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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jul 24 2009 11:17am
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Ten Reasons Why MTGO is Better than Real Life Magic 

In the past week or so, I have run a paper prerelease, a draft, a 2HG casual tourney and played in two constructed tournaments with over two dozen players in each.  I won both of the constructed events, which makes me quite happy about paper.  I have also played online, but haven't won anything there, beyond individual duels.  I'm a bit paper biased, at the moment, although getting $350 worth of cards online isn't bad!   


Note: this is part two of a two part series. Part one, “Ten Reasons Why MTGO is Better than Real Life Magic” appears on another website, one dedicated to paper Magic. You can read that for the flip side, but this one is all about MTGO, so let's begin.


10)  No Travel Required


My tenth reason why paper Magic was better that MTGO was the travel.  I talked about the memorable roadtrips, exotic venues and cool experiences.  Yes, they happen.  On the other hand, most Magical travel isn't magical.  Tonight, I will be running a draft and a casual event.  I will probably be playing lots of Standard.  However, once the store closes, I will have a 25 minute drive home, alone, over roads I have driven thousands of times.  I will be tired, and bored, and trying not to hit a deer or fall asleep.  That sort of travel is nothing special.  I don't have to travel to play online.  It is really, really nice to be able to finish an online event and just walk upstairs to go to bed.  


9) Carrying Decks  Around


I like to play a variety of formats, including multiplayer, with favorite decks.  Right now, I have a couple dozen decks built, including several EDH decks.  I carry them around in a gym bag, along with counters, a playmat, pens, paper, dice, etc.  The bag is not particularly heavy, but it is not light.  I also have to keep track of the bag, and of my laptop when I am running tournaments on it at the same time.  It is not a huge problem, but it is inconvenient.  In areas with a greater theft problem, it requires more effort to keep track of your cards.  That effort is not expended in playing Magic.


On MTGO, all my decks are available anytime.  Even when I travel, I can always copy my decks from my desktop onto a memory stick, and then on top my laptop. They don't weigh anything at all.


8) Buying Cards


The other day, I needed a copy of Freed from the Real for a (Zur, the Enchanter) deck.  I didn't have any.  It took me under two minutes to click on MTGOTradersbot, click trade, buy the card and add it to my deck.  In the paper world, the odds of a local dealer or store having that uncommon in stock are slim, meaning that I would probably have had to order the card online.  That means placing the order, then either paying a lot for fast shipping or waiting a week or so for the card to arrive.  Even if it was a chase card, like Bloodbraid Elf, something that my local dealers would have in stock, it would still take an hour-long drive (round trip), plus some time to make the purchase, and that is only if the store was open at that time.


People may whine about bots for a variety of reasons, but between the online store and the major bots, getting cards for MTGO is really easy.  So, for that matter, is selling chase cards.  (Selling a big pile of crap commons, OTOH, is easier in paper.)


7)  The Shuffler


Seriously, the shuffler. 


First of all, I do not believe that the shuffler is flawed, or that it does not truly randomize the deck.  It does.  I think that the fact that it works is exactly why so many new MTGO players complain about mana screw.  A lot of those players mana weave* their paper decks, or check "to see if their lands are stacked" or take no land mulligans.  Yes, mana weaving is illegal, and can get you DQed in paper games, but a ton of casual players don't know that.  They learned mana weaving when they learned the game, and mana weaving does make sure you draw more lands.  However, if you learned, for example, that decks should be 20 land, 20 spells and 20 creatures, and that you mana weave, getting a fair shuffle will often leave you mana screwed.  That's not the shuffler's fault.  The correct minimum is 24 lands, unless you are playing an exceptionally low-costed deck, or something bizarre like two-land Belcher, or manaless Ichorid.


* Mana weaving is the process of dividing your land and spells into two separate, face down piles, shuffling them separately, then pulling two non-land, one land cards until both piles are empty.  The result in a consistent pattern of land every third card.  You will draw more land this way.


The reason I list the shuffler as reason seven is what the shuffler does.  It shuffles your deck at the click of a mouse-button, painlessly.  I have played a ton of paper Magic and I have spent probably hundreds of hours shuffling decks.  I used to play a lot of 5color, and shuffling a 250 card deck is work.  Thoroughly shuffling something like that takes 3-5 minutes, and 5color has special rules about how to "fake" shuffles after you tutor, etc.  (The most common is to just take the searched part of your deck and put it on the bottom.)  


In paper Magic, I know what constitutes a legal shuffle, and have had to warn and penalize people for insufficient randomization.  Online, randomization just happens automatically.


6)  Casual Formats


I love the fact that online Magic has made possible a lot of casual formats.  I can now play Pauper, Rainbow Stairwell, Prismatic, 100 Card Singleton, Commander, Emperor, K-Scope, Pauper Prismatic Singleton and a number of other formats. More importantly, I can generally find opponents in those formats.  In the paper world, I can often find a store with players that play some casual formats, but generally any given store plays a very limited number of  casual formats.  Around Madison, the local store with the most causal gamers generally has one favorite format.  For a while, that was 5color.  Right now, EDH is the most common, although a fair amount of Vintage and Legacy is being played.  However, while it is easy to get an EDH game, it is pretty much impossible to get a pauper game, or something like Rainbow Stairwell Highlander.


Online play has a lot more formats to choose from.  The program also enforces the list of allowed cards, at least for the supported formats.  That is a big help -if I ask for a Pauper game, I will face a Pauper-legal deck.  In the paper world, that's not always the case.  Last week, one player in a 2HG tourney had forgeries*, and another had Unglued cards.  That's not a problem online.      


* not deliberate - he just didn't know.  He also had collectors' edition and other cards that are not actually legal in sanctioned play, but this was a casual event.


