“So, how did you get started on Magic Online?”
“How do you go infinite on Magic Online?”
All of these questions, and more, will be answered in today’s article! I will go through my transformation and evolution as a Magic Online player and provide tips to aid fellow Magic players in going infinite on Magic Online.
It all started when Wizards started having Pro Tour Qualifiers and the Magic Online Championship Series. I have a strict philosophy that every opportunity not taken advantage of is one less thing you are allowed to complain about. I would not let myself be upset at not playing in a Pro Tour if I didn’t participate in every single qualifying event possible. So, the move to virtual cards began.
To many people’s surprise, my first Magic Online name was not Watchwolf92. It was Dragon92. My father, who plays Magic, and I shared this account to play drafts together, starting with Onslaught. Eventually, he let me use Dragon92, while he made his own account, Dragon Dad. Once replays began in Version 2 of Magic Online, I would sign on just to watch and learn. Most tech would come out on Magic Online before coming to paper, so I wanted to be ahead of the curve.
Another reason why I was already acquainted with Magic Online game play and tournament structure is because one of my very good friends, Nick McKittrick, let me borrow his account and use my own tickets to play his White Weenie decks or Big Red for a little while. When did I finally start competing on my own account?
Enter Tom Visconti.
Visconti, who I almost never call by his first name, gave me one of the most generous offers I have ever encountered. He was willing to lend me his Sedraxis Jund deck that he and Danny Jordan used to win their respective States that year. At the time, Visconti and I had only known each other for about a year or two and really got to hang out at the second Pro Tour Honolulu. However, he had enough trust to just lend me his $120 deck. Having friends is the best! The only problem was that I needed a Magic Online account in my name, because when Dragon92 was made, I was a minor, so the account had to be in my father’s name.
Now, to answer the question… why Watchwolf?? Watchwolf wasn’t always my favorite Magic card. For a while, it was Reya Dawnbringer, because the Wizards of the Coast store gave me a participation T-Shirt with her on the back. Personally, I have a hard time choosing favorites, so one of two things can occur:
I choose something as a favorite just to have a favorite. There is not much rationale or emotion behind it.
I choose something that means a ton to me, and once this bond is formed, it will likely never break
Number one describes Reya Dawnbringer, while number two describes Watchwolf. My love for Watchwolf grew once Tarmogoyf was printed. I felt like Watchwolf became instantly outclassed in any format that they were both legal in. I became obsessed with Watchwolf once Wild Nacatl was printed. Now the “Watchwolf will be bigger than Tarmogoyf sometimes” argument didn’t even matter! It wasn’t fair. The cute puppy who can be seen in Spell Snare will never get played again, even though he was a staple in both Zoo and Ghazi-Glare. Someone had to still care for him, and that person was me.
I always felt like I could relate to Watchwolf better than any other Magic card. He looks like a sad puppy that wants someone to love him and walks the streets alone. I have always been a fan of walking to clear my head or to get out of a rut in my life. I also feel very lonely a lot of times and wish I would get loved more (not to sound emo or anything!!!).
His history as a Magic card reminds me of when people reach a wall in their Magic career. They used to be so good, but can’t get any better. How much better can a 3/3 for two get anyway? However, it takes someone special to aid people in climbing over their walls. Not too many people can do this alone, and I wanted to be the one to help Watchwolf climb back onto the tournament scene.
The best way to get my favorite Magic card famous was through Magic Online. I never expected to be called Watchwolf in person, but Gerry Thompson and Christian Calcano always seem to find a way to do it. By the way, anyone who would like to donate normal, FNM, foil, or Japanese Watchwolves to me is welcome to! I would love that!
Anyway, I wanted to keep the 92 at the end of my username to never forget my stepping stone, Dragon92. And thus, Watchwolf92 was born! (As a side note, my father one time jokingly said that he would make a username â€˜Watchwolf Dad’ and use it… very funny, Dad. 😀 )
I had Visconti send the following deck to my new and improved Watchwolf92 account:
- 2 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Sedraxis Specter
- 4 Sprouting Thrinax
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Putrid Leech
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
This, along with the $20 I put into Magic Online, was all I had to start off with. One thing I learnt from playing on Nick McKittrick’s account was that Daily Events had the highest payout relative to how much you pay. The entry is only six tickets, and you win between 19-21 tickets for going 3-1. This means you only have to 3-1 one out of every three to profit! Easy peasy, lemon queasy!
