Going Infinite, Or At Least Slightly Unbounded – The Blisterguy Way

He’s been hinting at it for weeks, but today blisterguy finally comes clean. You want to know how the man makes his scratch online? The secret techniques as to why he hasn’t had to pay for packs in years? The blister-approved methodology on how to never actually pay for another draft again? It’s all here folks, so go to.

I have alluded in the past two weeks, that I may have perhaps, gone slightly infinite on Magic Online. I say slightly because I don’t spend that much time online. A man has to work, a man has to sleep, a man has to love, and damnit! …a man has to eat creamy beef lasagne at some point in the week! And that my friends, doesn’t leave all that much time for going infinite on the MODO. Especially if you plan on doing it without playing a single sanctioned game.

(That’s your line there, plucky audience!)

Plucky audience: “But woah there mcblisterguy! Surely ‘going inf.’ is associated with winning inf. draft queues?”

That it is plucky audience, that it is.

Stand Aside For Going Infinite Technique Number One: Winning The Drafts

When MODO exited beta testing all those years ago, the draft queue prize structure was 8-4. This means that the first place player got eight boosters, and second place got four. Sadly, the other six players got a nothing more and nothing less than what they drafted. To “Go Infinite” was to make the finals in every draft you entered, or win every second draft you entered, or get this, somewhere in between those two! (Shock, gasp, and horror!) In other words, if you came at least second, you got enough packs to draft again, and if you won, you made out like a bandit. However, many finalists elected to split the prizes and walk away with six packs apiece, which works just fine too, funnily enough. The two tickets also required for the draft could be gained from selling off an extra pack in a pinch, or selling some of the random rares and uncommons you drafted. Back then, life was good for the good, and not the greatest for the rest of us who dared to at least be honest.

So theoretically, you could “go infinite” by winning. There was rumor of people doing this, but little evidence to back this up. How could we really know if someone had dipped into his or her credit card or not? Eventually, to combat the idea of a select few (known as sharks) feeding off the rest us and Going Infinite, the draft queue prize structure was changed to 4-3-2-2. This flattened out the prizes so that all you had to do to win something was win your first round. Unfortunately, to have enough packs to actually draft again, you had to at least make the finals, and to profit outside of the cards you drafted, even if only minimally, you had to win outright.

The important part of this change was the fact that there was one less pack given away, and this caused the MODO population, a bunch of jaded cheapskates at best, to get all up in arms like only an internet userer could. Wizards of the Coast then said “shrug” and reinstated the 8-4 queues, therefore giving us the choice between Maximum Gains and Almost Certainty.

(As it turns out, the sharks decided that the easy pickings were in the 4-3-2-2 queues anyway, and they’ve mostly stayed there.)

Those who are in search of a Good, Solid Draft with Good, Solid Players however (lay off the pizzas and jelly donuts, guys, seriously) still use the 8-4 queue. The level of competition is higher and get this, some people come to play slash practice and don’t actually mind the cost involved.

When all is said and done though, Going Infinite by drafting is the hardest task available to an Online Magical Card Player, and if Going Infinite is your goal, then entering a draft is basically going about it the wrong way.

However, draft is one of the better formats available and shouldn’t be missed. There’s nothing stopping you from drafting while trying to Go Infinite, but you have to realize that you have to work in other areas to be able to draft regularly for free.

Mentally Prepare For Going Infinite Technique Number Two: Spending Money To Make Money

This is technically the best way to Go Infinite, but in some ways it doesn’t actually count, because you’re having to spend a fair whack of money to get there. Sure, there’s no way to get into Magic Online without spending some money at first, but the Spending Money technique involves investing heavily in Digital Card Stock, and if you’re gonna do that, then why not just pay to play and enjoy yourself?

Anyway, it works like this. You spend the voucher you get when you register a Magic Online account on whatever pack happens to be selling for the most tickets on the MODO Message Board (this is how you should spend your voucher regardless, actually). These days it tends to be something along the lines of 8th Edition packs and Champions of Kamigawa Tournament packs, but don’t quote me on that, because as I mentioned slash gloated about earlier, it’s been several years since I’ve needed to step foot within the Official Magic Online Store. You then sell off these items for tickets, which should net you more tickets than if you had just spent the voucher on tickets from the Online Store.

Now you rinse and repeat, naming each new account something suitably shop-like such as ‘Selling_Uncommons1″, “Selling_Uncommons2”, “Selling_Uncommons3”, “Selling_Rares1”, “Buying_Uncommons1” and so on. With the tickets you have obtained you start buying bulk uncommons and rares. Bulk rares are usually purchased at a rate of three rares for one ticket, but the rates for buying uncommons tend to fluctuate depending on what people are prepared to spend, generally between eight and 32 uncommons per ticket.

