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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 22 2013 12:36pm
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The State of the Program for November 22th 2013

This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 

In the News this Week:

ALL LARGE EVENTS CANCELLED: (from last week) Wizards removed all of the following events from the system:
 
·         Online PTQs - CANCELLED
·         MOCS Preliminary and Final Events - CANCELLED
·         All Premier Events - CANCELLED
·         All Daily Events - CANCELLED
·         Thursday Night Magic Online - CANCELLED
 
Basically, anything larger than an 8 man queue is gone (except TTT.) This is because of the stability issues over the last few weeks. Worth Wollpert explained the reasoning behind this move here. On the plus side, they are working on this. On the down side, Worth promised a status report in a month or so. That would imply that the events may be down for an extended period – meaning months, possibly years. 
 
New 8 Man Queues Dropped: After the great event massacre, Wizards attempted to make up for the elimination of PEs and Des by adding more eight man queues. These include 8 man constructed Swiss queues, but the Swiss queues were not popular enough and have been eliminated. That’s a shame: I had planned to try playing some this weekend. Too late now. 
 
MOCS Clean-Up and Next Year’s Season 1: Wizards removed last season’s MOCS Season 1 through 11 QPs from players’ accounts. Season 12 points were not removed – you can use those to play in the draft queues. Next year’s MOCS season starts November 27th. The MOCS promo is Natural Order.
 
Flashback Drafts Return: This week Wizards is introducing “Flashback” triple Innistrad drafts.   They will be around for one week, then Wizards will offer something else. The drafts are more expensive that normal drafts – costing 15 TIX or packs plus 3 TIX. They are available in 8-4 and Swiss.     
 
Pauper PRE Saturday: Pauper players are trying to make up for the loss of Dailies. The Casting Commons website is hosting a Pauper Battle Royale tomorrow. Details here.
 
Paper Black Lotus Sold for $27,000: It was an Alpha Black Lotus. Alpha was the very first set released, and the numbers are small. It was also in very good condition. Still – that is a lot of money.   I bought my Black Lotus for $199 – although it is a Revised version in poor condition, and that was in 2001. Last weekend, I saw a very similar Lotus on sale for almost the same price – just an extra 1 in the price: $1,199. The old cards are a bit pricey.  I now keep my Power in the safe deposit box when I’m not playing them – which is a bit insane, but since I already had the box…  
 
HammyBot Update:   It’s still around, and still a great way to get cards and support the family of the late Erik Friborg. So far, Hammybot has raised almost 6,200 TIX! Keep it going! Hammybot still has 25,525 cards to sell, including a number of foil Mythics. That includes a very pretty Foil, Lorwyn block Vendilion Clique.  If you want a Legacy, Classic and Vintage staple, grab the Clique. You will get a great card, and help out Hammy’s family through HammyBot. It’s good value. 
 

Opinion Section:  What Wizards Should Do Now

Wizard has eliminated every large event – every event that could have more than 32 players at a time. They just chopped off a huge chunk of their revenue stream and upset of a large chunk of their player base. It is a massive, self-inflicted wound to their bottom line. It is also really hurting the players that used to grind MTGO, in addition to those who just enjoyed playing in events. 
 
Public discontent and anger aimed at MTGO and Wizards is pretty high right now. Even I am not immune. I Top 8ed my first paper PTQ in years, and I should be feeling pretty good about Magic. The formats seem like fun – but I haven’t played a game on MODO in weeks. I have been writing weekly columns about Magic since 1999, and playing MTGO a ton since I got broadband in 2003, and I am not playing. That’s bad.
 
At work, I have a sign that says “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.”   I have been very willing to assume that Wizards isn’t shafting us deliberately, they just screwed up. I have also been willing to argue that about the many, many price changes that cut the value of MTGO down again and again.
 
Wizards, it is getting harder and harder to disbelieve the conspiracy theorists. 
 
