I know I have been silent after my first two posts, and here’s the obligatory “LOL RL!” explanation.
First of all, I was really bummed about videos. I’m still trying to deliver them, but a lot of shit gets in my way. I promise I’ll return with some videos, one way or another.
Second, school started and mid-september came busy for me, my time being equally split between work and school and social life, the few hours I had at home, I devoted them to pretty much just playing Magic than talking about it. That and the new standard format is pretty awesome, and thus I’ve had little time left to write a coherent post.
I still managed to tune my UB Cloudpost very badly though. I’m not really playing it in queues, because it’s a slow deck, but it’s got wonderful tools and it has a much better Infect and TPPS matchup compared to the UR version and it still rolls over most aggro decks, and some smart people have been working on the list and 4-0ing with it at Dailies. If you like control decks, I suggest you check my thread at the forums.
Today, I want to talk about the general principles of being a MODO grinder.
The topic came up in one of the forum threads and people apparently have grave misconceptions about it. I won’t get into the ethics of grinding a “casual” format, since the Dailies and Queues are there for us to grab. Instead, I want to talk about the mechanics of grinding online and supporting your game habit and for few people I’ve met, your life.
I know most of you won’t turn into grinders overnight or don’t even care for grinding it online. But I think it’s interesting enough, because people really wonder how it’s done on MODO, and aspiring grinders don’t really have a lot of sources (Most of the grinders are too busy actually playing than talking about it).
Grinding is a different game than playing. It’s all about managing your primary resource (time) most efficiently. This is why you can’t really grind with control decks, because if you have a %100 win percent control deck that takes full 50 minutes to win, you’re still better off with an aggro deck that wins %60 of the time in 5 minutes.
For example, people ask me how I make profitable money in dailies. The truth is, each time you go 3-1 in a daily with a deck like Infect/TPPS, you make 40-60$ per hour, and each time you go 4-0, it’s 75-110$ per hour (I’ll explain the math later). This is because your matches will take 5-7 minutes tops, which leaves you with plenty of time to double queue other dailies / drafts or 2 mans.
This is the basic principle of grinding online – playing multiple games simultaneously, playing a TON of Magic, and not necessarily playing “great” Magic.
2. EV / Costs
What applies to life applies to Magic -it’s less about winning and more about controling your costs.
I never keep decks I don’t play in my binder, I only have cards for TPPS on my account at the moment. Money makes money and each Pyroblast you’re not currently using is 2 tix that are rotting away. If you have a comfortable amount of tix in your account (For me, comfort threshold is around 150 tix -I don’t sell tix below this figure) you can manage to lose a few times in a row, take advantage of some opportunities that you couldn’t forsee (New nix-pax formats, a LCQ tournament, whatever) and so on. You need to keep your money liquid.
For example, the first time I started drafting / playing seriously was Ravnica. I’m really strong in that format. When RGD nix-pax queues were firing, I had around 200 tix left in my account after some sales, and thus I was able to queue for drafts (Something I usually don’t do) because I knew I was probably better than most people just blindly queueing and because of the duals, RGD drafts are extremely profitable. Because I had comfortable amount of tix in my account, I could add RGD drafts to my circuit, temporarily going down to around 120 tix, and then coming back much stronger.
Managing your tix, knowing how much tix to sell, knowing what to invest in are all personal things. Some people I know never go down below 500 tix, others sell down to 30 tix, which is enough for 5 dailies. Bottom line is, have a plan, and stick to it.
3. Time Management
I already told how extremely profitable Dailies can be, if you want to get value out of them. You can make UP TO 110 tix an hour if you 4-0 a Daily. The answer to how is filling in the blanks.
Generally, you want to queue to as many Dailies as you can muster. You want to play “fast” decks. TPPS, Goblins, Infect are good examples in Pauper. RDW, Tempered Steel are some examples in current T2. You want to play fast, concede once the writing’s on the wall and move on to the next window.
See for example, a PTQer learns never to concede, because even the sea might burn. You opponent might make an extremely stupid mistake and you could come out of it. This is a good practice to win matches but not to win lots of pax. If you spend all your time to maximizing your game, your options and such, you will never make a ton of tix.
When I was playing WW, my goal was to get 45 points so I was only playing Dailies, which meants I had a lot of time to ponder on my actions. That month I made 450$. My rating was small 19xx. Next month, I played in half as many dailies because I was busy irl, won only 27 qps, and made 850$. My rating was 1700.
4. Know when to stop
This is easier to practice if you aren’t racing to 45 qps on a short schedule, but it’s still an advice that I give a lot and an advice that NO ONE ever listens to. Once you get into habit of playing 50+ matches a day, most of it starts to come from muscle memory. But Magic is still Magic and you may not realize it once you get into the habit, but mentally, it’s extremely demanding.
It’s no coincidince that I 4-0 more often when I work IRL all week and play just 5-6 dailies during weekdays.
