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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Dec 23 2016 12:00pm
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State of the Program for December 23rd 2016
 
In the News
Aether Revolt Previews Are Starting: The preview season has begun. I am not going to write much about them, because my track record on set reviews is sketchy at best. Besides, lots of other people do that. I’ll just link to the official card gallery, which is here
 
Flashback Drafts to Continue: Flashback drafts will continue next year, in rotation with Cube, release events and the Throwback Standard Gauntlet (see next item). The main change is that they will no longer be single elimination – you can play until you get three wins or two losses. Prizes are 150 play points for three wins, and 70 Play points for 2 wins. The leagues will run for one week.
 
Throwback Standard Gauntlets: Wizards has announced that we will be able to play Standard formats from the pastThe “Throwback Standard Gauntlet” events will provide a random choice of prebuilt decks from a past standard environment, and will function like the Pro Tour Gauntlets – you won’t need to own the cards. The entry fee is 10 TIX or 100 Play Points. Prizes are in Play Points: 150 for 3-0, 100 for 2-1, 40 for 1-2 and 10 play points as a bad beats award. The Gauntlets will be designed by Randy Buehler, who not only dominated some of them (Wizards is starting with the first Standard ), but has also produced a number of video series in which he pairs up and plays old archetypes. Should be good.
 
State of Standard Recap: Sam Stoddard of Wizards wrote about the state of Standard in last week’s Latest Developments. He looks at both the good parts of the format and the problems. He spins it as well as he can, but also discusses areas where, in hindsight, he would have done things differently. This is a follow-up to a Wizards poll which found that a lot of people are very down on Standard right now.  (Me, too.)  The article is here
 
Wizards Coverage Teaser: Wizards provided some info on live video coverage of events for the start of next year. It looks somewhat promising, with coverage of an event pretty much every weekend (except prerelease & launch party weekends, etc.) Hopefully this will continue. Last year, coverage got ratchetted back a bunch, and I think it hurt the brand.   Going back to more complete coverage seems like a solid move. Article here. One bit of controversy – Wizards chose to cover the events with the most pros or name players, which meant they chose the Sunday Super Series Championship over the Legacy GP, and the European GP over the US version that weekend. The Pro Tour is in Europe the following week.
 
The Timeline
This is a list of things we have been promised, or we just want to see coming back.   Another good source for dates and times is the calendar and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the bug blog which appears sporadically on MTGO.com. Most of the major upcoming events we know of are listed.  Not listed, but important: Wizards offers either one or two online PTQs each weekend, with qualifiers running the three days prior to the PTQ.
 
Recurring Events
Timing
Power Nine Challenge
Last Saturday of the month, at 11am Pacific
Legacy Challenge
Second Saturday of the month, at 11am Pacific
No Downtime
December 28th  
Extended Downtime
(none announced)
Current Leagues End
January 25th
 
Upcoming and Ongoing Events
Begins
Ends
On sale now
January 4, 2017
Vintage Cube
December 14th
January 4th
Kaladesh Sealed MOCS events
December 30th
Details here.
Modern MOCS events
January 7th & 21st
Details here.
Aether Revolt prerelease
January 27th
January30th
Amonkhet
Spring, 2017 release
 
Modern Masters 2017 Edition
MTGO release
March 23rd
Last Flashback Draft of the Year:   M14
The last Flashback draft of this year costs 10Tix or 100 Play Points or 2 Tix plus product. It is a you-keep-the- cards single elimination event paying out 200 play points for first, 100 for second, and 50 for third and fourth place. The M14 money cards are Archangel of Thune and Scavenging Ooze, plus Mutavault which is under $5 but worth taking anyway because it is decent in limited.
 
Next year, Wizards will be offering either a flashback draft league, a flashback Standard gauntlet, a CUBE league or prerelease / Release events each week.   Here’s the schedule so far.
 