Some formats exist only online.  The most extreme example of this is probably (Momir Vig).  The concept of playing a deck which creates a random creature every turn is fun - and almost impossible in real life.  I have seen people try to play Momir Vig in real life, but they have either had to have a computer running all the time, to randomly choose creatures, or they have created a giant list of available creatures.  Even when the players do use a computer or preprinted tables to generate creatures, those players do not see the cards in front of them - they use blank tokens or proxies.  It is not the same.


5) Bookkeeping

I'm a judge.  I spend a lot of time watching matches, and a fair amount of time trying to untangle messed up game states. On of the worst problem judges face are messes we call "failure to agree on reality."  This happens when players mis record life totals, add or subtract incorrectly, etc.  It occurs when players lose track of where they are in the turn, or are uncertain which creature is blocking which.  The worst are probably disagreements about whether a player has passed priority, or whether the player is in declare attackers or declare blockers.  

Technically, paper players are supposed to bring counters, tokens, something to records life totals and so forth.  In practice, they don't.  Some players try to keep track of life totals in their heads.  (They usually stop that when they find out that a judge will always go with any physical life total over memory in any disagreement about life totals.  Okay - not always, but it would take a strong reason to go with against the evidence.) Other use torn up bits of paper (and then they sneeze.  It happens.)

I really like the fact that MTGO takes care of all of this automatically.  It records life totals - accurately.  It adds counters, when required.  It calculates the P/T of a Tarmogoyf, and does not get it wrong.  And so on.  Very, very nice.

I am less excited about the program automatically prompting players for every trigger.  That does not happen in the real world, and having the game remind players does seem to make online players more likely to miss triggers in the paper world.  Still, I can't really complain.  Having the triggers create pop-ups does mean that playing online is a bit easier than in paper.  I can play online when I am sleepy, and unless I sleep through part of the draft, I don't have problems with forgetting triggers. 

4) Four Copies Is Enough

This one is huge - I can have any number of online decks containing a playset of Tundras, for example, even if I only own four.  That is amazing.  I love it.  

Right now, I have my copies of Force of Will in a variety of paper decks.  I have copies in several EDH decks, and four in the Fish deck I played last weekend, and four in my High Tide deck.  I also have a couple proxied FoW in some decks I am playtesting.  I have a dozen copies of certain individual original dual lands, and they are all in decks. Building a new deck, especially for a tournament, often means finding the decks that currently have the cards, taking them out of those decks and adding them to the new deck.  

It is a very simple concept, but the ability to use the same playset in any number of decks at the same time is huge.

3)  Getting the Rules Right

I am a highly experienced judge.  I actually enjoy answering rules questions - and I get a lot of them when I am playing casually, or running paper tournaments.  I don't mind teaching players the game.  I go out of my way to do so.  However, there are times that I really like not having to worry about the rules.  On MTGO, I know the rules are just going to work.  Sure, a very, very small number of cards are actually bugged, but the vast, vast, vast majority of all interactions are going to be perfect, and I appreciate that.    

I have also played some of the other online alternatives - the ones that do not include a rules engine.  People playing those games don't know the rules any better than paper players - in fact, many seem to have even less knowledge of how the game actually works.  They, are, however, far more likely to be rude and insulting if you try to call them on a rules error.  A very few examples like this:

  • Me -  "You can't sacrifice Viridian Zealot without a target for the ability."

  • Opponent - "Lern the rules, you f**king nOOb."  <disconnect>

have pretty much turned me off those other programs.

2) The Deckbuilder

At times, I swear at the deckbuilder.  I want it to do certain things, or do them differently.  Then I build a deck in real life, and I stop complaining about MTGO's deckbuilder. 

Earlier this week, I built a paper deck for a store Legacy tournament.  Here's the deck.

Basic Blue Merfolk
Winning Deck - Paper Legacy Tournament at Misty Mountain
4 Cursecatcher
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 (Merrow Reejery)
3 Merfolk Sovereign
4 Silvergill Adept
19 cards

Other Spells
4 Aether Vial
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
1 Cryptic Command
4 Standstill
3 Stifle
20 cards
3 Wasteland
4 Mutavault
14 Island
21 cards

Aether Vial

Note that I am not running fecthlands in the deck.  I didn't want to take time finding them.  That time is non-trivial in the paper world.

Assembling this deck in real life took well over an hour - and that was after I had written out the complete decklist.  I drafted the decklist during the boring parts of a meeting at work, so I had the 75 cards already chosen.  The hour was simply finding the cards.

Finding cards is not all that hard.  Ingrid and I have been playing, and collecting, cards for a long time.  We keep our cards sorted, by set, then color, then alphabetically, in boxes.  We have a lot of 5,000 count card boxes, all full of cards.  

Getting this deck together meant that I had to find each card, individually, in those boxes.  The Cursecatchers were Lorwyn cards - meaning that I had to find the Lorwyn/Morningtide box, find blue, find the Cursecatcher part of the alphabet, then pull out four.  Then I had to do the same for each copy of each card.  For some cards, like Stifle, I actually went to the computer and looked up the card in my MTGO collection - that was the fastest way to find out what set it was from.  (It's from Scourge, BTW)  I also had to find the deck with the Force of Wills and Mutavaults, and pull them out of those decks. 

Assembling the deck meant pulling out and digging through the boxes for Lorwyn, Tempest (Wasteland), Mirage (Counterspell), Lorwyn block, Shards block, M10, Darksteel, Scourge, Odyssey, Ice Ages, the base set  (Blue Elemental Blast - some of the Hydroblasts were actually BEBs. but BEB does not autocard), Kamigawa block - and probably some more, but enough.  You get the point.

Online, I can just type Stifle into the deck editor, hit enter and, provided I didn't spell it "Stilfe", I can get the three copies of the card into the deck in about 10 seconds.  That's amazing.  It is fast, and simple, and it works.  I would love to have something like that for paper cards.  I would pay to have something like that for paper cards.  (Okay, I guess I could simply hire someone to sort my cards, and pull cards on command, but I can't afford that.)  The MTGO deck editor, OTOH, comes free with the program.

