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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Oct 29 2017 5:36pm
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State of the Program for October 27th 2017
 
In the News
Redemption Ends Next Week: Redemption of Dragons of Tarkir, Magic Origins, Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch ends November 22nd. 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.
 
Innistrad Standard Gauntlet: Begins November 1st. More info, including decklists, is available here. Until then, you can draft triple Innistrad.
 
More MTG Arena Info: Wizards gave a Twitch live stream with the MTG Arena developers, but without any game play this week. The updates: the closed beta is starting. First stress test will be Nov. 3rd.   The closed beta will be live only on certain days until November 30th, when it will be available (Wizards hopes) 24/7. For now, you will only be able play individual games, but drafts, 3 game matches, etc. will be available sometime in the future.   You can read all about it here.   
 
Paper Magic Printing Problem: Here’s an issue we don’t have on MTGO: the printers screwed up the printing of Ixalan flip cards. The cards  feel different, because they are missing the central blue layer. Wizard’s official announcement on this issue is here. The Professor’s commentary on card stock quality is here.
 
Doubling Season Bugged: Doubling Season is currently bugged. It currently doubles the number of loyalty counters put on Planeswalkers when you activate a Planeswalker ability. It is not supposed to do this. Doubling Seasons and Planeswalkers has always been a bit nuts, but this bug is serious. Deliberately exploiting a bug violates MTGO’s Code of Conduct, so don’t play Doubling Season in competitive events until this is fixed.
 
Another Ongoing Bug: According to the bug blog: “During sideboarding, users are unable to submit decks that have been loaded from the saved deck list. The workaround for this is to make a change to the deck, such as adding a card and then removing it.” I’ve been hit by this bug, especially in sealed. The list of known bugs is here.
 
Magic Coverage: This weekend Wizards will broadcast limited play from GP Phoenix.   The following weekend will bring us the Pro Tour.    
 
Wizards Tweaks Paper GPs: Wizards has announced some changes to GPs, along with next season’s promos. If you a competitive paper player, check it out here.
 
And Announces a Promotion for Store Draft Events: Wizards is running a special promotion for players in store level events. Players who play in six drafts at the same store between this Saturday and the end of the year get some extra Standard Showdown boosters. Wizards also announced “dino-sized” drafts, where each player gets four boosters. Details are here.
 
Magic R&D Streaming this Afternoon: Paul Cheon and members of Wizards R&D will be streaming on twitch.tv/magic beginning at 1pm PT today, Friday, October 27th.   Sorry for the short lead time, but Wizards only announced this on Tuesday.
 
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. 8th & 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
DTK, ORI, BFZ & OGW Redemption Ends
November 2, 2017
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
Triple Innistrad
October 25th
November 1st
Innistrad Era Standard
November 1st
November 8th
Recent Past Throwback Standard Gauntlet
November 8th
November 17th
Iconic Masters
November 17th
???

 
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: What Really Matters
 
I covered a number of items in the news section. They included:
A.    Tweaks to next year’s Grand Prix Events
B.    MTG Arena closed beta details (well, some details) and timing
C.    Card stock issues
D.    A promotion for store level (paper) draft events.
E.     Deck swapping bugged on MTGO.
 
So which is more important? Rank these in importance to Magic as a whole. Your personal preferences may create a different raking, but try ranking them by number of people affected. Okay?
 
I’ll give you a second to think about it. Also, let’s assume that MTG Arena does not bomb, and that it meets at least some of Wizards goals for the program. Specifically, let’s assume that MTG Arena will draw more people to digital Magic. So that means we have to rank the MTGA beta above the MTGO bug. (Besides, the MTGO bug mainly affects sealed events, since it only happens if you swap decks, not cards, during sideboarding. Since only a small fraction of all MTGO players play sanctioned sealed events, rank it low.)
 
So here is the first question – do the tweaks to the GP system affect more players than MTG Arena, or even the sideboarding bug? This is tougher to calculate, since we don’t have actual player numbers. We do, however, have some clues.  The number of players in a sealed (not draft) league on MTGO is typically in the low thousands, and sometimes less. Since players are not always in an active league, the total number of players that play in sealed events on MTGO is probably something like 10 to 20 times the number in the league at any given time. However, only a small fraction of those players make second decks out of their pools, and swap to those decks during sideboarding, so my best estimate of the number of players affected is, at most, a couple thousand – probably less.
 
Grand Prix, on the other hand, have attendance numbers of up to 5,000 players at a single event. Even events in remote locations have hundreds of players. Travel costs mean that most of the players participating in a GP in Brazil are not the same one that play in Singapore or London.   Moreover, the GP promos affect all GP players. Wizards reported (here) that 65,000 players played at GPs in 2016, so the promos clearly affect more players than the MTGO bugs.
 
