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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jan 20 2017 1:00pm
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State of the Program for January 20th 2017
 
In the News
Leagues End Next Week: Leagues end January 25th, when they will be closed and reopened with Aether Revolt legal. This does not apply to Standard and Modern, which have already rotated.
 
No Online Prerelease: Wizards has announced that they are not going to hold an online prerelease for Aether Revolt. Instead, Wizards will offer normal league and draft play beginning when the set is released online, which is Wednesday, January 25th.  Read about it here.
 
More Changes to Leagues: Beginning with Aether Revolt, we will have a choice of three types of draft leagues. The competitive draft league will remain unchanged. The 6-2-2-2 league will be renamed the “Intermediate” League and will add one QP for players going 3-0. Wizards is adding a single game draft league, where you play single game matches until you have won seven game/matches or lost four. Prize payout for that league is in prize points.  Also, Aether Revolt packs are being added to the prize mix for events that pay out in booster packs.
 
Further Shake-Ups at MTGO: Wizards President Chris Cocks announced that Wizards will be creating a new Digital Games Studio, which pulls in outside designers and talent. Read the article here. One change we do know about is that Worth Wollpert, longtime head of MTGO, is no longer with Wizards. It is not clear who else may have been let go.
 
New Player Events Reverting to Queues: The league format had resulted in excessive wait times, so the new player queues are reverting to 4 player draft pods. 
 
Treasure Chests Changing Again: Wizards has again reversed course on Treasure Chests. Inclusion of booster packs was depressing pack values, so Wizards is changing back to Play Points. The curated cards list is changing again, and Wizards is reducing the frequency for Commander and Conspiracy cards. Assessing the impacts of the changes will take some time – maybe next week.
 
MTGO Changes for Aether Revolt: As always, Wizards has worked some interface improvements into the global update for the new set. Alli Medwin discusses the changes, which include streamlining a number of interactions, allowing some additional auto-yields that should help combo decks, and a new commander damage marker. You can read the article here.

New Prestige Avatars Announced: Wizards has revealed the new prestige avatars you can win by accumulating trophies in leagues during the Aether Revolt “season.” They look pretty good – better than the usual avatar. Note that with the end of online prereleases and release events, this may be the only way to get new avatars. 
 
 
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. Most of the major upcoming events we know of are listed.  Not listed, but important: Wizards offers either one or two online PTQs each weekend, with qualifiers running the three days prior to the PTQ.
 
Recurring Events
Timing
Power Nine Challenge
Last Saturday of the month, at 11am Pacific
Legacy Challenge
Second Saturday of the month, at 11am Pacific
No Downtime
January 18th   
Extended Downtime
(none announced, but January 25tth likely.)
Current Leagues End
January 25th
 
Upcoming and Ongoing Events
Begins
Ends
Modern MOCS events
January 21st
Details here.
Aether Revolt prerelease
CANCELLED 
 
Aether Revolt Set Release
January 25th
 
Amonkhet
Spring, 2017 release
 
Modern Masters 2017 Edition
March 23rd on MTGO
 
Next B&R Announcement
March 13, 2017
 
Flashback, Throwback Standard and CUBE for 2017
Wizards will be offering either a flashback draft league, a flashback Standard gauntlet, a CUBE league or prerelease / Release events each week.   Here’s the schedule so far.
 
Flashback and Such Rotation
Begins
Ends
Legacy Cube
January 11th
January 25th
Dead spot (was to be prerelease/ release events)
January 25th
February 22nd
Throwback Standard Gauntlet (1994?)
February 22nd
March 1st
Invasion/Planeshift/Apocalypse Draft
March 1st
March 8th
Cube Draft (Cube TBD)
March 8th
March 22nd
Modern Masters 2017 Leagues
March 22nd
April 12th
The new Flashback Leagues are still draft, and still you-keep-the-cards. They are 12 TIX / product plus 2 TIX / 120 Play Points. However, they are no longer single elimination. Now you play until you have three wins or two losses. Prizes are 150 play points for three wins and 70 Play points for 2 wins. The leagues run one week.
 
The Throwback Standard Gauntlet events provide a random choice of prebuilt decks from a past standard environment. These will function like the Pro Tour Gauntlets – you won’t need to own the cards. The entry fee is 10 TIX or 100 Play Points. Prizes are in Play Points: 150 for 3-0, 100 for 2-1, 40 for 1-2 and 10 play points as a bad beats award. 
 
