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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Feb 02 2018 11:33am
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State of the Program for February 2nd 2018
 
In the News
Magic Story Hints at Future Set Locations:  The latest episode of the Magic Story (here) pretty much promises that the Gatewatch will return to Ravnica once again. As part of a plan to trap / sabotage Nicol Bolas. So, Ravnica once more. We just don’t know when.
 
Wizards Registers New Trademarks: Wizards has registered two new trademarks: “Manastrike” and “Planesiege” for online games of some type. Wizards also registered a number of new web domains with similar names (e.g. PlayPlaneSiege.com.) No idea what the products those names might be associated, but   
 
Redemption Updates (repeat from last week): Starting at the end of this month, redemption requests will be processed early Tuesday mornings, instead of Thursdays. Amonkhet redemption will be available late February or early March. Ixalan reprints have been ordered, but no date yet.
 
Team Modern Super League Next Tuesday: The next season of Super League will begin next Tuesday night.  The teaser video is here.  This time around, it is a team competition with Modern decks. Each Team will field three decks, and play in the “Conqueror” format, meaning that players are eliminated (for that week) with a loss, and continue with a win. Each team will submit 6 decks, using modified combined construction rules, and their opponents can ban one. The team can choose from any of the remaining 5 decks. Interesting format, which is detailed here. So are the team rosters.
 
 
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 Extended Downtimes
January 31st and February 28th
Constructed Leagues End
April 18, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
April 23, 2018
Core Set Magic  2019
July 13, 2018
25th Anniversary Edition Masters
March 16, 2018
Next B&R Announcement
February 12, 2018
SOI and EMN Redemption Ends
April 28, 2018
Ixalan Redemption Ends
May 23, 2018
Rivals of Ixalan Redemption Ends
May 23, 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.
·       Feb. 3–5: Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in Bilbao, Spain
·       Feb. 10–11: Grand Prix Toronto
·       Feb. 17–18: Grand Prix Lyon
·       Feb. 24–25: Grand Prix Memphis
·       March 2–4: Magic Online Championship in Renton, Washington
·       March 10–11: Grand Prix Madrid
·       April 6–8: Grand Prix Seattle (double-GP weekend)
·       April 14–15: Grand Prix Memphis
·       April 28–29: Grand Prix Bologna
·       May 5–6: Grand Prix Dallas
·       May 11–13: Grand Prix Birmingham (double-GP weekend)
·       May 26–27: Grand Prix Washington, DC
·       June 1–3: Pro Tour Dominaria in Richmond, Virginia
·       June 9–10: Grand Prix Copenhagen
·       June 15–17: Grand Prix Las Vegas (double-GP weekend)
·       June 23–24: Grand Prix Pittsburgh
·       July 7–8: Grand Prix São Paulo
·       July 21–22: Grand Prix Sacramento
·       July 28–29: Grand Prix Minneapolis
·       Aug. 3–5: Pro Tour 25th Anniversary in Minneapolis, Minnesota
·       Aug. 11–12: Grand Prix Brussels
·       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
Complete details, including schedule, rules, and which online events qualify you for which online or paper events is here.  
 
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

  
Opinion Section:  The MTG Arena Economy
Wizards has started revealing how the MTG Arena economy will work. It is complex, and new. It is not a rehash of the Hearthstone model: Wizards says that making players trash their collections is a “feels bad.”  The video in which Wizards gives us the basics of the new economy is here. The article is here. Let’s break this down.
 
First, Wizards has stated that there will be no crafting – we will not be shredding cards to make new cards. Wizards has also stated that there will be no trading. Players will buy / earn / be awarded cards, and that is how cards get into players’ collections.  No trading, and no dealers – which is bad news for the store that supports this website.
 
We do know that players can spend real money to buy gems, which can be used to buy other things. What this means is that, if you want, you could simply buy a collection immediately. To do so, buy gems to buy booster packs and crack them. The booster packs (discussed below) will give you cards, including wildcards (also discussed below), and fill your vault which will give you more wildcards. Presumably gems can also be used to enter drafts, etc. We don’t know, yet, how much money would be needed to buy a deck or collection. This is partly because Wizards hasn’t told us, and partly because they are tweaking the numbers all the time. One of the purposes of the betas is to play with numbers like this.
 
Players can also purchase things with gold, a currency earned in the game.  We have seen (in the videos on Twitch.tv/magic) players earning points by winning games, meeting daily goals and completing quests. Gold can be spent to buy boosters, and presumably to enter drafts, etc. – but the beta does not yet support drafts so we don’t know. It’s early times.
 
