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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 18 2016 12:00pm
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 State of the Program for November 18th 2016

 
In the News
 
World Magic Cup this Weekend: The World Magic Cup is on now. Coverage is on Twitch.tv/magic.
  
League Matchmaking Update: Wizards has rolled out a new matching algorithm that finds matches between players with similar records more quickly. It is working well in the larger leagues. However, in smaller leagues, at time when few players are looking for games, it can repair players that have already played too frequently. (I talk about the tradeoffs involved in matchmaking in the opinion section, below.) While Wizards retools the new algorithm for low-demand leagues, they have reverted to the old algorithm in for those leagues.
 
Opening Old Style Treasure Chests: Paul Cheon posted a video showing him open 51 Treasure Chests. This was before the change to treasure chests, so he got play points instead of boosters, and a few low value cards that have been removed effective last downtime. You can watch video here.
 
Wizards Helps Seahawks Player and Children’s Charity: American football player Cassius Marsh had his Magic collection stolen. It included Legacy Elves and Goblins, a half dozen Modern decks and some Standard stuff. Estimated value was $20k to $25k, but Marsh made it clear he didn’t care about the money – he just loved the game and his cards. Since Marsh pays for Wizards’ home team, Wizards staff reacted. They put together a “care package” of cards form their personal collections, plus some boosters and so forth from the company. Nice to see Wizards supporting a local player – also nice to see that Wizards then donated a comparable package to a local children’s charity / shelter. Note : if you have a ton of commons and uncommons, donating them to a local shelter or the like is a cool idea, but remember to throw in a ton of basic lands. You cannot play game without lands.   
 
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 weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the Known Issues List. For quick reference, here are some major upcoming events.   In addition, there are either one or two online PTQs each weekend, with qualifiers running the three days prior to the PTQ.
 
Recurring Events
Timing
Power Nine Challenge
Last Saturday of the month, at 11am Pacific
Legacy Challenge
Second Saturday of the month, at 11am Pacific
No Downtime
November 23rd and 30th and December 14th
Extended Downtime
November 16th  
Current Leagues End
January
 
Upcoming and Ongoing Events
Begins
Ends
On sale now
January 4, 2017
Kaladesh Sealed MOCS events
 
December 4th, 11th, 18th and 30th
Details here.
Standard MOCS events
November 25th
Details here
Modern MOCS events
January 7th & 21st
Details here.
Amonkhet
Spring, 2017 release
 
Aether Revolt prerelease
January 27th
January30th
Modern Masters 2017 Edition
MTGO release
March 23rd
 
Flashback Schedule:
Flashback drafts cost 10Tix or 100 Play Points or 2 Tix plus product. They are you-keep-the- cards, not Phantom. These are single elimination events that pay out in play points: 200 for first, 100 for second, and 50 for third and fourth place. 
 
Format
Begins
Ends
Triple Avacyn Restored
November 16
November 23
Triple Magic 2013
November 23
November 30
Triple Return to Ravnica: 
November 30
December 7
Triple Gatecrash
December 7
December 14
Dragon’s Maze, Gatecrash, Return to Ravnica
December 14
December 21
 
Flashback This Week: Flashback drafts this week are triple Avacyn Restored. The money cards in that format are Cavern of Souls, Griselbrand, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Avacyn, Angel of Hope and the miracles. Starting next Wednesday, we will be drafting Triple Magic 2013. 
 
Opinion Section: Matchmaking Tradeoffs
 
I would like to crunch a lot of numbers here, but let’s face it – no one outside of Wizards knows how fast players cycle through leagues. And without knowing how fast players play through their five matches, we don’t know what it means for a league to have, say, 1,000 players. We also don’t know whether demand in leagues is roughly similar at all times of day, or if it is highly cyclical. Without knowing things like that, all we can do is make wild guesses about league participation and demand for matches.
 
I tried to make some wild guesses and crunching numbers accordingly, but that text deservedly hit the bit bucket.
 
Instead, let’s look at the criteria you can use to pair players for a match:
1.      Pair players only against players in the same league.
2.      Pair players quickly – minimize waiting time.
3.      Pair players against players with the same win-loss record
4.      Don’t pair players against players they have already played. 
Ideally, you can find a match that meets all of the above requirements quickly. The pairing algorithm does that quite well. On weekends, I have generally been paired in the 6-2-2-2 draft league in a couple seconds, or less. Since that is the largest league on MTGO, and the weekends are (I assume) the busiest time, that is not too surprising. 
 
