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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jul 28 2017 2:00pm
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State of the Program for July 28th 2017
 
In the News
Pro Tour Happening Now: The Pro Tour is happening as this goes up. It is taking place in Japan, so the live stream may be late or early, depending on where you are. Streaming on twitch.tv/magic, starting at midnight UTC. 
 
Hasbro Quarterly Earnings Report: Hasbro has released its quarterly earnings report. Earnings for the “Franchise Brands,” which includes Magic, were up 21%. Magic was briefly mentioned – “strong” growth, and Hasbro mentioned an announcement about Digital Magic Next in early August.   The announcement is here and the PowerPoint form the presentation is here.
 
Hasbro CEO Talks Streaming: Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner gave a short interview in which he talked about streaming of Magic and D&D. One interesting tidbit – monthly viewership of Magic tournaments on Twitch and the like is over 1 million views per month. Decent.

Magic Online Judge Open: Wizards is hosting the MOJO again this year. The MOJO is a free to enter Phantom sealed event open to certified paper judges only.  This is the fifth year Wizards has sponsored this “thank you judges” event. Judges can enter on one of three different weekends in August, each with a start time friendly to a different part of the world. Details here.
 
Organizations Needing Help: Two organizations are in need of, and deserve, some help. First, Loading Ready Run, the creator of a lot of Magic content, is going to have to move suddenly. Moving a studio is costly, and this hit them by surprise. Check out the video here.  Secondly, SNOPES.com needs some help with server / host issues. The GoFundMe (with explanation) is here. SNOPES is super important, especially now, and deserves your help.   
 
Clarification on Standard Showdown: The WPN has clarified that the Standard Showdown can be scheduled on any day of the week except Friday. I discussed this a bunch last week. I guess this means that Standard Showdown will be an additional go to event, not a means of syphoning off the competitive players from FNM. The WPN announcement is here.
 
SaffronOlive on Wizards Restricting Metagame Data: I should have mentioned this last week, but SaffronOlive wrote an excellent piece about the impact of Wizards trying to limit the number of decklists and metagame info available to players. The TL:DR is that this helps pros and hurts brewers, but you should not settle for a TL:DR, read the whole article. It is worth it. Ditto Alex Ullman’s article, here.  
 
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.
 
Upcoming Events
Timing
No Downtime
None announced
Extended Downtime
Aug. 23rd, Sept. 20th, Oct. 25th
Sealed MOCS Monthly
September 15th, October 8th
Modern MOCS Monthly
August 27th
Standard MOCS Monthly
August 11th, October 21st
Current Leagues End
September 23rd 
Ixalan release
September 25, 2017
Rivals of Ixalan
January 21, 2018
Core Set Magic 2019
July 20, 2018
Commander 2017 details here.
November 2017 on MTGO
25th Anniversary Edition Masters
March 16, 2018
Next B&R Announcement
August 28, 2017
DTK, ORI, BFZ & OGW Redemption Ends
November 2, 2017
SOI and EMN Redemption Closes
April 28, 2018
 
Flashback, Throwback Standard and CUBE for 2017
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
None announced – play some HOU
 
 
 
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:   Can You Hide Information
 
If you can’t see them, then I guess you can.
 
Initially, I was conflicted about this issue.  I love reading decklists. I always have.  When I don’t have enough time to brew or play, I can live vicariously through decklists and tournament reports.  When I do have time to brew, they provide a starting point and a source of ideas.  On the other hand, I know how much grief stale and solved formats can cause, so I am in favor of anything that prevents stale formats.
 
The problem is that I don’t see restricting the availability of decklists actually prevents that sort of problem.  Formats get solved or inbred when there is clearly a best deck, or a couple decks which are simply better and more synergistic than the others.
 
