Beginner's Guide to MTGO

Online Magic formats (MODO/Cockatrice/Apprentice/MWS/Duels of the Planeswalkers)

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Beginner's Guide to MTGO

Postby ( G_R ) » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:19 pm

This is a community project. As such, anyone can contribute to it by posting any alterations/additions in this thread, to be edited into this post. If you see something incomplete or inaccurate, please help us fix it! So, who wants to help?


Beginner’s Guide to MTGO

Welcome to the experience of playing your favorite TCG over the Internet. Since this info is not always easy to find, here’s a collection of tips to start up with. This Guide assumes that you have basic knowledge on MTG’s rules, including combat, priority, turns, steps and phases. For more information, check the Rules and the Magic Academy.

1. Getting Started
What is MTGO?

Magic: The Gathering Online, or MTGO is the official software from Wizards of the Coast (WotC) for playing MTG over the Internet. It's based on the concept of "digital objects" which are the cards or booster packs, among others. Previous versions of the game (currently we're at V3) were called "Magic Online with Digital Objects", or MODO. This acronym stuck and, to this day, it's still used as a synonym of MTGO.

Downloading and Starting the Program

First, you need to download the client and a $10 account (Paypal or Credit/Debit). You can do that here:

:dontoverusethis: Warning

It is very recommended that you do not use non-English letters in your user name (such as ñ, ç, ö, etc.) and other information (such as addresses), as this may cause delays in the processing of your order. If you have problems because of this, you will have to contact customer service.

Once the program is installed, when you click the icon in your desktop, you are not actually running MTGO, but a program named Renamer.exe. This program downloads a second program, Kicker.exe which verifies if you have the latest version of MTGO and updates it if needed. From here you can also launch MTGO_NET.exe, which is the actual client. If the server is down, or you have problems with your internet connection, Renamer.exe will return the following message: “The latest version of Magic Online's 'Kicker' program could not be downloaded”.

You can create a shortcut to MTGO_NET.exe to bypass the whole Renamer+Kicker thing. This is useful to run the program in offline mode (editing decks is practically all you can do), but also saves time when you know for a fact that there’s not a new version available.

Once the game loads, you’ll be taken to the Home tab. The buttons on the left work as follows:

Play: Takes you to the Just for Fun. (See “The Rooms” section)
Shop: Takes you to the Store. (See “The Store” section)
Draft: Takes you to the 8 Player Draft Room.
Trade: Takes you to the Classifieds.
New Player: Takes you to the Just Starting Out.

Other tabs include Collection, Deck Editor and the Store. If you click the Menu you can Log Off, change your settings, find rooms (under Play), etc.

Some Basic Concepts

MTGO is a client-based application. It connects to WotC's server to check for updates (See the 'Downtime' section) and
synchronizes your collection. All files are stored in your computer, however.

Your $10 account gives you access to the server and some product (see below). There are no monthly fees or other charges, but you still have to spend money on product if you want to increase your card collection.

When you open your collection for the first time you'll see a "New Player Starter Kit" right click and choose open one of these. It will give you the following items:

2 Event Tickets - Event Tickets (or simply 'Tix') are used to enter Tournaments. However, at a cost of $1, they are used as the de facto currency within MTGO. This means that "selling" and "buying" cards/packs can be done by trading for tix (See the 'Trading and Bots' section for more information).

1 Magic 2013 booster - It is generally better to either sell this booster (~3 tix) or to use it in a limited (sealed or draft)
tournament event.

1 Planeswalker 2013 Deck Pack - These gold-bordered cards that are used in the Planeswalker format (DPA), in the New Players Room (see the 'Rooms' section). These cards cannot be mixed with regular cards on decks, and they cannot be traded away. If you don't intend to play with them in said format, you're better off not opening the pack, as the cards will hinder deck building in the Deck Editor.

Tip: If you already opened your DPA pack you can always set the Deck Editor's filter to 'Classic'. This will show you all cards EXCEPT for gold-bordered ones.

4 New Player Tickets - These special, untradeable tickets let new players enter the two new tournament queues listed below that are designed to let them become familiar with how Magic Online works in a low-pressure environment. See the Events Section for more info.

5 Avatars - Mostly cosmetic these represent your player in the client. Some avatars such as
Momir Vig are used for digital only formats.

2. Playing the Game: Setting Stops, Passing/Keeping Priority and Conceding
Tip: Try right-clicking anywhere you can think of, to see what options are available, if any.


MTGO automatically passes priority in certain situations, to speed up game play. Unless you set up a stop, you could go directly from your Main phase to declaring attackers, without any opportunity to cast instants or activate abilities beforehand. So, the first thing you want to do when you’re ready to play is to set up the stops on the steps/phases during which you want to be given the chance to take action.

