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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Mar 18 2008 12:24am
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In the beginning, there was Magic Online beta version. It let players play free drafts and play constructed decks. You were given an amount of credit weekly to buy your products with and everybody was happy playing digital cards. 

The sets in it were:

7th Ed, Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse, Odyssey and Torment.
Then came the time when it was going to become an official pay to play game. Nobody could expect what kind of game it would become. There were a few train of thoughts like:
1) Monthly Subscription for a fixed amount of credit to buy products
2) Pay directly for discounted products (as compared to real life packs)
3) Pay directly for products at retail pricing.

Nobody liked the idea of paying for cards that you couldn't hold at that point in time. (Times have really changed.) People were saying "I'll stop playing MODO (Magic Online Digital Objects) if I have to pay for it." There were many cool functions in the game that looked promising like the trophy case which would show how many premier events you won but that didn't officially work yet (even until this day). There were many avatars available then and everyone used dumb-looking avatars. (I liked the Lithatog avatar)
Just before the launch, every account that could clock 40 hours of play time would automatically get credit that would be sufficient to either buy a precon deck or pay for a draft. (I played the OOT draft with it)

After the launch came, gone were the free play and the avatars dropped to just a basic 5, one for each color. Being a kid without a credit card, I could no longer continue playing online. (or so I thought) 

Then came the Judgment online release. (1/8/2002)

I somehow managed to play in the release event by getting people I know to help me get products in some way or the other.  It was a good experience being able to play the new set online and I remember losing because I couldn't get the Nantuko Monastery to block because I was in my declare blockers step when I decided to activate it. Magic Online is a great way to learn the subtle rules of Magic but you always get brutally punished along the way and you lose games you don't in real life. 

At that point in time, I regretted using my free draft on OOT as I believed that I should have waited to draft OTJ instead. Of course, now I would obviously have prefered to play an IPA draft. (Life is full of regrets for me)

Every now and then, I would be able to get a draft set to play online and I made a few casual decks using the cards I obtained.

October 18-20 were the dates of the 2002 Magic Invitational, the first ever to be played on the Magic Online platform. Apparently Onslaught was part of the mix but it was to be officially released in November. I don't clearly remember how this happened but I shall assume that they had onslaught cards for them at that event while we had to wait till the next month to see the new set. Anyway the Invitational had five formats, three of which were constructed and two of which were limited. The contructed events were: Standard, Online Extended and Auction of the People with Alphabet decks. Two-headed Giant Onslaught Sealed (the old kind of 2HG, not the same one as in real life now) and Onslaught Rochester draft. The 2HG games had players grouped in fours and they had to play every combination. Jens Thoren won the event and became Solemn Simulacrum, featured in Mirrodin. I personally think that this was part of a "campaign" to get people to start downloading Magic Online.
Solemn Simulacrum

Onslaught (1/11/2002) came online and I remember playing an online release event. Nothing very special back then. After the Release Event, I played a couple of drafts when I could because it was easier to play more drafts online than in real life where you don't get to reuse prize payouts and one has to admit that the online payouts were very good. (I have no idea about you people in other countries)

Febuary 28 to March 2 2003 was the "Wizards of the Coast" Invitationals and Bill Rose (VP of R&D) won the event and his chosen card: Two-Headed Giant of Foriys was to become an avatar that would be given out. (What ever happened to such events now?) Just to let you know what I'm talking about, this event was similar to the Magic Invitational for the stars of the game that allowed each person to submit his own card to become a real card. In this event, one of twenty four Wotc players (or rather employees) would submit his or her "existing" card to be turned into an avatar for MTGO. The other entries included: Squee, (the doll from Black Vise and The Rack) otherwise known as Stuffy Doll now, Serendib Efreet, Thallid, Necropotence, Demonic Tutor, Balance, Quirion Dryad, Glissa Sunseeker which didn't exist then but was spoiled, Sol'kanar the Swamp King, Krosan Beast, Tradewind Riders, Land Tax, Vesuvan Doppelganger (Richard Garfield's pick), Visara the Dreadful, Nekrataal,Mirri, Cat Warrior, Psychatog, Maro(MArk ROsewater's pick), Royal Assassin, Guan Yu, Cosmic Horror and Phyrexian Negator. Of these, 5 managed to become avatars today and some have come online as timeshifted cards or in MED. Personally, I would have wanted to see a Phyrexian Negator avatar.

With Legions (5/3/2003) came a new feature to Magic Online. For playing in a Release Event, you would get a "promo" Avatar that would have some collector's value like the Prerelease foil card you get in real life. That got me excited and I don't remember much except having the Phage the Untouchable avatar that didn't look really great but added some variety back to the avatar function. Avatar collecting was something I started back here.

Worlds 2003 online qualifiers from April 25th to April 27th launched Andrew Cuneo into Worlds 2003, the pioneer of the yearly winners to qualify for the biggest Magic event of the year. 