I have been reading decklists for twenty years.  I have been following a number of writers who compile decklists and breakdowns.  Old timers like me probably remember Quentin Marten, one of the earliest to write a weekly column analyzing the decklists from all the PTQ Top eights in the previous week.  Many other writers, including me, have analyzed Top 8 and metagame data.  According to SaffronOlive, sometime Wizards has asked them to stop, other times not.   Admittedly, the number crunching has gotten a lot easier since the days when I begged the TOs for the decklists at the end of an event, then read and categorized every decklists manually.  Data mining nowadays is way easier.  MTGO also increases the number of events that could be mined, so I understand Wizards’ concerns.   However, making the data harder to get does not make it unavailable.
 
Years ago, I played on a serious pro team, with players that were qualified, and others that were not quite there but had a real shot of winning a PTQ anytime they played.   This a decade ago, but even back then we spent time studying the metagame.   We had a playtest gauntlet of the decks we expected to face at tournaments.  We tracked what we believed to be the best build of each of those decks, and playtested against those builds.   We also kept notes about the results, matchup by matchup, and of what sideboard cards or strategies worked. 
 
It’s been over a decade since I have been part of a playtest team, but I don’t think teams have given up collecting data.  I know many of the Madison pros keep extensive databases of games and matches played, and crunch those numbers.   We also have a lot more full-time streamers, and even semi-pro players can grind infinitely more matches than we could, back when you had to physically get 8 players in one room to do a draft.
 
Pro players, at least those with serious teams, will have no problem getting metagame data.  The people that are hurt by restricting data are the brewers and the new tournament players.  These people generally build their own decks, and/or try to create their own sideboards and sideboard strategies.  Knowing what you are likely to face is critical is doing passably well with that strategy.  Not knowing what you may face will mean that you get destroyed by decks you don’t expect, and don’t have an answer for.  So, by limiting the metagame information, the primary result will be to aid the enfranchised pros with good teams, at the expense of the new blood that may try to enter the Magic tournament scene.  I’m not sure that that is what Wizards intended with this change.    
 
(Note:  SaffronOlive also made this point – I linked to his article in the news section.)
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: The GPs last weekend were limited, and Wizards is doing what they can to keep information on the MTGO metagame from being available to the masses. The SCG event was a team trios event, but at least one member of each team was playing Standard – and the Standard players in both teams were running Mono-Red Aggro. That might mean something.
 
 
Modern: The SCG Teams Trio included Modern as one of the three formats each team played. A quick look at modern decks fielded by the Top 8 teams shows that Grixis Death Shadow was the most played deck, but the winning deck was GW Collected Company.   
 
 
Modern: The SCG Teams Trio included Legacy as one of the three formats each team played. Both the first and second place finishers played Lands.   Too bad Lands is so expensive online.
 
 
 
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, and cards are appearing on and disappearing from the table rapidly. All it takes is one strong finish – or just the thought that it might be good. Right, Angel of Invention?   What’s more surprising; that it is here at all, or that it is almost twice the price of Archangel Avacyn?
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$8.55
$1.58
$6.97
441%
$4.81
$7.21
($2.40)
-33%
$8.66
$2.40
$6.26
261%
$34.28
$29.16
$5.12
18%
$12.94
$13.70
($0.76)
-6%
$5.23
$5.36
($0.13)
-2%
$14.96
$18.99
($4.03)
-21%
$16.26
$17.75
($1.49)
-8%
$12.52
$13.81
($1.29)
-9%
$3.60
$7.70
($4.10)
-53%
$14.47
$10.53
$3.94
37%
$12.96
$22.84
($9.88)
-43%
$40.75
$33.93
$6.82
20%
$10.78
$10.78
$0.00
0%
$7.92
$12.55
($4.63)
-37%
$6.78
$8.34
($1.56)
-19%
$6.69
$13.72
($7.03)
-51%
$6.66
$9.38
($2.72)
-29%
$5.18
$5.97
($0.79)
-13%
$14.79
$18.56
($3.77)
-20%
$23.74
$25.65
($1.91)
-7%
$7.89
$6.08
$1.81
30%
$10.07
$12.65
($2.58)
-20%
$8.41
$9.36
($0.95)
-10%

