one million words's picture
By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jan 11 2013 10:38am
5
Login or register to post comments
7455 views


 

Hammie’s The State of the Program for January 11th

This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 

In the News this Week:

Wizards Fixes Phantom Sealed, adds On-Demand non-phantom 6 Pack Sealed: Late last year, Wizards eliminated the four pack sealed format. Four pack sealed had been very popular for a number of reasons. It was cheap, ran quickly, and had a very high return. Wizards replaced it with a phantom Sealed events for 8 TIX with a fairly poor payout. These events appealed to very few players, and only a handful of RtR events fired per day, compared to the dozen or so per hour 4 pack sealed queues.
 
Wizards has recognized the mistake, and made some modifications. First off, they cut the price for phantom sealed to 4 TIX, and even with a slight reduction in prize payout, the format seems to be a hit. It certainly is a cheap way to earn QPs. Second, Wizards has introduced a 6 pack sealed / 40 card deck Swiss queue that lets you keep your cards, for the cost of packs plus 2 TIX.  I hopped on last night for 5 minutes, to check the limited events queue, and in that unscientific sample saw only a couple fired RtR 6 pack sealed events. We shall see. I will probably discuss this in more detail in the future.
 
Details of the announcement here.
 
Two Weeks Left to Get a Force of Will: The current MOCs promo is an alternative art Force of Will. This card is really valuable, and it is just going to go up once Vintage is online. The qualifier season ends January 23rd, so get some games in now.
 
Gatecrash Previews: Gatecrash spoilers continue. Interesting cards, and interesting of mechanics. You should be able to find everything here. (The link seems to work this week.)
 
HammyBot: Still here! HammyBot was created to sell the late Erik Friborg’s MTGO collection to raise money for his widow and son. HammyBot is a great way to get cards while supporting the family of someone who supported the community. Here’s an update on the Bot, plus a note on a cool card that I saw on HammyBot.
 
            Cards left on HammyBot: 28,154
TIX raised so far: 4,902
            Cool HammyBot card of the week:  Foil (Sensei’s Divining Top)
 

Opinion Section: Why Magic Online is not paper Magic

As a judge, I have occasionally had to start a paper tournament with the announcement “We are playing Magic, not MODO. I know that ~card~ works ~like this~ on MODO.  That is wrong – MODO is bugged. It should work ~like this~.”  That’s really, really rare, however. Wizards does an amazing job with MTGO, and nearly every card works correctly online. Bugs are few and far between, and bugs involving tournament cards are even rarer (although we have had some exceptions in Classic, like Fact or Fiction; which was bugged for months.)
 
Bugs are not what I am talking about. I am talking about five major differences – outside assistance, intentional draws, judges, chess clocks and combo decks. I am not arguing whether one or the other is better: I’m just saying that these effects are different on MTGO and in paper Magic.
 
I’ll start with outside assistance, since that is what got me thinking about this section. Recently, Wizards held a special tournament for Streamers – people who broadcast live video of their Magic play and interact with their audience while they do so. Some streams are great fun to watch, and streamers are doing a lot to popularize Magic. The tournament was probably one way in which Wizards could say thank you to the streamers for their help. 
 
Being streamers, several of the players streamed the event. In some cases, the players had help – other players sitting with them, discussing plays and possible tricks. Apparently, although I have only heard this secondhand, the winner had another pro with him, discussing plays. This caused some consternation. The forum thread is here.
 
In the paper world, matches are played one on one (except for team events, but that’s quibbling.) In the paper world you are playing one opponent, not that opponent and his friends. In the paper world, if I sit down to a draft, I know that my opponent won’t have a couple pro players sitting behind him advising them on packs. In the paper world, I also know that if my opponent asks “what should I watch out for here?” that opponent is going to get a match loss. 
 
Online, OTOH, I know that I may be drafting or playing against a whole bunch of players. Online, my opponent may have friends reminding him to play around my Supreme Verdict, keeping track of what was passed in pack one, or weigh alternative strategies. 
 
Arguing which option is “better” is pointless. Once upon a time, having a friend scout the opposition was ground for DQ, as were notes of any kind. Now, only advice given after the match has begun is grounds for outside assistance, and the penalty is a match loss in the paper world.  Online, outside assistance is not illegal, at least not as I understand the code of conduct. You can come up with lots of “reasons” for the difference, and you may prefer one option over another, but that is not the point.
 
The point is that paper Magic and Magic online are different games. 
 
Another difference – in paper Magic, intentional draws are legal. If you go undefeated for the first five rounds of a seven round paper event, odds are good that you can intentionally draw your last two rounds and be a lock for Top 8. Online, IDs are not allowed. I, and many others, have written about why this is, but the simple fact is that IDs exist in paper and not online. Paper Magic and MTGO are simply different games.
 
Closely linked to IDs is the issue of chess clocks. Chess clocks exist on Magic Online. They do not exist in the paper world. They cannot work in paper – but that is another discussion.   One game is played with 50 minute rounds and 5 turn extensions, the other with virtual chess clocks.   They are simply different games.
 
Okay – I know some of you are say “why not use chess clocks in paper?”   The main reason is cost. A decent chess clock – one good enough to stand up to some abuse – costs about $         100. For a 1200 player GP, that means the organizer has to supply 600+ chess clocks; and investment of around $60,000. Local stores would have to invest clocks, too. Impossible – profit margins are way too slow. More importantly, chess clocks would not allow auto-yields. Both players would have to pass many times every turn: on turn one, if a player does nothing but play a land, priority is technically passed 16 times. On turns where stuff happens, the count goes way up.    
 