Scourge (23/6/2003) came online together with the second avatar: Karona, False God. Honestly I felt that it looked pretty dumb but I changed to it (as there were barely any to choose from) whenever I would play a multicolored deck.

June 24 2003 marked MTGO's first birthday and anyone who logged in on this day would get the Two-Headed Giant of Foriys avatar previously mentioned. Many people didn't really know what to do with the avatars. I was just happy to get mine.

Then came Chuck's Virtual Party that celebrated Version 2.0. Everyone who logged in between 28/7/2003 to 28/9/2003 would get  2 tickets, one Akroma Avatar, an Onslaught Tournament pack, a Promo pack (that had lands and one of Morphling/Serra Avatar/Sliver Queen of which I opened Morphling (!) and I bought the other two apparently at a higher price that what you can buy them for now), and one of  Legions and Scourge boosters. For those people who remember this period of time, the party was closed very soon after and everyone was unhappy because of that. Version 2.0 couldn't take the server loads apparently and it seemed like we were in for rough times. Everyone simply hoped for the best. (Wotc used to give away so many cool stuff and people liked MTGO more back then)

It was around this time when I picked up on the Singleton format because I wanted to play Morphling in a constructed deck. Apparently, Morphling could be played even though the legal list of sets didn't include it. Benny Smith's Into the AEther column  covered the format on an occassion and I tried it.

8th Edition (1/8/2003) came online and gave us the Elvish Champion Avatar. Also, if you have played in the 8th ed release party in real life, you would be able to get a Royal Assassin avatar sent to you by submitting your DCI number to a Wotc Website. It's one of my favorite avatars and the value of it rose quite significantly since then. Has "bad-ass" written all over it.

Platinum Angel
With Mirrodin (24/11/2003) came yet another change. This time, there were two avatars one could obtain from the release event and because of the instability of the servers, the release event was changed into the Release League . You would get the Bosh, Iron Golem avatar for participating and Platinum Angel for getting 5-0. The change in the release structure and the addition of the Platinum Angel avatar was announced a week before the event and I was rather shocked at the change. To actually obtain every avatar, I would have to go 5-0 in every release event or I'll have to buy them at astonomical prices?! (since I assumed so since there wouldn't be many) That was bad news for me, the poor collector (true irony). I failed to go 5-0 and I was pretty down.

Darksteel(1/3/2004) came with the second batch of two avatars. Players got the Viridian Zealot avatar for partcipating in the Release Leagues and Arcbound Overseer was given to those who managed to go 5-0 again. The servers were still "bad" but the Release Leagues filled up really fast anyway. This time I managed to obtain the Arcbound Overseer avatar with 13 tix. The thing about avatars is that they get some sort of "upgrade" if your constructed or limited ratings go above 1700. For the Arcbound Overseer avatar, I could not spot the difference when my limited rating went above 1700. The other avatars had more obvious changes like getting some additional armor or accessories except for the Royal Assassin avatar that had only a minor change in the color of the cloak for the limited upgrade.

May 11 to 13 was the yet another Invitationals to be played on Magic Online, the 2004 Magic Invitational. I have no idea what happened to the 2003 Magic Invitational. It simply did not happen. It consisted of three constructed formats and two limited formats. The constructed formats were: Mirrodin Block Constructed (as you see, with Mirrodin and Darksteel only), Online Extended (which was so different from extended in real life back then) and the Auction of the People spotting artist decks. The limited formats were: Eight edition rochester draft and "Pack Draft", a rochester draft of five packs with boosters from every online set. From this particular event was the birth of our favorite Dark Confidant of Bob Maher.
Dark Confidant

Then came June 24, MTGO's 2nd birthday. To celebrate it, anyone who logged in on that day would receive the winning avatar of a poll. Flametongue Kavu won that and Fallen Angel came in second.

For the Fifth Dawn (12/7/2004) Release Events, the Premier Events were up again. This time you got the Raksha Golden Cub avatar for participating and the Etched Oracle avatar for the top four. This time I managed to get 72 packs and my Etched Oracle avatar by winning a PE.(!!) I sold some of my many packs and bought a Platinum Angel avatar at FIFTY tix (which is more expensive than what it is today). I qualified for the Fifth Dawn championships (1st of its kind) but I couldn't play in it because it was on a Sunday morning so I logged in and I got the products and dropped.

The second Worlds Qualifer,July 26th to August 7th, let Toshinori Shigehara go for his first ever Worlds event at San Francisco. I'm sure every MTGO player would want his position. It's a pity none of the people qualified for Worlds through Magic Online made top eight yet. It would be pretty big news and I'm sure there would be an increase in the number of people playing Magic Online.

