This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
In the News this Week:
Big MTGO Announcement: Wizards gave us a bunch of MTGO news Thursday. Chris Krivitz’ article is here. First off, for you competitive players, Wizards has announced that all MOCS winners will receive an invite to a Pro Tour (generally the next one.)
Next, Wizards has announced a Grand Prix trial for MTGO. This makes all kinds of sense – even small paper stores can run Grand Prix trials, and they should do well online. The first event will be April 6th, and first place will win three byes for Grand Prix Portland. The format will be Modern.
Third, Wizards announced MTGO Promo Codes. These will be included with certain paper products, for attending events – even for interacting with Wizards on social media. The first code was included in the article: MTGOCodeLaunch, which gets you a TNMO Avacyn’s Pilgrim. You can redeem codes in the MTGO store – but only using the wide beta interface. I’ll talk more about this in the opinion section: synopsis is that I love the idea, and wonder why they haven’t done this before.
Speaking of the beta, the next major update will happen March 13th. According to Wizards, the update will include improvements to the battlefield and collection. I wonder if my collection will actually load, once that is installed.
Finally, the trade limit is increasing. At present, you can only trade 75 items in a single trade. Since several cards are retailing for over 75 TIX, this has caused problems. The new limit will be 400 items. This change should take effect on March 27th, but Wizards will be monitoring it, and this could change.
Significant Bug Fixed: The Pillar of Flame bug has been squashed. Good. Cards that are supposed to exile slain creatures now exile them.
Extra Long and Complex Downtime Next Week: Wizards will be installing a number of infrastructure upgrades during the downtime on March 13th. This will take a longer than usual amount of time. The downtime will run from 7am to approximately 3pm PST. Events will be restarted slowly, with a couple hours of NIX TIX, NIX prize phantom events running before the for pay queues come back up. I’m wondering what new features are being implemented that take that much careful handling.
Reminder: Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend. We lose an hour. The clocks in Renton are set forward an hour, at 2am. and that will affect tournaments.
Sorin vs. Tibalt Coming Soon: The next duel deck set will be available a week from today. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is a valuable card, but now it’s numbers will grow and value should drop. For now, though, the cost of the cards individually exceeds the retail price.
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: 27,456
TIX raised so far: 5,599
Cool HammyBot card of the week: Foil (Sensei’s Divining Top) (See the Legacy deck tech.)
Opinion Section: Redemption Code Promos
Wizards has finally announced that they will begin tying Magic paper and Magic online in a direct manner. This is great news. I have argued for years that Wizards need to cross market. The fact that they are doing this now means that they think MTGO can grow. Back in the days of version 2.5, when the program would crash whenever the number of players exceeded three thousand or so, it was impossible. Even with the current client, Wizards never really pushed for new players. The fact that they are planning on doing so now says that they have a lot of faith in the new interface, and they expect to grow MTGO a lot.
After the downtime next week, Wizards will start testing the promo system. They have given us the code for a new card; MTGOCodeLaunch. Players (well, some players) can redeem the code for an alternative art Avacyn’s Pilgrim, during the week following the next downtime. Here are the official rules:
Redemption Code Promotion Terms
Offer is good for a license to use one digital promotional version of the "Pilgrim" card from Avacyn Restored. Offer expires at 7:00 a.m. PT on March 20, 2013. Offer is not valid for cash or cash equivalent. Offer is valid for redemption by account holders whose billing address is located in the United States only. Only accounts in good standing may take part in this offer, and each such account may redeem the code only one time. Offer is non-transferable and use of the code in unauthorized advertising, marketing, sweepstakes, or for other promotional purposes is strictly prohibited.
You can redeem codes in the MTGO store – but only using the wide beta interface. Wizards is not going to reprogram the old interface to handle promo codes. This is one more reason to try the Beta – and the purpose of this give-away is clearly to get existing players to download the new interface. Which is fine. As an economist, I am professionally required to be in favor of incentives.