For smaller leagues at less popular times, this can be a problem. For smaller leagues, Wizards may have to relax some of these rules in order to find an opponent. (Except the first rule – I am assuming you cannot be matched outside your league.)
 
For example, suppose you have a 2-2 record, and want to play your final round. However, there are no perfect matches. Instead, the following players are looking for a match.
·         A player at 4-0.
·         A player at 0-1
·         A player at 2-2, like you, but someone you played last round.
·         A player who just joined the league, so her record is 0-0.
 
The algorithm would not initially match you against any of these players. It will probably wait for some amount of time in case an exact match came along. After 30 second, a minute, whatever, the algorithm relaxes some of its restrictions, and tries to find a close – but not perfect – match. At that point, the algorithm has to decide which rule to bend to find a match, and by how much. Over time, I am sure the algorithm allows more and more flexibility in the rules. If you have been waiting 30 seconds, and the only available opponents are 4-0 and 0-4, it may not make a match. If you both have been waiting 3 minutes, maybe it does. 
 
It gets even more complex when you realize that people don’t enter the pairing queue at the same time. If you have been waiting for five minutes with no available matches, and a 0-4 player enters the queue, the algorithm might think you have waited long enough to waive the rules. The 0-4 player, however, has just entered the queue – should he be paired up that far, just because you have been waiting?
 
It’s all trade-offs, and decisions about those trade-offs are hard. Wizards is doing the best it can. 
 
The solution, of course, is to have many more people in the queue. That works for the draft league queue, at least most of the time. I usually am paired within a minute, even at weird times (e.g. 5:30am central time.) In smaller leagues, however, I have occasionally waited 5 minutes or more. 
 
Cutting Edge Tech
 
Standard: The results of the MTGO Standard champs last weekend are here. For reasons I have never understood, I always see them in a foreign (to me) language. This week it appears to be in Italian. Last week it was in Spanish.   A month or so it was German, which I can struggle through. Whatever – the website is a Wizards digital product; of course it doesn’t work. Cool that Aetherworks won; that deck was supposed to be dead and gone.
 
Atherworks Combo
Jaberwocki Standard Champs Winner - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Emrakul, the Promised End
3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
4 Servant of the Conduit
11 cards

Instant
4 Harnessed Lightning
2 Kozilek's Return
6 cards

Sorcery
4 Attune with Aether
2 Tormenting Voice
6 cards

Artifact
4 Aetherworks Marvel
4 Woodweaver's Puzzleknot
8 cards
Enchantment
4 Vessel of Nascency
4 cards

Planeswalker
3 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
3 cards
 
Land
4 Aether Hub
2 Evolving Wilds
8 Forest
4 Game Trail
4 Mountain
22 cards

Sideboard
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Kozilek's Return
2 Appetite for the Unnatural
2 Natural State
1 Nissa, Vital Force
3 Tears of Valakut
3 Tireless Tracker
1 World Breaker
15 cards

 

Modern: SCG ran a Modern Open last weekend. The Top 32 decks are listed here. I like Tron, so this had to get featured.
 
 
Pauper: Peregrine Drake was banned, effective last Wednesday. Decklists once we get post banning results.
 
Legacy: Legacy has a stable of decks that routinely show up – decks like Miracles, BUG Delver, Dredge, Death and Taxes, Eldrazi, Sneak and Show, ANT, Burn, etc. Every now and then, something new appears in a Top 8 list. This one is from an SCG Classic. Check out the creature list.
 
Mono-Red Sneak Attack
Kasey Walton, Second Place, SCG Classic Columbus - 75 Cards Total
Creature
2 Combustible Gearhulk
2 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
3 Griselbrand
2 Inferno Titan
4 Simian Spirit Guide
2 Worldspine Wurm
15 cards

Instant
4 Seething Song
4 Through the Breach
8 cards

Artifact
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Lotus Petal
8 cards
Enchantment
4 Blood Moon
4 Sneak Attack
8 cards

Planeswalker
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 cards
 
Land
4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
9 Mountain
2 Sandstone Needle
19 cards

Sideboard
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Ingot Chewer
3 Kozilek's Return
2 Magus of the Moon
2 Pyromancy
2 Sudden Shock
3 Trinisphere
15 cards
 
Vintage: Just another reminder that the next season of the Vintage Super League will begin in early January. 
 