The MTGO deck editor also allows you to filter cards.  Want to see only green sorceries?  Right click on the green button, and the sorceries button.  Want to see only Standard-legal cards? You can filter for that, and it will find not only the currently standard legal sets, but also any copies of standard-legal cards in other sets.  Same with K-scope (you know, I really need to learn to spell that out), Prismatic, Pauper, etc.  Very, very nice.

The deck editor also does a good job of deck verification.  This was a huge help when I was building Prismatic decks.  I didn't have to manually count 20 white cards, 20 red cards, etc.  I could just check legality in the verification screen.  It would say "legal" or "illegal deck - 18 black cards" and so forth.  It also does a decent job of deriving a bunch of stats, including some good mana analysis.  True, in a mono-blue deck, mana breakdowns are not very exciting, but curve analysis is.  It is one reason that I felt that 21 lands was enough for the maindeck, but wanted another land in the sideboard if I bring in the Sowers, Commands and Jittes - all of which cost four to be effective.  For the paper deck, I did the calculations in my head an on paper, but MTGO will do it for your.

Deckbuilding online is so simple!

1) Drafting at 5am

MTGO has games available 24-7.

That sounds trite, but it is actually an amazing fact.  On MTGO, you can play any time.

Yesterday, I got up at 5am.  If I had not had to get to work, I could have drafted.  At 5am in the morning, I could have been in a draft within ten minutes or so, at the most.  By comparison, my local store is closed and locked until noon, and I am extremely unlikely to be able to find a draft during the day.  Drafts at my local stores happen Wednesday and Thursday nights (Netherwood and Pagasus, respectively) and at FNM.  That's generally it, unless one of the stores is having a major tournament and a draft happens as a side event.  That's rare.

Online, I can playtest Standard anytime, and other serious formats with minimal waiting all day long, online.  In local stores, I can playtest only on certain weeknights, at certain stores, and in just a couple formats.  Online, I can play sanctioned matches in competitive formats all the time.  Local stores sometimes have sanctioned matches, but that's partly because I can sanction my own events, but if I sanction them, I can't play in them.  

This is what has made all the effort and expense of duplicating my paper collection online worth it - I can play any time.  Well - almost any time.  I have to finish this, then drive to work, do the work, drive home, etc.  However, once I get home, I can get into an Standard event, even a mini-PE if I want.  That is so very good.

That completes my ten reasons - and I didn't even get mention sleeves or stinky players.  (Stinky players are less common than the common wisdom might indicate - I have found none in the last two weeks / six tournaments of paper play.)

See you online.


"one million words" on MTGO



agreed! by spg at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 11:31
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Totally agree with all of these points, which is why I've given up paper Magic almost completely except for a stack of theme decks and booster packs in my closet for casual games.

You missed two points that are HUGE for me:

1. Replays. I LOVE watching replays. I can open up a Classic event and be happy watching replays of every single match in the tournament. I watch replays of whatever I can find while brushing my teeth in the morning.

2. For me, the biggest reason I love Magic Online is that I can play the game while laying in bed next to my girlfriend instead of in a card store with a bunch of not-so-well-kept dudes... but that's just me =)

Minor nitpick by IvoMV (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 11:31
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4 copies are mostly enough - for example if you actually try to enter a 2nd constructed event (something I don't entirely agree with, but depends on the circumstances) you cannot submit the same cards that are still being used in the 1st constructed event. I'm just saying this because I remember this one stumping a large amount of people when we had the free to enter constructed events of v3 (and also because, IIRC, it worked differently in v2).

i completly agree with all by LOurs at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 11:49
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i completly agree with all these reasons. I will add 3 other reasons :

> To open a pack with a Juzam Djinn into : as well juzam is an example, but i am so glad to crack packs and to discover some old iconical cards into ... plus the price of many old casual cards are affordable in mtgo, although you have to pay them a huge amount of bucks irl

> Drafting old series : where could you find any Tempest draft outthere than on mtgo ? Really, it is a pleasure to me to draft old sets...

> Find opponents : if i got a computer & an internet connection, i can play mtgo everywhere without taking a heavy collection with me, and even in a desert, i can find opponents in every format i want (24-7 as you well mentioned).

I like this kind of article :)

I agree with the shuffler by Elsan (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 12:04
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I agree with the shuffler except that I've never heard of mana weaving. The shuffler just seems to suck more because it's truly random. Even shuffling for 10 minutes, it will not be truly random.

Shuffler by Cimos21 (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 12:48
Cimos21's picture

I agree that many people tend to shuffle illegally in paper magic. However, Elsan is right, even someone who shuffles legally for 20 minutes is not going to have the same completely randomness as MTGO. As a matter of fact, if you disregard cards that affect the order of your library (put on top or bottom of library, etc) the MTGO shuffler doesnt even shuffle. Every time you draw a card, it is randomly selected from the remaining cards in your deck. No shuffling involved, just randomization. I am not sure if this is good or bad. It seems to put more luck into the game than in paper. I mean, is it even possible for someone to be over 2000 rating in constructed online? There are several players above 2000 in paper.

I would love to see more emphasis or the pro tour online, but is the shuffler the main reason we may never see the whole pro tour online?

Why is nobody over 2000? by Robb (not verified) at Mon, 08/10/2009 - 15:10
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It's not the shuffler that prevents players from getting a 2000+ rating online--it's the lack of big K events. When everything is 16 mostly, occasionally at 24, it's vitually impossible to get too high online.

7) i agree though i am one of by Horrendous (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 12:55
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7) i agree though i am one of the players you are writing about. Thanks to help me understanding that problem.

Very nice article Pete, I by Lord Erman at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:17
Lord Erman's picture

Very nice article Pete, I think you covered all the important aspects of the subject which is why MTGO is better than MTG.