Years ago, Wizards used to introduce throwback queues around the holidays. We could draft old formats again. But back then, Wizards offered those queues a little differently.   They offered something called NIX TIX drafts. That meant that you could draft the old formats without paying anything more than the cost of the product: in other words, for three packs, or 12 TIX.    
  
This time around the events are not NIX TIX. The events are not even full cost: they are MORE expensive than regular drafts. The triple Innistrad drafts will be 3 packs plus 3 TIX, or 15 TIX.  
 
Sure, triple Innistrad was a decent format, and it might be interesting to try it again, especially if I have some spare packs around. But I cannot imagine paying a premium for the experience. 
 
I crunched some numbers. The average value of the cards in an Innistrad pack is $1.30. Opening money is a huge lottery: the only cards worth more than the price of a pack are Snapcaster Mage, Garruk Relentless, Olivia, Past in Flames, Geist of Saint Traft and Liliana of the Veil. All but one of those are Mythics. The resale value of the packs is not all that good, either. But we are paying 15 TIX per draft, for this? 
 
What really makes it worse is that players are already wondering whether the elimination of all Daily events is really because of instability, or because Wizards is just trying to kill the events with a high EV. Players are already complaining that Wizards is just going for the cash grabs. 
 
And with all this going on, Wizards introduces flashback drafts with a higher price than any other drafts. It takes a whole lot of stupidity to explain away this as anything but Wizards needing to add some revenue to offset the losses from eliminating DEs and PEs. And, of course, Wizards introduced the drafts with no explanation, and nothing about their future. If they don’t fire this week, will they be gone next week, like the Swiss constructed queues? If they stay, what format will we see next week? Will Wizards mix in sealed queues? 
 
Wizards doesn’t answer any of these questions. 
 
I was going to talk about what Wizards could do as a thank you for not abandoning the mess that MTGO is at the moment, but it is clear that we are far, far from that point. Wizards is not even close to working on keeping customers happy – they are still desperately trying to preserve their MTGO revenue stream. However, it looks like 3 TIX Innistrad drafts are firing maybe twice an hour, so that approach might be backfiring. 
 
I want to add some suggestions on making players overall happier, but first I make a few suggestions for making the flashback drafts work.
 
First, let us know what to expect. We found out that we could do Innistrad drafts a day before the queues went live. I suspect that is because the MTGO folks are scrambling to fill the holes after the sudden elimination of big events, etc. Okay, we know about the flashback queues now. So tell us what to expect – and not just by putting it in the blog the day before. My recommendation: announce the next two weeks of flashback, at the very least. Wizards, you had a poll on flashback options last time around – how about letting us vote, or at least nominate formats.
 
There are two main reasons for letting us know what is coming. First, some of us have to budget our resources. Actually, many of the people likely playing in these queues will have to budget their resources. At an extra TIX per draft in a format where the cards are not very valuable, the grinders are not going to find much EV, so these drafts will appeal mainly to the people who like the format. That’s fine, but those people will be hesitant to blow their budget on format X if format Y might be better. At least, that’s true for me. I don’t know for sure how much my experience is representative, but Wizards may. In any case, I cannot imagine that telling us what formats the flashback drafts will take for the next two weeks can cause any problems.
 
Here’s another reason to tell us – players may not be happy jumping into flashback drafts, especially expensive ones, cold. We probably don’t remember the details of the formats. We may remember enjoying it and the mechanics, and we might even remember some archetypes. We probably don’t remember the common combat tricks, the pick orders or what the build around commons and uncommons were. For example, Innistrad was not that long ago, but I’m not going to jump in until I have dug up an article on the Spider Spawning deck, and looked over the set a bit. That takes time, and unless I get some this weekend, I probably won’t be able to do so until the format is gone.
 
If I were Wizards, I would announce the formats, and tell players why the formats are great, in advance. If I ran the website, I would move Jon Loucks’ articles on interface design to Monday and run an article on next week’s draft format on Friday, so players could read it between rounds over the weekend. That might help to fire them up. If you wanted to build suspense, then announce the format on Friday – but that would at least give us the weekend to relearn the format.  
 
