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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Oct 06 2017 12:56pm
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State of the Program for October 6th 2017
 
In the News
MTG Arena Q&A on Twitch:  Wizards gave us a Developers Q&A on MTG Arena last week.  The Twitch video is here. Here are some highlights. Times in parenthesis show where in the video the topics are discussed.
 
·       MTG Arena will be a one-on-one, player verses player platform. It will not feature multiplayer or player vs. AI for the foreseeable future. (32 min)
 
·       MTG Arena will be free to play – and that means free to play all the content. You can pay to accelerate unlocks. 35
 
·       MTG Arena will not allow trading. The game will be a collectible card game, not a trading game. 
 
·       No info on pricing.   A cryptic statement that one purpose of the beta will be to hash this out 41. I don’t think that means you will have to pay for the beta. I think that means that Wizards will be tweaking the cost (in terms of player time and effort) to unlock stuff.
 
·       MTG Arena will be the same play experience, with the same cards, as a Standard Pro Tour. 44 That means the same cards working the same way, the same play structure including sideboarding, etc. Drafting will also be the same as the PT – 8 man, three rounds, etc., although Wizards says they may add other options. 
 
·       Animations cannot be turned off. 56, however the developer stressed that they will not let the animations interfere with game play (much). 
 
·       They were asking players to get involved in the beta. They also started that cards and collections in the beta will be wiped at times, (1:16:00) presumably because of changes and updates. 
 
Wizards will be accepting applications for the closed beta for a short while, then launching it in November. If you enter the closed beta, you will be required to sign a non-disclosure form.   This means that you agree not to reveal information, screen shots, videos, etc. of what happens in the beta. This is typical – Wizards will be trying a lot of ideas in the beta, and does not want rants on Reddit about features that are being fixed or options that are being tweaked or dropped. An NDA is also a serious thing. If you join the beta, read it and follow it. 
 
If you are interested, and are willing to give Wizards some feedback on the program, sign up for the beta. The beta exists to make MTG Arena better, and Wizards needs all the feedback it can get to accomplish that. That said – I won’t be joining. I write a weekly column about online Magic, and I want to write about MTG Arena. If I sign the NDA, I have to double check that everything I put in articles comes from public sources, and not from information I learned through the beta. I also don’t like sitting on info I cannot share. I’ve done that many times when working on preview articles, for the first community Cup before it was announced, and when I was a playtester for sets years ago. This time around, I’d rather write about the program than playtest it. (If I had a lot more free time, my answer might be different.)   
 
MTG Arena Info Events Scheduled: Wizards has announced some upcoming dates related to MTG Arena, the more-glitzy, possibly superior way to play Magic online. Wizards has said that we can expect something roughly every week. Here’s what has been announced so far.
 
·       Oct. 8th: MTG Arena at Worlds
·       Oct. 11th: next developer’s Q&A –
·       Oct. 18th: Streamer challenge – community deck showdown
·       Oct. 25th: Developer Q&A on closed beta
·       “Sometime in November”: start of the closed beta
 
Open-Entry PTQ Tomorrow: Wizards is hosting an open-entry MTGO PTQ on Saturday at 9am PDT.   You do not need to have qualified, this one is open to anyone willing to pay the entry fee (30 TIX or 300 play points.)
 
Use your MOCS QP Points: This season ends November 1st. Any leftover qualifying points will be removed form accounts at that time. You can use your QPs in the MOCS this Sunday, or on October 21st.    
 
Wizards Product Architecture Team: Wizards has a team inside R&D dedicated to structuring Magic sets. The article describing the team is here.
 
Magic Coverage: If you want to plan your Magic viewing (best done while drafting MTGO on one screen and Twitch.tv on a second), check out this article. It details coverage for all of October, including Worlds and US Nats.    
 
Pirate / Popeye Stompy in Legacy: Last week, the interwebs exploded with rumors of a new Legacy deck . It was supposedly trashing people in Leagues, but Wizards was refusing to publish a decklist. Some people reported that players were going 4-0 in leagues with the deck, then conceding the last round so that the decklist would not become public. Saffron Olive’s decklist is here. A report on the origins of the hoax is here.
 
Oracle and Rules Updates: Every set, Wizards updates some parts of the comp rules. (Article here.) Some of the updates add new mechanics. Others fix issues and complications with new cards.   And sometimes they fix things that just need fixing. This go-around’s big changes are the elimination of the planeswalker uniqueness rule (Planeswalkers are now Legendary, and follow the Legendary rule), and adding creature type dinosaur. A lot of old cards have got the dino subtype now. I think there are enough to make dino tribal work.
 
John Avon Playmat kickstarter: This one is mainly for paper players. John Avon is running a kickstarter for making playmats out of the art from the Unhinged basic lands. (Which are totally sweet, and what I play in constructed decks.) If you are interested, check it out.
 
