Grinding on Magic Online: Part 2

Dmitriy Butakov


Hey everyone!


Image Copyright: Wizards of the Coast

This is the second article in “Magic Online” cycle, if you haven’t read the previous part and are reading this one not just for fun, please do, the articles are supposed to have a reference to each other and will be more effective if you don’t miss anything.

The New Magic Oonline Championship 2019 Announcement opens quite a bunch of ways to get to the final event, some of these ways are unfamiliar even to me. But most of them have one thing in common-they all require a lot of games played, for Qualifier Points, for Leaderboard Points or that new weird Format Points. Today we’re not going deep in the specifics of the decks you use, but instead will try to organize the playing process to optimize the input of your “Human Resource”.

People often underestimate the role of being well-rested and performing at your 100%, it’s always easier to blame a top-deck instead of admitting you’ve missed some important moment because you were sleepy or was thinking about a sandwich. All the luck in the world and the perfect deck-choices won’t help you if you’re gonna let it slip through your fingers. But enough with the obvious things, you awake at 9 a.m., look at your window, see something like this happening.


What it is if not a good day for some magic!

Lets’s go through a possible schedule.

1. Preparations

Breakfast and Shower (~1 hour)

Travel Preparations

Again, it may sound obvious, but when you’re just awake, you need some time to fully recover from sleep. Players often ask something like “Do you really play 14 hours a day?”, yeah, sure, I don’t go to the shower, eat only bulk-buy ramen and have no real life (although sometimes I do). Seriously, people, just try to play leagues even 10 hours with 1 lunch break, in the end, you’ll be like 25% functional at best.

Contrary to the common opinion, grinding is not about the raw time spent, it’s about the effective use of it, about the equilibrium between in-game choices and staying able to do the optimal ones. Back to the process, have a solid breakfast, it may be a good idea to check the latest MTG news and MO price shakers (it takes 3-4 minutes altogether) while having a coffee.

2. Play Session 1 (~4 hours)

I prefer to play MO in 2 sessions a day, ~4 hours 1st and 1 to 5 hours 2nd, I suggest you just start with the first one to see how it goes, the length of the second is really up to you to decide (we’ll have some calculations later in this article).

A little off-topic. 4 hours sounds not enough for you? Remember we’re focused on optimizing your time, both game and personal, let’s imagine after 4 hours of playing your girlfriend invites you somewhere or friends call you to a party or there is some family event (and you actually WANT to go), but you’re like “No, I have to grind, these QPs won’t win themselves”.

Sounds pretty professional, right? No, it will result only in a ruined evening and your EV (*Expected Value) is gonna be close to 0, you’ll be thinking about the persons you’ve hurt, about how good you could’ve spent the time, about anything but the game this sacrifice was made for.

Carnage Tyrant

Once I was asked about how the different distracting conditions (lack of concentration, hunger/thirst, pain, tilt, virtually anything that draws your attention) affects your game, the closest description I’ve came to is something like “It makes you go for an easy win”, usually it results in active resource trading, bringing the situation to the brink of top-deck war, even if you had a higher ground that required some time and thought to play it right; who cares about the missed 2 life when you’re gonna top-deck a Giant Implacable Death Lizard!

That’s why I pay so much attention to preparation for the play sessions, on a long distance, discipline is your strongest weapon, and the lack of it – your downfall.

We already had a glimpse at decks and formats to play when you’re just going for the highest EV in the previous article, so after a good breakfast and shower you’ll be at your 100% and the 1st session should run pretty smooth. Get used to MO hotkeys, F2 and F6 are gonna save years of your life (Once I’m home, I’m going to try a new mouse with these keys binded to the buttons on the side of it, sounds pretty promising), “Always Yield” and “Always Yes” are your good friends as well.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

One more cornerstone of a quick play is evaluating the board state and conceding in a hopeless situation, the best example is 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》, if it hits the board and you have no effective ways to finish him or your opponent quickly, the game will be all but sealed in a couple of turns (yeah, I know opponent can draw only lands, but we’re talking about a moment you’re certain opponent has some action in hand).

