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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Apr 10 2015 11:00am
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State of the Program for April 10th 2015

In the News:

Constructed Prizes Have Rotated: Last downtime, the Khans packs were replaced by Dragons of Tarkir packs in constructed prize payouts.   One on one queues will pay out one DTK pack. Dailies will pay out 7 DTK & 4 FRF for 4-0, and 4 DTK & 2 FRF for 3-1. 5-3-2-2 queues will pay out in 3 DTK & 2 FRF for first, 2 & 1 for second and 1&1 for third and fourth.  
 
Grand Prix Chiba Sold Out: Grand Prix Chiba – one of the big three Modern GPs May 30th & June 1st – opened registration earlier this week. It sold out ten hours later. It was capped at 4,000 players. GP Las Vega hit 4,000 this week as well, but its cap is much higher – 10,000. I will be at GP Vegas. It should be insane. Even if you usually only play online, consider going to one of these events. The EV of the cards is good, and counting the playmat and other stuff you get, and the spectacle, should make it totally worth the trip.
 
Program Updates Article: Alli Medwin wrote about the changes to the client made with the Dragons of Tarkir update. Her article explained the improvements to displaying split and divide spells and abilities (e.g. Dragonlord Atara’s divide 5 damage), and the changes to how Archfiend of Depravity’s ability will be handled. She also added a teaser – Wizards is working on a new and improved Foil treatment. You can read the article here.
 
Changes to PPTQs Announced: In the paper word, stores will only be able to sanction PPTQs in two formats: sealed and the constructed format for the next Pro Tour. For the season after this, that means Sealed and Modern. Online PPTQs and PTQs that season will likely also be Modern. The Pro Tour after the Modern one will be Standard, so the PPTQs and PTQs should shift back two seasons from now.
 
Article from Inside R&D: Sam Stoddard wrote an interesting article on R&D’s – specifically development’s – efforts to keep the card that became First Response from dominating Standard. Earlier versions of the card were problematic, and several changes were made to keep it in check. One of those changes made Siege Rhino the power that it currently is.  Another interesting tidbit – Liliana of the Veil was almost in M15. The article is here.  
 
Article by Gaby Spartz: Gaby Spartz, MTGO streamer and co-owner of the Spartz media empire, wrote an article called Six Things You Can Do to Get More Women into Magic. It is worth the read, even if most of it pertains mainly to the paper side of the game. The concepts, though, are doubly important on MTGO. The program is struggling because there are just not enough players (have you tried to fire a Theros draft queue recently?)   We cannot afford to be less than welcoming to every and all players, regardless of sex, race, class, gender or species. 
 
Brainstorm, Gifts Ungiven, etc. Fixed: Last week, I mentioned that Legacy and Vintage events were suspended because Brainstorm, Gifts Ungiven, Three Dreams and Realms Uncharted were badly bugged. Those bugs were fixed on Thursday, shortly after I had submitted the article.  
 

The Timeline:

This is a list of things we have been promised, or just want to see coming back.   Another good source for dates and times is the MTGO calendar and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the Known Issues List. For quick reference, here are some major upcoming events.   
 
Item: date and notes
·         MOCS Season 5: Champs 7am Pacific, May 9th. Prelims. May 6th-8th
·         Dragons of Tarkir Release Events End: Normal queues return with the downtime on April 22nd.
·         Dragons of Tarkir Limited Championship: tbd 
·         Dragons of Tarkir Standard Championship: tbd 
·         Dragons of Tarkir Redemption: May 6th
·         Leagues (Q2 2015?) Wizards said leagues will return in 2015.
·         Tempest Remastered: May 6th. Tempest block without the chaff. Code: TMR. Details here.
·         Modern Masters II: May, 29, 2015. Mirrodin through Zendikar. Details here.
·         Magic Origins: released on MTGO July 27th, prerelease should begin July 23rdor July 24th Code: ORI
·         From the Vault: Angels: October 12, 2015. Details here.
 

