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By: Mundisv, Raimundas Vitkauskas
Jul 28 2015 12:00pm
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If you play on Magic Online often enough, you're probably already aware of the upcoming changes to MTGO payout system. If you're not, I strongly encourage you to check this article out because all the discussion below is based on this news. That announcement caused an outrage and message boards were quickly flooded with initial reactions by MTGO users. Since these changes might directly affect my desire to grind Daily events, I had some strong feelings about them.  I will try to explain them, starting from initial anger and moving on to more rational analysis. I will also try to see these changes through the eyes of a grinder and a casual player, because their expectations are likely slightly different.

Several years ago, when I was a brand new player, I was surfing through forums for tips and found this masterpiece(may not be an actual quote):

"Daily Events are the only place on MTGO where all the EV is, everyone looking to get value should stick to them and not even bother with Limited or queues. Mark my words, one day Wizards will ruin the EV of Daily Events and propose that as a positive change for us."

Guess what!

"Recent player feedback supports this as an area [Constructed events] where we can improve"

And just like that Play Points are introduced. I sincerely hated Phantom Points before, the idea of paying for an ability to play, but not get anything else of them just didn't appeal to me. Great, now these things are being added to every Constructed event on MTGO... The line, which I feared the most, while reading the article the first time was indeed there:

"Play Points, like Phantom Points before them, are untradeable, and we’re excited to be able to use them creatively in new and exciting ways because of that."

The introduction of Play Points themselves is bad for both grinders and casuals. Neither need yet another currency, which is also much more difficult to liquidate. Upon further investigation, it became clear that Play Points are worse for casuals, who might have wanted to use their prize to expand their collection. Also, they will more often end up in the 10 Event Tickets and 80 Play Points territory with no ability to join another Daily. It is not that bad for grinders though, because they are likely to use up these points anyway and they have bigger bankrolls, making them immune to previous scenario. People did the math and you need to have above 62% win rate to go infinite on Play Points and that "worst case scenario, where Play Points become worthless" isn't all that bad too – you can use up these extra points for more expensive events like PPTQs or you can join drafts paying only points, which is somewhat equal to opening packs with your money. In the end, the points being untradeable is less of a concern than I thought it would be. With that in mind, in this article I will assume that 10 Play Points are worth 1 Event Ticket under all circumstances. I should also note that people with stacks of Phantom Points in their accounts are benefiting from this, their Points became much more widely acceptable and more valuable in a way.

"[Constructed Daily Events] reflect the highest level of regularly available competition on Magic Online. As such, we are increasing the number of event tickets used to join to reflect this and help distance it from the eight-player queues."

Put simply, DEs now cost 12 tickets to join. That is bad for a casual player, who wants to join a random event just for fun. He was unlikely to win before and now he also has to pay twice more for the same 4 rounds of fun. As for the grinder, it all depends on the EV. If there was a choice between a 6-tix event and a 50-tix event with better EV, grinders would play 50-tix events anyway. If EV is the same as before, it is also positive for the grinder, because it's like playing 2 old dailies for a time investment of one.

Luckily for us, who are lazy to do the math, Reddit user fracguru posted a spreadsheet, where you can alter the pack costs and see the old and new EV. In order to edit it yourself, you need to click File > Make a copy. Overall, the EV isn't that bad and is similar to the old system, where packs were worth 3 tickets each. The new payouts are slightly more top heavy, so once again grinders with better win percentages benefit, while people with ~50% win rate will get a little worse EV than before.

To make it simpler to explain, I'll try this. For me, it was a good time to grind Dailies, when packs cost 3 tickets. That means that for a 3-1 result you would get 6 packs, or 18 tickets, which pay for this event and the next two. For a 4-0, you would get 33 tickets of value to pay for this event and 4,5 events after that. Right now, for a 3-1, you would get 3 packs and 180 points. Let's assume that the change was good for the economy and packs cost 4 tickets (unlikely, but that makes the math easier, and I really hope packs will be at least 3.5+ tix). That would pay for our current event and 1,5 after that. A 4-0 would pay for the current one and the next 4. After all, the new payouts look a bit worse than the old ones, but under the old system packs didn't cost 3 tickets all that often, which kind of balances it all. A negative point for the new system is the fact the competition should get fiercer with higher entry fees for Daily Events, which should cause a drop in the win rates with less weaker player to prey on.

The following quote is not from the official article, it is from Reddit:

"The Entry Fee that Wizards gets has increased by 100% but it only increased the prize support by 28.6%. This means that it costs Wizards approximately 35% less than the old way to run the daily events."