To set up a stop, simply click on the step/phase icon on the left of your screen and select whether you want to stop on your turn, your opponent’s turn, neither or both. This can be done even during a game. Have a Silence in hand? Just set up a stop
on your opponent’s upkeep, and when you have no use for that stop, simply remove it.

Whenever you cast a spell, or activate an ability, MTGO automatically passes priority to your opponent, so they can respond to what’s on the stack. However, in certain situations you want to respond to your own spells/abilities, so you want to keep priority, instead of passing it blindly.

To keep priority, hold down the Ctrl key while casting your spell. It is recommended that you hold the key during the whole process of casting the spell (tapping mana, selecting targets, choosing values for [mana]X[/mana], etc.) to avoid mishaps.

Sometimes you have done everything you can or want in a turn. To automatically pass priority use one of the commands described in the “MTGO Commands” section.

Conceding the Game

To concede the game, right-click anywhere on the playing area (battlefield) and select the concede option from the popup menu. You will be prompted for confirmation.
Note that conceding will only have an impact on your rating if you're playing in an official tournament (includes pre-release and release events). If you can see that you have no way to win a casual game, conceding can let you get to the next game faster, without storing any kind of record of it.

3. MTGO Commands and How to Speed up Combos
(Source. Check bottom of this page.)

F2: OK (same as clicking OK button)

F3: Removes all auto-yields and cancel previous pressed F4/F6/F8. (Can again be used when you do not have priority, or right click on the play area and select "Remove auto-yields", which is identically functional to F3.)

F4: Pass priority until something is on the stack (Yield until EOT as long as nothing happens). (Can again be used when you do not have priority.&

F5: Lets you briefly look at face-down cards you control.

F6: Pass priority for rest of turn no matter what happens (Yield until EOT no matter what happens (you still have to make decisions when required)). (Can again be used when you do not have priority.)

F7: Automatically place all untargeted triggers on the stack for the rest of the game if they allhave the same text. Removing auto-yields by right-clicking or pressing F3 will toggles back off.

F8: Turn off "bluffing" (Pass priority unless I can do something). This lasts UNTIL END OF GAME unless cancelled by F3. Good for multiplayer. For instance, you will normally get priority as long as you have a card in hand even if you're tapped out, because you might have a spell such as Pact of Negation. After activating F8, you would no longer receive priority in this situation (unless you actually *have* a PoN). (GR’s note: this won’t work if you have [mana]X[
/mana] activated abilities, since you can always activate those for [mana]0[/mana])

F9 OR Alt+Y: Yes (same as clicking YES button)

F10 OR Alt+N: No (same as clicking NO button)

Alt+U: Undo, if possible.

Ctrl+announce spell/ability: Announce the spell or ability without automatically passing priority afterwards.

Speeding up Combos with Triggered Abilities

As stated above, you can auto-yield and auto-yes to specific card triggers. First, make sure you haven't hit F8 in the entire game or F4/F6 in the current turn. Otherwise, you should right click the playing area and choose "Remove auto yields". The second thing you need to make sure of, is that you have no floating mana, as floating mana overrides auto-yields.

Now you're ready to set up auto-yields. First, hit F7 (i.e. once for the entire game) to have multiple triggers go on the stack at the same time (this only works when the triggers are the same, ala Exalted,
but it won't work with different triggers, as you must choose the order in which they hit the stack, nor with abilities that require targeting).

Once your abilities are on the stack, don't click OK. Right click on each ability for the auto-yield options. If it's a yes/no ability, you must first select the 'Always Yes' option, before selecting "Always Yield to this".

4. The Rooms
Within MTGO's Menu, you'll find the rooms. These are areas where you'll find different types of games, depending on the room, of course:

Casual Rooms
This is the place for games without any prizes involved. Some people play more seriously than others, don't count on others going into a game with the same expectations as you, unless the game is clearly labeled.

Just Starting Out
Formerly named "New Players". Where people with few cards go to play and learn the interface. It&#
39;s one of two places that accept the Gold Bordered Planeswalker format. People with guest accounts also play here.

Just for Fun
Formerly named "Casual Decks". You'll find plenty Standard and Classic duels here, along with infrequent Extended and Legacy ones.

Anything Goes
Freeform decks duel here along with anything else that doesn't fit into New Players or Casual Decks.

Tournament Practice
In theory, this is where you go to test your deck for any upcomming constructed tournament. It is unfortunately not infrequent to see someone go: Mulligan to 4, concede. If you really want to play against competitive decks without early quits, we advise you to join a 2-man queue (at a cost of 2 tix) in the tournament rooms.

Where you play 2HG, Commander (EDH), FFA and any other multiplayer format available. Note
that this is the only other room than New Players to accept the Planeswalker format.

