one million words's picture
By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jan 15 2016 1:00pm
Login or register to post comments

State of the Program for January 15th 2016


In the News:

Oath of the Gatewatch almost Here: The paper prereleases begin today.   The official card gallery is here. The mechanics article is here. The prerelease will run from Friday the 29th through Monday, February 1st. Release events will start immediately thereafter. You will be able to use product to enter the release events. Details here.
Leagues Closing in Two Weeks: All Leagues wrap up with OGW in just under two weeks. Exact dates are in the Timeline, below. Once the old leagues close, new leagues with OGW cards will be opened a few days later.
OGW Streamer Showdown January 29thWizards will be previewing Oath of the Gatewatch content on MTGO with a Streamer Showdown on January 29th.   As always, Wizards will host two drafts composed entirely of streamers. The drafts will run mid-afternoon and evening, PDT. Watch it on player’s streams on 
The Proxy Kerfuffle: The Internet exploded a bit last week with a discussion about proxies in Vintage and Legacy play.  A store was running an Eternal event with as big prize pool and allowing players to use proxies. Wizards contacted the store to remind it that proxies are not legal for sanctioned constructed events. This resulted in a few rounds of online reactions, comments and responses. As a result, Wizards discovered that its employees were not all on the same page. Eventually, Elaine Chase (senior director, global brand strategy and marketing for Wizards of the Coast) issued an official clarification, here.   The TL,DR: you cannot use proxies or counterfeits in any sanctioned event (exception – in limited, if a card is damaged, HJ can make a proxy.) Outside of sanctioned events, Wizards has no problem with things like playtest cards. 
Changes at the Mothership: Wizards is overhauling their web page. They are adding more content producers and covering more areas. The old “if-this-is-Tuesday-the-article-is” format is going away, as is the “content at 8am only” rule. The article describing the changes is here.

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 and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the Known Issues List. For quick reference, here are some major upcoming events.   In addition, there are either one or two online PTQs each weekend, with qualifiers running the three days prior to the PTQ.
Item: date and notes
·         Legacy Cube: Now through January 29th.   Details here.
·         Power Nine Challenge: Last Saturday of the month, at 11am Pacific. 
·         Modern League End Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
·         Standard League End Date: Monday, January 25, 2016
·         Pauper League End Date: Tuesday, January26, 2016
·         Sealed Leagues: Summer 2016
·         Oath of the Gatewatch Prerelease: January 29–February 1, 2016
·         Regional PTQs on MTGO: Standard. February 20 at 3 p.m. Pacific and February 27 at 5 a.m. Pacific.   Details here.
·         Shadows over Innistrad Prerelease: April 15-18, 2016. Details here.
Flashback Schedule:
Flashback drafts are 10Tix / 100 Play Points / 2 Tix plus product, not Phantom, single elim and pay out in play points: 200 for first, 100 for second, 50 for third and fourth. 
·         2 Mirrodin and 1 Darksteel: January 13, 2016 to January 20, 2016
·         Mirrodin, Darksteel, and Fifth Dawn: January 20, 2016 to January 27, 2016
·         Triple Champions of Kamigawa: February 17, 2016 to February 24, 2016
·         2 Champions of Kamigawa and 1 Betrayers of Kamigawa: February 24 to March 2, 2016
·         Champions, Betrayers, and Saviors of Kamigawa: March 2, 2016 to March 9, 2016
·         Triple Ninth Edition: March 9, 2016 to March 16, 2016
·         Triple Ravnica: March 16, 2016 to March 23, 2016
·         2 Ravnica and 1 Guildpact: March 23, 2016 to March 30, 2016
·         Ravnica, Guildpact, and Dissension: March 30, 2016 to April 6, 2016
·         Triple Coldsnap: April 6, 2016 to April 13, 2016
·         Triple Time Spiral: May 4, 2016 to May 11, 2016
·         2 Time Spiral and 1 Planar Chaos: May 11, 2016 to May 18, 2016
·         Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight: May 18, 2016 to May 25, 2016
·         Triple Tenth Edition: May 25, 2016 to June 1, 2016
·         Triple Lorwyn: likely June 1 to June 8
·         2 Lorwyn, Morningtide: likely June 8 to June 15
·         Triple Shadowmoor: likely June 15 to June 22
·         2 Shadowmoor, Eventide: likely June 22 to June 29
·         Triple Shards of Alara
·         2 Shards of Alara, Conflux
·         Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn
·         Triple M10