That's a valid point to prove that this change is bad for us, but I found a surprising explanation, why it is not necessarily true. This calculation is done with MSRP in mind, previously Wizards paid out more packs worth 4 tickets, than they received tickets from entry fees. Right now, they won't. Despite that, we should consider MSRP an actually useless number, the packs are almost never sold for that price. With that in mind, we might be getting more value, while it also costs less for Wizards, because we receive less packs, but they are worth more. Uh. I don't know about this and it is up for you to decide, who will pay for these 35% of lost prizes.

Finally, I will compare old and new 8-man queues. Again, under the assumption that the old system was good when packs cost 3 tickets. For 1 win you could pay for your next queue before and the same applies in the future. For the 2nd place you could pay for the next queue and have 1 pack leftover and the same is true under the new system. It is likely that's better, because that 1 pack is likely to cost more. 1st place would give you 5 packs worth 15 tickets before, now you would get 140 Play Points and 2 Booster packs, which is a lot better. That is great for both grinders and casuals.

2-man queues now will pay out 3.5 ticket in prizes instead of 1 pack before. That is mostly a positive change and kind of cool, I guess... Not like that there's much value to be gained there anyway.

To sum it up, the changes are not THAT bad and selling your whole collection to quit forever is a little bit too hasty. Here's a short list of what has happened:

  1. 8-man queues got better EV, Dailies got slightly worse, but more stable EV.
  2. 2-man queues got a fixed payout.
  3. Play Points got introduced and they are not all that bad, when you think about it.
  4. Overall, Daily Events are likely to become more competitive and more hostile to casual players, as such they are expected to play more 8-man queues, because the EV of these events will be better.

Constructed is not dead yet, don't worry.
MundisV

6 Comments

And player points certainly by CalmLittleBuddy at Tue, 07/28/2015 - 21:42
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And player points certainly make a goal like chasing MOCS more feasible for players like me. I will ha e to enter as many events as possible to obtain qualifying points. With a win rate of about 55% I at least break even in the process. I cant wait around for the next daily so more stability in payouts for 8 mans is good for me and may even cause themto fire more often.

What Wizards has really done here is taken half of your prize and automatically put it towards your next entry fee. Many people will not appreciate that. But many of us will be okay with it as long as they give a reasonable amount paid per win.

"With that in mind, in this by Cownose at Tue, 07/28/2015 - 23:35
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"With that in mind, in this article I will assume that 10 Play Points are worth 1 Event Ticket under all circumstances."

...but they aren't, under any circumstance, worth that. I cannot turn PP into tix (without a significant time investment), I cannot turn PP into new cards for my constructed deck, I cannot turn PP into actual money if I need it. The only thing I can do with PP is play in more events, they are a gift certificate, not a currency--and they are very bad for all players. By accepting WotC's faulty logic that fun money is just as good as real money, you completely missed the point of what everyone was mad about in the first place, rendering much of this analysis moot. WotC is taking away the ability for players to decide for themselves what to do with their winnings (you may now ONLY play in more events), and that is huge. You can no longer reasonably expect to be able to build a collection by playing constructed, something that was the basis for many people's collection building in the past.

The Reddit thread where a lot of this came from has much better analysis of what this change actually means to players (basically if you are a semi-decent grinder or someone who drafts a lot, the change is okay for you, potentially even a bit beneficial. If you are a great grinder, someone who doesn't draft, or basically any other type of player it is terrible), I recommend everyone read that.

I would also strongly by Mundisv at Wed, 07/29/2015 - 13:23
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I would also strongly encourage everyone to check out Reddit's thread, as well as other articles here on PureMTGO for deeper knowledge.
I probably didn't put my ideas as clearly as I should've, but I wanted to say that we should worry about EV (and payout) changes more than about the introduction of Play Points. I accept it that Play Points are less valuable because of lost flexibility, but, if you're not quitting MTGO, it's not like they become worthless. People are going to play events on MTGO, which means PPs will always be needed. It sucks that you cannot build a new deck with your PPs, but if you're building your deck from your last resources, it is likely that you will need to buy tickets to join events afterwards anyway. In this case, you can just buy tickets first and use points to join. Also, stacking up points is going to come up only for people with very high win percentages. They will still have occasional high-level Constructed event to spend their points on AND it's not like registering to Sealed is equal to cracking packs. Some may not like Limited, but playing in an event definitely has some extra value. You still can build your collection through Events, because part of the winnings is paid out in tradeable packs, and, once again, if "building collection" means using every ticket won to get cards, then you'll still need something to pay for your next event.