Flashback and Such Rotation
Begins
Ends
Triple Zendikar Flashback Draft
January 4th
January 11th
Legacy Cube
January 11th
January 25th
Aether Revolt Prerelease/Release Events
January 25th
February 22nd
Throwback Standard Gauntlet (1994?)
February 22nd
March 1st
Invasion/Planeshift/Apocalypse Draft
March 1st
March 8th
Cube Draft (Cube TBD)
March 8th
March 22nd
Modern Masters 2017 Leagues
March 22nd
April 12th
The new Flashback Leagues are still draft, and still you-keep-the-cards. They are 12 TIX / product plus 2 TIX / 120 Play Points. However, they are no longer single elimination. Now you play until you have three wins or two losses. Prizes are 150 play points for three wins and 70 Play points for 2 wins. The leagues run one week.
 
The Throwback Standard Gauntlet events provide a random choice of prebuilt decks from a past standard environment. These will function like the Pro Tour Gauntlets – you won’t need to own the cards. The entry fee is 10 TIX or 100 Play Points. Prizes are in Play Points: 150 for 3-0, 100 for 2-1, 40 for 1-2 and 10 play points as a bad beats award.  
 
Opinion Section: Unfun
I have not jumped into a sanctioned Standard event, paper or online, since last rotation. In paper, that is partly lack of cards. Online, I don’t have that excuse. I have enough store credit saved up to buy any deck in Standard. The problem is that the format just does not appeal to me. I can find plenty of decks I would not mind playing; the problem is that I see too many decks that I do not want to play against. Magic is my favorite hobby, but Standard right now is falling into the “life is too short” category. I can find better options than paying to enter a Standard event or League.
 
I have been playing Magic for a long time. I started last millennium, back when Standard was called Type II and included Tempest and Urza’s block. That was before creatures were good, before the graveyard was a resource, and before the stack even existed. In the nearly 20 years of playing tournament Magic since that time I have faced a lot of not fun decks. I am wondering what is different now. I can think back and see a ton of decks that were horrible to face, but none of them created this sense of annoyance.
 
I have played through a lot of bad formats – Combo winter, Odyssey Standard, Skullclamp Affinity, Caw-Blade, BBS Vintage, and Trix Extended. All were rough, but Trix was the worst of the bunch. Trix played Duress, Force of Will and counters. It could, and often did, draw 20 cards on turn two and kill you on turn three.  It was a really hard match, but I used to love playing against Trix. It was an uphill struggle, but if you were really good and a little lucky, you could beat it. Same with the other archetypes I listed above. They were super hard to beat, but I did not mind playing against them in the same way I do current Standard.
 
I also thought back to the decks that I actually did hate facing: the decks that were horrible to play against. That list includes Stasis, Pirates, Cuneo Blue, and Miracle Grow.  Stasis was an enchantment that made everyone skip untap steps, so it locked everything down.  Pirates (and Ponza) were land destruction decks that prevented you from playing anything.  Cuneo Blue countered all your early plays, bounced all your permanents with Capsize with Buyback, then killed you with a Stalking Stones or the like. Decks like Miracle Grow and Pickles also tapped out your lands and kept them locked down. All of these decks created board states that were clearly no fun, and Wizards has eliminated all of these archetypes from competitive Magic for exactly that reason. Wizards will not reprint Stasis effects, or two mana hard counters, or allow multiple three mana land destruction spells into Standard. Those archetypes did not make for fun Magic, and Wizards has decided that they will never again exist.
 
However, I played against all those decks, week after week. I forced them to lock and kill me, and I really enjoyed beating them. They were hard matchups, and not really fun matchups, but they were not unenjoyable. In my opinion, an unfun deck is one that makes me consider scooping once I see what they are playing.  Against those decks, I just settled down to a grind, and tried to beat them. 
 
UW Flash is not an unfun deck. It’s not fun, and I hate playing against the archetype. I did not mind playing against control and counterspell decks in the past. In fact, I liked it. Baiting counters, sequencing your spells so that you might resolve something, eventually, was skill intensive, and I was good at it. At the very least, you could wait until they tapped mana to play their eventual win condition, then sneak something in then. In UW Flash, however, the counterspells – the Spell Quellers – are the win condition. So are the Rattlechains that stop you from killing the Spell Quellers. Wizards has pushed the archetype too hard, but if it was the only problem, I could live with that. There will always be one annoying matchup in any format. If UW Flash was the only problem, I’d be in.
 
The other problem, however, is Emrakul.  I have never liked the Eldrazi, but that still isn’t the real problem. The real problem is having your turn controlled.  That is not fun. It is extremely unfun.
 
