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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Apr 17 2015 12:00pm
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State of the Program for April 17th 2015

In the News:

Limited Prize Payouts Tweaked: Wizards stated that they have “been listening to player feedback and have heard that there's a desire for more opportunities to earn Fate Reforged booster packs.”  Yup – I know I’ve said that, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.  Right now, the secondary market price of FRF boosters is three times the price of DTK or KTK boosters. Wizards has responded to our concerns by adjusting Release Events payouts to provide more FRF packs. (Yay!) In 8-4s, the second place payout will change from 3&1 to 2&2. In 4-3-2-2s, the winner will now get 2 DTK and 2 FRF boosters. Sealed events will now pay out in draft sets instead of all DTK boosters.    
MOCS and Player Reward Promos: Wizards has announced the next round of MOCS and player reward promos. The next MOCS promo will be an alt art Pernicious Deed. The event promo will be an alt art Repeal, while the store promo will be Abzan Beastmaster.
Standard Super League: Randy Buehler has introduced a new “super league.” This one will feature eight Standard specialists playing in the same sort of tournament as the Vintage Super League. The eight announced so far are Brad Nelson, Brian Kibler, Josh Utter-Leyton, Gerry Thompson, Owen Turtenwald, Paul Cheon, Tom Ross and Andrew Cuneo. Randy and LSV will be doing commentary. It will run on at 6pm PDT, starting April 28th
Class Acts:
When a picture says it all. Two solid representatives of the game.


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
·         MOCS Season 6:  runs from April 29th through May 27th 
·         Dragons of Tarkir Release Events End: Normal queues return with next Wednesday’s downtime.
·         Dragons of Tarkir Limited Championship: Saturday, June 20th, 8am PDT
·         Dragons of Tarkir Standard Championship: Sunday, June 28th, 8am PDT 
·         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.

Opinion Section of the Week: Old Codger’s Checklist of Gripes

This morning I was in a bad mood. Yesterday, my dog knocked my Android off the table, to prove that gorilla glass is not unbreakable. This morning I woke up to a dream that I had completed my taxes but didn’t hit submit. The feeling was so strong I could not sleep, and had to head downstairs and check. All filed, of course, but by that time, I was wide awake. I fired up MTGO and joined a sealed release event. Generally, I get bored long before they fire and leave, but this time I had an article to write. I joined with five players in the queue. I started writing. Half an hour later I noticed that deck construction had begun. At that point, I had totally forgotten that I had entered the event, but fortunately I noticed in plenty of time. 
I’m in a mood to gripe, so here’s my griper's checklist.
        Event took a long time fire. Check
        Pop-up Appeared behind Open Window: Check – or maybe it never appeared. I did not see or hear any notification that the event had started. I just noticed the new screen when I went to copy spreadsheets into the article.
        I opened less than $3 worth of cards, total, for my $26 investment. Check.
        I opened less than 5 constructed playable cards. Check – actually zero, unless you count basic lands or Pacifism. Or maybe Anticipate, but I already have four.
        Lost round one to a dragon or bomb. Check – actually both – opponent had Citadel Siege and an Arashin Sovereign that I killed twice, but in truth my misplay lost the match. Maybe – game three I had him dead unless his morph could deal at least 5, and he could draw and cast a removal spell. It could and he did.
        Spent more time waiting for round two to start than actually playing in round one. Check – my match took 23 minutes, round took 1 hr 8 min. 
        Lost round two to a dragon or bomb. Er – no check. He had the dragon, but I outplayed him.
        Spent more time waiting for round three to start than actually playing in round two. Check – my match took 36 minutes, round took 1 hr 15 min. 
        Lost round three to a dragon or bomb. Can’t check this one either. He had the rare dragon, but I had Monastery Siege and Corpseweft, which is quite a combo.
        Spent more time waiting for round four to start than actually playing in round three. Nope – can’t check this one either. I did make my lunch, shave and get dressed for work between the end of my match and the end of the round, but it was slightly less than equal.
        Lost round four to a bomb or a dragon. Not exactly. By this time I had to head to work, so I conceded.
Okay, I will admit I was feeling a lot better at the end of the event, when I had won two of three rounds played and should get a draft set than at 3:45am when I was convinced I had forgotten to file my taxes. I may even try to play again. True, five of my six rares cost less than $0.03 retail, and the only cards in my pool that appeared in any PT Top 8 deck, even in the sideboards, were the Anticipate and a Dismal Backwater, but I have learned long ago that you never even come close to breaking even in sealed events. 
Having to drop in the final round was a bummer. I can’t wait for Wizards to get leagues going. The last word was that they would be here in the second quarter of 2015. It’s (early in) the second quarter of 2015.   I’m hoping to hear something soon – although the longer this goes on with no word, the more worried I am getting that leagues will be delayed again.
On the plus side, I will note that the only reason I played in this event at all was that Wizards tweaked the prize payout for release events. If this had paid out purely in DTK packs, I never would have entered.    