 
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 this week. Not too surprising, given the time of year.
  
Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$18.50
$21.07
($2.57)
-12%
$13.91
$13.34
$0.57
4%
$17.97
$13.94
$4.03
29%
$32.77
$33.79
($1.02)
-3%
$11.87
$14.78
($2.91)
-20%
$27.10
$25.54
$1.56
6%
$11.41
$10.16
$1.25
12%
$25.85
$25.18
$0.67
3%
$13.25
$12.48
$0.77
6%
$34.81
$37.24
($2.43)
-7%
$9.30
$9.01
$0.29
3%
$6.01
$6.31
($0.30)
-5%
$7.62
$8.55
($0.93)
-11%
$7.92
$7.58
$0.34
4%
Wandering Fumarole
$7.97
$8.30
($0.33)
-4%
Modern staples:  Modern prices are up again this week.  I also did some tweaking: moving cards between the Modern and Legacy/Vintage table based on where they are seeing the most play. Some of them – I’m looking at you, Engineered Explosives and Chalice of the Void – are heavily played in both formats. No matter where they go, that’s not perfect, but I am not going to update the same card on both tables every week.   
 
Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$24.55
$18.93
$5.62
30%
$16.80
$16.04
$0.76
5%
$44.26
$37.87
$6.39
17%
$31.79
$27.90
$3.89
14%
$18.23
$16.90
$1.33
8%
$24.72
$23.70
$1.02
4%
$41.93
$39.75
$2.18
5%
$41.34
$34.58
$6.76
20%
$28.09
$28.19
($0.10)
0%
$22.97
$21.16
$1.81
9%
$28.07
$28.47
($0.40)
-1%
$22.69
$18.03
$4.66
26%
$24.21
$25.65
($1.44)
-6%
$84.65
$77.27
$7.38
10%
$31.89
$26.95
$4.94
18%
$26.35
$26.39
($0.04)
0%
$25.53
$20.52
$5.01
24%
$28.07
$25.92
$2.15
8%
$46.11
$44.24
$1.87
4%
$22.99
$20.51
$2.48
12%
$21.58
$22.59
($1.01)
-4%
Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are mixed this week.   
 
Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$30.54
$30.11
$0.43
1%
$33.87
$33.14
$0.73
2%
$119.53
$113.96
$5.57
5%
$20.17
$20.12
$0.05
0%
$27.88
$26.83
$1.05
4%
Doomsday
$26.73
$26.38
$0.35
1%
$41.18
$44.53
($3.35)
-8%
$24.44
$21.73
$2.71
12%
$31.87
$37.13
($5.26)
-14%
$40.18
$39.45
$0.73
2%
$59.47
$66.47
($7.00)
-11%
$27.36
$27.31
$0.05
0%
$31.48
$28.24
$3.24
11%
$42.58
$41.81
$0.77
2%
$224.98
$231.11
($6.13)
-3%
$51.78
$53.15
($1.37)
-3%
$19.46
$20.50
($1.04)
-5%
$55.41
$54.46
$0.95
2%
$22.17
$21.76
$0.41
2%
$26.74
$24.86
$1.88
8%
$36.98
$36.50
$0.48
1%
$19.99
$19.57
$0.42
2%
$43.31
$33.42
$9.89
30%
Set Redemption: You can redeem complete sets on MTGO. You need to purchase a redemption voucher from the store for $25. During the next downtime, Wizards removes a complete set from your account and sends you the same set in paper.  
 
Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Battle for Zendikar
$72.24
$73.00
($0.76)
-1%
Eldritch Moon
$140.40
$135.66
$4.74
3%
Kaladesh
$85.67
$84.55
$1.12
1%
Oath of the Gatewatch
$97.85
$95.85
$2.00
2%
Shadows over Innistrad
$67.53
$66.79
$0.74
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.  The list is up to 60 cards this week.
 