However I know that there are also a lot of people out there who are hardcore MTG players but never ever in their entire life truely played an online game. And I believe that those people would also have things to say about why MTG (in their opinion) is much better than MTGO.

And an important note: I agree with everything you said but I also believe that MTGO has some downsides as well. The first things I can think of are:

1- Misclicks: That happened to me a lot in the past, and is still happening. You just can't experience such a thing while playing with real cards on a real table against a real opponent.

2- Lag: This is a purely technical issue and sometimes it's getting out of hand (welcome to the online world!). There were times when I clicked "okay" and noting happened so I clicked again and ooops!... just missed my chance to attack. This is only a problem of the online community.

3- The Annoyance of Anonymity: People can hide behind a Goblin Warchief avatar and act like one! Bad sportsmanship, leaving games hanging, disconnecting just before the game ends etc...

4- The neverending debate of "What's Casual" in the Casual Room: Sometimes it's fun to watch people argue about it but I know I've been blocked by many just because I cast a Wrath of God or just played an expensive dual land in the Casual Room. Not kidding, that happened. And that can get boring after some time.

5- Scammers: It's very unlikely that you can get scammed while trading with/for real cards and just look at Mtgotraders' Scammer List and see the difference.

6- No Big Online Events: Yes that is changing but change comes slowly. All the well known pros are paper players playing with paper cards. WotC loves the paper game and therefore so do the pros. Ever heard about an Online States Championship? Does other sources such as supports online play and organize online tournaments?

These are the things I can think of right now but I'm sure there are other things as well.

Again, this was a well thought and well written article.

Thank you.


on the other hand by Paul Leicht at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:22
Paul Leicht's picture

Just for balance...
-- When you are playing paper magic if you attend a pre-release or draft people will often leave their unwanted commons on the tables. For poorer players this means catching up on 4-ofs that might actually cost you something otherwise. That might not seem like a big deal if you have many boxes of 5k cards each but for the average player it is. Neutral Ground was famous for this and as long as you checked with the people at the table that they really were done with them you could take what you wanted. A friend and I actually went through the trouble of collecting those scraps for a few months (thousands of commons and uncommons) and sent them to a new player in another country. Can't really do that online. People DO give away commons, more particular the couple of free-bots which are sponsored by stores like mtgotraders. However those 32 or 64 cards are it for the month or 3. Which leads to the 2nd thing...

-- Trading in paper magic has its hazards. You do have to watch for thieves etc but given a certain amount of vigilance (that should come naturally if you live in a big city) you will find trading both a rewarding and social event almost as much fun as actually playing. I remember turning a handful of cheap rares into a good box full of decent playable rares over the period of a day trading at a convention. That was near when I first started and had a relatively low end collection. That seems far less likely online where despite the fact that trading should be easy to initiate it takes a long time and is arduous. People have no good place to advertise without running into BOT spam.

That said for the most part I agree with your points. I sold my collection years ago and have few cards now. I still occasionally find cards hidden under things but generally speaking I have no magic cards left. I am glad to not have to heft them around to find a game, though the casualty of this my girlfriend and I no longer play mtg together. I did build a couple of proxy decks for us but that doesn't really suffice.

I miss Neutral Ground (at least the idea of it) but the truth is even while it was still open I stopped playing there years ago. MTGO is so easy and convenient and since I am often on a night time schedule I can find a game any time I feel like it, though night time waits can be a bit longer for 'Special' Formats.

I was an online only player by Urzishra (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:31
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I was an online only player for about 4 years. I decided that I never turn the program on anymore and sold all my cards. I went back to playing paper magic. I had such a hard time. I didn't want to go through sorted boxes and random piles of cards just to build decks and having to find sleeves (this is especially hard when you don't have a card store within 60 miles of you). Then I had to get a play group together (which comparatively wasn't that hard). One thing you failed to mention about MTGO was the affordability of the cards, yeah you mentioned buying cards and only needing 4 copies, but generally the actual price of cards is far lower then that of the paper world.

I would regularly spend my 100 dollars a paycheck towards MTGO in creative ways, yeah I'd draft, but I'm not consistent enough to win all the time, though I do win occasionally. But I'd really just load up a cart at Traders and build literally 5 or 6 new decks for 100 dollars. You can't do that in the paper world. I tried to build just a fun casual deck from one of my past articles here on PureMTGO that I figured would be really cheap (I probably spent 25 dollars for it on Traders) It cost me close to 100 dollars in the paper world.

You don't see random rares for 12 -50 cents in the paper world. Most are at least a dollar and even then you fill completely ripped off because you are not going to use this card in any other deck.

So along with only needing 4 of any one card (yeah in the paper world you can have your copies "travel" around but who likes to do that) it is actually more economical because the price of the cards are far lower than that of the paper world as well.

I love the article.

Other Points by smack8001 (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:45
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These are some good points, I'll add a few more:

Advantages of paper:

1. Getting out of the house and making friends. You can call your buddies to meet you at the store or have a heck of a good time travelling to a tournament. You can reconnect with old pro's you haven't seen in a while, meet new people, drink beers, etc. Sure, people at card stores and tournaments are nerds, but so are we if we're playing this. MTGO is a solitary activity that tries to emulate a social one. I've heard it said of televsion that it gives the illusion of participating in society. The same is true for MTGO. You can't really have conversations with people you're playing with, or between your games, really. Sure you can buddy list people, but sometimes you have a better chance of seeing a Wizards employee than some random buddy. I like making new friends and having conversations. I guess that's one of the reasons why I've never played in a tournament on MTGO; I'd rather go outside or read a book than be committed to the screen for hours. This isn't to bash people who do like tournaments, they're just not my c.o.t.

Wizards had a slogan for its DND ads to compete with World of Warcraft: "As long as you're sitting in your basement pretending to be an elf, you might as well have some friends over."

(Unluckily for me, the two card stores near me that used to have game tables have both gone out of business; mtg paper dealing is a difficult business model.)