I have often wondered what the first card that ever made me concede when it was cast against me. I don’t mean the Lightning Bolt pointed at my head when I was at 2 life – I mean the spell that was so not fun that I just decided to scoop. I have it narrowed down to one of two spells – Exhaustion or Word of Command. Exhaustion was a huge beating in our casual multiplayer games back before I learned to play around it, but Word of Command was just unfair and unreasonable. I know I responded to that card a couple times with “fine, you win, let’s play another game.” I hated having my own cards used against me.  I always have. It’s not fun.
 
Mindslaver is also not fun. It always has been. I was a play tester in Mirrodin, and I hated the card then. I hated it in Mirrodin Standard, and I hate it now. I hate the entire effect. I hate Magic Comp. Rules 712, which covers controlling another player. I can make mistakes and misplay my cards in ways that cost me the game all by myself; I really do not need to have my opponent do it for me. I also hate the fact that being Mindslavered does not actually win the game, but it usually creates a situation in which you can no longer win. 
 
What is infinitely worse is that it often takes your opponent forever to play through the Mindslaver turn, while you just sit there doing nothing. It was not fun being Stasis locked. It was not fun having all your mana sources destroyed or being locked under a Winter Orb. It was not fun having your permanents bounced with Capsize. All of those things were so not fun that they were bad for Magic, and Wizards eliminated those archetypes because they were bad for Magic. 
 
However, in almost all of those cases, you at least had the potential of drawing out of it. You could do something. Being Mindslavered means you just have to sit there, doing nothing, while your chance of winning is being destroyed. Being Mindslavered sucks.
 
In his article, Sam Stoddard said that Wizards felt that the problem was that Emrakul was too ubiquitous.    He said that “Emrakul is a card that was very fun when she was cast sometimes, but is much less fun as the default ending card for a lot of matchups.” He is not wrong about that.  Emrakul’s Mindslaver effect is really not fun as the default ending for matches. However, he also said that “there are things that are fun in theory or fun in small numbers, but that aren't fun when they are "the thing" to do—and I believe Mindslaver effects are in that category.” He is wrong there.
 
He said “Mindslaver effects are fun in small numbers.” No, they are not.   Mindslaver effects are not fun, not if you are the person being Mindslavered.  Ever. They are not fun the first time, and not the second time. They are certainly not fun when you get Mindslaver locked, or when it happens for the fourth time in a single tournament.  
 
Being Mindslavered  is never fun.
 
I am hoping that Wizards will realize that Mindslaver effects are like cheap hard counters, ubiquitous land destruction and Stasis; things that harm Magic as a game and should not be a dominant part of the metagame. Ever.
 
For me, I will just sit Standard out until the Mindslaver effects disappear. I can always play Pauper, or limited. Or Guild Wars.
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: Does anyone care about Standard anymore? The one large event was the SCG Championships, but that was a mixed format event with a strange metagame, so I’m ignoring it. Here’s an interesting deck that went 5-0 in league play.  
 
 
Modern: I cannot believe I am seeing this. SGRUTU went 5-0 with an Archive Trap mill deck. I have this deck built. I played it in a Modern side event at GP Minneapolis, and a Modern PPTQ. It absolutely destroys some decks, but it is a complete dog against others. I remember one opponent, on the play, going fetchland, Forest, Glistener Elf. I hit him with three Archive Traps. His turn two was Forest #2, Become Immense, Become Immense, win. I also faced two different decks with Eldrazi – the ones that shuffle back the graveyard when milled. I quit playing the deck after that, but if it works for him…   
 
Milling the Archive
SGRUTU, 5-0, Modern Competitive League - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Hedron Crab
4 Jace's Phantasm
8 cards

Instant
4 Archive Trap
3 Crypt Incursion
3 Visions of Beyond
10 cards
Sorcery
4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
1 Increasing Confusion
3 Mind Funeral
4 Breaking/Entering
8 cards

Artifact
3 Ensnaring Bridge
4 Mesmeric Orb
7 cards
Land
1 Darkslick Shores
3 Flooded Strand
3 Ghost Quarter
3 Island
2 Marsh Flats
4 Polluted Delta
3 Shelldock Isle
2 Swamp
2 Watery Grave
23 cards
 


Sideboard
1 Crypt Incursion
2 Disfigure
4 Extirpate
4 Leyline of the Void
1 Nausea
3 Set Adrift
15 cards
 
Pauper: Nice to see anotherclassic Pauper archetype doing well. I remember playing it before Thermo Alchemist was printed, so that’s new tech to me.
 
