Armchair Magician: The Most Important Number You’ll Ever Need to Know (In Magic, That Is)

What is a DCI Number?

Do you remember the first time that you played in an official Magic: the Gathering event? Maybe it was a Prerelease, maybe it was an FNM, or maybe you were one of those poor souls who showed up obliviously at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour Qualifier with your awesome five-color Elephant tribal deck. However you were introduced to competitive Magic, chances are that you were handed one of these (private information whited out for privacy reasons):

It was attached to the bottom of a much-larger “personal information” form which you had to fill out and turn in to the event organizer. Once you’d done that, they ripped off the card, had you write your name at the top, and you were now an official member of the Duelists’ Convocation International (DCI). The ten-digit number above the bar code was you brand-new DCI number. It looked official and impressive, and it made you feel like you had moved on to a newer, bigger world of Magic.

Unfortunately, once the newness wore off, most players then stuck their DCI card into their wallets/purses and promptly forgot about it. After all, the local gaming store now had you on file, so they could easily find your DCI number using just your name. Every once in a while, when you went to a new store or attended an out-of-town event, you would have to pull it out, dust it off, and try to make out the worn numbers on the front, but, after that first introduction into the realm of sanctioned Magic, you may never need to use your DCI card again.  It sits, lonely and unloved, getting more creased, discolored, and worn as the years go by. Some people even (gasp!) misplace their DCI cards, and a piece of their personal Magic history is lost forever.

So Why Does Your DCI Card Matter, Anyway?

Truth be told, the actual physical card doesn’t matter at all- the important bit is the number on the front. This is your official DCI number. It’s ten digits long, formatted as 1234-567-890 (apologies if this is actually someone’s real DCI number). The card it’s attached to is made from fairly fragile and short-lived card stock, so I’d recommend that you go ahead and memorize your number just in case (like you would with your Social Security number).

The most important reason for you to know your DCI number is so that you can provide it when you play at a new venue, whether because you’ve moved, or because you’re staying at a friend’s house for the weekend, or because you’re attending a Pro Tour in Rome. While it is possible for an event organizer to look up your name in the DCI database, it’s time-consuming and opens up the possibility of you playing under someone else’s name (are you certain that you’re the only John Smith living in St. Louis, MO?). Being able to provide your DCI number cuts down on the number of dirty looks that you’ll receive while making absolutely sure that your hard work is awarded to the right person.

Even worse is when they can’t find you in the database, or (as has been the case at some Prereleases that I’ve attended) the computer program is working so slowly that they don’t have the time to wait the twenty minutes that it would take to look up each person that forgot their DCI number. In this case, the only available option is to assign you a new DCI card, complete with a new number, to use for that tournament. This means that, afterward, you have to go through the trouble of combining the points earned on the new number back into the points earned on the old number (go here and click on the “Have Multiple DCI Numbers?” link at the bottom-right to fill out the necessary form). If you don’t do this right away, you run the risk of your local store finding the alternate number in the DCI database rather than the original, and you find out one day that the last three years’ of FNM’s have been recorded under a different number (this recently happened to me, and it was a pain to fix). All of this can be avoided by knowing your DCI number.

But I Only Play on MTGO, So Why do I Care?

OK, so maybe your entire Magic: the Gathering experience consists of sitting in front of your computer and dueling virtual opponents. You’ll never need your DCI number after you initially create your Magic: the Gathering On-line account, right?

Technically, yes. Even if your computer crashes and you have to download the client again, your MTGO account remains active, so you theoretically will never need to provide your DCI number again. However, there are lots of cool goodies that you can access over the interwebs using those ten digits.

Planeswalker Points

For instance, if you go to http://www.planeswalkerpoints.com, you are prompted to enter your DCI number. A new screen will come up that looks like this:

The numbers on the left are the Planeswalker Points that you’ve accrued. You earn Planeswalker Points by participating in any event whose organizer reports the results to the DCI (including sanctioned casual events). You get more points as you win more matches, and larger events will also earn you more points than smaller events. The DCI uses your Planeswalker Point total to determine your national and international ranking.