Also forgot: 2. You can play by smack8001 (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:49
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Also forgot:

2. You can play other games. You don't have to just play mtg at an mtg event or venue. You can bust out your old Jyhad or Illuminati or L5R cards, or even play crazy 8's or a boardgame like Settlers. On MTGO people pretty much only talk about mtg and sometimes warcraft as a joke. If I went to a tournament for a whole day or a weekend, it might be nice to play other games in there too.

@ Friends by Zwick (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 13:55
Zwick's picture

I quit paper magic recently for a much different reason. While the travel was usually annoying (2+ hours to edison, NJ.... 45minutes to an hour to philly, and even 20-30 minutes to the "local" card shop.) it was usually the fact that the larger tournaments I wanted to go to fell on days my girlfriend was off. While it is nice to get out of the house and make "friends"... I'd much rather draft at home and help her with dinner or something.

I'm sure it gets lumped into by AverageDrafter (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 14:22
AverageDrafter's picture

I'm sure it gets lumped into Bookkeepping, but NO CHEATING. I don't think that outright cheating is as rampant in the game as it once was, but just the constant vigalance of watching your opponent detracts from the game. Not only that, but things like worrying about spectators giving tells, marked cards, slow play, and various other issues just aren't a problem in MTGO. In fact the only real issues like this are purposly exploiting a bug, and a disconnected opponent. One is rare, the other doesn't do anything but annoy.

As far as the social aspect of the game - Friends, Skype, and Team Viewer. Watch each other draft/play, chat, playtest, trash talk, borrow cards, cube draft (its a chore - but its fun), etc. Its a hell of a way to spend an evening.

Things like "never missing a trigger" is that it is somewhat conteracted by things like misclicks and pressing F2 one too many times.

Oh, and the time clock! One of the things I'm sure that 90% of the players out there wish could be part of paper Magic.

The cheating is just by one million words at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 16:18
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The cheating is just different. The biggest cheats are outside assistance and playing on other peoples accounts.

As for chess clocks - no way it is 90%. I know my reaction to any chess clock suggestions is outrage. I liked chess clocks when I played speed chess competitively, but never, ever outside of that. And I'd loce to dump chess clocks on MTGO if there was any alternative.

As for friends - it was the number one reason for playing paper in the article on SCG, and it is the main reason that I am playing paper tonight. Social interactions online are a very pale imitation.

feel blessed that you have by Urzishra (not verified) at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 02:45
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feel blessed that you have that kind of social aspect, I live in a smaller area that used to have a store and that went away probably 3 years ago now, its hard to keep going when you don't have an active place to purchase cards at and you can't really sustain growth.

The cheating on MTGO really isn't that bad. I mean really you have a fair shot still yeah you might be playing against a collective but there is still a chance for you to outwit that and come out on top. I mean there is no way every draft on MTGO is corrupted like that. (or I'd never win any) :P

Completely agree on the by silex (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 16:33
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Completely agree on the cheating thing. With MTGO, I don't have to worry about someone stacking or weaving their deck, or drawing extra cards when I'm not looking, or lands becoming mysteriously untapped, or people inserting bombs into their limited pool. "Whoa guys, 3rd sealed event in a row I got Baneslayer!" Right...

I can just focus on the game. Very relaxing and nice.

typo by speks at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 14:49
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just pointing out a typo in your 2nd paragraph:

"Note: this is part two of a two part series. Part one, “Ten Reasons Why MTGO is Better than Real Life Magic” appears on another website, one dedicated to paper Magic."

I think Part One is why real life is better than mtgo. Anyway I've read and loved both parts of your articles as I also play both MTGO and paper magic. It does get expensive having to get 8 copies of every card, 4 online and 4 in paper, but each has its advantages and disadvantages as you've so thoroughly pointed out in your 2 article series. Well written!

My experience by rukcus at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 15:14
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I used to play paper exclusively and shunned MTGO for reasons that I didn't need two identical collections plus the lack of "old" cards online. With MED1 that changed, and so did my attitude.

I now only play online and sold off a large part of my collection to help finance it. Online play provides me opportunities that I cannot achieve in paper: playing in tournaments. As I moved to college in a part that had no active or competitive Magic scene, MTGO gave me a chance to compete in tournaments and pusht he edge of my play skills. For this I like to play online.

In terms of efficiency, yes, by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 16:31
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In terms of efficiency, yes, MTGO is better. I love it. The main reason I took a couple breaks from Magic was because I didn't have anyone to play, or anywhere to pick up singles. MTGO got me back into the game.

However, I get much more satisfaction playing paper magic than MTGO. It's awesome that I can find a game 24/7 online, but I don't care as much if I win or lose. If I win, cool. If I lose, oh well, I can just find another game. Even if it's a close game, my heart doesn't race unless I'm in a tournament. When I'm playing paper magic, the games mean a little more to me.

The same comes with deck construction. It is awesome to be able to get whatever cards you want online with a couple clicks. However, there is something satisfying about slowly piecing a deck together and watching it come to completion over a few weeks.

When I first started playing 14 years ago or so, my Saturday nights would be staying up late playing Magic with my dad and cousins doing huge multiplayer games and drinking a lot of Mountain Dew (taking a break for Are You Afraid of the Dark?, obv). Unless I make some close, personal relationships on MTGO, which I find doubtful, I will never replicate (heh) that feeling online.

Actually- I like paper a by moerutora (not verified) at Fri, 07/24/2009 - 20:43
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Actually- I like paper a little more cuz of the peeps i am able to meet. A lot of them are lamers or nerdy dorks which is cool. I also like to physically own the cards. Cards are a pain to get but it is cheap also if you buy on ebay or something. At my local store- 2 min away- the peeps are much more skilled than the ones I play online in terms of casual play but in drafts Online provides much harder players to draft with. My 1st Paper draft was ACR a month ago and ive saw Farie Mechanists passed 10 and 12th picks... I snagged both cuz of fags not grabbing them. I was draftig naya with Rebirth as my bomb... haha. won 2 lost 2.
Now that ive draftd M10 4x- I think some of the less skilld players have an easier time picking the 'correct' card. I really dont like drafting M10. Its so boring and losing to such lame cards.

