one million words's picture
By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jan 11 2019 1:00pm


State of the Program for January 11th 2019
In the News
Ravnica Allegiance: We are in spoilers season for the new set. The set mechanics article is here. The official card image gallery is here.  Allegiance hits MTGO and Arena on January 17th. That’s just under a week from now. Wizards has also promised us an article on bringing the set to MTGO, but that article isn’t up as I write this.
Leagues Ending Soon: All the leagues end after the next downtime. Get your matches in now.
Mythic Championship Qualifier Tomorrow: You can qualify for the Mythic Championship on MTGO, and your next chance is tomorrow (Saturday, January 12th, at 7am PT. It is sealed. Good luck.
Replays Working Again (maybe?):  Wizards has announced that they have fixed a number of issues with replays.   However, replay difficulties are also first on the list of new issues in the most recent bug blog.
GP Oakland Finals Concession: The GP finals ended rather abruptly when Hunter Cochran conceded to catch a flight. The players had already arranged a prize split, so they were not really playing for anything.   And, yes, this is all perfectly legal. The Magic Tournament Rules state clearly that players can split in the finals or a single elimination event (which this was), and players can concede at any time. So calm down, people.
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 MCQs each weekend, with qualifiers for limited MCQs running the days immediately prior to the MCQ.

Upcoming Events
Scheduled Downtimes
January 16th
Constructed Leagues End
January 16th 2019
Sealed Leagues End
January 17th 2019
Ravnica Allegiances
January 17th 019
Next B&R Announcement
January 21, 2019

WotC Premier Events
Wizards has announced a number of Premier events. Everything on this list in 2018 will be streamed. No word on what sort of coverage we will see for events in 2019.

·       Jan. 11: Prague – Limited
·       Jan. 25: New Jersey – Limited
·       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 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:
·       Ultimate Masters – phantom through January 11th
·       Vintage Cube – now through January 17th
·       Ravnica Allegiances – starting January 17th
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: Three Things I Don’t Understand about Arena
I do not yet have not a significant amount of playtime on Arena. In fact, I have barely touched the program. So maybe that’s why I’m confused about a number of choices that Wizards has made. That said, here are my top things that confuse me about Arena.
Number I : Arena’s Deck Import Format:
Over the last two decades, Wizards has taught the world to use simple text list to import decklists into its digital Magic client. The MTGO decklist format is simple. Most of the world uses that format – but Arena does not. Here’s a decklist in Arena and MTGO import formats.

MTG Arena
3 Carnage Tyrant (XLN) 179
2 Druid of the Cowl (M19) 177
4 Jadelight Ranger (RIX) 136
4 Llanowar Elves (M19) 314
4 Merfolk Branchwalker (XLN) 197
1 Midnight Reaper (GRN) 77
1 Plaguecrafter (GRN) 82
2 Ravenous Chupacabra (RIX) 82
3 Wildgrowth Walker (XLN) 216
1 Assassin's Trophy (GRN) 152
1 Cast Down (DAR) 81
3 Vraska's Contempt (XLN) 129
3 Find // Finality (GRN) 225
2 Karn, Scion of Urza (DAR) 1
3 Vivien Reid (M19) 208
1 Detection Tower (M19) 249
8 Forest (GRN) 264
1 Memorial to Folly (DAR) 242
4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253
5 Swamp (GRN) 262
4 Woodland Cemetery (DAR) 248
1 Midnight Reaper (GRN) 77
1 Plaguecrafter (GRN) 82
1 Assassin's Trophy (GRN) 152
1 Cast Down (DAR) 81
1 Vraska's Contempt (XLN) 129
4 Duress (M19) 94
2 Golden Demise (RIX) 73
2 The Eldest Reborn (DAR) 90
2 Thrashing Brontodon (RIX) 148
3 Carnage Tyrant
2 Druid of the Cowl
4 Jadelight Ranger
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
1 Midnight Reaper
1 Plaguecrafter
2 Ravenous Chupacabra
3 Wildgrowth Walker
1 Assassin's Trophy
1 Cast Down
3 Vraska's Contempt
3 Find / Finality
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Vivien Reid
1 Detection Tower
8 Forest
1 Memorial to Folly
4 Overgrown Tomb
5 Swamp
4 Woodland Cemetery
1 Midnight Reaper
1 Plaguecrafter
1 Assassin's Trophy
1 Cast Down
1 Vraska's Contempt
4 Duress
2 Golden Demise
2 The Eldest Reborn
2 Thrashing Brontodon

