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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Dec 09 2016 2:00pm
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State of the Program for December 9th 2016

 
In the News
 
RTR Block Cards Removed from Drafts: Wizards has announced that, due to functionality issues, Common Bond and Mana Bloom will not appear in Return to Ravnica packs during Flashback Drafts this month.   Similarly, Realmwright, Ooze Flux and Structural Collapse will not appear in Gatecrash packs. 
 
In a Similar Vein: Lee Sharpe tweeted a question: What are your thoughts on running flashback drafts but purposely taking out cards that hurt the format’s playability (e.g. Sprout Swarm) even if they are working correctly? This follows a tweet asking which other formats which would benefit from reverse drafting – meaning drafting C/B/A instead of A/B/C. (Best reply so far: Justin Treadway – “I’d love to do a Kamigawa draft where all the packs are replaced with Rise of the Eldrazi.” Not what they meant, but I like it anyway.)
 
Filters for Decks: You can now apply the same filters to cards in your deck that you can apply to cards in the sideboard/collection portion of the deckbuilder screen. Look for the “Apply Filters” box on the bad. (Note: I’m writing this before the feature goes live, so have not tried it, yet.)
 
Bug Blog Updated: Wizards has updated the Bug Blog for the first time in a while. The blog lists 100 known issues. You can read it here. 
 
Slow News Week: December is generally a slow news month.   
 
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. For quick reference, here are some major upcoming events.   In addition, there are 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 14th
Extended Downtime
(none announced so far)
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 11th, 18th and 30th
Details here.
Modern MOCS events
January 7th & 21st
Details here.
Amonkhet
Spring, 2017 release
 
Aether Revolt prerelease
January 27th
January30th
Modern Masters 2017 Edition
MTGO release
March 23rd
 
Flashback Schedule:
Flashback drafts cost 10Tix or 100 Play Points or 2 Tix plus product. They are you-keep-the- cards, not Phantom. These are single elimination events that pay out in play points: 200 for first, 100 for second, and 50 for third and fourth place. 
 
Format
Begins
Ends
Triple Gatecrash
December 7
December 14
Dragon’s Maze, Gatecrash, Return to Ravnica
December 14
December 21
Triple M14
December 21
December 28
 
Flashback This Week: We can draft triple Gatecrash.   The money cards for Gatecrash are the shock lands, with Stomping Ground at the top of the list.
 
Opinion Section: Wintersday
 
As I’ve mentioned far too often, my main time-sinks / addictions are Magic and Guild Wars II. Right now, GW2 is winning the battle for what free time I have. I spent some time on the drive home thinking about why that is. I spent more time prioritizing my next actions in GW2., but let’s talk about the comparison.   
 
Magic is a great game, and MTGO is the primary means by which I can play it. Face to Face gaming is better, but that generally requires a 40-minute drive to the store (or for friends to make the 40-minute drive to our place), plus the time to play. That rarely happens.   GW2 is an online MMO, so no commute is necessary. Advantage to Magic, though, for the social aspects of face to face events.
 
MTGO has a chat function, but few opponents even respond to my initial “hi, gl, hf.” Very few say more than “u2.” On GW2, I generally play with Ingrid, with our laptops across from each other on the dining room table. When we play with friends, we generally use Skype for small groups and TeamSpeak or Discord for larger gatherings.  Clear advantage to GW2 for its ability to interact, coupled with an environment where people want to interact.
 
MTGO is optimized for one-on-one, competitive play. MTGO does not work very well for casual play (the find opponent system stinks) or for multiplayer. GW2 offers players vs. player, world vs. world and player vs. environment options, which provide play opportunities for all levels of skill and competitiveness. For me, that’s a clear advantage to GW2. 
 
MTGO offers prizes, in terms of packs, play points and cards, for winning matches in competitive events. MTGO also has a minor subtheme of rewards for entering events and buying from the store (player rewards).  MTGO does not offer rewards for just logging in, or for playing casual matches.  It does not really even support card collecting. 
 
GW2 offers minor rewards for just logging in, plus a huge variety of minor to major rewards for doing almost anything in the game.  If you win a battle, you get a reward. If you craft a new item, you get a reward. If you discover an area you have never before seen, you get a reward. If you defeat a monster for the 50th or 500th time, you get a reward. Sometimes these rewards are just a few coppers, sometimes a title, sometimes a special item you cannot get any other way. It may be because I am too driven to complete collections and so forth, but I find this part of GW2 far more compelling than MTGO.
 