The articles should be something more than just “Next Week: Draft Seventh Edition!” At the very least, reprint the best overview article on the format from the mothership. The format recap or “what we learned” articles would be at least something. They are already paid for, after all. Those articles are also what I would be looking for before I would enter a flashback draft, to give myself a fighting chance of not blowing my 15 TIX. Make it easy on us.
 
Actually, if I ran the website, I would not reprint old articles. I would get some really good players together and let them draft the format. It could be a special, invite-only, “employee only” draft that took place two weeks ahead of time. Have the players record the draft, and comment on their picks and games. Then take a couple of the best of these and post them. Yes, this takes time and effort, but draft videos are popular, and you learn a lot about the format watching them. 
 
The trick is to get people who are good players, who know the formats, and who can do a good job of explaining the format and cards while drafting. If I ran the website for WotC, I would get LSV and Simon Goertzen for sure. Both have Pro Tour level experience in most of the formats, and are really skilled in presenting their drafts. I would also add Ryan Spain for any of the formats he drafted before being hired for Wizards, because the videos he made of those formats were amazing. Personally, I would not add Marshal Sutcliffe for any formats for which he hasn’t drafted a ton, since I question his picks in a new format, but that might just be me. Whatever – the point is to get a MTGO draft together a week or so in advance, and have some good players make videos that reintroduce players to the format. Then put an article with one or two draft walk-throughs, and some “best of” matches, up the Friday before the format goes live. That would build some excitement, and help get some players past their fear of entering the format cold.
 
That idea may or may not be feasible. I kinda suspect that people like LSV don’t make videos for free, or for a handful of store credit. I would, but I don’t have the draw that someone like LSV, or the knowledge of someone like Simon. More important, editing takes time and effort, so even if the MTGO crew did the video in house, it would cost something to get it on the website. WotC would have to compare the cost with the revenue from additional players entering the event. (That said, it would be fun to see a draft with the collection of Hall of Famers and ex-Pro Tour folks in the Pit – think Aaron Forsyth, David Humphreys, Mike Turian, Worth, Sam Stoddard, Gavin, plus Jon Loucks and Ryan Spain.)
 
Even if a draft is too expensive, an article with videos is not out of the question for many formats. If the format is fairly recent, then there are videos of drafts and matches from Pro Tours featuring the format. An article pulling together some of those could be produced cheaply, but still provide the excitement and overview. It’s just a question of whether Wizards wants to market the format, or not.       
 
Let’s move on to other things Wizards can do, at very little immediate expense, to get us interested in playing MTGO again.    
 
1) Convert all the old Warmarks in players’ events into Phantom Points: Many players, myself included, hate the fact that we have these untradeable, unusable things cluttering up our collections. Once upon a time, they had a place. Now, they don’t. Converting them to Phantom Points would get them out of our collections and give us a couple Phantom Points which might get us to actually try a phantom event.      
 
2) Add Some High Value, low TIX Queues:  Someone in the forums mentioned having Triple Urza’s Saga or Mercadian Masques queues. The formats have the highest value cards, but they are because they were not much fun from a limited standpoint. Still, adding a queue that cost packs plus one TIX might appeal to those of us who want to play the lottery. It might also get a few more Gaea’s Cradle, Show and Tell and Rishadan Ports into the card pool.  
 
3) Grab Bag Drafts: This is something that has been popular at paper events. The TO puts one each of a variety of packs into a bag, and players grab packs at random. Generally, all the packs are different. MTGO could do the same thing by simply generating packs at random. I would probably play in a draft like that, especially if I could keep the cards. Imagine entering the draft, and your first pack is Visions. You get passed 14 cards from an MEDII Pack, then thirteen Avacyn Restored cards.    
 