After a month of tight play in only Standard Daily events, I decided to try to have some fun because Magic Online seemed really easy. I turned my $20 investment into 200 tickets. I decided to play in a Ravnica Sealed event along with a lot of drafts. Soon, my massive payroll dwindled to about 75 tickets.
Pro tip: No matter how high your bankroll is, try to stay in the positive profits at the end of every day. The worst part was that I was also having a massive losing streak in Standard with Sedraxis Jund. It wasn’t looking good for our hero.
Things began to turn around slightly. I focused only on Standard Daily Events again and was able to increase the bankroll to 100 tickets in another month. However, things were about to get a little harder for this “road warrior.”
Visconti needed to get his cards back; that way he could play Magic Online again. I needed to research the cheapest deck I could play in an attempt to grind up tickets to buy Jund again. This would not be an easy feat, but it was my only option. There were many decks available. The list contained: Jund, Vampires, Grixis Control, Boros Bushwhacker, Red Deck Wins, and Valakut. I crossed Vampires, Boros, and Red Deck Wins off of the list because they were not my play style. I knew that I would be fighting an even more uphill battle if I were to invest in one of these. Jund and Grixis Control were too expensive for poor Watchwolf92. The last option? Valakut. (Oh boy! Jonathan “Valakut” Fleming would be proud :D)
This was one of the fairest versions of Valakut that seem to escape people’s memory. The deck didn’t have access to Primeval Titan, Inferno Titan, Explore, or even Evolving Wilds! This deck must seem horrible to you guys, but I can tell you that I couldn’t have been happier with this being the first deck I had to buy and play with on Magic Online. A month of grinding with this deck gave me about 90 tickets in my bankroll, after taking into account the losses from my investment. The only bad matchups were Jund and Vampires if they can get an early Mind Sludge. Jund wasn’t an auto-loss though, since you had Goblin Ruinblasters maindeck.
Worldwake decided to rear its ugly face at this time. Getting a little cocky with the bankroll, I decided to play in a Sealed Release event to get my hands on some new cards. Luckily, I was able to beat The_Great_Dustini in the finals and earn a whopping 40 packs. So, what did I do to celebrate? Open all of the packs!
Pro tip: Just like in real life… never open up your packs.
The packs had a few money cards, with the last one containing a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. At the time, I was very low on tickets so I sold all of the cards I had opened. I had to sell Jace, the Mind Sculptor for 40 tickets. Once you are able to develop a stable bankroll, you want to be able to hold onto every card you acquire unless if it is your 5+ copy of the card. Usually, the packs are worth more than its average contents, so I probably lost about 40-50 tickets by opening all of the packs. Remember to treat any and all winnings from tournaments as tickets/money and don’t give into opening them.
Before I forget, there is another way to get “free” money on Magic Online. You can use the Magic Online Championship Series to aid in your quest of going infinite. In order to qualify for the End-of-the-Season Qualifier, you need to acquire fifteen Qualifier Points. You can keep track of your points by using Ctrl+F on this page.
When you go 3-1 in a Daily Event, you will receive one Qualifier Point. If you are fortunate enough to go 4-0 in a Daily Event, you will receive three Qualifier Points. At the end of the season, you can either play in the Qualifier (which I suggest if it is Sealed), or opt out. If you do not participate, Magic Online will give you six booster packs (19-21 tickets) along with whatever the promo is for the month. You can usually sell the non-foil copy of the promo for at least five tickets. This is a free 26 tickets. Another tip is that on Magic Online, Qualifier Points are usually factored in when people split. At 3-0, if two people split, one person will usually get eight packs and three Qualifier Points, while the other person will take nine packs and one Qualifier Point. I suggest, from a going infinite point of view, to not take any splits until you reach fifteen Qualifier Points. Then, you can split and take the extra pack if you plan to opt out that season.