Some games here have 40/10 in their description, and the creator will have used the "Allow Starting Handicaps" option when the game was made. This means that once the game starts, every player is expected to set their life to 40 and hand size to 10. These games are usually expected to be played in a fairly relaxed manner.

Casual Drafts (almost always empty/nearly empty)
You can draft here, provided you get the required number of people (usually 2, 4, or 8). You have to provide your product, and there's no prize at the end, which is why the room is often empty.

All games here are for some sort of prize. Also includes all prerelease/release events, since they are played for prizes. Entry fees (in general&#
41; will be outlined here.

Scheduled Events
Formerly two rooms: "Premier Events" and "Daily Events". This is where the championships, PTQs, Thursday Night Magic and some pre-release/release events are held. Premier Events tend to be held on the weekends (Friday to Monday), with some exceptions.

Premier Constructed Events - 10 Event Tickets plus a deck legal in the respective format.
Premier Sealed Deck Events - 4 Event Tickets plus product or 28 Event Tickets.

Pro Tour Qualifiers (PTQs) Online - 30 Event Tickets for Sealed Deck qualifiers, 25 Event Tickets plus a deck legal in the respective format for Constructed qualifiers.
Night Magic Online (TNMO)
- 0 Event Tickets plus product for Limited events (Sealed Deck [4 or 6-booster], Booster Draft), 2 Event Tickets plus a deck legal in the respective format for Constructed events.

Retro Block Sealed Events - 30 Event Tickets. Wizards will announce when these events will be held.

You can see which "Daily Events" are held here in the Magic Online Calendar. Rather than list all of the possible events, you can search that Calendar and click on the Event names to find the relevant information. In general, however:

Constructed Daily Events - 6 Event Tickets plus a deck of
the respective format. Four rounds of Swiss. 4-0 receives 11 booster packs, 3-1 receives 6 booster packs.
Sealed Deck Daily Events - 2 Event Tickets plus product or 26 Event Tickets. Four rounds of Swiss. 4-0 receives 11 booster packs, 3-1 receives 6 booster packs, 2-2 receives 3 booster packs.

Limited Queues
Formerly the Sealed Swiss Queues and 8-Player Draft rooms. You'll find 4-Booster Sealed Swiss events here, and most drafts (except the PE ones). To enter a given draft (in general), you have three entry options.
1) 14 Event Tickets. No product required. In effect, you're purchasing the packs from Wizards at a cost of 4 Event Tickets apiece.
2) 2 Event Tickets plus product.
3) 1 Draft Event Pack. This can be purchased in the Store. Opening it
will produce the same result as #2, but people had trouble understanding that the Draft Event Pack was like a wrapper for product.
(Note: If the selected Draft Queue is Nix Tix, you will not be required to pay the entry fee of 2 Event Tickets. This equates to subtracting 2 Event Tickets from options 1 and 2, and voiding option 3.)

Phantom Events
Phantom Events are Limited Events where you only keep the prizes. Players like phantom events because they don't have to worry about how much cards are worth while drafting. and because they tend to be cheaper overall.

There are currently 3 types of Phantom Events.
New Player Phantom Sealed Deck Queue
A four player two round tournament that has an entry fee of 1 New Player Ticket and awards the winner a copy of the Thursday Night Promo Card.

New Player Phantom Draft Queue
A four player two round draft tournament that has an entry fee of 1
New Player Ticket and awards the winner a copy of the Thursday Night Promo Card.

MTGO Cube Drafts
ENTRY OPTION(S): 7 Event Tickets.
PRODUCT: Magic Online will provide 3 Phantom Magic Online Cube booster packs for this event. Cards players draft and play with in a Phantom event are NOT added to those players' collections. SIZE: 8 Players.
DURATION: Drafting and deck building time plus 3 rounds, single elimination OR 3 rounds, Swiss pairings depending on event entered.
PRIZES: Paid out in boosters of a retro set equivalent to what a regular 8-4, 4-3-2-2-, or Swiss draft would pay. (See what do these numbers mean below).

Release Queues

All prerelease and release event queues are hosted here. In general, prerelease drafts will be 20 15 Event Tickets for a 4-2-1 Swiss queue.

What do the numbers mean?
are three types of draft queues: Swiss, 8-4, and 4-3-2-2.
Swiss - Play three rounds, paired against people with similar point records. For each match win you receive, you earn a booster pack.
8-4 - Single-elimination. First place receives 8 booster packs, second place receives 4 booster packs.
4-3-2-2 - Single-elimination. First place receives 4 booster packs, second place receives 3 booster packs, third and fourth place each receive 2 booster packs.

Swiss is often considered the format for people who want to get their feet wet with a draft format, since you get the maximum play time out of your draft. The single-elimination drafts are for those who want a bit more challenge (4-3-2-2 requires you to win at least the first round, 8-4 requires you to make it to the finals).

