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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jan 03 2014 1:09pm
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The State of the Program for January 3rd 2014

This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.

In the News this Week:

Not much this week – it’s the Holiday season and the Wizards folks are all off enjoying family life. That, and no one held major events last weekend.
First Born of the Gods Card Spoiled: Wizards gave us a sneak peak at a Born of the Gods Planeswalker this week. Koria, the Crashing Wave is a 2UG planeswalker with damage prevention, Exploration and a decent ultimate. Details here.
MTGO Team Holiday Card: In case you missed it, the MTGO team wished everyone a Happy Holidays. Check it out here.
R&D Challenge on January 10thWizards will be offering another play against R&D on Friday, January 10th. The event will be Standard, and probably happen in the afternoon, Renton time. Wizards will be fielding at least 10 players: Tim Aten, David Humpherys, Adam Prosak, Ken Nagle, Ben Hayes, Ian Duke, Gerry Thompson, Sam Stoddard, Allison Medwin and Lee Sharpe.   That is not a shabby line-up: a bunch of pro points in that crowd.    More details will follow.
Wizards Asking for More Beta Testers: Wizards has put out an appeal for more beta testers. This would cover testing or both the next sets and the closed beta of the new interface. You can get details and apply here.
The “I Love MTGO” Contest: Over on the WotC forums, Cauchy has started a contest: explain why you love MTGO in under 100 words. The winner should be announced shortly.. 
Flashback Draft Update: The “Flashback” format for this week is Urza’s Block. See the section on fiscal analysis of flashback formats, below, for more info. Cube Drafts are also up and running. 
Wizards Screws Up Forums Even More: Wizards has apparently made a few changes to the appearance of the forums. They are even more confusing and non‑intuitive than before, and that is a major accomplishment.   Wizards “upgraded” the forums last summer, and lost a huge percentage of their users because the new forums were clunky and awkward to use, and the effort was just not worth the reward. So, now that people like Cauchy are making an effort to revitalize the boards, Wizards has made changes to make it even harder to find anything. 
Before the changes, when you clicked on the Community link, you got this:
Now, when I get an email from Wizards sending me to the community page, it sends me to this.
If you want to find Magic, you need to click on the middle little gray square at the bottom of the page. Obvious, right? And that box, at least in Firefox, does not have any sort of hover info indicating that it is active. Then, once you somehow get to the Magic page, you need to find the menu button (small, upper right) to actually get to anything.   At least in the prior version, options like that were spread out across the page. 
It’s not like the website is short on space.  It has wasted a ton of it.
The links on still work – but the link to the daily announcements now goes to this page. The blog with daily updates is still there, just off the screen. You have to know to scroll down. Here’s what you see:
I clicked the link, just to be sure that Wizards had not made any announcements this week. (They haven’t.) I saw this. I pondered it a bit. I tried to figure out what the 4 O’clock icon meant. Then I wrote this section. I looked again, and clicked on the “report misconduct” link.   If this change isn’t misconduct… 
HammyBot Update:   It’s still around, and still a great way to get cards and support the family of the late Erik Friborg. So far, Hammybot has raised almost 6,200 TIX! Keep it going! Hammybot still has 25,525 cards to sell, including a number of foil Mythics. Hammybot also has a nice collection of Foil lands, so if you want to pimp out your constructed decks… 

Opinion Section: Can PEs Be Saved?

It has been almost three weeks since the scheduled events came back. Premier events came back, with a higher minimum number of players and increased prize payout.  The Premier events have not been firing. Standard and Theros sealed, the two most popular formats, fire with just over minimums, while the Dailies in these formats often hit their 128 player cap. 
Full details of the new DE and PE structure,  and what we know of the explanation, are in this article. Last week’s State of the Program had a breakdown of what fired, and what did not.
Last week’s article also discussed the differences between large paper events (which are very popular) and PEs (which are not.)   To summarize, both PEs and paper events offer long days with lots of Magic and a chance to win prizes. Big paper events also offer opportunities for social interaction and the chance to watch other matches that online events cannot match. The prize payout for paper events is often better. For that matter, the prize payout for Daily events is also often better. For example, if you go 4-0 in a Daily, you get a better prize payout (11 packs and 3 QPs) than if you make Top 8 and lose in the quarterfinals in a PE (9 packs and 3 QPs.)   
