I had planned to write a theory article this week, but it hit me on Tuesday night that the MTGO (Magic Online) client would soon change forever. (Presumably.) So I logged on, did a couple drafts, won them both, and had a great time. This is the story of my final night in a complex relationship.

On Tuesday evening I logged onto MTGO v3 and perused my pack collection. Three Vintage Masters packs stared back at me. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the VMA draft format, but I’ve had some success with VMA sealed dailies. Packs gotta get opened, right? What better time than the eve of destruction? Maybe I could even open some power. (Spoiler: I did not.) So I hopped in a VMA 8-4 draft.

tell me more

You know, there is this thing called television, and on it they show shows?

I first registered a MTGO account in April 2004. I hadn’t played Magic since 1996 but a friend told me about the online software and I hopped back into the game and drafted a bunch of Mirrodin. These were my first drafts ever, so I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have much money in those days, so my run on MTGO didn’t last long. It would be six years before I would return to the game again.

So here I am first picking a Man-o’-War and shaking my head. It’s a good card, but I have not been too impressed with blue decks in VMA draft. Actually, I haven’t been too impressed with many decks at all. Blue-green madness is powerful but way too overdrafted, and I’ve never seen enough key cards to make a consistent deck in that archetype. The one deck I’ve had consistent success with has been goblins, so a second pick Beetleback Chief was a welcome sight. Prophetic Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Deep Analysis had me thinking blue-red tempo. And then the generals showed up. Goblin Generals. Four of them. Plus a Goblin Warchief and a Rites of Initiation. You don’t have to tell me twice. I was mono-red!

Here’s the deck:

mono r gobs

None shall pass dual lands.

Now that’s a pretty good mono-red VMA deck! I even got a Lightning Rift and some cyclers for good measure. I would go on to win the draft fairly easily, beating blue-green madness, blue-black control, and white-red aggro in the process. It was tons of fun. Curving Skirk Prospector into Goblin Warchief into two Goblin Generals is pretty sick. I only needed Rites of Initiation once, my goblins were so threatening on their own most games.

I stumbled back into Magic in the fall of 2010, around the release of Scars of Mirrodin, oddly enough. As I didn’t know anyone who played, I got my communal Magic fix by watching MTGO draft videos by Luis Scott-Vargas on Channel Fireball. After a few months of watching, I decided to see if my old MTGO account still existed. Sure enough, you can check out any time you’d like but you never leave the database.


Far out! I haven’t logged into MTGO in years.

After the VMA draft I went out to my dinner with Andre Sara. I got home in time for one more MTGO v3 draft. This time, Theros block. What a perfect way to say goodbye to software I lovehate than with a final draft of a format I lovelove.

The draft started out as many Theros block drafts do, with a sea of blue and green. Hypnotic Siren, Golden Hind, Riptide Chimera, Oakheart Dryads. The giant creatures never materialized (other than the Stormbreath Dragon I raredrafted over a Nimbus Naiad, which was hard), but pack two provided a Hero of Leina Tower and Setessan Oathsworn to get big and combo with the Riptide Chimera.

Here’s how it turned out:

UG final draft v3

Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night.

Not your normal blue-green deck, but it got the job done. I kind of wanted to play Mischief and Mayhem as a pseudo big creature as I had so many small ones to target, but it didn’t make the cut. I had a little too much ramp and not enough enchantments to combo with, so I cut Voyaging Satyr for Aqueous Form.

When I started playing MTGO again in the spring of 2011, I was shocked to see the software looked almost the same as it did in 2004. Don’t they update these things? Still, it does what it does, so I played. The interface learning curve was steep. Misclicks, timeouts, failing to set stops on beginning of combat, etc. I hate this piece of crap! But MTGO always took me back, and it still had all my old Mirrodin cards. Just last week I realized I owned three copies of Rule of Law. You got a long memory, pal.

It’s going to be weird now that MTGO v3 is gone. It was a two-leaf clover, but it was my two-leaf clover. I knew its contours, the secret words, the spots to tickle gently. And it was always there for me. Maybe not with a third land drop, even after seven turns in an 18-land deck, but it always let me try again. For a fee. I suppose I will gain familiarity with MTGO v4 eventually, but right now it feels so foreign, so wrong. I need time.

fortune cookie

Even dessert is telling me to move on.

Round two of my final Theros block draft on MTGO v3. My opponent is blue-red. I am racing to win before my foe drops a sixth land and casts the Forgestoker Dragon I passed in the draft and am sure my opponent has in hand. So I drop my lands, get to seven mana, and wait expectantly with Hypnotic Siren in hand, ready to steal the game. Sure enough, my opponent drops a sixth land and immediately taps them all. Here it comes, right? Whims of the Fates.

What. The. Fuck.

I put all my permanents in one pile and take my chances. So does my opponent. The spell resolves, and suddenly, nothing. It’s all gone. We laugh, and we cry. So it goes.

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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