Champions of Kamigawa (25/10/2004) came with yet another change to the Release Events. This time, there were 2 types of PEs, 4x and 2x. The top eight for the 4x and the top two for the 2x would get the Eight-and-a-Half-Tails avatar and the participation avatar was Seshiro the Anointed. In addition, top four of the 4x would qualify for the CHK championships. I came to the conclusion that 4x is definitely a better choice if I wanted the 8.5 tails avatar. Plus all the benefits in it for only one more round of duels and three more tix in cost, I couldn't see why anyone would want to play in the 2x unless they didn't want to wait for it to respawn every three hours unlike the 2x that auto-respawned. Winner of the championship would get original Time Stop artwork.

For the period of 25th November to the 29th November (Thanksgiving Weekend), the Fallen Angel avatar was given out to the top eight for any Premier Event and the also to the top 64 in the Standard Open and the top 32 in the Prismatic Open.

It was followed up by the Christmas events that were from 20th December to the 2nd of January. During this period of time, PE top 8s would get the Fallen Angel avatar except for the CHK limited PE which let only the top 4 get it. Standard, Extended and CHK Opens had 6X payouts with top 64 getting the avatar. Prismatic and Singleton both had Opens with 4x payout and top 32 getting the avatar. This happened to be the first ever Singleton Open. I actually registered for it but overslept by 30 mins and got kicked out. (Damn..) It was in the middle of the night and I didn't expect not to be able to get up on time. There went my first ever Singleton PE experience.

Betrayers of Kamigawa (28/2/2005) soon came online and bots were not allowed to be on during this period of time. This time the avatars were Higure, the Still Wind (participation) and Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni (prize). Yet again, the Release Events structure has changed again. 1st place for the 2x event was now invited into the BOK championships. The avatar payout and everything else remained the same. The winner of the championship would get the original artwork of Ink-eyes. Oooo... Anyway, speaking about bots, they were those that could only sell cards at fixed prices. Merely a few bots could sell cards at various prices. Yatbot was picking up in popularity and because of this lack of technological advancement (like credit feature or the decimal pricing), cards were generally more expensive.

March 24th to March 30th marked the first ever IPA sealed qualifiers. Top 4 players in every IPA qualifier would be invited into the IPA sealed tournament which had 2x IPA prizes and had top 8 booster draft. Everyone under the sun wanted to get into it.

Some time later, avatars gained vanguard abilities and Vanguard Release Events (5/5/2005-11/5/2005) were held to commemorate this new feature to the game. A Birds of Paradise avatar was given to anyone who entered the Vanguard Release Events which were 2x in payouts, top 4 for each event qualified for the championships and top 2 would get an existing avatar of their choice. Top 8 in the Vanguard Release Championship would get an existing avatar of their choice in the 6x payout standard with Vanguard format. Wow. (I remember taking part in one event to get the BOP avatar.)

Rakdos Augermage
May 17 to May 20 was the 2005 Magic Invitational in which Terry Soh won by sheer hard work, going into the event more prepared than anyone else. He was the Judges' pick. I'm sure he would have been more than grateful to the people in white and black stripes. Again, the formats consisted of 3 constructed and 2 limited formats. Similar to the first online Invitational, the constructed include: Standard, Online Extended (still not synchronised yet) and Auction of the People, this time with decks built around a specific word. The limited formats were IPA booster draft and Vanguard Sealed which allowed players to add an avatar after the construction of the sealed deck (Champions and Betrayers of Kamigawa). Terry Soh's card became Rakdos Augermage which I think the card is rather counter-intuitive in what it does since having first strike makes it a good blocker/attacker while its ability can only be played at sorcery speed which essentially means that you would never be able to get the best of both worlds. This, unfortunately was one of the invitational cards that did not see much play. (Was it because Wotc tweaked it to fit into the rakdos guild? I suppose the original card would have been way better.)

May 26th to June 1st came the second wave of IPA sealed qualifiers with the same structure. This was around the time I felt that Wotc was trying to get people to pay and play every month on the calender. And to confirm that, just a week later, there was the first ever OTJ sealed qualifiers from June 9 to June 15 with the structure still the same as before. If I'm not mistaken, around this time, all of these qualifiers had at least 1 slot for formats like Prismatic, Tribal Wars, Vanguard and Singleton which they slowly removed.

Saviors of Kamigawa (28/6/2005) was released online not very long (less than a month) after these events and the payout and formats mirrored the previous release event. This time, the original art for Sakashima the Impostor was given out as the championship prize. The avatars were Sakashima the Impostor (prize) and Oni of Wild Places (participation).

IPA QT III soon followed up from July 21 to July 27 and the prize structure for the event upped to 3x from 2x and this time top 8 instead of top 4 would get the invite. (Improvement is good.)

9th Edition's online release (29/8/2005) brought the Maro avatar (prize) and the Hell's Caretaker avatar into the mix. Original art of Will-o'-the-Wisp was given to the championship winner and places 2-11 each got some artworks. 9th edition was the turning point in Magic history when it gave us not 5 "come into play tapped" lands and not 5 ice age pain lands but a whooping 10 painlands of each 2 color combination. Seriously, because of this change, the "core set" was actually quite a "money" set as compared to 7th ed or even 8th ed. Nowadays I wouldn't mind playing XXX drafts because of the number of "money" cards in the set.

