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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 10 2017 11:00am
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State of the Program for November 10th 2017
 
In the News
Seth Manfield Wins PT Ixalan: The Pro Tour was last weekend. Coverage is here.
 
Martin Juza and Josh Utter-Leyton Inducted to HoF: Both players were formally inducted into the Hall of Fame at PT Ixalan. The profile of Martin Juza is here. The profile of Wrapter is here
 
A New(er) Standard Gauntlet: Wizards has announced the final throwback Gauntlet, featuring more recent decks. (Remember Theros? Remember Siege Rhino and Collected Company?) It begins November 8th. More info, including decklists, is available here.   Later this fall, Wizards will bring us the “Gauntlet of Greatness” featuring the best preforming decks from the entire Throwback season.
 
Redemption Ending Soon: Redemption for Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation ends November 22nd.   If you want to turn your digital cards from those sets into paper, redeem them now.
 
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
Timing
Extended Downtime
Nov. 15th & 29th  
No Downtime Scheduled
Nov. 22nd 
Constructed Leagues End (maybe)
January 15, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
January 15, 2018
Iconic Masters
November 17,  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
January 15, 2018
AKH and HOU Redemption Ends
November 22, 2017
SOI and EMN Redemption Ends
April 28, 2018
Ixalan Redemption Ends
May 23, 2018
Rivals of Ixalan Redemption Ends
May 23, 2018

 
2018 Magic Online Championship Series
Complete details, including schedule, rules, and which online events qualify you for which online or paper events is here.   Here are the main dates for the next quarter:
 

Event Date
Event Type
Event Format
Invites
Sunday, November 26
Monthly
Ixalan Sealed
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Saturday, December 16
Monthly
Standard
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Friday, December 29
Monthly
Ixalan Sealed
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Saturday, December 30
Open
Ixalan Sealed
Magic Online Championship, Pro Tour Dominaria, PT Challenge at Pro Tour Dominaria
Saturday, January 6
Open
Ixalan Sealed
Magic Online Championship, Pro Tour Dominaria, PT Challenge at Pro Tour Dominaria
Sunday, January 7
Monthly
Modern
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Saturday, January 27
Monthly
Standard
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Sunday, January 28
Monthly
Ixalan-Rivals of Ixalan Sealed
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Saturday, February 10
Playoff
Standard
Magic Online Championship, Pro Tour Dominaria, PT Challenge at Pro Tour Dominaria

 
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

 
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
Recent Past Standard Gauntlet
November 8th
November 15th
Iconic Masters
November 17th
December 6th
Standard Gauntlet of Greatness
???
???

 
The 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 240 play points for three wins and 80 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: Energy?
At the Pro Tour, 13 of the 20 decks going 8-2 or better in Standard were Energy decks.  Energy was the dominant strategy for the event, and is pretty dominant online as well. Why? Well, it is a combination of synergy (e.g. Winding Constrictor and counters) and mana reduction. It’s mainly mana reduction, in the form of Energy.  Energy is a substitute for mana, allowing players to play bigger and better creatures and spells than the game would normally allow. It’s a mana alternative.
 
Should Wizards have known that Energy was good – arguably too good? Well, the one land per turn rule, and the mana constraints that rule creates, is an important part of Magic. It's why Magic works - but like every rule in Magic, cards can overwrite the rule.  Certain cards let you cheat on lands and mana.  Let’s look at the history of that sort of cheating. Here’s a short and incomplete review of mechanics that either allow you to play spells faster than normal, or for a significantly reduced price.  
 
When Magic was first introduced, back in 1993, it had cards that let you cheat on mana. Such as:
 
 Black Lotus  Mana vault Sol Ring Fastbond
 
The original set included Black Lotus, the Moxen (in effect free lands), Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Fastbond and Dark Ritual. These cards all proved to be broken. Every single one of these cards were banned in various formats, and most are still restricted in Vintage.
 