I know that sounds a little odd, but imagine Joe_Drafter has just decided to sell off a bunch of his excess uncommons, and let’s face it, he will probably have quite a few. He first visits Buyer_01 who happens to be paying one ticket for eight uncommons of his or her choice. After Buyer_01 has plucked all of the choice pieces from Joe_Drafter’s collection, Joe then moves on to Buyer_02, who is paying one ticket for 16 uncommons. Eventually Joe will end up paying a visit to Buyer_X who is only paying one for 32 uncommons, in other words, buying up the left over chaff. These Buyers then move their new purchases over to their selling accounts. The uncommons bought at 8 for one may end up selling at two for a ticket, or possibly even one ticket each. The rest will go at somewhere between four for one and 18+ for one.

This is of course, very time consuming, but remember, this is the “if you had unlimited resources” approach to Going Infinite. A computer can run as many copies of Magic Online as you dare, but bare in mind that opening multiple trades with people who have thousands of cards showing as available for trade is a sure-fire way of chewing up your virtual memory. You may remember my computer from last week’s column, which has been likened to rotting vegetable matter. I’m certain this thing has a union of some kind. Any time I attempt to open more than three copies of MODO at once, a couple of suited heavies pay me a visit and “suggest” I back down unless I want to see what opening more than three cans o’ whoop-ass feels like in return.

Some people have gone as far as programming themselves a bot to do the trading for them. This is usually just a simple application that can run through a singular trade routine, such as selling X cards for a ticket. I can’t claim to be an expert on this subject, but I have been told by those in the know that you can’t actually design a bot that will interfere or interact with the Magic Online software itself. You can however design something that recognizes the images Magic Online puts on screen for you and can click parts of these images to simulate a user selling any X cards for a ticket. This can (and usually does) include pasting messages into the chat window such as “Hello tHere, i am a bot. u have 7 minuTES TO cOMPLETE yOUR TRAde. pls press confimr when ur redy”. The drawback however, is that this bot software will usually be unable to run more than one instance on any one machine.

Thankfully, having several computers each running a single copy of Magic Online is a viable option for some people, and one that I assume pays off quite nicely in the long run. Walking away from it all and coming back to an ever-increasing pile of tickets is probably quite rewarding, but can you be bothered going through all that setup rigmarole? I know I can’t.

***Important note about bot software! If you can’t build it yourself, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who are willing to design something for you and perhaps even charge you money for it. You then have only yourself to blame when their software reads your login details and then transmits them to the software designer, who has just cleaned out your precious Magic Online account. Either build it yourself, or don’t use it at all***

You can also make some tickets buying and sell packs this way. If you want to buy a single booster pack on the message board, it will most likely cost you four tickets. If you want to sell a single booster pack, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone paying more than three tickets. The way to make your tickets here is to be the person waiting when someone comes to sell their pack for three, and then also be that person when someone comes to buy a pack for four. There is quite a bit of variation in draft set prices, depending on what is in short supply from time to time. For instance, a CCB draft set (Champs, Champs, and Betrayers) can often be bought for 11 tickets, and can also often be sold for 10. But the math is still there to help you make with the free tickets.

Physically Brace Yourself For Going Infinite Technique Number Three: Winning The Constructeded Queues

This is the best way to Go Infinite, but this technique also requires some initial outlay. The prize structure on a Constructed queue is 5-4-2-2, and instead of having to fork out three packs and two tickets like you would for a draft, the cost is a mere six tickets. This means if you win your first round, you will have just done the equivalent of buying two packs at three each, which as mentioned above, is the kind of deal you’re looking for as a buyer. Of course, winning your second round then throws you deep in to profitable territory, which can only be considered a good thing. People who are smarter than me have told me that you only need to win around 55% of your matches in the 8-man Constructed queues to be coming out on top here.

Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, because you need a Standard deck to play, and Standard decks change. However, once you’ve rounded up a competitive deck, it’s usually pretty straightforward from there. You can either try turning your profits into another deck, or perhaps selling off your Birds of Paradise for Arc-Sloggers one week, and then cashing up to Vedalken Shackles the next, and so on. In order to stay on top of this, you’ll need a good network of friends who are also interested in playing the Constructed queues and premier events. With more ears and eyes at your disposal, you can be more finely attenuated to the gentle shifts in the metagame and subtle changes in to your opponent’s strategies. That and you can lend each different decks to play.

