I am relatively new to MTGO and I am ready to sell everything but Pauper and quit Vintage on MTGO. I already quit Legacy after a month and I am not having fun or learning anything from MTGO for Vintage.

My question to the community is how do I turn this around. I love Magic and I play several formats. I know that I have said that I hate Legacy but I still play it because I love Magic.

I have found Pauper enjoyable because to be honest I do not take it very serious. I just play whatever I want and I do not care what happens.

I am a very serious Vintage player and I tend to do fairly well in paper. I placed 3rd in the last event that I played in last month with about 16 or so players. I came in 3rd in a Vintage trail back in September with the same deck.

I have played in several paper events and I tend to usually make top 8 when I am playing seriously.

On MTGO, I am stuck with 3-2 or 2-3 records in the league and my practice matches are a joke. I am either playing against junk decks or playing against cookie cutter crap that I cannot take seriously.

I am not learning anything in MTGO. I know the rules of Magic very well. I was considering becoming a judge at one point and I know the flow of the game.

Is MTGO just not my thing? So many players here swear by it. So what am I doing wrong?

I really want to get to the next level and I play test every week with my brother. We cycle through all of the tier 1 decks with our decks. I regularly tune my deck and check match results to make sure that I know the meta-game.

last edited by moorebrother1


I believe that on average, the MTGO playerbase is of a higher skill level than in paper. This could account for the discrepancy between your paper and online results.

I experienced the same when I joined MTGO a few months ago. My win rate was terrible compared to my experience in paper.

But I've also learned a lot and improved measurably since then. There are several reasons for this.

First, MTGO has allowed for much easier data collection. I keep track of most of the pertinent info about my matches (basically the same info as what @Maxtortion reported in his thread about Shops). It's much more difficult to be objective about the performance of your deck, or playskill, without this data. Without hard data, it is easy to succumb to such logical traps as the "availability heuristic," in which we make decisions based on the most recent, or salient, occurrence of an event (e.g., the last time I played card X it won me my match; card X is staying in my deck). We often forget all of the times that card X was useless.

Second, MTGO permits easier implementation of "spaced practice." There is a principle in learning and memory research that skill learning is much better when practice sessions are spaced apart, rather than done in one block. That is, playing 5 matches all at once will likely lead to less long-term skill acquisition and retention than playing a match each day for 5 days. Of course, there are exceptions to this principle, but on the whole it is a robust phenomenon across a wide range of skills.

Third, the ability to review and think through replays is critical. The time constraints in a match of magic often preclude the ability to think through a decision tree in its entirety. I often replay my matches and pause at crucial decisions points, tracing out the various lines and their benefits. When I encounter similar situations in future matches, much of the basic reasoning has already been thought through.

Fourth, I think there is a big advantage in playing against many different people. People often play decks very differently. Playing against a limited set of people, whether at a local paper event or with friends, means you're less likely to see the full spectrum of how a given deck can operate. I believe this can limit the depth with which one can learn the ins-and-outs of a matchup.

I don't think it's a coincidence that many of the best players in paper magic play online. The advantages are tremendous.

last edited by Guest

@senor_bisquick I see your point to an extent. I have played with Mark Biller, Brian Demars, Kevin Cron, Nam Tran, Jerry Yang, and Stephen Menendian over the years at local events. I have not beaten them much if at all in some cases. But, my point is that I have played against some of the best players in Magic in person.

I do not get any of the "benefits" from MTGO that I get when I am playing paper from my perspective. Maybe, I'm just not playing the right deck or something.


Hm. I guess it all depends on what you want out of MTGO, What benefits do you feel that you're getting out of paper but not online?

@senor_bisquick I am looking to get better at specific things that I am weak at on paper.

Most notably, I tend to mentally give up in some control match ups or I get bored. I need to work on mulligans, when to take them and when not to.

As with anything, some days are better than others and sometimes I play at a very high level and sometimes I do not.

In my last paper event, I beat an Oath mirror then played another one and lost. The decks were almost the same but the player of the second deck was better and I also made several play mistakes.

I tend to see that on paper, take notes and adjust. I am not seeing that in MTGO. I am playing different decks on paper vs MTGO so that may explain some of this.

I am heavily invested in my Oath deck on paper and on MTGO I am play Paradoxical Mentor. Maybe, I am better at the paper deck and I need to play that online too? I do not know.