The 2005 World Championship Qualifier Preliminary Tournaments were held from September 29 to October 12 and on October 15 and Adam Klein earned his place in Worlds 2005.

Ravnica, City of Guilds (31/10/2005) came online with a small incentive for players to play in the Release Events. Those players who played during the "night time" (I assume of America) would get discounted entry. 0 tix for 2x events and 2 tix for the 4x events. I happen to stay in the other side of the world and this lit my eyes up. Loxodon Hierarch avatar was the participation avatar and Sisters of Stone Death was the prize avatar. As for the championship prize, the original artwork to be given: Loxodon Hierarch. I wonder if this piece of art would gain any value from the actual card's playability. Hm..

IPA sealed qualifiers IV were from November 17 to November 23. Somehow, until now (literally now) I have yet to place myself into any of these IPA events. I remember trying for a few and missing the place. Do try when you have the chance to.

Immediately after the IPA sealed qualifier, Braingeyser was given out as a promo card from 24th November to 2nd January in the Premier events. A non-foil version for participating and a foil version for top 8s. This was the first time we looked at a card that was somewhat restricted (I think it was) but didn't really look as great as it should be.

Mirage (5/12/2005) was the first set ever to come online with a special "unredeemable" tag and alterations to the actual set like colored rarity coding, foils and precon decks (the blue red precon was determined by voting on the magicthegathering.com. and there was a series of tournaments in which the winner could form his own precon if I remember correctly. Somewhat, I think that many of the people do not play Magic Online and random choosing would hurt the card choices but it's old history now.) The participation avatar was Stalking Tiger, which I think looks like an ordinary tiger no matter how you look at it and that the ability has absolutely no relevance to the actual card, and the prize avatar was Frenetic Efreet. Winner of the championship would win a foil Mirage set and the runner up would win a normal Mirage set.

IPA Qualifers V returned, after the "Braingeyser break", from January 19 to January 25. Somehow, these IPA sealed events were becoming really becoming part of the normal routine. I'm not complaining and I don't think anyone would.

A month after the real life counterpart came into our hands, Guildpact (27/2/2006) came into online world. Again, it featured the "night discounts" which was something I was happy with since I didn't have to stay up late at night to benefit from it. Teysa, Orzhov Scion was the participation avatar and Rumbling Slum was the prize avatar. This time for the championship, no art was given and the winner would get a foil set while second to fourth would each receive a regular set of Guildpact cards.
Rumbling Slum

Visions (10/4/2006) followed up Mirage and that led to anticipation of the release of Weatherlight to complete the block. Some people were wondering which "old-set" would be made next but slowly we learnt that the sets would be released from Mirage till Prophesy in sequence. It took quite some time before Weatherlight made its presense felt. Anyway, Visions brought the Nekrataal avatar (participation) and the Chronatog avatar (prize). For this set, R&D made the precons and the keyword "substance" was born at this time.

May 10 to 12 was the 2006 Magic Invitational, this time won by Antoine Ruel. He submitted a card that looks like this:

Bibi GU
Legendary Creature — Human Baby
Whenever you draw a card, put a year counter on Bibi.
At end of turn, if Bibi has two or more year counters on it, flip it.
SleurLegendary Creature — Human
If an opponent would shuffle his or her library, instead you may search that library for a card, that player shuffles the rest, you put the card on top of that library, then you draw a card.

As tradition, the picture on the card would feature the player so I am wondering if they would have his baby picture together with his "grown up" picture. Well, the card might not even see print as it is and we don't know what happened to it, even until this very day.

Anyway this time the format was different from the past events. The formats were Block Party (any block deck in time from the online sets), Auction of the Geniuses (online "vintage" or now known as classic with Vanguard decks made by specific people of which 4 were in the event), Mirage/Visions Draft, Duplicate Sealed and Decadent Sealed (a format where players had to make a deck out of a card pool that had one of every pack available online. Can you imagine how many sick cards one would have in a 40 card deck?) This is the last ever Magic Invitational to be held on Magic Online since last year was done in real life. Who knows if it would return again.

Dissension(30/5/2006) brought along 2 new avatars, with one being so popular that it created its own format. The avatar? Momir Vig, Simic Visionary (participation) of course! The prize avatar was the Lyzolda, the Blood Witch avatar. I think this is the first participation avatar that had more value than the prize counterpart. Apparently, Momir Vig was supposed to be the prize avatar. However, its popularity on the beta server softened the hearts of the Wotc people to drop its "rarity" to let more people in on the fun casual format spawned on the server which became the official "Momir Basic" we have today. (I played the format when it came onto the real servers and I was feeling odd when people told me the format only used basic lands. At first I assumed an even split of lands but I slowly found some colors benefitting from more mana of that type.) Anyway, the "night discounts" continued but the prize for the championship dipped a little, giving a foil set to the winner and a regular set to the runner up unlike the previous event. A new change was the drop of the ticket cost of the 4x events from 5 tickets to 4 tickets.

