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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 24 2017 12:00pm
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State of the Program for November 24th 2017
 
In the News
Event Crashes: MTGO had some issues early on – possibly due to Iconic Masters, possibly more generic. The client was freezing up during matches. 
 
MTG Arena Closed Beta Launches Dec. 4thWizards has said that the alpha playtests were successful, and they are ready to launch the closed beta. The beta will open on a limited basis on December 4th here.
 
Play Points for Sale:  (from last week) Wizards is now offering Play Points for sale. The bundles include 240 points for $24, which is regular price. You can also buy 480 play points for $45 or 1200 play points for $100. This discount on Play Points is a first.  Details are here (and, yes, that’s a link to Iconic Masters – the announcements are combined.)
 
GP Portland Round Timing Issues: The scorekeeping software at GP Portland had issues. The software – from Wizards – failed to pair people correctly, which required manual intervention by the scorekeepers. This caused delays. Only mentioning it because we MTGO players have some experience with software glitches.
 
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. 29th  
No Downtime Scheduled
 
Constructed Leagues End (maybe)
January 15, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
January 15, 2018
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
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
Iconic Masters
November 17th
???
Standard Gauntlet of Greatness
December 6th
December 13th
Triple Lorwyn
December 13th
December 20th
Vintage Cube
December 20th
January 15th
[time off for Rivals of Ixalan events]
January 15th
???

 
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 150 play points for three wins and 70 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: Future of Magic Online
Wizards has added complete sets of Standard-legal sets and expansions to the Treasure Chests. I was really happy to see this. I think this change is really important, and is a very promising for the future of MTGO. And I’m serious about that. In fact, I find it promising enough that I can write an editorial that I drafted back when I first heard about MTG Arena – MTGA for short. Back then, the only way I could conclude the editorial was to recommend selling out. Now – well, I’m not selling out.
 
Here was my concern:
 
Wizards had stated that they intended to keep MTGO alive as the place to play eternal formats, Commander, and so forth. I was not sure that such an option would be sustainable. To start, let's assume MTG Arena works as intended and becomes a far better way to play Magic digitally.   In that case, players looking to draft, and probably play Standard, are going to head for MTGA. This may well mean that players will stop drafting on MTGO. Not immediately, but over time we will likely see a migration. If MTGA has a better platform, and if drafts on MTGA fire faster and more consistently, then drafters are going to play there. Now Wizards can control this migration by paying out booster packs as prizes for Constructed events, but Wizards has not yet shown any indication that they will do so. My conclusion: if MTGA works as intended, you will draft on MTGA and play older Constructed formats on MTGO.
 
One big problem with this scenario is that the overwhelming majority of cards in the MTGO card pool were opened in limited events. Drafters bust the packs, then sell off the cards to fund more drafts. It’s been that way since inception. Early on, some dealers did buy and open some packs to meet demand in the very first week of a new set’s release, but the numbers were small and I’m not sure that it still happens. And some players did buy packs just to crack them, but that is really rare on MTGO. The vast, vast majority of cards on MTGO were opened in limited events. 
 
So my question was, if draft and limited events move to MTGA, how will we get cards onto MTGO? Even if you assume MTGO will only be a place to play Modern and older formats, those formats still need cards from the new sets. The Vintage deck I featured in Cutting Edge Tech, below, contains Ixalan cards like Chart a Course. Such new cards have to be available online if MTGO is to continue to be a place to play these older formats.
 
Up until recently, I have not seen how Wizards planned to address this problem.  Wizards had to do something, but we had no indication that Wizards was even thinking about the problem.  I have contacted Wizards and asked about the issue, but have not received a response.  Now, however, we see the first change.  Treasure Chests will contain Standard legal sets.  This will make the cards available to players.  This approach will have another advantage – it will even out the distribution of rarities.   For limited, rarity matters:  rare and Mythic cards can be more powerful because they will appear rarely in drafts.  In constructed, however, rarity doesn’t matter other than to affect the cost of assembling a constructed deck.   If cards are distributed mainly through complete sets as part of prize payouts, then all cards will, eventually, be about equally scares.  This does not mean all cards will be the same price.  As always, cards in heavy demand will be more expensive.  I predict that useful lands from future sets will be the most valuable, regardless of rarity.    
 