As for those of you who are now saying “see, that’s why MTGO is better” – I lost a match recently because I was playing a more complex deck, and MTGO started lagging badly. I lost another one when I timed out because MTGO disconnected me without warning, and by the time I realized it, and logged off and back on, I was too short on time to grind out game three. That doesn’t happen in the paper world.
 
Another difference between MTGO and the paper world: judges. And the flip side of judges, I guess, is cheating. You can have people stack decks and palm cards in the paper world. On the other hand, if you have a question about a card interaction, you can also call a judge in the paper world, and have that interaction explained (and also get a time extension to replace that explanation took.) Deck stacking doesn’t happen online, but you probably cannot get an explanation of the interaction of Brainstorm and Sylvan Library from an ORC, and even if you can, you cannot pause your chess clock while getting it.  I have judged close to a thousand events at all levels, from FNM drafts to Worlds.   I have caught some cheaters, but I have answered a thousand rules questions for every time I have investigated a possible cheater – and most of them were not, in fact, cheating.    You may have an opinion on whether judges, and the need for judges, is a net plus, but that is not the point. The point is that paper Magic and MTGO are just different.   
 
The final difference between paper and online is that some combo decks simply do not work online. This is because the rules for paper Magic handle “infinite” (technically unbounded) loops, but the program does not. In paper, the rules specifically state that you can demonstrate a combo, then state that you are repeating it 1 million times, and you have. Online, you would have to manually click through the process, step by step, one million times – but your clock would run out before that can happen. (If you somehow could make 1 million tokens, say with some sort of macro function, then the program would bog or bomb – and lots of idiot players would be experimenting to see what they had to do to get it to crash.)   Whatever – the point is that many older formats include tournament-worth infinite combos, but that those decks simply don’t work online. 
 
Paper Magic and online Magic are just different games with different rules. Wizards has done an awesome job of getting the two games to be very, very similar, and I love both games, but that’s just the way it is.  
 

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: another week, another reasonably wide open Standard metagame. The top decks from the massive (600+ player)SCG event in Columbus is here. A fast red deck sped to victory. The winning decklists are here. The winning deck follows.
 
Red Deck Wins
Kevin Brumley, Winner, SCG Open Columbus, 1/6/13
4 Ash Zealot
4 Rakdos Cackler
2 Rakdos Shred-Freak
3 Searing Spear
1 Hellion Crucible
2 Stonewright
2 Zealous Conscripts
4 Lightning Mauler
2 Pillar of Flame
3 Pyreheart Wolf
4 Hellrider
4 Stromkirk Noble
4 Brimstone Volley
21 Mountain
 
Sideboard
2 Mizzium Mortars
1 Flames of the Firebrand
2 Pillar of Flame
1 Grafdigger's Cage
3 Traitorous Blood
4 Reckless Waif
2 Thunderbolt 
 
Return to Ravnica Block Constructed: I’m not seeing anything new, but if someone knows more than I do, please tell us. 
 
Modern: The PTQ season is upon us. If you want to try out the format without spending a fortune, try out this RB Aggro deck. It is cheap, for the format, and took down a 4 round daily. Or if you prefer, try out the winning deck from GP Denver.
 
RB Aggro
Armel, Winner, Modern Daily #4843860 on 01/08/2013
4 Arid Mesa
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Blood Crypt
6 Mountain
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Ash Zealot
3 Deathrite Shaman
4 Goblin Guide
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Bump in the Night
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
1 Shard Volley
3 Thunderous Wrath
3 Volcanic Fallout
 
1 Deathmark
3 Duress
2 Flames of the Blood Hand
1 Grim Lavamancer
2 Molten Rain
2 Rakdos Charm
4 Smash to Smithereens
 
Esper Stoneblade
Vidianto Wijaya, Winner, Grand Prix Denver
2 Island
1 Plains
1 Swamp
4 Flooded Strand
3 Polluted Delta
1 Academy Ruins
3 Tundra
3 Underground Sea
1 Scrubland
2 Marsh Flats
1 Karakas
4 Stoneforge Mystic
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Batterskull
1 Umezawa's Jitte
2 Spell Pierce
4 Brainstorm
3 Force of Will
4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Counterspell
3 Lingering Souls
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Vindicate
2 Thoughtseize
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Ponder
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 
1 Zealous Persecution
1 Force of Will
1 Disenchant
1 Darkblast
1 Perish
2 Surgical Extraction
 
Legacy: SCG is back after the holiday season. Last week’s Legacy Open was won by Elves. The top deck lists were, as always, very diverse. The winner is an old combo deck – shades of Pro Tour Berlin. It’s the little green men.
 
Elves
Riley Curran, Winner, StarCityGames.com Legacy Open Columbus, 1/6/2013   
4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Green Sun's Zenith
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Nettle Sentinel
1 Regal Force
4 Heritage Druid
1 Dryad Arbor
4 Glimpse of Nature
4 Wirewood Symbiote
2 Windswept Heath
1 Birchlore Rangers
1 Forest
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Crop Rotation
1 Priest of Titania
3 Gaea's Cradle
4 Quirion Ranger
3 Natural Order
1 Fyndhorn Elves
2 Bayou
1 Savannah
 
Sideboard
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Mortarpod
2 Mindbreak Trap
1 Progenitus
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Viridian Shaman
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Natural Order
2 Abrupt Decay
 
Classic: Classic fired again this week. The winning deck was another Shops deck, similar to many I have highlighted before. The Genesis Chamber / Gaea’s Cradle combo is fun.
 