Good read! by Tyhr (not verified) at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 07:22
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Awesome article that seems to have spawned a nice discussion as well. For me, I'm getting more and more involved with MTGO for every month. I started just to have a place to draft (friends were interested in a draft every 8 weeks or so), but now I'm seriously looking into playing more seriously both in limited and constructed and cutting down on paper. EDH and drafting is still fun in paper though, and the friends I've made due to magic is another bonus, so I don't see myself stop playing paper. I do feel that the two work in unison to create an awesome (albeit expensive) hobby :)

Registered by Tyhr at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 07:30
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Alright. Finally got to register an account. Hi everybody!

freaks by WizNoCoast (not verified) at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 07:29
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Good article, but points 1, 2 & 3 should have been that MTGO is better, because there are too many freaks in paper. Honestly, back in the old days, when i played paper, there as one guy in our group, spookiest guy ever, one eye bigger than the other, haired almost thinned to nothing with just odd strands emerging from his bald scalp, and hanging over his face. His name was Jeffrey, why are they always called Jeffrey. Well that charming fellow was always watching me, and once reached out and touched my face while we were playing, very disturbing

and that is why mtgo is better than paper

ok... by Paul Leicht at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 08:34
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We aren't shallow at all are we? :D

Though I guess I understand the not wanting to be touched thing. If I had to break someone's hand/arm just to get some space it would get tiresome eventually. Point being personal touching is off-limits and people who don't get that are not just "Freaks". They are asking for "it".

Anyway I think the instance of finding someone physically abhorrent is a low percentage chance. Most of the time people will have minor habits that annoy but are otherwise OK to deal with. I am surprised "Jeffrey" was allowed to be so loathsome by his peers. :p

Great article - MTGO ftw by xXWarIsPeaceXx (not verified) at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 07:34
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Completely agree - the other difference, you didn't note, and possibly neither should I.... Is that a room full of Paper Magic players has a, certain, special, smell...

Why may still be the casein MTGO, but at least I don't have to suffer it, as pixels don't transport scent.

speak for yourself! by Paul Leicht at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 08:35
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My Smellovision program transmits all the olfactory scents that a room full of magic players would create. :D

not famous by Scartore at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 09:22
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for our personal hygiene...

Hey by WizNoCoast (not verified) at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 08:52
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If anyone has any evidence of me claiming not to be shallow i'd like to see it

Jeffrey is that you?

OMG... by MadSalad at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 12:44
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You played against Sloth? Was he wearing his superman t-shirt and screaming "Hey You Guys!!!!"?

family man by Anonymous (not verified) at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 17:45
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Great article that needs to go on a nonMTGO site also. MTGO has made it easy for me to play Magic and have a family life. I can jump on and play a game here or there and still spend time with my wife and daughter. Now if only leagues would come back I could get my limited MTGO action going :)

I'm way late in reading this by Bazaar of Baghdad at Sat, 07/25/2009 - 22:33
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I'm way late in reading this - but awesome analysis! One of your best articles, and hopefully in a new version somewhere you can incorporate some of the suggestions here in the forums.

one million words's picture

I'm just not going there. :)

Top 10 Resons why Paper Magic by Bobby (not verified) at Sun, 07/26/2009 - 05:20
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Top 10 Resons why Paper Magic is better than MTGO.

10 ) You get to meet people, in real life.

9 ) You own the cards in real life

8 ) At any time MTG paper can be canceled but I still own the cards, MTGO can be canceled at any time, i just lost all of the cards.

7) It's cheaper, Yeah sure MTGO i can find that card that i want at any time. But in real life i have to think about the cards i buy, becaue i have to order them for my decks. I can't think about how often I just decided to whip out the CC to purchase 4$ packs, or just purchase some card because i think it might be good, if i want to test out a card I can just use a proxy.

6) I get to leave my computer, yes sure i save money on gas but at the same time i'm atleast moving. Sitting infront of a PC for countless hours at a time can just turn into the episode of southpark "World of Warcraft"

5) FNM - Nothing is better than store credit or bragging rights to the locals about winning first. Friday nights at the shop with 60+ people all trying to win the foil, it's just fun!

4) Disconnects/Lags/Misclicks/ - Don't really need to say much more

3) Did i just get ripped off? MTGO is full of everyone trying to turn a cent into a dollar. At the shop this can happen but not as offent as mtgo. Yes MTGOTRADERS.COM does have the prices but when you do a trade and for some reason you didn't get your tix (it's happened) then you have to report it and only really hope that the person will give you the tix.

3) 24/7 is nice don't get me wrong, but spend time with the loved ones..MTGO is very addicting.

2) Wednesdays. If you look @ The main MTG website they say 24/7 but every Wednesday it's down she goes. There is an update to download only to have that update mess something up, did they fix the issue where you hit the up button and MTGO crashes?

1) I OWN THE CARDS. I said this before but nothings better than opening up the binder and just looking at the foils i own.

I started Magic last October right as ALA came out. I stoped MTGO and redeemed my sets in April right after conflux. The fact that i can sit back and chill with friends and play a game or two has proven to me that getting out and atleast putting effort into playing the real thing has surpassed everything MTGO has to offer.

with all of that being said...I'm about to jump on MTGO @ 5:19am and play in a draft....i mean yeah hipocritical, but hey it's still fun...just don't think it's better

I'd just like to say.. not by Urzishra (not verified) at Mon, 07/27/2009 - 17:29
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I'd just like to say.. not all of us have card stores within a reasonable driving distance (the closest one to me is 67.4 miles from my house)so playing any kind of competitive Magic in the paper world is basically 4 or 5 times a year at best.

