Magic the Gathering is Pay to Win?

Magic the Gathering is Pay to Win?

1024 611 Tony Guo

Magic the Gathering is Pay to Win

Magic the Gathering’s Achilles heel is its pay to win reputation. Various facts support this view but the most pervasive one is that decks with high win probabilities and percentages tend to be a bit costly. However, it would be misguided to say that the game is pay to win in the truest sense of the word. How is this so? Read on to find out.

Pay not to lose more than pay to win?

An alternative way of looking at MTG is that it is a pay not to lose rather than a pay to win game. That seems to make no sense, but the explanation below will clear things.

Having the most expensive and most powerful deck does not necessarily mean that the deck will always emerge victorious. Cases abound of cheap decks that have trounced significantly stronger decks. What is for sure, though, is that with a cheap, weak deck, a player will lose very often. In short, just because an individual spends on strong cards is not a guarantee that he will win.

Winning on a budget

To stand the best chance in MTG, spending is a foregone conclusion. You simply have to invest. How much you invest, however, is the question. In the highest level of competitive play, the cumulative cost of individual decks ranges from $500 to $2000 with most falling around the $1000 price range.

This in itself, says a lot. It means that a $500 deck such as one based on Merfolk can easily beat a $2,500 deck based on Jund and vice versa. For the $500 deck to emerge victorious, superior stratagems have to be implemented.

A good parallel can be found in wrestling. While a big, strong wrestler has an advantage against a smaller opponent, if the opponent is highly strategic and skilled, the win can go either way. In MTG, a player can go for brute strength which, is expensive and more pay to win; or go for strategy and skill, and a bit of luck which is less pay to win.

It is a collectible card game

As a collectible card game, market dynamics were always going to play a part in making the game a bit expensive to those seeking victory in competitive modes.

The more useful, powerful and rare a card is, the more expensive it is likely to be due to demand. Cards like Ancestral Recall, cost over $2,000. In 2013, Black Lotus broke the record as the most expensive MTG card ever by selling for $27,000 in an auction.

These highly expensive cards are mostly banned in many playing formats but they solidify the role of market forces in making the game play to win.

The production of new decks

Each year, Wizards of the Coast produce several decks. This is done in a bid to keep the game fresh, entertaining, interesting and full of options – but it also means that those who want ultra-current decks with modern powerful cards have to keep on spending. It is an excellent way to ensure that the game retains relevance, but on the flipside, it reinforces the play to win viewpoint somewhat.

The context

It is important to consider context to appreciate the nature of MTG. All sports and hobbies require some level of investment – some more than others. The pay to win, pay to not lose, or pay to compete badge is, therefore, not limited to MTG.

Good golfing equipment costs a fortune and golf club membership can cost north of $1000. In motoring, having the highest specced car is as crucial in getting the win, as is the driver’s pedigree. In short, every hobby and sport has some kind of attached cost and from this angle, MTG can be looked at as a moderately costly hobby with the ability to accommodate big spenders.

Game modes

The mode you play will also determine how much you will feel like MTG is pay to win. The most expensive playing format is legacy. In legacy, almost all the cards since the game’s inception are allowed. This means that players owning extremely powerful cards that cost eye watering figures get to use their mighty decks. To stand a chance against such players, you will have to spend more.

Most of the times, as a normal MTG player, you will play in standard and competitive modes. In these modes, the investment needed to activate substantial win percentages is more diminished. To learn more about gameplay modes, and how you can win on a tight budget, take advantage of the insightful content on

The time factor

Some lucky, early birds got the chance to assemble powerful decks when mighty cards were still cheap. To such people, the pay to win accusation directed towards MTG holds less true. This spotlights the effect of time and early action on the degree to which an individual may see the game as pay to win.

The good thing with MTG is that regardless of your budget, you can enjoy reasonable winning chances with the right approach. In fact, cases abound of players who have climbed up the ranks to top 50 worldwide with very cheap decks. In closing, the best way to define MTG is as a pay-to-increase-your-chances-of-winning game; but to what extent this is so depends on you.

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