Right now, if I have a whole day free to play MTGO, I have a couple alternatives. The main ones are PEs, DEs and fire on demand queues. Assuming I want to play Standard on Saturday, I could join a PE at 9:30am, or join Standard DEs at 6am, 12 noon and 6pm. If I join the PE, it will cost me 10 TIX, and I get to play 7 rounds (more in the very unlikely event I make Top 8.) If I join two DEs then I can play 8 rounds for 12 TIX. Assuming that I win 75% of my matches, I will likely win 12 TIX and 2 QPs in the two Dailies, while I will likely win 3-6 TIX and no QPs in the PE.  
The Dailies have other advantages. First off, I can split my time. I can play in the early and late events, and have time for lunch and chores in between. I can change decks, if I get bored with the first one. Finally, and this is a real concern where I live, if I have a connection problem or other issue that times me out in one event, I can still play in the other Daily. In a PE, if I am late for any one round, I am out of the event with no chance to rejoin. (In the paper world, if I am in a big event, and I have to run out and do a family errand or something, I can arrange with the head judge to take a loss for a round or two while I am gone, then return and play the rest of my rounds. Can’t happen online – but Wizards should find a way to let disconnected players rejoin an event, with a match loss for the missed round.)
The problems with PEs have been discussed before. For example, DangerLinto write an excellent article on these issues almost half a decade ago. Many of his ideas could  work. A few of them have been adopted by Wizards in the five years since the article came out, but Wizards needs to adopt more of them, in some form. Wizards should pay attention to recommendations from the community. We have a good track record. The community was the driving force behind a few successful innovations: things like 321 Swiss drafts, the 2 man constructed queues, Pauper, Momir Vig, limited term events like flashback drafts, etc. That said, here is my compilation of ideas – mine and the community’s – to save PEs.   They fall into several broad categories. I am going to cover the biggest one, rewards / prize payout, last.
Technical Issues:
As I discussed last week, at a large paper event, players can easily see when the round will end and how many matches are still being played. Online, in the old client, the list of matches won’t sort by outstanding events, and won’t even hold still if you scroll down. That needs to change. In a large event, players need to be able to know when the next round is likely to start. Ideally, a player should be able to see the game score and the amount of time on each player’s clock.
Wizards should also find a better way to notify players that the round is starting in a PE. In a Daily or 8 man queue, that is not a huge issue, since the number of rounds is small. In a PE, players will need to take bathroom and food breaks, or just do other things while waiting for the next round to start. At paper events, the crowd movement makes it obvious to anyone in the room that pairings are up.   At large events, TOs often tweet that pairings are up (together with a link to let players check pairings on their smart phones.) Wizards should investigate offering twitter or instant message warnings that the round is starting for PEs. 
I talked about the rejoin issue, above. Beyond that, fixing any of the problems with the interfaces would also help. Players would be more interested in playing PEs, and MTGO itself, if the interface was better. Obv.
Watching Matches:
Wizards has noted that Pro Tour coverage and streaming are both very popular. They have said that streaming will be a part of MTGO promotion in the future. They know that players want to watch people play Magic. They even opened up the Pro Tours to spectators again – something they had discontinued a year or so ago.  So why can’t players watch matches at PEs?
I have heard Wizards give two reasons in the past: scouting and formats being solved “too fast.” Scouting is determining what players are playing. Over 15 years ago, when tournaments were first created fifteen years ago, scouting was a DQ offense. Even having notes from outside the match was a DQ offense, since notes were often a result of scouting. Over time, Wizards realized that scouting was not that big a problem. More importantly, players wanted to watch matches being played because players liked Magic. Wizards took the position that having friends was good, and that friends might tell you what someone was playing. The only restriction now, in paper Magic, is that friends cannot give advice once the player has sat down at the match. Beforehand, it’s fine. (Trying to prevent players from giving each other advice before the match is not only not harmful, it is probably also impossible to enforce.) 
With the expansion of streaming, I think Wizards needs to rethink their policy on watching matches. It is going to happen on steam. Let it happen via replays.
Wizards has also limited the number of decklists being provided “to prevent formats being solved too quickly,” or words to that effect.   Yes, stale formats and net decking are problems, but preventing players from watching matches does not seem like a viable way of limiting them.
