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Real Money, Fake Cards: Sticking it to The Man
By Eric Turgeon
Hello and welcome back to Real Money, Fake Cards. I was going to give this article a different title, but then I realized most of it was spent talking about ways to save money on Magic Online, so why mess with perfection? This time, though, I'm going to explore the less conventional ways to save money when playing online, or as I call it, sticking it to The Man. The Man, of course, is the provider(s) of the game we all love to play.

First, let's recap what I said last time so that I don't repeat myself as much as I think I'm about to repeat myself:


  1. Only buy tickets from the online store.
  2. If you must buy packs from the store, open them in a release league or booster draft.
  3. Commons are called commons for a reason. NEVER should you pay more than 1 ticket for 32 commons. If you can't find the one you're looking for, you're not looking hard enough.
  4. Buy low. Sell high.

Okay, I think that's everything. Now let's get on to the new material.

Here's my one ridiculously-amazing all-empowering money saving tip for Magic Online: Never buy more products from the online store! You'll never spend any money. Problem solved. Actually, the operative word in my tip is "more." Never buy more products with an existing account. Whenever you want to buy new cards or tickets, open a new account. You'll need a new email address for each account, but there are tons of places you can get free email addresses, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Creating new accounts doesn't cost any extra than if you buy ten or more dollars worth of products and there's an enormous amount of things you can do once you have enough open accounts.

When you have 8 or more accounts, you can do what I call, "buying a booster box." As most Magic players know, buying a booster box in real life is dirt cheap compared to buying individual packs. But you can't get an online booster box from some wholesaler... or can you? Here's how you buy a booster box:

First, you have to make a pretty sizeable initial investment. You'll need to buy 24 booster packs and 16 tickets. That comes to $104.56, more than any sane person would be willing to pay for 24 packs. That's about $4.36 per pack. Now comes the tricky part. To get your money's worth, you have to fill up all eight spots in an 8-4 booster draft. Increase your chances by joining at some odd time, like three o'clock in the morning. If you can't get all your accounts in the queue before someone else joins, you're going to want to start all over. It's possible to occupy 7 of the 8 spots to improve your chance of winning, but it's nearly impossible to draft well while trying to pay attention to seven different screens. When you fill all eight seats, you don't need to worry about it, you already won!

Now, even with the 12 booster pack prize, you're still paying $2.90 per pack. To really lower the price, just put those 12 prize packs towards your next draft. You'll need to buy another 12 packs and 16 tickets, but you'll end up with 24 packs for $60.28 or about $2.50 per pack. That's about what the price you get per pack from a real life booster box. You can save even more money by entering drafts during a promotional time, when MTGO offers "nix-tix" booster drafts that only cost you the product to enter. This will save $16 per draft, but it's much harder to fill all eight seats without someone else joining in since everyone's trying to save money by drafting during this time. If you can pull it off, though, you'll only be paying $2.46 for the first 36 packs and $1.85 for 24 additional packs.

Of course, there are a couple problems with this money-saving strategy. First of all, it can easily go wrong. If someone else joins the draft, you're stuck drafting for seven decks at once, trying to grab the most valuable cards and all the cards you need for good decks. If two other people are in your draft, you have all those problems in addition to needing to play two matches at once when the games begin. The second major problem is that it intends to save a lot of money and you've got to spend money to save money. $100 is a lot to spend on Magic Online and it still doesn't guarantee you're going to get any cards that you want. Luckily, I have an alternative solution that solves both of these problems at once.

The second money-saving method is what I call a Clan Draft. You'll need at least three friends to make this successful and should have some way to quickly communicate with these friends during the draft. If you have a headset for your phone and can generate a conference call, you'll be in great shape. The idea behind a Clan Draft is to get a bunch of people in your clan to all join a draft simultaneously. By talking to your friends about what cards you open, everyone can maximize their decks instead of fighting over colors and themes. Additionally, you can designate a rare-drafter who just takes the most valuable cards that aren't good in limited gameplay. This works best when that player is flanked by clanmates, ensuring that he won't be passing good cards to other drafters. Ideally, the results of this draft will have the clan end up with all the money rares and 12 booster packs in prizes. The clan should agree to split all the drafted cards and put the prizes towards more clan drafting. If you try this with four people and win 12 booster packs each time, you can keep it up for a while. Communication is the key to success here, so make sure you can keep all your friends on the same page regarding the cards and colors they should be drafting. It also comes with the risk of not winning as much as you'd like or anything at all. A couple bad draws from the "best deck" drafters and suddenly it's up to the rare-drafter to keep the clan in prize contention.

Finally, if you want to actually make money instead of spending it, go infinite. By this I mean get really good at drafting and always win your drafts. This will create a cycle where you will constantly have more packs to draft and can sell the cards you draft to pay the entry fees. With the tiny investment of about $13, you can eventually earn every single card in the game assuming your only hobby is playing Magic online. If you're good enough for long enough, you can earn enough booster packs to continue drafting even if you lose a couple matches.

And there you have it: some brand-new, completely unheard of ways to save bundles of money when you play Magic Online. Whether you have lots of free time, lots of friends or lots of money already, one of these solutions will be right for you. Or maybe all of them. Either way, you'll be showing those bigwigs at Wizards that they can't dictate the price you pay for your cards, even if they do completely control the sale and distribution of the products. It's just our little way of sticking it to The Man.

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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