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
Oct. 25th, Nov. 15th & 29th  
No Downtime Scheduled
Oct. 18th, Nov. 8th & 22nd 
Sealed MOCS Monthly
October 8th
Standard MOCS Monthly
October 21st
Constructed Leagues End (maybe)
October 18, 2017 (B&R announcement)
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
October 17, 2017
DTK, ORI, BFZ & OGW Redemption Ends
November 2, 2017
AKH and HOU Redemption Ends
November 20, 2017
SOI and EMN Redemption Closes
April 28, 2018
 
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
(break for Ixalan limited)
September 25th
October 25th
???
October 25th
November 1st
???
November 1st
November 8th
???
November 8th
November 15th
Iconic Masters
November 17th
???
 
The new 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: MTG Arena & Rotation
 
We have heard a fair amount about MTG Arena. This week, the developers confirmed that MTG Arena (going to call it MTGA, at least until Wizards tells me to stop), that MTGA will not have trading. Two weeks ago, I speculated that this means MTGA will have some sort of play to earn cards system, probably coupled with a chance to pay to speed the process. I still think that is where MTGA is headed. The freemium model works for other games. 
 
Wizards has said that MTGA will launch (eventually) with the ability to draft the latest set, plus the ability to play the full Standard environment.  That means that players will be able to obtain – through some mix of crafting / earning / buying – cards from the previous sets. In other words, you will have to invest time, effort or cash. 
 
So here’s my question: what happens when a set rotates out of Standard?
 
In the developer’s Q&A, the answer was “we haven’t decided. It’s a long way off.” That’s true, but people are going to want to know. They will definitely want to know before they invest a lot of money. (Probably – players invested a lot more money in MTGO back in 2003 that I expected.)
 
I see three options for what could happen to player’s cards when they rotate out of Standard.
 
1.     Players can trade those cards in one-for-one for equal rarity cards that are legal in the new Standard. 
2.     Players can grind those cards up for crafting materials to make new cards that are legal in Standard, or keep them to play in a casual “all cards on MTGA” format. 
3.     On rotation, all rotating cards vanish and are replaced by credits or crafting materials.
 
I expect that Wizards will adopt the second option.   Players will be able to convert the rotating cards into new cards, if they like, or keep them to play in casual games. Making it so players – especially new and casual players – cannot play their favorite cards would be a huge feels bad. It might turn too many players off, so I expect some sort of informal modern. 

Seeing exactly how Wizards handles this will tell us a lot about how they intend to handle MTGO in the long run. If Wizards really intends to keep MTGO as a place to place Modern, etc., and use MTGA as a place to play Standard and draft, then they will make it easy for players to convert rotating cards into new cards, or possibly to allow players to transfer rotating cards from their MTGA accounts to their MTGO accounts. If Wizards allows just casual play with old cards, and does not allow them in tournaments or for prize play, then we can expect them to be planning on keeping MATGO alive. On the other hand, if Wizards does start sanctioning “Modern” play using all cards ever released on MTGA, then we will know that they are planning on moving formats like Modern, eventually, onto MTGA.
 
Of course, all of this is literally a couple years off, but I’m wondering about it already.
 
Cutting Edge Tech
 
Standard: The first big event of the new season has happened. SCG ran an Open in Dallas last weekend. We saw some old favorites – Ramunap Red and UW Approach of the Second Suns both made Top 8. The most popular archetype, however, was UJGxx Energy – both UGBR and BUG versions. The Sultai Energy decks had the best finishes. The Top 64 decklists are here.   
 
Reminder – Wizards is hosting an open-entry MTGO PTQ on Saturday at 9am PDT.
 
BUG Energy
Andrew and Dan Jessup, First and Third at SCG Standard Open, Dallas - 71 Cards Total
Creature
1 The Scarab God
4 Winding Constrictor
2 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
4 Rogue Refiner
4 Walking Ballista
4 Longtusk Cub
4 Hostage Taker
23 cards

Instant
4 Fatal Push
4 Blossoming Defense
8 cards
Sorcery
4 Attune with Aether
4 cards
Land
2 Fetid Pools
4 Aether Hub
4 Botanical Sanctum
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Forest
2 Swamp
1 Island
21 cards


Sideboard
1 Vraska, Relic Seeker
4 Deathgorge Scavenger
2 Vraska's Contempt
1 The Scarab God
1 Spell Pierce
2 Negate
4 Duress
15 cards
 
Modern: I looked through a lot of decklists this week, both for online leagues and in other sources. I was looking for Ixalan cards. I got a 404 error, so I’ll just feature a favorite archetype.
 

Legacy
: I am not going to fall for the Pirate Stompy hoax, but here’s something almost as unlikely. It is a four color good stuff deck with the sketchiest mana base I have seen in a long time.  Playing this in a format with Wasteland seems super greedy – but if your mana does not get wrecked, this deck has a lot of good stuff.
 