Opinion Section: No Online Prerelease?
Wizards has announced that they will not host online Prerelease or Release events for Aether Revolt. You can read about it here.
 
In the paper world, prereleases are probably the most popular tournaments of all. At our local stores, FNM averages a third of the number of players at our prereleases.   GPs are bigger (obviously), but GPs happen maybe 40 times a year. Tens of thousands of paper prereleases happen on prerelease weekends.  Players love prereleases. Paper prereleases.
 
It is hard to tell exactly why players love prereleases. I can think of several possible factors, and I imagine that the importance of those factors varies by person. I know of one player that tries to collect every prerelease foil, and other that don’t care at all. The same is true of other special features, like build-your-own-thopters and opening the Helvault: some players love them, and others do not. That said, let’s list what makes prereleases special, then look at what that means online. In no special order, here’s a brief list off the top of my head.
 
1)       Prerelease foils:   Wizards began giving out prerelease foils in the late 1990s, and has continued them ever since. In the early days, there was one foil for everyone. More recently, Wizards has printed 80 or so individual foils, and put one at random in each prerelease pack. 
2)      A More Casual Event: Prereleases are run at the lowest rules enforcement level, and judges spend extra time and effort on teaching the new cards and mechanics. The emphasis is not on winning, but on experiencing the new set and having fun.
3)      Special Gifts: The prereleases often give players special bonuses, from dice to tokens to little trinkets like the build-your-own thopters in the Kaladesh boosters. The current paper prerelease packs come packed in a decent quality deck box, and include a spin-down die and some other perks. 
4)      Group Events: Many of the prereleases have included group events. For Innistrad, a couple players started out as “zombies”, “werewolves” and “vampires.”  Everyone else was human. Whenever a human lost to a monster, they also became that type of monster. We kept track of how many humans remained, and gave out candy to the “winning” faction at the end of the event.  Other prereleases had other group events, and not all were that successful, but many players liked many of them.
5)      Early Access to Cards and Packs: Finally, a prerelease gives players early access to packs. Prereleases happen a week before the cards go on sale, so for one week, the only way to get a draft is to use packs you win at the prerelease. Ditto for cards.
 
So let’s look at these benefits through the lens of an online prerelease.
 
1)       Prerelease foils:   Wizards has done online foils. It works, but the foil treatment is so unimpressive that foils are not valued. In many cases, the price for a foil is actually less than the price of a non-foil version of the same card. Verdict: can be done, but players don’t care.
2)      A More Casual Event: MTGO has only one level of rules enforcement, and the lack of usable chat makes the community spirit that happens at a prerelease pretty much impossible online. Verdict: not online.
3)      Special Gifts: MTGO does not have the online equivalent of playmats or dice or sleeves or the like. What it has is avatars, and you only really need one copy. I have received a dozen or so identical copies of prerelease avatars in the past, and found that they had no value at all. Verdict: been there, done that, and discovered that the T-shirt wasn’t worth $0.01.   Oh, and remember War Marks? They were sort of a special gift, I guess. I don’t remember exactly what they did, but I do remember that Wizards never tried something like that again.
4)      Group Events: MTGO lacks usable chat, much less a means of creating group events. A few revisions ago, we had UnCon in the forums, but that is not a thing, either. MTGO is designed to facilitate one-on-one tournament play, not group events.  Verdict: not online.
5)      Early Access to Cards and Packs: This was kinda a thing, in that you did win packs. However, the release events were often TIX only, so you could not actually use any of those new packs. Verdict: had potential, but the implementation was deeply flawed.
 
And that is why prereleases were never anything close to the paper events. Yes, we got the cards a bit early, but the new structure gives us the same access to those same cards through normal leagues and drafts. In that respect, it totally makes sense to eliminate the prerelease and release events, and just start regular events as early as possible. That way you don’t have to worry about finishing a prerelease league in three days, or having to wait for weeks before you can use prize packs to enter sealed events. Given how MTGO works, eliminating prerelease and release events is the right call.
 
That said I am really sad that MTGO does not have the capability to recreate the prerelease experience online. Or, for that matter, create any form of the community and social interactions that happen at real world events. It is nice that MTGO lets us play Magic online, but it is a shame that is does nothing more.     
 