The IPA qualifiers VI returned from June 29 to July 5. I believe this was one of the longest time lapse between an IPA sealed tournament. Welcome back anyway.

Coldsnap (14/8/2006). the "third set of the ice age block" which appeared out of some wierd file which was only recently rediscovered, came online as well. The most special part about this set was that it came with Precon decks that included relics from Ice Age and Alliances. Many were speculating Force of Will as a way to get more people into the eternal formats. For online people who played with sets that use the classic pool, this news was very significant. Anyway, I am more than happy to get Swords to Plowshares and Brainstorm for my use in the Singleton format. Diamond Faerie was the participation avatar and Haakon, Stromgald Scourge was the prize avatar. The "night discounts" were gone and there was yet another change. This time , the 2x events got its very own championship and the winner for both the 2x and 4x championship would get a foil set while the runner up (in both) would get a regular set.

Until 20th September, Kjeldoran Outpost was given as a promo card for anyone who participated in a Premier event. Top 8s would receive a foil version. This card looked really great when compared to the Ravnica counterpart but who would have thought that it would become outclassed after the next set came online?

Worlds 2006 Qt were held from October 5 to October 11 and Leong Bao Jie Felix managed to get his place in Worlds. However, unlike the previous winners, he was reported to have his account hacked after that and his online cards stolen from him. Ouch.

IPA Qualifiers VII were back from October 19 to October 25, just slightly more than a week after the Worlds qualifiers. Savage.

Stuffy Doll
Time Spiral (30/10/2006) came with the most shocking change to the card economy. The introduction of the timeshifted cards and the foils replacing a common card slot made it so that it was now possible to open 3 rares, a foil rare, a regular rare and a timeshifted rare all in the same pack. The price of junk rares, originally 3 for 1 ticket, dropped to 6 for 1 ticket. This change hit dealers badly and the cost of old cards dropped rather significantly. "Night discounts" returned and the Stuffy Doll avatar (participation) and the Jaya Ballard, Task Mage (prize) avatar joined the large pool of friends. Incidentally, the prices of the prize avatars were low at this point in time as well. They slowly dropped throughout the years from 13 to 10 to 7 to 3-4 by this time maybe because there were many more players playing in the release events. Similar to the previous event, the winner of the 2x and 4x would get a foil set (including timeshifted! ) and the runner ups  would get a regular set.

IPA Qualifers VIII were next from January 18 to Wednesday January 24, 2007. I wonder if these events would come back even after the rotation of the the Invasion block out of extended. I think the other sets have quite a large number of cards lurking online and this block still has the least even with these sealed events. Thanks to these, the prices of IPA cards have slowly dropped and that allowed online extended to be slightly friendlier.

Planar Chaos (26/2/2007) came online and this is when I tried to buy packs on the first day and sell what I can to make some profit. I thought that it was a "money" set with cards like Damnation lurking around and I never thought that I could be so wrong. I was rather lucky to open a Damnation and a foil Damnation in my packs and I covered a little more than the actual cost of the packs. I think I was really lucky for that to happen. Now when I look back at Planar Chaos, I would think that it was one of the worse sets around. I was rather unhappy with the fact that there was hardly any new effects in the set because in Singleton, every new card has some potential but a set with so many "old cards" would not contribute much. All these aside, the set brought the Braids, Conjurer Adept avatar for participation and the Mirri the Cursed avatar as the prize. I don't play Vanguard so I can't say much but I do know that this is one of the most powerful avatars around now (Mirri). "Night discounts" were still around and the championship payouts were exactly the same as the one in Time Spiral.

Next was IPA Qualifiers IX from 19 March to 4 April, that gave out Hazezon Tamar (why that card??) as an additional bonus, had two different IPA sealed events. The qualifiers were split into half, the first half for the first event and the second half for the second event. So many people were getting to play in the IPA sealed tournaments. A "super IPA" event.

Future Sight (29/5/2007) was next and the prize structure was similar to that of Planar Chaos. Jhoira of the Ghitu was the participation avatar and Heartwood Storyteller was the prize avatar. The avatars were getting better than a long time ago. Anyway this set is the most suprising set and gave us Tarmogoyf which was at around 7 tix during the block season but climbed to no mans land soon enough. Till today, the 2 mana Lhurgofy is still rising in price. I can't really believe it. Also in the set were great cards like the lands, pacts and Venser, Shaper Savant. Some cards like Take Possession were awfully expensive then after it was used in block decks.