Red Deck Wins
518GPO, 5-0, Pauper League - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Thermo-Alchemist
8 cards

Instant
4 Fireblast
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Needle Drop
3 Searing Blaze
3 Searing Spear
18 cards
Sorcery
4 Chain Lightning
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
12 cards

Enchantment
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart
4 cards
Land
2 Forgotten Cave
16 Mountain
18 cards
 


Sideboard
2 Electrickery
1 Flaring Pain
2 Gorilla Shaman
4 Molten Rain
3 Pyroblast
3 Smash to Smithereens
15 cards
 
Legacy: A lot of Legacy decks have been running – and winning with – Leovold, Emissary of Trent. Reid Duke ran a brew through a league, and made a video. Other players have done better than Reid, with several finishing 5-0 and being featured on the mothership. Leovold is good – even better when your opponent tries to Brainstorm when you have him in play. Pro tip - Leovold is not exactly Notion Thief, but close enough to wreck Brainstorm.   Also note that this is an Aluren deck. If they have that card out, they can flash in Leovold in response to your Brainstorm. 
 
BUGging Leovold w/ Aluren
ROMARIOVIDAL, 5-0, Competitive Legacy League - 75 Cards Total
Creature
2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
4 Baleful Strix
4 Cavern Harpy
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Glint-Nest Crane
2 Parasitic Strix
4 Shardless Agent
20 cards

Instant
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
4 Force of Will
11 cards
Sorcery
3 Ponder
3 cards

Enchantment
4 Aluren
4 cards
Land
2 Bayou
1 Forest
1 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
3 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Verdant Catacombs
20 cards
 


Sideboard
1 (Leovold, Emissary of Trest)
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Cabal Therapy
2 Carpet of Flowers
2 Faerie Macabre
2 Hydroblast
1 Karakas
2 Powder Keg
2 Tormod's Crypt
15 cards
 
Vintage: The next season of the Vintage Super League will begin January third.  Until then, not much happening in Vintage. Vintage Dailies fired, but I have featured all the decks that went 4‑0 or  3-1 – even the Storm deck running Paradoxical Outcome.
 
Card Prices
Note: all my prices come from the fine folks at MTGOTraders.com. These are retail prices, and generally the price of the lowest priced, actively traded version. (Prices for some rare promo versions are not updated when not in stock, so I skip those.)   You can get these cards at MTGOTraders.com web store, or from their bots: MTGOTradersBot(#) (they have bots 1-10), CardCaddy and CardWareHouse, or sell cards to MTGOTradersBuyBot(#) (they have buybots 1-4). I have bought cards from MTGOTraders for over a decade now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.
 
Standard staples: Standard prices rebounded some after last week’s crash. 
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$14.33
$13.51
$0.82
6%
$12.39
$12.96
($0.57)
-4%
$26.81
$23.44
$3.37
14%
$33.23
$27.65
$5.58
20%
$6.37
$5.77
$0.60
10%
$13.44
$13.10
$0.34
3%
$13.47
$12.49
$0.98
8%
$17.39
$18.30
($0.91)
-5%
$13.43
$15.02
($1.59)
-11%
$27.12
$25.95
$1.17
5%
$15.24
$11.36
$3.88
34%
$5.26
$5.53
($0.27)
-5%
$8.82
$9.90
($1.08)
-11%
$12.19
$9.67
$2.52
26%
$8.97
$6.78
$2.19
32%