You could argue that the changes to redemption timing shows that Wizards has been thinking of this for a while.  Back in the day, all Standard legal sets were redeemable.  If this were still the case, then too many of the sets from Treasure Chests would be redeemed.  This would not grow the online card pool, and could potentially hurt paper card prices.  So Wizards shortened the redemption period, and redemption of most Standard sets has ended long before the sets rotated out of Standard.  I doubt it is a coincidence that sets began appearing in Treasure Chests just days after the redemption period for the sets ended. 
 
Now this change will not solve all the potential changes and problems that integrating MTGA with MTGO will cause.  We still don’t really know how you will acquire cards on MTG Arena, or what will happen to Arena cards that rotate out of Standard.  We don’t know whether dealers will be able to operate profitably under MTGO once MTG Arena becomes popular, or whether MTGO could continue to operate without dealers.  We have a ton of unanswered questions – but at least we now have one promising sign:  a sign that Wizards is thinking about the issues and taking some steps to solve them. 
 
Cutting Edge Tech
 
Standard: We had another Standard GPs last week, as two short of 1,700 players converged on Portland.  Coverage is here.  The Top 8 had plenty of Energy decks, in various forms, and the expected smattering of Ramunap Red. One of the few new archetypes to show up was Corey Burkhart’s cycling control build.  
 
UW Cycling
Corey Burkhart, 15th place, GP Portland - 75 Cards Total
Creature
2 Curator of Mysteries
2 cards

Instant
4 Censor
4 Countervailing Winds
4 Hieroglyphic Illumination
4 Renewed Faith
3 Settle the Wreckage
16 cards
Sorcery
3 Fumigate
3 cards

Artifact
2 Abandoned Sarcophagus
2 cards
Enchantment
4 Cast Out
4 Drake Haven
2 Search for Azcanta
8 cards

Land
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Irrigated Farmland
7 Island
8 Plains
1 Shefet Dunes
24 cards
 

Sideboard
1 Settle the Wreckage
4 Authority of the Consuls
1 Jace's Defeat
2 Negate
1 Nimble Obstructionist
3 Regal Caracal
1 Spell Pierce
2 Torrential Gearhulk
15 cards
 
Modern: I had to head to Europe for a Modern deck this week. It says a lot about the mana bases in Modern that a beatdown deck can run five colors. 
Five Color Death's Shadow
Adrian Schrenk, Winner, SpielRaum Invitational - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Death's Shadow
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Street Wraith
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Architects of Will
14 cards

Instant
2 Abrupt Decay
3 Temur Battle Rage
4 Fatal Push
1 Kolaghan's Command
10 cards
Sorcery
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Thoughtseize
12 cards

Artifact
4 Mishra's Bauble
4 cards
Planeswalker
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 cards

Land
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp
4 Polluted Delta
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Blood Crypt
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
18 cards
 

Sideboard
2 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Temur Battle Rage
1 Hazoret the Fervent
2 Kozilek's Return
3 Lingering Souls
2 Collective Brutality
1 Ancient Grudge
3 Stubborn Denial
15 cards
 

Legacy: Here’s another Legacy deck from the fun police. Piloting a deck with Chalice of the Void, Chains of Mephistopheles, Liliana and recurring Wastelands is probably an indication that you hate people, and want them to be miserable. Or maybe just that you will do anything to win.  

 
Vintage: The VSL decks are not yet up, as I write this, so I’ll head to Europe for this week’s featured deck. 
 