Clench Your Buttocks For Going Infinite Technique Number Four: Blister-Fu

I am a busy man. I don’t have time to be clowning about in Constructed queues all day long, and there’s no way my wife will let me fill our spare room with computers that chew up our internet connection and power bill like they’re coated in some gooey caramel sauce. Mmmmm, gooooey…


…right. Um, anyway. Those other Going Infinite techniques are not for me, no sir, for I have blister-fu: the art of randomly ending up with more tickets than I started out with. Admittedly, I’m not exactly the Bill Gates of Magic Online here, but true to the blister-fu credo, I am in fact definitely ending up with more tickets than I started out with, and here’s how I do it.

First of all, I run three copies of Magic Online at once, each logged in as a different user. Before you ask, I actually have four accounts, but just remember Big Reg and Bruiser from the union… *shudders* …I’m actually finding I get by quite nicely with just the three, anyway. Every time I turn on my computer, if I know I’m going to be on it for at least half an hour or so, I’ll also load up those three instances of MODO and get my advertising messages up on the message board. I can then leave them running while I check my email, read the latest updates to Starcitygames, or just generally browse the forums for gossip, tech and pictures of Ted holding babies. Every now and again someone will open a trade with one of my accounts, and the ol’ flashing taskbar icon will bring me in for the kill …err, I mean trade. Even if I know I’m not going to be doing any playing or drafting, I’ll still have those three MODOs running. Right now, as I type this, people are opening trades with me.

My first account I use to buy things such as booster packs, sought-after rares, and sometimes even top-dollar uncommons. Exactly what I am buying with this account at any one time depends on what is hot and what is not. I also try to pick up some bargains that I think will increase in value in the future, which can be anything from one week’s time, to several years down the line. For instance, I have been hoarding and selling Sensei’s Diving Tops for months now.

The next account I use for selling these rares and packs. I prefer to use a different account for the buying to the selling for two reasons. Two accounts give me more advertising space on the message board. If I’m offering to buy a diverse range of cards, I’m more likely to get hits than if I’m only after Meddling Mages for example. It also prevents people from seeing me at my Capitalist-Pig worst. We all know I’m out to make free tickets by buying packs for three and selling them for four and so on. But to actually have a message that reads “buying C/B for 3 – selling C/B for 4” is really just rubbing it in the nose of the customer, and I ain’t down whi’ dat dawg.

The third account I use to sell off all my draft rejects. However, because I’m advertising that I’m selling uncommons and rares at two for one ticket, I’m not moving as much of the Bad Stuff as I would be if I was selling them all at 12 for one fir instance. Instead, I choose to selectively supplement my sales with desirable uncommons. Not Great Stuff like Eternal Witness (last seen selling for eight tickets each), but general good stuff like Thieving Magpie, Stalking Stones, Boil, and Tallowisp to name but a few. Now there are other people out there selling these cards at around 4 for a ticket, and perhaps even less, but their advertising messages usually read something like “4 uncommons for 1 – just open a trade! – automated”.

My message features these cards (and others) by name, so if Gerald_Constructed wanders on to the message board and searches for those Boils he’s after, the search engine will match him up with my account, or another that is actually advertising the cards for sale by name. After Gerald_Constructed has taken away his four Boils for two tickets, I can wander off to the 4 for one bots and replace my recently sold cards with four more, and be left up a ticket.

This last trick probably won’t work forever, especially now that I’ve told you guys how to do it, but it’s that kind of creativity and multifaceted approach that’s needed to trade your way up to free draft sets and Constructed decks.

As you can see, the blister-fu technique is just a much-reduced version of the Ultra-Mega-Trade-Bot-Corporation technique discussed above in Going Infinite Technique number two. The art of blister-fu can be supported by the occasional romp through a Constructed queue or premier event, and should even allow you to draft for free every now and again, but can actually be achieved without entering any sanctioned tournaments.

So to recap:

1) Infinite by playing the draft queues – not for the faint hearted and even less likely to yield positive results.

2) Infinite by running some kind of evil empire of accounts and machines controlled by bot software – huge initial investment. Completely impractical for anyone but the 28 year-olds among us who still live at home.

3) Infinite by playing the constructed queues – a much better idea than you’d think, and certainly good times if you enjoy Constructed.

4) Infinite by the ancient art of blister-fu – not entirely infinite, but certainly enough to stop you ever having to bust out the credit card at the Magic Online Store.

But remember this important point. Magic Online lives only because people spend money at the store. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t spend money there, and I’m not saying I never will again (however, it is still quite unlikely that I will ever need to in a hurry). But if my priorities change and I want to start drafting on a nightly basis, then maybe I’ll be back to that store with my credit card like everyone else. There’s certainly no shame in that. Although for me there may be a vicious beating or two from my wife when the Visa bill finally arrives…

So join me next time when I try to resurrect my once regular “Prerelease Survival Guide” series. Of course, it all depends just how much of the spoiler is available by then, and just how long I can force myself to stay up writing these things (only three hours until I have to get up for work!) but we shall see soon, shan’t we?