Modern staples:  Modern prices are mixed again this week.  I have also been adding some cards to the list, and bumping some that are holding at less than my arbitrary $15 cutoff. This week, Twilight Mire is on the bubble, but lands fluctuate a lot, so we will see.    
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$26.11
$29.75
($3.64)
-12%
$19.61
$19.19
$0.42
2%
$48.26
$47.77
$0.49
1%
$28.82
$29.58
($0.76)
-3%
$28.61
$31.50
($2.89)
-9%
$48.65
$46.92
$1.73
4%
$58.30
$59.58
($1.28)
-2%
$20.41
$13.61
$6.80
50%
$32.29
$30.72
$1.57
5%
$17.47
$18.92
($1.45)
-8%
$21.39
$20.12
$1.27
6%
$22.22
$24.86
($2.64)
-11%
$91.20
$95.76
($4.56)
-5%
$27.58
$29.31
($1.73)
-6%
$22.00
$27.76
($5.76)
-21%
$26.42
$31.51
($5.09)
-16%
$20.61
$23.72
($3.11)
-13%
$43.89
$47.28
($3.39)
-7%
$13.41
$15.88
($2.47)
-16%
$19.43
$19.37
$0.06
0%

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are generally up this week. The big climbers are the cards from the Treasure Chests that are proving very good in the formats, like Leovold. Look for him when you open a Treasure Chest. Also, note that the table has grown, again.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$29.42
$29.33
$0.09
0%
$39.04
$38.87
$0.17
0%
$97.17
$83.04
$14.13
17%
$31.45
$30.36
$1.09
4%
Doomsday
$26.60
$26.60
$0.00
0%
$45.66
$44.38
$1.28
3%
$30.49
$28.24
$2.25
8%
$31.13
$25.32
$5.81
23%
$33.64
$32.50
$1.14
4%
$38.24
$36.91
$1.33
4%
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
$38.57
$26.70
$11.87
44%
$26.51
$26.14
$0.37
1%
$34.71
$34.72
($0.01)
0%
$27.31
$27.27
$0.04
0%
$25.09
$24.67
$0.42
2%
$40.92
$41.18
($0.26)
-1%
$26.33
$25.19
$1.14
5%
$159.75
$156.29
$3.46
2%
$56.37
$53.86
$2.51
5%
$52.85
$50.85
$2.00
4%
$33.78
$32.52
$1.26
4%
$25.35
$26.21
($0.86)
-3%
$19.46
$18.75
$0.71
4%
$49.74
$49.39
$0.35
1%

Set Redemption: You can redeem complete sets on MTGO. You need to purchase a redemption voucher from the store for $25. During the next downtime, Wizards removes a complete set from your account and sends you the same set in paper.  Treasure Chests and the current booster packs are here because they don’t really fit anywhere else.   Treasure Chests are down a bit. The EV, if you open a lot, is above that price, but the feel-bads hurt. The last TC I opened had three cards each retailing for $0.01, which I could not sell and would never play.   
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Battle for Zendikar
$73.88
$68.12
$5.76
8%
Eldritch Moon
$120.80
$114.87
$5.93
5%
Kaladesh
$89.80
$82.37
$7.43
9%
Oath of the Gatewatch
$91.22
$88.36
$2.86
3%
Shadows over Innistrad
$68.44
$60.42
$8.02
13%
Treasure Chest
$2.85
$2.94
($0.09)
-3%
Kaladesh Booster
$2.53
$2.42
$0.11
5%