Cutting Edge Tech
 
Standard: Standard is still reeling from the blows of the ban hammer, and it is about to be hit again as Aether Revolt cards enter mix. We don’t know what decks will do well, but here’s another one that has done passably well, and is unaffected by the bannings. 
 
GW Tokens Energy
MisplacedGinger, 5-0, Competitive Standard Constructed League - 75 Cards Total
Creature
4 Archangel Avacyn
4 Selfless Spirit
4 Sylvan Advocate
1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
4 Thraben Inspector
17 cards

Sorcery
2 Declaration in Stone
2 cards
Enchantment
4 Oath of Nissa
4 Stasis Snare
8 cards

Planeswalker
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
4 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
8 cards
Land
4 Canopy Vista
7 Forest
4 Fortified Village
9 Plains
1 Westvale Abbey
25 cards
 


Sideboard
3 Blessed Alliance
1 Fragmentize
3 Fumigate
4 Lambholt Pacifist
4 Tireless Tracker
15 cards
 
Modern: Modern is another format that is seeing impacts from both the bannings and Aether Revolt. However, Modern has a bazillion viable archetypes, and more are appearing. Here’s one from post –bannings League play.
 

Pauper: 
Here’s another pauper deck that uses cycling lands to get card selection. This one uses Battlefield Scrounger to put cards back into the library.   
 
 
Legacy: OMG, someone went 5-0 with mana-less dredge!  Fantastic! The deck is such a glass cannon – it has almost no resistance to hate cards. But when it works, it is super-cool.
 
 
Vintage:  The Vintage Super League Season Six Qualifier Tournament has begun. The metagame is a little skewed (okay, a lot skewed), but it is at least interesting.  This deck features Mystic Remora, which is really old school. 
 
 
 
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 mixed again this week. Emrakul will fall off the list next week. Aether Revolt cards will appear, once they begin to be traded.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$15.07
$12.93
$2.14
17%
$10.40
$12.44
($2.04)
-16%
$6.94
$6.60
$0.34
5%
$4.98
$7.09
($2.11)
-30%
$28.17
$25.46
$2.71
11%
$6.68
$6.32
$0.36
6%
$14.71
$16.53
($1.82)
-11%
$8.57
$9.34
($0.77)
-8%
$19.18
$18.74
$0.44
2%
$12.32
$11.67
$0.65
6%
$32.34
$30.46
$1.88
6%
$14.06
$10.97
$3.09
28%
$18.37
$10.90
$7.47
69%
$8.17
$8.95
($0.78)
-9%
$10.35
$11.07
($0.72)
-7%
$11.89
$16.91
($5.02)
-30%
$7.49
$8.29
($0.80)
-10%
$12.47
$10.62
$1.85
17%

Modern staples:  Modern prices are mixed again this week – more so than usual. The banned cards, and the staples in the decks that relied on them, fell. Cards from other decks climbed. As expected.    
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$33.95
$31.18
$2.77
9%
$23.99
$21.90
$2.09
10%
$34.43
$37.38
($2.95)
-8%
$25.49
$25.13
$0.36
1%
$27.98
$30.55
($2.57)
-8%
$28.17
$25.97
$2.20
8%
$44.23
$42.27
$1.96
5%
$57.83
$57.49
$0.34
1%
$34.55
$38.31
($3.76)
-10%
$19.99
$19.13
$0.86
4%
$20.07
$16.75
$3.32
20%
$17.14
$19.08
($1.94)
-10%
$32.33
$29.22
$3.11
11%
$78.61
$97.93
($19.32)
-20%
$30.47
$29.94
$0.53
2%
$21.72
$22.10
($0.38)
-2%
$14.70
$21.62
($6.92)
-32%
$22.79
$22.79
$0.00
0%
$21.69
$24.96
($3.27)
-13%
$51.36
$50.61
$0.75
1%
$21.32
$23.50
($2.18)
-9%