4) Publish Magic Online Personal Summaries again: Wizards used to send us periodic emails that at least showed they knew we were playing. It would list the packs we had won, our MOCS QPs, our player rewards points and so forth, and so forth. It would generally include a list, like the top 10 cards first picked by people winning 8-4s.  Sometimes the numbers were screwed up, but it was at least something. 
 
5) “We Hung In There” Points: If I were in charge of MTGO, and I could do nothing else, I would tell everyone that is still playing on MTGO that we were tracking that, and we would reward them someday. I would award points weekly, with one point for logging in, another for playing even casual matches, and more points for playing in events. The event point should not overwhelm the other points, so I would award 1 point for the first event, 2 points for playing in three events in the week, 3 point for playing in nine events, and 4 points for playing in ten or more. I might also award a point for buying something in the store. The points would eventually be used for something: a special avatar, Phantom Points, an entry into a Grab Bag draft, whatever. What that could be isn’t important now. What is important is that Wizards would be paying attention to who is sticking with them through the bad times, and will thank them when times get better. 
 
If Wizards does just one of these, I would recommend #5. Unless, of course, the client cannot handle tracking this sort of stuff. If it cannot, they should fix that, first.
 

Cutting Edge Tech: 

Standard: The biggest Standard tournament last weekend was the TCG Platinum event at HotSauce Games. The finals were played between two Esper control decks. Here’s the winner.
 
 
Esper Control 
Steve Hay, Winner, TCG Platinum, HotSauce Games
Creatures
1 AEtherling
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
3 cards

Other Spells
1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Azorius Charm
4 Detention Sphere
4 Devour Flesh
3 Dissolve
1 Divination
1 Hero's Downfall
4 Sphinx's Revelation
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Temple of Silence
25 cards
 
Lands
3 Godless Shrine
4 Hallowed Fountain
5 Island
4 Plains
3 Watery Grave
19 cards

Sphinx's Revelation
 
Modern, Pauper and Theros Block Constructed: Wizards did start printing the lists that won random 8 man events. I am still trying to figure out how to use that data. Until I do, not much to report.
 
Legacy: We had a Legacy GP last weekend. The breakout card was clearly True-Name Nemesis, a Commander card that is insane with equipment. The GP Top 8 had a variety of decks, but a lot of True-Name Nemesiseses. Coverage is here
 
UWR Delver
Owen Turtenwald, Winner, GP DC
Creatures
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Stoneforge Mystic
8 cards

Other Spells
2 True-Name Nemesis
1 Batterskull
1 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Force of Will
4 Daze
4 Spell Pierce
4 Ponder
4 Brainstorm
30 cards
 
Lands
4 Wasteland
4 Tundra
3 Volcanic Island
4 Polluted Delta
4 Arid Mesa
1 Flooded Strand
20 cards

Stoneforge Mystic
 
Classic: Classic fired its last DE, at least this year, and did so in style. For the first time in a long time, two players (Montolio of YSO and thewoof of Classic Showdown) went undefeated. Both players were playing Shops builds but I want to feature the deck with 4 Memory Jars. 
 
Shopping for Memories
 
 

Card Prices: 

Notes: All my prices come from MTGOTraders.com. For cards that are available in multiple sets, I am quoting the lower price. Thus, the price I’m quoting for Thoughtseize is generally the Theros price. In certain other cases (e.g Brainstorm) I will note which version I track. All these cards are generally available from the MTGOTraders Bots, so check out mtgotradersbot, mtgotradersbot2, mtgotradersbot3, mtgotradersbot4, mtgotradersbot5, CardCaddy and CardWareHouse, as well as from the website directly. Now, on to prices.
 
Standard prices are down, but they have not crashed as hard as people had feared / predicted. The biggest losers are rares like Hero’s Downfall and Nykthos. That may be due to redemption holding the prices for mythics higher than they would otherwise be, but that’s not certain.  
 