June 2007 was the month in which the first ever Magic Online exclusive card made its first appearance. Don't be too surprised. The card? Gleemox ! It is a 0 mana artifact that produces mana of any color and has the text "This card is banned" on it. There wasn't any official announcement about the Gleemox promotion and I so happened to find out about it when I so saw somebody make a wierd claim that there was a game with the said Gleemox being played. Being the curious me, I went to find the game and I got the shock of my life when I got into it. There it was! A Gleemox! That person wasn't a Wotc employee but some normal random person. I knew at that moment that there was a way to get the Gleemox and that I would have to get it quick or I'll never get another chance to. I entered the "Gleemox" chat and there I found out there that Gleemax (the brain in a jar that makes decisions in the R&D which had its own card in Unhinged and had its own forums just started at that point in time for gamers to congregate in) had "minions" who would give out its moxen goodness. After much waiting, I finally managed to find a "minion" and he gave me my mox upon request. Everyone was entitled to just one so I relogged in with another account (I have two) and got another piece from the same "minion". I hope Gleemax doesn't read this or it'll destroy my online accounts (just kidding). It was a great way for them to advertise the Gleemax forums but somehow I think that many people would have lost the chance to get a piece of the moxen because of the lack of information given to the players regarding this promotion. (I didn't think the forums were very well done in my opinion.) There are foil versions of Gleemox but I have absolutely no idea how to get them.  

IPA Qualifiers X were from July 18 to July 24 and it reverted back into one single IPA sealed event. Oh well, you can't get greedy all the time.

Mogg Fanatic
Tenth Edition (6/8/2007) was a period of mass anticipation. Everyone was wondering which lands would go into the set. The Ravinca shocklands vs the Painlands. The most shocking news back then was that this set was going to be black bordered. It doesn't have a real difference to the card but people prefer seeing black bordered cards nevertheless. Tenth edition brought back goodies like man lands (!!) and Mogg Fanatic (I voted for it since it wasn't available online for a bigger singleton card pool.. selfish me). Arcanis the Omnipotent avatar was the participation avatar and  Squee, Goblin Nabob was the prize avatar. The Release Events had the same prize structures as previously seen and I thought that it would be something that would not change for quite some time as I supposed they finally settled the way they wanted to run the Release Events.
OTJ II Qualifiers were up next from August 29 to September 4. OTJ was a wierd format. I think people want to open Grim Lavamancer and Cunning Wish but it definitely would lose to IPA in terms of monetary value.

Worlds QT 2007 from October 3 to October 9 put Shayne Quinton into Worlds at New York. This worlds was rather different than others and focused a little more on getting many people to come enjoy the game unlike previous worlds. Wierd events like "win a car" or giant Elves vs Goblins made it more enjoyable. There were the free drafts too. I'm sure those who went there and were not in the main tournament were still able to go back with a smile on their faces.

IPA Qualifiers XI were from October 17 to October 23, coinciding with the 2007 Magic Invitational which was no longer held online. A rather awkward move to place the qualifers during the Invitational and I find that this time, the people were a little disconnected from the Invitational unlike previous years. I think that the masses would have wanted to be able to see more action than reading the coverage online. The Magic Show was good but I personally think that Wotc should have done a little more to showcase it. (-personal ranting, not related to anything magic online)

Masters Edition (10/9/2007) was the first ever magic online exclusive set. Even if the set consisted of only reprints, nobody was complaining. Dakkon Blackblade was the participation avatar for the Release Events but this time, Foil Mishra's Factory took over the prize avatar. The card every person wants from that set is Force of Will. Not really a fantastic set in terms of cards especially when you play limited with it but it's the only way one can get hold of certain cards like Berserk or Ball Lightning. The only problem with MED was the fact that it was given as prize to the PE of certain formats and the resale value of the set was not very high so people were not happy about that. If MED II had 10 duals in it, I doubt that it would be the case anymore.

Lorwyn (29/10/2007) appeared about a month plus after MED and brought a big change to the Magic world. Now planeswalkers, the almighty beings in the story that you as a player was meant to represent, had their own cards. These cards are said to be similar to the World of Warcraft card game which I don't play so I have no idea.  Planeswalkers have changed the way we play games rather significantly. The world never stops changing. 

Another new change was the introduction of "no top 8" Premier Events that had a payour based on points and have 5 rounds each.  Ashling the Pilgrim was the participation avatar and Mirror Entity was the prize avatar. In the "no top 8" events, players with 12 points and above, (4 wins minimum) would get the prize avatar. "Night discounts" have been removed also. 

Weatherlight (12/12/2007) finally came online to complete the Mirage block after a really really long lapse. The block took 2 years to complete but Visions came out just a little after Mirage. Weatherlight had many unusual cards and is home to Abeyance and Null Rod which isn't that big a deal yet. The "no top 8" events were here as well and there was no visible change in how the Relaese events were being executed. Somehow, there seemed to be lesser people playing in the events unlike any other Release Events I have seen. I was busy practicing for Nationals so I didn't have time to play in it. Anyway, my friend made lots of money (or rather tix) by playing WWW drafts. The cards had value and the packs were dirt cheap so he easily multiplied his base investment during the Release period. (I have smart friends.)  Peacekeeper was the participation avatar and Morinfen was the prize avatar.

