This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
In the News this Week:
Big Rules Changes Coming with M14: Wizards has announced some significant rules changes, which will go into effect in July. I’ll say that again – they will not happen until M14 arrives in mid-July. (I know I will get players at the paper PTQ asking about them this weekend.) The big news is that your Legends and Planeswalkers will not affect your opponents Planeswalkers. This means that if you have a Jace, your opponent can also play a Jace, and both stay in play. Same for Geist of Saint Traft. If you play a duplicate of your own legend or Planewalker, one dies, but you choose which one. So, if you have a Jace, the Mind Sculptor with one counter in play and another in hand, brainstorm off the first, play the second and keep that one around.
Cards that got a lot worse with this rules change: Clone. It will no longer kill your opponent’s Geist of Saint Traft or (Thrull, the Last Troll.) I’m hoping for Pyroclasm in M14, or we are going to see a ton of Geists of ST until it rotates in October.
Cards that got a lot better: (Gaea’s Cradle), (Serra’s Sanctum) and Mox Opal. Also Tolarian Academy if it wasn’t banned or restricted everywhere. Back in the day, you could play a legendary land, like Academy or Cradle, then tap it for mana before it died to the legend rule. Now you can play one and let the legend rule kill the old, tapped one. Elves is happy, and this may also help Affinity (sorry, Wizards – Robots.) People are also discussing whether Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage might be a thing. Stage does not come into play with counters, so all you need is it, Dark Depths and 2 mana to get a 20/20 Marit Lage token in play.
I am so glad (Umezawa’s Jitte) is banned in Modern. Having two players, both with active Jittes, seems like a judge’s second worst nightmare. (Worst is a paper Eggs mirror match between slow, argumentative players.)
Wizards’ explanation is summed up here: Aaron Forsythe @mtgaaronPhantasmal Image vs. Thrun was at the forefront of this change. We want to be able to make good Clones and good legends.
Best reaction I’ve seen so far, from Justin Treadway @GriffnValentineI'm pretty disillusioned with Magic. R&D has had 20 freaking years to accomplish one simple goal: kill Magic. They can't even do that right.
But a typical, albeit punny, response among the pros seems to be: Luis Scott-Vargas @lsvThe new rules are pretty legendary. I like 'em.
One Week Left for Dragon’s Maze Release Events: The release events will end next downtime. Some of these events will move over to the limited queues room, but triple DGM drafts will disappear. Details here.
Modern Masters Just Weeks Away, but the Only Spoilers are – M14?: Modern Masters will be coming to MTGO on June 14th. No info on release events, if any, yet. However, Chris (WotC_K) responded in this forum thread about why there was no info on release events with “we like to finish one release before marketing the next.”
We have very little info on what is in Modern Masters. So far, just one recent spoiler article. (Of course, MM is all reprints, so it’s not like there is anything really new to spoil.) However, Wizards has begun spoiling M14 cards – including the sad little mutants misnamed “slivers.” The rumor sites have almost 100 cards, as I write this, and the number is growing.
The most interesting M14 card might be Scavenging Ooze. It is listed as a promo here. If this truly means Scavenging Ooze is in M14, it would be the first time a chase card printed in a special set (in this case, Commander) was moved into the core set. This makes sense – we have seen cards moved from Unglued to Standard legal sets (e.g. The Cheese Stands Alone became Barren Glory), so we know this can happen, but seeing it reconfirmed is nice. It will be interesting to see what other cards might make the jump.
Update: Just before I was going to submit this article, Heath sent me a confidential file containing the PureMTGO spoilers for Modern Masters. They are interesting, and our do-not-publish-until date is next Friday, so expect some Modern Masters spoilers starting next week.
Pack Payouts Rebalanced: Now that the prerelease is over, Wizards has modified the prize payouts so we get a more balanced mix. Standard 1v1 queues will pay out in RtR, while other queues will pay out in RTR/GTC/DGM. That should help us get our draft sets.
You Make the Card Rules Text Decided: At least it should be, by the time this article goes up. The finals came down to two cards: Blood in the Watering Can and Revenge of Necromancy. Once the choice is made, we will see how the final card is costed. These could be playable, but not if they end up at 4BB.
Magic Online Rewards Program Promos for June Announced:
My Mom taught me that if you cannot say anything good, don’t say anything at all.
Opinion Section: Wizards, Can We Talk?
It appears Wizards hosted a Modern Spotlight tournament last weekend. At last, that’s what I understand from this thread. I had heard nothing about it. Apparently, it was mentioned during the Pro Tour coverage. I’m not sure if it was mentioned anywhere else.
Maybe I missed it.
Of course, a large part of each weekly article is the news section. I try to find that news all week. I read and follow at least all of these sources:
·Independent websites, including SCG, TCGPlayer, Channel Fireball, MTGO Academy, MTG Salvation, etc. etc. Many of these sites have a breaking news section or box.
·Various discussion forums and blogs.
·The MTGO home page.
·I also watch Pro Tour and GP coverage, when I can.
And I still missed information on a Modern Spotlight I probably would have played in, had I know. I definitely would have included it in my news round-up last week. Maybe Wizards didn’t want the turnout to be too high.
I actually approve of Wizards being all cool and edgy by using social media and other non-traditional means of communicating with their customer base. That’s great. The more ways they can find to get their message out, the better. It’s cool that Wizards responds to people in the forums, and that they put information into the Twittersphere.
But there’s a problem.
A month or two ago, we hosted a symposium on broadband in Wisconsin. Starting months before that, we spent a lot of time discussing the methods we could use in spreading the word about the symposium. We talked about the following:
·A page on the PSCW website, with a link from the “hot topics” list on the home page
·Emails to all interested parties we could identify
·Letters to municipal and local governments
·Shipping blurbs to industry, education community action and similar groups, to have them distribute it to their email networks
·Inserting a listing on the PSCW events calendar
We discussed the pros and cons of each of the above. In the end, you know which one we chose to carry our message? All of them.