MTGO has begun experimenting with special recognition for winning significant numbers of events. So far, this is limited to special avatars earned for going undefeated in a certain number of times in league play, but hopefully this will expand. GW2, by contrast, has dozens of titles which you can earn – everything from “Loyal” (earned on your one-year anniversary, no matter how accomplished you are) to “A God Walking among Mere Mortals” (which requires an almost unbelievable amount of skill and effort). You can display titles to other players. Those titles – and the desire for those titles – has clearly motivated me and my friends to play GW2. Clear advantage to GW2 here. 
 
A ton of the rewards earned in GW2 are lesser value – the equivalent of common, uncommon and bulk rare Magic cards. In GW2, like MTGO, once you have moved beyond the beginner level, those commons and uncommons have little value.   You can sell them to other players, and GW2 supports a very good store in which players can offer items for sale. Even so, many of these items are common enough that no one wants to buy them. GW2 offers two alternatives for these items. First, the game has non-player automated merchants that will buy the low value items, albeit for very low prices. In addition, most of these items can be recycled and used to craft new items. All of this means that even the equivalent of basic lands and Pacifisms are worth getting in GW2, unlike MTGO.   The fact that I am happy to get pretty much everything and anything in GW2. With MTGO, I am generally just frustrated when I get basic lands and no-value cards added to my account by a draft or sealed league. That’s a huge problem for MTGO, at least for enfranchised players like me.
 
Which brings us to Wintersday. Wintersday consists of special events, collections, quests and rewards which collectively celebrate the midwinter festival. Players can earn special outfits, titles, weapons and item, all following the Wintersday theme.   MTGO has Vintage Cube drafts. In past years, Wizards had offered NIX TIX drafts or other special deals during the holiday season, but not anymore. Ingrid and I have already discussed finding time for Wintersday events – but not MTGO.   Vintage Cube is nice, but doesn’t motivate me all that much.  MTGO has that one special event, while GW2 has a huge variety of Wintersday offerings. That variety means that GW2 is likely to have something attractive for all their customers. Advantage GW2.
 
Wizards has begun experimenting with non-card rewards with their special avatars earned for winning leagues. Hopefully, they will go farther and adopt rewards for something other than just winning. A decade ago, Wizards official position was no prizes unless you win; which meant they opposed pack-per-win drafts. Players kept pushing for Swiss drafts, and eventually Wizards tried them. The result was a clear win for everyone, and Swiss drafts and leagues continue to be very popular.   I suspect that moving to rewards for something other than going undefeated in competitive play will also be popular.
 
I don’t know what those rewards should be. My first thought would be to add banners, maybe under the player avatar, which would be visible to all players, coupled to some play points.  For example, if a player played in at least one sanctioned match on at least 20 days in a calendar month that player could earn a “Persistent” or “Loyal” banner, plus enough play points to enter an event. Another option: an incentive for players to play in multiple formats. For example, players could earn the “jack of all trades” and a league entry by completing at least five matches in either the friendly or competitive league in Standard, Modern, Pauper, Legacy, Draft and Sealed. That could get players to at least try different formats. And so forth – just give players an incentive to play; especially those players who are likely to finish out of the prizes.   
 
In the meantime, I’ll be playing GW2. 
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: We had a couple of Standard GPs last weekend, as well as a SCG open. Congrats to Madisonian Matt Severa who won GP Denver with Mardu vehicles. The new hotness, though, was UW Panharmonicon, which finished third at GP Denver and fourth at the SCG Open in Atlanta.    Another new and interesting deck is RG Aetherworks, which took down GP Madrid.
UW Panharmonicon
Seth Manfield, 3rd Place, GP Denver - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Reflector Mage
4 Cloudblazer
4 Glint-Nest Crane
1 Pilgrim's Eye
2 Drowner of Hope
1 Thought-Knot Seer
3 Eldrazi Displacer
23 cards

Artifact
4 Panharmonicon
4 cards
Enchantment
2 Stasis Snare
2 cards

Vehicle
4 Smuggler's Copter
2 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
6 cards
Land
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Prairie Stream
1 Wastes
9 Plains
5 Island
2 Westvale Abbey
25 cards
 


Sideboard
1 Thought-Knot Seer
2 Linvala, the Preserver
3 Fragmentize
2 Spell Shrivel
1 Immolating Glare
2 Aether Meltdown
1 Summary Dismissal
1 Negate
2 Filigree Familiar
15 cards


 
Modern: Modern had no large events last weekend, so I looked over smaller events and league results. One of the more interesting decks to appear recently are the cantrips / Kiln Fiend variants, building off the decks appearing at the World Magic Cup. Some of the new builds run Swiftspear, some Thing in the Ice, and some have differing builds.   Here’s one that melds in Death's Shadow.
 