 
Vintage: The VSL “Brewer’s League” is underway. The rules state that players cannot repeat decks, so we are seeing some interesting decks. Here’s the most surprising this week. It went 2-1, IIRC. Turns out a turn one Blood Moon can be pretty backbreaking in Vintage, too.
 
Dragon Stompy
Erin Campbell, 2-1, VSL Brewer’s Challenge - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
2 Hazoret the Fervent
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Sin Prodder
1 Sulfur Elemental
19 cards

Sorcery
4 Fiery Confluence
4 cards
Artifact
1 Chalice of the Void
2 Chrome Mox
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
4 Null Rod
1 Trinisphere
10 cards

Enchantment
4 Blood Moon
4 cards
Planeswalker
4 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 cards

Land
4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
11 Mountain
19 cards
 

Sideboard
1 Sulfur Elemental
3 Scab-Clan Berserker
3 Sudden Shock
1 Pulverize
4 Leyline of the Void
3 Ensnaring Bridge
15 cards
 
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 format has rotated. This list seems so small – and it will get smaller next week. 
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$6.90
$4.11
$2.79
68%
$8.48
$26.13
($17.65)
-68%
$32.81
$37.58
($4.77)
-13%
$12.46
$9.53
$2.93
31%
$11.21
$13.41
($2.20)
-16%
$8.72
$9.77
($1.05)
-11%
$8.68
$6.23
$2.45
39%
$5.35
$7.35
($2.00)
-27%
$2.12
$9.95
($7.83)
-79%
$4.31
$10.95
($6.64)
-61%
$8.09
$6.79
$1.30
19%
$40.25
$21.42
$18.83
88%
$21.39
$17.16
$4.23
25%
$7.89
$9.11
($1.22)
-13%
$15.67
$10.16
$5.51
54%

Modern staples:  Modern prices took a hit this week. A big hit. Iconic Masters is one cause, and people are playing lots of limited while they collect the new set. It will be interesting to see what happens next week.    
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$7.03
$9.25
($2.22)
-24%
$17.22
$17.51
($0.29)
-2%
$19.01
$21.00
($1.99)
-9%
$23.96
$28.22
($4.26)
-15%
$32.40
$35.88
($3.48)
-10%
$17.90
$25.05
($7.15)
-29%
$9.42
$12.01
($2.59)
-22%
$16.99
$21.18
($4.19)
-20%
$23.81
$27.50
($3.69)
-13%
$31.56
$33.54
($1.98)
-6%
$11.31
$13.18
($1.87)
-14%
$15.51
$23.40
($7.89)
-34%
$31.56
$31.80
($0.24)
-1%
$77.41
$83.50
($6.09)
-7%
$25.41
$23.10
$2.31
10%
$7.88
$9.36
($1.48)
-16%
$51.29
$62.74
($11.45)
-18%
$15.09
$17.93
($2.84)
-16%
$23.20
$28.31
($5.11)
-18%
$22.43
$29.81
($7.38)
-25%
$23.48
$26.35
($2.87)
-11%
$24.90
$25.21
($0.31)
-1%
$9.37
$8.86
$0.51
6%

Legacy and Vintage: Vintage prices dropped again this week, and Legacy went down as well. We will see what happens.  
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$10.14
$13.17
($3.03)
-23%
$55.89
$60.29
($4.40)
-7%
$17.95
$18.59
($0.64)
-3%
$31.35
$40.92
($9.57)
-23%
$93.71
$94.83
($1.12)
-1%
$31.35
$34.73
($3.38)
-10%
$38.07
$37.68
$0.39
1%
$18.58
$20.20
($1.62)
-8%
$26.43
$24.80
$1.63
7%
$24.60
$24.97
($0.37)
-1%
$36.38
$31.74
$4.64
15%
$42.23
$42.23
$0.00
0%
$49.07
$49.53
($0.46)
-1%
$37.86
$51.71
($13.85)
-27%
$29.23
$36.25
($7.02)
-19%
$138.97
$143.81
($4.84)
-3%
$28.19
$29.07
($0.88)
-3%
$30.48
$30.79
($0.31)
-1%
$34.47
$34.86
($0.39)
-1%
$25.89
$25.92
($0.03)
0%
$21.19
$26.92
($5.73)
-21%
$40.03
$38.51
$1.52
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).  The price for Ixalan has dropped. That always happens – the first couple days everyone is scrambling for cards. After that, prices revert to realistic levels.      
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
$85.00
$70.02
$14.98
21%
Amonkhet
$87.72
$82.73
$4.99
6%
Ixalan
$87.55
$197.21
($109.66)
-56%
Hour of Devastation
$77.06
$59.01
$18.05
31%
Kaladesh
$125.31
$116.06
$9.25
8%
Treasure Chest
$2.46
$2.25
$0.21
9%
Ixalan Booster
$3.41
$3.55
($0.14)
-4%

