Ask Ken, 07/28/2004

Where do you see MTGO five years from now and what impact will MTGO have on magic in general and the Pro Tour in particular?

Nothing burps better than bacon. Your water looked tasty. This is Ask Ken. I’m your host, obscure reference man. I think this will be my gimmick until people start telling me how much this one sucks. If you can identify the reference in sentence one, then you are nearly as cool as I. Let’s head to the inbox.

Today’s letter comes to us from Chris Popp. Chris writes:

Hi Ken, 

I’m interested in your thoughts about Magic Online (MTGO).

When you first heard about and saw MTGO, what were your initial impressions and reaction? How has MTGO compared up to those early expectations? Where do you see MTGO five years from now and what impact will MTGO have on magic in general and the Pro Tour in particular?



Well Poppin’ Fresh, I have always maintained that MTGO is a great thing. The initial move to strictly online play scared me a little. It promoted laziness and took away from the social aspect of the game. But the pendulum eventually swung back and now I’d say Magic, at least in the pro community, is played as much online as it is in real life.

MTGO can only improve with time. While things were shaky for a while, they have a talented group of young programmers there and I think you will see good things from it over those five years you speak of. Hold on, Guerilla Tactics just triggered…

The affect on the Pro Tour has been interesting. While it has made people much better technical players, it has also promoted laziness, as I stated earlier. The optional triggers going on the stack is a great time saver in MTGO and assures you don’t miss it. That luxury doesn’t exist in real life, so frequent online players might miss it.

Another problem is that you don’t have to worry about tells online. There are some that exist, but for the most part the game is purely technical.

I do wish the releases lined up though. I understand why they don’t from a financial standpoint, and I suppose I have to agree with their policy. I think it is slightly bad for the game and incredibly good for their bottom line. Financially the decision makes sense.

I also think it is slightly usuristic for them to charge the same price for online packs, since the overhead is so much lower. I feel like I am being a little gouged.

All in all, I really love the game and I think they are doing a great job. It is still early in the life of this product, so try to be a little more understanding when things go wrong. By the way, I have Fatespinner in play – you lose.

The source of MTGO opinions


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Welcome, step right up to the action-packed, treasure-filled mines of the Red Dwarf Range.* Oh I’m sorry, wrong voice over. Welcome back to another great adventure on Ask Ken. I’m your host, Kartin’ Ken. Let’s see what you wacky viewer have in store for us today.

Today’s question comes to us from Rochester, NY Local Guru Andy Chapman. Andy writes:

Dear Ken,

I have been playing Magic competitively for years and just really want to get better. I feel my game has improved a lot, but I can’t seem to make it to the next level, namely to the Pro Tour, or even to a PT top 8. I know that luck is only one factor of the game, but it seems to be a factor i can’t overcome. Are Pro players actually luckier than the rest of us, or is there really something else I can do to get past it?

Seeing as I am frustrated from the PTQ this weekend where i went 1-3 drop, I thought I’d write you this to work with. Hope this spices things up for you.


Well there is one thing that will hurt a man’s game and his chances to improve more than anything else. That thing is the delusion that (s)he is better than (s)he actually is.

I don’t presume to say you are bad, but I do remember some of your more famous hang-ups. First and foremost, you were morally opposed to playing”net decks.” I am all for creativity, and I have no problem with people playing rogue decks. However, to do so denies you a powerful weapon in tournaments.

Second, don’t make excuses for your losses. Even if you don’t know why you lost and you feel mana screwed, try to replay the game in your head. Go back and see if, despite your mana screw, you could have eked out a win. Also look at some of your deck building choices, or even your draft choices.

There is certainly luck in Magic, but there is far more skill.

The source of making the most of your losses,


Thanks for continuing to tune in. This labor of love forges ahead with new material every business day. I’ll be here tomorrow, I swear. G’night everybody!

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Time is going by so fast these days. Here we are in the last week of July and this is still Ask Ken. And I’m still your host, Ken Krouner. Alright, no speeches, let’s get to work.

Today’s question comes to us from He Who Has No Name. HWHNN writes:

So, at the Rochester PTQ this weekend, I was playing Crystal Witness; at 3-1 and paired up against a 4-0. Great, here I am sitting at table 2… Round 5 of 6 for the main.

This is clearly less of a Magic question, and far more of a metagame / tournament rules question: Opponent offered an ID. Should I have taken the draw there to take the guaranteed 1 point, and planned to refuse a draw in the sixth, or played it and risked the 3-2 going to the sixth that I ended up with?

Actual results: 0-2, Raffinity with Hoverguards buzzsawed me with great drops both games.

This is always a tricky position. Many people will tell you it is never correct to take the draw. I will outline some scenarios where it is correct.

The hardest time to do this is Limited. When you need a draw and a win to make top 8 and you are 3-1 and paired up against a good player who wants the draw, what is the best course of action? Even trickier is what to do against a bad player. When a bad player is x-0, you can count on them having a very powerful sealed deck. Then it is a matter of confidence. Are your skills and your deck enough to get you a win this round? If the answer is yes, play it out.

Constructed is a whole different animal. In Constructed, you need to have scouts. There is no excuse for being in the penultimate round and not know what the undefeated players are playing. Once you have this information, you should base your decision on your current matchup and your probable matchups for the next round.

As a corollary to this, if you are playing a friend and you are both x-1, do not draw. It is better to get one of you locked into top 8 and the other out of the tournament than to leave the possibility that you will both be knocked out. When you are on a team, three points is better than two.

The source on the ID,


Well folks, we are just gearing up for an exciting week here. Hold on to your hats and enjoy. G’night everybody!

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