Not all of us have great paper play groups. Some of us are blessed with play groups that can consistently bring in 6-8 players. I'm lucky if we get up 4.. Not nearly enough for a "real" draft, and even then, we have to rely on each other to purchase enough cards to draft with. On MTGO, I can log on and draft within a half hour and pay a reasonable amount (15 dollars isn't that much for a draft IMO)

While some of you still live at home with your parents, I have a modest apartment with barely enough room for the stuff I actually need day to day. I don't have a magic closet that I can hold thousands of magic cards in. My Paper cards pretty much live at my parents house. But it is time consuming to say the least to go through that mess and build decks out of cards. The price factors in when you see singles on vs other sites for paper cards. for example if I needed a Tarmogoyf for my extended/legacy deck I go to MTGOtraders it costs 60 dollars for a playset. That is a fair and reasonable price for one of the best creatures in the format. I go to coolstuffinc and look for the same one for the paper world it costs $160 dollars for a playset (which really is a pretty decent price for it). But it is close to 100 dollars more just for one card for the deck. Not only that, in the online world, it is perpetually organized. I know where it is always going to be. In the paper world, theft and misplacement is common, I had a paper playset of Jittes that I couldn't find for months until i found them recently. I NEVER have that problem in MTGO.

Yes, they can shut down MTGO whenever they want and I would be out a considerable investment (well, theoretically), but what if my parent's house burns down. I'm out money as well. I think that is more likely that my parent's house burns down then it is for MTGO to go offline.

I had been playing MTGO since by Anonymous (not verified) at Sun, 07/26/2009 - 09:47
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I had been playing MTGO since when Conflux came out, since I missed the game after not playing IRL. then, recently, A month ago, I discovered someone at work was playing Magic, so I whipped up a casual deck in under 45 minutes (10 mins to build and the rest of the time to actually find the cards from a shop's singles binders) so that we could play casually at work during breaks.

since then, I've bought around 20 booster packs, half from ALA block and half from M10 (Yes, M10, which I can't play yet online). I've never had luck in over 20 drafts in MTGO, with the only notable good cards I've had being 1 noble heirarch, 2 nicol bolas planeswalker, 1 underground sea, 1 tezzeret the seeker. just today, I bought 3 M10 packs for what would be the equivalent of 8.33 tix, and got 1 honor of the pure, 1 darksteel colossus, and 1 sphinx ambassador. yesterday, i opened 3 reborn packs and got 2 bloodbraid elf and a karrthus, tyrant of jund. and I love seeing the cards in my 4-pocket.

and yeah, it helps meeting new people and sharing interests with them. + the savings.

although, I do miss the convenience of MTGO, what with the anytime, anywhere thing where I can just hop into an event when I want. basically, I agree with the poster above that MTGO just doesn't cut it for me. Still, I have cards online, so it'd be a waste to just not use them anymore.

one othr good point for MTGO by LOurs at Mon, 07/27/2009 - 06:52
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one othr good point for MTGO vs paper i forgot to mention : to manage the amount of counters in some games... To calculate P/T of some creature (Lord of extinction in example, or simply of a tarmo), the number of spell in Storm, the number of token (worm harvest in example) is sometime a pain and need time to change dice at each step... it is not that complicate, but with MTGO you stay focused on the game and this is much better !

Thankful for both versions by Shivad Drake at Mon, 07/27/2009 - 10:40
Shivad Drake's picture

First off, great article. I agree with almost all of the points mentioned in the article and the following posts. I play primarily online, but do play in pre-releases and with my kids using intro packs. My two cents about both formats:

- Pro: Ability to play when I'm able. I'm a parent of two elementary school age future PT gravytrainers (*smiles*) and have Mondays and Tuesdays off. Being able to play when they are at school during those days is something I can't do in paper Magic.
- Con: Bugs, misclicks, missed stops, etc. Just today I lost a close 3rd game of a draft match because of a bug or misclick (I'm not sure which). The point is, this particular 3-point swing wouldn't have happened in a paper game.

- Pro: IRL tourney experience. Real Magic events are almost like a convention. Yeah, you have to be able to tolerate some of the unpleasant players (stereotypes are true, but rarer than it may seem by reading some articles). Players are generally much friendlier IRL. It is not that people are necessarily mean online, but the majority are just silent.
- Con: Schedule conflicts. Friday nights and Saturdays just do not work for me. This is when the majority of sanctioned paper magic is played.

The bottom line is that I'm thankful for both versions. Since I usually play limited, having two options is not a problem for me. I certainly appreciate why a primarily constructed player might hate the fact that they need 2 sets of cards to play in both versions.

Again ... great article. Keep up the good work.

WTF, MATE! by Anonymous (not verified) at Tue, 07/28/2009 - 02:04
Anonymous's picture

What?? None of you people have GIRLFRIENDS!! That's why you stay home and play on your little computers!

That by Paul Leicht at Tue, 07/28/2009 - 08:13
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Made no sense at all. How does a hobby on a computer correlate to no relationship?? Be clearer if you have a thesis.

Why they correlate... by Javasci at Wed, 07/29/2009 - 07:55
Javasci's picture

People who have girlfriends - or wives and children - don't have the time to go to a card store, so they have to play MTGO. That's the correlation between MTGO and relationships.

Aw man, you're right. I do by JXClaytor at Wed, 07/29/2009 - 10:27
JXClaytor's picture

Aw man, you're right. I do not have a girlfriend. I do however have a very supportive wife that allows me to do whatever I want to do. I think your idiotic comment was useless, and really if you are gonna try to be funny, man up and use your name.