Flashback Drafts Format and No-Pass List:

The current flashback format is double Mirrodin plus Darksteel. The top money cards (those over $4) in that format are:
·         Oblivion Stone  $35.54   (Mirrodin)
·         Glimmervoid   $10.30    (Mirrodin)
·         Chalice of the Void  $8.99    (Mirrodin)
·         Chrome Mox   $8.34   (Mirrodin)
·         Arcbound Ravager $10.06    (Darksteel)
·         Trinisphere   $7.70     (Darksteel)
·         Sundering Titan   $7.57     (Darksteel)
·         Sword of Fire and Ice $7.23     (Darksteel)
·         Serum Powder   $7.00     (Darksteel)
·         Æther Vial   $5.89     (Darksteel)
·         Sword of Light and Shadow   $4.67     (Darksteel)
·         Mycosynth Lattice   $4.52    (Darksteel)
Next downtime, we will switch to Mirrodin / Darksteel / Fifth Dawn. The money cards to watch out for in that format are:
·         Auriok Champion $ 26.29
·         Crucible of Worlds $ 20.81
·         Engineered Explosives   $ 17.52
·         Staff of Domination $4.79
·         Vedalken Shackles $ 4.69

Opinion Section: Why I Don’t Write New Set Reviews (any more)

I started writing articles on the Internet back late last millennium, for The Dojo. My judgement back then was questionable.   I did have some fun, though. Here’s an excerpt from my new set review for Invasion. Note the toggles to turn italics on and off. This was a long time ago…
Saproling Symbiosis, 3G, Sorcery, Rare
You may play Saproling Symbiosis any time you could play an instant if you pay 2 more to play it. Put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play for each creature you control.
I love Saprolings decks, and this will fit right in. The first time this gets played, it won’t be great. However, cast it a few times, throw in a Regrowth and a few Restocks and a Gaea’s Cradle, and you could have some very fun turns.    With a god draw, you can have 60 (not a typo – <i>sixty</i>) Saprolings in play on turn 3. (Okay, Turn 1: Forest, Elf. T2: Gaea’s Cradle, tap forest for Elf, tap 1st elf for Bird, tap Cradle for Priest of Titania and Crop Rotate - rotate Cradle for another Cradle, tap it for 4, Symbiosis. T3: tap Bird and Priest, Symbiosis, tap Cradle for a ton, Restock to get 2 Symbioses, cast them both. Take some mana burn.) Sixty Saprolings. Then your opponent Earthquakes for 1 and you are back where you started from.
But I also said good things about Aether Rift and Devouring Strossus. In my defense, I was writing about casual, multiplayer back then, but these cards never saw play, even there.   
The article also included the immortal line: “So, you are doing the old Prosperity / Megrim / (Belbe’s Portal) / (Mask of Fury) / Elder Dragon Legend trick to send Nicol Bolas my way for the win? That’s trick never works.” That was in the comments on Backlash, which is a great answer to such shenanigans.     
The main problem with my reviews was that I just didn’t get the relative value right. For Invasion, I dissed the dragons. I talked up Devouring Strossus, which never saw play anywhere, and downplayed the dragons that won the Pro Tour later that year.  
From my Judgment review: [(Scalpalexis)] is yet another example of why I think Wizards gives blue all the best creatures. True, back then blue did get far more good creatures that green: at that time, blue creatures had the highest power, highest toughness, best evasion abilities, etc. This was before Tarmogoyf, back when Wizards thought that balanced hosers were Bull Hippo for green and Hibernation for blue. 
Looking back over old articles, I see that I highlighted Gift of Estates in my 9E overview. Gift is not Tithe, and Tithe is not Land Tax, and even Land Tax has not been a thing since 1996.   My article on Five Eventide Cards that Will Change Constructed called out Stigma Lasher.   No one heard that call. The Time Spiral Block Buy Now List mentioned Aeon Chronicler and (Norrin the Wary).  My review of AEther Vial said “Aether Vial is a cheaper (both in dollars and mana cost) version of Quicksilver Amulet or Dragon Arch, but the need to match mana costs to the number of counters makes it much worse. I don't see it replacing the Arches, Amulets, or Elvish Pipers.”
Admittedly, that sentence ends “for multiplayer and casual decks” because that is what I was mainly writing about back then.   However, pretty much no one ever cared about that in the comments. 
Finally, one more reason set reviews used to be more fun to write – we didn’t get official text until after the prerelease. We had to use the text from spoiler sites, and they were sometimes wrong. Here’s an example from my Champions of Kamigawa set review:
Of course, I can also work off the MTGNews spoiler, which is pretty close to complete. It may also be accurate, but as with all spoilers, there may be some errors. For example, here the text of one card, as it appears in the spoiler at this minute
Order of the Sacred Bell – 3G
Creature - Human Monk
Somehow, I don’t think that’s accurate. If it kills you – meaning you lose the game when you play it – then it is clearly one of those “skill testers” Randy Buehler likes to write about. It’s truly depressing how bad cards have to be to test our skills. If, on the other hand, it kills your opponent, then the card is undercosted, or missing a disadvantage. It should probably come into play tapped. 
I nailed that one.
Seriously, though, the main reasons I don’t do set reviews anymore:
·         You can read them everywhere.
·         I’m not actually all that good at them. Above average, but hardly at LSVs level.
·         I can write a bazillion words without set reviews.
·         Joshua would kill me if I turned in a 20k word set review just before deadline.

