Magic: The Gathering – What You Should Know Before Playing MTGO

Magic: The Gathering has the honor of being the world’s first trading card game, launching in August 1993 to enthusiastic crowds. The early days were a time of trial and error, but the game found its footing. Then, it went digital. Launching in June 2002, Magic: The Gathering Online, or MTGO, vastly expanded the scope of the game.

There’s no denying that online gaming is a huge deal, but how does a card game fit in? Magic and its younger card game cousins spice up gameplay with added sound effects, visual cues, matchmaking algorithms and more to create an entertaining and rewarding online experience. Here’s what players downloading and launching MTGO are in for.

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Play Magic Anytime, Any Way You Like

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mtgo gameplay

By now, there is more than one way to play Magic: The Gathering online, with Arena being another strong option. But MTGO came first, and players looking for a particularly deep and comprehensive representation of the game should try it. To get started, players can visit the website and download the client, then pay a small fee to begin. Once the game is downloaded and fully patched, the player may create an account, including a username, and then choose their in-game avatar.

The MTGO client is organized into several sections, and the user’s collection is a good place to start. Here, players can view their entire collection of cards. These are usually sorted by color, but they can be sorted by other means too. Once a player builds a deck, they may name that deck, specify which format it’s for and even choose an illustrated deck box to make it easier to find.

Players can also set up trade binders, which include all cards that are available for trade with other players and this keeps all non-trade cards secret. A player looking for some solid deals can put their most valuable but non-essential cards in that binder and trade them to obtain what they need for a new deck.

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Practically all formats can be played in MTGO, and some are more competitive than others. Users may take part in Limited tournaments, such as joining a pod of eight players for booster draft Limited or trying out sealed pool. The in-game store provides booster packs of recent sets, as well as three-pack sets designed for current draft environments, so players can grab a draft set and dive right in. Of course, players can also join casual or competitive matches or tournaments for formats ranging from Standard to the competitive Modern format, the ultra-competitive Legacy and Vintage, Cube, Commander/EDH and more.

Some players may find all this preferable to Arena since, while Arena arguably has a better UI, MTGO offers many more formats and more cards than Arena. This makes it far more rewarding for experienced players who aren’t looking for games of Historic or Standard. Playing intense games of Legacy is MTGO‘s forte, not Arena‘s, and MTGO features a player base that may easily rival Arena‘s. MTGO is now 19 years old, but it’s far from abandoned, and it gets early access to new sets, such as Kaldheim, ahead of the paper product, an advantage that Arena also enjoys.

Visiting the MTGO Shop

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mtg cards

As for buying single cards and sealed products, MTGO uses Tix, or “tickets,” which can be bought with real money to act as in-game currency. Tix can be spent to enter formal tournaments for either Constructed or Limited, while freeplay matches never cost Tix (or else MTGO would be rather costly). Tix can also be spent on booster packs, starter decks and three-pack draft products.

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As for buying individual cards, players may turn to Cardhoarder, a reputable website, and start browsing. No money is spent at Cardhoarder; instead, users can put all desired cards into their cart and, once checkout is complete, a unique code will be provided. Then, the player can ask a bot account associated with Cardhoarder for a trade deal and provide the checkout code.

The bot account will find the player’s list of desired cards via that code, then offer those cards in its half of the trade. Now, the player must have enough Tix to pay for all those cards, and (for convenience) Cardhoarder will display the Tix price of each card, and the total Tix cost of the final order. The player must place all Tix in their trade binder so the bot can access them, and once the player manually selects all their cards, they can offer to finalize the trade. Once the bot accepts, all Tix go to the bot, and the player will have all of those cards placed in their collection.

This is a rather roundabout way to buy cards, but it’s a reliable method. What’s more, MTGO cards tend to cost much less than their paper counterparts, often costing less than half or even one-third the paper version’s price, though this varies. This is a fine option for players who are on a budget, getting massive discounts on a deck’s total price. Then, they can play with it against any player, anytime, via the Internet.

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