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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Feb 20 2015 1:00pm
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State of the Program for February 20th 2015

In the News:

A Bazillion Bug Fixes Implemented this Week: With this week’s downtime, Wizards fixed a big list of bugs. These included a lot of annoying bugs I had experienced, and a number I didn’t even know existed.  Well done Wizards.
I was on Freed from the Real: I got to sit in on the Freed from the Real podcast this week. Catch it here.  I thoroughly enjoyed it. AJ’s a good host, and we spent a fair amount of time on everything, up to and including sideboarding in chess. (I was mixing metaphors.)  We also discussed the state of Modern, and the articles by Paulo, Matt Sperling, Ari Lax and Frank Lepore.    
2014 Magic Online Championship to be Held May 15-17thThe Magic Online Championship will be held in Seattle, at Wizards HQ, May 15th -17th.  The 16 players will include the twelve MOCS seasonal winners, the Player of the Year Championship winner, the winners of the two Last Chance Qualifiers and last year’s champ, Lars Dam. The event will be broadcast on Details here.
MTGO Promos Announced: The MOCS promo for next season will be an alt art Courser of Kruphix. The store promo will be an alt art Hordeling Outburst and the event promo will be an alt art Sultai Charm. Nice selection: nothing insanely expensive, but all are solid, widely played cards.
New Event Manager and New Event Schedule: (from last week, but updated) Lee Sharpe has taken over as events manager for MTGO, which is great. Lee is a data-driven guy. He is also willing to try things out, starting with the daily events schedule. Up until now, the Dailies ran at the same time all week. He is changing that – now event start times are staggered throughout the week. M15 sealed events, which haven’t fired, are gone. Likewise, Momir Vig dailies are being replaced with more on-demand events. This frees up some slots, which will be filled with a mix of Vintage, Pauper and some other formats - at least for now. Lee will be crunching the numbers, and if some of this doesn’t work, he’ll try something else. The article introducing Lee and explaining the schedule changes is here. Also of note – the release queues have ended, so look for FRF drafts in the normal sealed queues, not the release queues.
From the Vault Angels Announced: The next From the Vault will be FtV: Angels, due for release on August 21, 2015.  The announcement is here. It will be released online in October. I talk about it further in the opinion section.   
Extended Downtime Next Week: The downtime on February 25th will be long. 
Wizards is Hiring: A few of the job postings Wizards put out this week include Associate Graphic Designer and SDET Magic Digital Performance Analyst.
MTGO PTQ Page Updated:  For all the details on Pro Tour Magic Origins qualifiers and preliminaries, as well as information on the Magic Online Pro Tour Challenge, check out this page.

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. Here’s what we know, want or are tracking. 
Item: date and notes
·         Standard PTQ Finals: this Saturday, 9am Pacific,
·         Sealed PTQ Finals: this Sunday, 7am Pacific,
·         MOCS Season 3: Champs 7am Pacific, March 14th. Prelims. March 11th-13th
·         Fate Reforged Limited Champs Qualifiers: Wed. Feb. 25th – March 3rd
·         Fate Reforged Standard Champs Qualifiers: March 4th – March 10th
·         Fate Reforged Limited Championship: 8am Pac, Saturday, March 7th 
·         Fate Reforged Standard Championship: 8am Pac, Sunday, March 15th 
·         Leagues (June 2015?) Wizards said leagues will return in 2015.
·         Modern Masters II: May, 29, 2015. Mirrodin through Zendikar. Details here.
·         From the Vault: Angels: October 12, 2015. Details here.
·         Magic Origins: released on MTGO July 27th, prerelease likely July 23rdor July 24th Code: ORI

The Bug Blog Update:

The Bug Blog and Known Issues List is a weekly post by Wizards covering the most common known issues in MTGO. The Known Issues list is here. A huge list of bugs were squashed this week.

