August 12, 2022

The online MTG format is finally aligned with Paper Play!

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate had a relatively minor effect on the Eternal MTG game, with one exception. Sure, Displacer Kitten may have messed Commander up a bit, but an Eternal MTG format saw a total overhaul of the cards released in the set: MTG Pauper. Several Baldur’s Gate cards revolutionized the format as we know it. Set doors became the first strategy of choice when building in Pauper. Unfortunately, since Baldur’s Gate was not properly supported for online customers, these cards became incredibly difficult to acquire.

The paper VS online debate demonstrated

Pictured above is a tweet from the MTG personality Andrea Mengucci highlighting an example of the Baldur’s Gate cards which have made huge waves in the format recently. Looking at recent MTGO Pauper challenges, you’ll notice that these cards are actively absent. The availability of Baldur’s Gate maps on MTGO was so low that it single-handedly changed the metagame for MTG Pauper. No one could find the cards to build the Gates deck, so Pauper players had to build in a format where the cards didn’t exist.

MTGO is not the friendliest client for new players. The client has no real resources to help players get started, and the interface is unintuitive. Graphically, the game looks like a cropped Windows 2000 simulator with a bunch of spaghetti code. That being said, it is the best resource to acquire correspondence knowledge for older MTG formats. I say all of this to say that most players on MTGO compete on paper because only they bother to learn how to play on this client in the first place.

Because most MTGO players also participate in paper tournaments, learning Pauper’s knowledge about the client becomes unnecessary. Let’s face it; Competitive hopefuls should prioritize paper play because it’s much easier to qualify for the first game. Why play MTG Pauper online when all the paper decks you’ll face are ones no one can play? Fortunately, MTG Online saw this issue and fixed it!

Bring back poor MTG

In an MTGO update released on July 12, 2022, Daybreak Games states that all Pauper players will receive two free copies of the Baldur’s Gate Commons that impacted Pauper:

“We have listened to your feedback regarding supply issues for key commons of the poor in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate. To help cards flow to our most engaged customers magic online Poor fans, we’re granting two copies of each of the 38 commons to a group of players as part of our weekly patch between 9-10 a.m. PT tomorrow.

The cards granted to the affected accounts are as follows:

The only bad news here is that players who have not actively participated in Pauper will not have these cards added to their accounts. They will still be available in treasure chests, but a savvy MTGO player usually exchanges them for cash instead of opening them. This may set a continuing precedent where some MTGO players cannot play the Gates game due to availability if the format becomes more popular. Hopefully, if quantity remains an issue, Daybreak Games will repeat this process in the future. Alternatively, it could become an account extension behind a paywall. If so, I hope the price will be relatively low.

Another issue is the ironic lack of some of the cards mentioned in Andrea Mengucci’s post. While all the gates are there, some initiative-based commons making waves in Pauper are still missing from the update.

For Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate players, it’s important to clarify that these are the paper versions of the Baldur’s Gate maps to avoid confusion.

Wizards of the Coast has heard of it, but will MTGA get the same treatment?

This is the biggest question plaguing MTG players online right now. It’s no secret that Alchemy is at the top of MTGA’s agenda, but, especially with the return of paper gaming, will WoTC fulfill the same wish for Magic Arena formats? Currently, MTG in paper and MTG online are totally different games. It should never have happened, but here we are. The last thing we need is one more division in an already divided community. For those interested in Wizards of the Coasts’ statement regarding Pauper, you can find it here.

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