as possible. That's also why I brought those Wurmcoil Engines in! I would have survived one turn (was still dying to Walking Ballista) and I knew I simply had to take the risk. I had only Mishra's Workshop in play and I needed to draw Black Lotus or another Workshop without that Inspector in play. The probability of drawing the previously mentioned cards and a sol land, a Mana Crypt or something else though was way higher. I drew a sol land, swore, passed the turn and died to my opponent's Wurmcoil Engine while I was still clutching mine in hand. I lost the match and that is how another top8 ended for me.

It took months for me to get used to playing during the night. Now I can recognize when my concentration is getting distracted and I take more caution when using Magic Online. Normally I have my fingers on the function keys and automatically press them as needed. When I get tired though I start messing that up. For example when I need to safe time and I don't want to bother with Tangle Wires I press F6 and I press F3 when my opponent enters their main phase because it is faster than setting the auto-yields even once (the problem is that I want to actually respond to them on my turn but not on my opponent's turn). When I'm tired though I'm capable of missing main phase and that is also how I managed to lose once in the semifinals. 'I can still win the last game' was my thought. I mulled to five and kept a good hand against a mirror match. Then I managed to play Hangarback Walker for 0 because I put mana in my mana pool but didn't click on it and pressed F2. I lost and literally cried. After this experience I keep my hand off the keyboard when I'm tired and try to press the keys when I know that I want to actually press them. I avoid F6 unless really needed and I take my time to go through each priority pass (I still misclick).

Now I have a daily job and during the first year I still participated in some of the events I wanted to play in overnight. I realized though that I can't do this. After one event like this the whole week that follows I'm very tired and exhausted. I can't concentrate on my work and I can't even play Magic in the evening after I get back home from work. It was a very sad revelation. Unfortunately I also learned that I'm no longer able to play an event that starts in the morning be it a Magic Online event or real life one.

Being able to play 24/7 on Magic Online is a good thing but there is a catch. PPTQs, PTQ Finals and other premier events take place at a specific time that is aimed at American audience. For players in Europe the times are not so bad. Players in Asia with daily job can't practically join the events. For me I learned that even the 'not so bad' start times have their consequences on my body. Before switching to Online see if you can play in the kind of events you want to play.

I talked about several things I needed to deal with when I started playing on Magic Online. If players want to play on Magic Online they usually find information about how much a deck costs and how much entry fees cost, when events start etc. Many players don't even try to use the client prior that (there is a free trial). Some players give up very soon because playing on Magic Online is too difficult or too alien for them. There are things many players do not want to talk about. Often the reason is because their experience with these wasn't the best one. Many people complain about misclicks, about timing out, bugs, Magic Online not being totally clear, bad interface etc. While there is a lot of truth in many of those complaints, many players should also self-reflect a bit because a lot of these things that caused us to lose a game were a human error. Playing on Magic Online is not easy, it requires time to get accustomed to the environment. When you get used to it do, you won't face these problems anymore and you will be able to enjoy Magic the same way you enjoy it when playing in real life. If you want to become better at playing Magic I can only recommend playing on Magic Online. I'll talk about how it made me a better player in my following article.

Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on Magic Online, you can follow me on Twitter @stsungjp)


This a thorough and by Paul Leicht at Tue, 02/27/2018 - 17:04
Paul Leicht's picture

This a thorough and educational piece. Nicely done!

re by Hearts at Wed, 02/28/2018 - 06:23
Hearts's picture

They shut down the wotc-web customer forums partly because of criticism about the mtgo shuffler. I too think the shuffler is/was broken.

Yeah pretty sure the shuffler by CheshirePlaysGames at Thu, 03/01/2018 - 03:11
CheshirePlaysGames's picture

Yeah pretty sure the shuffler is terrible. Every draft I have done this week, I got smashed by one or less lands, mulling to four...

This is, I think, the first by JXClaytor at Thu, 03/01/2018 - 12:05
JXClaytor's picture

This is, I think, the first thing Hearts has ever posted that I even kinda agree with.

I played constructed this by Cauchy at Fri, 03/02/2018 - 00:36
Cauchy's picture

I played constructed this week and the shuffler was exactly as random as expected. So pretty sure it works....

We all know that the shuffler has been tested multiple times and that it is random. The terrible shuffles are part of that randomness. It is a cognitive bias to focus on the number of times that you got too few lands.

Also, the forums was not shut down because people complained about the shuffler. It was shut down because of too few users.

So which part of the statement is it that you even kinda agree with?

You have some archive of some by Paul Leicht at Fri, 03/02/2018 - 01:57
Paul Leicht's picture

You have some archive of some notification that speaks about number of users? As I recall there never was a satisfactory answer given. I assumed it was the largely negative feedback from mtg and D&DNext (at the time now known as 5th ed). I know A LOT of people who had active accounts on the forums and the only reason more weren't posting was that WOTC staff stopped responding to criticism and suggestions, only posting when it was the most self-serving.

Obviously the shuffler thread was a famous thread that had no bearing on them shutting down the forums but Hearts needed some way to get his dig in and that worked.

Active accounts which are not by Cauchy at Fri, 03/02/2018 - 03:48
Cauchy's picture

Active accounts which are not posting? Sounds like a contradiction.

Here is the official announcement. There are no numbers but the argumentation is very clear that most "active" users are elsewhere:

I did not follow the mtg or DDNEXT forums. But I doubt that they discussed the shuffler much in those forums.

The community site was more by stsung at Fri, 03/02/2018 - 04:11
stsung's picture

The community site was more or less dead right from the beginning. Very few people were using it and that was clear if you just browsed even the most active forums. I think that the number of users was actually quite large because it required a wizards account. So practically anyone having that account would be community site user which doesn't give any info about whether that user even logged in once...

There wasn't much of any kind of feedback from the players. They just weren't there. It was easier to find a respective group on Facebook. WotC tried to make the communities in different countries use it and that completely failed. The support forums was full of locked threads and no good answers. The community site provided many features that were actually good if people used them, but the site was very slow and there wasn't a reason to switch from already created communities elsewhere. (I was very active on the community site and was sad that it is not used by others much...)

As for the shuffler I have the impression that the shuffler is a bit strange when you create a new deck or draft... opposed to a deck you already play for quite a while. I do not see any problem with it though. One of the things I learned is that if a deck survives Magic Online's shuffler you are good for paper play where the shuffling is often not that random usually. MODO does have a problem with handling the top cards of library though. I'm certain of this can't figure out how many scenarios there are...with 4 different cards I got three different outcomes when I was trying that. Many cards having the same effect use a temporary zone or the library to do something with the top card which often results in something not happening and cards being bugged (if the top card of library is involved)

a) Many more people than the by Paul Leicht at Fri, 03/02/2018 - 07:10
Paul Leicht's picture

a) Many more people than the few regulars who posted in the MTGO subforums were involved in the wizards forums. That sub forum area was indeed dead by the time you encountered it. Most of us had given up because WOTC staff had very little to say other than corp speak. Not much has changed there in recent times. Words like "monolithic" and "draconian" come to mind which is the exact opposite of how I think of the WOTC staff members I know of. Individually they all seem quite integral and full of positivity. Something weird happens behind closed doors, however.


b) The shuffler is not broken. per se. Famously. (Which is why the claim by H is so hillariously off target.) The engine may be.

I agree with you about the new decks situation but there is no proof to support our shared supposition that the shuffler does not start every deck fully shuffled. Large changes seem to also create this new deck state. "Seem" because there is no proof only what we have experienced.

And we also know about the top of deck problems like with cards that scry. We discussed this a while ago about how the "library" behaves when the player interacts with its top.