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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Apr 26 2019 12:00pm
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State of the Program for April 26th 2019
 
In the News
War of the Spark is Here: Prereleases have begun. Go play. 
 
Mythic Championship Happening Now: Wizards is hosting the tabletop Mythic Championship this weekend. The format is War of the Spark draft and Modern. The event is being broadcast on twitch.tv/magic starting at 9am London time (1 a.m. PT/4 a.m. ET/8 a.m. UTC.)   Should be fun to watch.
 
War of the Spark MTGO Update: Alli Medwin has given us the usual update on changes and improvements to MTGO. The changes include some bug fixes and some quality of life improvements that should make game play better. You can read about it here.
 
Play/Design Team Update: Brian Hawley, the new(ish) head of the Wizards Play/Design team, published an article on the state of the team. He talks about the goals of the team, and gives the current roster. You can read the article here.
 
Hasbro Quarterly Report Issued: Hasbro issued its quarterly earnings report. Earnings were up, including earnings for Magic. It was seriously good news, and Hasbro stock prices climbed significantly in response. The report is here.
 
Special Japanese Art Planeswalkers: Wizards has printed Planeswalkers with special art, which are available in some Japanese booster packs. They will also be available in Treasure Chests on MTGO. Details – and pictures – are here.
 
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 for limited PTQs running the days immediately prior to the PTQ.
 

Upcoming Events
Dates
Scheduled Downtimes
June 5th
Constructed Leagues End
tbd
Sealed Leagues End
tbd
War of the Spark
Prerelease Sealed HAPPENING NOW
Modern Horizons
June 6th prerelease
Next B&R Announcement
May 20, 2019
Guilds of Ravnica Redemption
Ends May 5th
Ravnica Allegiances Redemption
Ends July 10, 2019
“Archery”
September 2019
“Baseball”
January, 2020
“Cricket”
Spring, 2020

 
2018 Magic Online Championship Series and other events
Complete details, including schedule, rules, and which online events qualify you for which online or paper events is here. In addition, Wizards will be offering these special formats:
·       War of the Spark Limited starts April 25th   
·       Modern Horizons drafts – prerelease June 6th  
 
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
Sunday, 8:00 am PT
Sunday, 10:00 am PT

 
Opinion Section: Arena Update
I have been playing Arena for about three months now. I play every couple days – often enough that I get most of the 500 / 750 gold quests, and about 40% of the daily rewards. I play mainly unranked constructed, plus some drafts and some ranked constructed.   That works out to playing about an hour or so every couple days. I did buy the welcome package for $5.00, but have not spent anything since (nor will I.) This give me some insight into the free-to-play economy on Arena.
 
Arena gives you daily “win” rewards for the first 15 B01 matches you win each day. You get 250 gold for the first win, and progressively less gold for each additional win. If you win 15 matches, you will end up with 750 gold and 6 “individual reward” cards. These are generally random uncommons, but occasionally upgrade to random rares, and very rarely random Mythics. (details on prizes and rewards are here.)
 
In addition to those dailies, players will win a booster pack for every five matches won, up to a max of 3 packs per week. Finally, you get a daily quest each day. Quests require you to do something MTG specific. Typical quests are “cast 20 red or white spells,” “play 25 lands,” or “kill 25 opponent’s creatures.” Most quests, when completed, pay out 500 gold, but some harder quests pay out 750 gold. You get a new quest each day, and can “reroll’ a quest for something different, and possibly with a higher payout. I generally reroll one 500 gold quest per day, and occasionally turn them into 7500 gold quests.   I expect that I earn about 600 gold per quest. Since you can have up to three quests running, if you play every couple days, you can usually accomplish all of the quests.  
 
By playing for an hour or so per day, 4 days a week, I am making about 7,000 gold per week through daily rewards.  I also end up winning three booster packs and 24 random cards. And that is just from the daily rewards. I also spend some of that gold on drafts and the occasional special constructed event. However, I only play Bo1 constructed events, for reasons I will get into later. 

Finally, I also earn a small amount of monthly rewards for climbing the ladder. I play in a draft or two per week, and play a limited amount of ranked constructed. That has been enough to reach silver or gold each month on each ladder, which is worth a couple packs and a small amount of gems. 
 
In theory, I will also be able to get additional wildcards by filling my vault, but that has not happened yet, and may not happen for a long time. The vault fills when you have fifth copies of an existing card – fifth copies of a specific card in a specific set. I kinda wish that it ate every fourth copy. It’s mildly frustrating to have five Lightning Strikes – 2 from one set and three from the other, but I understand that people may prefer particular art.   I certainly prefer old style frames for my paper and MTGO cards, where available.
 