In Antiquities, Wizards tried making some lands that tapped for more than one mana. The catch was that you had to get all three in play. (Urza’s Power Plant), (Uzra’s Tower) and (Urza’s Mine) are currently legal in Modern and Vintage, but we can certainly argue about whether they are too good. Since then, we have seen these lands appear, and sometime disappear, as well:
 
Ancient Tomb  City of Traitors Cloudpost  Tolarian Academy
 
Some of these were problematic. The Urza’s Saga lands, like Academy Serra's Sanctum and Gaea's Cradle are flat out busted. Even Cloudpost is enough of a problem to be banned in Modern.
 
Let’s get back to history. I was going to go chronologically, but it seemed to make sense to clump the lands. Cause that's what lands do.
 
After Antiquities, the next set to offer mana reductions was Alliances. Alliances introduced the pitch spell mechanic: pitch meaning an alternative casting cost of removing a card in your hand form the game. 
 
Force of Will   Contagion   Bounty of the Hunt
 
All of these were significant in their day, and Force of Will is still significant in every format in which it is legal. Alliances also gave us Elvish Spirit Guide, which powered a lot of early decks. It’s color-pie appropriate cousin, Simian Spirit Guide is important in Modern. These are not broken enough to be banned, in most cases, but anyone who has been on the wrong end of a turn one Blood Moon due to Simian Spirit Guides rarely considers them fair.
 
The pitch spells were in Alliances, from Ice Ages block. The next block was Mirage, and Mirage block gave us more ways of getting mana without tapping lands – Cadaverous Bloom and Squandered Resources.   Cad Bloom was the first real combo deck, and that deck got Squandered Resources banned in Mirage block constructed. 
 
Mirage block was followed by Tempest block, which gave us the already mentioned Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors.  That was followed by the ridiculousness that was Urza’s Saga block, which had the lands that tapped for stupid amounts of mana, but we have already talked about lands.  Also in Saga block, Wizards also tried a new approach to “free” spells, untap lands after casting:
 
Time Spiral   Frantic Search  Palinchron Great Whale
 
This did not go well.  Every single one of these cards was featured in combo decks. Even Great Whale – in combination with Recurring Nightmare, created an infinite mana engine.   The deck was called Free Whalie, and you can find the archetype in old GP and PT decklists.   Finally, Urza’s Saga also had cards that let you cheat cards into play at greatly reduced costs. The worst offender, Tinker, is still restricted in Vintage and banned everywhere else. 
 
I should also mention Flash, from Mirage, here. Originally, Flash put creatures into play, but required them to be sacrificed unless they were fully paid for. Later, that was errataed to prevent them coming into play – but that errata was later reversed.  With the change, Flash let you put a creature into play for 1U, and trigger that creature’s comes-into-play abilities.   It was a method of cheating on mana cost, and combo decks built around Protean Hulk. After completely dominating a GP, Flash was banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage.
 
A few years later, Wizards tried another cost reduction mechanic.  In this case, cards got cheaper based on the number of artifacts in play. Wizards even gave us artifact lands to help increase the artifact count. Affinity was born, and almost destroyed Standard.   Now the Affinity mechanic itself was not the only reason that the deck was busted – cards like Skullclamp, Cranial Plating and Arcbound Ravager certainly contributed – but the mechanic itself was a major factor.
 
Future Sight introduced a number – okay, a ton – of mechanics. One of these was Delve. It was not completely busted back in Future Sight, although a few cards (looking at you, Tombstalker) were good enough to see Vintage play.  However, when Wizards brought Delve back, the mana reduction proved too good.  Remember these?
 
Treasure Cruise   Become Immense Dig through Time
 
While cards like Tasigur were just really good, the above cards were either banned, are banned or are still being argued about even now.
 
Time Spiral block also introduces another alternative method of casting cards – Suspend. Some of the suspend cards had no mana cost:
 
hypergenesis Lotus Bloom   Ancestral vision Living End
 
These were pretty good in their own right, but proved to be broken with Cascade. These were either banned in Modern or spawned their own archetypes.  Or both.

I could keep going. Looking over my notes, I see that I haven’t touched on Phyrexian Mana or Madness, both of which were too good in their day. Phyrexian mana is too good now – Gitaxian Probe is banned or restricted all over the place. And I have not even mentioned the most egregious violation of the mana rules: Dredge. Dredge is a Vintage staple, and is good enough that you can play a totally manaless Dredge deck in Legacy. 
 