 
The Good Stuff
The following is a list of all the non-promo, non-foil cards on MTGO that retail for more than $25 per card. These are the big ticket items in the world of MTGO.  The list is up one more card this week. The list also changes week to week, at least on the bottom end. Most of the Moxen are off the list this week.     
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $ 159.75
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $   97.17
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $   91.20
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $   61.08
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $   60.48
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $   58.99
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $   58.30
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $   57.44
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $   56.37
Tangle Wire
 NE
Rare
 $   52.85
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $   52.26
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $   51.57
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   49.74
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $   49.04
Blood Moon
 9ED
Rare
 $   48.78
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $   48.65
Blood Moon
 MMA
Rare
 $   48.40
Blood Moon
 8ED
Rare
 $   48.26
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $   47.61
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $   47.46
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $   45.66
Food Chain
 MM
Rare
 $   45.29
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   43.89
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
 $   40.92
Back to Basics
 UZ
Rare
 $   39.04
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $   38.57
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $   38.24
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $   34.71
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $   34.45
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $   33.83
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $   33.78
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $   33.64
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
 BFZ
Mythic Rare
 $   33.23
Ancestral Vision
 DD2
Rare
 $   33.19
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   33.08
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   32.39
Griselbrand
 AVR
Mythic Rare
 $   32.29
Containment Priest
 PZ1
Rare
 $   31.69
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $   31.45
From the Ashes
 C13
Rare
 $   31.13
Golgari Grave-Troll
 DDJ
Rare
 $   30.84
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $   30.82
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $   30.81
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $   30.49
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   29.99
Ancestral Recall
 VMA
Bonus
 $   29.42
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $   28.82
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $   28.61
Lion's Eye Diamond
 MI
Rare
 $   28.16
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   27.86
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $   27.58
Moat
 MED
Rare
 $   27.31
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $   27.12
Emrakul, the Promised End
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $   26.81
Golgari Grave-Troll
 TD0
Rare
 $   26.65
Doomsday
 WL
Rare
 $   26.60
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
 PZ1
Rare
 $   26.51
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $   26.42
Pendelhaven
 TSB
Rare
 $   26.33
Ancestral Vision
 TSP
Rare
 $   26.11
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $   26.07
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   25.69
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   25.35
Mox Jet
 VMA
Bonus
 $   25.09

The big number is the retail price of a playset (4 copies) of every card available on MTGO. Assuming you bought the least expensive versions available, the cost of owning a playset of every card on MTGO is $ 24,220. That is up about $300 from last week.
 
Weekly Highlights
It snowed at GP Milwaukee. It snowed last weekend – enough that the judge conference nearby was cancelled, and we spent the weekend inside in front of the fire. It really looks like Christmas outside, and I love it. About the only downside was that I shoveled about nine tons of snow (literally, using a weight of 15 lbs. per square foot) last weekend, and by mid Sunday my shoulder was feeling it. It even hurt to move the mouse, which is totally unfair. But my shoulder is better now, and we still have snow covering the yard and fields. 
 
It’s great. 
 
Happy Holidays to all of you, and I hope you experience whatever makes it is that makes them enjoyable to you – even if it is casting Mindslavers.
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” and “3MWords” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 
HammyBot Super Sale: HammyBot was set up to sell off Erik Friborg’s collection, with all proceeds going to his wife and son. So far, HammyBot has raised over $8,000, but there are a lot of cards left in the collection. Those cards are being sold at MTGOTrader’s Buy Price.  
 
 

11 Comments

I love Emrakul from a pure by ricklongo at Fri, 12/23/2016 - 12:31
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5

I love Emrakul from a pure design standpoint, but the gameplay is just completely miserable. I guess this makes it extra sweet when you win a game in which you were Emrakul'd twice (happened to me this week), but those are obviously few and far between.

Hah! You know you were by Paul Leicht at Fri, 12/23/2016 - 16:54
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Hah! You know you were tapping into greatness when that happens. :D

Pete, I assume there's a big by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 12/23/2016 - 19:42
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Pete, I assume there's a big "Your Mileage May Vary" implied in your Opinion Section. Because I, for one, don't mind Mindslaver effects. I may even say I have fun seeing the opponent figuring out how to use my cards in the most harmful ways. Sometimes, there's not even one. Sometimes, you need to be cunning and creative.

Besides, a Mindslaver lock in Modern (such as the one from U Tron) just spells good game, because there's no reason not to concede at that point, unless you want to force the opponent to spend their clock, in which case you'll just click F6 and go read the news while your opponent finishes playing. Now, there's no such thing in current Standard. As Rick said, after Emrakul 2.0 rises, you may still stand a chance; but if you don't, the game is quickly going to end anyway. The greatest annoyance materializes when the unfun is also taking a very long time to seal the deal. That's why traditional prison decks aren't even the same sport to me. How can anyone have fun playing against Stasis and the likes? Where you keep being forced to stay in a game that you theoretically may still win, but where most of the turns you aren't even allowed to play. That sounds like having fun cutting myself or whipping my own back, or some such practice. It's entirely alien to me.

