Etiquette across the internet is crude, at best. The internet creates an anonymous forum that many people view as a free ticket to express their hastily-formed ideas in as insulting a manner as possible. MTGO is no different and by the definition of its demographic (adolescent males), probably worse. So I'd like to give a few pointers on how to be the better man and make the game outside the game more enjoyable for everyone.
Choosing your Deck
There's a weird sort of concept on Magic Online that some decks are unacceptable for the casual room. Land destruction, burn, discard and counter-magic can all be used at the risk of offending your opponent. Yet horribly-broken decks that abuse mana accelerators to produce an infinite combo or some other degenerate play on the fourth or fifth turn are perfectly acceptable, despite the fact that they can only really be beaten with the three strategies I mentioned. Your best bet is to make one of these degenerate decks. Tooth and Nail decks are a great example that everyone can enjoy both playing with and against. It may be casual, but you don't want to lose any games, either.
It's also important to make sure that your opponent knows that you won't tolerate playing against the kinds of decks I mentioned. MTGO provides a nice little comment line to state your intentions when starting a game. A simple message like, "no affinity, jitte, islands, LD, discard, burn, or permanent removal PLZ!!!!!!!!" will show your opponent that you're a good sport and they should be, too. You didn't build your deck to deal with threats; you built it to let it do its thing.
If you have a lot of money and no toilet to flush it down, replace every card in your deck with the foil versions. They play the same way, but they're shinier and usually cost about twice as much as the non-foil versions. By playing with an all-foil deck, you send a clear message to your opponent that says, "Hey! Look at my shiny cards!" This will garner you instant respect and admiration from everyone you face, as well as tout your commitment to serious casual play.
Before the Duel
When you first begin a duel, you should say hello to your opponent in any one of several manners. MTGO provides a quick "Hello and Good Luck." as one of their auto-message things. I usually say this before a more competitive match, such as in a league or draft, but when I'm just playing in the casual room, I like to be a little more laid back. I'll usually say, "hello" followed by, "good luck" or something of that ilk. By taking the time to type a personalized message and avoid all those intimidating capitol letters, you can show your opponent that you're just a regular guy, who's there to have fun.
Any number of abbreviated expressions are also universally acknowledged and understood. Try any one of these before starting your next game:
gl (Good luck)
hf (Have fun)
(I will destroy you!)
iwytbolitfe (I wish you the best of luck in the following endeavor)
During the Game
Now you're ready to start the game. Just like "Hello and Good Luck," MTGO provides its users with a number of clever and friendly things to say throughout the match. I'll review them here and provide the ideal situations to use them in when engaged in a casual duel.
"Nice Play!" Every time your opponent makes an obvious mistake.
"Nice deck." After any game that you win.
"Give up yet?" Immediately after you play a spell, successfully deal damage to an opponent or in any way interact with his permanents.
"" Every time something in the game goes in your favor.
"" Every time something in the game goes in your opponent's favor.
"C'mon top deck!" Immediately before you draw a card and every time before you draw a card. It's the only proven way to get the cards you want when you want them.
"Nice Card." Whenever your opponent plays any card that you also play with. For example, if you ever use Forests in your decks and your opponent plays a Forest, you should say "Nice Card." You can also say it when you play a card that you think will win you the game.
"Good Game." Two turns before you think you can win, during the combat damage resolution phase.
Each of these phrases will keep the game fun and lighthearted and you may find your opponent using them as well. You also want to convey to your opponent that you have a great sense of humor. Using net phrases like "lol," "rofl," and "roflmfao" will show them that you appreciate and understand their jokes. I suggest you use each of these expressions at least five times a game, immediately after your opponent says anything. You can also use them after you make a joke or if your opponent plays a spell that you think is kind of weak.
During the game, your opponent will also want to learn more about you, so it's important to continuously talk about things that interest you outside of Magic. This may cause you to be distracted from the game, so don't forget to set your stops at each possible phase of every turn to ensure that you don't miss anything important. Dont worry if the game ends up taking more than an hour. After all, it's casual!
After the Game
Much like your love life, your game of Magic will eventually come to an end. This is the most important time to show good sportsmanship. If you won the duel, congratulate your opponent on a good game. You can use the aforementioned "Good Game" or abbreviate it to a simple "gg." A lot of times, my opponents will respond by saying "gfy", which I'm pretty sure stands for "Good Fun, Yeah!" So if your opponent says "gg" before you do, "gfy" is an appropriate response.
Of course, if you lost the game, it's okay to be bitter. That's part of being a good sport and is perfectly acceptable as far as online etiquette is concerned. If the game was a blowout or closely decided in your opponent's favor, he probably cheated or used a tournament deck. Ask him how hard it was to find his decklist online before leaving the room. Then report him to an adept. That's what they're there for. Of course, you might have to elaborate and tell them that he used a curse word or drew a phallus on the screen.
Well, I hope you all learned something today. When you go online, fun is the key and there's no better way to put the "F-U" in fun than following my simple guidelines. Remember that there's a lot of young kids playing Magic and you certainly don't want them to beat you in a card game. So set an example that will hopefully keep them from coming online and possibly embarrassing you. The game's not fun unless you win!