The next question is where the store draft promotion falls into our list – how many players does it affect.   As a judge, I know that most store events are sanctioned at what is called “regular” rules enforcement level (REL). Events like GPs and PPTQ are played at “competitive” REL. (In the past we have had up to five levels of rules enforcement, but that’s probably TMI.) Wizards has often told us judges that 95-99% of all sanctioned events are run at regular REL. In the above cited Wizards earning report, Wizards sets the number of active DCI members – which should be roughly equivalent to active event players – at one million.   Now a lot of these players probably play Constructed, not draft, but the number affected by the store promotion has to be higher than the number of GP players.
 
The next question is where the card stock issues fall on our list. Wizards has often said vast majority of all Magic players never play in tournaments. We have also heard that the total number of “active Magic players” is around 20 million. It is not clear whether that number just applies to paper players, or whether digital-only Magic players are included in the mix, but either way, that is a lot of paper players.  If the card quality issues are not fixed quickly, that will negatively affect a lot of those players.       
 
The final question is whether MTG Arena beta could affect more players than the card quality issue. Given that the beta will open with a couple hundred to a couple thousand players, not immediately. However, the beta will affect many more players over time. Wizards hope that it will be a lot more players – Wizards is clearly chasing Hearthstone here. According to statista.com, Hearthstone had 70 million registered players as of last March. MTGO cannot attract – and I doubt the program could handle – even half that number, but MTG Arena might. At least, that has to be the target. But even if it gets close, I doubt that MTG Arena could challenge the paper game. The booster pack fiscal model is way, way too lucrative for Wizards to give up for anything like the what we expect of the MTG Arena fiscal model.
 
Okay, enough of that little thought experiment. Let’s move on to deck tech.
 
Cutting Edge Tech
 
Standard: Last weekend SCG ran a Standard Classic event.  The Top 16, here, featured a lot of Energy decks, with a few Ramunap Red decks thrown in to spice things up.
Modern: SCG ran a large Modern Open again last weekend. Humans captured the format. Okay, not captured: Humans won it all, but the format itself is pretty diverse. The Top 32 contains a lot of different archetypes.
 
Legacy: Eternal Weekend was last weekend. Eternal Weekend features the North American Legacy and Vintage Championships. Decklists and coverage for Legacy are here.   The Top 8 had five Delver decks, with three of them in the Top 4.  
 
BUG Delver
Hans Jacob Goddik, Winner, Legacy North American Championship - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Deathrite Shaman
3 Tarmogoyf
2 Tombstalker
9 cards

Instant
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
3 Fatal Push
4 Force of Will
17 cards
Sorcery
4 Hymn to Tourach
3 Ponder
7 cards

Enchantment
1 Sylvan Library
1 cards
Planeswalker
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
6 cards

Land
2 Bayou
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
1 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
1 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
20 cards
 

Sideboard
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Dismember
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Life from the Loam
2 Massacre
1 Spell Pierce
3 Surgical Extraction
2 Thoughtseize
2 Toxic Deluge
15 cards
Vintage: Eternal Weekend was last weekend. Eternal Weekend features the North American Legacy and Vintage Championships. Decklists and coverage for Vintage Champs are here. Déjà vu: The Top 8 had five Ravager Shops decks, with three of them in the Top 4.
 
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: The reaction to the new metagame is continuing, but prices are settling down.  Prices are rebounding from the recent crash.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$8.90
$6.83
$2.07
30%
$11.90
$9.15
$2.75
30%
$33.86
$33.72
$0.14
0%
$6.49
$5.39
$1.10
20%
$10.33
$12.24
($1.91)
-16%
$15.42
$14.67
$0.75
5%
$12.50
$10.03
$2.47
25%
$5.35
$5.35
$0.00
0%
$10.71
$10.56
$0.15
1%
$46.26
$48.24
($1.98)
-4%
$19.12
$27.71
($8.59)
-31%
$14.76
$12.50
$2.26
18%
$12.28
$11.00
$1.28
12%

Modern staples:  Modern prices are back to normal now. A few cards are returning to normal after an overreaction to being reprinted in Iconic Masters. Yes, the cards are being reprinted, but we have seen a ton of Masters set, and so forth, and they rarely have all that much impact in the long run. Take Goyf for example – it was reprinted four times, but prices did not really fall significantly until Fatal Push entered the format.     
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$14.46
$14.51
($0.05)
0%
$25.44
$18.05
$7.39
41%
$26.32
$27.37
($1.05)
-4%
$31.23
$31.44
($0.21)
-1%
$20.84
$21.23
($0.39)
-2%
$11.10
$10.95
$0.15
1%
$15.81
$16.88
($1.07)
-6%
$24.77
$23.24
$1.53
7%
$28.62
$28.20
$0.42
1%
$22.39
$17.61
$4.78
27%
$29.04
$27.62
$1.42
5%
$60.44
$61.59
($1.15)
-2%
$22.21
$21.49
$0.72
3%
$47.94
$47.30
$0.64
1%
$20.62
$15.66
$4.96
32%
$25.86
$23.51
$2.35
10%
$28.00
$29.75
($1.75)
-6%
$17.86
$17.05
$0.81
5%
$21.42
$21.17
$0.25
1%
$10.46
$10.69
($0.23)
-2%