Right now, I suspect that one reason Wizards is not allowing players to watch replays of other matches is that the interfaces cannot handle it. Wizards often turned off replays back in the days leading up to the V3 conversion. Like all the technical glitches in the interfaces, that needs to be fixed. Once it is, players should be able to watch replays. One big, big problem with PEs is that they are so very, very long. Players get bored. In the paper world, one way a lot of players pass the time is watching other matches. That should happen online, too.
Eliminate Constructed Top 8s:
This one is controversial, but hear me out. 
One of the big problems with a PE is that it is really, really long. A PE, with a player limit of 65-128, is going to run 7 rounds, plus Top 8. If you win, that means you have played 10 rounds. Odds are, that took about 10 hours to accomplish. That is a long, long time. Eliminating the Top 8 would reduce that time by at least 2 rounds. Prizes could be awarded using standings after the Swiss rounds. If you wanted a clear winner, then Swiss plus one round would work. That approach is widely used at conventions and GP side events. 
In limited, the Top 8 should probably stay, simply because players like getting a free draft. In that case, a Top 8 draft make sense, and few players care about it. In constructed, adding the extra rounds just makes it harder for someone to find the time, unless they have little interest in winning the event.
Top 8s are traditional in Chess events and so forth. They also serve a couple of goals. First, they allow players with marginal tie breakers to win the event. This is important because tie breakers are not completely under the player’s control. Some tie breakers are based on opponent performance. If a player gets paired in round one against someone who ends up going 0-7 in the event, that players opponent match wins tiebreaker will be much worse than someone playing opponents who remain in contention throughout the event. Adding a round help solve this problem, as can paying out prizes based on match wins, not numerical place. This is something happening more and more at paper events. It also cuts down on collusion.     
Top 8s are most often used when one big prize is at stake, like a Pro Tour invite or an iPod or an uncut foil sheet. In a PE, that is not the case. Finally, Top 8s exist for the spectators. Pro Tours will now be showing every single match of the Top 8 on video, because people want to watch. However, if players cannot watch the matches on MTGO live, then a Top 8 provides no real benefit. Unless Wizards finds a way to let people watch the Top 8 being played, it should consider eliminating them for constructed PEs.
More Quality Playtime:
As I discussed last week, a lot of paper players attend big events for reasons other than prize payout. Some of these reasons are social – hanging out with friends, enjoying the spectacle, etc. MTGO will have a hard time recreating even a fraction of this appeal. (But that does not mean that Wizards should not find ways to make MTGO chat, clans, etc. better. All of these are simply bad right now, in both clients.)
While the social draws might be a lost cause, another reason some players attend big events is that they know that that they will be able to play many rounds of Magic for a reasonably low entry fee. A fair number of players play in every round, even once they have no chance of winning the event or even of making Top 8. I know this applies to me. When I play in a PTQ, I play in every Swiss round (unless I can draw into the Top 8.) I look at it as entertainment: eight rounds of Swiss for $30 is cheaper than a movie. 
Wizards may want to look at promoting PEs in that manner, as well. If a player wants to play Magic against someone who cares about the outcome, they can play in the 2 man queues, or play in PEs for a slightly lower cost. The trick is getting people to stay in the event. Our local TO used to offer a special prize (one pack) for anyone still playing in the final round of the event and not finishing in the top whatever. True, this sort of reward will not motivate the grinders and players who only care about the large prizes and high finishes, but the current PE structure does not work, so this might be worth a try.
Years ago, Wizards gave away the original Unhinged lands to players participating in PEs. One problem, as I understood it, was that too many were being given away. Giving a special promo only to players that are still playing in the final round of Swiss would reduce the number of promos being given out, while encouraging players to stay in the event to provide opponents for the players who might join because they just want to play. Paying out to those players still playing at the end of the Swiss has another advantage: it gives everyone a chance at the promo, without giving out so many that the value crashes.   
Rewards, as in Packs:
Wizards has tried increasing the pack payout for PEs, with limited success. They could push them even higher, but the main problem is that Dailies pay out very well, are shorter and more convenient. The other big problem with PEs is that the prize payout does not scale with attendance. We don’t really know why. I have heard that scaling prize payouts may trigger gambling law issues, or something. Whatever – they don’t. Right now, with PE attendance limited to 65-128 players, that is not a huge issue. If that cap is increased, however, it could again be an issue.