Standard & Block Cards
Price
2 Weeks Ago
Change
% Change
$5.87
$6.35
($0.48)
-8%
$8.65
$9.40
($0.75)
-8%
$6.35
$8.20
($1.85)
-23%
$15.61
$17.86
($2.25)
-13%
$8.12
$8.00
$0.12
1%
$20.04
$20.82
($0.78)
-4%
$11.57
$15.15
($3.58)
-24%
$5.97
$7.04
($1.07)
-15%
$20.06
$17.64
$2.42
14%
$4.03
$5.66
($1.63)
-29%
$30.79
$32.25
($1.46)
-5%
$6.36
$6.54
($0.18)
-3%
$8.99
$10.51
($1.52)
-14%
$18.13
$20.70
($2.57)
-12%
$3.60
$3.57
$0.03
1%
$8.00
$9.82
($1.82)
-19%
$8.46
$10.10
($1.64)
-16%
$4.05
$5.00
($0.95)
-19%
$6.78
$7.00
($0.22)
-3%
(Sphinx’s Revelation)
$31.63
$38.86
($7.23)
-19%
$12.47
$15.20
($2.73)
-18%
$7.82
$9.07
($1.25)
-14%
$5.97
$7.96
($1.99)
-25%
$28.09
$30.82
($2.73)
-9%
$7.48
$8.98
($1.50)
-17%

Modern prices did not crash as hard as Standard, and a number of cards are up from 2 weeks ago. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
2  Weeks Ago
Change
% Change
$13.81
$15.04
($1.23)
-8%
$19.84
$21.43
($1.59)
-7%
$8.53
$9.49
($0.96)
-10%
$17.31
$17.31
$0.00
0%
$15.21
$13.22
$1.99
15%
$11.31
$10.95
$0.36
3%
$20.47
$23.55
($3.08)
-13%
$9.24
$9.24
$0.00
0%
$11.43
$11.75
($0.32)
-3%
$8.37
$8.97
($0.60)
-7%
$9.70
$9.70
$0.00
0%
$27.47
$24.58
$2.89
12%
$15.81
$18.06
($2.25)
-12%
$19.00
$19.00
$0.00
0%
$31.62
$30.15
$1.47
5%
$8.83
$8.73
$0.10
1%
$48.25
$47.00
$1.25
3%
$16.30
$16.70
($0.40)
-2%
$37.29
$39.08
($1.79)
-5%
$16.17
$13.04
$3.13
24%
$12.72
$12.51
$0.21
2%
$15.77
$19.12
($3.35)
-18%
$8.95
$9.25
($0.30)
-3%
$7.20
$6.95
$0.25
4%
$70.33
$75.31
($4.98)
-7%
$10.23
$11.63
($1.40)
-12%
$27.41
$27.63
($0.22)
-1%

Pauper bounced around a bit but there is no sign of a big crash here.   
 

Pauper Cards
Price
2 Weeks Ago
Change
% Change
$3.63
$3.39
$0.24
7%
$7.65
$7.65
$0.00
0%
$2.36
$2.36
$0.00
0%
$4.53
$4.53
$0.00
0%
$6.44
$5.85
$0.59
10%
$9.46
$9.46
$0.00
0%
$15.68
$14.22
$1.46
10%
$3.88
$3.62
$0.26
7%
$2.04
$2.04
$0.00
0%
$5.25
$5.36
($0.11)
-2%
$5.77
$5.66
$0.11
2%
$3.81
$4.24
($0.43)
-10%
$1.30
$2.28
($0.98)
-43%
$1.20
$1.14
$0.06
5%
$1.40
$1.60
($0.20)
-13%
$4.08
$4.38
($0.30)
-7%
$3.72
$4.26
($0.54)
-13%
$7.17
$8.08
($0.91)
-11%
$3.73
$2.91
$0.82
28%
$2.15
$4.64
($2.49)
-54%
$3.71
$3.81
($0.10)
-3%

Legacy and Classic were pretty silent this week. Natural Order went up, again, probably because a few well known players made videos with Legacy decks featuring the card, and because people had not yet heard that it will be a MOCS promo. As for the crash – it didn’t happen here.
 