This year comes with Morningtide (3/3/2008). This time, there are no longer 2x or 4x events probably because of the unstable servers that crash in almost every big event online. The participation avatar is Stonehewer Giant and the prize avatar is Maralen of the Mornsong . The Stonehewer Giant avatar looks like it can do wierd things like make an atog really big or pick up equipment that don't exist in the format like Umezawa's Jitte. The biggest change is the alternate days assigned for "no top 8" Premier Events and 8 man drafts. It's going to get confusing and to some extent annoying for those who want to take part in the action but might have a busy day set on one of the assigned days. From 15 March, the PEs start every 30 mins instead of 15mins but both drafts and PEs are up, giving people an easier time to manage their schedules.

Anyway, it's good news that Wotc is actually preventing a premature launch of version 3.0. The last time they pushed v 2.0 up, they were regretting it. This change is good news. I'd rather have a good working Magic Online than a Magic Online that has most features robbed from it and might crumble at any moment. Although we have been promised v 3.0 scheduled for last year, I personally feel that it's ok to wait for something good than to rush and get thrown into a nightmare. I'd rather not hear "Oops I did it again".

This ends one phase of the Magic Online history that would most probably have many more years to come. It is great to see how sets are slowly improving through the years to become more cohesive with each other. Thumbs up to R&D for the courage to try new things and improve. As for Wotc not handling player concerns well, just change and I'm pretty sure there would be some way to make everyone happy. I hope to see everyone still around on Magic Online many years later.


by Tarmotog at Wed, 03/19/2008 - 21:43
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Thank u for pointing out all that. I don't think I could have gotten all that since I started top down and started to put more things in. I didn't write this as a comprehansive history guide in mind since I didn't actually start recording everything down on a diary or something. I tried to put what I remember happened and some more additional stuff came along which I found and I had to gather more of those info to make it a little more complete.

As for these -
2.Did not mention the Chritmas Events for 2002, where free constructed tournaments were open to the public.
3.  Did not mention the Jan 2003 addition of CF1, Casual Format 1, which would later be named Prismatic.
4.  Gaping omission of the 3/22/2003 Stress Test which was the first sign of the inherent weakness in the server architecture.
5.  Gaping omission of the end of Leaping Lizard's involvement with programming MTGO and WotC taking over on 5/16/2003.
6.  Not enough emphasis was made on the fact that version 2.0 was beyond broken and nearly destroyed Magic Online altogether.
7.  No mention of the beginning of the Closed Beta for testing beginning with Mirrodin, or of the horrible breaking of the PE code that came with Darksteel, leading to the forced Beta.
8.  No mention of Linda Cox being replaced by Justin Ziran as Brand Manager of MTGO.
9.  No mention of the 1700(1800) room and its demise.
10.  No mention of the addition of Classic Format and Anything Goes room.

Some I didn't notice some as a player. I probably should have put up the changes to v2 . Even though many of the old links are gone, there are some with some usable info around which I found really late. 

During this big chunk of time, I kept a lookout for the avatars more than anything which is why there is a rather big emphasis on them and I initially wanted to just write on how to get everything online but it felt wierd when stuff like IPA IX game up if I didn't mention IPA I, II, III... and even more stuff turned up so this is what I got. They don't keep any timelines on magicthegathering.com so I really doubt that I would have been able to cover everything in detail.
I am sorry for dissappointing you for not being able to make it have everything but I don't think I could do it even if I had another chance to if I did it the same way.
And indeed Terry Soh was R&D's pick and not the Judges pick (there wasn't a judges pick my bad).
Abt the avatars, I don't know when they dropped the count. I thought that it would have been very wierd if they changed it all in a downtime but since there are a few of you who have pointed it out, I suppose I could be wrong there.

poor exectution by zahori (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 03/19/2008 - 10:40
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Unfortunately my rather thorough response was eaten by the browser. so I have to keep this brief.

There are tremendous holes in this article.  Errors and omissions that simply make it unusable as a reference, and which simply do not help educate someone who might genuinely be interested in the history of the game.  Shame on the editors for not making a simple check on some of the facts presented here, and for not asking the author to double check.

For any of you genuinely interested in learning about the history of MTGO, please check:


which contains a much better compilation of the history of MTGO.


Errors in your article by zahori (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 03/19/2008 - 10:36
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There are some errors and omissions in the article:

 1.  The avatars at launch were not limited to 5.  The limit came later, when WotC decided to begin releasing avatars with each expansion.  WotC wanted to make the avatars a collectable item, so they decided to scale down.