The point is: the Stasis-like effects or the mana denial strategies, they aren't really hard locks a la Mindslaver/Academy Ruins, where you just concede and that's it. If you do concede, it'd be mostly out of spite, since, technically, your deck could still have a way out, the opponent still has to take decisions leading to possible mistakes, and the prison needs to find new ways to rebuild itself over the course of the game. Your chances might be slim, yet the correct play is not to concede, therefore your inner Spike will demand for you to keep playing, and enduring the torture. That's the insanely masochistic part.
Any combo that quickly ends the game is no torture by definition; it's merciful. Classic prison decks are not, they're rather something out of Hellraiser.

It's weird to me that you find current Standard so repulsive, because in my game group, we had the opposite reaction. We usually despise Standard, but lately we started proxying a lot of Standard decks chosen among the most successful in the current meta, and we're having a blast playing them. Granted, we just do a few friendly matches, which is probably different than sitting through entire tournaments, but we still have to find a deck we don't like to play and play against, and the variety is so huge right now, that alone seems to tell us they're doing something right with Standard these days.

I'm in a similar boat. It's by xger at Sat, 12/24/2016 - 08:54
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I'm in a similar boat. It's interesting to watch an opponent either come up with something I may not have seen, or more commonly, try and pilot a deck they are not familiar with.

I basically agree with Sam's point in his article, that occasional mind slaver effects are fine, and can be fun. It's a bit different when you and your opponent each play 3 Emrakuls (which, I have played). We basically were both spinning marvel trying to hit Ulamog and trading Emrakuls. That game got annoying.

This is a follow-up to a by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 12/23/2016 - 19:53
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This is a follow-up to a Wizards poll which found that a lot of people are very down on Standard right now.

This doesn't seem a fair assessment of what Stoddard said in that article. Which is (emphasis mine):

When I asked people on Twitter about their view of the format, a lot of people did give it very high ratings, citing the deck diversity and the format's evolution as high points. They were just generally enjoying themselves. At the same time, I read lots of criticisms of the format, many of which I thought were fair assessments of what those people did not like.

At no point he implies the people who gave the format high ratings are outnumbered by those who expressed criticisms. The word "a lot/lots" is used in both cases. I challenge anyone to find any poll about MTG where "a lot of people" didn't express an opinion while a different "lot of people" were expressing the opposite opinion.

Mindslaver by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 12/24/2016 - 10:23
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5

Casting and using Mindslaver was always super fun when I did it, and if it was done to me I just scooped if I had a hand that could wind up killing myself.

I get that people hate being mindslavered though, and it does seem like Standard is the format that wouldn't want something like that.

My first experience with by Paul Leicht at Sun, 12/25/2016 - 03:10
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5

My first experience with backlash from using mindslaver was when I innocently put it in a commander deck (when that format was first introduced to MTGO) and ended up in a game where I could (and did) loop through Eternal Witness, Mindslaver, and Crystal Shard to completely control the game. I was very politely told that I was breaking the social contract and asked to not do it again. I took that to heart. I had not even considered Mindslaver to be in the same class as cards that are considered broken in commander.

I've certainly had it played against me and I have been slave locked out of the game too and it sucks. I totally get why people get angry or ragequit or simply just quit when this happens to them. And imho putting that ability on a 13/13 protection from instants flyer that timewalks your opponent is not a better thing to do than making a 15/15 protection from colored spells flyer with Annihilator 6 that time walks you!

In fact I think Emrakul #2 is more unfun in many important ways. But that said I think it is OK to have some unfun cards in the game to contrast against the many that are fun. And these cards are not dominating every aspect of the formats they are legal in (not more than any other top tier card anyway). They aren't affinity or storm or dredge.

As to Spell Quellers/Rattlechains, the deck's not unbeatable. Just high synergy and the problem with decks like these aren't that they are hard to beat, but that they reduce the number of possibilities that win against them by a large number. I agree that the archetype was pushed too hard, just as GW Tokens was before. It reduces the number of creative "monstrosities" that sometimes surprise us even at the pro level and make magic exciting and fun.

I don't know what would happen if R&D stopped doing that with each new Standard format and had no decks preplanned for but I expect things would eventually devolve to the same state more or less. We talk about tiers in magic not because of design only but because magic players think like that. Hierarchical deck tiers allow us to decide what decks are worth playing and which ones are merely a laugh or a "hrmmm".