No matter how good you are, you will have times when you’re on fire and you’re literally 4-0ing or 3-1ing every single Daily you enter, and then you’ll have those days when you go 0-2 or 2-2 just about every single Daily. Don’t get over confident once you start to win, and don’t despair once you start to lose. All my friends have gone through the same stuff, and I’ve heard some of the more popular names on leaderboards telling me how they just wanted to 3-1 one more time.
Once you start to despair, stop. Drop from all your games, close Magic, go take a book, go listen to music, watch a movie, and don’t come back before two days.
5. Whims of Fortune
If you want to make Money with Magic, you will play a TON of Magic. I can’t stress the amount. 50+ matches a day means on average 125 games. That’s about 4000 games a month. Once you start seeing all that many games, you’ll start to see weirdest shit happen.
You WILL mulligan down to 3 cards because you don’t see a single land in your 27 lands deck.
You WILL mulligan down to 3 cards because you only draw lands in your 12 lands deck.
You WILL have 3 land, 4 nonland hands and draw only lands.
You opponent WILL topdeck the best answer he needs.
These things WILL happen. They’re not very likely to happen, they won’t happen enough, but if you play enough of Magic, you will see them. You must learn to shrug them off. If you can’t, it’s probably because you’re stressed and tired -see above, just stop playing. I ASSURE YOU THEY WILL HAPPEN.
That’s why I always scold when my friends come to me “FffFFfFFUUUUUuUU HE JUST DREW IT”. Learn to “LOL” at your misfortune. You’re playing a Card Game, bro. You have to be able to handle the whims of fortune. It doesn’t matter if you lose the fight today -you’re fighting the big battle, never forget that.
6. Social Conduct
Be ready for hate. No one likes seeing your avatar the third time in a row in 2 man queues and losing to you the third time in a row. No one likes to play against Fast Combo / Fast Aggro. They will call you a lucker, they will call you a bastard, and once I had someone report me to ORCs because there was no way I was this “lucky” and so I must’ve been cheating.
You can’t let people get you. Be courteous whenever you can, never respond to your haters, and move on to your next game. Block annoying people frequently. If people say “Hello and Good Luck” I just type “ty” -after all, I honestly don’t wish my opponent “good luck” but I acknowledge that they’re being friendly. If people talk to you after you win, in a non-whiny way, talking about choices they made that costed them the game, chat with them. Most of my “friends” I’ve met on MODO, I’ve met them on queues facing each other.
NEVER “GG” IF YOU’RE THE ONE WHO’S WINNING. It’s extremely fraustrating to the loser and it’s condesscending. If they gg you, respond in kind.
Never be an ass, never give people to be an ass, never bother with people enough to cause trouble that they might end up going to ORCs. I really have no time for these, and neither should you. Block annoying people, respond people briefly but courteous enough, and move on.
Also understand that you give people every single reason to hate you. I play TPPS. It’s not a fair deck. I win a lot with it. My winnings come from people who usually spend money to play. One time, I played against the same guy 3 times in a row in 2 man queues and apparently, the guy had bought only 6 tix and now he couldn’t play. I understand that that guy has every reason to hate me. Don’t be heartless -you were once there too. Just try to be polite, if you can’t, block them and move on but never hate them. Odds are, you’re winning overall so someone’s gotta be losing. It’s easy to be a winner but it’s hard to be a loser, so try to see from their point of view.
7. EV Ratios
Last and honestly, the least, are the EV ratios.
Most of the money you make from Magic comes from 1. Playing (and thus winning) a lot and 2. Spending nothing.
With these, you can make a simple EV chart:
Constructed Dailies > Gold Queues > Regular Queues > Sealed Dailies > Drafts > Release Events > Prerelease Events
The simple math for Queues is that, 3 loses cost you 6 tix, and you win these back in 4 matches. Thus, 5-3 is enough to keep making profit. Thus you need to keep a win ratio above %62 to keep making profit. Gold Queues are the same but only, if you win, you win 5 times more, and if you lose, you lose 5 times more. If you want to do queues, I suggest you have at least enough tix to do 20 matches in a row. That means 40 tix for Regular Queues and 200 tix for Gold Queues.
Don’t draft M12. Rares / Mythics don’t sell for anything and you need to split once for every two times you don’t do anything. 4322′ing it is terrible anyway because while you’re minimizing the cost, you’re really not profitting anything. Most of the shit doesn’t sell for anything and unless you win a 4322, you end up losing money. Swiss Drafts are a complete waste of time.
Never do Prerelease / Release events for value, unless your name is aaronbrieder. If you need to get practiced with the format, etc, then by all means do them, but know that I’ve had a ton of friends lose over 200-300 tix when M12 came out because they didn’t listen to me when I said “Don’t do this shit!”.
MODO Grinding is unlike any other Magic you’ve ever played. It’s played for value, it’s played fast, it’s a blurry vision of cards that are tapped so fast you don’t realize what’s happening. If you are serious about it, this is but a glimpse -I urge you to come talk to me whenever I’m online if you need tips or help getting started, but I may not always respond right away because when I’m online on MODO, I’m usually playing, multiples games even (heh).
I hope you enjoyed this brief view of an online grinder.
Nighthavk_ on MODO