Robot Shop
thewoof2, Winner, Classic Daily #4843797 on 01/07/2013
4 Ancient Tomb
2 Gaea's Cradle
1 Mishra's Factory
4 Mishra's Workshop
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Wasteland
4 Arcbound Ravager
3 Frogmite
4 Lodestone Golem
4 Memnite
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Signal Pest
2 Steel Overseer
4 Genesis Chamber
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Memory Jar
2 Mox Opal
4 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
4 Tangle Wire
 
1 Crucible of Worlds
3 Dismember
4 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Karakas
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Ratchet Bomb
2 Tormod's Crypt
 

Card Prices:  

Notes: All my prices come from MTGOTraders.com. For cards that are available in multiple sets, I am quoting the most recent set’s price. Thus, the price I’m quoting for Garruk Relentless is from M13. These cards are also available from the MTGOTraders Bots,  so check out mtgotradersbot, mtgotradersbot2,mtgotradersbot3, mtgotradersbot4, mtgotradersbot5, CardCaddy and CardWareHouse. These Bots often have the cards in stock even when the online store shows as out. Now, on to prices.
 
Standard prices are moving around a bit. Prices are in flux – but nothing really shows a real trend. Prices just shift a bit depending on what is being played each week.
 
Standard & Block Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$26.25
$23.41
$2.84
12%
$8.30
$8.31
($0.01)
0%
$11.42
$11.42
$0.00
0%
$26.22
$30.19
($3.97)
-13%
$11.90
$11.18
$0.72
6%
$37.50
$37.81
($0.31)
-1%
$19.00
$20.55
($1.55)
-8%
$20.72
$22.10
($1.38)
-6%
$13.17
$14.62
($1.45)
-10%
$19.79
$18.87
$0.92
5%
$21.38
$23.62
($2.24)
-9%
$17.44
$17.44
$0.00
0%
$24.64
$24.80
($0.16)
-1%
$31.83
$30.24
$1.59
5%
$16.03
$16.92
($0.89)
-5%
$25.73
$23.68
$2.05
9%
$8.05
$8.30
($0.25)
-3%
$10.78
$11.86
($1.08)
-9%
$14.18
$14.81
($0.63)
-4%
$3.49
$3.55
($0.06)
-2%
$11.88
$11.00
$0.88
8%
$4.98
$4.56
$0.42
9%
$17.93
$16.15
$1.78
11%
$8.33
$8.26
$0.07
1%
$7.10
$5.85
$1.25
21%
$13.61
$13.22
$0.39
3%
Modern prices trending up. Goyf dropped a bit, after soaring two weeks ago. Otherwise, prices are climbing as people get ready for the PTQ season.
 
Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$75.20
$76.77
($1.57)
-2%
$35.08
$35.08
$0.00
0%
$17.70
$17.56
$0.14
1%
$19.53
$20.80
($1.27)
-6%
$15.00
$16.26
($1.26)
-8%
$29.28
$29.26
$0.02
0%
$14.08
$14.77
($0.69)
-5%
$26.25
$23.78
$2.47
10%
$15.43
$14.32
$1.11
8%
$24.96
$25.26
($0.30)
-1%
$25.68
$24.28
$1.40
6%
$7.09
$8.21
($1.12)
-14%
$27.13
$26.08
$1.05
4%
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
$11.77
$11.54
$0.23
2%
$10.41
$11.08
($0.67)
-6%
$6.25
$6.34
($0.09)
-1%
$9.79
$9.79
$0.00
0%
$9.98
$10.13
($0.15)
-1%
$17.93
$17.00
$0.93
5%
$18.92
$16.98
$1.94
11%
$22.78
$23.29
($0.51)
-2%
$10.41
$10.41
$0.00
0%
$7.83
$7.83
$0.00
0%
$25.10
$25.86
($0.76)
-3%
$13.43
$18.00
($4.57)
-25%
$10.31
$9.11
$1.20
13%
$20.91
$25.05
($4.14)
-17%
Legacy and Classic prices are pretty much stable. The big mover is Natural Order. I did see it in some green decks. Maybe it is back. I also note that Lion’s Eye Diamond is back over $100 – but that will fall once Vintage arrives, since it is restricted there.
 
Legacy / Classic Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$90.82
$90.82
$0.00
0%
$100.05
$93.18
$6.87
7%
Vampiric Tutor
$28.55
$28.10
$0.45
2%
$25.08
$25.08
$0.00
0%
$63.78
$65.38
($1.60)
-2%
$52.52
$50.52
$2.00
4%
$26.42
$26.42
$0.00
0%
$25.81
$25.43
$0.38
1%
$17.73
$12.85
$4.88
38%
$22.15
$22.66
($0.51)
-2%
$33.38
$33.38
$0.00
0%
$9.48
$9.27
$0.21
2%
$12.58
$12.58
$0.00
0%
$18.27
$18.27
$0.00
0%
$17.05
$17.05
$0.00
0%
$35.07
$34.28
$0.79
2%
$7.00
$7.00
$0.00
0%
$10.36
$9.56
$0.80
8%
$20.80
$20.80
$0.00
0%
$13.10
$13.10
$0.00
0%
$8.08
$8.08
$0.00
0%
$33.93
$33.93
$0.00
0%
$25.43
$26.56
($1.13)
-4%
$9.39
$9.39
$0.00
0%
$61.48
$61.48
$0.00
0%
$33.71
$33.71
$0.00
0%
$8.60
$7.76
$0.84
11%
$11.00
$11.00
$0.00
0%
$15.41
$15.41
$0.00
0%
In Pauper, prices are climbing.   
 