Random MTGO Suggestion of the Week

A method of doing private drafts, where you and seven buddies supply packs and draft yourselves. Better yet, six player private team drafts. (Or, if those already exist, some explanation on how to make them happen.)
If you have a suggestion for an improvement to MTGO, send it to

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: The GP last weekend was Standard. Reid Duke won GP Oakland playing 4 color Rally, over a 64 cards deck piloted by Ben Rubin. Playing 64 cards was not a mistake, and it ended up mattering when Reid tried to mill Ben out in the finals. Coverage is here
Blue Abzan (64 cards)
Ben Rubin, Second Place, GP Oakland
3 Den Protector
4 Siege Rhino
4 Anafenza, the Foremost
2 Hangarback Walker
3 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
4 Warden of the First Tree
11 cards

Other Spells
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Duress
2 Murderous Cut
3 Ultimate Price
4 Stubborn Denial
2 Dromoka's Command
19 cards
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
4 Windswept Heath
1 Llanowar Wastes
2 Forest
1 Plains
1 Swamp
2 Shambling Vent
2 Sunken Hollow
2 Prairie Stream
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Canopy Vista
21 cards

Siege Rhino
Modern:  The SCG Open last weekend had Modern as the feature format, and about 1,000 players showed up to play Magic for the second weekend in a row.  Despite having a Modern Pro Tour in the offing, we are still seeing new archetypes being revealed. The Top 32 decks are here.   
Heartless Eldrazi
Jacob Baugh, 50th place, SCG Modern Open Charlotte
4 Conduit of Ruin
1 Void Winnower
4 Kozilek's Channeler
4 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
4 Oblivion Sower
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Heartless Summoning
1 Dismember
3 Go for the Throat
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Expedition Map
3 Thoughtseize
1 Slaughter Pact
19 cards
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Eye of Ugin
1 Bojuka Bog
4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Ghost Quarter
1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
6 Swamp
1 Cavern of Souls
24 cards

Heartless Summoning
Pauper:   If you are looking to get into Pauper, or just curious about the format, you need to read Alex Ullman’s format overview. For now. The format ay change with some common 5 color lands coming in OGW.
Pauper Soul Sisters
MR_BUNNY, 5-0, Pauper League
4 Doomed Traveler
3 Order of Leitbur
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul's Attendant
4 Squadron Hawk
4 Suture Priest
23 cards