 
 
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 fell hard petty much across the board. With neither the Pro Tour nor the three GPs this week showing a way to beat Energy, interest in the format is falling.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$8.25
$8.15
$0.10
1%
$9.07
$8.01
$1.06
13%
$7.00
$7.73
($0.73)
-9%
$35.87
$40.04
($4.17)
-10%
$8.10
$9.09
($0.99)
-11%
$10.27
$12.38
($2.11)
-17%
$8.10
$7.83
$0.27
3%
$7.89
$7.67
$0.22
3%
$36.96
$42.65
($5.69)
-13%
$13.61
$15.96
($2.35)
-15%
$11.13
$13.49
($2.36)
-17%
$8.67
$12.64
($3.97)
-31%

Modern staples:  Modern prices were fluctuating this week but not a lot. Horizon Canopy has been all over the map in the last couple months – this is a “normal” swing for that card.
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$13.12
$14.34
($1.22)
-9%
$27.42
$29.19
($1.77)
-6%
$29.10
$29.23
($0.13)
0%
$34.25
$36.06
($1.81)
-5%
$18.54
$19.26
($0.72)
-4%
$16.98
$14.67
$2.31
16%
$19.50
$17.94
$1.56
9%
$29.41
$28.60
$0.81
3%
$23.88
$25.61
($1.73)
-7%
$19.36
$21.00
($1.64)
-8%
$36.80
$35.85
$0.95
3%
$63.86
$60.64
$3.22
5%
$31.34
$32.85
($1.51)
-5%
$57.28
$55.31
$1.97
4%
$22.97
$20.70
$2.27
11%
$25.83
$26.70
($0.87)
-3%
$26.14
$26.21
($0.07)
0%
$20.68
$20.31
$0.37
2%
$24.33
$23.46
$0.87
4%

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

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$56.17
$59.94
($3.77)
-6%
$20.69
$21.16
($0.47)
-2%
$15.36
$17.42
($2.06)
-12%
$89.88
$91.32
($1.44)
-2%
$38.00
$37.13
$0.87
2%
$35.84
$37.73
($1.89)
-5%
$16.26
$18.62
($2.36)
-13%
$24.46
$24.33
$0.13
1%
$28.27
$36.23
($7.96)
-22%
$40.83
$40.83
$0.00
0%
$24.79
$25.30
($0.51)
-2%
$39.15
$38.76
$0.39
1%
$74.12
$79.21
($5.09)
-6%
$19.45
$18.84
$0.61
3%
$49.66
$46.09
$3.57
8%
$24.14
$24.45
($0.31)
-1%
$16.61
$19.09
($2.48)
-13%
$36.40
$35.55
$0.85
2%

* 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
$68.23
$74.10
($5.87)
-8%
Amonkhet
$81.25
$84.80
($3.55)
-4%
Ixalan
$69.48
$74.31
($4.83)
-6%
Hour of Devastation
$71.61
$80.27
($8.66)
-11%
Kaladesh
$111.18
$120.69
($9.51)
-8%
Treasure Chest
$2.48
$2.27
$0.21
9%
Ixalan Booster
$2.78
$3.14
($0.36)
-11%

 
 
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. The number of cards on the list is up a bit, but the average value has fallen slightly.
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $      89.88
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $      74.12
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $      65.45
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $      63.86
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $      62.69
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $      60.55
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $      57.28
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $      56.17
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $      52.38
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $      51.65
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $      49.66
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $      45.76
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $      42.02
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $      41.87
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $      40.83
The Scarab God
 MS3
Special
 $      40.59
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $      40.07
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $      39.90
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
 $      39.15
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $      38.00
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $      37.42
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $      37.40
The Scarab God
 HOU
Mythic Rare
 $      36.96
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $      36.82
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $      36.80
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $      36.40
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
 KLD
Mythic Rare
 $      35.87
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $      35.84
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $      35.67
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $      35.62
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $      35.53
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $      35.32
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $      34.25
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $      31.49
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $      31.34
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $      30.67
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $      30.38
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $      29.69
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $      29.64
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $      29.59
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $      29.41
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $      29.15
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $      29.10
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $      28.50
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $      28.27
Underground Sea
 VMA
Rare
 $      27.82
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $      27.42
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $      27.12
Volcanic Island
 ME4
Rare
 $      27.06
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $      26.95
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $      26.73
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $      26.33
Scapeshift
 MOR
Rare
 $      26.14
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $      25.92
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $      25.83
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $      25.39
Tarmogoyf
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $      25.28

 
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 $ 19,600. That’s down $200 from last week. 
 
Weekly Highlights
 
Happy Thanksgiving everyone – or at least those of you celebrating this week.
 
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.