 
 
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. Two weeks ago the Power Nine (except TimeTwister) made it back on the list. This week, the last of them (except for Black Lotus) fell back. 
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $   138.97
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $     93.71
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $     78.88
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $     77.41
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $     61.63
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $     57.46
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $     57.38
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $     55.89
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $     51.29
Mox Diamond
 V10
Mythic Rare
 $     50.73
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $     49.07
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $     44.56
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $     42.70
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $     42.23
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $     42.06
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $     41.83
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $     41.67
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $     40.84
The Scarab God
 HOU
Mythic Rare
 $     40.25
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $     40.03
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $     40.00
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $     38.07
The Scarab God
 MS3
Special
 $     38.04
Mystic Confluence
 PZ1
Rare
 $     37.86
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $     36.38
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $     35.99
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $     35.65
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $     35.11
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $     34.94
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $     34.47
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $     34.24
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $     33.64
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $     32.86
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
 KLD
Mythic Rare
 $     32.81
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $     32.59
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $     32.49
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $     32.40
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $     31.76
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $     31.56
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $     31.56
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $     31.35
Dark Depths
 CSP
Rare
 $     31.35
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $     30.98
Tempt with Discovery
 C13
Rare
 $     30.48
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $     30.35
Volcanic Island
 ME3
Rare
 $     29.95
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
 $     29.23
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $     28.19
Volcanic Island
 ME4
Rare
 $     27.79
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $     27.32
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $     26.99
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $     26.43
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $     26.39
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $     26.09
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $     25.89
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $     25.41
Tarmogoyf
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $     25.38
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $     25.06

 
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 $ 20,910. That’s down about $1,525 from last week. Blame the Modern price drops.
 
Weekly Highlights
So far, I am still just playing limited – primarily sealed – with the new set. My first few matches were bad, but now I am beginning to earn trophies. That’s making me happy about the format, but I’m missing Amonkhet / Hour a bit. Except, of course, the gods.
 
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.  

8 Comments

"Animations cannot be turned by ricklongo at Fri, 10/06/2017 - 13:16
ricklongo's picture

"Animations cannot be turned off"
And there we go. No, thank you.

"They were asking players to get involved in the beta. They also started that cards and collections in the beta will be wiped at times, (1:16:00) presumably because of changes and updates."
See, I don't get this. If I'm going to be an unpaid playtester for their new game, the least they could do is allow perks such as keeping what I have in my collection. This is why I never, ever play in any betas. My time is worth way more than that.

Such a strong stance at this by xger at Fri, 10/06/2017 - 23:33
xger's picture

Such a strong stance at this point seems...premature. If (and I agree it is a big if) the animations are done properly, players who don't care about them will not notice.

There's nothing saying Wizards won't give beta testers a better starting collections or some free drafts once the system goes live.

yeah the animations not being by JXClaytor at Fri, 10/06/2017 - 17:30
JXClaytor's picture

yeah the animations not being turned off makes very hesitant to even liking this a lot. It's not a hard pass, and I'll give it a chance, but it's really disappointing to me.

There's no way to practically by Cheater Hater at Fri, 10/06/2017 - 21:32
Cheater Hater's picture

There's no way to practically turn animations off--not only are they eye candy for the casual viewer, they would have to be mutually turned off to have any time impact. If they make the animations non-intrusive it's all upside, but that's hard (look at Hearthstone--but that has a card that makes the turn timer super-short for both players, a awful design decision on par with Yu-Gi-Oh's card that wins you the whole match if you win a game with it).

I highly doubt that old cards by xger at Fri, 10/06/2017 - 23:35
xger's picture

I highly doubt that old cards would be forcibly changed/lost. Even if there is a small chance of expanding to older formats (and I speculate the chance is fairly high), it would be really bad to lose those cards.

re by Hearts at Sat, 10/07/2017 - 04:35
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Like I said, MTGO will become a ghost town and Arena will become pay-it-all-over-again, Lotuses, Wastelands...you name it.

MTGO kept for older constructed formats ? Even if it wont matter, mtgo will become abandoned/horrible place like current free/unrated games room in mtgo.

Wow! Black Lotus and by Hibs1875 at Sat, 10/07/2017 - 05:44
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Wow! Black Lotus and Wasteland in Standard? I did not know that.

re by Hearts at Sat, 10/07/2017 - 16:46
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Standard is just the beginning, the rest will come along gradually.

Do not think of "standard only" as something that nullifies what I say.
Even if it becomes standard only the mtgo investments will still be lost in full(because mtgo becomes a ghostland). And WPN/Pro Tours will never have anything but standard(and limited) (if Arena restricts to standard).