one million words's picture
By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Aug 17 2018 11:00am
3
Login or register to post comments
1091 views


 

State of the Program for August 17th 2018
 
In the News
Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan Redemption Back through August 22nd: The long-awaited redemption packs for XLN and RIX have finally arrived. They are available until gone, or next Wednesday, whichever comes first, so order now.
 
Article on Programming Chaos Drafts: Wizards published an article on bringing Chaos Drafts to MTGO. Read it here.
 
Wizards Hires New Marketing Agency: Wizards signed an agency agreement with advertising company The Martin Agency. This agreement allows The Martin Agency to spend money –over $500,000 per year – on marketing Wizards products. No word on whether this change is a result of the Silver Showcase debacle.  Details here.
 
Modern Legal Cards in Modern Masters?:   In a recent poll, Wizards asked customer what they would think of boosters with new cards that are legal for Modern but not for Standard. Using sets like Modern Masters to print cards that belong in Modern but would mess up Standard? I’ll talk about that in the opinion section/ Click of the question is here.
 
Magic Mics Kickstarter:  The trio at Magic Mics are doing a Kickstarter to do a complete set review on video. Magic Mics did this for Dominaria, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Kickstarter is funded, but additional revenue means additional special guests, etc., so check it out. Details on the Kickstarter are here.
 
Grand Prix PTQs Back to Original Formats: ChannelFireball had changed the format of some of the PTQs at upcoming GPs to Modern. Several players – players who had made travel plans based on the prior formats – complained. CFB is now reverting the PTQ to the originally announced formats, and adding additional Modern PTQs to these events. Seems like a win-win.
 
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
Dates
Scheduled Downtimes
August 29th and September 26th (both extended)
Constructed Leagues End
September 25, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
September 28, 2018
Guilds of Ravnica
October 5, 2018
Ravnica Allegiance
January 2019
Next B&R Announcement
August 20, 2018
Dominaria Redemption Ends
October 10, 2018
Core Set 2019 Redemption Ends
December 26, 2018

 
WotC Covered Events
Wizards will be streaming a number of events next year, including all four Pro Tours, the Magic Championship and World Magic Cup, along with 35 Grand Prix. Since Wizards does not schedule premier events on prerelease weekends and certain holidays, that means they will be streaming an event nearly every weekend. Here’s the schedule we have so far.
·       Aug. 18–19: Grand Prix Los Angeles
·       Aug. 25–26: Grand Prix Prague
·       Aug. 31–Sept. 2: Grand Prix Richmond (double-GP weekend)
·       Sept. 8–9: Grand Prix Detroit
·       Sept. 15–16: Grand Prix Stockholm
·       Weekend of Sept. 23–24: 2018 Magic World Championship and Team Series Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada (exact event dates TBD)
·       Oct. 6–7: Grand Prix Montreal
·       Oct. 13–14: Grand Prix Denver
·       Oct. 27–28: Grand Prix Lille
·       Nov. 3–4: Grand Prix Atlanta
·       Nov. 9–11: Pro Tour "Spaghetti" in Atlanta
·       Nov. 17–18: Grand Prix Milwaukee
·       Dec. 8–9: Grand Prix Liverpool
·       Dec. 14–16: World Magic Cup in Barcelona, Spain
 
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:
·       August 15-August 22: Cube Spotlight Series: Pro Tour Cube
·       August 22-August 29: TBD
·       August 29-September 5: Triple Khans of Tarkir
·       September 5-September 28: Legacy Cube
 
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
Saturday, 12:00 pm PT
Sunday, 8:00 am PT
Sunday, 10:00 am PT
Sunday, noon PT

 
Opinion Section:  Nexus of Fate
Last week, I wrote about Nexus of Fate.   I did some back of the envelope calculations, (number of stores * cards per store compared to total print run for other sets) and concluded that Nexus of Fate could be in short supply. This week, Wizards sources claimed that the number of Nexi printed was actually higher than the number of a any given M19 Mythic. If that’s true, and I assume it is, then Nexus of Fate will just be another reasonably expensive card.
 
