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Getting Started on Magic Online (2020 Edition)

Magic Arena is great, but Magic's newest digital client currently only supports about 1.5 real formats, with Standard and bot drafting. If you're looking for a way to play more formats—Commander, Legacy, Modern, Pioneer, and Vintage—as well as "real" (against other people, rather than bots) drafts from the comfort of your own home, Magic Online is the best and only official option.

Unlike Magic Arena, whose primary goal is to recreate Magic as a video game, the goal of Magic Online is to represent the truest possible paper Magic experience in digital form. As a result, the client has a much more stripped back look compared to Magic Arena (you won't find flashy animations, for example), but you gain a ton more options, play experiences, and functionality as a result. 

Unfortunately, since Magic Online isn't the most intuitive game (although it really isn't nearly as bad as some people make it out to be), there is a bit of a learning curve when you first start playing. Today, our goal is to help speed you up along that curve, covering everything you need to know about getting started on Magic Online, from downloading the client, to the various things you can do within the client, to acquiring cards and importing decks, to playing games (along with some tips and tricks to make gameplay as fast and easy as possible), to winning (and, if you choose, selling) prizes. 

Since we are covering a lot of ground, today's video is pretty long, but there are timestamps that will allow you to jump to the parts that are more relevant to you in the description as well as a pinned comment. I tried to cover everything I could think of that a new player would need to know, but if you have a question, don't be afraid to ask in the comments. I'll do my best to help. Anyway, let's get to the video, and then after the video, we'll have some links to additional information along with some of the websites we discuss in the video.

Getting Started on Magic Online (2020 Edition)

Important Places

  • Cardhoarder's MTGO Beginner's Guide. Rather than trying to do a full-text version of all of the information in the video, I figured I'd just send you here. Cardhoarder's MTGO Beginner's Guide covers pretty much everything we talked about in the video in text form and is a good resource for new Magic Online players.
  • This is where you'll go to download the Magic Online client. Wizards also posts weekly Magic Online announcements here, along with decklists and other Magic Online–focused content.
  • While it is probably silly to link to because you're already on the site, I did want to make sure you could find the various metagame pages for Modern, Pioneer, Pauper, Legacy, and Vintage. If you're looking for downloadable, importable decklists, you'll find all you could possibly want here.
  • Most of the big Magic Online bots have websites that are easier to use than trying to use the trade tab in game. There are three specific bots that I use regularly and are worth knowing: Cardhoarder, MTGOTraders, and Goatbots.
  • If you want to go more in-depth on how much value you can expect from various Magic Online events, Goatbots has a very helpful expected-value calculator that covers all Magic Online events.
  • Cardhoarder Welcome to MTGO Bot Credit Gift. In the video, we mention that Cardhoarder gives new Magic Online players four tix (or $4) of free bot credit to start building their collection. Once you create an account, follow the link and put in your email and MTGO user name, and they'll hook you up!
  • Shameless self-promotion: If you haven't already, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel to keep up on all the latest content and newest decks to play on Magic Online.


Anyway, I think that's all you need to know to start playing on Magic Online! If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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