Aetherworks Marvel was the quintessential example of a card that violated the mana rules in a number of ways – and it got banned. But the Energy mechanic that Marvel abused is still the defining feature of current Standard.  Energy is a mechanic that lets you do more than the normal rules of lands and mana would normally allow.  Wizards has always been very careful with anything like that – it is way too easy to push it a bit too hard.  And sometimes they do.  The current Standard format may be an indication that Energy was pushed a bit too hard. Of course, if a mechanic is not pushed a bit – if Wizards does not skate close to the edge - that does not work out very well, either.   Magic is full of mechanics that were not pushed hard enough, and ended up being meaningless in limited or Standard. It’s a tough balance. 
 
 
Cutting Edge Tech
 
Standard: The Pro tour was last weekend. Coverage is here. The Top 8 had the expected Red and Energy decks, plus a God-Pharaoh’s Gift deck and a UWR Approach of the Second Sun deck. Looking at the decks that went at least 8-2 in the Standard Portion, I see 13 Energy decks (7 Temur, 4 Four color and 2 Sultai), 4 Ramunap Red and three one-offs. And, finally, we have the statistical breakdown of all day two decks here. The most interesting deck was this Oketra's Monument variant.
 
Mono-White Monument to Vampires
Hunter Wilson, 8-2 in Standard, Pro Tour Ixalan - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Aviary Mechanic
2 Duskborne Skymarcher
4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Legion Conquistador
3 Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle
4 Metallic Mimic
3 Angel of Invention
11 cards

Artifact
4 Oketra's Monument
4 cards
Enchantment
1 Thopter Arrest
2 Cast Out
4 Legion's Landing
1 Thopter Arrest
3 Ixalan's Binding
3 cards
Land
4 Shefet Dunes
3 Scavenger Grounds
15 Plains
22 cards


Sideboard
2 Thopter Arrest
2 Fragmentize
4 Glory-Bound Initiate
1 Aethersphere Harvester
4 Dusk/Dawn
1 Gideon's Intervention
1 Angel of Sanctions
15 cards
Modern: SCG ran a bunch of Modern Regional Events last weekend, but nothing was quite as interesting as this UW deck from the MTGO competitive leagues.  
 
Legacy: SCG ran a Legacy Open two weekends ago, and with 535 players it’s more important than anything else that has happened recently. The Top 32 is here. SCG listed the deck and Punishing Abzan, which makes sense since it is basically Abzan splashing red for Punishing Fire, but that’s not what I call it.
 
 
Vintage: Eternal Weekend was the last big event, but the Top 8 was basically all Shops and Oath variants. (Decklists and coverage for Vintage Champs are here.) Since I have featured both Shops and Oath, I’ll head back to the VSL. I’m featuring Randy Buehler’s deck, simply because of the name. Randy had a rough week – he either drew no lands or way too many every game – but the deck is at least different.  And I found the punny name amusing.
 
 
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 fairly weak across the board. Other than lands and a handful of Mythics, nothing has much real value. It might have been different if the Pro Tour had shown us some new archetypes.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$16.43
$7.81
$8.62
110%
$11.61
$11.03
$0.58
5%
$7.05
$10.49
($3.44)
-33%
$36.22
$37.41
($1.19)
-3%
$10.15
$10.82
($0.67)
-6%
$15.47
$17.29
($1.82)
-11%
$8.59
$12.48
($3.89)
-31%
$9.91
$8.91
$1.00
11%
$45.74
$44.60
$1.14
3%
$16.87
$19.99
($3.12)
-16%
$17.43
$15.02
$2.41
16%
$14.59
$12.87
$1.72
13%