ALL OF THEM. Because that is how you make sure as many people as possible hear about it.
We could have stood on the roof of our building with an Aldis lamp, pointed it north and flashed out our message. Then anyone who reads Morse and happened to in the right place, looking the right way, could have found out about our symposium. Of course, anyone who was inside at that time, or outside of visual range, or who didn’t read Morse Code would have missed the announcement – which is why we didn’t limit our announcement to just that one method. (And, of course, we don’t have an Aldis lamp.)
Yes, the Aldis lamp example is ridiculous, but so is posting an announcement of a change in policy in post 176 in a forum thread. In that thread – and nowhere else. Seriously, is the number of people who read Morse Code in Wisconsin greater or less than the number of people that read that far into the threads on the WotC forums? Given how hard it is to navigate that website, I’m betting on Morse Code readers.
Wizards, we all like a challenge, but the challenges we prefer are logic puzzles and complex interactions – the kind of things that Magic provides. Most of us are not that big on hide and seek. We especially don’t like to hide and seek with news and announcements, when we aren’t even told that something has been hidden.
Can we have a bit more communications, please.
Videos of the Week:
I have wanted to make videos featuring Shiny (the new client) for months – since last November, at least. I wanted to help Wizards out, and get people ready for the transition. However, Shiny kept throwing fits whenever I tried to create a deck. I did one or two drafts on it, and played casually on occasion, but I had a ton of problems.
This week, however, two things changed. First, I had a day off (technically, I took the day off to get the crops in, but it rained heavily. Can’t plant in the mud.) More importantly, I got Shiny working, at least mostly. Drafts worked, so I drafted.
I had a number of DGM packs left over from the prerelease and release events, and I need DGM cards for constructed, so I have been drafting triple DGM. My results have been mixed. Decks I thought were good lost unexpectedly, and decks I was pretty down on won out. Moreover, the format is evolving. A much higher percentage of the people playing – at least during the day on weekdays – know what they are doing.
I uploaded a bunch of videos to YouTube. But here are two drafts for your enjoyment.
Draft 2 video: I like the Moas!
But it played out – well, not so well. Sorry about the pause in the middle. I meant to edit these videos, but ran out of time.
Here’s another draft. I was a bit more focused here. This was the last draft I had time for. The weather was breaking, and I was almost able to get outside. I figured I had enough time to play a round, or maybe two. Sorry about the lack of audio on this one. YouTube muted it, apparently because some background music was audible & copyrighted. I'll have to see if I can do anything about that.
This draft went better. I opened a few more good cards. I was still really afraid of the guildgate deck. Spike Jesters don’t like 2/4s.
This draft went a bit better.
Note that I played all these drafts in the new client. Shiny does drafts well. However, I also recorded a segment where I tried to import a Standard deck into the editor. I ranted a bit. The program hung, lagged and eventually crashed. Worse yet, it would not admit that I owned the cards for the deck I have been playing on the old client for weeks. I own M10 Acidic Slimes, and Ravnica shocklands, but since the editor decided that the deck was standard, none of those cards showed up as legal. The only Restoration Angels Shiny would let me search for are the promo versions, and I could not find any way of searching for or adding my regular Restos, nor any of my non-promo Farseeks. After messing with the filters, unsuccessfully, for 5-10 minutes, the program crashed.
Shiny is fine for drafters, but for anything else, in my experience, it still stinks.
Cutting Edge Tech:
Standard: TCGPlayer sponsored Spring States nationwide. You can see all of the decklists here. I was head judge of the Wisconsin States, where I watched a Jund Midrange mirror match. Here’s the winning deck.
Return to Ravnica Block: We had a Pro Tour in the format last weekend. A lot of UW control decks, but when the dust cleared, Craig Wescoe piloted a GW aggro deck to the win. Coverage is here, and Flores reviews the Top 8 here. Look for Craigs decklist online soon – assuming anyone can afford the Voice of Resurgences.
Modern: We had a pair of Modern Spotlight events last weekend. The winner from the first event was MeliraPod. Same ole, same ole. The second place deck was Jund splashing white for Lingering Souls. We haven’t seen that before – well, not over 100 times. Third place was a Daybreak Coronet build. Fourth place was a blue Urzatron deck with Academy Ruins. That is at least somewhat new. Here it is.
Mono Blue Urzatron
THE_WURM_91, Fourth Place, Modern Spotlight #5434713 on 05/20/2013
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 generally falling. The one big winner is Voice of Resurgence. Everything else is in a spring slump. This happens most every year. My guess is that the college students are ending their years – and running out of money. I know that my budget was stretched every spring, until I could replenish it over the summer. I doubt that has changed all that much.
The Good Stuff starts with a list of the non-foil, non-premium cards on MTGO that cost more than $25 each. This week, Voice of Resurgence climbed a bit, but Force of Will fell back below $100 each.
Lion's Eye Diamond
Force of Will
Show and Tell
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana of the Veil
Voice of Resurgence
Geist of Saint Traft
City of Traitors
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 $22,642. That is down about $600 from last week. Dragon’s Maze prizes seem to be stabilizing.
Two highlights this week. Wisconsin States was fun. I had a good staff of judges and a great scorekeeper, and the event ran really smoothly. I even got to work with some judge candidates during the slow parts. (As Head Judge, if your staff is good, you get some time where all you really have to do is watch them work.)
I also got time to play in half a dozen drafts during the last week. That’s far more than I usually get to do, and I enjoyed them all.