Modern staples:  Modern prices are generally down. Not much more to say.
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$19.85
$20.20
($0.35)
-2%
$20.07
$23.12
($3.05)
-13%
$16.60
$15.22
$1.38
9%
$19.69
$21.11
($1.42)
-7%
$39.43
$40.54
($1.11)
-3%
$21.21
$20.06
$1.15
6%
$22.56
$23.68
($1.12)
-5%
$35.00
$34.24
$0.76
2%
$35.91
$34.26
$1.65
5%
$17.79
$20.34
($2.55)
-13%
$23.75
$24.47
($0.72)
-3%
$48.00
$49.68
($1.68)
-3%
$34.85
$42.69
($7.84)
-18%
$71.58
$73.05
($1.47)
-2%
$52.26
$55.13
($2.87)
-5%
$13.07
$13.17
($0.10)
-1%
$20.93
$22.10
($1.17)
-5%
$24.18
$24.04
$0.14
1%
$32.78
$30.72
$2.06
7%
$25.59
$25.42
$0.17
1%
$26.63
$29.35
($2.72)
-9%

Legacy and Vintage: Prices are pretty quiet again this week. I’m hoping the fact that Legacy will return to the Pro Tour (albeit a year from now) will help the format.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$53.75
$48.12
$5.63
12%
$81.49
$78.76
$2.73
3%
$22.86
$24.35
($1.49)
-6%
$38.02
$38.13
($0.11)
0%
$38.18
$39.80
($1.62)
-4%
$30.87
$30.54
$0.33
1%
$35.87
$35.07
$0.80
2%
$30.72
$31.19
($0.47)
-2%
$37.60
$38.64
($1.04)
-3%
$42.34
$42.02
$0.32
1%
$58.52
$59.01
($0.49)
-1%
$146.49
$146.49
$0.00
0%
$42.17
$44.08
($1.91)
-4%
$63.27
$60.95
$2.32
4%
$33.42
$35.74
($2.32)
-6%
$20.43
$20.99
($0.56)
-3%
$50.03
$50.87
($0.84)
-2%

Standard Legal Sets: This table tracks the cost of a single copy of every card in each Standard legal set, plus Treasure Chests and the current booster packs. I’ll keep tracking these because they are interesting (at least to me).  Hour of Devastation has fallen again, but that is also true of several sets.
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
$68.95
$69.90
($0.95)
-1%
Amonkhet
$66.26
$64.46
$1.80
3%
Battle for Zendikar
$47.33
$47.95
($0.62)
-1%
Eldritch Moon
$109.77
$116.13
($6.36)
-5%
Hour of Devastation
$57.16
$80.31
($23.15)
-29%
Kaladesh
$118.50
$114.65
$3.85
3%
Oath of the Gatewatch
$93.18
$108.84
($15.66)
-14%
Shadows over Innistrad
$58.94
$67.46
($8.52)
-13%
Treasure Chest
$2.28
$2.36
($0.08)
-3%
Amonkhet Booster
$1.79
$1.89
($0.10)
-5%
Hour of Devastation
$4.15
$4.19
($0.04)
-1%

 
 
