(From henceforth I shall be calling Magic Online MODO, not MTGO. I grew up in a time where Pluto was the ninth planet, Steve Perry was still the lead singer of Journey, and people called our virtual hobby MODO, so I'm sticking with that.)
People enjoy and utilize Magic Online for different reasons and in various ways. The most popular is to draft, but people also use it to play casual games of Commander, tune their competitive decks for an upcoming tournament, or even play in a PTQ Sealed event. Whatever you enjoy about MODO, it is quite the realization that you need money to play the game, just like you do with its real life, paper counterpart. There are a few ways to get funds for this virtual cardboard crack. The most popular are putting real life money into the game via the store, trading cards for profit, and winning events. The first one is never ideal, and I am nowhere near an expert on Magic finance, so I'm going to be focusing on the last one.
This article is going to show you how to fund your Magic Online habit by winning events or "going infinite." What this means is that besides the initial investment you put into it, you rarely spend any real money on the game. I'm going to highlight events you should focus on and events you should avoid. I will also give you a beginner's guide to get from having barely anything to having a sizeable bankroll. This will be a bare-bones guide but will give you insight on how people actually do "go infinite."
The best way to "go infinite" is to maximize your expected value in everything that you play in. If you are a competent player and think you can win at least three out of four rounds a majority of the time, then you need a prize support to reflect that. Luckily, there is an ample amount of events on MODO per day that do just that: Constructed events!
Here's what you should be playing in:
1) Constructed Daily Events
6 ticket entry; 4 rounds of Swiss; 3-1 or better to money
This has by far the most expected value (EV). When starting out, you'll probably play only one or two of these a day, which may or may not overlap. However, when you attain more decks across more formats, you'll be playing in these non-stop. Here's why:
For the six-ticket investment coupled with your wizardry skills, you can pocket some serious change. Daily Events are significant because if you merely go 3-1 once, you not only pay for your entry fee, but you also pay for the entry fee for two more Daily Events plus a couple extra tickets. That, my friend, is what we like to call value. After a couple per day, you can end up with a good bankroll with minimal effort.
You can find a schedule of Daily Events here.
2) Eight-Man Constructed Queues
6 ticket entry; 1-3 rounds; win round 1 and you money
Since the Daily Event schedule only offers most formats a few times per day and they usually aren't consecutive, you may have some free time. During this intermission, the best thing you can play in are Constructed Eight-Mans. These single-elimination tournaments move fast and can quickly increase your bankroll.
With the prize payout structure, you just have to win the first round to make a profit, though only a ticket and some change. Win more rounds and you win more: three packs and five packs, respectively. Splitting in the finals makes this a quick way to make some pixelated dough and allows you to chain them all day long.
These two types of events are what you need to play in if your goal is to make money. You can play as much Magic as you want while still enjoying the game.
Here are the events you need to avoid:
Events to Avoid at All Costs
1) Limited Events
Costs: your soul; payout: fits of rage
Yes, I know, drafts are what make Magic Online awesome! At any given time, there are over a thousand people in the Limited Queues Room, much more than any other room combined! I love to draft; however, you will never ever ever make any money doing it. Even if you are a LSV caliber pro, you will lose money by drafting. Variance is so ingrained in MODO drafting that it's inevitable that you will lose. I've definitely gone on winning streaks, winning three or four 8-4s and feeling like I was a drafting god, and subsequently lost it all within a few drafts.
Again, you may disagree with me on this, which is fine—WRONG, but fine. Just take my advice and never go in the Limited Queues Room if you want to make money. If you are addicted to drafting and just need to get your fix, there are streams on Twitch.tv to watch.
(One semi-exception is Four-Booster Sealed. You only have to provide the boosters in order to join [no ticket cost!]. It is Swiss with a payout of 5-3-3-3-1-1-1-0. As long as you know what you're doing, it is difficult to go less than 2-1, so at worst you only lose a few tickets per play. Do this sparingly, though, because those few ticket losses can add up over time.)
2) Two-Man Constructed Queues
If Daily Events and Eight-Man Constructed Queues are the way to make money, then surely Two-Man Constructed Queues will also make money, right? NOPE! If you're playing the numbers game, then this isn't for you. Each player pays two tickets for a single pack for the winner. If packs are worth 3.66, then the EV just isn't there. You have to have a 55% win percentage just to break even. It's not worth grinding Two-Man Queues all day long to just profit a few tickets when there are far better options.