You forgot something by TuSaisPas (not verified) at Wed, 07/29/2009 - 03:38
TuSaisPas's picture

You forgot something important thing, "play the game see the world".
I play mtgo a lot, and find it very convenient, but it woulnd't replace all the good times with friends all around the world.
Good point for the girlfriend btw, it's much easier to play online than leaving twice a weak to play cards. Even if they usually don't complain too much when they have gone to hawaii, NY, LA, San Franciscco, Kyoto, Tokyo,... because of their boyfriend's hobby ;)

MTGO > MTG by Nick (not verified) at Fri, 08/07/2009 - 15:44
Nick's picture

How can any "MTGO is better than paper Magic" article NOT mention the true best reason? The reason that's been quoted on the MTGO forums for years now?

"MTGO > MTG, because MTGO = MTG without pants."

hmmm by Likke (not verified) at Fri, 08/07/2009 - 18:20
Likke's picture

I beg to disagree. I wont list out the facts but paper MTG is still the best way for socializing. Cmown.. the pizza's more delicious with someone to share it with. And for you guys out there, it's still a way to get laid.. errr rather meet girls (who play MTG of course).

What about .... by Brandon (not verified) at Fri, 08/07/2009 - 19:55
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While I agree with all the conveniences of MTGO, it lack all the person-ability of the paper game. Plus its a lot of fun playing multi-player with 6+ people, the conversations, and the ever so dramatic TOP DECKING are what the game is about.

No matter haw hard they try MTGO will always feel like im playing a bot, a bot who concedes or disconnects three tuns in because he hasn't seen the cards he needs. That right there ruins my will to continue. Give me a room full of laughter every time.

Agree with almost everyone by Brian Coghlan (not verified) at Sat, 08/08/2009 - 03:01
Brian Coghlan's picture

Just over 2 weeks ago, I was moving a box with osme of my old stuff in it and found Inquest #16 from 1996 with Fulgore and Glacius on the cover (Killer Instinct).

I sat down with the mag and thumbed through it and remembered reading it 13 years ago:

Top 10 cards - Defelction - land Tax - Howling mine - Baron Sengir (lol...) - jesters cap - icy manipulator - a few more and an no particular order (im at work now remembering)

then i remembered my first game with my best friend when we played ante and he cheated and put a crd form his hand on top and i flipped over my only rare.. birds of paradise.

Then i remembered playing with my friends, the card shop "mo betta Comics" witht he local brotha tryign to make a buck and convincing me that Homelands was amazing (i was 13-14 then).

i remember my first saturday afternoon tournament when i begged, borrowed and pleaded cards for a Prosper-bloom deck and ended up losing to a RG Speed and a Chain / Stasis deck.

Then i quit for years and played again around 2003ish..

i rememebr pro tour seattle 9im from NY)

Best time of my life, was so much fun. Went out alone and met so many awesome people.

But the refinding of this Inquest sparked my interest once again and it just so happened i found a card shop a few saturdays ago near my home and it was amazingly on M10 release day.

So many cards to lear.. lorwyn, shadowmoon, conflux, shards, eventide, reborn.. m10.. Wow.. But im managing. Ive met some awesome ppl too so far. Ive almost got a 5CC deck, just need 3 more cryptics and a few uncommons. I also opened a MTGO account a few days after the m10 release to find that m10 wasnt ready til the 3rd of august.

I played 5 drafts yesterday and had to tear myself away form the computer to go to bed.. i slept through FNM ( i work nights) where I was gonna play My Sanguine bonds deck that I made for fun (it actually isnt bad)

i guess my point is that I cant help but foget all of the paper magic experiences i have had and i dont want to miss any more now that magic sucked me back in. I also love drafting.. i love it and online i can draft whenever I want.

I have yet to play any constructed seeing as how i only have 200+ cards = ). Winning my frist MTGO M10 Draft also helps.

My suggestion is Go paper if you Can!! MTGO also if u can. If you cant paper due to IRl then MGTO is amazing too!

i wish MTGO had a little better chat system..

great artiocle - sorry for the mini paragraphs!

KaGGo (my mtgo name - wc3 name - old WoW name)

I prefer paper because you by Tyrael (not verified) at Sat, 08/08/2009 - 04:24
Tyrael's picture

I prefer paper because you don't have to worry about your game suddenly ending or your entire collection suddenly becoming spontaneously unavailable.

I just cant concieve.... by Matt (not verified) at Sat, 08/08/2009 - 21:01
Matt's picture

The notion of paying so much money for "digital cards". I would LOVE to play MTGO but there is NO WAY I could ever even pay a dollar for an online card that doesnt really exist. I love having my collection in front of me. I like being able to just flip through my binders of cards. I dont know if its just me but it literally seems like just giving money away to play online. When Shards came out I bought a box and me and about 12 other guys all opened the packs/boxes we got together. I pulled an Elspeth on my 4th pack. And it was just awesome to have it and hold and throw in a toploader and pass around for everyone to look at stuff. The only advantage I see to MTGO is availability for those who are far away from a shop or other players, and convenience of being able to play whenever you want. MTG Paper style takes all other categories. For me anyway. To each his own but I just absolutely cannot fathom paying $20, $30, or $40 for a PICTURE ON THE INTERNET of an actual card that exists in real life. I gues its kinda like paying for porn. Spend $50 on a hooker in real life or spend $20 on a video. Again, just my opinion but until MTGO is free, SUPER cheap, or can find some way to distinguish the cards you own in real life and let you also own them virtually(which I dont think will or could ever happen), I will continue playing MTG IN PERSON, IN REAL LIFE, WITH ACTUAL CARDS I CAN SEE AND TOUCH. And most importantly, with good friends. Thats what the game is TRULY all about. Thanks for listening to my rant.

BTW, I enjoyed BOTH articles. Keep up the fine work!

You know that those digital by Lord Erman at Sun, 08/09/2009 - 03:05
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You know that those digital cards or "pictures on the internet" as you say, can be redeemed and turned into real cards don't you? So anytime I may decide to redeeem my "pictures on the internet" and apart from Mirage set, I get all my cards in paper.

Just wanted to mention.