Pauper Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$2.91
$2.67
$0.24
9%
$2.27
$2.09
$0.18
9%
$0.85
$0.72
$0.13
18%
$1.91
$1.91
$0.00
0%
$4.39
$4.61
($0.22)
-5%
$6.00
$5.06
$0.94
19%
$8.07
$6.44
$1.63
25%
$10.18
$9.09
$1.09
12%
$2.29
$2.29
$0.00
0%
$6.51
$5.93
$0.58
10%
$1.52
$1.26
$0.26
21%
$2.40
$2.00
$0.40
20%
$8.35
$6.85
$1.50
22%
$2.19
$1.57
$0.62
39%
$3.68
$2.73
$0.95
35%
$1.45
$1.45
$0.00
0%
$2.42
$1.96
$0.46
23%
$1.70
$1.14
$0.56
49%
$2.13
$2.13
$0.00
0%
$3.41
$2.38
$1.03
43%
$0.94
$0.92
$0.02
2%
$2.47
$2.05
$0.42
20%
 
The Good Stuff:
Here’s this week’s list of the non-foil, non-premium cards on MTGO that cost more than $25 each. This week looks about the same as last week – Force of Will has not dropped all that much, yet. (Wait three weeks.) Here’s this week’s list of MTGO gold:
 
Card
Rarity
Set
Price
Lion's Eye Diamond
R
MI
 $ 100.05
Force of Will
R
MED
 $    90.82
Tarmogoyf
R
FUT
 $    75.20
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
M
WWK
 $    63.78
Rishadan Port
R
MM
 $    61.48
Wasteland
U
TE
 $    52.52
Bonfire of the Damned
M
AVR
 $    37.50
Vendilion Clique
R
MOR
 $    35.08
Gaea's Cradle
R
UZ
 $    35.07
Tangle Wire
R
NE
 $    33.93
Misdirection
R
MM
 $    33.71
Pernicious Deed
R
PRM
 $    33.39
Show and Tell
R
UZ
 $    33.38
Thundermaw Hellkite
M
M13
 $    31.83
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
M
ROE
 $    29.28
Vampiric Tutor
R
VI
 $    28.55
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
R
CHK
 $    27.13
Null Rod
R
WL
 $    26.42
Liliana of the Veil
M
ISD
 $    26.25
Cryptic Command
R
LRW
 $    26.25
Geist of Saint Traft
M
ISD
 $    26.22
Vindicate
R
AP
 $    25.81
Sphinx's Revelation
M
RTR
 $    25.73
Underground Sea
R
ME2
 $    25.69
Thoughtseize
R
LRW
 $    25.68
Flusterstorm
R
CMD
 $    25.43
Karn Liberated
M
NPH
 $    25.10
Underground Sea
R
ME4
 $    25.08
The big number is the retail price of a playset (4 copies) of every non-foil card available on MTGO.  Assuming you bought the least expensive version available, the cost of owning a playset of every card on MTGO you can own is $ 22,591.   That is up a bit from last week.
 

Weekly Highlights:

Not a lot this week.  I was busy at work, and with the elimination of 4 pack sealed, I wasn't that excited about playing sanctioned Magic.  I Did play some casual stuff in tournament practice, but not a lot.  Maybe next weekend.
 
PRJ
 
“one million words” on MTGO. 
 
 
 

21 Comments

LED by Cownose at Fri, 01/11/2013 - 11:45
Cownose's picture
5

Good article as always Pete, one thing though:

I don't really think that LED is going to drop much in price once Vinatge arrives and it becomes restricted. Due to all the shops, nobody is really playing storm in Classic--and storm has been absent from the format for nearly a year as far as I can remember. Either way, I don't see much of the demand for LEDs coming from classic players (unless they are holding $400 worth of LEDs and just not playing with them), so my guess is that changing classic to Vintage wouldn't affect the price by all that much (I actually think LED might be played more in Vintage than it currently is in classic).

I do like that you can build by KaraZorEl at Fri, 01/11/2013 - 11:52
KaraZorEl's picture

I do like that you can build a tier 1 deck almost instantly online (provided you can afford it), but I don't like the functionality of the program. Nor do I necessarily enjoy the lack of format diversity in paper. Neither one fits me quite right...

LED by Clan Magic Eternal at Fri, 01/11/2013 - 11:55
Clan Magic Eternal's picture

In addition to what Cownose says LED is also a highly desirable and played card in Legacy! I don't forsee this card price falling to much if anything at all.

Your 5 differences between by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 01/11/2013 - 12:23
Kumagoro42's picture
5

Your 5 differences between MTG and MTGO are interesting. But I believe they are mostly a "why TOURNAMENT COMPETITIVE MTG is different from TOURNAMENT COMPETITIVE MTGO". "The game" and "the game played at a tournament competitive level" are two very different things already. Outside assistance, intentional draws, judges, and chess clocks only matter in a tournament competitive environment. They're not inherently part of the game, they're part of the game as it's usually played within that environment.

