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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jun 01 2018 1:00pm
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State of the Program for June 1st 2018
 
In the News
Pro Tour Happening Now: Pro Tour Dominaria has begun. Check out the coverage over on Twitch.tv/Magic.
 
Battle of the Planes Returning: Wizards is bringing back the Battle of the Planes. This is a phantom sealed format with 6 packs from the sets associated with certain Plains. For example, the Ravnica offering includes packs from original Ravnica and Return to Ravnica. Details here.
 
Lee Sharpe Moving to MTGArena: Lee Sharpe, former judge, stats guru, and the person who brought Commander to MTGO, is moving from the MTGO team to the MTG Arena team. He will be focusing on “the parts of the game outside actual gameplay.” He will be working on player rewards and similar benefits. 
 
Brawl Has Returned: Brawl is back – with its banned list in place and Baral gone from the format. Wizards hosted a streamer showdown yesterday (as you read this, and tomorrow as I write it.)   I would have given more warning, but this was announced Tuesday. 
 
RIX and XLN Redemption Returning: Wizards has reordered redemption packs for both sets. Redemption will reappear “soon.”
 
Major Pauper  Events:   Pauper has arrived. Both SCG and Channel Fireball are offering major Pauper paper events. SCG is hosting a Classic event, and CF is offering a Pauper challenge at GP Vegas   The Professor, who has championed paper Pauper, get to gloat a bit. His video is 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. 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
Dates
Scheduled Downtimes
June 27th (both extended)
Constructed Leagues End
July 3, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
July 6, 2018
Core Set Magic  2019
July 13, 2018
Guilds of Ravnica
October 5, 2018
Ravnica Allegiance
January 2019
Next B&R Announcement
July 2, 2018
Ixalan Block Redemption
Out of stock – will return “soon”
Dominaria Redemption Ends
October 10, 2018

 
WotC Covered Events
Wizards will be streaming a number of events next year, including all four Pro Tours, the Magic Championship and World Magic Cup, along with 35 Grand Prix. Since Wizards does not schedule premier events on prerelease weekends and certain holidays, that means they will be streaming an event nearly every weekend. Here’s the schedule we have so far.
·       June 1–3: Pro Tour Dominaria in Richmond, Virginia
·       June 9–10: Grand Prix Copenhagen
·       June 15–17: Grand Prix Las Vegas (double-GP weekend)
·       June 23–24: Grand Prix Pittsburgh
·       July 7–8: Grand Prix São Paulo
·       July 21–22: Grand Prix Sacramento
·       July 28–29: Grand Prix Minneapolis
·       Aug. 3–5: Pro Tour 25th Anniversary in Minneapolis, Minnesota
·       Aug. 11–12: Grand Prix Brussels
·       Aug. 18–19: Grand Prix Los Angeles
·       Aug. 25–26: Grand Prix Prague
·       Aug. 31–Sept. 2: Grand Prix Richmond (double-GP weekend)
·       Sept. 8–9: Grand Prix Detroit
·       Sept. 15–16: Grand Prix Stockholm
·       Weekend of Sept. 23–24: 2018 Magic World Championship and Team Series Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada (exact event dates TBD)
·       Oct. 6–7: Grand Prix Montreal
·       Oct. 13–14: Grand Prix Denver
·       Oct. 27–28: Grand Prix Lille
·       Nov. 3–4: Grand Prix Atlanta
·       Nov. 9–11: Pro Tour "Spaghetti" in Atlanta
·       Nov. 17–18: Grand Prix Milwaukee
·       Dec. 8–9: Grand Prix Liverpool
·       Dec. 14–16: World Magic Cup in Barcelona, Spain
 
2018 Magic Online Championship Series and other events
Complete details, including schedule, rules, and which online events qualify you for which online or paper events is here.   In addition, Wizards will be offering these special formats:
·       May 30-June 6: Champions of Kamigawa, Champs, Betrayers of Kamigawa
·       June 6-13: Battle of the Planes (details here)
·       June 13-July 6: Vintage Cube
 
Magic Online Format Challenges
These are high stakes events that happen every weekend.   They cost 25 Tix / 250 play points, and last a number of rounds based on participation (assume 5-8), plus a single elimination Top 8. Details, including prize payouts, are here. Start times are:
 

Event Type
Start Time
Saturday, 8:00 am PT
Saturday, 10:00 am PT
Saturday, 12:00 pm PT
Sunday, 8:00 am PT
Sunday, 10:00 am PT
Sunday, noon PT

 
Opinion Section:  The Problem with Winning
MTG Arena is moving along. Wizards announced that, in early June, quick drafts will be available 24x7, best of three matches will appear, and Wizards will release the rest of the Standard legal sets. Wizards will also update the matchmaking system to better integrate players’ ranks, and possibly some information on their collection size. I think this last announcement – that matchmaking is being refined – may be the most important announcement of all.
 