From Momir to Mo-Money
To illustrate how to significantly increase your bankroll, I'm going to give you a guide on how to start from pretty much scratch. There are many ways to gain money on MODO, but from a small starting point, I've found this to be the best option.
Things you'll need:
1) 15 Tickets
2) Patience - This process will take a few weeks, so if you want to be a millionaire in a day, this guide probably isn't for you. Also, be aware that there will be lots of highs and lows.
3) Good Play Skill - As with everything else in the Magic world, good players are rewarded. There are many great resources on the Internet to improve if you aren't there yet.
Step 1: Buy a Momir Avatar
The problem with jumping into most Constructed events is the cost to buy all the cards for a deck. Some top tier Standard decks, for example, can cost upwards of a few hundred tickets. Momir, though, is the cheapest Constructed format available, costing around nine tickets for a complete deck.
This format is very simple. You have a deck of 60 basic lands (Seventh Edition are obviously the best) plus a Momir Avatar. Each player basically makes a creature every turn until the other person dies. The key strategy is to start playing creatures on turn 2 if you're on the draw and on turn 3 if you're on the play. This ensures you can make creatures in all consecutive turns until you hit your eight-mana mark, which has a slew of bombs.
Since it is a random format, luck has a much bigger role in Momir than any other Constructed format. However, I think this format is more akin to playing Core Set Sealed. Do your combat math right, and take all incremental advantages. It is surprisingly skill intensive.
There are two Momir Basic Daily Events every day. If you play in at least one of them per day and 3-1 a majority of them, you should be sitting pretty. If you're having horrible luck, then keep playing these Dailies. This process seems very slow and boring, but once you can afford more formats, you'll constantly be playing in events and your profits will increase exponentially.
Play Momir until you are comfortably sitting at about 100 tickets.
Step 2: Buy Into Other Formats
This is where things start to speed up and you get to have more fun and play more competitive Magic. Once you hit about 100 tickets, you can probably afford a very budget deck in any format of your choosing. I would highly suggest trying out Pauper since complete decks are quite a bit cheaper than Standard and Modern.
Pauper is a fun format with a commons-only restriction. This can be enjoyable, great for the wallet, and you can still get turn 2 kills if you want to. My deck of choice is Mono-Blue Delver, which costs about 50 tickets to put together from scratch. This is nothing compared to Standard decks filled with mythics. I'd suggest researching the format, looking at what does well in the Dailies (mtgonline.com), and building whatever you think is fun. The great thing about Pauper is fun decks can also be competitive.
[Check out Alex Ullman's archive for articles on Pauper! –Lauren Lee]
If you would rather play Modern, then you still have some competitive choices, albeit a bit budget. When I did this exercise, I built a Soul Sisters deck. I knew Jund was running rampant and thought it had a decent matchup. I was correct and reaped the benefits from it. But if 1/1s for W don't suit your play style, there are a few other options. Living End is a deck that is filled with penny cards and has some game. Furthermore, a Goblins deck recently did well in a Modern Daily Event, which again is filled with cards well within a small budget.
Here's one of these budget decks:
- 4 Goblin Bushwhacker
- 4 Goblin Chieftain
- 4 Goblin Cohort
- 4 Goblin Guide
- 4 Goblin Wardriver
- 4 Mogg Fanatic
- 4 Mogg War Marshal
- 4 Simian Spirit Guide
- 1 Krenko, Mob Boss
- 19 Mountain
Once you get into two or three different formats, you'll constantly be playing Magic and enjoying the profits. You will definitely have times where it seems like your bankroll is dwindling and can't 3-1 a Daily Event to save your life, but that's the nature of the game, so don't get discouraged. However, in the long run your bankroll will increase, and then you can buy better and more expensive decks along the way.
This guide was meant to be a short and sweet introduction on how to get started building your wealth on Magic Online the cheap and simple way. I'm in the process of writing articles about more intricate aspects of the MODO grind, so look forward to that!
1) Buy a Momir Avatar and play in Momir Basic Daily Events.
2) Buy a cheap Modern or Pauper deck and play in those Daily Events as well.
3) Gradually increase your bankroll to build more decks in more formats.