Now, the infinite rule affects all instances of the game, instead. My opinion on that is similar to my opinion on the chess clocks: the MTGO way is the way that should be, but that the paper world can't apply or afford. In this sense, MTGO is MTG in an ideal universe. In our imperfect universe, we can't have chess clocks at every Magic table (which would include your kitchen table). Also, in our imperfect universe, we need to find an answer to the question, "How many tokens do you create?" When, for the sake of convenience, we allow a player to say, "One million", that's an approximation. And it's a very bad one, because it affects the game in so many ways (including the trending of combo decks). It's also irritating to me, because, no, there's no way you could create one million tokens. It's like pretending you have a superpower that lets you stop time and, worse, perfectly handle a number of objects that the human mind can't possibly handle. Even just saying out loud "I create a token" one million times while tapping and untapping your contraption would take more than one month of time. It's preposterous. Worse: it takes out the strategic choice of deciding how many of those damn tokens you need (I experience this any time I go for a Kiki-Jiki infinite endgame, for instance: he's at 20 life, are 7 Restoration Angels enough? Or is he going to kill one? And so on.) This becomes time management when playing with the clock, a skill you don't need to have on MTG.

There's also a simple proof that the MTGO way is the correct way that the paper universe just can't sustain: they never tried or planned to program into MTGO a dialog box where the client asks you how many times do you want to use an infinitely recursive effect. It wouldn't be that hard to create. But it would be wrong. Ironically, MTGO works within the boundaries of the real life more than MTG in this case.

My 5 differences between MTG and MTGO, overall, competitive play be damned, are these:

1. When you play MTG, you need to move your cards between decks, put them into sleeves, shuffle them, and physically interact with them in several ways. There's not an equivalent for this on MTGO, for better (cards don't deteriotate, you don't need more than 4 copies of any of them) or worse (you don't really own and "feel" a physical object).
2. When you play MTG, you need to manually keep track of life, turns, and counters; do the math on combat damage; flip transformers back and forth; fetch tokens; and whatnot. When you play MTGO, the client takes care of all this stuff, sparing you some brain power, reducing brain exhaustion, and letting you focus on your game choices rather than on accounting work.
3. When you play MTGO, you see the material representation of the rules, the always elusive stack, and even what the rules define as "the game" checking for the status of things. Barring bugs, you don't have to argue with the opponent about a rule, or call for a judge every third turn: the game is your supreme judge. (Of course, as said, bugs permitting.) All this makes you understand the game a lot better than when playing MTG, improving your MTG play too.
4. When you play MTG, you can read your opponent's face, like in a (real life) poker game. When you play MTGO, this aspect is completely lost (if not for some weak stuff like tapping yor mana to bluff an answer or pausing for a miracle). On the same lines, when you play MTG, you're playing a board game, and board games improve your social skills. When you play MTGO, you're playing a videogame, and videogames aren't as good for your social life.

And of course, the most important difference:

5. When you play MTG in public, you need to have your pants on. When you play MTGO, you don't.

Infinite combos should be by Bazaar of Baghdad at Fri, 01/11/2013 - 22:30
Bazaar of Baghdad's picture

Infinite combos should be tourney-only as well. If you're in a casual game where the guy doesn't freak out over your combo, you can demonstrate the win, and then one of the two of you can hit the "concede" button, with you feeling a moral victory either way.

This is an opinion that will by aloehart199 at Mon, 01/14/2013 - 13:51
aloehart199's picture

This is an opinion that will vary from person to person.

As a software developer I can tell you it would not be an easy thing to program. The logic wouldn't be too difficult, but there are several hundred infinite combo's and some probably haven't even been discovered, and in order to create a system to handle infinite combo's that couldn't be abused would require a lot off man hours in coding and test. Cost/benefit isn't a good enough balance for them most likely.

As for infinite combos, I feel the paper version is the correct version. Making someone repeat an obviously endless combo is not necessary, that just takes a lot of the fun out of playing those decks and adds a level of tedium that we just do not need in the game. Especially in paper when searching and keeping track can make things even more annoying. It doesn't increase the challenge just the tedium. We have to keep in mind this is a game that is supposed to be fun, not a chore.

As for the chess clock. I hate the idea of using one. It puts a hard stop on a lot of things and would make some decks outright impossible to play just because of their complexity. The chess clock on mtgo serves a purpose, it provides a way to choose a victor after a pair goes to "time" and many people have lost games because of computer issues or just complexity. Something related to the environment that is not directly a part of the game should not provide an advantage or disadvantage to any specific deck. This takes a lot of the fun out of the game. It gives simplistic aggro decks an advantage while slower control decks lose a lot. We already have rules against slow play to prevent cheating, we don't need a clock to stare us down too lol.

these things are largely personal preference. I prefer paper magic myself for 1 simple reason. Speed. I can play significantly faster with paper cards than having to do all the clicking I do on modo. Against a familiar opponent i can untap, draw, drop a land and tap some to drop a creature sideways and turn the rest sideways and thats the end of the turn. In modo I have to step through everything in perfect order. Some people may require you to do that anyway, but in person I can shortcut things and can physically move faster. Online is just so slow.