I am wondering what I got wrong. It could be that I underestimated the number of WPN premier stores. I may also have misunderstood how many copies each store could get. I may also have overestimated the size of print runs of current sets (but I hope not.) Or it could be all of the above. For that matter, it is possible that Wizards has not distributed all of the Nexus of Fate cards printed (there could even be a non-foil run, for all I know.) Wizards’ statement also said that the number of M19 Mythics in print is less – but most sets go through a couple printings. Whatever – the price of Nexus of Fate at major paper dealers is dropping, and they have copies in stock. So it’s all good. Crisis apparently averted / not happening. 
 
The reason that I led with that is that I want to talk about something similar – and I needed to admit to my mistakes first.
 
Wizards ran a poll recently asking whether players liked or disliked the idea of having boosters with new cards that are legal in Modern but not in Standard. The clear implication is that wizards is considering including new cards in future Modern Masters sets.  Currently, Wizards includes new cards in Commander and Conspiracy sets, but those cards are only legal in Legacy and Vintage tournaments. Some cards have moved from these sets into Standard – Scavenging Ooze is one example – because they are reprinted in Standard-legal sets. However, some cards are simply too good, or too unbalancing, to be printed in Standard. For example, Wizards has stated that the classic card Counterspell – UU, counter target spell – would warp Standard in ways Wizards does not like. Since Mercadian Masques block, back at the turn of the century, the standard hard counter is Cancel, at 1UU. Counterspell is too good for Standard, but would it unbalance Modern?  That’s debatable, and I’m not going to opine on whether it should be in Modern. I’m simply using Counterspell as an example of a card that could be made Modern legal, but could not be printed in a Standard legal set.  Up until now, that meant it could never become Modern legal.
 
Wizards probably also has a ton of cards that are just a bit too good for Standard that they would like to get into print. Some of these will appear in Commander, Conspiracy and similar products, but that restricts them to Legacy and Vintage (and Commander, of course). Allowing some of those cards into Modern Masters  - with the caveat that they will be Modern playable – would be great. 
 
Adding new cards to future Modern Masters sets would also shake them up a bit. The last couple Modern Masters sets have not done well. That is partly because Wizards has set the price so high players cannot afford to draft them. It is partly because the draft environments have seemed a bit stale, since there is just so much you can do when limited to the Modern card pool. 
 
If Wizard allowed itself to include cards in Modern Masters that were not already in the Modern Masters card pool, that would be great. Wizards could add cards from old set to Modern, as well as crafting cards specifically for Modern. It would also allow Wizards to get cards like Alpine Moon into Modern without making us open them in Standard drafts. (That said, Alpine Moon is in the Core Set.  One primary purpose of the Core Set is to be a place for cards like Alpine Moon.)
 
The last couple Modern Masters sets have been disasters. Stores are not very happy with that, and are balking a bit at buying more. Wizards needs to fix this. Adding new cards to Modern Masters sets would be a plus. Not enough, but a plus.
 
First, Wizards needs to keep Master limited play new and interesting. New cards could really help here.
 
Second, Wizards needs to keep the EV of the set high. It needs to include more chase cards, and far fewer copies of cards like Tree of Redemption and Plague Wind.  If Wizards can include brand new cards in Masters sets, that could help.  
 
Third, Wizards needs to cut the price of Masters sets back to $6.99 per pack. Players need to be able to play multiple drafts. Pricing the packs at $9.99 each means drafts cost $30, and that is really expensive. Both my wife and I have good-paying jobs, but we decided not to buy or play Masters 25. It just wasn’t worth it. Now the original Modern Masters was priced at $6.99, and we went to Las Vegas for that one, then played more of it once we got home. $6.99 is not necessarily the perfect price, but $9.99 was way too expensive for what Masters 25 delivered. 
 
The one downside of putting new, Modern legal cards in Masters sets is the possibility that the cards are in too short of supply to meet the need.   This could indeed be a problem if the card is high demand, is printed as a Mythic and the set does not sell. Wizards can avoid that problem by pricing the set reasonably, and ensuring that, if they print a new colorless card that is going to go in a ton of decks, it’s first printing is at rare. 
 
If, on the other hand, Wizards prints a new Modern—only equivalent of Karn or Heart of Kiran at Mythic, in a set prices at $9.99 and with an EV of around $6, players will scream. Wizards, we don’t want another Masters 25. Period. 
 