Back to the story! I decided to play in a Premier Event that was Zendikar Block Constructed. I decided to follow Brad Nelson article and play a Valakut variant. I lost in Top 8 to the mirror, but that was able to help put me ahead.
Since then, I wanted to play a little Block Constructed. I felt like B/W Allies with no removal and a ton of Allies was the way to go. Bala Ged Thief would usually be able to hit your opponent’s Day of Judgment, making nothing else matter while your board went crazy.
The weakest part of the deck was the mana base, which only had Marsh Flats. However, the deck only took about 25 tickets out of the bankroll, since I was able to pick up Talus Paladins at four tickets before they shot up to seven.
Pro tip: Try to buy hot cards before it’s too late. I don’t mean like Blazing Shoal last weekend. It is important to look at Magic Online-only formats, too.
Another Pro tip: Block Constructed is one of the two best ways to go infinite on Magic Online, with the other one being Pauper.
Block Constructed prices tend to be relatively low, since that is the current draft format and will eventually become Standard viable. It happens every year. Vampires, RUG, Tempered Steel. The list goes on and on. Scars of Mirrodin Block was my favorite Block Constructed format until New Phyrexia came out. More on that later.
Pauper is great because it never rotates. If you take anything away from this article, make sure you are playing Pauper and Block Constructed.
The B/W Allies deck was able to profit me about 50 tickets after a month. I decided to sell both my Valakut and B/W Allies deck to be able to finally buy Jund. I ran a version with Rampant Growth and Broodmate Dragon to be able to speed up against the mirror.
In about June, I had Jund, some random fetchlands, other money cards, and about 150-180 tickets saved up. Watchwolf92 decided to take a break. The reason? That month I started going out with a girl from school. She was my first girlfriend, and I spent a lot of time with her. (Don’t worry, ladies; I’m waiting for my second girlfriend to come along someday ;P)
I didn’t play much Magic even though she encouraged me to. Magic Online went on hold until I went to college in August. I tried selling most of my cards to buy the new flashy decks such as Valakut, Eldrazi Green, and Pyromancer Ascension. I played a lot of Magic Online during the first couple weeks of college by using the same method of strictly only playing in Standard Daily Events.
Let’s take a minute to step away from Watchwolf92 and look at Jonathan Sukenik. Around the same time Watchwolf92 was created in December, I Top 2ed my third $5,000 event in a row. This was before it was called the StarCityGames.com Open Series, so no one knew about it. I played a deck I called Blue Bird and would play either it or Mythic for the next six months.
At Grand Prix DC, I played Mythic and lost my last two rounds after starting out 7-1. During the Pro Tour Qualifier the next day, I lost my last two rounds to miss Top 8. At Regionals, I lost to one of my favorite Magic players, Ian Duke, in the Top 8. He was playing Jund, and I realized that it was possible that Jund could still be the best deck, since Ian always played the best deck or something close to it. I remember telling good buddy Alec Nezin that I would almost never play Jund in real life. The dark secret? I was playing Jund on Magic Online for months and was pretty good at it. Words could not describe people’s reaction when I played this at the Edison Pro Tour Qualifier that Nick Spagnolo won:
- 2 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Sprouting Thrinax
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 2 Borderland Ranger
- 2 Abyssal Persecutor
- 4 Nest Invader
I was able to fine-tune this deck in a day because I had so much experience with it on Magic Online.
Pro tip: Use Magic Online to play the decks you would not normally play in real life.
I have played Red Deck Wins, Boros, Valakut, Jund, and Mono-Green Eldrazi as Watchwolf92, and I would never dream to play with those decks as Jonathan Sukenik. However, being able to play those decks, I was able to understand their point of view when I played against them in real life. It is one way to build up your inner “Darkest Mage.”