Opinion Section: From the Vault Angels

I have been playing Magic for a long time. For a lot of that time, Angels were cards that appealed to little kids, and were often decent in limited, but that was about it. Sure, Serra Angel was an important part of Brian Wiesmann’s The Deck, but that was back in 1996, and that deck also included Feldon’s Cane and Millstone as win conditions. By2000, Serra Angel was out of control deck lists. The rule back than was that you never cast any spell costing 5 mana unless it won you the game. Morphling protected itself and won you the game. (Psychotog) won you the game. Angels did not. I did have a few angels in my first PTQ Top 8 deck, but that was Masques Block constructed. After that, Angels were in the same category as Craw Wurms: fun for little kids but not even close to tournament playable.  At least, that was the case for a decade or so. Spells were always better than creatures. This was obvious by Necro Summer and by Combo Winter it was simply accepted as gospel.
Over time, Wizards learned that some kinds of Magic were not fun and not really good for the game. Wizards stopped reprinting Stone Rain, and the last true land destruction deck disappeared when Wildfire and Magnivore rotated out of the Core Sets.  Likewise, Counterspell became Cancel and instant speed card drawing got scarcer. This was an attempt to limit draw-go control decks. However, Wizards didn’t really change the common wisdom until they adopted the design philosophy that creatures matter. Wizards began designing creatures that were at least as good as the spells. You can point to a number of creatures that exemplify that design chance, but one early standout is clearly Baneslayer Angel
As I noted, my first reaction to FtV: Angels was a big yawn. I imagined a reprint of Archangel and Serra Angel, which seemed useless. I also remembered when Wizards made a big marketing push out of Sengir Vampire returning in Torment, and what a complete non-event that was. But then I thought of Baneslayer, and Restoration Angel and Iona and I realized that I may have been too hasty. Even if I just used the criteria that a card had to have been a critical part of a Tier One deck, I could find at least 15 angels. Maybe FtV:Angels wouldn’t be pure marketing - it might actually be a valuable reprint.  
The next question was whether it would be successful online. A lot of cards are a lot cheaper online than in the paper world. It was entirely possible that no list of 15 angels would be worth enough to equal the $34.99 MSRP. I decided to do some checking. I pulled together a quick list of the angels worth more than a buck online. We used that list over on the Freed from the Real podcast. My apologies for missing Iona during the cast, but we added her to the list in post-production.  The short version – there are certainly plenty of cards that justify the MSRP online, but it will depend on what gets printed. Here are some thoughts:
·         Serra Angel: super iconic, but she has already been printed 20 different times, from Alpha on. We have several versions of Serra Angel art. If someone like Terese Nielsen or Rebecca Guay does some sweet new art it might be worthwhile, but I’m hoping she doesn’t make the set.
·         Radiant, Archangel: She’s cheap online because of VMA, but she was only printed in paper in Urza’s Legacy. She also fits in well with an angels theme, so I suspect she will make the list. 
·         Decree of Justice: probably not, cool idea, but it has been reprinted in both a dual deck (Kiora v. Elspeth) and a Commander deck in the last year. Too soon.
·         Fallen Angel: another iconic angel from Legends, and lots of core sets afterwards. Lots of history, but Fallen Angel hasn’t been playable for a decade. The set is likely to have a couple of oldies (but not necessarily goodies, no matter how you define goodie), but hopefully not too many.
·         Entreat the Angels: I hope so. This is a money card online, and around $10 in the paper world. This is probably the card that makes or breaks the set online. If it’s in, the set is almost certainly worth the money. If not, maybe not.
·         Restoration Angel:  Certainly important, with a strong history of tournament success. The only downside is the she was a launch party promo in the real world. With a lot of collector foils already out there, Wizards might choose other options. 
·         Baneslayer Angel: I can’t imagine here not making the cut. So important in so many ways, and still Modern playable. 
·         (Reya, Dawnbringer): Amazing and collectible, but she has already made the cut in a lot of other products. She was in Invasion, then 10E (including as the Launch Party promo), then Anthologies and now Conspiracy. Like Serra, she would require some sweet new are to make her exciting.
·         Exalted Angel: Probably – she has some nice tournament success and the one special treatment (a Judge foil) is selling well. 
·         Archangel of Thune and Angel of Serenity:  I would be very surprised if Wizards reprinted a Mythic from the current Standard sets. Even Sublime Archangel might be too soon, but it’s not impossible. Avacyn, Angel of Hope seems more likely to me – still very recent, but very iconic.
·         Iona, Shield of Emeria and Sigarda, Host of Herons: Along with Entreat the Angels, these are the cards I will be looking for when I think about buying the set online.   
The set comes out, in the paper world, in September. We will know by then.