2.  Did not mention the Chritmas Events for 2002, where free constructed tournaments were open to the public.

3.  Did not mention the Jan 2003 addition of CF1, Casual Format 1, which would later be named Prismatic.

4.  Gaping omission of the 3/22/2003 Stress Test which was the first sign of the inherent weakness in the server architecture.

5.  Gaping omission of the end of Leaping Lizard's involvement with programming MTGO and WotC taking over on 5/16/2003.

6.  Not enough emphasis was made on the fact that version 2.0 was beyond broken and nearly destroyed Magic Online altogether.

7.  No mention of the beginning of the Closed Beta for testing beginning with Mirrodin, or of the horrible breaking of the PE code that came with Darksteel, leading to the forced Beta.

8.  No mention of Linda Cox being replaced by Justin Ziran as Brand Manager of MTGO.

9.  No mention of the 1700(1800) room and its demise.

10.  No mention of the addition of Classic Format and Anything Goes room.

11.  Terry Soh was the R&D pick, not the Judges.


and I have to go back to work, so can't finish dissecting. 

The effort and idea behind the article are commendable, but it is just not nearly thorough enough and has gaping holes which most players that have been around a while can see.


by Tarmotog at Wed, 03/19/2008 - 01:22
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The reduction to 5 avatars happened after the game left the beta stage since v2 went up after legions (with the phage avatar). They did make some other avatars on the beta servers that tested the new sets like the Scion of Darkness avatar which never made it into real life. Once in awhile u see stuff from the old times (like a cephalid or other wierd stuff) used by wotc employees.

U got me there with the trophy case. Errata: The trophy case was a v2 function.

We assume the cvp was an apology (for it being worse than the leaping lizards work)but they did specifically say to celebrate the v2 when they announced it. (They will never say stuff like: sorry we screwed up. here's some stuff to make u happy.. not directly anyway) I'll leave the interpretation to u but I think it was really ironic when the party got abruptly stopped because of server probs.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 21:51
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Also Chuck's Virtual Party was not a celebration of V2, it was apology and glad that the V2 release problems were over.  The CVP was the real kicker into disaster.  I was one of the only people to actually get a CVP PE that finished. (Was in like the second one or something.)

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 21:47
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Two issues noticed:

Trophy case was not around at V1, it came with V2 and never worked.

Also the reduction to 5 basic avatars did not occur when V1 launched, but happened some time after. 

by Tarmotog at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 20:55
Tarmotog's picture

What are u talking about? I'm sure everyone playing now has gotten over the fact how bad v2 became with server downs every now and then and every other nonsense we have come to live with. Sure it's bad but hey.. We still play the game and we live with it. Nobody was happy with anything back then and nobody is happy the way it is now. Every other person under the sun can point out unsatisfaction with mtgo and their fingers won't be able to keep count. At least they did something worth being thankful for. =) (btw, I am still waiting for the dumb trophy function to work)

Also sorry abt the wow thing. I don't play wow so I messed that up. I heard from somebody when the planeswalkers came out. I suppose I got the wrong info from way back then.

thnx to all for the support too =)

by DRAGONDUNG at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 10:15
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Very nice article good to see a history of how things have been.

by uchi (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 11:35
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Love this article!

Nice memory Tarmotog.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 11:41
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How does WOTC own rights to the WoW Tcg? I thought it was made by UDE. Other than that, very nice history, a very interesting read from someone who played casually until around Kamigawa.

by hamtastic at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 11:52
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Definitely a good article, thank you for publishing this.  As an OCD history guy this is the type of thing I really enjoy!


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 14:09
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it is strange how you missed to mention the total disaster that was version 2. Chuck's party was held because of that. And WOTC handed a lot of free cool stuff just to soften the blow that was v.2 to anyone playing MTGO at the moment.

Considering the fainboyness of this web site owners it is no surprice to me anyway.

I stopped reading after I saw how your article is praise to the "good" WOTC. doh

ummm by mtgotraders at Tue, 03/18/2008 - 14:31
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You must not ever read my posts on the WOTC message boards.  I give WOTC a harder time than most people.  Feel free to write an article yourself that covers all aspect of MTGO.

this is what i think about by Aperapame (not verified) at Sun, 10/18/2009 - 07:01
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you can't be acute

Brought back some memories by Paul Leicht at Sun, 10/18/2009 - 08:46
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Brought back some memories and led me to remember the gaps in my own play history as other events happened in my life instead. I would like to note that any endeavor to record accurate historical data involving such a massive allotment of time and people is never going to be totally complete. I liked the personal side of the article which told of YOUR story within the larger scope of the game. Nice Job! :)

And yes I realize the spammer above necroed this but I had never read it before (so many missed articles so little time). It was worth reading and commenting on. :D

Our best guess is by Aperapame (not verified) at Sun, 10/18/2009 - 17:41
Aperapame's picture

you can't be serious