Purchasable boosters are just eight cards – 5 commons, 2 uncommons and 1 rare or mythic rare. That makes some sense, since the usual mix means you get many, many copies of each common before you complete a set of uncommons, much less rares or mythics.  Shorting us on commons makes sense. More importantly, once you have four copies of a card, additional copies beyond the fourth give you “Vault progress.” Once you have earned enough vault progress, you can open the vault and get something of value. At present, opening the vault gives you eight wildcards: 4 common, 2 uncommon, 1 rare and one mythic. (Wildcards are discussed below.  Wizards has not given us an exhaustive list of how you earn credits, other that opening boosters, or how fast you fill the vault. And its beta, so those numbers may change.
 
Right now, the beta awards cards for winning matches and completing quests. On the video, the “reward” for winning a one-game match was a random uncommon and a wildcard.
 
I should mention that MTG Arena will support drafting, and the drafts will be “normal” drafts with 14 card booster packs (regular packs with no basic lands.)   Wizards has said, in videos, that drafts will be “you keep the cards.”   This may imply that there will also be phantom drafts, but nothing is certain. However, since it appears that a streamer could collect the entire set long before a new set arrives, I suspect phantom is an option.
 
I have mentioned wildcards. These are digital vouchers that can be converted into any card of the same rarity. A rare wildcard can become any available rare. A mythic rare can become any mythic rare, and so forth. This means that, when you open the vault, you will find four commons you need (assuming you need commons), plus 2 uncommons you need, the rare you need and a mythic you actually need. That sure beats opening a random bad card., or something you will never play. This seems like a great way to earn the deck you want, and to have a decent chance at getting a good constructed deck without spending money. I don’t know how much grinding will be required – both because I am not in the beta (if I was I couldn’t write this) and because it is a beta and all these numbers may change.
 
I think the concept is sound.   Magic decks change, and cards that were useless often become worthwhile when a new set enters the format. Wizards is giving us a way of getting the decks we need now, without having to craft away the cards we may find we need at a later time. I like the concept. Whether this model works, however, will depend on what boosters cost, what drafts cost, and how fast your Vault fills.  All of those numbers are in flux.
 
We can only wait for further information.
 
Wizards has said that players will be able to stream MTG Arena play in the next couple weeks. I look forward to seeing whether a good streamer can go infinite on the program, or if they will have to feed in gems to keep drafting. Stream play will also let us see what the pairing algorithm is like: will a streamer with Tier One decks and a complete collection be paired against players with five rares and one mythic in their entire card pool, or will ranked matchmaking actually work. We can only wait and see.
 
What is clear is that players will not be able to “cash out” of MTGA. This means Wizards will have a difficult balancing act. Players will need to earn cards fast enough that they have a good chance to acquire one decent constructed deck in a reasonable amount of time, for a reasonable amount of play.   By “reasonable,” I mean what a player with a real job and other obligations can put into the program. On the flip side, streamers who play for 5-8 hours a day are going to earn cards and decks a lot faster. Can Wizards find a way to let the average players play tier one decks while still finding ways to reward streamers and heavily-invested players months into a format?   That is a tough balancing act.  And that’s why we have betas.
 
I think the concept is really good, and could work. As the old saying goes, however, the devil is in the details. And we don’t have details – not yet. 
 
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: SCG ran a team trios again, but they also ran a large “Classic” event. That is single player, and the winning deck had to get there on its own strength. The Top 16 is here. The winning deck is old-school: we ran 16 Mountains in RDW2K, eighteen years ago. The rest of the deck is new versions of the same burn and weenies that we saw almost two decades ago. The creatures are a lot better and the spells are worse, but it plays pretty much the same.
 
Modern: The Pro Tour will be starting as this goes up. The format is Modern. The Pro have been brewing for weeks, so we may see some new tech. So this week I am just looking at fun decks. This one qualifies, and it is great for online play. (In the paper world, you need to remember all the triggers. Practice!) Corbin Hosler’s video of playing the deck is here.
 

Pauper: Pauper is real. ChannelFireball is offering Pauper events at GPs now, and the events are popular. The Pauper event at GP London topped 300 players! Time for me to build some paper Pauper decks.   Like this one – fascinating, and you can find it featured in MTGGoldfish video

 
Legacy: Death and Taxes won the Legacy Challenge last weekend. Deck is appropriately named.
 
 
Vintage: No large Vintage events over the holidays, so I’m looking through the Leagues. Nothing new.
 