A lot of players engage in by Paul Leicht at Mon, 01/14/2013 - 15:46
Paul Leicht's picture

A lot of players engage in sloppy play in order to short cut things they think are intuitive. Their opponents assume this is correct and do the same thing. Then during tourney play they discover the impropriety as they try to undo a misrepresented stack. This is quite common. I suppose if you never intend to play tourneys then you will be fine never learning to check for priorities.

As far as infinite combos go, I couldn't disagree more with your conclusion. Tedium is the price you pay for boring your opponent to death.

I was talking about the by aloehart199 at Tue, 01/15/2013 - 07:55
aloehart199's picture

I was talking about the difference between paper and MODO, not the difference between tournament and casual play. We're talking about 4 different games. Shortcutting works on paper, not modo. Shortcutting is seen at the highest level of play by the best players in the game in paper as well.

As for infinite combo, it wouldn't be boring if you didn't have to repeat the process each time, shortcut the process and its over in moments rather than minutes. I don't like sitting across from a second sunrise any more than the next player, but to say someone who wants to play a deck like that should be punished because of their deck choice does nothing but hurt the game and stifle creativity. It's a closed minded view.

I guess there are judges who by Paul Leicht at Tue, 01/15/2013 - 10:04
Paul Leicht's picture

I guess there are judges who let sloppy play slide but I can't imagine that happening at the highest level all the time without comment. Yes there are some intuited responses that are nonverbal or terse but they are still responses. They aren't really shortcuts. They just seem that way because there isn't explicit exchange of "I have no responses", "same" for each priority instance. Online we can't really interpret tone of voice or terseness very well and rules enforcement is automatically strictest. (And as a result little in the way of cheating is accomplished online and not very many players can even be rationally accused of it.)

And again I disagree entirely with your premise re: Infinite Combos. I admit the first time I saw them in '94 they were awesome and funny and wow imagine that! But since then they have gradually worn out their welcome for me.

And I don't agree that making a player prove that their combo works is punishment either. (Cf: Mike Long & Prosper Bloom) It is only punishment if they find it to be so (subjective point here.) It is a fair consequence to an action taken to win the game. Why shouldn't they prove they can do it in the time required?

As far as stifling creativity goes well imho very few infinite engines are new. Most of the time, it is a reinvention of the wheel. So this seems like a lame duck argument. I doubt very much creativity is stifled anyway since Johnnies will find the engines and write about them even if they can't demonstrate them (due to time constraints) in tourney settings. Written about engines are quickly absorbed into the public domain of known technology.

And these kind of combos are really only entertaining for the person who is playing them. Unless they fail in which case the op gets to clap their hands with glee or respectfully shake their hand (depending on how mature they are). (Ala: Demonic Consultation.) So one could argue that they are punishing their opponents by forcing them to either concede or sit through the combo.

Now I agree that comparing MTGO and paper is a little like comparing different fruits. And mixing in casual vs tourney is like adding different makes of cars to that comparison so we get Buicks, apples, oranges and Volkswagons. (You decide which are which.) However they all have some things in common. One is that players on the opposite end of an infinite combo invariably do not wish to sit through it. Even if they do sit through it, it is not because it is thrilling for them.

we have no way to come to an by aloehart199 at Tue, 01/15/2013 - 13:56
aloehart199's picture

we have no way to come to an agreement on this.

A personal dislike for combo decks is no reason to try to enforce rules in a way that benefits you. Your opinion on the matter is strictly based on bias. "But since then they have gradually worn out their welcome for me. "

Personal distaste is not a grounds to judge for an entire game. Creation of rules needs to be an objective thing. Sitting across from something like 4 horseman going off is no less boring than sitting across from a tempo player thinking through each possibility for 10 minutes or trying to fight through multiple counterspells. What is fun to some is not to others and regardless the situation, being on the losing side of anything is not likely to be enjoyable.

When speaking of infinite combos I am specifically talking about truly infinite combos, not 4 horseman or second sunrise (used as an example to see if you were speaking from personal bias). If a combo is clear and can be said to be iterated an infinite number of times then there is no reason other than to punish the player of the deck(or the poor opponent having to sit through each iteration) to force the player to run through it every time.

Lets say someone is playing Melria and has just played the seer alongside the redcap. There is no reason to force the player to announce the trigger for seer, move redcap to the grave, announce the persist trigger, return it to the field, and announce the damage trigger, and repeat all of those steps the number of times it would take to kill the opponent.

This is another thing where the courtesy of the opponent comes into play. A player like you will ask the opponent to continue the combo until it works in an attempt to either punish the opponent (regardless your personal time wasted) or to have them possibly run to time to get a draw. Then there are people like Watanabe(arguably one of the best in the game) who will keep track of an opponents mana and triggers for them(see pro tour RtR modern finals) even with the game on the line.

It boils down to different personalities. If an opponent (lets say in inni-mirro standard) drops a mirran crusader and a sword on the board while I'm playing mono-green. I have no problem conceding to my opponent simply because at turn 4 (when the sword would be dropped and equiped to the crusader for the second turn) I have no way to deal with the creature nor outrun the opponents clock. I prefer enjoying the game over causing everyone to be bored. Even in a tournament setting if there are no outs at all for me there's no reason to continue other than to draw out a clock. If theres a possibility of fail or its something I have a chance at coming back from I'll have the opponent run through it. shortcut the infinite part and get to the final product and continue game from there.