Now, things got interesting. I sold every single thing I earned in my seven months of playing Magic Online to buy up all of the cards for Scars of Mirrodin and play nothing but Block Constructed. For the record, I had accumulated exactly 404 tickets and probably would have been more if I didn’t take so much time off and play random Sealed events.
Scars of Mirrodin was the most fun Block Constructed I had played so far, and I would like to think of myself as a Block Constructed expert (as Larry “Swasey Shuffle” Swasey would surely attest to). Early on, only three decks were identified. Those were Koth Red, Mono-Blue Grand Architect, and U/W Control. The format was Rock-Paper-Scissors with Koth Red beating U/W Control, U/W Control beating Mono-Blue Grand Architect, and Mono-Blue Grand Architect beating Koth Red.
Personally, I felt like turn 2 Iron Myr, turn 3 Koth of the Hammer had to be the best play, so I wanted to play Koth Red. The only problem was that it was clear that U/W Control was only about 55/45 against Mono-Blue Grand Architect, so almost everyone started playing Mono-Blue Grand Architect. I needed to come up with some tech and fast.
The Koth Red players scrambled for answers, with the most common one being Liquimetal Coating to accompany both Shatter and Oxidda Scrapmelter. This only helped against Volition Reins but didn’t really help against Wurmcoil Engine or Myr Battlesphere. Running Hoard-Smelter Dragon was just asking to get Stoic Rebuttal-ed and Volition Reins-ed. My tech? Mimic Vat.
With Mimic Vat, you just needed to stick either an Oxidda Scrapmelter or one of your opponent’s fatties onto it, and you were home free. I ran a lot of Shatters, Oxidda Scrapmelters, and Hoard-Smelter Dragons to make sure that even if they Volition Reins-ed my Mimic Vat, I could just kill the Mimic Vat. The list literally had no bad matchups. Here is how it looked:
- 26 Mountain
So, what is the relevance of this? I am simply talking about a dead format that no one cares about. The point is that once I broke the format really badly, I 4-0ed every Block Daily Event. That is not even an exaggeration. In December, after my girlfriend broke up with me, I didn’t know what to do with myself and wanted to escape reality to prevent myself from getting really depressed. (Yes, people who smile and laugh all the time like me can get depressed :P)
My escape was the ringer known as Watchwolf92. I would play every single Block Constructed Daily Event and accumulated 47 Qualifier Points from this one format in two weeks.
The story after this doesn’t involve very much. I had some left over Boros stuff from Zendikar Block, so I made Boros in Standard and made 100 tickets off of it in a month or two. I was able to start double queuing, which was a lot easier before they only gave you 25 minutes for a match instead of 30 minutes. I don’t recommend doing this unless if you have money/tickets to spare.
I started to get a lot of tickets everyday as a result of playing Magic Online both in class and in my friend’s suite full of Magic players. You guys are all awesome!!! For one Magic Online Championship Series, I borrowed a RUG deck similar to the one I Top 4ed the StarCityGames.com Open in Edison with. Using some of those cards, I built Grixis Tezzeret for an Online Pro Tour Qualifier, which got me my first article on this very website, along with Gerry Thompson giving me a (unrequested and very much appreciated) shout out over Twitter. Of course, he said Watchwolf92 in the post since not too many people knew that I was Watchwolf92.
So, what is the take away from this article? I hope I was able to give you some insight on how to go infinite on Magic Online, or at least how I was able to do it. Maybe, those of you who were hesitant to get into Magic Online will reconsider.
If you have enough play skill along with a little of innovation (see Koth Red), you can really see results. It can help your real life play by playing decks online that you wouldn’t normally play in real life. Magic Online can also get rid of tilt, since you will lose so often.
However, as I stated earlier, you only have to 3-1 one out of every three Daily Events to profit. This article was not meant to talk about formats from the past. It was meant to be used to understand my evolution as Watchwolf92 and that you can do it, too.
When Innistrad comes out, I was thinking about putting aside 100 tickets and showing how I could go infinite from “scratch.” Let me know in the comments if you think this would be a good idea for articles in the future.
Thanks for reading,
Jonathan “Watchwolf92” Sukenik