Random MTGO Suggestion of the Week: 

MTGO should have an option for an email alert when your round is starting. This would not have to be a default setting so that the overhead does not become extreme. Having to manually activate it each time would prevent overuse and reduce overhead costs. Even with that restriction, such a feature would be extremely useful at times. For example, I was in a sealed event yesterday. My pool was reasonable, my deck good and I won round one in about 10 minutes. Since no other match was finished, I started doing some repair work while I waited. I had set my phone timer for 25 minutes, but apparently everyone else also finished early because I returned to find that I had timed out. I missed the chance to play more rounds with a fun deck, missed out on prizes and more, simply because MTGO has no way of notifying players outside of the client that the round has started. By comparison, whenever I run a paper event, I delegate someone to tell the smokers and anyone buying stuff in the store area that pairings are up. Just common courtesy.     
I submitted this suggestion to If you have recommendations or advice, send them to that email address. Wizards does read them.  Wizards does implement many of the good ideas folks have, but not if they don't hear about them.  Send in your suggestions.     

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: We had a Standard GP last weekend. The winning deck was not a burn deck, and did not have Siege Rhinos. A similar deck made Top 4 of the paper PTQ – one of the last of the old style PTQs in our area, before losing to RW burn. Coverage of the GP is here.
UB Control
Immanuel Gerschenson, Winner, Grand Prix Seville 2015
1 Pearl Lake Ancient
1 cards

Other Spells
2 Crux of Fate
2 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Dig Through Time
3 Jace's Ingenuity
4 Bile Blight
4 Hero's Downfall
1 Silence the Believers
1 Perilous Vault
4 Disdainful Stroke
4 Dissolve
27 cards
5 Island
5 Swamp
3 Radiant Fountain
4 Polluted Delta
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Dismal Backwater
28 cards

Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Legacy: SCG ran an event in Legacy. The winner used a combo I have always expected to see more play: Food Chain and Misthollow Griffin generate infinite mana, albeit only for playing creatures. Still, this used to be a thing with Goblins, to the extent of getting Goblin Recruiter banned, so I expected it to reappear. Now it has.
Vintage: The Vintage Super League is in week three. LSV has won again. He is playing a Doomsday deck, which is tricky to navigate. Luis has had little trouble so far – even though he misclicked on a kill in the final game this week, the misclick only turned an instant kill into a kill the following turn.

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 oscillated this week, but the trend was generally up.   

Standard & Block Cards
Last Week
% Change

Modern staples:  Modern prices are showing the effect of the new metagame defined by the recent Pro Tour. 

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy / Vintage staples: Legacy and Vintage prices were mixed this week, but Vintage staples from VMA fell hard. Rishadan Port is now much more expensive than Black Lotus, and Wasteland is threatening to pass it as well. 

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.    

Complete Set
Last Week
% Change
Born of the Gods
Fate Reforged
Journey into Nix
Khans of Trakir

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. This week, VMA took a hit. Black Lotus is still atop the heap, but Port is closing. All the real power (Timetwister has never been real power) is still on the list, but not by a lot. 

Rishadan Port
 $ 156.29
Black Lotus
 $ 123.00
 $ 113.35
 $ 109.57
 $   87.69
Liliana of the Veil
 $   83.26
 $   82.67
Mox Sapphire
 $   64.97
 $   58.82
Mox Opal
 $   57.08
Force of Will
 $   50.17
Show and Tell
 $   47.23
Vendilion Clique
 $   46.47
Karn Liberated
 $   45.00
Infernal Tutor
 $   43.04
 $   42.46
Ancestral Recall
 $   42.32
Containment Priest
 $   40.32
Vendilion Clique
 $   40.24
Mox Ruby
 $   39.43
Time Walk
 $   39.08
Mox Jet
 $   37.11
Primeval Titan
 $   36.92
Tangle Wire
 $   36.17
Primeval Titan
 $   34.48
Noble Hierarch
 $   34.27
Fulminator Mage
 $   33.94
City of Traitors
 $   32.96
Scalding Tarn
 $   32.81
Toxic Deluge
 $   32.19
Hurkyl's Recall
 $   30.80
 $   30.69
Undiscovered Paradise
 $   30.06
 $   29.92
Volcanic Island
 $   29.69
 $   28.87
Dark Depths
 $   28.83
Mox Emerald
 $   28.73
 $   28.54
Force of Will
 $   28.20
 $   27.93
Mox Pearl
 $   27.57
Sneak Attack
 $   27.40
Gaea's Cradle
 $   27.28
Twilight Mire
 $   26.91
Auriok Champion
 $   26.91
True-Name Nemesis
 $   26.57