Legacy / Classic Cards
Price
2 Weeks Ago
Change
% Change
$11.45
$11.45
$0.00
0%
$56.64
$56.64
$0.00
0%
$19.87
$18.77
$1.10
6%
$29.49
$27.76
$1.73
6%
$99.76
$93.12
$6.64
7%
$64.79
$60.34
$4.45
7%
$33.24
$34.24
($1.00)
-3%
$157.72
$157.72
$0.00
0%
$26.69
$26.69
$0.00
0%
$16.38
$16.38
$0.00
0%
$79.52
$79.52
$0.00
0%
$25.96
$28.28
($2.32)
-8%
$15.92
$15.59
$0.33
2%
$42.33
$35.00
$7.33
21%
$18.45
$18.98
($0.53)
-3%
$19.91
$19.91
$0.00
0%
$102.26
$97.63
$4.63
5%
$8.95
$8.85
$0.10
1%
$93.19
$88.82
$4.37
5%
$36.58
$31.74
$4.84
15%
$30.08
$31.46
($1.38)
-4%
$18.69
$18.69
$0.00
0%
$33.20
$33.20
$0.00
0%
$15.77
$15.50
$0.27
2%
Vampiric Tutor
$36.41
$36.41
$0.00
0%
$28.94
$28.94
$0.00
0%
$83.96
$79.39
$4.57
6%

The Good Stuff:

The Good Stuff starts with a list of the non-foil, non-premium cards on MTGO that cost more than $25 each. Force of Will is holding at a touch under $100 – as are several other chase cards. Rishadan Port has passed Force, and is over $100 each. The expensive stuff hasn’t been affected by the elimination of big events. 
 

Card
Rarity
Set
Price
Lion's Eye Diamond
R
MI
$ 157.72
Rishadan Port
R
MM
$ 102.26
Force of Will
R
MED
$    99.76
Show and Tell
R
UZ
$    93.19
Misdirection
R
MM
$    79.52
Wasteland
U
TE
$    79.39
Tarmogoyf
R
FUT
$    71.55
Tarmogoyf
M
MMA
$    70.33
Gaea's Cradle
R
UZ
$    64.79
City of Traitors
R
EX
$    56.64
Liliana of the Veil
M
ISD
$    48.25
Underground Sea
R
ME2
$    42.68
Natural Order
R
VI
$    42.33
Mox Opal
M
SOM
$    37.92
Sneak Attack
R
UZ
$    36.58
Vampiric Tutor
R
VI
$    36.41
Tundra
R
ME2
$    33.25
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
M
WWK
$    33.24
Underground Sea
R
ME4
$    33.20
Tundra
R
ME4
$    32.34
Tropical Island
R
ME4
$    32.28
Tropical Island
R
ME3
$    32.22
Bayou
R
ME4
$    31.80
Sphinx's Revelation
M
RTR
$    31.63
Karn Liberated
M
NPH
$    31.62
Bayou
R
ME3
$    30.88
Jace, Architect of Thought
M
RTR
$    30.79
Tangle Wire
R
NE
$    30.08
Volcanic Island
R
ME4
$    29.98
Flusterstorm
R
CMD
$    29.49
Volcanic Island
R
ME3
$    29.39
Vindicate
R
AP
$    28.94
Vendilion Clique
R
MOR
$    28.19
Voice of Resurgence
M
DGM
$    28.09
Fulminator Mage
R
SHM
$    27.45
Vendilion Clique
M
MMA
$    27.41
Mana Drain
R
ME3
$    26.69
Mishra's Workshop
R
ME4
$    25.96
Polluted Delta
R
ONS
$    25.68
Mutavault
R
MOR
$    25.10

The big number is the retail price of a playset (4 copies) of every 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 $24,310. That’s down about $300 from where we were before Wizards announced the elimination of PEs and DEs.   The “great” crash is, for the most part, over.   
 