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are down this week. Leovold, on the other hand, is up again.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$25.05
$25.46
($0.41)
-2%
$40.88
$40.21
$0.67
2%
$83.15
$91.85
($8.70)
-9%
$33.75
$34.21
($0.46)
-1%
$27.03
$27.65
($0.62)
-2%
$50.94
$55.46
($4.52)
-8%
$42.16
$44.02
($1.86)
-4%
$33.33
$35.14
($1.81)
-5%
$32.23
$32.12
$0.11
0%
$34.68
$34.88
($0.20)
-1%
$34.33
$36.13
($1.80)
-5%
$53.72
$53.36
$0.36
1%
$29.30
$28.33
$0.97
3%
$35.59
$35.71
($0.12)
0%
$21.30
$25.77
($4.47)
-17%
$22.33
$23.12
($0.79)
-3%
$38.38
$43.01
($4.63)
-11%
$166.69
$166.59
$0.10
0%
$49.95
$54.73
($4.78)
-9%
$34.31
$34.06
$0.25
1%
$43.37
$43.05
$0.32
1%
$25.69
$24.65
$1.04
4%
$15.82
$17.33
($1.51)
-9%
$55.08
$53.38
$1.70
3%

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.  Treasure Chests and the current booster packs are here because they don’t really fit anywhere else. Treasure Chests are up again, and closer to what I calculate as typical EV (at least if you open a ton of them, since the variance is huge.)   
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
not yet
n/a
n/a
n/a
Battle for Zendikar
$70.36
$69.10
$1.26
2%
Eldritch Moon
$106.33
$106.20
$0.13
0%
Kaladesh
$84.89
$95.37
($10.48)
-11%
Oath of the Gatewatch
$110.85
$102.88
$7.97
8%
Shadows over Innistrad
$73.98
$67.26
$6.72
10%
Treasure Chest
$3.11
$3.06
$0.05
2%
Kaladesh Booster
$2.59
$2.74
($0.15)
-5%

 
 
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 shrank a couple cards this week.  
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $ 166.69
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $   83.15
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $   78.61
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $   62.84
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $   58.31
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $   57.83
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $   57.56
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $   57.26
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $   56.12
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   55.08
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $   53.72
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $   52.62
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $   51.68
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $   51.46
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   51.36
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $   50.94
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $   49.95
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $   47.77
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $   44.23
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $   43.37
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $   42.45
Food Chain
 MM
Rare
 $   42.16
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $   40.99
Back to Basics
 UZ
Rare
 $   40.88
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
 $   38.38
Blood Moon
 MMA
Rare
 $   38.07
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $   37.51
Blood Moon
 9ED
Rare
 $   35.83
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $   35.59
Ancestral Vision
 DD2
Rare
 $   35.27
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $   34.68
Griselbrand
 AVR
Mythic Rare
 $   34.55
Blood Moon
 8ED
Rare
 $   34.43
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $   34.33
Tangle Wire
 NE
Rare
 $   34.31
Containment Priest
 PZ1
Rare
 $   34.30
Ancestral Vision
 TSP
Rare
 $   33.95
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $   33.75
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   33.75
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $   33.33
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   32.95
Scapeshift
 MOR
Rare
 $   32.70
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $   32.34
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $   32.33
From the Ashes
 C13
Rare
 $   32.23
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   31.67
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $   30.62
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   30.47
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
 PZ1
Rare
 $   29.30
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $   29.23
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
 BFZ
Mythic Rare
 $   28.17
Eidolon of the Great Revel
 JOU
Rare
 $   28.17
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Rare
 $   27.98
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $   27.98
Doomsday
 WL
Rare
 $   27.03
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   25.69
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $   25.49
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   25.47
Ancestral Recall
 VMA
Bonus
 $   25.05
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
 ORI
Mythic Rare
 $   25.04

 
 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 $ 24,750. That is down about $530 from last week.
 
Weekly Highlights
I ran a couple paper prereleases last weekend. The set looks fine. From a judging perspective, most of the questions involved triggers.   For example, several players had the angel that gives all creatures +1/+1 and Vigilance until end of turn. If you have a vehicle, you can put that ability on the stack, then use the angel to crew a vehicle. That vehicle will get +1/+1 and Vigilance until end of turn.  
 
I also got to play in one event- the last one of the weekend. That event usually has only 20-30 players, so it is easy to run. If we have an odd number of players by the middle of deck construction, I join. The alternative would be someone having to wait out a bye, and if I have to take so many judge calls we cannot finish the match (hasn’t happened yet), then I would concede. I won the first match, but then another player got hit with “Wrath of Mom” (having to leave because a parent is there to pick them up.) That meant we were back to an odd number of players, so I also dropped. 
 
It was fun while it lasted.
 
PRJ
 
“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.  
 