My experience on MTGO and Arena are massively different, since I have pretty much everything I could want on MTGO, and next to nothing on Arena. On Arena, you earn 15 starter decks fairly easily – basically the five initial decks for free, and you can earn the rest – one per day – by just playing. The decklists for these starter decks are here.   Basically, you get one rare tapland (e.g. Clifftop Retreat) and one decent rare per starter deck. That means you start with one two-color rare land in each color pair. That’s enough to get a taste, but not enough to build a mana base.
 
After two months of unranked play using the starter decks, and a few drafts, I decided to get into ranked play. That meant I needed a competitive deck. Building something like Esper, or even a decent two color deck, would mean I would have had to spend all my wildcards on lands, leaving nothing to fill the deck. Given that I was free to play, my only real choice was to build a mono-colored deck. The best are red deck wins, big green monsters and mono-blue filers with  the new Curiosity.   Since I had a fair number of the green rares and three Mythics, while my only blue or red playables came from the starter decks, it was obvious that I was going green. Besides, I like green.
 
Here’s what I spent my wildcards on.
 
 
Ideally, the Thorn Lieutenants should be Growth-Chamber Guardians, but I had a couple Thornies and only one Guardian. And no spare rare wildcards. Also, no sideboard, because I do not have enough wildcards to buy anything useful.
 
For the most part, I still play the starter decks, maybe improved by something I have opened in drafts, sealed or as individual card rewards. I can win most of my Bo1 unranked games against other players with similar decks, but it’s not pretty.   I mainly use them when I need to complete a “cast 25 red or blue cards” style quests.
 
I have one other deck that I have built, from what I have won in drafts and opened as random rewards: Gates. After a fair number of Ravnica drafts, and some lucky opens, I have a decent collection of gates and gate-related cards. Here’s what I am playing at the moment. 
 
 
Yes, this a bit of a pile. I should be running some Deafening Clarions, but I don’t have any.   I would also cut a Circuitous Route and the Mass Manipulation, but I don’t have anything better. Eventually, I expect to open the last Simic Guildgate and Gate Colossus, but until then, it’s not worth burning wildcards on them. On the flip side, I am quite please about the two Hydroid Krasis. One was a rare draft, and one was a lucky open in a booster pack. 
 
The deck works, for the most part. More importantly, I like playing this sort of deck. Sometimes I can race through my daily 5 matches and quests fairly easily. It helps if you can go first, and if you are facing creature decks. Other times, you can end up playing against opponents with Mythic Planeswalkers and really solid decks, and you just die. I couple days ago, I played for three hours, and kept playing long after I had won everything available, just because the deck was working. Other times, I have been crushed eight games in a row, and shut down the program. 
 
On Arena, like in every aspect of Magic, pay-to-win is a thing. 
 
So far, I have played a ton of Magic for pretty much no Magic.   However, I am not accumulating the cards to build a deck. I have the two Hydriod Krasis, and a handful of other Mythics. However, I have the ten rare lands from the starter decks, plus one extra Glacial Fortress, two Steam Vents, two Blood Crypts, one Godless Shrine, one Breeding Pool and one Sacred Foundry. I am a long way from any serious mana base. 
 
Right now, I am enjoying Magic in several forms. If I want social interaction, nothing beats paper (sorry Wizards, “tabletop”) Magic.   If I want to bang out a couple random fun games while eating, Arena is perfect.   But if I want to do any serious playtesting, or want to do a real draft when my local game store is closed, then I am going to fire up MTGO. 
 
Also, have you seen the upgrades Wizards is making to MTGO? (Check out Alli’s article, here.) MTGO is clearly here to stay. Wizards would not be spending this kind of money on a product they intended to dump. 
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: Standard is has rotated, but we don’t have any results. Yet. So I am just going to share my favorite Standard deck at the moment. This is what I am playing on MTG Arena. It is not Tier One – but this is what I have managed to accumulate in two months of Arena play, without spending money (beyond the initial $5) or wildcards.
 
 
Modern:  The Mythic Championship is this weekend, in London. It will be broadcast on twitch.tv/magic  at 9am London time (1 a.m. PT/4 a.m. ET/8 a.m. UTC.)  That will define the new metagame, and anything we see now is probably out of date. So, instead of a decklist, here are a couple cards that we may not see anymore. I expect they will be banned in Modern. The London mulligan, on the other hand, will be released into the world at large. At least, that’s my expectation.   Time will tell.
 
Faithless Looting   Mox Opal   Ancient Stirrings
 
Legacy: I had to look for a while to find something I have not featured over and over again. This is probably a good indication of why Stoneforge Mystic should not be unbanned in Modern.   Or maybe just an indication of how broken True-Name Nemesis is.
 
 
 
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 a decade and a half now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.
 