MTG Arena is not a trading card game. You have to either purchase or earn most of the good cards in your decks. That means, generally, grinding away.   For the free-to-play folks, grinding matches is the only way that players can earn more cards. In other games, like MMOs, players can often play against the environment or similar low threat opposition. Most MMOs have a low-powered area, where new players can fight relatively easy opponents to win enough rewards to get more powerful. The low level areas provide players a path to getting tough enough for higher level areas.  Playing against the environment, in low level areas, means playing against an opponent that is designed to lose nearly all of their battles. After all, players are supposed to win pretty much all of their low level battles, so MMOs are designed accordingly. 
 
Magic does not (yet) have any sort of play-against-an-AI option. The game is complex enough that developing a playable AI may never be feasible – or affordable. Without an AI opponent, Magic Arena opponents will be forced to play against real opponents. That means that, in every match, regardless of level, one player is going to lose. And losing sucks.
 
A significant portion of the Magic player base loves winning, to the point that they will suffer a dozen loses to get that one win – and that win outweighs the loses. However, a lot more players don’t get that level of endorphins from winning. For most people, the downside of a loss is comparable to upside of a win – or maybe a win feels just a bit better. Those players will keep playing so long as they win often enough to have a net positive reaction to the game. 
 
If not – if the game proves a net negative – those players will find something better to do with their time. 
 
This is where the matchmaking comes in. MTG Arena is driven by playing against other players. That’s how you win gold and gems and get new cards. For new players, and those whose incomes mean they have to be free-to-play or close to F2P, are going to be playing matches. If they are facing experienced players with Tier One decks, they are going to get smashed over and over again.   Worse yet, if they keep facing netdecks that are full of rares and Mythics, those matches are going to feel unfair. Not only will the those players feel they cannot win, they will feel that the other players have an unfair advantage. Losing is bad. Feeling like the game is rigged against you is worse. 
 
If the matchmaking algorithm is good enough that the newer players and F2P base can will a reasonable percentage of their matches, they will keep playing. If not, MTG Arena is doomed. 
 
Time will tell.
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: Two weekends ago, the Standard MOCS Top 8 featured a nice mix of decks, including RB Aggro, Mono Green, Mono Red, GB Constrictor, and UB Midrange. Last weekend’s event had a different mix – you can see the decklists here.   The winning deck was UW Control. The most interesting deck, however, was this cycling deck built around New Perspectives and Shadow of the Grave. (The name comes from an Urza’s Legacy card that was banned almost immediately after it was previewed. Like many other Urza’s Block cards, Fluctuator was busted.) 
 

Brawl: No post-bannings decklists yet.
 
Pauper: This week’s Pauper Challenge was less blue than in recent weeks. 
 
 
Modern: Last weekend we had a Modern MOCS. One of my favorite archetypes won. I played a Tron deck in my first sanctioned Standard match, decades ago.   That was a Karn-based Tron deck, but the Karn was Karn, Silver Golem. That deck won by using Karn, Silver Golem to animate Urza’s Blueprints and bash with it. Modern Tron decks have a better path to victory.
 
 
Legacy: We had a couple Legacy events last weekend – side events at GPs and a SCG Classic. 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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 mixed again this week. This feels more normal.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$5.11
$4.64
$0.47
10%
$8.93
$11.18
($2.25)
-20%
$18.51
$21.33
($2.82)
-13%
$4.66
$6.01
($1.35)
-22%
$11.37
$13.07
($1.70)
-13%
$11.08
$9.00
$2.08
23%
$19.38
$22.07
($2.69)
-12%
$12.86
$11.25
$1.61
14%
$29.49
$34.88
($5.39)
-15%
$7.71
$7.79
($0.08)
-1%
$31.08
$29.08
$2.00
7%
$7.57
$7.15
$0.42
6%
$5.81
$6.40
($0.59)
-9%
$29.70
$30.36
($0.66)
-2%
$16.67
$16.40
$0.27
2%
$8.10
$8.62
($0.52)
-6%
$9.91
$10.22
($0.31)
-3%
$26.28
$27.29
($1.01)
-4%