Other Spells
4 Battle Screech
1 Cenn's Enlistment
4 Guardians' Pledge
3 Raise the Alarm
4 Journey to Nowhere
16 cards
18 Plains
3 Quicksand
21 cards

Suture Priest
Legacy: The only largish Legacy event last weekend was the SCG one in Charlotte. It was, once again, won by Miracles. I wonder if Wizards will ban something to nerf that deck, simply because it is so boring to watch, or if Wizards has simply decided to let Legacy video coverage disappear. We will see when the new B&R list appears.   The T16 is here.
Vintage: The Vintage Super League Season 4 is continuing. Decklists from the first weeks are here. Here’s another archetype. This week, Efro played Shops (see two weeks ago), while Chris Pikula played Storm.

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 down this week. Not too surprising – we are about to have a new set hit Standard. A lot of people are brewing new decks and the old format seems stale.

Standard Cards
Last Week
% Change

Modern staples:  Modern prices are still somewhat volatile, but with a week or so to go before the next B&R announcement, and a Modern Pro Tour in the offing, this will only continue. 

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy is quiet. The Power Nine are climbing. Wasteland did not meet my prediction of last summer – it did not finish the year at $100. Overall, though, these changes are pretty tame.

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.  

Complete Set
Last Week
% Change
Battle for Zendikar
Dragons of Tarkir
Fate Reforged
Khans of Tarkir
Magic Origins

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 holding at 51 cards. 

Rishadan Port
$ 177.48
Black Lotus
$ 152.81
$ 106.01
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
$ 89.37
$ 81.67
$ 80.50
Mox Sapphire
$ 68.69
Mythic Rare
$ 67.12
$ 66.47
Tangle Wire
$ 65.40
Mythic Rare
$ 62.85
Ancestral Recall
$ 56.15
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
Mythic Rare
$ 55.16
Scalding Tarn
$ 48.83
Keranos, God of Storms
Mythic Rare
$ 47.88
Horizon Canopy
$ 46.22
Infernal Tutor
$ 45.38
Force of Will
$ 43.55
Mox Jet
$ 42.93
$ 42.74
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
$ 42.15
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
$ 41.95
Show and Tell
$ 41.61
Grove of the Burnwillows
$ 41.14
Time Walk
$ 39.94
Mox Ruby
$ 38.03
Oblivion Stone
$ 34.75
Blood Moon
$ 34.22
Blood Moon
$ 33.74
Blood Moon
$ 33.31
Mox Pearl
$ 33.13
Voice of Resurgence
Mythic Rare
$ 32.61
$ 32.02
$ 31.87
$ 31.38
Mox Emerald
$ 31.08
Food Chain
$ 30.58
Mythic Rare
$ 30.39
Cavern of Souls
$ 29.96
Gaea's Cradle
$ 28.66
Magus of the Moon
$ 28.47
Ensnaring Bridge
$ 27.40
Karn Liberated
Mythic Rare
$ 27.12
Auriok Champion
$ 26.48
Twilight Mire
$ 25.84
Karn Liberated
Mythic Rare
$ 25.73
Ensnaring Bridge
$ 25.68
Verdant Catacombs
$ 25.58
Force of Will
$ 25.44
$ 25.21

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 you can own is $ 26,050.  That’s down about $275 from last week’s number.   

Weekly Highlights:

Paper prerelease this weekend. Find a local store and have fun.
“One Million Words” and “3MWords” on MTGO
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
HammyBot Super Sale: 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 MTGOTrader’s Buy Price.  


I had not visited the wizards by JMason at Fri, 01/15/2016 - 19:06
JMason's picture

I had not visited the wizards site since the last redesign, it was just too low signal to noise ratio for me back then. Looking around it just now I find that the framework isn't much different, but the article layout is better, much more text and less visuals making it more readable, although I found the material somewhat shallow in all the recent articles. The txt is too large, and the jerky graphics on the right too distracting. Maybe I'll try again in another 12 months :P