    
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: We had two Standard GPs last week. The day two metagame at GP Orlando was 33% RB Aggro, 13.1% Turbo Fog, 10% Steel Leaf Stompy, and 45% everything else. GP Brussels was pretty similar: 32.5% RB Aggro, 14.2% Turbo Fog, and 9.6 % Steel Leaf Stompy.  The Top 8 were mixed, but a number of Esper Control lists broke through in Europe.
 
 
Modern: Remember Humans? I haven’t featured it for a while, but I probably should. It won the MOCS. Militia Bugler sounding off.
 
 
Legacy: Last weekend’s Legacy Challenged features a deck I have sleeved up in paper, and play occasionally. Dang thing is super expensive in paper, but not all that bad online. And I find combo fun to play – although not always fun to play against.
 
 
 
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: Standard prices are back to a normal level of fluctuation and churn this week. Nexus of Fate is falling now that treasure chests bonanza is pumping up the supply.       
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Carnage Tyrant
$12.23
$11.38
$0.85
7%
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
$7.49
$6.45
$1.04
16%
Heart of Kiran
$4.17
$8.02
($3.85)
-48%
History of Benalia
$5.56
$5.79
($0.23)
-4%
Karn, Scion of Urza
$29.07
$32.45
($3.38)
-10%
Lyra Dawnbringer
$7.48
$8.81
($1.33)
-15%
Nexus of Fate
$13.74
$37.00
($23.26)
-63%
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
$15.53
$15.55
($0.02)
0%
Rekindling Phoenix
$32.50
$31.36
$1.14
4%
Sarkhan, Fireblood
$7.85
$6.14
$1.71
28%
Search for Azcanta
$7.61
$7.00
$0.61
9%
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
$38.87
$38.69
$0.18
0%
Vivien Reid
$5.93
$6.29
($0.36)
-6%
Vraska's Contempt
$7.72
$7.42
$0.30
4%
Walking Ballista
$10.96
$9.57
$1.39
15%

Modern staples: Modern prices were back to normal this week. This is more like what we expect. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$14.89
$15.68
($0.79)
-5%
$27.15
$25.65
$1.50
6%
$27.36
$23.13
$4.23
18%
$19.12
$18.78
$0.34
2%
$18.95
$20.70
($1.75)
-8%
$42.72
$40.86
$1.86
5%
$23.05
$23.33
($0.28)
-1%
$43.15
$40.31
$2.84
7%
$42.47
$35.80
$6.67
19%
$29.09
$33.02
($3.93)
-12%
$15.78
$17.59
($1.81)
-10%
$31.24
$30.92
$0.32
1%
$33.56
$28.28
$5.28
19%
$45.08
$42.20
$2.88
7%
$25.90
$26.18
($0.28)
-1%
$27.53
$26.55
$0.98
4%
$35.16
$33.45
$1.71
5%
$16.12
$16.09
$0.03
0%
$10.39
$9.46
$0.93
10%

Legacy and Vintage: I culled a couple cards from the list, including Brightling and Arcane Artisan. Containment Priest is on the bubble – again. That cards swings a ton.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$26.16
$25.64
$0.52
2%
$38.55
$37.01
$1.54
4%
$11.44
$16.25
($4.81)
-30%
$14.62
$14.20
$0.42
3%
$23.12
$23.56
($0.44)
-2%
$33.00
$32.04
$0.96
3%
$30.95
$30.95
$0.00
0%
$19.92
$19.63
$0.29
1%
$56.56
$56.48
$0.08
0%
$12.15
$10.30
$1.85
18%
$19.50
$18.50
$1.00
5%
$22.59
$23.40
($0.81)
-3%

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
Aether Revolt
$47.50
$48.34
($0.84)
-2%
Amonkhet
$40.14
$40.32
($0.18)
0%
Core Set 2019
$135.61
$158.41
($22.80)
-14%
Dominaria
$115.83
$120.25
($4.42)
-4%
Ixalan
$79.47
$73.28
$6.19
8%
Hour of Devastation
$14.69
$14.95
($0.26)
-2%
Kaladesh
$33.10
$28.83
$4.27
15%
Rivals of Ixalan
$81.18
$77.81
$3.37
4%
Treasure Chest
$2.29
$2.29
$0.00
0%
Core Set 2019 Booster
$3.19
$3.27
($0.08)
-2%

 
 