Weekly Highlights:

I played in one actual sanctioned MTGO event this week: a Theros Swiss draft. I chose the format on the tried and tested “what is going to fire next” principle. I went 2-1, but I had to reboot the client twice. I’m not sure whether that was because my opponent was double queuing or because I got disconnected; I just rebooted when it showed my opponent as still having priority and doing nothing for more than five minutes.  I suspect I was only actually disconnected once (based on time expired when I logged back on), but why should I not know. Isn’t this problem almost five years old?
 
PRJ
 
“one million words” on MTGO.

14 Comments

You confused me for a minute by Leviathan at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 13:23
Leviathan's picture
5

You confused me for a minute when you said you bought your Revised Black Lotus. I was thinking: I was playing during Revised, why the heck didn't I ever get a Lotus!!! But my guess is that you meant Unlimited. Just before my time :(

Keep up the good work!

Has to be unlimited, there by StewardUlk at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 15:55
StewardUlk's picture

Has to be unlimited, there where no Black Lotus nor Moxen in Revised

Thanks for your article, as by Alphi at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 14:46
Alphi's picture

Thanks for your article, as always.

I was a bit surprised at how much you devoted to making videos for flashback drafts. I'm not saying these are bad ideas, far from it, but considering the current situation, I'd think WotC have far more pressing matters. I also thought you were rather soft on what WotC can do to reward players who stick with MODO. For one thing, they have to understand they can't expect to protect their revenue stream while their product is partially disabled. It seems crazy that we would have to ask for this, but I would seriously expect them to make the existing events as attractive financially as can be. I mean, it's not as if they still had a chance at getting those end-of-year bonuses...

On a side note, I know lack of communication is a bit of a tradition for WotC, but seriously? With prices coming down and a non-trivial number of players claiming to have sold their collection, would it not be nice if they tried to restore some confidence? A paragraph, a blurb, SOMETHING? The silence is just baffling. That and having Worths complain that people won't talk about anything else. *sigh*

Summary by cocheese at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 14:51
cocheese's picture
4

MTGO is still sending a montly summary, I received my last one on 17OCT13.

Wizards and Communication by Jyalt at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 15:01
Jyalt's picture

Wizards has no idea how to properly communicate with its player-base. They view their own forums as an outlet for market research, and to a lesser extent, public relations. Wizards will not address the legitimate concerns raised via forums. Do not expect clear communication. Expect random relevant answers on page 150 of a 185 page thread with no other links. Good luck finding those. Do not expect any post which criticizes the company (even indirectly) to survive more than a few hours before deletion.

It didn't used to be that way, but they had a clear policy change about three years ago. I could not post on their forums asking for help with MTGO issues, because every time I did, the posts were deleted because they made the program 'look bad'. I'm serious. I wish I wasn't.

This is what I think happened -- someone pushed for a new version of the client, which was designed by an intern or new fresh-from-college hire (who is no longer employed). The new version used up an incredible amount of programmer-hours (their programmers are excellent at rules stuff, but not so much at interfaces) and there's nothing to show for it. That same someone says 'we've spent $$$ on this new version, we gotta show something for it'. So they roll out the simul-client set-up. The bad new client somehow takes down their entire revenue stream. People panic. They try putting up super-bad events that no one wants because they never communicated with their playerbase before, so why start now? They give an 'appearance of communication' for PR, but they don't actually take any player suggestions. They don't run the game right. It's like setting a money-tree on fire. (It makes the part of me that is for Full-Value cry inside.)

Unless someone gets a clue, MTGO will not make any money without events. I think management finally did something thousands of addicted players never did -- they hit themselves hard in the revenue stream, so hard, that they much make drastic changes or face very real consequences. I'm sitting this one out. My larger monitor died and my smaller monitor can't even display the cards well at normal 1024x780 resolution. I won't get a new monitor until next year. I hope MTGO is still around for me then.