Standard Staples: Standard prices are dropping.   It’s a week before rotation – everyone playing in the format has their decks, and people are beginning to sell off to raise TIX for the prerelease. Price drops are to be expected.   Kaya – though – is an outlier.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Arclight Phoenix
$45.85
$52.33
($6.48)
-12%
Assassin's Trophy
$6.20
$6.35
($0.15)
-2%
Dovin, Grand Arbiter
$4.78
$5.43
($0.65)
-12%
Hydroid Krasis
$12.12
$12.62
($0.50)
-4%
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper
$35.92
$17.21
$18.71
109%
Prime Speaker Vannifer
$8.10
$8.76
($0.66)
-8%
Seraph of the Scales
$4.93
$5.43
($0.50)
-9%
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
$9.48
$8.66
$0.82
9%

Eternal staples:  Prices for cards in the eternal formats are mixed this week. Modern staples are dropping. Not too surprising. A lot of pros, and their friends and helpers, have been practicing    Modern in the run-up to the Mythic Championship. Since the MC is upon us, a lot of those players are selling off their modern cards and getting back to Standard – or piling up TIX to spend on War of the Spark events.
 

Eternal Format Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$26.35
$26.57
($0.22)
-1%
$17.39
$17.75
($0.36)
-2%
$23.57
$28.37
($4.80)
-17%
$17.77
$16.85
$0.92
5%
$10.66
$10.94
($0.28)
-3%
$31.02
$31.10
($0.08)
0%
$20.11
$21.72
($1.61)
-7%
$25.21
$26.62
($1.41)
-5%
$32.26
$36.40
($4.14)
-11%
$30.88
$28.20
$2.68
10%
$49.27
$50.55
($1.28)
-3%
$28.67
$28.37
$0.30
1%
$36.10
$36.77
($0.67)
-2%
$21.51
$24.60
($3.09)
-13%
(Lord Windgrace)
$28.94
$26.75
$2.19
8%
$38.16
$43.56
($5.40)
-12%
$16.27
$19.97
($3.70)
-19%
$42.74
$49.55
($6.81)
-14%
$66.61
$66.89
($0.28)
0%
$8.31
$10.77
($2.46)
-23%
$18.88
$21.04
($2.16)
-10%

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
Core Set 2019
$99.36
$96.35
$3.01
3%
Dominaria
$34.46
$33.48
$0.98
3%
Guilds of Ravnica
$119.02
$125.20
($6.18)
-5%
Ixalan
$21.27
$21.27
$0.00
0%
Ravnica Allegiances
$106.14
$107.60
($1.46)
-1%
Rivals of Ixalan
$21.37
$21.10
$0.27
1%
Treasure Chest
$2.17
$2.17
$0.00
0%
Ravnica Allegiance Booster
$1.89
$2.37
($0.48)
-20%

 
 
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.  The list is interesting, at the least. The cards at the top of the list have changed.  
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $ 230.77
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $ 130.99
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $ 92.64
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $ 88.48
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $ 78.16
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $ 76.89
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $ 76.72
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $ 66.61
Mox Pearl
 1E
Rare
 $ 65.18
Time Walk
 1E
Rare
 $ 61.41
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $ 52.87
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $ 52.29
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 51.11
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 49.27
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $ 49.02
Arclight Phoenix
 GRN
Mythic Rare
 $ 45.85
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $ 45.83
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 43.59
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 43.48
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $ 42.74
Liliana of the Veil
 UMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 40.61
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $ 39.00
Liliana of the Veil
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $ 38.79
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $ 38.16
Karn Liberated
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $ 36.39
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $ 36.27
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $ 36.10
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper
 RNA
Mythic Rare
 $ 35.92
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $ 35.82
Gemstone Mine
 TSB
Rare
 $ 33.90
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $ 33.76
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.63
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.33
Engineered Explosives
 UMA
Rare
 $ 33.10
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $ 33.04
Engineered Explosives
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.34
Gemstone Mine
 WL
Uncommon
 $ 32.26
Timetwister
 1E
Rare
 $ 32.07
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $ 31.92
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $ 31.76
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 31.54
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 31.02
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $ 30.88
Lord Windgrace
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $ 28.94
Karn Liberated
 UMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 28.67
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 28.04
Chalice of the Void
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $ 27.97
Back to Basics
 UZ
Rare
 $ 26.95
Force of Will
 MS3
Mythic Rare
 $ 26.54
Back to Basics
 UMA
Rare
 $ 26.35
Dark Depths
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $ 26.27
Liliana, the Last Hope
 MS4
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.84
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $ 25.80
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $ 25.72
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.21
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.18

 
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 $ 15,120. That’s up $25 from last week.   
 
In Closing
I have been playing a little Arena, a little MTGO, and a little paper, but mainly I’m waiting for War of the Spark. Tabletop Prereleases this weekend. War of the Spark will also be on MTGO and Arena later today (This was written on Thursday). I have my TIX / gold ready.
 
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO. “4MWords” on Arena.
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.