With all that said I think it is legitimate to complain if all you see in the top tier are unfun cards. That does not draw people to the game. Typical new players aren't going to see that and go oh I need to make that deck now! On the other hand without decks like that, it becomes a slug fest of fun decks vs fun decks and we wouldn't want that! (I am still thinking of Armadillo cloak on Rith the Awakener here...)

Happy Holidays Pete and everyone here, Merry Xmas, Happy Qwanza, Happy (C)Hannukah, and a Joyous Yuletide to you all!

Winter Orb by Hearts at Mon, 12/26/2016 - 08:04
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Winter Orb was fun, that artifacts shut off when tapped was fun, that tapped blockers didnt fight back was fun.
Mana burn was fun, combat damage on the stack was fun, that you were not allowed to concede without calling a judge was fun.
That scouting wasnt allowed was fun, interrupt was fun.

Magic was more fun in the old days.

Oh, I 'member. Nonetheless, by AJ_Impy at Mon, 12/26/2016 - 12:05
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Oh, I 'member. Nonetheless, fun is where you seek it, old or new.

re by Hearts at Tue, 12/27/2016 - 23:46
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Fun is where fun is to be had, seeking or not seeking doesnt change it.

emrakul/uw flash by stsung at Tue, 12/27/2016 - 08:46
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I don't like playing Standard in general but sometimes I play it, from time to time it is nice to play few tournaments and then get back to preferred format. I enjoyed majority of the Standard tournaments I participated in. The first one was the first WMCQ that I played with Grixis Control. Then I played some PPTQs with BUG Delirium and that was a lot of fun. But then Emrakul came and changed everything. My Delirium deck is still viable so I just put 2 Emrakuls in it and tried my luck at some other events. Playing Delirium mirrors seemed horrible at first but later I realized it wasn't that bad. Playing against Marvel was. Since people get Emrakuled for a longer while than me they know the feeling of being totally helpless more than me. I don't usually mind a Mindslaver effect, I had lots of fun with it from both sides of the table. I lived through worse. But what I don't really like is the fact that some decks simply die to it. There are so many nice decks that work but unfortunately lose to Emrakul decks and that is why even pros rather avoid those decks and stick to something that they know works. Some players come to play for fun and even their decks are not as powerful as tier one decks they usually can play a good game against them. Emrakul says 'no'.Some decks are simply too fair, too slow or not having enough disruption to stop the Mindslaver effect from happening. Summary Dismissal is one card, costs UU and thus only few decks can run it.
I haven't probably played too much of current Standard to hate it but I can see the players' faces at local tournaments and PPTQs. They are not happy when they see Emrakul. Sometimes it does not mean their game is lost but they know what is going to mostly happen and dislike it. I've also seen people's faces when they first played against a Marvel deck. Everyone was scared. No one expected turn 4 Emrakul. No one expected the game to end prematurely and I think that is the biggest problem. What those players worked towards just dissipates when Emrakul hits the board no skill (or close to none) involved. I've seen many badly played Emrakuls and badly executed Mindslavers but only the bad feeling makes everyone feel uneasy. It was the same with CoCo and Siege Rhino, people are just fed up with those cards. Or at least that is my point of view. I don't care about Mindslaver. I don't care about Stasis, I can play against Shops all day or even Stax where my only answer to Smokestack is Force of Will. But many Standard players aren't like that. They like their spells and permanents and they do not want anyone else to tinker with them.

Something I found funny, here are two of my recent tweets.
UW Flash is certainly very annoying deck and actually made me way more upset than Emrakul, but all one needs is to understand the deck and try to avoid the worst case scenarios that happen. Since my knowledge in Marvel vs UW matchup was practically none the game was bound to go awry. After I threw 4 Emrakuls at my opponent it came to this board state...mostly due to me messing as much as I could but I was told that this is nothing unusual in this matchup. I don't want to get to a similar position ever.

https://twitter.com/stsungjp/status/810873423543107589

The second tweet is from a game where we both had Liliana's emblem in play but I would be the one who would eventually win if Emrakul wouldn't have happened. It was the only card that could have changed the outcome of the game. I was sad when Emrakul happened because till that moment the game was lots of fun and a big challenge. I could have win! ^_^

https://twitter.com/stsungjp/status/805817673724690432