 

18 Comments

Up? by Sensei at Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:59
Sensei's picture

Unmask Wasteland and Meren were up but not mentioned. Leovold experienced a rounding error

re by Hearts at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 00:51
Hearts's picture

I do not know of someone who tries to collect prerelease foils, also the helvault and build-thopters are not interesting to anyone - these things do not make the prerelease special.

The paper prerelease is less casual, players are generally more excited to do their best at the prerelease events compared to the ordinary fnm events. Prizes are bigger because of larger turnout. Being a judge at a prerelease is not easy.

MtgO has never really had a prerelease, for the reason that it has been at least 2-3 weeks delayed.

I know of people that do all by xger at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 02:58
xger's picture

I know of people that do all the things you say no one likes. Similarly, I know of several shops here that are more casual--flatter payouts that give prizes all the way to last, for instance. There is a wide range of experiences, but anecdotally, I have played at far more places that are casual oriented than those oriented at spikes.

re by Hearts at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 07:40
Hearts's picture

Prizes are a factor, but the more important factor is prestige.
All shops I know have this situation at prereleases, that matches are tense and thrilling, and that judge calls tend to be problematic (at least more than usual), and I know many shops.

A place cant really be "casual" or "spike" oriented, unless you weigh the prize factor at high. It is more what the players put in it than what any TO/judge urges/wants them to be.

normally stores should be by stsung at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 11:59
stsung's picture

normally stores should be actually casual players oriented since they buy the most product.

here the stores are way more spike oriented let's say even though I find the prize support ridiculous after I got used to modo prize payouts.

The thing is, casual players are not really welcome in the stores and they usually totally die to tier 1 decks from wannabe pro players or terribly die in limited to good decks piloted by players playing fairly well. On the other hand for some reason for prereleases those players that do not come to the store normally or do not actively play Magic show up. Often those are casual players that lose most of the matches but enjoy opening packs of a new set and playing with those cards. They like the promos and they also like all those things like Helvault opening. Achievements and such weren't ever well accepted but ugin packs or other things that could actually be sold were good for everyone.

I guess in other places in the world te situation is different and I expect there can be really nice casual prereleases somewhere, or at least that's what I heard and what I saw in photos from such events on the internet.

I used to go to prereleases because I liked the thrill when no one knew a single card and everyone had to start from zero (and I was usually winning those prereleases). But this is not true anymore. If you come to our prerelease people know the cards, they build good decks and will be pretty harsh when you miss trigger or play a sorcery at an instant speed and it doesn't matter if you will be at last table or playing at the first one. It is true that since there is a lot of casual players judges have to answer some strange questions. For example no one from the players normally coming to the store would ask a question about Crew or how the 3/4 Elephant for 1 mana works. But the casual players ask the most strange questions about it. So reading the judge notes is not a bad thing because even if you think it is a stupid question, the players actually ask those.

I don't like the special foils/additional rare because it makes the experience way worse, but still it is better than playing with a predetermined rare (that was awful!).

As for prereleases on MODO. I'm glad they are gone. Because they cost a lot of tix and the prizes were laughable. And who the hell would be paying additional 5 tix to get a promo pack? I know this has been changed etc. changes were made so it got better...but uh. Playing those prereleases was not really positive EV. Releases were way better because those already rewarded good prize support. For me there was nothing that made those prereleases special and I always wanted the prerelease to be over as soon as possible.

Tell me, who played in prerelease events? Why did you play in them? Because apart from playing with cards that are not yet legal anywhere I never saw a reason to participate in them (different avatar? a foil card? uh?)

Actually reasons come to my mind - getting QPs. Because at prereleases it was very easy to grind those. And the second reason is ... if a Limited GP was held and this was the only possibility to play the format prior the GP.

Honestly I'm glad there are no more prereleases. The releases were good as they brought many tix always. But regular events right from the beginning seems good for everyone.

As I've said, it really by xger at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 20:57
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As I've said, it really varies store to store. Your experience sounds much closer to my experience a decade+ ago in Albuquerque. My experiences in Seattle, Denver, and Portland are mostly quite different. Sometimes you must seek out those stores, which is maybe why I have such a different experience. In ABQ, I played for myself and enjoyed the competitiveness. In the other cities, I played paper with my wife, sister-in-law, and her fiance. None of those three are about competitive magic, but enjoy playing and have thoroughly enjoyed prereleases, despite generally not having great records. They see prizes purely as a bonus, not something they expect of make the difference between a good and bad experience. When trying to find places to play, I specifically looked for places that would work well with my family, which meant casual. Obviously I have been fortunate in that I've lived in cities with a large enough MTG scene to accommodate that.