Modern staples:  Modern prices were mixed this week. Overall, the trend seems positive. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$16.16
$15.59
$0.57
4%
$25.85
$28.66
($2.81)
-10%
$25.91
$24.82
$1.09
4%
$19.28
$20.39
($1.11)
-5%
$29.58
$19.74
$9.84
50%
$38.59
$34.70
$3.89
11%
$29.17
$28.21
$0.96
3%
$17.16
$17.05
$0.11
1%
$48.76
$48.43
$0.33
1%
$27.33
$30.64
($3.31)
-11%
$29.70
$28.27
$1.43
5%
$25.11
$18.66
$6.45
35%
$50.81
$49.95
$0.86
2%
$35.32
$32.63
$2.69
8%
$51.33
$56.29
($4.96)
-9%
$24.86
$23.75
$1.11
5%
$23.53
$23.35
$0.18
1%
$24.97
$22.37
$2.60
12%
$21.57
$21.55
$0.02
0%

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage followed a very slow downward slide. True-Name Nemesis fell,  possibly because the paper version fell as well. The paper version is down because it is being reprinted in Battlebond.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$30.59
$33.82
($3.23)
-10%
$27.80
$28.15
($0.35)
-1%
$18.85
$20.55
($1.70)
-8%
$9.42
$10.97
($1.55)
-14%
$31.32
$30.97
$0.35
1%
$29.59
$32.11
($2.52)
-8%
$14.72
$17.90
($3.18)
-18%
$33.78
$34.90
($1.12)
-3%
$26.38
$27.30
($0.92)
-3%
$57.11
$67.24
($10.13)
-15%
$25.92
$24.85
$1.07
4%
$10.57
$11.67
($1.10)
-9%
$20.88
$22.40
($1.52)
-7%

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 pack. I’ll keep tracking these because they are interesting (at least to me).   
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
$109.30
$112.64
($3.34)
-3%
Amonkhet
$82.41
$79.96
$2.45
3%
Dominaria
$115.47
$119.67
($4.20)
-4%
Ixalan
$87.73
$93.65
($5.92)
-6%
Hour of Devastation
$48.48
$47.49
$0.99
2%
Kaladesh
$73.58
$78.22
($4.64)
-6%
Rivals of Ixalan
$91.76
$92.06
($0.30)
0%
Treasure Chest
$2.25
$2.23
$0.02
1%
Dominaria Booster
$3.30
$3.41
($0.11)
-3%

 
 
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 ten cards longer this week.    
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $     76.73
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $     64.20
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $     57.11
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $     55.31
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $     53.84
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $     51.33
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $     50.88
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $     50.81
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $     49.67
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $     48.77
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $     48.76
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $     41.13
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $     40.75
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $     39.85
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $     39.60
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $     38.67
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $     38.59
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $     37.19
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $     36.20
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $     35.96
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $     35.35
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $     35.32
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $     33.98
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $     33.78
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $     33.64
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $     32.28
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $     31.32
Rekindling Phoenix
 RIX
Mythic Rare
 $     31.08
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $     30.85
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $     30.59
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $     30.58
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $     30.56
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $     30.23
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $     29.86
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $     29.86
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $     29.84
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $     29.70
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $     29.70
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $     29.63
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $     29.60
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $     29.59
Collective Brutality
 EMN
Rare
 $     29.58
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $     29.56
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $     29.52
Ensnaring Bridge
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $     29.49
Karn, Scion of Urza
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $     29.49
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $     29.28
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $     29.17
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $     29.11
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $     28.02
City of Traitors
 TPR
Rare
 $     27.80
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $     27.33
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $     27.17
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $     26.82
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $     26.73
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $     26.38
Walking Ballista
 AER
Rare
 $     26.28
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $     25.92
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $     25.91
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $     25.85
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $     25.62
Kolaghan's Command
 DTK
Rare
 $     25.11
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $     25.06
Noble Hierarch
 CON
Rare
 $     25.05

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 $ 18,190. That’s down about $85 from last week. 
 
In Closing
The Wisconsin Public TV Auction is this week. My furniture is up soon, and I am again working every single shift, plus a lot of timeout outside of scheduled shifts.   Plus work – so no Magic this week.
 
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.