 
Pauper: I finished my last league going 3-2 with a four-color Tron build similar to one I featured a few weeks ago. Since I almost never play the same deck twice in a row, here’s something I am looking at. (Note; constantly swapping decks is not recommended.   I lost at least a couple games and one match to not being familiar enough with particular matchups. Practice makes perfect, but variety is the spice of life and I like my leagues spicy.)  
 
 
Legacy: No big Legacy events last weekend, so let’s look over the competitive leagues. What would I play, if I were looking to enter the league at the moment? Probably this. I’m not sure about the Stifles, but ThunderPork went 5-0, and I didn’t.
 
BUG Delver
THINDERPORK, 5-0, Competitive Legacy League - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Gurmag Angler
3 Tarmogoyf
13 cards

Instant
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Spell Pierce
3 Stifle
24 cards
Sorcery
4 Ponder
4 cards
Land
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Taiga
2 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
4 Wasteland
19 cards


Sideboard
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Diabolic Edict
1 Dismember
1 Golgari Charm
1 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Sulfur Elemental
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Thoughtseize
2 Vendilion Clique
15 cards
Vintage: The next season of the Vintage Super League will begin in early January. Until then, let’s look at the Vintage Dailies. I cannot call this week’s winning Shops deck Garage – the vehicles are completely gone, and we find a playset of Triskelions in their place. Interesting.   
 
 
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 are all over the place again this week. Some of the expensive parts of traditional architypes are falling; probably because those people who want to play them have bought in, and others are too expensive to be worth the buy in. (I’m looking at you, GB Delirium.) Other cards, like Aetherworks, are moving up, and may make the table soon. 
  

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$15.74
$19.78
($4.04)
-20%
$15.64
$16.85
($1.21)
-7%
$23.64
$32.13
($8.49)
-26%
$36.43
$37.03
($0.60)
-2%
$9.33
$10.07
($0.74)
-7%
$17.38
$17.48
($0.10)
-1%
$17.83
$16.80
$1.03
6%
$20.68
$18.96
$1.72
9%
$17.23
$15.24
$1.99
13%
$28.52
$41.85
($13.33)
-32%
$17.49
$13.43
$4.06
30%
$5.41
$5.66
($0.25)
-4%
$9.67
$7.70
$1.97
26%
$10.25
$7.04
$3.21
46%
$8.25
$7.92
$0.33
4%

Modern staples:  Modern prices are generally up this week, pretty much across the board.   I still don’t understand the yo-yo effect on Horizon Canopy and Grove of the Burnwillows, though. Ensnaring Bridge is really flying right now. Is someone trying to manipulate the market, or is the demand just that large?  
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$33.06
$30.60
$2.46
8%
$18.27
$18.05
$0.22
1%
$46.95
$48.90
($1.95)
-4%
$28.55
$28.20
$0.35
1%
$17.62
$19.13
($1.51)
-8%
$31.50
$29.50
$2.00
7%
$46.86
$46.45
$0.41
1%
$63.19
$54.60
$8.59
16%
$22.64
$25.55
($2.91)
-11%
$26.14
$25.14
$1.00
4%
$20.15
$26.19
($6.04)
-23%
$21.56
$19.71
$1.85
9%
$25.13
$25.81
($0.68)
-3%
$87.11
$85.14
$1.97
2%
$32.04
$31.30
$0.74
2%
$26.40
$24.86
$1.54
6%
$27.14
$30.78
($3.64)
-12%
$23.82
$26.08
($2.26)
-9%
$51.74
$50.73
$1.01
2%
$16.60
$18.98
($2.38)
-13%
$18.34
$21.26
($2.92)
-14%

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are mixed this week. Most cards are up, but Rishadan Port has fallen a lot. I think we can point to treasure chests on that one. Port was super-expensive because so little Mercadian Masques was opened, so even the small number of Treasure Chest copies can have a significant impact. Cards like Tarmogoyf are holding their value because, with three previous printings already in the cardpool, it will take a lot more treasure chests being opened before their price will change.       
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$29.75
$30.69
($0.94)
-3%
$38.07
$36.41
$1.66
5%
$103.25
$114.35
($11.10)
-10%
$20.18
$21.05
($0.87)
-4%
$29.44
$28.91
$0.53
2%
Doomsday
$27.76
$27.10
$0.66
2%
$43.82
$42.53
$1.29
3%
$25.76
$23.93
$1.83
8%
$32.50
$32.32
$0.18
1%
$37.90
$39.17
($1.27)
-3%
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
$33.18
$29.82
$3.36
11%
$43.15
$46.47
($3.32)
-7%
$27.49
$27.56
($0.07)
0%
$29.43
$32.90
($3.47)
-11%
$40.92
$41.98
($1.06)
-3%
$174.78
$192.70
($17.92)
-9%
$53.30
$52.74
$0.56
1%
$14.03
$17.33
($3.30)
-19%
$52.06
$53.04
($0.98)
-2%
$21.15
$22.70
($1.55)
-7%
$31.53
$32.19
($0.66)
-2%
$25.66
$37.95
($12.29)
-32%
$19.62
$19.94
($0.32)
-2%
$46.74
$47.56
($0.82)
-2%