To determine your prize payout, click on the name of the Draft Queue in the channel, and your browser will link you to
the Event information.

Constructed Queue
Formerly named "8-Player Constructed". Any constructed event that isn't in Daily Events or Premier Events is found here. Note that there are also 2-player events held here, despite the room name.

2-Man Queues - 2 Event Tickets plus a deck of the respective format. Best two out of three, winner receives a booster pack.
8-Man Queues - 6 Event Tickets plus a deck of the respective format. Single-elimination, with payout structure of 5-3-2-2. (First place receives 5 booster packs, second place receives 3 booster packs, third and fourth place each receive 2 booster packs.) [On occasion, these will become 6-3-2-2 queues.]
2-Man Gold Queues (not always present) - 10 Event Tickets plus a deck of the
respective format. Best two out of three, winner receives 5 booster packs.

To determine your prize payout (set of the booster pack), click on the name of the Constructed Queue in the channel, and your browser will link you to the Event information.

Currently defunct. Check back later?

My Games
Serves the same purpose of the "Games" tab on the bottom right of your window.

Private Rooms
You can create your own private rooms by typing /join "room name" on any chat window. If the room does not exist, it will be created. If it does, you'll join the ongoing conversation. These are mostly chat rooms, that you can share with buddies, clan members or the like.

The most popular "private" room is the auction room. Guess what goes on on that room? As explained
above, type /join auction to enter this room.

5. Trading and Bots

7. Downtime
Downtime occurs every Wednesday. You can find out more if you ask an ORC (Online Response Crew) in the channels; chances are you'll get a link to the status blog.

8. The Store
About the Store

The Store is found by clicking the 'STORE' tab at the bottom of the game screen or the 'SHOP' button on the left side of the main screen. There you can purchase Booster Packs, Intro Packs, Theme Decks, Event Tickets, and any other product released
by WotC. You can also search by expansion using the icons at the bottom of the screen.

How to buy

The store features a cart, where you add the stuff you want to buy. Then you have to complete the checkout process. You can use the following paying methods:

Credit and Debit Cards - Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express only. You will be required to enter the Card Verification Number printed in the card.

PayPal - Verified accounts only.

Gift Cards - They must be associated with accepted credit card companies and registered with your name and address.

Compensation Codes - Given by WotC, they can be used alone or combined with credit/debit cards.

Once the payment goes through, the purchased products will be delivered directly to your Magic Online account.

NOTE: Depending on your country (as stated when you created your account), you
may be charged the appropriate amount of taxes.

More on the Products

Booster Packs - Each contains 15 randomly assorted cards, including one rare or mythic rare card, three uncommon cards, and either eleven common cards or ten common cards plus one basic land card.

Theme Decks - Ready-to-play 60-card pre-constructed decks.

Intro Packs - Ready-to-play 41-card pre-constructed decks that come with a Booster Pack.

Event Tickets - Used to enter tournaments in Magic Online.

Event Packs - Include the Booster Packs and Event Tickets needed to play in a given Magic Online event. Each Event Pack description explains its contents and use.

Redemption Requests - Used to convert complete sets of digital cards into equivalent sets of physical cards.


9. Set Redemptions
Read this Sticky by the_cardfather:

10. Useful Links
Server Status:

Official Announcements:

MTGO Calendar:

I have a Mac:

bots for new players:

MTGO Traders’ Summary of Tips and Tricks:

About the randomness of the Shuffler:

Video Tutorial:

Banned/Restricted Lists:

Top 10 MTGO Beginner Mistakes:

Thanks to Theismisacrime at Heroes of the Plane Studios for the amazing banner.

Last Update: 8/5/2012 - Added New Player Info and Phantom Events

Mcdonalds » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:20 pm wrote:That explains why people keep coming over for chicken nuggets

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Postby Captain Murphy » Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:39 pm

Do it for me plz xoxox
Tom Servo » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:15 pm wrote:It's too bad we don't have a secret subforum where we can coordinate troll attempts where only we can see so that we don't have to catch on because only one of us is an actual rocket scientist.

Clownfish » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:51 pm wrote:I am particularly interested in committing internet genocide

Kaitscralt » Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:37 pm wrote:in soviet gutter, New York somewhere in you

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Postby ( G_R ) » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:02 pm

( G_R ) » Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:19 pm wrote:ITT, I'll replicate the thread I started abroad. Coming soon.

Alright, I just copied the saved version I had in my computer. Fixed the tags to our format (I even created a new tag, yay!) and voilà!

It is not 100% up to date, but it is a very good start. My thread over at MTGS got hijacked by the mods. BRB claiming it back! :viking:

Mcdonalds » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:20 pm wrote:That explains why people keep coming over for chicken nuggets

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