Modern staples:  Modern prices were fluctuating this week. They are shifting around, but I don’t see much of a trend. I dropped Thought-Knot from the list – it is just one of many marginally valuable cards out there
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$14.34
$14.33
$0.01
0%
$31.70
$32.95
($1.25)
-4%
$27.44
$21.61
$5.83
27%
$36.53
$34.09
$2.44
7%
$17.09
$18.33
($1.24)
-7%
$14.84
$14.41
$0.43
3%
$18.43
$19.59
($1.16)
-6%
$27.16
$26.02
$1.14
4%
$26.79
$27.83
($1.04)
-4%
$30.25
$27.32
$2.93
11%
$34.07
$32.78
$1.29
4%
$61.09
$57.64
$3.45
6%
$31.28
$27.02
$4.26
16%
$52.70
$53.20
($0.50)
-1%
$23.59
$27.91
($4.32)
-15%
$26.60
$26.85
($0.25)
-1%
$26.60
$21.87
$4.73
22%
$19.66
$18.39
$1.27
7%
$21.03
$22.21
($1.18)
-5%

Legacy and Vintage: Vintage and Legacy prices are back to a more normal level of churn – but a fairly quiet churn this week.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$54.91
$51.87
$3.04
6%
$20.95
$20.96
($0.01)
0%
$18.13
$18.44
($0.31)
-2%
$91.10
$92.00
($0.90)
-1%
$35.29
$37.11
($1.82)
-5%
$37.86
$38.05
($0.19)
0%
$22.59
$23.41
($0.82)
-4%
$24.18
$25.67
($1.49)
-6%
$35.18
$33.21
$1.97
6%
$41.24
$41.24
$0.00
0%
$26.88
$25.87
$1.01
4%
$34.11
$30.02
$4.09
14%
$13.49
$19.08
($5.59)
-29%
$79.21
$85.21
($6.00)
-7%
$17.55
$21.17
($3.62)
-17%
$16.27
$17.86
($1.59)
-9%
$39.62
$33.89
$5.73
17%
$24.67
$24.32
$0.35
1%
$19.43
$21.19
($1.76)
-8%
$34.46
$33.15
$1.31
4%

* 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.   
 
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
$83.20
$86.87
($3.67)
-4%
Amonkhet
$91.85
$95.23
($3.38)
-4%
Ixalan
$80.11
$82.97
($2.86)
-3%
Hour of Devastation
$85.83
$81.59
$4.24
5%
Kaladesh
$137.68
$138.28
($0.60)
0%
Treasure Chest
$2.24
$2.15
$0.09
4%
Ixalan Booster
$3.25
$3.31
($0.06)
-2%

 
 
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. Nothing is above a hundred bucks, and the number of cards on the list is smaller than it has been in the past. 
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $   91.10
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $   79.21
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $   61.63
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $   61.09
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $   56.73
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   56.63
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $   54.91
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $   52.89
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $   52.70
The Scarab God
 MS3
Special
 $   50.66
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $   46.75
The Scarab God
 HOU
Mythic Rare
 $   45.74
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $   41.94
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $   41.40
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $   41.24
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   39.92
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $   39.62
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $   38.62
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $   37.86
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $   37.55
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $   37.53
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $   36.62
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $   36.53
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   36.52
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
 KLD
Mythic Rare
 $   36.22
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $   35.85
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $   35.46
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   35.32
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $   35.29
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   35.26
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $   35.18
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $   34.61
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $   34.46
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
 $   34.11
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   34.07
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $   31.70
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $   31.50
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $   31.28
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $   30.67
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   30.34
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $   30.25
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $   29.85
Underground Sea
 VMA
Rare
 $   29.61
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $   28.91
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $   27.98
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   27.79
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $   27.72
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $   27.71
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $   27.44
Volcanic Island
 ME4
Rare
 $   27.35
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $   27.34
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $   27.16
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $   27.12
Mox Diamond
 V10
Mythic Rare
 $   26.88
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $   26.79
Scapeshift
 MOR
Rare
 $   26.60
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $   26.60

 
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 $ 20,040. That’s down $30 from last week. Quiet week.
 
Weekly Highlights
Teslacom was awesome.  Now maybe I can get back to Magic. 
 
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.  
 

1 Comments

re by Hearts at Mon, 11/13/2017 - 03:43
Hearts's picture

Would like to see section on Collusion and Bribery please?