I am open to suggestions. If it does not become more fun for me I am going to quit MTGO so I am asking for help here.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 In general, it's best to try and change only a couple of things at a time. If you are trying to pick up a new deck on a new program with new record keeping or learning techniques, I think you are predisposing yourself to frustration. It sounds like you enjoy playing your Oath deck and I'm not convinced that you enjoy the paradoxical mentor deck. Maybe try that through a couple of leagues without keeping track of wins and losses? If you enjoy pauper because of not taking it as seriously, maybe step back a bit from being as competitively minded. Or focus of pauper for a time. Once you start having fun again, perhaps start watching replays and keeping track of your wins and losses.

I guess I'm very confused about what you expected out of MTGO, so I'll try to explain what I get out of MTGO.

I'm a very competitive person, and I consider myself a pretty good Magic player. I enjoy the challenge of competing against the best players, and I love the rush that comes from beating them.

Most of best Vintage players play on MTGO. You'll find pretty much all of the Eternal Weekend Top 8, and many "faceless" players who are at least as good as them. Instead of being regionally and financially restricted, an MTGO Vintage deck is not that expensive, and your opponent can be anyone in the world.

Since the prizing for these tournaments is, basically, open to anyone who can afford a deck, this leads to your average MTGO opponent being quite good. If they weren't, going 0-3 or 1-3 drop in Leagues or Challenges repeatedly would get exhausting.

The "differences" that you are noting between MTGO and paper, like that you face different decks and stronger players on MTGO, I would argue actually favors MTGO. I want to play against the best players playing the most optimized decks- and the player who's playing dozens of matches per week is just going to have a more tuned list than the person playing maybe a dozen matches per month. I'm not even going to get into the card availability discussion that comes with Sanctioned paper Vintage, but, again, I'd rather play against good players on optimized decks.

last edited by Maxtortion

@maxtortion I am not playing against better players on MTGO. My point is that I tried playing MTGO based on a lot of the thing you mentioned above and I am yet to find this.

I am a very good Magic player. I used to travel regionally and I have won power in tournaments. I played Standard back in Mirrodin Block and I did very well usually top 20 or 30 out of 900 players.

MTGO was supposed to be the place where I became a great Magic player and I am not finding that. I have a wife and kids and a very demanding job. So, I thought MTGO would provide additional practice for me become great.

I am not finding at all. All I see are net decks. When I play at my local place in our monthly events the net deck just loose. I am just having fun on MTGO so maybe it is just me.

I have money but not time is my issue. So maybe, I need buy the deck that is fun for me. I don't know.

I do know that I am not challenged but annoyed by the play and players on MTGO most of the time. But not at human to human events.

@moorebrother1 What do you mean by "not challenged but annoyed?" You mention you're going 3-2 or 2-3 in leagues; how is that not challenging you?

I'm married with a newborn baby, so I completely understand the time constraint. I can't really make it out to play paper right now, so that is one of the reasons I'm really enjoying MTGO. I can just play a match when I have 30 minutes, and even bounce the baby to sleep while doing it.

If the deck you're playing isn't fun for you, that doesn't seem like a problem with MTGO. That seems like a problem with the deck you picked.

Also, why are you disparaging net-decks? I'm a brewer, too, but the point of brewing is to exploit a hole in the metagame, and the metagame only exists because of these net-decks. I've found that the the Venn Diagram of "good players" and "players who disparage net-decks" to be two non-intersecting circles.

Finally, if the same decks are winning online and losing in paper at your local events, the most likely culprit is that the person playing it online is much better than the person playing it in paper.

If you're having trouble reconciling a different metagame online vs on paper, use MTGO to learn which cards and builds are most effective against which decks. Then, before your paper tournament, modify your list to contain the good cards against your expected metagame.

@maxtortion So, I gave your feedback a lot of thought and I tweaked my deck and played again. I played the same person twice. The first time I lost 2-0 and the second time I won 2-0.

My interaction with the player did not show me why I lost the first time and won the second time. I may have had more patience or I simply knew what he was playing.

How do I use this experience to get better?

Leagues are great, but you really do need a 6 or 7 league (at minimum) sample size with the same deck before you can make judgments on it. For example, I played the same person 3x in the same 5 match league...what did i learn from that (going 1-4 overall); That my deck was not good against ritual storm. Does that mean I should scrap the deck? Absolutely not. For me, the best way to use MTGO for testing and personal play improvement is to make MTGO friends, preferably with similar goals in mind, and grind out matches on a mutual schedule. You play 10 matches with your deck of choice vs them on a gauntlet, then you switch. You can take notes, exchange feedback and (hopefully) mutually improve.