As to the online prereleases, I played in them and am at least somewhat sad to see them go.

I'm going to say something that a lot of competitive players, and particularly MTGO players often forgot--
I play Magic because the game is fun.

I don't always need a great EV, or a grind. I don't need assured value, as the experience has generally been worth the money for me (which is why I didn't play online core set prereleases--those sets were not fun). Often I just enjoy playing the game, even on MTGO. There are plenty of those players on MTGO, they just generally aren't the ones that are super active off the program.

re by Hearts at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 12:56
Hearts's picture

Any person (player, TO, judge or whoever) acting unwelcoming to any player at prerelease should get his head examined.

I do not particularly know what people mean with casual, spike or whatever. Only rarely have I faced opponents who do not do their best to win in mtg games/matches. I do remember reading an article about Spike-Timmy-Johnny, but that was only wotc drivel like many other bullshit things/articles they put out on the mothership.

It seems to me that people write about "casual" players like they are close to mentally challenged or something, that they like different things like kid-aged-10-12-years-stuff or something, helvault, building thopters, etc. Sanctioned mtg play rarely have people below 16-18 years old in the shops/places that I have played in.

I agree that prereleases were even better before when people didnt know cards in advance, but still today it is event number2 (probably shared with limited GPs) behind the PT itself.

This is response to both of by xger at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 20:45
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This is response to both of your posts. When I speak of casual, I refer to people who rarely play tournament magic, mostly with friends without a formal structure. So, the high number of people who only play prerelease tournaments would count as casual. I have no intentions toward insulting those types of players, as they can be quite skilled--just like a tournament player might not actually be that skilled.

Again, I believe you are imputing your experiences to the broader population. Here are some examples in the Portland area:
The shop I played BFZ release was filled with players more concerned with winning than having a good time. The prize payout was more heavily weighted toward the top (2-2 got 2 packs, 3-1 got 4 packs, 3-0-1 8 packs, 4-0 12 packs, IIRC).
For Oath, the shop had a lower payout (top was 8 packs I believe), but ordered pizza for all players, and each player got a pack. Players here were much more occupied with having fun and hanging out with winning. This does ***not*** mean they did not try to win. It just means that they were happy because they were playing and having fun, not necessarily because they were winning.
I cannot remember where I went for SoI at this time, and I missed EM.
For Kaladesh, the shop was very mixed--there were players whose main concern was winning, some who wanted just to play, and there was even 2 or 3 that just wanted to play to look at the art, because they liked it that much. The prizes were more top heavy.
For Aether Revolt, I went to a shop that was clearly more casual oriented. The people there had fun regardless of position, they simply wanted to have fun. Many mentioned only going to prereleases. There was 3 groups of friends (mine included) that made up 10-12 of the 13 person tournaments. Everyone got a prize if they stayed to the end. The judge calls I witnessed were never a contest--it was a question of intention and how fixable the issue was, or explanations of cards and board states.

It really varies shop by shop. A shop can greatly influence the orientation with prize structure, staff, and judging. Surely, there are some players where a prerelease is just 'event number 2' but there are also plenty of players who play in them for a very different purpose.

I could probably spend all by Paul Leicht at Mon, 01/23/2017 - 23:52
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I could probably spend all day reading your thoughts on this subject.

re by Hearts at Tue, 01/24/2017 - 01:49
Hearts's picture

You write as if there is a contradiction between having fun and winning.

The opposite is true.

It is also true that a player who plays seldom and wins perhaps 2 out of 7 matches at a prerelease might have had more fun than the winner of that prerelease. No one who is new and/or plays seldom expects to win(much) in any game/sport. The thrill of winning two of those matches might weigh more than what it means for LSV to win 7 out of 7.

Competitively it might be a greater achievement to win just a little than to win a lot, depending on resources/how new you are. This is true with success in any form of game/sport/activity.

I think the point being made by Paul Leicht at Tue, 01/24/2017 - 08:02
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I think the point being made is that fun comes in different forms for different people and that the fun of winning is not always the same as the fun that a casual player may have particularly in terms of prize support.