History Lessons: 60 Prereleases

My first official prerelease was Mercadian Masques. Back then, MTGO did not exist, not even as a Magic Online Digital Object. Prereleases were large events, with half a dozen or so scattered around the US. We travelled some 300 miles to the Twin Cities to collect our Overtaker promo foils, and could not play them in the event.   The product for that Prerelease was a Tournament Pack and two boosters.  (A Tournament Pack was the equivalent of three boosters plus 30 basic lands.)   The Masques prereleases were big events often running 9 rounds, but you could drop out and enter the second one that started midafternoon, IIRC.
 
A year or so later, Prereleases changed over to 32 player “flights.” Flights had 32 players, and fired as soon as they filled. They ran four rounds, and you could generally play in at least two flights a day during the prerelease weekend. Multiple flights meant you could collect a couple copies of the prerelease foil, even if you could not play them during the event.
 
MTGO was in beta during Invasion block, and was released while Odyssey block was the main draft format. Online prereleases were not really a thing, except that new sets often broke the program. The Darksteel release was particularly bad.   Adding Darksteel cards created a number of bugs, to the point that all for pay events were down for weeks. As an apology for the problems, Wizards hosted “Chuck’s Virtual Party” as an apology. All online players were given free entry into some sealed events, and those events promptly broke MTGO all over again. 
 
In the paper world, Prereleases continued as huge regional events for several more years, but that all changed with Conflux.   At that point, Wizards decided to let local gaming stores run prereleases. This was a blow for the premier event organizers that had been running regional prereleases, but it did mean that a lot more people could get to a prerelease. For Ingrid and I, going to a two day regional prerelease meant driving hundreds of miles and getting a hotel room. Having events at our LGS was a lot more convenient, not to mention a lot cheaper. Attendance at paper prereleases shot up.
 
Online, Wizards began offering prereleases. The events generally paralleled the paper prereleases, with minor tweaks. Prereleases began as limited runs on the Saturday and Sunday before the set came out. Gradually, Friday events became available, and even some Thursday events were offered to those willing to try the beta client.   Costs and prize payouts were tweaked, and different formats offered. Early prereleases were all sealed, but gradually Wizards added drafts of various flavors, as well as the 64 player double draft events. Wizards is still experimenting with formats: the most recent innovation are the “Friendly” prize payout options. 
 
One indirect effect of allowing stores to run prereleases, I believe, was the elimination of the tournament packs and the addition of lands to booster packs. Let me explain. Originally, sealed deck events used a tournament pack from the main set, plus two booster packs. This meant that the card pool for a Tempest block sealed event late in the block’s life would be a Tempest Tournament pack, a Stronghold booster and an Exodus booster.  Tournament packs were also the primary way to get lands, but they did not sell well. Most experienced players wanted boosters, and few new players were willing to spend the money on tournament packs. The result was that local stores had to buy lots of Tournament Packs if they wanted to offer Prerelease events or sealed PTQs, but they often got stuck with a lot of unsellable product if the events had fewer players than expected.  
      
Tournament packs also meant that you never opened a lot of new packs at small set prereleases. A prerelease would have to include a Tournament Pack, because that’s how lands were distributed. However, the Tournament Pack held the equivalent of three boosters of the large set, so a prerelease could only include 2 packs of the new set – three packs if the organizer wanted to charge a lot, or cut their profits. 
 
The elimination of Tournament packs allowed a lot more freedom in defining the mix of boosters in sealed events. It meant organizers could run prereleases with one pack of the base set and five of the new expansion. It also allowed sealed PTQs and other competitive events to run six packs, with a 2/2/2 mix of boosters. All good. The only downside was that players would no longer get a bunch of lands in their tournament pack.  To solve this problem, Wizards supplied (sold) land in bulk to stores, and included basic lands in most booster packs. This did mean that we drafters lost on common per pack, but new players got land even if they bought boosters, and one random common is a small price to pay for the elimination of Tournament Packs. 
 