Your Lifetime Points are all of the Planeswalker Points that you’ve earned over your entire career. Your Seasonal and Yearly Points track how well you’ve done over a specific stretch of time (a competitive season and an entire year), and they don’t include sanctioned casual events, just competitive ones. A high enough Seasonal point total can earn you up to three byes (free wins) at a Grand Prix, and a high enough Yearly total can earn you an invitation to a World Magic Cup Qualifier. Finally, some people have a Professional Points total. Professional points can only be earned at Professional-level events like Grands Prix and Pro Tours, and they determine your ranking within the Magic Pro Players Club along with invitations to events like the World Magic Cup and the Magic Players’ Championship.

In the middle is a graphic that depicts your status as a Planeswalker, which ranges from Prodigy (o-20 lifetime points) to Archmage (25,000-50,000 lifetime points). If you’ve signed up for a Return to Ravnica guild (which you can do by clicking the guild tab), that picture also has your guild’s symbol along with a border of that guild’s colors (in this case, Azorius).

On the right is your current status and level (so I’m a level 31 Invoker), along with a progress bar that shows how many points you still need to ascend to the next level.

Finally, if you want to check and see how many Planeswalker Points you earned at last Friday’s tournament, you can look at the Recent History section. For instance, the FNM and booster draft afterward earned me 22 new points last week (15 and 7). If you want to look at a more detailed history, though, you’ll need to have a DCI password. If you already have one, you can enter it by clicking on the “Password” button. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for one by clicking “I need a password”. After you’ve entered your password, the little yellow padlocks disappear, and you can click on the “History” tab to see a full record of every sanctioned event you’ve ever attended. The blue arrow next to each event gives a detailed breakdown of how you earned those points. You can also click on the “Leaderboard” tab to see how you rank among your fellow players (although the yearly and lifetime leaderboards cut off at 500).

Achievements

You can also earn cool achievements by completing certain goals throughout your Magic career. At the bottom of your Profile screen is an “Achievements Gallery” section that displays which achievements you’ve earned. Because my achievements got reset when I combined my DCI numbers, I only have two achievements: Planeswalker (which means I have a DCI number) and Enter the Guild (which means I signed up for a Return to Ravnica guild). Other achievements can be earned for things like playing in multiple FNM’s in the same month, playing in a variety of formats, and even playing on multiple continents. A full list of possible achievements (and what it takes to earn them) can be found by clicking the “Achievements” tab.

With the upcoming release of Return to Ravnica, they’ve added a section of guild-related achievements. Some of these can be earned on your own (for instance, I can become an Azorius Delegate by attending a RtR block Prerelease), but others are earned by the guild as a whole (the Exemplar of Azorius achievement requires that the Azorius Guild earns the most Planeswalker Points by the end of the RtR block).

While none of these achievements actually mean anything in the real world, it is kinda neat to be able to point to them and say “I did that”, and they give you goals to work toward that keep Magic: the Gathering tournament play fun and interesting.

Earning Your Stripes

Not only does your DCI number allow you to keep track of your progress as a Magic player, but it can also let you become more than that. If you go to judge.wizards.com, you’ll be prompted to enter your DCI number and your password (this is the same password that you needed for the Planeswalker Points website), and then you’ll see this screen:

This is the Wizards of the Coast Judge Center, and here is where you’ll go if you want to become a Rules Advisor or Judge. Not only does it include the actual tests that you’ll need to take, but it’s also invaluable for networking with other judges and keeping up-to-date on tournament rules. Take some time and explore this site if you’re at all interested in judging Magic events, and try out the Rules Advisor test if you think you’re good enough.

More Than Just a Number

As you’ve seen, your DCI card is more than just a piece of paper that takes up space in your wallet. That ten-digit number on the front not only keeps you out of trouble in the physical world of Magic: the Gathering, but also allows you to access your records and achievements in the virtual world as well. Finally, it serves as your entry into the world of judging, if you so desire. Keep that card close to you, maybe laminate it (since the card stock is pretty cheap), and you’ll not only reap the benefits of DCI membership, but you’ll also have a piece of Magic memorabilia to remind you of that very first tournament.

4 Comments

  1. You have like 400 more points than me. I wish I lived somewhere I could consistently play magic tournaments. Soon…

    • Btw, I aligned with Dimir myself.

      • themagicfanatic

        According to the guild-relationship write-ups on mtg.com, the Azorius and Dimir are sworn enemies (which I guess makes sense, given that GA Augustus IV killed Szadek and then Szadek’s ghost killed Augustus). I think that means we can’t be friends no more.

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