Just for referrence since you brought it up before:

The demographics are not merely "mumbo jumbo" spewed out by WOTC but a pretty carefully thought out area of psychology that was pioneered by people like Briggs and Myers and what Maro (the person who wrote that article you trashed so blithely) did was take their studies about personalities and apply it (imho rather successfully) to categories of WoTC customers ("Spikes, Timmys and Johnnys" with some sides of "Melvins and Vorthos") aka Magic players. Wizards were not the first ones to do so by the way since other games have long talked about hearts and spades and other forms of gamer personalities.

Spikes are essentially the ones who play magic primarily for the thrill of the win and don't really care much how they get there. It isn't always so cut and dried with spikes because they can be a composite of Spike + Johnny and Timmy but generally people who care most about winning are acknowledged as Spikes.

Timmys on the other hand care very much for winning in a fun, flashy and stylish fashion and sometimes get side tracked into worrying more about whether both players are having fun (and playing "fair") than about the game ending. Timmy is the guy who thinks if you win by being a jerk you have ruined the game.

Johnny is the mad scientist and this is pretty straight forward usually in that Johnny likes to invent new and interesting ways to use his (and his opponents) cards. This isn't necessarily in order to win but maybe to get the highest possible life total(s) or most permanents possible on the board. Johnny is the player most likely to combo out.

I am a Timmy Johnny with some small amount of Spike. I used to be more Spiky and less Timmy and a lot less Johnny. Do you see how that works? It might be a bit boxy and confining to use labels like this but the analogies work and the names mostly feel apt (if awkwardly and very exclusive of non-male players. So maybe the names should be more gender neutral.)

It is not a trite marketing tool because the community has largely adopted the terminology and accepts the meanings (because they are pretty apt.)

OK back to "What is fun??" Which Ferret a well known old time magic writer posited was entirely impossible to definitively define. (Because everyone has a different idea of fun.) But certain types of players can and do recognize some ways of fun as being preferable to others. (The destination is most important.)

Those who are more spiky and competitive tend to think of winning prizes as the best fun. Those who are less Spiky and more casual in their approaches to the game see having fun as an experiential thing that happens with the journey rather than the destination. "Man I lost that game, the match and went 0-4 but despite scrubbing out it was fun! I got to do x, y and z and learned something new. Also the pizza party was a gas!"

Do you see? If not well I did give it a shot.

And you write as though the by xger at Tue, 01/24/2017 - 19:17
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And you write as though the only method to have fun in Magic is to win.

"Only rarely have I faced opponents who do not do their best to win in mtg games/matches." This, your tone, and your statements all imply that you believe all players only have fun through winning, and therefore prereleases are useless. Then, you use your anecdotes to explain your point.

If my writing lead to you believe I think that fun and winning are mutually exclusive, perhaps I should have been more careful. I am simply stating that having fun does not necessarily include a requirement to win. You can have fun and not win. You can win and not have fun. You can win and have fun.

As to your comments regarding your negativity toward Wizards--of course they want to make money. But if you interact with them, you'll see that they also want to make a great game. Given your statements and tone though, perhaps you should just stop doing business with any company that wants to make money, since you seem to indicate they are all out to get us.

re by Hearts at Tue, 01/24/2017 - 08:51
Hearts's picture

That there are realities(truths) involved in wotc articles is unavoidable, because if there were none people would discard them right away.

"It is not a trite marketing tool because the community has largely adopted the terminology and accepts the meanings (because they are pretty apt.)"

People are sheep and can be led to almost anything, especially the younger ones/teenagers.

The sole motivator for such articles is to make more money, and all the lies that they (feel/think they) can include to make more money they will include. Period.

Well one thing is certain. by stsung at Tue, 01/24/2017 - 10:50
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Well one thing is certain. WotC does all what they can to earn money. On the other hand they also try to give certain target groups of players (TOs/Judges) what they want.

"Prizes are a factor, but the more important factor is prestige."

Yes. But what is the prestige?
Wizards of the Coast would say 'make it a good experience for the players'. Give prizes for those that come in cosplay, buy a pizza, do some kind of achievements based game... whatever ... that will make the event remarkable in some way for players. While the casual player should be the most valued. Casual player is a player that does not usually attend regular events but stops by to buy packs, from time to time some singles and shows up at more 'casual' events like prerelease or game day. At all the WotC conferences I've been we were told 'sell the experience' a zillion times. Our LGSs obviously do not listen...but well what they can do if the playerbase is like over 90% competitive players?