Wizards also began adding special activities to the paper prereleases. In Innistrad, monsters hunted humans throughout the prereleases. In Mirrodin block, the Mirrans fought the Phyrexians. In Avacyn Restored, we opened the Helvault at the prerelease, and in the most recent set players rescued Ugin and breathed fire on the townfolk. Some of these events worked well. Others – not so much. The Helvault had players excited, right up until they discovered that a very few stores got Helvaults full of amazing stuff, but their Helvault had nothing special. The feel-bads on that one still resonate.   Overall, though, these things have been good fun, and getting better. Too bad most of these cannot be ported to MTGO.
 
One major innovation that has ported to MTGO was the addition of salted packs to prerelease events. Beginning with Return to Ravnica, players have been able to choose their faction / guild / shard / clan and receive a special booster pack stuffed with cards from those colors, plus a foil.   Initially, the foils were all the same for a given color combination, but that blew up with Journey into Nyx, when the white prerelease foil was so much better that everyone played white if possible. At our prerelease, 18 of the first 19 players chose the white prerelease pack. After that debacle, the prerelease objects have had a mix of foils.
 
The Mercadian Masques Prerelease was in September, 1999.   Prereleases have come a long way since then. The paper events worked quite well this time around, except for some stores that didn’t run the bowling game, or ran it wrong. Online, the Prerelease events also seemed to fire, but I stayed away. The price is just too high for me to see value in playing. I will play in release queues, at least a couple. I’d play more, but I don’t really need more DTK packs – FRF packs are what I am very short of.    That won’t be a problem in the future, though: the change to two set blocks means we will never have a middle set like FRF again.
 

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir will have begun as this goes up. The pros will show off all the tech they have been hoarding. In the meantime, I like this decklist, which shows that we really are moving away from the Khan’s wedge strategy. GFab’s deck tech on the deck is here.   The Top 32 decklists from the event are here. Interesting side note – Gfabs asked readers to vote on the deck he would play at the GP, and this won the vote.
 
Jund Ramp
Gerard Fabiano, Ninth Place, SCG Standard Open Syracuse
Creatures
1 Soul of Innistrad
1 Doomwake Giant
4 Courser of Kruphix
3 Satyr Wayfinder
4 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Hornet Queen
14 cards

Other Spells
2 Sidisi, Undead Vizier
1 Dragonlord Atarka
3 Outpost Siege
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
3 Murderous Cut
1 Garruk, Apex Predator
3 Hero's Downfall
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Whip of Erebos
4 Thoughtseize
14 cards
 
Lands
4 Temple of Malady
3 Temple of Malice
2 Temple of Abandon
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Wooded Foothills
2 Swamp
3 Forest
1 Mountain
4 Llanowar Wastes
23 cards

Soul of Innistrad
 
Modern: The biggest Modern tournament last weekend was the SCG Premier IQ in Syracuse. Once again, Affinity took home top honors.   The rest of the Top 16 was also reasonably free of DTK cards, but Collected Company Zoo did reappear. 
 
 
Legacy: The biggest Legacy tournament last weekend was the SCG Premier IQ in Syracuse. The Top 16 decklists are here. Wilkin Chau came in second with an old BW favorite – Deadguy Ale. It has been years since Chris Pikula created that deck – nice to see it back.
 
 
 
Vintage: This Vintage event happened on April 1st, but this deck is not a prank. It has seen play in the VSL and elsewhere, as well as online. 
 
 

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 almost a decade now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.
 
Standard staples: Standard prices dropped again this week. I have added some of the more valuable Dragons cards to the list. I may also crop some of the lower value cards, but I will wait to see what the Pro Tour brings us. If some unexpected archetypes appear, that will shake up the price list.
 