EV by MichelleWong at Thu, 07/30/2015 - 06:20
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The new changes negatively affect me, even though I am both a constructed and a limited player.

The reason is because the EV for Dailies has been lowered for me, because I am not in the Top Tier of people who can go infinite. I enjoyed the Dailies, and I do not like 8-4 Single Elim.

For me, part of the fun of this game is not only playing, but playing competitively to try to break even.

Now I don't feel in the mood to join the Dailies, because it feels like I am getting screwed over by the unwelcome RAKE. I wish to voice my opinion by not joining Dailies, in protest of the Rake.

I encourage you all to please put your money where your mouth is. I have no sympathy for people who whine about the -EV, but then continue to pay Wizards $$$ on events of a bad value. The next few months are critical to send Wizards the right message. If you continue to play in Constructed Dailies despite the -EV, then you have no right to complain. Just suck it up and pay, if that is your approach you wish to take. And quit whining. You only have yourself to blame if Wizards do not change their policy.

Wizards are about maximising their bottom line (or trying to). This is not a criticism of Wizards. They are a corporation. Corporations aim to maximise profit. This is how the world works. As players, we must work alongside such an approach.

I shall go to the casino instead which takes smaller rake. I choose black or red number on roulette wheel.

This kind of thinking has a by Paul Leicht at Thu, 07/30/2015 - 08:39
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This kind of thinking has a similar problem to think of the game as an investment.

Both paradigms of course work for a limited time anyway but eventually you will find yourself either pulling up stakes or losing money. Because in some senses the game is rigged to do so.

I think it is perfectly OK to complain to WOTC that they are asking for too much money while still (grudgingly giving it to them) as long as one understands the potential conflict there since the mixed message will probably tell them they are right and the complainers are wrong.

But it would take a really concerted effort on the players' parts to force WOTC to reconsider this because it does impinge on their bottom line and that means jobs are at stake.

Yes the policy seems unfair and the changes are bad for the players but are they really so bad that you will quit playing altogether rather than just accept them and move on? That is the question EACH and every MTGO player has to answer.

And it may be that there are other changes in the works that these changes have prepared the way for that may mitigate some of the pain of these changes. I am not saying this is the case but time and again we see statements by WOTC people indicating or implying a certain amount of hands being tied by circumstance.

If the EV changing for the worse for example allows some more creative and positive prizes later on, I for one think it could worth it. Enough so that I don't want to give up before giving the company the opportunity to show us WHY they changed things.

I realize this is basically taking a risk. They could just be, being greedy bastages. The fact is that we can't know what their motives are no matter what is said because people are not by and large telepathic.

But if I am right and good things can come from this as implied by Lee's article and Worth's statement then perhaps we should not be so quick to run to the casinos whom we KNOW are greedy bastages and who will bilk us of every cent if they can devise a legal and or acceptable way to do so.

Lastly I don't see how NOT joining the new "dailys" will send any sort of message at all. If they don't fire they will be removed, as happened with premier events and other events that have not performed well enough.

Don't join them because they are a bad gamble and a bad deal for you if that is true. But don't try to boycott them to send a message as that will have pretty much zero impact on anyone but you.

DO be vocal and complain. There is nothing wrong with letting wizards know what you think. (As long as you maintain being polite and reasonable sounding.)

Casino Time! by MichelleWong at Thu, 07/30/2015 - 10:54
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5

Paul, you make excellent points here.

To clarify, I definitely will not give up the game entirely nor sell out my whole collection. I play a lot of casual games and fun formats, and I also love the Player Run Events.

What will change is that I will not enter Constructed Dailies anymore until the policy changes, nor other constructed tournaments.

I refuse to send $$$ to Wizards which will send them the wrong message, especially during these 3 next critical months when even some staff in Wizards must be a little nervous to see what will happen. After 3 months, I want Wizards to feel the pain of their decision and realise it was a bad mistake for the shareholders.

Stand up and voice your opinion! But remember that actions, not words, speak far louder and cannot be ignored. Words are wind. Actions have real impact. Loss of $ to the shareholders cannot be brushed aside.

Sadly, I don't think this will happen. There are too many die-hard players who are not even close to reaching their pain threshold beyond which they cannot accept. Just look at the ludicrous EV of the current 2-man/woman events which still fire!

As for me, I absolutely REFUSE to be hit over the head with a rake the size of the Colossus of Sardia.