Last week on Grinding it Out we talked about returning to the competitive scene as an MTGDad with the challenges of balancing limited time and limited money with the desire to fulfill our spike-y dreams of proving something about ourselves, namely that even though we’ve entered a new stage of our life, and our days of grinding Grand Prix events are long behind us, we’re still maybe kind of good at this game called Magic.

The first conclusion we came to was that it made more sense to collect digital cards rather than paper cards. This was driven by a few factors including the lower cost of playing online both in cash and time commitment, the flexibility of online league play, and the desire to avoid trying to find space to store a paper collection among all of the diapering supplies and baby clothes. The second conclusion we came to was to aim for the local levels of competition to prove ourselves. We can’t grind Friday Night Magic but perhaps we can make a good showing at a Store Championship or a PPTQ event.

This week we’re going to talk about our plans for the season to test the waters and set some primary goals and some stretch goals. To refresh your memory, the Rivals of Ixalan season begins this week with the release of RIX on Magic Online, and it ends on April 21st with the Dominaria pre-release weekend.


Any parent can tell you that kids are expensive and when we decided to have kids I was more than happy to cut a large chunk of my gaming budget away and move it over to money saved up for having children. Obviously my child is going to be a higher priority than my addiction to video games. So when going into this endeavor I need to keep in mind a reasonable budget. Obviously your reasonable budget will be dependent on your home situation, but I find it’s important to budget responsibly.

I decided to budget $200 for this season, half of which would be used to buy-in to Magic Online and the other half would be used to play paper events. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • $100 – Buy-in to Magic Online by purchasing the 1200 play point bundle
  • $40 – February Limited PPTQ
  • $40 – March Limited PPTQ
  • $20 – April Store Championship

1200 play points gets us entry into ten friendly draft leagues and/or five competitive sealed leagues (more on that in a minute) so it seems like a good use of $100. The paper events are our opportunity to really prove ourselves locally, and also to get acquainted with the local scene once again, something we haven’t done in five years now.

Primary Goals

With our budget set let’s make some primary goals. We’re going to start with three main goals for the season:

  1. Prove our ability to compete online by winning a Silver Prestige Zacama, Primal Calamity avatar
  2. Prove our ability to collect by completing a full collection of Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan commons and uncommons online
  3. Prove our ability to compete on paper by finishing with a winning record across three in-store events

Competing Online

For a variety of reasons we’re going to begin our journey with friendly draft leagues. This will allow us to quickly dive into the format and learn the ropes while not spending too many play points and recouping as many as we can by winning a few games. Our initial goal is going to be to win five trophies in friendly Rivals of Ixalan draft leagues. You earn a trophy by finishing with seven wins before you get your third loss. Doing this five times awards you a prestige avatar on Magic Online.

Stretch Goals: Once we’ve accomplished our goal in the friendly draft league we’ll move on to the competitive sealed league. Why not keep drafting? First, we want to get in some sealed practice for competing locally. Second, the EV of competitive sealed league is pretty good in my opinion. You spend 240 play points and then play five match rounds at your leisure. If you go 3-2 you get 120 play points back, which means if you do that consistently you can play three events for 480 play points. If you can go 4-1 you get your 240 points back and if you go 5-0 you get a trophy and 360 play points.

Our stretch goals will be to win the gold prestige avatar, Angrath, by finishing 5-0 in four competitive sealed leagues, and then win the mythic prestige avatar, Azor, by getting two more trophies for a total of six trophies in competitive sealed leagues. If we can accomplish that, then we can do whatever we have more fun doing, or whatever we think will help us achieve our collection-building goals more efficiently.

Collecting Online

As we continue to play drafts and sealed leagues we’ll be slowly building up a collection of Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan cards. Collecting commons and uncommons should be easily achieved simply by playing in the draft and sealed leagues mentioned above. If not, then it should be fairly trivial to trade in my own extra cards with casual trading bots to fill out my collection. The objective is that eventually, maybe, we’re going to want to play Standard, especially to practice for in-store events. But, we don’t want to have to pay for cards if we can avoid it. So we’re going to have to get savvy at using the Magic Online marketplace to complete our collection.

Stretch Goals: But what about rare and mythic rare cards? Over the course of drafting and opening sealed pools we’ll definitely get our fair share of these, but to build a full collection will be much trickier and require using the marketplace. The easiest way to do this would be to win enough that we get to play enough to open enough packs to build out our collection of rares and then mythic rares without any problem. We’ll sell the duplicates to bots and buy the cards we need.

Note that we’re not interested in playing the #mtgfinance game here. We could take $100 and use it to buy cards and start flipping collections and setup a bot but let’s be honest, #mtgdad does not have time for #mtgfinance. We want to play Magic, we don’t want to play the stock market. If we did, we would open up ETrade, not MTGO.

It would be nice to hit the stretch goal of finishing the season with a full set of rares and mythic rares, but it seems pretty unlikely. What’s more likely is that in future seasons we’ll be able to more quickly finish a single set and then go back and get some of the Ixalan cards we missed out on.

Competing Locally

All of this practice online should give us the experience we need to rejoin the local competitive scene. We might be getting a little ambitious by committing to one day a month away from our family, but as I mentioned last week my local store is literally one block away from home. So, I’m confident that I can get home easily if needed!

  • February 10th, Limited PPTQ at Local Game Store
  • March 3rd, Limited PPTQ at Not-As-Local Game Store
  • April 7th, Standard Store Championship at Local Game Store

Our main goal is to show up to and compete at these events. To be honest, even regardless of record, simply planning for and managing to have your family business in order and everyone happy for you to take some time off for these events is a major accomplishment and something any MTG Parent should be happy about. Also, our goal this season isn’t really to win any events but rather to re-establish our existence in the local competitive scene.

Stretch Goals: Of course, winning is nice, so sure, let’s set a stretch goal of trying to have a winning record across these three events. Who knows, maybe next season we’ll be talking about how to prepare for an RPTQ (not likely)!

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