For me, leagues are a great way to kill time after the wife and kid pass out on a weeknight. If you catch me in an MTGO league (p3temangus) i'm likely playing hearthstone on my other screen 🙂

@p3temangus Thank you very much. This is great advice. I test once a week with my brother and we are usually fairly serious but it's also good to test against other people.

@moorebrother1 said in MTGO:

@maxtortion So, I gave your feedback a lot of thought and I tweaked my deck and played again. I played the same person twice. The first time I lost 2-0 and the second time I won 2-0.

My interaction with the player did not show me why I lost the first time and won the second time. I may have had more patience or I simply knew what he was playing.

How do I use this experience to get better?

What plays were made that caused you to lose the first match? Did you overcommit into countermagic? Could you have played around something that you didn't play around?

What plays were made that caused you to win the second match?

What cards seemed pivotal in both sides of the matchup?

What cards were most effective to help your opponent win the first match?

What cards were most effective to help you win the second match?

In general, what cards were most scary from your opponent?

What cards do you have that best answers the scary cards /plays from your opponent?

These are the kinds of questions you can ask yourself in order to learn from the matches.

So, I have been giving this a lot of thought and I may be attempting to get something out of MTGO that I just cannot get from it.

I have been playing Magic for 23yrs, and I have been playing Vintage for all of those years.

When I started out Standard and Vintage were not very far apart. You could play Balance, Strip Mine and 4 Necopotence in Standard. I played competitively for a bit but not very serious until 2003.

In 2003, I played very seriously in both Standard and Vintage. I would prep for hours and I would play very hard in Standard and I got very close to some big top 8s but I would burn out around 2006.

I took a big job with IBM and slowed way down on Magic until 2009. I came back to Vintage with a fervor and started to travel to local events in Cleveland and Chicago. I did well, I went to Champs in 2010 and after a 4-0 run got 2 loses and dropped. After that, I had kids and took a break for a bit.

My point with this is that I have gotten very serious again and I wanted to play at a very high level. The way that you do that has changed.

Years ago there were weekly Vintage events, some were even sanctions as a weekly events. Then, there were weekly non-sanctioned proxy events where I could practice and perfect a deck.

Now, I have some friends in the area and my brother to test with but no access to much more than a monthly event locally and a couple of other events about 2-4hrs drive away.

The world has changed and everyone is supposedly on MTGO but I am not finding on MTGO what I found years back.

After speaking with some of you I realize that I may come off as inflammatory but I am not doing it with that intent, and I want to be part of something bigger here.

I bought into this game and I continue to spend way too much money on cardboard because I not only love the game but the interaction.

I guess MTGO can help me with some technical stuff but it is not giving me what I want.

I have to stop and admit that the issue may be me and not the platform.

Thanks for all of the great feedback and tips.

last edited by moorebrother1

You can also be the creator of a vintage meta in your area, it takes work, but it can be done. We also still have semi-regular (monthly-ish) vintage in cleveland, and usually about every other week in person testing.

@garbageaggro Thanks for the advice. I did reach out to some friends and we are going to try for bi-weekly meet up.

I also gave MTGO one more try with the focus on just technical play and I am seeing that the way I play there versus how I play on paper is so different.

Mis-clicks, phase and stack interactions are just a big pain point for me. I will give a rest for a bit and come back to try it again.

Question to everyone who plays both paper and MTGO. Why do my decks play differently on MTGO vs paper?

I took a break from MTGO and played more paper. I am not going to be able play much paper over the next month and a half so I'm giving this another go. I have built a few decks just like I have them on paper and they play very differently in MTGO.

Any explanation or is this just an incorrect perception?

last edited by moorebrother1


Either you or the client shuffle poorly.

@gremlin-lord said in MTGO:


Either you or the client shuffle poorly.

MTGO is 100% random. When shuffling in paper, it’s not certain that everyone shuffles enough to reach the same level of randomness.

last edited by enderfall


It’s impossible for a computer to generate a random number. It’s based off of the system clock. It’s also impossible to randomize a deck of cards in paper. We can get close to representing the idea of random, but you’re still starting at a specific point and implementing an “equation” to arrive at random. Random isn’t real.

last edited by Guest
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