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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Feb 01 2019 12:00pm
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State of the Program for February 1st  2019
In the News
Pack Per Win Queues Gone: Wizards has eliminated the pack-per-win queues on MTGO. They claimed that the queues were not popular enough, and are pushing players towards the more competitive queues.  
No Coverage of GP New Jersey, Maybe No Coverage of GPs at All: Wizards decided not to cover GP New Jersey – the first limited GP with the new set – at all. Wizards made an announcement about this in the way they do: a random Wizards employee responded to an individual query at 10pm on a Saturday night. Wizards also claimed, in a Q&A on Twitch with the Professor from Tolarian Academy, that they were not cutting coverage, and that details will be coming “Real Soon Now.”   Wizards did not commit to covering anything beyond the Mythic Championships.
KCI Banned in Modern: The most recent B&R announcement had one change – Krark-Clan Ironworks is banned in Modern. The deck was good, but it was not fun to watch or play against, and revolved around a really weird rules interaction. Even Matt Naas, who won a couple Modern GPs with the deck, had said it should probably go, and it did. I’ve played KCI, but I’m not really sad to see it go. 
Craig Gibson Fired: Craig Gibson has been the Wizards photographer at major events for over 20 years. All the iconic shots of PT winners, all the best shots of the action at Worlds, GPs, etc. – the best ones were all taken by Craig Gibson. So were my photos in the Judge Center. Wizards firing Gibson says volumes about their plans to cut coverage of paper Magic to the bone.
Details of the Arena Invitational Announced: Wizards has announced 56 of the 64 players for the first Arena invitational, to take place in March. The first half are 31 of the 32 players in the Magic Pro League (see next story). The remainder of the invites have gone to Twitch streamers. Notably absent are other long term pros who were in ranked 33-64 when the Magic Pro League was formed. The last 8 spots will go to the players who finish at the top of the Arena ladder at the end of February.   Details here.
Rei Sato DQ:  Rei Sato was disqualified from GP Prague. It was one of those opportunistic cheats – a sudden, instant decision to try to undo a mistake by doing something outside the rules. These happen a lot, and the player investigations committee generally does not recommend a suspension in such cases, and did not recommend one here. However, Rei Sato is a member of the Magic Pro League, which Wizards holds to a higher standard. Mr. Sato’s invitation to the first Mythic Invitational has been revoked. Wizard’s statement is 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 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
Scheduled Downtimes
February 27th
Constructed Leagues End
Sealed Leagues End
War of the Spark
April, 2019
Next B&R Announcement
March 11, 2019
Ravnica Allegiances Redemption
September 2019
January, 2020
Spring, 2020

WotC Premier Events
Wizards has announced a number of Premier events. No word on what sort of coverage we will see for events in 2019. There may not be any.
·       Feb. 1: Sydney – Limited
·       Feb. 8: Toronto – Modern
·       Feb. 15:   Memphis – Standard AND Strasbourg – Limited
·       Feb. 22: Cleveland – Limited
·       March 1: Los Angeles – Modern
·       March 15: Tampa Bay – Modern AND Bilbao - Modern
·       March 22: Kyoto – Standard
·       March 23: Arena Invitational – will be streamed
·       March 29: Calgary – Modern
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:
·       Ravnica Allegiances limited happening now
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: Burnout and Arena
No, this is not why I’m writing less. 
This week, and last week, were nuts. Yesterday, I logged in at a little after 5am, and finally quit to go get dinner and bed shortly before 9pm. And so on.
I really wanted to get an article out last week. I had it partly done. Ditto this week, but I have to cut the opinion section, and the CET, and so forth. And I still will get this to Joshua about 5 minutes before it is supposed to be posted. And that’s really bad – the goal is 5pm the previous day.
And I’m not saying that I am editing this, and will be posting it from work, but that sort of thing may have happened. 
I am eating lunch at my desk. 
Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts about the end of coverage, the way Wizards communicates critical info, and Arena. Several of those sections are partly drafted. They will appear – hopefully next week.
Of course, I hoped for that last week, too.
Cutting Edge Tech
Not this week; Sigh…
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 over a decade now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.
Standard Staples: Standard prices are all over the place again this week, but the movement is pretty slight. What’s up with Nexus of Fate?