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. Exploration has passed Liliana of the Veil, but the list has shrunk again, as prices fall overall. 
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Rishadan Port*
 MM
Rare
 $ 146.49
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $    81.49
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    73.11
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $    71.58
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $    65.27
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $    63.27
Mystic Confluence
 PZ1
Rare
 $    58.52
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $    56.69
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    56.01
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $    54.12
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $    53.75
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    53.10
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $    53.01
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $    52.26
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $    50.03
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    49.89
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $    49.67
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $    49.60
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $    48.00
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $    47.70
Mox Diamond
 V10
Mythic Rare
 $    46.92
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $    46.36
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $    46.20
Dark Depths
 CSP
Rare
 $    44.84
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $    42.34
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $    42.17
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $    41.03
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $    40.75
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $    39.49
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $    39.43
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $    39.12
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $    38.18
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $    38.02
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $    37.60
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $    36.84
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $    36.28
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $    36.23
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $    36.00
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $    35.95
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $    35.91
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $    35.87
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $    35.79
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $    35.00
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    34.85
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
 KLD
Mythic Rare
 $    34.28
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $    34.21
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $    33.42
Scapeshift
 MOR
Rare
 $    32.78
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $    32.05
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    31.29
Grim Monolith
 UL
Rare
 $    30.87
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
 ORI
Mythic Rare
 $    30.72
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $    30.52
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $    29.16
Volcanic Island
 ME3
Rare
 $    29.00
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $    28.97
Containment Priest
 PZ1
Rare
 $    28.18
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $    28.05
City of Traitors
 TPR
Rare
 $    27.98
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $    27.93
Volcanic Island
 ME4
Rare
 $    27.77
Tarmogoyf
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    27.57
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $    27.30
Tempt with Discovery
 C13
Rare
 $    26.83
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $    26.78
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    26.63
Underground Sea
 VMA
Rare
 $    26.08
Torrential Gearhulk
 MS2
Bonus
 $    25.99
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $    25.63
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $    25.59
Grove of the Burnwillows
 FUT
Rare
 $    25.09

 
* A significantly cheaper promo version of Rishadan Port is available, but I do not include promos prices on the table.  MTGO has over 900 promo cards on the list, and occasionally those cards are sold out for months at a time, so their prices do not reflect the market price. I tried checking numbers in stock, but 900+ is too many.   
 
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 approximately $ 23,570. That’s down about $300 from last week.  
 
Weekly Highlights
 
I did some drafts this week. I won every match in which my opponent did not cast a god against me. 
 
I went 2-7.   Five gods – ye gawds! 
 
On the plus side, Guild Wars 2 has a new release. The end boss from the last expansion was a god, but I beat him. So I’ll play GW2 until I get over being salty about MTGO, but I’ll probably watch the Pro Tour while I do.
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” 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.  

4 Comments

I lost to Scarab God after I by xger at Fri, 07/28/2017 - 16:53
xger's picture

I lost to Scarab God after I killed it and then exiled it. It, because MTGO is wonderful, went back to the owner's hand from the exile zone.

On the data issue--I posted a lot of my thoughts there. While I am not firmly behind Wizards on this one, I am not against them either. Your point about new players knowing what to prepare for is a bit misleading. First, new players might just have used the decklists to find the "best", buy it, and have no idea how to pilot it decently. Second, given how much writing and commentary there is out there these days, can people really not know what is the best deck? Sure, if the deck shifts to the best between Monday morning and Wednesday evening, maybe you'll miss it. But, is missing that really the end of Magic (I know you are not saying that, but Saffron Olive's post was much more gloomy than necessary, and a lot of commentators have been of the doom and gloom variety)?

The problem I had with Saffron Olive's posts, and a lot of others, is that the posts solely look at the negatives, and dismiss the positives (or potential positives). That is not a way to convince people--it is a way to rally those who already agree with you.

On the brighter side. by Rerepete at Fri, 07/28/2017 - 18:15
Rerepete's picture

I'll get less "Nice Net Deck" comments when I play my own brews.

Is it weird that I STILL get by Paul Leicht at Fri, 07/28/2017 - 19:49
Paul Leicht's picture

Is it weird that I STILL get that a lot? I feel like people don't even understand what they are saying half the time...

Snopes by Sysco at Mon, 07/31/2017 - 18:31
Sysco's picture

I found it strange that you are proselytizing for Snopes.com, as it is not MTG related. I find their conclusions to be biased and incorrect at times due to their biases. Perhaps you did not notice this because you share the same bias? I would definitely NOT support Snopes.com.