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 generally down this week. The main interest is on Modern for the Pro Tour, and the big recent events have been team events, so interest is down. With luck, we will see some innovative decks do well at large events, and generate some interest in the format.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$5.67
$6.97
($1.30)
-19%
$6.08
$5.35
$0.73
14%
$10.00
$10.83
($0.83)
-8%
$31.11
$34.71
($3.60)
-10%
$7.35
$7.61
($0.26)
-3%
$5.48
$6.95
($1.47)
-21%
$14.76
$14.67
$0.09
1%
$9.10
$10.78
($1.68)
-16%
$6.08
$6.01
$0.07
1%
$7.92
$15.80
($7.88)
-50%
$15.71
$16.85
($1.14)
-7%
$7.23
$6.28
$0.95
15%
$37.05
$33.96
$3.09
9%
$15.89
$17.62
($1.73)
-10%
$8.13
$9.50
($1.37)
-14%
$13.01
$11.38
$1.63
14%

Modern staples:  Modern is doing okay. We will see what the Modern PT brings. Wizards is hoping for big things for the format – but they have scheduled a B&R announcement for shortly thereafter, just in case.
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$22.59
$23.78
($1.19)
-5%
$24.66
$25.23
($0.57)
-2%
$30.60
$32.62
($2.02)
-6%
$23.58
$29.57
($5.99)
-20%
$18.89
$13.55
$5.34
39%
$20.94
$18.31
$2.63
14%
$21.02
$20.40
$0.62
3%
$33.07
$37.81
($4.74)
-13%
$30.85
$30.83
$0.02
0%
$28.21
$27.18
$1.03
4%
$36.49
$35.06
$1.43
4%
$52.91
$53.17
($0.26)
0%
$28.12
$27.52
$0.60
2%
$53.43
$52.10
$1.33
3%
$19.34
$18.95
$0.39
2%
$29.13
$29.72
($0.59)
-2%
$18.99
$21.08
($2.09)
-10%
$27.27
$26.36
$0.91
3%
$22.80
$23.07
($0.27)
-1%

Legacy and Vintage: A pretty quiet week this week. I added a couple of cards, like Containment Priest) to the list. Exploration is down.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$39.35
$39.88
($0.53)
-1%
$22.31
$21.42
$0.89
4%
$19.84
$21.24
($1.40)
-7%
$52.10
$62.30
($10.20)
-16%
$41.99
$38.69
$3.30
9%
$18.17
$19.43
($1.26)
-6%
$33.24
$33.86
($0.62)
-2%
$40.99
$40.99
$0.00
0%
$15.98
$15.43
$0.55
4%
$21.66
$21.45
$0.21
1%
$30.80
$30.75
$0.05
0%
$25.93
$24.35
$1.58
6%
$73.77
$67.81
$5.96
9%
$18.61
$18.67
($0.06)
0%
$14.08
$13.03
$1.05
8%
$41.10
$41.78
($0.68)
-2%

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
$81.01
$84.11
($3.10)
-4%
Amonkhet
$77.10
$80.36
($3.26)
-4%
Ixalan
$70.97
$76.85
($5.88)
-8%
Hour of Devastation
$71.84
$67.82
$4.02
6%
Kaladesh
$104.30
$113.70
($9.40)
-8%
Rivals of Ixalan
$70.48
$81.33
($10.85)
-13%
Treasure Chest
$2.47
$2.50
($0.03)
-1%
Ixalan Booster
$3.23
$3.27
($0.04)
-1%
Rivals of Ixalan Booster
$3.39
$3.44
($0.05)
-1%

 
 
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. Nothing is above a hundred bucks. The list hasn’t changed much this week.
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $   106.76
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $     73.88
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $     73.77
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $     64.65
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $     62.37
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $     58.16
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $     56.86
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $     54.88
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $     54.20
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $     53.43
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $     52.91
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $     52.10
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $     50.46
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $     49.81
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $     49.45
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $     48.96
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $     46.08
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $     44.70
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $     43.99
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $     42.19
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $     42.19
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $     41.99
Mox Pearl
 1E
Rare
 $     41.47
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $     41.10
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $     40.99
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $     39.35
Time Walk
 1E
Rare
 $     38.09
The Scarab God
 MS3
Special
 $     37.33
The Scarab God
 HOU
Mythic Rare
 $    37.05
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $     37.01
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $     36.58
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $     36.49
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $     36.23
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $     35.94
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $     35.54
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $     34.76
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $     34.20
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $     34.07
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $     33.24
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $     33.07
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $     32.38
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
 KLD
Mythic Rare
 $     31.11
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $     31.10
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $     30.85
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $     30.83
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $     30.80
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $     30.60
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $     29.98
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $     29.13
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $     28.91
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $     28.66
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $     28.63
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $     28.28
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $     28.21
Containment Priest
 PZ1
Rare
 $     28.20
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $     28.12
Blood Moon
 8ED
Rare
 $     27.51
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $     27.28
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $     27.27
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $     26.99
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $     25.93
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $     25.87
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $     25.74

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 $ 20,040. That’s down $750 from last week – the second week in a row with a big drop. 
 