Legacy and Vintage: Vintage and Legacy prices are back to a more normal level of churn.  This week we were generally down – but most of the drops were just a couple percent.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$50.80
$50.89
($0.09)
0%
$21.14
$20.63
$0.51
2%
$17.79
$19.17
($1.38)
-7%
$94.24
$94.88
($0.64)
-1%
$35.07
$34.71
$0.36
1%
$38.05
$38.35
($0.30)
-1%
$28.73
$29.05
($0.32)
-1%
$22.39
$23.23
($0.84)
-4%
$34.55
$35.77
($1.22)
-3%
$41.24
$41.24
$0.00
0%
$29.89
$36.93
($7.04)
-19%
$23.37
$23.26
$0.11
0%
$23.91
$27.47
($3.56)
-13%
$112.53
$119.07
($6.54)
-5%
$23.30
$24.45
($1.15)
-5%
$20.50
$22.50
($2.00)
-9%
$29.28
$28.31
$0.97
3%
$23.75
$23.70
$0.05
0%
$20.80
$19.88
$0.92
5%
$35.65
$37.42
($1.77)
-5%

 
* 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
$86.36
$81.93
$4.43
5%
Amonkhet
$91.27
$97.19
($5.92)
-6%
Ixalan
$79.88
$78.34
$1.54
2%
Hour of Devastation
$83.51
$87.42
($3.91)
-4%
Kaladesh
$134.91
$140.59
($5.68)
-4%
Treasure Chest
$2.17
$2.27
($0.10)
-4%
Ixalan Booster
$3.33
$3.40
($0.07)
-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. But not the Power Nine. A single, beat-to-pieces paper Black Lotus is worth thousands, but Black Lotus is barely over $50 online. 
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $ 112.53
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $    94.24
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    61.10
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $    60.44
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $    55.13
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $    51.76
The Scarab God
 MS3
Special
 $    51.53
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $    50.80
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $    49.78
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $    49.55
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    47.94
The Scarab God
 HOU
Mythic Rare
 $    46.26
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $    41.24
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $    39.96
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $    38.81
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $    38.68
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $    38.49
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    38.30
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $    38.05
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $    37.67
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $    35.65
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $    35.32
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $    35.17
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $    35.07
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $    34.55
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $    34.50
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
 KLD
Mythic Rare
 $    33.86
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $    31.71
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $    31.37
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $    31.23
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $    31.01
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $    30.93
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    30.02
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $    29.95
Mox Diamond
 V10
Mythic Rare
 $    29.89
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $    29.69
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $    29.48
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $    29.28
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $    29.26
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    29.04
Volcanic Island
 ME3
Rare
 $    28.76
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $    28.73
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $    28.62
Scapeshift
 MOR
Rare
 $    28.00
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $    27.79
Volcanic Island
 ME4
Rare
 $    27.41
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $    27.32
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $    26.32
Underground Sea
 VMA
Rare
 $    26.12
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $    26.01
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $    25.86
Torrential Gearhulk
 MS2
Bonus
 $    25.57
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    25.44

 
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 $ 19,700. That’s down about $1,215 from last week. 
 
Weekly Highlights
 
Last weekend’s event was pretty nice, from a judge perspective. We used all of the comfortably available space, without having to squeeze players three matches to a table. Better yet, the rounds almost always ended early – one round ended in just under 35 minutes. As a judge, I love fast formats. I’m not sure that, as a player, I’m excited about Ixalan limited, but the judge in me is. The event was five round of Swiss, plus deck construction, plus a Top8 draft and three rounds for the Top 8 – and we still finished in about 8 hours.    
 
I am running a PPTQ at Misty Mountain Games in Madison tomorrow.   Come join us.
 
 
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.  

 

3 Comments

Wotc has no professor in by Hearts at Sat, 10/28/2017 - 02:29
Hearts's picture

Wotc has no professor in their workforce.

Card Stock Issue by Rerepete at Sat, 10/28/2017 - 12:37
Rerepete's picture

If WotC corrects card stock issue at this point, doesn't that make all the wrong ones more valuable by being "Error Cards"?

At least in theory. Miscuts by Paul Leicht at Sat, 10/28/2017 - 13:34
Paul Leicht's picture

At least in theory. Miscuts are often quite more valuable than their normal counter parts.