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.  
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Battle for Zendikar
$79.67
$78.62
$1.05
1%
Eldritch Moon
$132.75
$150.43
($17.68)
-12%
Kaladesh
$86.29
$82.90
$3.39
4%
Oath of the Gatewatch
$100.37
$93.91
$6.46
7%
Shadows over Innistrad
$72.52
$70.61
$1.91
3%
Treasure Chest
$2.96
$3.13
($0.17)
-5%
Kaladesh Booster
$2.82
$2.41
$0.41
17%

  
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 to 63 cards this week.     
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $ 174.78
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 103.25
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $ 87.11
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $ 63.55
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $ 63.22
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $ 63.19
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $ 53.73
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $ 53.33
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $ 53.30
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 52.95
Tangle Wire
 NE
Rare
 $ 52.06
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $ 51.82
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 51.74
Blood Moon
 8ED
Rare
 $ 49.07
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $ 49.06
Blood Moon
 9ED
Rare
 $ 48.77
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $ 48.45
Blood Moon
 MMA
Rare
 $ 46.95
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $ 46.86
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 46.74
Food Chain
 MM
Rare
 $ 45.00
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 44.83
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $ 43.82
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $ 43.15
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 40.92
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $ 39.72
Back to Basics
 UZ
Rare
 $ 38.07
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $ 37.90
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
 BFZ
Mythic Rare
 $ 36.43
Ancestral Vision
 DD2
Rare
 $ 33.55
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.24
Ancestral Vision
 TSP
Rare
 $ 33.06
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.74
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $ 32.51
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $ 32.50
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.04
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 31.64
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $ 31.63
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $ 31.53
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $ 31.50
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $ 29.91
Golgari Grave-Troll
 DDJ
Rare
 $ 29.80
Crucible of Worlds
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 29.75
Ancestral Recall
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 29.75
Containment Priest
 PZ1
Rare
 $ 29.44
Mox Jet
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 29.43
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $ 28.55
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $ 28.52
Lion's Eye Diamond
 MI
Rare
 $ 28.27
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 27.92
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 27.86
Doomsday
 WL
Rare
 $ 27.76
Noble Hierarch
 CON
Rare
 $ 27.62
Moat
 MED
Rare
 $ 27.49
Mox Emerald
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 27.23
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $ 27.14
Noble Hierarch
 MM2
Rare
 $ 26.40
Griselbrand
 AVR
Mythic Rare
 $ 26.14
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
 PZ1
Rare
 $ 25.88
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $ 25.76
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.66
Inkmoth Nexus
 MBS
Rare
 $ 25.13

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 $ 24,650. That is down about a grand from last week, but I am not sure that the number is correct. Some of the prices appear to have pulled in as text, so they could be missing from the count. I tried to correct, but with a database of 44,000 items, I can claim to have checked the formatting of every price.
 
Weekly Highlights
I will be at GP Milwaukee this weekend.   After shoveling snow in a cold wind earlier this week, being inside a convention center completely cut off from nature sounds pretty good.
 
 
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.  
 
 

2 Comments

Nice article. Do you expect by MichelleWong at Fri, 12/09/2016 - 19:20
MichelleWong's picture
5

Nice article.

Do you expect the "Holiday Season" gift from WoTC to be Play Points this December?

"As I’ve mentioned far too by ricklongo at Mon, 12/12/2016 - 11:20
ricklongo's picture
5

"As I’ve mentioned far too often, my main time-sinks / addictions are Magic and Guild Wars II. Right now, GW2 is winning the battle for what free time I have."

Replace 'Guild Wars II' with 'console gaming', and that's me in a nutshell. I haven't spent an extended period of time on Magic online for a couple of weeks now - and I was on vacation, meaning that would be the prime time for me to draft all the time. I'm just on a low period with the program right now - I dislike standard, I dislike the Kaladesh draft environment, and they have failed to offer any type of flashback draft queue that's truly enticing for me (say, Tempest, or Urza's Saga, or Mercadia).

As for holiday rewards, I remember one year they gave a random Premium Deck Series product for everyone going 4-0 in a daily event during december. That was pretty great, and I wish they'd do something like that again.