Standard & Block Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$5.14
$5.99
($0.85)
-14%
$12.44
$12.82
($0.38)
-3%
$9.00
$8.74
$0.26
3%
$11.73
$14.00
($2.27)
-16%
$10.91
n/a
n/a
n/a
$17.83
n/a
n/a
n/a
$15.00
$16.33
($1.33)
-8%
$10.51
$11.01
($0.50)
-5%
$10.49
$13.55
($3.06)
-23%
$10.81
$11.12
($0.31)
-3%
$15.98
$9.16
$6.82
74%
$11.26
$13.07
($1.81)
-14%
$22.31
$28.00
($5.69)
-20%
$21.18
$21.82
($0.64)
-3%
$14.98
$16.02
($1.04)
-6%
$6.89
$8.19
($1.30)
-16%
$6.55
$6.96
($0.41)
-6%
$8.89
$9.13
($0.24)
-3%
$6.33
$7.71
($1.38)
-18%
$14.39
$10.12
$4.27
42%
$4.71
$7.69
($2.98)
-39%
$14.32
$15.65
($1.33)
-8%
$12.44
$7.00
$5.44
78%
$7.99
$9.68
($1.69)
-17%
$9.22
$11.12
($1.90)
-17%

Modern staples:  Modern prices were down a bit this week. That may change, once the PPTQs and PTQs changeover to Modern format later this summer. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$41.49
$41.77
($0.28)
-1%
$25.99
$27.00
($1.01)
-4%
$18.08
$18.12
($0.04)
0%
$9.91
$9.97
($0.06)
-1%
$17.86
$18.45
($0.59)
-3%
$16.02
$17.40
($1.38)
-8%
$11.41
$11.68
($0.27)
-2%
$27.20
$28.43
($1.23)
-4%
$43.67
$44.36
($0.69)
-2%
$25.50
$27.64
($2.14)
-8%
$80.38
$80.86
($0.48)
-1%
$41.45
$39.43
$2.02
5%
$26.88
$27.63
($0.75)
-3%
$29.98
$30.16
($0.18)
-1%
$21.84
$23.28
($1.44)
-6%
$12.05
$12.43
($0.38)
-3%
$26.44
$26.22
$0.22
1%
$9.91
$11.68
($1.77)
-15%
$61.47
$64.57
($3.10)
-5%
$26.99
$27.93
($0.94)
-3%
$39.18
$39.76
($0.58)
-1%
$16.35
$16.25
$0.10
1%

Legacy / Vintage staples: Legacy and Vintage prices were very slightly down this week. Some oscillation, but nothing unusual.  Once again, I cannot understand the price of Containment Priest. It is for sale in the store for $29.99, plus tax. I guess that the downside is that is a real money price, and you need a credit card or paypal to make the transaction.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$50.51
$49.66
$0.85
2%
$136.88
$141.74
($4.86)
-3%
$20.14
$21.75
($1.61)
-7%
$42.43
$38.94
$3.49
9%
$24.13
$24.06
$0.07
0%
$24.76
$24.97
($0.21)
-1%
$26.39
$27.06
($0.67)
-2%
$34.28
$34.20
$0.08
0%
$27.92
$27.79
$0.13
0%
$32.80
$33.85
($1.05)
-3%
$34.89
$36.94
($2.05)
-6%
$17.72
$17.78
($0.06)
0%
$110.71
$107.88
$2.83
3%
$34.64
$37.31
($2.67)
-7%
$68.62
$69.85
($1.23)
-2%
$149.91
$149.91
$0.00
0%
$49.59
$51.31
($1.72)
-3%
$24.58
$25.00
($0.42)
-2%
$27.02
$28.50
($1.48)
-5%
$40.66
$42.83
($2.17)
-5%
$29.56
$30.19
($0.63)
-2%
$17.84
$19.15
($1.31)
-7%
$20.42
$20.79
($0.37)
-2%
$21.16
$22.50
($1.34)
-6%
$54.47
$60.98
($6.51)
-11%