The point is, this is something that is based strictly on opinion from both sides and neither of us should be allowed to make decisions like this. Neither of us are objective on the subject so both of our points should be invalid. The playerbase as a whole should be polled (with some kind of reward for participation just to make sure we reach the full audience) in order to determine whats right.

People really ought to be by Paul Leicht at Tue, 01/15/2013 - 16:55
Paul Leicht's picture

People really ought to be more careful when talking about people they don't know. (Me for example.) In the past when I stilled played paper magic regularly, I often helped players who were having difficulty in the game and I have no problem with letting someone rewind an honest mistake or correcting someone's misapprehension of the game state even to my own detriment. (I have called the judge on myself before.) (Though this is not so easy to arrange online.)

And I have been known to concede a game clearly won. In fact in commander this saves time when the pain-in-the-ass guy who thinks no one has seen time warp into eternal witness into time warp into capture of jangzou, etal before, insists on going off and taking 40 minutes to do so. I may have a few hard words for them (polite, but firmly disapproving) if I feel they don't see how they are affecting 3 other people. But then I concede and go play another game with people hopefully more amenable to the social contract.

(The perfect example of a good player acting for the benefit of all is the one in one of the myriad puremtgo.com commander articles where the player demonstrates an infinite combo that can kill the table and then concedes. The table plays on after acknowledging his victory and with gratitude. And I have seen someone do that at a table I was playing on and I was happy to experience it. They even said at the beginning of the game that if they were able to go off that they would demonstrate it and then quit.)

Nobility isn't something you can require of others. "Oh, I am going to win anyway, save us both time and quit now!" That demand gets zero sympathy from me. "Show me."

If someone is playing eggs or melira pod in a modern game sure it makes sense to resign if you are playing casually.

But in my opinion this isn't a moral issue. It should never be "I am morally obligated to do so." Because that is pure bs. In my religion (Agnosticism) "God" doesn't indicate what is good and evil for me. I have to suss that out for myself. And yet I still consider myself a moral person despite many past mistakes and while I would certainly applaud someone acting altruistically, I don't feel people are morally obligated to do so. Do as the spirit moves you.

As far as our viewpoints clashing? This is the classic argument between player types. (I am a Timmy Spike if you haven't read my articles to know) It doesn't matter what you think or what I think as far as the rules are concerned (They exist objectively). And for morality...well you can certainly determine your own but judging me, whom you don't know? Well that is about as useful as a bear in a dress.

I certainly don't think my comments invalidate you having an opinion different from mine but if you feel so then my apologies. Just as I don't feel invalidated by your statements of opinion concerning my viewpoints. You are welcome to think whatever you like.

Meantime have fun and leave the high horse alone.

"This is an opinion that will by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 01/15/2013 - 18:46
Kumagoro42's picture

"This is an opinion that will vary from person to person."

Well, this is the definition of an opinion. :)

But I just want to add this: I'm looking at the infinite combos handling not as a player should, but as a designer (in my opinion) should. I would never be happy with my game allowing this kind of thing where you have to physically tap and untap your cards, physically draw your cards, physically put counters on your cards and keep track of them and then, at some point, suddenly you can just say, "And now I'm doing this a gazillion times, ok?" This is nonsense, and what's worse, it's inelegant as hell. It smells like a compromise from start to finish. In my world, I would never allow that. How is it that if I generate 20 mana and I want to untap my Voltaic Keys 20 times I have to go through the motions, but if you have infinite mana you can just do it once and say you did it 5,000 times? No, you didn't. You want to untap them 5,000 times? Please do it. Be my guest and do it. You're not magical, and time is a factor ALWAYS, even without the chess clocks, because there are only so many hours in a day and you need to be able to do whatever you want to do in your game according to the rules of our physical world.

This is the thing: if your game ignores the laws of physics, it has to do it consistently, as a basic premise of its functioning, not only when it's convenient. It's true of every game: when you achieve a status where your action becomes an automatic success, you still have to comply with the rules of the game, they don't get suspended for you. Because time is still a factor, you can't have it all. You don't transcend to a higher level of existence only because of your trick.

Moreso, if you suddenly allow players to ignore physical constraints, like the paper tournament world does (again, because it's convenient), you take out a nice strategic component, like I already said above. It's not that you really need infinite Restoration Angels to win that game. You just need a dozen in most cases. But you are called to make a choice there, you don't get for the game to make it easy for you.

one million words's picture

But that is not how Magic is played. Wizards did create a game which allows for infinite combos. They printed cards like Intruder Alarm, Staff of Domination, Power Artifact, etc., etc., etc. knowing full well that these cards would be used to create infinite combos.

Then Wizards specifically wrote, into the rules of the game, procedures to handle such combos. Procedure that specifically say that players can state "I do this 1 million times," and it is assumed to have happened 1 million times.

You said that, if you designed the game, you would do it differently. True for me, too - I would definitely change things. That's irrelevant: Wizards designed the game, not you or me.

But please note that the whole point of my article wasn't that infinite or not isn't better or worse - just different. I'm not making choices - I'm just point at differences, as they actually exist.

Designing a game that can by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 01/16/2013 - 20:26
Kumagoro42's picture

Designing a game that can lead to infinite combos is different than letting infinite combos being handled the way they're handled in paper. You give your players the chance to perform an action infinite times. You don't tell them what to do with this option once it's achieved. You can let the players decide how to handle it by themselves, using both strategy and common sense. Of course infinite is beyond the realm of human experience, so it's just a way to say "pick your number, then execute it."