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 pretty stable – holding at about 60 cards. 
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $    89.90
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $    58.78
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $    56.56
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $    54.71
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $    53.62
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    48.82
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $    48.69
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $    45.90
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $    45.08
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $    43.68
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $    43.57
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $    43.47
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $    43.33
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    43.15
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $    42.99
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $    42.72
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $    42.64
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $    42.48
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $    42.47
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $    40.90
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $    39.72
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $    39.59
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $    39.27
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $    38.87
City of Traitors
 TPR
Rare
 $    38.55
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $    36.84
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    36.72
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $    36.64
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $    35.83
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $    35.16
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $    33.73
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $    33.56
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $    33.50
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $    33.37
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $    33.00
Rekindling Phoenix
 RIX
Mythic Rare
 $    32.50
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $    31.24
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $    30.95
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    30.73
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $    29.12
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $    29.09
Karn, Scion of Urza
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $    29.07
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $    28.45
Time Walk
 1E
Rare
 $    27.99
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $    27.63
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    27.62
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $    27.53
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    27.41
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $    27.36
Noble Hierarch
 CON
Rare
 $    27.23
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $    27.15
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $    27.06
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $    26.94
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $    26.16
Mox Pearl
 1E
Rare
 $    26.03
Noble Hierarch
 MM2
Rare
 $    25.90
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $    25.00

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 $ 16,800. That’s up about $200 from last week. 
 
In Closing
Marshal Sutcliff has a series of videos, called MTG Breakdown, in which he views videos of classic matches and discusses them with one of the players. This week, his guest was Brian David Marshall. They viewed video of the very first large Magic event BDM hosted – and one of the first Magic events ever. The video dates from 1994. You get to see what Magic was like back then, and see people shuffling unsleeved Black Lotuses and dying the The Rack. It is as old-school as it gets. Watch it here, because it’s great.
 
I ran a Modern PPTQ last weekend. The event had a great Top 8 – and even better Top 4. Two burn decks, an 8 Rack deck and a BR Vengevine build.   Why is that a great Top 4? I had a two hour drive to get home, and that Top4 played out super fast.   
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 

4 Comments

Although the risk of making by Rerepete at Fri, 08/17/2018 - 13:48
Rerepete's picture
4

Although the risk of making limited supply cards is greater, the freedom of WotC to make FRESH, balanced limited environments outweighs this, IMO.

I agree with Pete that the retail price of the packs make a large difference in the preconceived images of the set, no matter how well designed it is for limited play. Would Innistrad or Dominaria been as interesting at release if the pack price were higher? Not likely! People tend to look first at the EV and think the fun of the format is a bonus. WotC (and the supply of MtG cards) would do better if they kept the introductory price lower and went more for repeat business, because the set is a blast to play.

The trick WotC has to juggle is: How do you make a fair environment when you need to increase the supply of unfair cards?

Thank you Pete for speaking by MichelleWong at Sun, 08/19/2018 - 18:28
MichelleWong's picture

Thank you Pete for speaking out against M25.

Let's hope that in this 2018 (the "Year of the Feedback" as WotC put it) they will finally learn and correct their policy errors.

re by Hearts at Mon, 08/20/2018 - 06:18
Hearts's picture

We must hear about the gatherer/oracle next opinion section please.

How it isnt absurd to know what is written below each card in the format on gatherer.com .

How this isnt an overwhelming mitigating circumstance in almost every case of (potential) stalling in wpn matches.

Lets hear about that please.

Hear about how certain cards (you have to read the whole gatherer to know which) doesnt do what they say, OR, doesnt say what they do (there is a difference), and how a certain cr paragraph kicks in when a certain OTHER card is present -------> now you can start multiplying card numbers with each other in gatherer to get combinations of possibilities that isnt in any way supposed to create long thinking periods / stalling.

......how this isnt the biggest stall of ALL in the whole MtG world, including kitchen tables. Wotc is the source, ppl loose respect for wpn, judges and players crash at events.

...

Come to think of it, gatherer.wizards.com is actually the ultimate proof that the Comprehensive Rules actually isnt a functioning document for magic playing.

I look forward to reading by TheWolf at Thu, 08/23/2018 - 07:09
TheWolf's picture

I look forward to reading what you come up with. I'm sure the site would love for you to write an in depth article on it. You are the expert, after all, so it'd be better for you to write it than Pete.