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 $ 25,100. That’s down about $1,100 from where we were last week, and that requires an explanation.   The explanation is simple – reduced their minimum price for cards. In the past, the lowest price for rares and uncommons was a couple cents. Now, a lot of rares and uncommons sell for a penny each.   That may not sound like much, but with over 20k non-foils on MTGO, dropping a couple thousand even a couple cents adds up.

Weekly Highlights:

The PTQ at Gnome Games in Green Bay was a success. The Top 8 was full of RW decks, many running Monastery Mentor and Outposts and Chandra. It also had a UB control deck and some Jeskai builds, but a surprising shortage of Siege Rhinos. Standard is a wide open format. I consider that a very good thing.
Sitting in on the Freed from the Real podcast was also a major highlight. It was a lot of fun and I hope I get to do it again.
“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 four 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. 


all white? by mindlesslemming at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 13:09
mindlesslemming's picture

im interested to see if they can sell a pack of 15 white cards... white is personally my least favorite color to play. aren't all the other FTV sets a balanced variety of 5 colors?


This is actually something by AJ_Impy at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 13:40
AJ_Impy's picture

This is actually something which occurred to me whilst reading the article. It is a definite trend for the FTVs to touch upon all colours and artifacts, which is something we saw clearly in FTV:Annihilation. So, I suspect we may well see angels of all five colours, which isn't particularly difficult given the plethora of Bant, Boros and Orzhov Angels to choose from. Lightning Angel would fit the bill well, Angel of Despair is probably the most well-regarded in black, Platinum Angl is a shoe-in for an Artifact representative.

Also, you're definitely on the 'Ask again' list, Pete. It was indeed fun!

My Guess... by Fred1160 at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 15:58
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I really expect Akroma and Linvala to be in the set. I would hope that Platinum Angel is a shoo-in.
I can't see them doing the set without Baneslayer.
Just remember that Wizards is doing the set so you know there will be plenty of chaff in the set. Wizards can't ever get anything completely right. At best they can get something 75-80% right and most of the time they can't even reach that bar.
Wizards makes the game but it's the community that makes the game great.

Crazy that Rishadan Port is by ScionOfJustice at Fri, 02/20/2015 - 16:47
ScionOfJustice's picture

Crazy that Rishadan Port is $30 more expensive the Black Lotus.

yeah, it's bad. I'd way by Joe Fiorini at Mon, 02/23/2015 - 22:45
Joe Fiorini's picture

yeah, it's bad. I'd way rather have a Lotus myself.

At one point I thought about getting into vintage, but didn't think I could afford it, but looking at my wastelands, I think I could have gotten a big chunk of the power nine for that many tickets.

You only need 1 lotus, you by Fragoel2 at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 09:38
Fragoel2's picture

You only need 1 lotus, you usually play 4 ports

too bad, mtgotraders changed by Bartimäus at Sat, 02/21/2015 - 15:44
Bartimäus's picture

too bad, mtgotraders changed their price policy-that was really a ray of light in this bot world; I ll see whether there are possibilities

Tempest Block Redone... by Fred1160 at Mon, 02/23/2015 - 20:20
Fred1160's picture

They are taking Tempest block and reducing it by half to make cards more accessible... and made some of the cards mythic rares. There were no mythic rares in Tempest block! Wizards takes a great idea and STILL finds a way to screw it up.

I'm not enthusiastic about by Joe Fiorini at Mon, 02/23/2015 - 22:47
Joe Fiorini's picture

I'm not enthusiastic about Tempest Remastered. The real reason anyone cares about these drafts is the important, hard to find, staple cards like Wasteland. And I bet they went and made it Mythic. Nice.

As much as I despise this by Paul Leicht at Tue, 02/24/2015 - 00:09
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As much as I despise this move in particular it is par for their course. They are very consistent about not tanking too hard cards that are big in the 2ndary market. Except of course when it suits their purposes (IE: The neutering of half the collections on MTGO via Old Extended vs New Extended (TM pending.))