Waste Not

Players on MO often make the 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 player click the win through, I can see a point in it if an opponent is already low on a timer(And I see no moral conflict here, on MO your time is your personal resource), but when it’s like 18 minutes, it is absolutely pointless, you’re wasting YOUR time as well. I do usually drop after a 0-2 start in a League, yes, if you make a 3-0 it gets you back with 2 tickets extra, but that’s just not how you want to make a profit here.

3. Lunch Break (~2 hours)

After the 1st session, you want to have a lunch and do something that doesn’t require you to think, it’ll shake the game pressure off and you’ll be as good as new for the next session. I like cooking, so for me, it’s kinda an easy choice, but the list of activities that proved themselves a great mind-relaxers are vast, and everyone will find something fitting.

Nimbus Swimmer

The best one I can recommend is swimming, the pool is OK, but I’m writing this from Vina del Mar and if you have the access to the sea/ocean beach it should be the absolute nuts, you don’t have to be a professional swimmer, just watching the waves have a considerable calming effect. Jogging and bicycle riding is also fine, but they’re not exactly my kinds of sport, so I don’t have a personal opinion here, although the recommendations are all good.

Slaying Mantis

I’ve also heard a bunch of times that wrestling and full-contact disciplines are good for mental relaxing, don’t believe it, 99% of the time it’s a bravado “Hey, look at me you nerds, I’ve just signed up for my 1st boxing class!”, it’s pretty hard to think with a head that was being beaten the last 30 minutes.

Some yoga-like things sounds pretty good. Or you could get on a lunch with someone just to have a chat, discussing the matters of the day. Watching short TV-series is OK, but reading books or watching movies is not, because it draws your attention to the heroes and events described.

As I said, cooking is great, all that smells let you dissolve in them in no time. Concluding this, I’d advise one of 3 groups of chill-outs:

If you are one of that alien species who can sleep for 1,5 hours and awake normally, why not.

4. Play Session 2 (1-5 hours)

Now that’s where the things go tricky, even after a good lunch break, your effectiveness will slowly decrease, especially if you had some rough games at the session 1. That’s normal and until you have a more or less reliable statistics of the limit and ways to figure out you’re tired, there are few little things to help you evaluate your “stress” bar, because the main question of this part is when to stop:

    Llanowar ElvesOvergrown TombForest

You don’t have to drop right after you experience something of the list, but it happens on a regular basis, it’s time to end the session. There are extremely forgiving decks (like Bogles or Burn), they allow you to fall into the depths of stress a bit deeper, before the results become drastically affected, if you’re in desperate need of some last QP’s in a short time, consider it your last resort.

The optimal statistics of your win percentage is a weekly one (monthly is even better, but that’s too much of a luxury). Don’t get crushed if you end the day with minus value, it happens from time to time and it’s not always your fault (Don’t count tickets/play point-payed premium events like MOCS opens in your budget history, they’re just a roulette).

Rest for the Weary

If you play 5 or more leagues and end up in -tickets, most likely it’s a consequence of making a mistake, a deck-choice one or a preparation one, take a break and try to figure out what went wrong after a careful consideration, usually it becomes pretty obvious.


I can’t promise everything described will work 100% in your exact case, but we’re already at a point where you should take it not as strict instructions, but a start of making your own way. I hope you’ve found the article interesting and will put something from it to good use.

I have a special thanks to people who replied to me on Twitter and Facebook about how to organize this article, I hope you’ll find your answers here.

Thank you and see you online.

Dmitry Butakov

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Dmitriy Butakov A player from Russia who plays mainly on Magic Online. He was champion of the 2012 Magic Online Championship and in the following year, he top 4s the 2013 Magic Online Championship. In 2018, he becomes champion of the 2017 Magic Online Championship for the second time. Also, with his win at the Magic Online Championship, he achieved his prize to become a Platinum Level Pro. Having these tremendous results, in March 2018, he joins the Hareruya Pros. Read more articles by Dmitriy Butakov