Moving forward, I can see Wizards coming up with all kinds of incentives to get paper players to try online play. For newer players, Wizards could include a promo coupon good for a Deckbuilder’s Essentials set in every copy of the paper Deckbuilders’ Toolkit or similar product. Paper copies of Duel Decks could receive a coupon for free enter into a new player draft, or a TNMO event. More serious players – for example those attending a Grand Prix – could receive a coupon good for a free draft.
We will find out all the details over time. What is important now is that Wizards is rolling out the program. Which is great.
Battling with the New Interface:
This week I downloaded the newest build of the beta client and decided to try using the new promo code. That didn’t work so well (foreshadowing – reading is tech.) After that failed, I tried loading a deck in the collection tab. This has been pretty much impossible for the last several weeks, but this week it worked.
The article clearly says that the promo codes will be implemented next downtime. I somehow missed that when I first read the article. My bad. In other words, the promo code box will appear next week.
I have also been trying to edit my videos. Some things worked, some did not, but at least I got rid of a lot of the pauses and parts with nothing happening. The only downside is that the audio track got shifted a bit, so I start taking about some things a second or so before they actually happen. I’ll try to figure that out later on.
BTW, I’m a complete novice at video editing. I’m trying out VideoPad at the moment. If anyone has any advice on editors, or can point me at some decent tutorials, please share. One caveat, though: I cannot afford Vegas, or any of the other $500 editors.
Cutting Edge Tech:
Standard: This week, we are back to looking at SCG for the biggest, toughest Standard events of the week. The SCG Open in Las Vegas featured a Top 8 that was half GerryT’s UWR Control, and half other stuff. A UWR deck took it down. Top 32 decklists are here.
Modern: Modern is interesting. It is also somewhat an unknown format, since Wizards is not featuring the decklists from the PTQs. (Or, if they are, they have hidden them with their usual skill. I can’t find them. Even Google can’t find them.) The latest Premier event that was featured by Wizards was won by a Gifts Ungiven deck. It’s been a while since I saw that archetype do well. The PTQs I have judged in recent weeks have had more aggro, like the deck I featured last week (and the deck that came in second in the PE.) I think there is a typo in this decklist on SCG – No Rest for the Weary is probably Rest in Peace.
_Cryptic, Winner, Modern Premier #5088708 on 03/04/2013
Legacy: Another week, another SCG Legacy Open, and another interesting archetype turns up. Top 32 decklists here. This time a UWR Miracles deck “splashed” for Helm of Obedience to combo with maindeck Rest in Peace.
Classic: Qualifier number three for the Classic Quarter Invitational has started. I am not playing, but I will throw out some decklists, if I see anything interesting in the next couple weeks.
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 adjusting to the new format. Liliana, and other cards that are no longer being drafted as much, are climbing. Gatecrash cards are falling – increasing supply will do that, and it is being drafted a ton. Restoration Angel is still climbing, despite being both a rare, and having been available as a promo.
Modern prices are rebounding. Tarmogoyf has climbed back up. I guess it makes a difference when so many players are playing, and writing about, Frog in a Blender style decks. The counters for RG 2 drops are responding: Cryptic Command and Engineered Explosives are both climbing.
Here’s this week’s list of the non-foil, non-premium cards on MTGO that cost more than $25 each. Note the Force of Will has fallen again, but Goyf fell faster. The list itself has shrunk – a half dozen cards dropped below $25. Here’s this week’s list of MTGO gold:
Lion's Eye Diamond
Force of Will
Show and Tell
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana of the Veil
Geist of Saint Traft
Bonfire of the Damned
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 $22,651. That is about the same as last week.
It has been a good week. An old friend was in town and we played some paper three way draft. Gatecrash is different in multiplayer – Extort is the way to go. After John left, I judged a PTQ. All good. This week, I got to draft some Gatecrash. I even racked up some QPs – but since I can get into maybe 2-4 events a week, and those mainly drafts, I am not going to be qualified anytime soon.