The Sukenik Special – Improving Magic Online

Something I’d like to discuss today is something that I would really like the readers to get involved in. The topic? Improving Magic Online. Feel free to comment on your own thoughts!

Hey guys! I hope everyone’s Qualifier Point accumulation is going fine. My count has seen better days, but I think I may be onto a brew that I like. Something I’d like to discuss today is something that I would really like the readers to get involved in. The topic? Improving Magic Online.

Magic Online is a great product for Wizards/Hasbro. Just think about it. You pay real money for digital objects. I haven’t seen something so amusing since I learnt what timeshares were. Currently, there are thousands upon thousands of users on Magic Online. It would be nice for them to listen to our suggestions and possibly improve the program. I will be discussing my ideas for improvements to Magic Online, and please feel free to comment with your suggestions or whether you agree or disagree with my ideas.

One thing that would be very easy to improve would be the prize support. As we all know by now, Daily Events have the highest expected value, which means that it yields the highest ratio of potential prize to entry cost and the number of rounds you have to win. I can’t really see the problem with improving Premier Events in the same matter.

If you Top 16, you receive three packs, which pretty much covers your entry fee. However, going 4-2 or 5-2 will most likely get you Top 16. In a Daily Event, you surely would have 3-1’ed one of them with this record, which nets you profit.

The real nail in the coffin for me? If you Top 8 and then lose, you get six packs. That’s right; for having an X-1 or better record, you receive the same amount of packs as 3-1 in a Daily Event. Hooray, I get two extra Qualifier Points. However, not everyone on Magic Online is interested in Qualifier Points; some people just want to be able to play Magic, and they want to stay infinite.

Every win in the Top 8 will get you nine packs. This is the part where you will truly profit in terms of time and money. However, I feel like it is not completely fair that Top 8ing a Premier Event is “worse” than 3-1 in a Daily Event.

A possible solution to this would be to either increase all of the prizes for Premier Events or make it less top heavy. Either way, Premier Events are definitely not the most efficient, and as Aaron “Insaniac” Martin said after going from 4-1 to 4-2 in a Premier Event, “I just wasted half my day.” From a design standpoint, I would hate to make an event where everyone but eight people feel like they wasted half a day.

On the subject of “wasting” time, Pro Tour Qualifiers online are just horrendous. It is truly a tournament where if you’re not first, you’re last. I can’t believe the payout for these events. While first place gets a ton of packs and an invite, second only gets 36 booster packs. It only gets worse from there. It is not like it costs Wizards/Hasbro money to make these packs; I think they should simply reward people more for doing decently at Pro Tour Qualifiers online; that way it would attract more people.

Another thing that would attract more people in general to Magic Online would be to change the Limited events on Magic Online. Limited events have a lot lower expected value than Constructed events. This is supposedly done because the Limited events give you a chance to get “money” cards. However, more often than not, the cards that you get just aren’t worth remotely close to the entry. Many $2 cards in person are $0.50 online, as you can read in Wes Wise Premium article from this week. The entry fee for Limited events is anywhere from $5 more (like a Pro Tour Qualifier online) to $14 more (like a Limited Premier event or a Daily Event). This provides an unnecessary risk to the game that would only be fine if the cards on Magic Online were actually worth something.

Even if we look at eight-man queues, it is a lot harder to go infinite in Limited than Constructed. In Limited, you will have to win or split two out of every three. For Constructed, you can just split or win every other event. A simple solution would be to fuse 4-3-2-2s and 8-4s to yield something like 9-5-3-3 or maybe something a little less extreme. However, I think there has to be a possible solution here. Maybe 8-4-2-2 will be enough; in Constructed 8-mans, you can win round one and break even, and I think drafts should be the same way as well. I just want there to be a way that one can go infinite on Magic Online without playing Constructed.