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir was a Standard event. By now, most people know that Martin Dang, piloting a red deck splashing green for Atarka’s command, won out. Dragons appeared, with over 115 in play in the feature match area over the weekend, and a total of 30 in the Top 8 decks.   Interesting, but remember that the PT is a mixed format event. Some of these players made top 8 by 6-0ing their draft pods. Their Standard decks were not necessarily as good – besides everyone has seen them already. Instead, here are the archetypes that went at least 8-2 in the Standard portion of the Pro Tour.
Abzan Aggro
Brad Nelson, 9-1, Standard Portion of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir
4 Fleecemane Lion
4 Rakshasa Deathdealer
4 Anafenza, the Foremost
4 Siege Rhino
16 cards

Other Spells
2 Warden of the First Tree
3 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
3 Dromoka's Command
2 Ultimate Price
3 Abzan Charm
4 Hero's Downfall
1 Valorous Stance
9 cards
4 Windswept Heath
1 Mana Confluence
2 Plains
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
2 Forest
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Temple of Malady
2 Temple of Silence
1 Temple of Plenty
3 Caves of Koilos
3 Llanowar Wastes
26 cards

Siege Rhino
Esper Control
Josh Utter-Leyton, 9-1, Standard Portion of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir
0 cards

Other Spells
2 Thoughtseize
3 Anticipate
1 Disdainful Stroke
4 Silumgar's Scorn
2 Bile Blight
2 Ultimate Price
3 Hero's Downfall
2 Foul-Tongue Invocation
2 Dissolve
2 Crux of Fate
3 Dragonlord Ojutai
2 Silumgar, the Drifting Death
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Dig Through Time
2 Haven of the Spirit Dragon

16 cards
4 Temple of Enlightenment
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Dismal Backwater
4 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand
3 Island
2 Swamp
2 Caves of Koilos
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
25 cards

2 Dragonlord's Prerogative
1 Foul-Tongue Invocation
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
2 Dragonlord Silumgar
15 cards
Dig through Time
Abzan Control
Chester Swords, 9-1, Standard Portion of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir
4 Siege Rhino
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Satyr Wayfinder
12 cards

Other Spells
3 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
3 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
1 Garruk, Apex Predator
4 Hero's Downfall
4 Abzan Charm
3 Thoughtseize
1 Ultimate Price
1 Utter End
1 Murderous Cut
2 Bile Blight
20 cards
4 Temple of Malady
4 Windswept Heath
4 Sandsteppe Citadel
3 Temple of Silence
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
2 Forest
2 Plains
3 Llanowar Wastes
2 Caves of Koilos
25 cards

1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
15 cards
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Sam Black, 8-2, Standard Portion of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Hornet Nest
1 Polukranos, World Eater
1 Ashcloud Phoenix
1 Stormbreath Dragon
19 cards

Other Spells
2 Whisperwood Elemental
1 Dragonlord Atarka
3 Roast
3 Setessan Tactics
4 Chord of Calling
3 Xenagos, the Reveler
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
18 cards
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Rugged Highlands
4 Mountain
9 Forest
1 Mana Confluence
23 cards

1 Whisperwood Elemental
2 Rending Volley
15 cards
chord of calling
Modern: SCG ran Modern States last weekend, to give the non-Pros something to do other than watch coverage. There are a lot of decklists coming out of the various states. I found this one interesting, and it is not something I recall featuring recently.
Pauper: The more things change… Once again, a blue - red deck wound up on top of the heap in a recent Pauper Daily. Even with the elimination of Treasure Cruise, UR is still a solid strategy.
Blue Burn
GUI_BR, 4-0, Pauper Daily #8141646 on 04/13/2015
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Mulldrifter
4 Sea Gate Oracle
12 cards

