My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas on Christmas, so for the last few years December 25th has been a perfect day to unapologeticly modo myself into a stupor. There were PTQ’s the last few years for the holiday, so all the better!

This year, though, I had social plans. Seamus Campbell and I had a beer recipe, and we were going to brew.

Those plans went south when some little-used heating equipment failed, and the holiday business schedules prevented replacement. Hey, it could be worse! Seamus and I put the equipment away and pulled out the laptops to get into a PPTQ.

I opened a pretty good one, though the mana wasn’t perfect:


There weren’t any particularly interesting cuts, although I did have a full playset of Erase if I ran into the quadruple-ascendancy deck.

I won my first round against a deck with two Mardu Ascendancy despite never drawing an Erase. Round two I was going to game 3. My opponent had just showed me a Trail of Mystery, and as I went to sideboard in one of those sassy Erases again, all that was left of my sideboard was this:


Swiftwing seemed bad in the matchup, so I stuck with the same maindeck. I lost a frustrating game three with a billion lands in play. Rather than start ranting about Magic Online’s failings and my bad beat, I got into the holiday spirit and told myself, “It’s okay, I can file for a reimbursement!”

When I went to login to the Wizards site, though, I couldn’t seem to remember my password. I went to reset it, and, well… whoops!


You can’t make this stuff up! So, never mind my PPTQ: I didn’t qualify. I want to talk about Modo for a moment. (If you don’t know, “Modo” is a classic nickname for Magic Online. The executable file to start the program was called “modo.exe” originally. It stands for Magic Online Digital Objects or something like that.)

I started playing Magic Online in 2001 or 2002. It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty awesome to be able to draft on the Internet. It was released as a Beta originally, and we all sort of thought it’d get better eventually, ya know? This was just the Minimum Viable Product: you can draft on the Internet. It usually mostly works. At first it was totally free, even, which made the not-so-occasional crash much more palatable.

Flash forward almost a decade and a half, and the entire Magic playing community operates under the assumption that anything related to the Internet and Wizards of the Coast is not going to work. Magic Online, now in version four, is still basically the minimum viable product. My password reset issue? My disappearing sideboard? Utterly predictable.

You know what happened for me today? It stopped being upsetting. I love playing Magic. Magic Online lets me play something that really closely resembles actual Magic, if you just blur your eyes and power through the crashes. If you can accept it for what it is, Magic Online is pretty neat! Could it be better? Sure, but what does thinking about that get you? Nothing but frustration: if the amount of past complaining about Magic Online hasn’t changed anything, nothing any of us say now is going to have any different results.

Also, imagine what would happen if Magic Online worked properly! I’m already obsessive about playing this game: a good version of Magic Online could completely disrupt the rest of my social life.I think I’ll skip my reimbursement request, even if I do somehow get logged into my account. It feels sort of dishonest to ask for reimbursement when Magic Online breaks, you know? I knew what I was getting involved with when I logged in: it’s been the same story for over a decade.

Gabe Carleton-Barnes has been playing Magic for over 20 years, mostly as a PTQ grinder and intermittently as a Pro Tour competitor. Currently based in Portland, Oregon, where he is an Open Source web developer by day, Gabe lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for three years. While there, he failed to make a documentary about competitive Magic but succeeded in deepening his obsession with the game. Gabe is now a ringleader and community-builder for the competitive Magic scene in Portland, wielding old-timey slang and tired cliches to motivate kids half his age to drive with him to tournaments.

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