Phantom Sealed Comes to Oath Online

Posted in Magic Digital on January 20, 2016

By Lee Sharpe

Sealed is great. Maybe the greatest. But we think we can make it even better.

Sealed is one of the best way to introduce players to a format, which is why we run Sealed events at Prereleases and some Release events, and one of the reasons Sealed Grand Prix are so popular. People love them some of that new card smell.

Digitally, the same is true (well, except for the smell), but we're changing some of the ways we run Sealed events on Magic Online to make the experience even better, especially for the budget-conscious player.


Sealed is a fun way to play Magic, but opening six boosters to play only three matches makes some players feel like they're not getting enough matches in given the cost. Because of this, we have created the Phantom Sealed queue as well as the four-booster Sealed queue.

Let's talked about the Phantom Sealed queue. "Phantom" is a type of Magic Online Limited event where players don't keep the cards they open or draft, but the event costs less than it would if you got to keep all of the cards. The Phantom Sealed queue serves an important role in Magic Online, and I recommend checking it out if you haven't done so.

No, not that kind of Phantom.

We felt the prize structure could be improved a bit. We added a small amount to the total Play Points available as prizes, and moved some around from the other positions so that players who get two wins earn enough Play Points to join another one of these events. These changes will go live on February 17, after Oath of the Gatewatch Release events.

Basically, we made it easier to do exactly what you want to be doing: keep playing Magic.

Phantom Sealed Swiss
Start Time:
Wednesday, February 17, after downtime
Location: Limited Queues
Entry Option:

  • 6 Event Tickets
  • 60 Play Points

Product: Magic Online will provide four Oath of the Gatewatch phantom boosters and two Battle for Zendikar phantom boosters
Size: 8 players
Play Style: Swiss
Format: Sealed
Duration: 20 minutes deck-building time. Three rounds, each round up to 50 minutes.

Wins Prizes QPs
3 Wins 90 Play Points 1
2 Wins 60 Play Points 0
1 Win 20 Play Points 0

Four-booster Sealed, on the other hand, has been less awesome.

Conceived as a way to make events less expensive, four-booster Sealed events gave players four boosters from which to build a 30-card deck. These events have several problems, however.

First, they used a 30-card minimum rather than the 40-card minimum that every other Limited Magic format used. Our data shows that a significant number of players submitted 40-card decks even though the deck-building scene information said only 30 cards were necessary. This is confusing and not helpful.

Second, it's clear from the data that players prefer their "cheap Sealed" experience mostly in the other queue. The Phantom Sealed queue fires about six times as often as the four-booster Sealed queue. Additionally, when we look at abandonment rate—a measure of how often players join the queue and then leave it before it fires—we are unhappy with how often this happens with the four-booster Sealed queue.

Finally, we do have a preference for formats tested and developed for play by Magic R&D. While R&D tests the six-booster Sealed format used in the Phantom Sealed format, four-booster Sealed is not tested. And why should it be? Outside of Magic Online, it's not really played.

For these reasons, we have decided to end our support for four-booster Sealed effective February 1 when Oath of the Gatewatch Release events begin. We know some people enjoyed the format, but we believe focusing on the primary Sealed format will lead to a better Magic Online experience for most players.


I hope you had a good experience playing Oath of the Gatewatch in your local game store this past weekend! I know I enjoyed our company's internal Prerelease. Fall of the Titans is quite the card. Or so I hear.

If you want more Oath of the Gatewatch action, fear not! We'll have that for you as well in the digital realm. See below for the detailed schedule as we transition Magic Online events in preparation for the new set.

  • Wednesday, January 20, with the downtime:
  • Monday, January 25, at 10 a.m. Pacific:
    • Leagues close, new entries can no longer join
  • Wednesday, January 27, at 7 a.m. Pacific:
    • Leagues end, no more matches can be played
  • Wednesday, January 27, with the downtime:
    • Banned list changes to Modern and Pauper take effect
    • Leagues return for Standard and Modern, and Pauper Leagues are created
    • Year of Modern Flashback events take a break for Oath of the Gatewatch
    • Oath of the Gatewatch becomes legal in Constructed events
  • Friday, January 29, at 10 a.m. Pacific:
  • Monday, February 1, at 10 a.m. Pacific:
  • Wednesday, February 3, with the downtime:
    • Constructed booster prizes become a mix of Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch boosters

Your feedback is valuable in helping to create fun experiences on Magic Online. You can direct feedback to so very many places. There's the official Magic Online Twitter account, my personal Twitter account, the Magic Online Tumblr, or through email at No bonus points will be awarded for hitting all four.

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