Other Spells
3 Compulsive Research
4 Counterspell
2 Deep Analysis
2 Electrostatic Bolt
3 Essence Scatter
4 Firebolt
4 Flame Slash
4 Preordain
26 cards
6 Island
3 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Izzet Guildgate
3 Mountain
1 Radiant Fountain
4 Swiftwater Cliffs
4 Terramorphic Expanse
22 cards

Legacy: No SCG or other Legacy events this week.  Instead, we get to look at some MTGO events – smaller, but it’s what we have this week. And this week an old classic finished at the top of the list. Belcher is the classic glass cannon that has real trouble standing up to counters or discard, but destroys aggro decks. I suspect that is what happened here.
Vintage: A few Vintage events happened in the last week. The Vintage super League is in the playoffs, where a Shops deck crushed blue belcher. Shops also took down the Daily last weekend.

Card Prices

Note: all my prices come from the fine folks at 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 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. The Pro Tour clearly had an impact, but that was offset because DTK is finally available in reasonable numbers. The extreme prices that appear the week of the prerelease an very early in the release period always take some time to fall, and now they have. Also, I trimmed a lot of cards (e.g. Battlefield Forge) that were selling for under $5 from the list.

Standard & Block Cards
Last Week
% Change

Modern staples:  Modern prices were down again this week. That may change, once the Modern PPTQs and PTQs begin later this summer. 

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy / Vintage staples: Legacy and Vintage prices were down again this week. Some oscillation, but nothing unusual.  

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Last Week
% Change

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
Last Week
% Change
Born of the Gods
Dragons of Tarkir
Fate Reforged
Journey into Nix
Khans of Tarkir

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 and Misdirection is third.   That will probably continue until we get Mercadian Masques Remastered, although Misdirection could pass Black Lotus before then.
Rishadan Port
$   152.13
Black Lotus
$   132.21
$   111.01
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
$     81.23
Mox Sapphire
$     68.98
Mythic Rare
$     65.16
$     64.34
$     51.82
Ancestral Recall
$     48.54
Show and Tell
$     48.35
Force of Will
$     46.02
Tangle Wire
$     44.03
Mythic Rare
$     42.09
Mythic Rare
$     40.71
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
$     40.54
Time Walk
$     39.55
Containment Priest
$     39.43
Vendilion Clique
$     38.59
Vendilion Clique
Mythic Rare
$     37.10
Mox Ruby
$     35.66
Mox Jet
$     34.89
Force of Will
$     34.04
Infernal Tutor
$     32.06
True-Name Nemesis
$     31.44
Hurkyl's Recall
$     31.35
$     28.03
Mox Pearl
$     27.47
Gaea's Cradle
$     27.42
$     27.07
Twilight Mire
$     25.98
Karn Liberated
Mythic Rare
$     25.95
$     25.38
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 $ 23,925.  That is down about $800 from where we were last week. Ouch.

Weekly Highlights:

The Pro Tour was last weekend. Adrian Sullivan made the Top 4. Adrian is an amazingly nice guy. Here’s an extract from a PTQ report I wrote:  
Round 5: Adrian Sullivan, Junk
…Anyway, we talked and laughed and things were going pretty well until we actually started playing. Then, suddenly, Adrian’s side of the table had [Skyshroud] Elites, River Boas and [Phyrexian] Negators all over the place. I floundered around for a while, but I didn’t even have enough mana to Survival up a Spike Weaver and start delaying tactics. My game looked like a plane being shot down – first I faltered, then I stalled, then the wings fell off …
Someone commented “It’s a game between two Dojo authors. We’ll get to hear both sides.” I was thinking “not a chance. Hopefully Adrian will gloss over this match. Man, I’m playing badly.” And I was.
Games 2 and 3 were better. Adrian had one nice play – I had the [Krovikan] Horror on the table and he tried to Swords it. I threw it at him for one damage in response, then he responded with an Ebony Charm that nailed both the Horror and Squee. But by then my land destruction and control elements had kicked in and Adrian was pretty much reduced to trying to topdeck land faster than I could kill it. I was drawing Wastelands like crazy, with Cartographer helping out. Eventually, … he conceded. Adrian is amazing. He was mana screwed for turn after turn, but the whole time he was smiling, laughing – just a great opponent. In his place, I would probably have been somewhere between grumbling and throwing chairs.
A few things to note from that article. First, that extract is old – from the end of last century, to be exact.  The format was Extended with dual lands, Survival of the Fittest and Trix.  Second, Adrian was playing Junk. He, together with the rest of the Cabal Rogue team, invented that deck that year.  Adrian has created a bunch of classic decks and archetypes, including Dread Panda Roberts, Baron Harkonnen, Junk, Eminent Domain and more.   Finally, and most importantly, Adrian is, was and always has been a great opponent, whether he is winning or not. He totally deserves his Top 4 finish – I just hopes he wins the next PT.      
Another weekly highlight – this article round six at the PT. Cedric absolutely nails it.  I 100% agree.
“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. 