Wizard wrote the rules letting handle infinite combos the way they are in paper tournaments because, as I said, there's convenience in that. It's quick and clean.
At the same time, Wizard didn't allow MTGO to handle infinite combos the same way. Maybe I'm wrong here, but I'm convinced this is deliberate, not just a limit of the client. I never read about future plans to change this in the beta, for instance.

This is proof that the game called Magic: The Gathering, in its two different versions, handles infinite combos in two very different ways. Maybe both of them are what they are only because of constraints, limits of the environments, and convenience. Given the chance, I just like to think that the MTGO way is the "right way" that MTG can't afford, and not vice versa. Because the MTGO way is, all in all, a better solution design-wise.

Umm, I don't think so by dangerlinto at Thu, 01/17/2013 - 09:47
dangerlinto's picture

The problem is probably more of a cost/benefit problem. Programming the client to holistically handle all "infinite" (actually they are deterministically large) combos isn't worth the very tiny % of games that would be affected by it. that being said, there *was* a change in the client made to handle some combos which would crash the game (grindstone combo with a shuffle effect in the graveyard).

Also, let's please do away with the notion that those decks, such as Bomberman and Worldgorger Dragon, can't be played online. A human can run through these combo a sufficient number of times in the time allotted in a match to win said match without anything more than a little patience. I personally played a WOTC member the other night who was playing dragon, and made him roll through the combo because he had no win condition except what he had in hand, and he did so. Took him only a couple of minutes. I've done the same thing numerous times. Having something be more involved online than offline doesn't make it impossible, or even impractical for that matter, nor doesn't it make it "two different versions of the game". You don't seem to mind that shuffling takes nanoseconds online but wastes minutes in real life games.

The *only* combo I see as being unrealistic online is a life-based combo, where you give yourself so much life it's impossible for the opponent to beat you in the time allotted by running your life down to 0, becasue that is the one place where you are comboing out to a stall, as opposed to a win.

oops by one million words at Fri, 01/11/2013 - 12:30
one million words's picture

Just noticed - the second deck I listed under Modern is actually Legacy. The part about winning the GP is right, but the GP was Legacy.

When Scars and M12 were soon by Doctor Anime at Fri, 01/11/2013 - 13:17
Doctor Anime's picture

When Scars and M12 were soon to be leaving Standard and RTR was announced, Pauper prices skyrocketed and then RTR metagame rolled in, Pauper plummeted. Now the Standard metagame is being shook up again as people await the (albeit smaller) changes Gatecrash makes and Pauper rises again. Could this be a trend?

interesting theory by one million words at Sat, 01/12/2013 - 08:02
one million words's picture

could be. Or it could be the players who were looking for inexpensive sanctioned play moved from 4 pack sealed to pauper. I'll try to remember to watch pauper event sizes towards the end of each season. Pauper was firing at about minimum at the start of RtR.

Pauper and Momir have had a by char49d at Tue, 01/15/2013 - 09:42
char49d's picture

Pauper and Momir have had a huge surge in popularity, and it likely has nothing to do with format rotation. They switched the prize support from core set to current draft set, making it much easier for people to play these formats and then draft the cards from them. That is also why M13 packs are worth more than RTR sets, because you no longer have people getting and immediately selling core set packs to bots. It will also likely make core set cards like Thragtusk retain a lot of value.

Judges and Sloppy Play... by Fred1160 at Thu, 01/17/2013 - 16:10
Fred1160's picture

Paul said, "I guess there are judges who let sloppy play slide but I can't imagine that happening at the highest level all the time without comment."
Check out the video sometime during a Star City tournament. Supposedly top-tier players make a lot of
sloppy mistakes and there are no judges rushing in to correct it. You'd be surprised by some of the stuff
these guys do and get away with. Not necessarily cheating so much as it is just not playing correctly.
It's funny when you read viewer comments and they all seem to say variations of the same thing: "I can't believe no one caught that!"

Skoppy play is not an infraction by one million words at Thu, 01/17/2013 - 19:59
one million words's picture

There are bad plays and illegal plays. The two are not at all the same thing. If a player makes a mistake, the judges job is to hold his or her tongue and do nothing. Judges, outside of maybe FNM, are not there to teach players how to get better, but to stop rules infractions.

Actually, the judges sitting at the table in SCG events are not really there as judges. They are there to relay information to coverage - things like life total changes, what card was named with Pithing Needle or Slaughter Games, etc. They are typing that information into a chat window, and reading the questions coverage asks them. They only watch the games about half the time.

More importantly, the most common infraction is a missed trigger. Missed triggers are only called when they are detrimental. If a player misses a beneficial trigger - e.g. forgot to gain life, etc. - then the penalty is not getting the life. The judge is supposed to say and do NOTHING in that case, unless the opponent points it out. If the judge did point it out, then the player would be less likely to miss it again, and that seems a lot like coaching. Whether you agree or not, the rules say judges do not point out missed triggers.

As for bad play in the late rounds - people get tired, or may be playing at a level you don't expect. Yes, Finkel didn't block at the Pro Tour, but not blocking was the right play. Kibler could have had 3 Galvanic Blasts, but Finkel was playing around Inferno Titan. Odds of Kibler holding Titan was far greater than 4 Blasts.