As a side note, there is a format that is being experimented on Magic Online right now and is called the Phantom Drafts. What this means is that you can pay a reduced cost in order to draft, and you do not get to keep any of the cards that you draft. Currently, this is only done with “Planeswalker Packs,” but if it can move to Innistrad Drafts or even older fun draft formats like Ravnica block and Invasion block, I have a feeling even more people would make a move to Magic Online.

Speaking of older formats, I don’t understand why Wizards/Hasbro discontinues selling packs in the store on Magic Online. This creates a shortage of a ton of cards and makes it really inconvenient. For instance, good luck finding a Hallowed Fountain for less than 35 tickets. The third set of a block always has fewer cards in print than the others. The amount of copies of a certain card becomes finite once they decide to discontinue the product, and once demand goes up enough (which happens whenever a season like Modern or the Classic Winter Celebration rolls around), these cards become next to impossible to find because people will hoard cards and sell it for insane profits. This could all be solved if people could buy any packs from the store, even at a slightly high value (say $5-6/pack).

While on the topic of packs, we come to an idea from my father. When you win a Scars of Mirrodin block draft, you will get an unequal number of packs. Usually, you will get more Scars of Mirrodin packs. However, the value of Mirrodin Besieged and New Phyrexia will go up because there will be fewer in circulation. A simple solution could be that when you win, a pop up should come up, and you can get for example eight New Phyrexia packs, or two Scars of Mirrodin, three Mirrodin Besieged, and three New Phyrexia packs, etc. Also, if you are not online when you win your packs, this feature will just come up with you log in next time.

Now, how about we get down to something I know everyone wants to see return? Please, oh please, bring back intentional drawing. I have been in a position many times where if I were playing the same exact tournament in person, I would Top 8 because I could intentionally draw, but online, since you can’t draw, if you lose, you pray on your tiebreakers. The funny part? More often than not, I breaker out of Top 8. I don’t mean for this to sound like a bad beat story; I’m sure it has happened to just about everyone.

In fact, these topics aren’t at all independent because we can change the prize support to allow for intentional draws in the last round. A very good Magic Online ringer and friend of mine got one of his accounts banned because he tried to split at 2-1 in a Daily Event. This would mean that each person would get 3 packs. Why did he get banned? Because this “split” is considered the same as collusion. Packs are given in exchange for the win. However, almost everyone does this on Magic Online; it is accepted by everyone except Wizards/Hasbro. How can we solve this?

So first, let’s tackle Daily Events. You can have the prize support for 4-0 become twelve packs (and 3 QPs) and keep 3-1 at six packs (and 1 QP). Next, the prize for 3-0-1 should be nine packs and 2 QPs, while the prize for 2-1-1 is three packs and 0 QPs. This structure will even work if a 2-1 wants to split with a 3-0.

8-man events are also really easy to solve. You can keep the same prize structure. For Constructed 8-mans, which has a payout of 5-3-2-2, you can have a split in the finals be 4 packs each, and no one gets the QP. This makes people really have to earn their QPs instead of just “splitting” it or whatnot. Drafts can undergo a similar change for 8-4’s, and I suppose 4-3-2-2’s could become 5-3-2-2’s.

I wouldn’t want to leave the casual Magic Online players out on this one. After talking to Esper Control Master MysticNinjaGoemon, he told me that the Casual Room doesn’t have team events anymore. This means no more Two-Headed Giant, Three-Headed Giant, and no more Emperor. It sure has been a while since I played Casual Magic Online, but I remember those days very well. Emperor was such a great format, and if you’ve never played it before, I suggest you look it up and give it a shot with five other friends. I sure wish that these exciting formats could be brought back.

The last thing I would like is the ability to split-screen your games if you are in more than one; that way you don’t have to constantly click on the tab at the bottom to switch between matches. Plus I told Sandydogmtg aka Brandon Burton that I could play five matches at once if I could split-screen, and who doesn’t like a good challenge?

So, those are my thoughts. What are your thoughts? I would be excited to hear them!! Please leave them in the comment section below and who knows… maybe we will see our features in the next version of Magic Online!

Thanks for Reading,

Jonathan “Watchwolf92” Sukenik