PucaTrade? by Cownose at Fri, 04/17/2015 - 12:39
Cownose's picture

Hey Pete,

As a fellow economics person I am wondering what your thoughts are on PucaTrade meeting their Indigogo campaign goal and their plans to bring the service to MTGO. I think that being able to trade cards online without the use of the bots as a middleman has the potential to be extremely disruptive to the online economy.

For starters, we have all generally accepted that we are going to lose 5-10% value to the bots when we sell cards to buy newer ones because posting in the trade room and waiting around is often not worth the extra 1 or 2 tix you will get. being able to turn online cards into different online cards without paying the middleman both ways seems like a major change (good for us, but bad for the business owners who support a lot of our community).

In addition, being able to trade MTGO crds for PucaPoints and then PucaPoints into real cards seems like it would be more efficient than making complete sets and paying the $25 fee to redeem them. I'm not really sure how I think this will pan out: on the one hand, saving the $25 fee seems like it would boost the value of cards on MTGO (since more of the cost of making sets would go to the card holders and not WotC), but then I also think that if PucaTrade makes getting the good cards of the set in paper without also having to get the bad ones possible will tank the value of most cards in any given set (especially bad mythic foils) online while inflating the prices of the chase rares/mythics...but THEN I think that maybe this might be a good thing because not removing all those cards from the online ecosystem will prevent the mythic bottleneck from being as bad online. Thoughts on any or all of this?

Are you sure the rounds took by TugaChampion at Sat, 04/18/2015 - 04:24
TugaChampion's picture

Are you sure the rounds took 1 hr 8 min and 1 hr 15 min? Each player has 25 minutes and there's also SB time where up to 6 minutes can be wasted (more if a game ends in a draw but that's very unlikely). I know 56 minutes is not the cap (I don't know the reasons) but I don't think I've ever seen a round take 1 hr 8 min, much less 1 hr 15 min.

I'm just going to copy and by NVOtosReborn at Sat, 04/18/2015 - 13:16
NVOtosReborn's picture

I'm just going to copy and paste a excerpt from a conversation I had last night about Dragons sealed.

I'm so done with dragons sealed.
I had a pretty decent pool, solid WB deck splashing blue for two rare dragons (3/7 hexproof silumgar and the 6/4 that gets protection)
Round 1 I curve out well in both games and win easily.
Round two I punish his stumble in game 1 and win.
In game two, he has the dragonlord dromoka 5/7 lifelink or whatever and I have no answers to it.
I board in another island and a reality shift to handle his bomb.
Game 3 goes long, he plays dromoka.
I have the 5 mana destroy an attacker/blocker bolster 1.
Then, he plays the 4/3 rare dragon that when your opponent plays a spell it grows and you gain a life.
I have the flatten for it.
Then he plays ANOTHER dromoka
This time it's the FRF version that bolsters two.
I rip reality shift, he's got WWGG open.
So I cast it, he manifests
I cast defeat targeting his manifest, he has 0 cards in hand at this point
He taps WWGG and flips that motherfucking 4/4 mythic that has super prowess
So my removal spell fizzles and he has this massive guy that I can't attack into
He untaps, draws a card.
It's the 6/6 dragon for 7 that when it dies you can put it on the top or bottom
I fucking FREAKED out and snap conceded.
He told me he opened 7 on-color bomb rares and played them all.
The rest of his deck was like almost unplayable.
Maindeck enchantment removal, bad filler commons, etc
But holy shit.