"I do not particularly know what people mean with casual, spike or whatever. Only rarely have I faced opponents who do not do their best to win in mtg games/matches. I do remember reading an article about Spike-Timmy-Johnny, but that was only wotc drivel like many other bullshit things/articles they put out on the mothership."

Casual players usually like to enjoy themselves. They are usually having fun by playing the game, brewing etc and do not really care that much about winning. Those are players that often like those things like Helvault, building paper Thopters, etc. Those players can attend sanctioned play but are rarely placing well, because they do not tend to play the best decks and even if they play well, they simply do not put 'win' before 'play'. Those players are actually usually older than your average spike player and earn stores in general way more money. (on modo that's a whole different story I'd say?)

"I agree that prereleases were even better before when people didnt know cards in advance, but still today it is event number2 (probably shared with limited GPs) behind the PT itself."

People have different opinions about this. I never cared for prerelease nor PT. So you have to understand that what wotc does is actually based on what the majority wants and I can easily understand why they would decide to scrap the Prerelease on MODO. At least among the players I know and talk to, we all wished for prereleases not to exist. In some of the surveys around BFZ wotc was asking many questions about those and I also think that they got similar results. They are interested in players that attend the events, play a lot, spend a lot of money and it is possible that such group of players has a similar point of view on prerelease (not being necessary).

People are sheep in general, but if you are looking at modo players you can't really say that we are sheep. I may be wrong but what I see is that magic online is actually full of players that are more on the competitive spectrum. They test, they play a lot, they want to win and they are interested in EV.
Those players know what they want and those players won't easily get swayed. We are very difficult to please (modo players).

tl;dr
WotC does what they think is the best while keeping the majority of a group that earns them the most money content. In the case of Magic Online it is hardly the casual player (they will rather do something for those that enter many events - and those are primarily competitive players), but in paper Magic it is the casual player.

xger: Competitive Magic players find fun somewhere be it in winning or playing the game. Many competitive players more of ... use Magic as a means to satisfy their 'winning' needs. They do not understand that some players play because they find the actual game fun and do not mind losing. It's not like they would forget that playing the game is fun.

To the contrary, I think a by xger at Tue, 01/24/2017 - 19:10
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To the contrary, I think a lot of players do forget that most players play Magic because it is fun. I would be shocked if any less than 99.999% of players started playing Magic because it was fun. Some transition to playing to scratch a competitive itch. But, they are in the far minority of the player base.

Each time there is a change to MTGO, there is a subset of players who only focus on the EV. But look at some of the lower EV events on MTGO--particularly the friendly sealed league. If you add 2 packs, it has the worst EV. Yet, that is the most popular league. I would be surprised if even half of the MTGO players out there are the hyper competitive EV spike types. It seems reasonable to believe that they are overrepresented on MTGO, but people so often forget the casual players that play MTGO.

I think a lot more competitive players play because the game is fun--how many draft a cube afterward or play variants or EDH? This is what I think pre-releases epitomize. The focus of a prerelease is the cards and the fun of a new set. I'd wager that plenty of competitive players play in prereleases because they are fun.

re by Hearts at Wed, 01/25/2017 - 00:58
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Cant be bothered with more discussion apart from saying this;

Paper estimate is hard but something like 7 million players worldwide who purchase for more than 30 dollars per month.

MtgO = 20 thousand players today(that generate traffic today). At least 10k of them are or have been 1900 elo rating capacities, which means pretty good.

MtgO is abysmal compared to paper - but catches money from the individual customer much faster.

MtgO had 5 times the players 7 years ago, mtgo dwindles because of poor management.

People who are on the PT or try to get there play A LOT of mtgo.

I love the complete lack of by xger at Wed, 01/25/2017 - 03:03
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I love the complete lack of sources. The kind of details you are listing are not publicly known. It's also easy to dispute one of those--seven years ago MTGO had a hard cap on the number of players that could be online. So there is no way MTGO had 5 times the number of players when that cap was less than is in the friendly league alone.

re by Hearts at Wed, 01/25/2017 - 22:18
Hearts's picture

MtgO traffic is easy to estimate with the right tools/knowledge.