Weekly Highlights
Long and chaotic workweek, but I have been cramming to get stuff done so I have the weekend free.  My plan is to watch the Pro Tour on one screen while playing some MTGO on the other.  I need to figure out this format.  My sample size is small, but I am unbeaten in draft, and have literally not won a match in sealed.  I don't understand how that happens, but more play will certainly balance those numbers.  
 
If you want some videos beyond Pro Tour coverage, or just want something a bit lighter - did you know that MTGOTraders has a YouTube channel?   It does, and it is watchable.  Some of their "test drive" decks are pretty cool.   
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 

10 Comments

re by Hearts at Sat, 02/03/2018 - 04:47
Hearts's picture

Pete talks about a balancing act.
That balancing act is already lost, it is "unacceptable" that people like LSV and Chapin cant play proper electronic drafts in the arena-future with other online players without; 1) investing money again, OR 2) managing to sell mtgo items for a fair price. (They will NOT manage to sell mtgo items at a fair price because mtgo will become a ghost land/prices crash. Earlier they could sell cards for tickets to spend on mtgo-drafts/sealed.)- MtgO will not even be usable for older constructed formats shortly after arena hits, and it will surprise me if not older formats will be played on arena 1-2 years after arena becomes available. I also think that the pro tours will not have other formats than limited and standard during those 1-2 years.

So, it will be all about buying the mtg collections yet again for the most active players, which practically doubles the profit for wotc.

It wont surprise me if mtgo closes down completely before the year 2020, support even earlier than that.

I suspect that WotC would not by Rerepete at Sat, 02/03/2018 - 12:46
Rerepete's picture

I suspect that WotC would not leave the MTGO users twisting in the wind should they decide to totally shut down MODO. The PR damage from the many deeply enfranchised players there would be difficult to overcome without some type of compensatory agreement.

Remember, a lot of those players are highly visible in the Magic community: Pros, streamers, youtubers, etc.

re by Hearts at Sun, 02/04/2018 - 17:34
Hearts's picture

Compensatory agreement;

Yes, I saw/heard that too. Rosewater said that he wouldnt like it at all if not the mtgO players were going to be compensated. Helene Bergeot supported Rosewater at once when Rosewaters said that. Larabee and Buehler were quick and said the same too, and in addition said that they had said/talked about the same before they had heard Rosewater say it. The ones working in the canteen said they wanted the mtgo players to be compensated too.

It's only that some days later the head chairman for wotc came and held a meeting, and in that meeting he said that they could indeed not compensate the mtgo players. When Rosewater and co heard that they said "awwwww !"(how sad.).

...

Compensation..........my............_______ !

Please cite sources. by JXClaytor at Mon, 02/05/2018 - 08:31
JXClaytor's picture

Please cite sources.

How does one properly cite by longtimegone at Tue, 02/06/2018 - 13:39
longtimegone's picture

How does one properly cite their posterior as a reference?

I believe you take a selfie by Paul Leicht at Tue, 02/06/2018 - 14:03
Paul Leicht's picture

I believe you take a selfie and post it somewhere? Or alternatively expect people to just believe you when you say it. :p

make a ranting youtube video? by JXClaytor at Tue, 02/06/2018 - 21:02
JXClaytor's picture

make a ranting youtube video?

So far as things are I hardly by stsung at Sun, 02/04/2018 - 09:39
stsung's picture

So far as things are I hardly imagine any MODO player playing Arena. I honestly think that both will coexist at least for a while. With things how they are now I can't really see older formats being played in Arena as it is really not good at many things and there are many things Arena can't do so far.

We will see about how expensive playing Standard will be on Arena, but unlike MODO Arena does not allow us to win money or cash out. So far it seems to be a hell for streamers... at least in the style I was doing - playing different decks, talking about the metagame and stuff. You could possibly stream grinding or limited...which as I understand is common. But imagining I'd have to stream Arena daily, I'd go crazy.

The balancing act will have to happen soon and fast. The economy is super slow and it seems to have many flows so far. Playing for 8 hours straight or 1 hour doesn't really make a difference as the EV goes down very fast. Unless RNG is kind to you.

Just a a thing to note...I participated in several closed betas for f2g and Arena is the first one that doesn't have a working economy from day 1.

re by Hearts at Sun, 02/04/2018 - 15:36
Hearts's picture

Things will not be like you say it I am certain.

re by Hearts at Wed, 02/07/2018 - 18:02
Hearts's picture

Next article/opinion section we need to (or I would like to hear about) hear about the warning system in paper magic.

If you do three wrongs in same category then you get a game or match loss.

But if you do one in each category, and there are perhaps 8 or 9 categories, then you can do one wrong in each and not get any penalty from the judge.

9 offenses, perhaps in same match against same player.

Seems like a clown circus system to me

(Joshua here: I edited an attack out of this. I'm willing to put up with the ranting you post here, because mainly they are harmless. I am not willing to put up with you attacking writers. This is your only warning)