Set Redemption: You can redeem complete sets on MTGO. You need to purchase a redemption voucher from the store for $25. During the next downtime, Wizards removes a complete set from your account, and sends you the same set in paper.   For those of you who redeem, here are the retail prices of one of everything set currently available in the store, excluding sets that are not currently draftable or not redeemable.   Dragons of Tarkir will be redeemable in May.
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Born of the Gods
$47.97
$48.21
($0.24)
0%
Dragons of Tarkir
$153.18
n/a
n/a
n/a
Fate Reforged
$58.54
$72.80
($14.26)
-20%
Journey into Nix
$98.63
$96.95
$1.68
2%
Khans of Tarkir
$71.33
$70.04
$1.29
2%
M15
$115.21
$124.15
($8.94)
-7%
Theros
$86.09
$86.30
($0.21)
0%

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. Rishadan Port is the most expensive card around.   That will probably continue until we get Mercadian Masques Reforged.
 

Card
Set
Rarity
Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
$ 149.91
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
$ 136.88
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
$ 110.71
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
$ 80.38
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
$ 68.62
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
$ 64.63
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
$ 61.47
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
$ 54.47
Ancestral Recall
 VMA
Bonus
$ 50.51
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
$ 49.59
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
$ 46.29
Tangle Wire
 NE
Rare
$ 44.40
Griselbrand
 AVR
Mythic Rare
$ 43.67
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
$ 42.43
Batterskull
 NPH
Mythic Rare
$ 41.49
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
$ 41.45
Time Walk
 VMA
Bonus
$ 40.66
Vendilion Clique
 MMA
Mythic Rare
$ 39.33
Vendilion Clique
 MOR
Rare
$ 39.18
Mox Ruby
 VMA
Bonus
$ 36.51
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
$ 34.89
Mox Jet
 VMA
Bonus
$ 34.64
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
$ 34.28
Hurkyl's Recall
 10E
Rare
$ 32.80
Primeval Titan
 M12
Mythic Rare
$ 30.04
Primeval Titan
 M11
Mythic Rare
$ 29.98
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
$ 29.56
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
$ 27.92
Mox Pearl
 VMA
Bonus
$ 27.47
Fulminator Mage
 SHM
Rare
$ 27.20
Stifle
 SCG
Rare
$ 27.02
Twilight Mire
 EVE
Rare
$ 26.99
Noble Hierarch
 CON
Rare
$ 26.88
Spellskite
 NPH
Rare
$ 26.44
Doomsday
 WL
Rare
$ 26.39
Mox Emerald
 VMA
Bonus
$ 26.22
Volcanic Island
 ME3
Rare
$ 26.10
Bitterblossom
 MOR
Rare
$ 25.99
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
$ 25.50
Daze
 DD2
Common
$ 25.14

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 $ 24,715.  That is up about $50 from where we were last week, and that’s adding Dragons of Tarkir to the mix.
 

Weekly Highlights:

Not a lot this week. I did manage one draft, but did not draft well and finished 1-2. Since I had judged, not played in a prerelease, I only knew the cards that caused problems, not the cards that make up draft decks. Playing against decent players is hard, and very hard when you have no idea what you are playing around. However, I may get a chance to play some MTGO events this weekend, if I get lucky. 
 
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” and “3MWords” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 
HammyBot Still Running: 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 10% below retail price. Erik died three years ago, so HammyBot does not include any standard legal cards, but it includes a ton of Masters Edition and Vintage cards, and some nice Modern bargains. 
 

3 Comments

Wowzas by maxrochemtg at Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:59
maxrochemtg's picture
5

Fantastic column, bro! So much data in here, and you've pulled so many helpful pieces out. As someone who doesn't get updates like these piece by piece, it's brilliant to have them all together in one place. Keep them coming!

CMD 2014 decks cost $34.99 by Sensei at Fri, 04/10/2015 - 12:55
Sensei's picture

No, really.

I put Omniscience on hold, by Joe Fiorini at Fri, 04/10/2015 - 18:03
Joe Fiorini's picture
5

I put Omniscience on hold, but I never had much luck with it in my oath deck. I did get a few turn one or turn two wins, but I had even more games with wretched mulligans into oblivion.

If it works, it's definitely strong. That's for sure.