Standard Cards
Last Week
% Change
Arclight Phoenix
Carnage Tyrant
Doom Whisperer
Dovin, Grand Arbiter
Hydroid Krasis
Karn, Scion of Urza
Nexus of Fate
Prime Speaker Vannifer
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
Rekindling Phoenix
Seraph of the Scales
Spawn of Mayhem
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Vivien Reid

Modern staples: Modern prices are down this week. I suspect I will be combining the Modern and Vintage tables next week.

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are down a bit since two weeks ago.

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Last Week
% Change

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
Last Week
% Change
Core Set 2019
Guilds of Ravnica
Ravnica Allegiances
Rivals of Ixalan
Treasure Chest
Ravnica Allegiance Booster

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 a shorter, at 25 cards.

Black Lotus
 $ 200.54
Mox Sapphire
 $ 111.16
Mox Ruby
 $    73.77
Mox Emerald
 $   72.18
Mox Jet
 $    62.83
Ancestral Recall
 $    61.64
Mox Pearl
 $    49.98
Time Walk
 $    45.94
Dark Depths
Mythic Rare
 $    34.59
Surgical Extraction
 $    34.33
Surgical Extraction
 $    33.37
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 $    33.32
Hydroid Krasis
Mythic Rare
 $    32.61
Mythic Rare
 $    31.18
Arclight Phoenix
Mythic Rare
 $    31.08
True-Name Nemesis
 $    29.81
Horizon Canopy
Mythic Rare
 $    27.31
True-Name Nemesis
Mythic Rare
 $    26.86
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $    26.44
 $    26.37
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $    26.17
Horizon Canopy
 $    25.99
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $    25.54
Force of Will
 $    25.00
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic 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 $12,555. That’s down about $735 from two weeks ago.       
In Closing
Work interfered. I did manage a couple games of Arena. I lost one when I fell asleep at the keyboard.   
Also, it was -34 degrees F yesterday morning. My dog was not happy going outside. I wasn’t happy, either. Even with flannel-lined blue jeans, long underwear, heavy shirts, a fleece and a really good winter coat, 34 below is cold. You can do silly things, like throw water in the air and have it freeze before it hits the ground – but it was too cold to even want to do that. 
“One Million Words” on MTGO
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.


cutting paper coverage by Wrath of Pie at Fri, 02/01/2019 - 15:22
Wrath of Pie's picture

A reminder of what I wrote on Dec 14:

I expect that with Arena that tabletop Magic will still be supported, just not with tournament play as that will eventually be all Arena all the time. Instead, the focus will be on the casual players, which would help explain why retailers such as Walmart and Amazon now sell booster boxes as it increases accessibility to these players.

Sadly, that does mean that the traditional LGS model is in danger, because they not only have to compete with these large retailers, but a lot of their inventory is geared toward the competitive players and their prices are not competitive with online options. The best option for those LGSs is to transition into the cafe business while allowing renting of board games and usage of space for casual players, but that creates its own set of problems.

Commander will be the primary paper format going forward, and Brawl was an attempt to make the format more palatable to both the casual users and to the higher-ups because of the focus on Standard cards and rotation.

Where that leaves MTGO is in an awkward space, because the most profitable formats for Wizards are Standard and Limited, and it makes more sense to support those on Arena. I suspect there will be a plan to phase it out, with no collection compensation whatsoever, but it will take a while. This does mean that Modern's future is in danger, but that is probably of minimal concern to the higher-ups.

The recent moves fit with this paradigm, in that it makes more sense to go after the casual players because they spend money on actual product, unlike most of the top-tier competitive players.

Channel Fireball is apparently taking over coverage, as they have announced they are taking on text coverage and it is likely that they are also going to take over video coverage even though no official announcement has been made, and it makes sense for Wizards to outsource their tournaments as much as possible, because money spent on tournaments is better used for player acquisition via Arena.

Remember that the number one priority for Wizards is Hasbro shareholders, and it is their responsibility to maximize return on investment, which the GP/PT circuit does not do well enough compared to what is expected from Arena. While that may seem unfair to enfranchised players, the reality is that their opinions do not matter that much given the business model does not favor them.