Name
Set
Rarity`
 Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $ 224.98
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 119.53
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $ 84.65
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $ 59.47
Tangle Wire
 NE
Rare
 $ 55.41
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $ 51.78
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 48.98
Food Chain
 MM
Rare
 $ 48.75
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $ 47.87
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 47.21
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 46.90
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $ 46.25
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $ 46.11
Blood Moon
 8ED
Rare
 $ 45.00
Blood Moon
 MMA
Rare
 $ 44.64
Blood Moon
 9ED
Rare
 $ 44.26
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $ 43.56
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $ 43.31
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $ 42.79
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 42.58
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $ 42.13
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $ 41.93
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $ 41.34
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $ 41.18
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $ 40.18
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $ 36.98
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $ 34.81
Back to Basics
 UZ
Rare
 $ 33.87
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.78
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.41
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
 BFZ
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.77
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 31.89
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $ 31.87
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $ 31.79
Mox Jet
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 31.48
Ancestral Recall
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 30.54
Mox Emerald
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 30.10
Golgari Grave-Troll
 DDJ
Rare
 $ 30.10
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 29.99
Lion's Eye Diamond
 MI
Rare
 $ 29.89
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 29.63
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $ 28.94
Golgari Grave-Troll
 RAV
Rare
 $ 28.09
Scapeshift
 MOR
Rare
 $ 28.07
Grove of the Burnwillows
 FUT
Rare
 $ 28.07
Containment Priest
 PZ1
Rare
 $ 28.03
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $ 27.88
Moat
 MED
Rare
 $ 27.36
Grim Flayer
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $ 27.10
Noble Hierarch
 CON
Rare
 $ 27.04
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $ 26.87
Mox Ruby
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 26.78
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $ 26.74
Doomsday
 WL
Rare
 $ 26.73
Ancestral Vision
 TSP
Rare
 $ 26.65
Mox Pearl
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 26.61
Noble Hierarch
 MM2
Rare
 $ 26.35
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
 OGW
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.85
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.71
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $ 25.53

 
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 $ 23,310. That is up almost $1,000 from last week, which was also up almost a grand.  A big jump.
 
Weekly Highlights
 
I got time enough to go to a FNM draft at my local shop.   I first picked Panharmonicon and decided to have some fun. My deck was not insane – heck, it was not actually that good – but I did manage to get some fun stuff. I even assembled the contraption at least once: Panharmonicon, Decoction Module and Fabrication Module. I was at 3 life, facing down a red Gearhulk and several other creatures with nothing but a 1/2, a 0/4 wall and 9 lands. Then I ripped Experimental Aviator. I cast it and some triggers happened. A creature (the Aviator) came into play, so Decoction Module gave me an energy. Panharmonicon made that happen twice. Both of these energy counters triggered Fabrication Module, which let me put a +1/+1 counter on a creature – and Panharmonicon made that four counters. Next, the Experimental Aviator’s make two thopters trigger resolved, which Panharmonicon turned into 4 thopters, 8 more energy and 16 more +1/+1 counters. I could have used Decoction Module to bounce the Experimental Aviator and do it all again next turn, but since my opponent had sent his entire team, and was tapped out, I just dumped all my counters on the 1/2. The unblocked 21/22 was lethal.
 
I also had another game where I didn’t have the Fabrication Module, but had been bouncing Experimental Aviator turn after turn, gaining energy and chump blockers. I had something like 28 energy – then I drew Prophetic Prism into the Fabrication Module and Whirler Virtuoso. Good times. 
 
  
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” and “3MWords” 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

Do you think Treasure Chests by Joe Fiorini at Mon, 11/21/2016 - 16:02
Joe Fiorini's picture
5

Do you think Treasure Chests are going to keep being valuable? It seems like the prize content in them has increased lately and I wonder if that was a temporary move to generate some buzz about them. I don't dislike the idea completely, but I feel that the problem was that they were taking a known-value prize and swapping it for something that could be worthless. If the chests feel like a bonus, people will like them.

There is one other major issue with this approach though. Most of the new cards that have been released via Chests are worthless to constructed players and the few that are of interest to spikes are insanely expensive and hard to get right now. Everyone wants to finally test Leovold Emissary of Trest and it's over seventy tickets!