Why would you do this, Wizards? 
The MTGO format is simple. It is easy to create decklists in that format, and import them into MTGO.   I have created many hundreds, probably many thousands, of decklists and imported them into MTGO. I have dictated decklists into my phone and texted them to my laptop. I have typed decklists into Notepad while watching coverage, or while multitasking.   I may have even typed up decklists while on really boring conference calls.  I can often remember the names of the cards – even those Legends with strangely spelled names. 
I don’t remember set numbers. I don’t want to have to find set numbers to upload my decklists.
More importantly, Wizards has taught most content creators and Magic websites to offer their decklists in MTGO format, so players can easily import the decks into MTGO. Websites around the world have a near infinite number of decklists in MTGO format. Those websites will now have to reprogram their pages to support MTG Arena formatted downloads. More importantly, if Wizards ever wants to add Modern to Arena, all those websites (including the mothership) will have to re-enter all those decklists in add Arena format.
I don’t understand why Wizards would create a new download / upload format. 
Number II: The Deckbuilder
This is another reason I believe Wizards when they say they will never bring Eternal formats, like Legacy, to Arena. The Deckbuilder does not seem capable of supporting it.

I am not very familiar with the Arena deckbuilder. I have mainly watched others using it. Maybe that’s why I don’t understand why Wizards did what they did.
The deckbuilder looks like it was tweaked for building draft or sealed decks. It looks great for that sort of purpose. On the other hand, I cannot see that deckbuilder working for large collections. For example, I have over 50,000 cards on each of my accounts in MTGO – and that’s after shipping off my fifth copies of most everything. I cannot imagine building a deck with a collection like that on Arena – and on Arena you cannot get rid of junk commons cards.  
Arena is good for what it does, but I worry that the deckbuilder will need to be rewritten before Wizards can get use Arena for eternal formats.
Number III: No Three-Game-Match Challenge Mode
Wizards launched Arena once it was clear that the program worked – where “worked’ was defined as “Magic games could be played with functional cards, solid rules enforcement and flashy animations.” And that is what it does. Wizards added challenge mode – the ability to play games with your friends – later on.   I have no problem with the fact that Wizards added that feature late in the beta. That’s fine. I’m just glad they got it into the client.
What I do not understand is why challenge mode is only available for single game matches. That makes no sense. It seems to me that the same code that enables challenges in single game matches could be reused to allow for three game match challenges. That seems especially strange given that Wizards wants to run serious tournaments on Arena. We have already had a finals in an Arena event decided by a deck/decklist error game loss (seriously). That would have been completely avoided it Arena had allowed players to challenge for three game matches.
Maybe that’s coming soon. I hope so.
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: It’s the end of the format – we will have Ravnica Allegiance in two weeks. But for now, we have what we have. I’m hoping to get to a store tournament next week – a last gasp before rotation. Here’s what I plan on taking. Actually, here’s what has done well recently, which is very close to my less tuned version. ;)

: GP Oakland was a Modern event – but a small one by recent standards. Just under 1,200 players showed up to play Modern on the coast. A couple years back, we had Modern events twice that size.   Also, this event had a ton of Ironworks decks (albeit Ironworks decks are heavy, so a ton is not all that many.)

: Reid Duke played in a Legacy Challenge, and recorded the event. The video is here. I won’t spoil where he finished, but I will say he did well. Reid is one heck of an Elves player.
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. The next set fast approaches, so expect changes as people begin speculating on the next metagame.

Standard Cards
Last Week
% Change
Arclight Phoenix
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Carnage Tyrant
Doom Whisperer
Karn, Scion of Urza
Nexus of Fate
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
Rekindling Phoenix
Sarkhan, Fireblood
Star of Extinction
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Vivien Reid

Modern staples: Modern prices have stabilized a bit. This looks like the sort of churn we had a year or two back. It’s nothing special.

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are mixed, but not very active. The table is still shrinking – if this continues, I may end up combining the Modern and Legacy/Vintage tables. 

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
Rivals of Ixalan
Treasure Chest
Guilds of Ravnica 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 tale is a few cards longer, and True-Name Nemesis is back on.

Black Lotus
Mox Sapphire
Mox Emerald
Mox Ruby
Ancestral Recall
Mox Jet
Surgical Extraction
Surgical Extraction
Mox Pearl
Time Walk
Horizon Canopy
Dark Depths
Mythic Rare
Mox Opal
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
Arclight Phoenix
Mythic Rare
Horizon Canopy
Mythic Rare
Mythic Rare
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
Horizon Canopy
Liliana, the Last Hope
Mythic Rare
Force of Will
True-Name Nemesis
Mythic Rare
True-Name Nemesis
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare

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 $ 12,015. That’s up just $5 from last week, and down $10 from two weeks ago.   Not a lot of movement.       
In Closing
I’m still catching up at work instead of playing Magic. Also, Guild Wars 2 dropped a new release, and I may be spending what time I have playing that. GW2 is still way more fun than Arena – at least to me, at least so far.
“One Million Words” on MTGO 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.