WOTC needs a PR department by JXClaytor at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 15:09
JXClaytor's picture

WOTC needs a PR department for WOTC, and they need to make sure they are trained on Issues and Crisis Management, because I've yet to see a good response from them, or anything other than worth being the scapegoat.

Two or three years ago when by GainsBanding at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 15:57
GainsBanding's picture

Two or three years ago when they regularly had the weekly rotating Out of Print Drafts, they published the schedule of formats for each week a month or more ahead.
I really like your ideas of articles on the formats to promote them. I can't see them having the time to do videos though.
I really don't understand their communication problem. They have mtgo.com and it's in a blog format. Every single thing they say about MTGO should go on there. Done.

longtimegone's picture

I never saw the point of the Swiss queues. You pay 6 tickets, and get 3 matches, each one you win gets you one pack.

That's the same as just playing three 2 man queues, only you pay up front for all three and have to play them all back to back.

You get a QP for winning a by Sensei at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 18:41
Sensei's picture

You get a QP for winning a swiss.
Also, you get three different opponents for a swiss. You can get the same player twice (or all three times) if you chain three 2-mans.

MOCS to join draft queues??? by tetreaus at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 16:19
tetreaus's picture

Hmm so I am confused. What exactly do you mean you can use your MOCS for draft queues? Instead of tickets and packs? I never heard of that...

from the website by one million words at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 16:38
one million words's picture

Qualifier Point Only Phantom Cube Draft 8-4 Single Elimination

START TIMES Fire on demand, beginning 12:00 AM PST November 27, running through December 4, 2013.
LOCATION Limited queues.
ENTRY OPTIONS 15 Season 12 Qualifier Points
SIZE Eight players.
DURATION Three rounds, up to 50 minutes single-elimination (play ends on first match loss), plus 10 minutes deck construction. Each round begins two minutes after all matches in the previous round have completed.

Prizes

1st 8 Theros booster packs, 1 premium foil Land Tax
2nd 4 Theros booster packs, 1 standard, non-foil Land Tax
3rd - 4th 1 standard, non-foil Land Tax

There is a ton of value to be by a small child at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 17:11
a small child's picture

There is a ton of value to be had in triple saga, triple tempest, masques block, and triple mirage. I really hope they bring this in. While some of those formats have bad reputations, I found triple saga and masque blocks to actually be pretty fun. They are quite a bit different from modern draft formats, which all feel pretty similar to me. It's definitely worth noting that these drafts are now available in swiss and 8-4 instead of 4-3-2-2, which is a major upgrade. Swiss is especially attractive for unfamiliar formats.

I think the product +3 / 15 ticket price point is the same as what they charged before they started linking old set drafts to cube. For a while they were nix tix, but then they shifted to this price point. Then when they linked them to cube they changed the price again. I suspect this is just more incompetence in that they just went back to whatever they charged before and didn't really think about how players would feel about a perceived price gouge.

Also, I think you are spot on about Wizard's woeful communication and PR abilities. The marketing that you suggest -- having articles each week about the old set draft -- is perfect. Wizards will never do it.

Wizards could be saving themselves so many customers by being more generous now and by being transparent about their intentions. Magic has been able to coast for a long time without any serious competition, and as a result they have been able to try to build whatever business model they want. I suspect that will not remain true forever. With Hearthstone (and other competitors) on the horizon, Wizards is going to need to actually start thinking about the market. Increasing profits through price increases and prize cuts rather than by focusing on attracting and retaining players will only work if there isn't an alternative that is offering a cheaper product.

Ideally it should be 2 packs by Paul Leicht at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 19:35
Paul Leicht's picture

Ideally it should be 2 packs of each all at once. :)

almost forgot, I kinda love by a small child at Fri, 11/22/2013 - 20:49
a small child's picture

almost forgot, I kinda love the idea of random pack drafts. It would probably suck, but I'd play it at least once or twice.