Wizards has a simple answer to this problem. It is the same one used in Daily events: pay out prizes based on the number of matches won, instead of the numeric finish. This automatically scales: the more players in the event, the more rounds and the more players who can get packs. If PEs continue to be capped at 128 players / 7 rounds, then having 128 players just means more players finish 7-0 or 6-1. An attendance closer to 65 means fewer of those, and a lower payout. Automatically.
DangerLinto wrote about this years ago. So did I, and others. Take, for example, a prize payout that looks like this:


Prize payout will be approximately 2 packs per player, comparable to the standard paper payout, and to the Daily event payout. I also made the payouts in even draft sets and pulled the payout down to 4-3, but that could be tweaked. If Wizards lifts the 128 player cap or decides to run PEs as Swiss plus one round, it would be easy to add more prizes at the top to cover that.
This sort of payout is infinitely better than paying to the Top 32 when attendance is unknown. 
Rewards, other than Packs:
Changing to a prize payout based on number of matches won would help entice players to play in PEs, but there is a limit to how many packs Wizards can throw at players before it affects sales in stores or revenue from drafts. Wizards could also entice players with other perks or bonuses.
The first benefit is Qualifying Points, or QPs. In the past, QPs qualified you for the MOCS events. It is not clear whether that program can continue, prior to the release of a working interface. More importantly, QPs only mattered to a small percentage of the player base. Most of us, or at least those of us with real lives, could never get close to 15 QPs. Here’s how at least some players think of QPs.
[Qualifier Points are something] you can't use, trade, or redeem. It's going to sit in your collection for several months and then at the end of the year we're going to take it away from you. Qualifier Points are great for the most active 15% who most likely don't have kids, but there isn't anything for the rest of us to reach for as a more long term goal.  – ArchGenius in this thread.
I’m in the same boat. I have generally earned 4-6 QPs per season. I see them, like nearly everything else Wizards offers, as special perks for the grinders. That’s fine, but if I ran the world, I would convert any unused QPs to Phantom Points at the end of the season or year. That might get more people playing Cube. More importantly, it will mean that players like ArchGenius will see earning QPs is a benefit, instead of a slap. 
Another method Wizards has used in the past is to offer PE players promo cards. As I mentioned, the first round of Unhinged lands entered the card pool as play promos. Wizards has also done this for particular formats: for example, anyone that played in the Classic events a year ago got a special card. (An alternative art Ponder, IIRC.) 
The one downside to such promos is that they don’t have a lot of value, if everyone playing gets one. Special lands are more immune to this problem, since everyone needs lots of lands, but even lands lose value. One option to limit the number being distributed is, as I mentioned above, to only give them to players still playing in the final round of Swiss. 
Giving a particular card would drive the price of that card down. An option which would avoid that would be to give out special “prize packs.” Each prize pack would have one rare, one uncommon, two commons, and a basic land, all chosen at random from all cards on MTGO. That pack could have four trash cards and a M14 forest, or an LED, a Wasteland, Snap, Daze, a foil Jace and an Unhinged Plains. The odds are that the packs will have little actual value, but lottery players may like them, and dealers may buy them for a shot at the good cards. 
To make these packs more interesting, once Vintage Masters has been released, I would add all the cards not yet released on MTGO (roughly 300, even after removing the ante and dexterity cards.)  Sure, nearly all of the unreleased cards are bad, but collectors will want them, as will the dealers who cannot get such stock any other way. I would also give these packs only to players still playing at the end of the Swiss rounds.   
Another approach Wizards could take would be giving out promos using a progressive scale. This would also protect the value of the promos, while giving players an incentive to play more. For example, Wizards could give out an Unhinged land or prize pack for the second, fourth, eighth and sixteenth PE a player plays in each month. That sort of approach rewards players for their play without flooding the market with promos or prize packs. 
Wizards should also adopt some of the ideas from the Planeswalker Points program it runs on the paper side. Paper players can earn special badges for events.   I have a badge for being a judge, another for Top 8ing a PTQ, plus badges for playing in various types and numbers of events. Allowing players to earn special avatars or titles might not get everyone excited, but it will motivate some people. It works in other games. For example, in Guild Wars, most of the people running with the Zerg display some title. All GWs titles are hard to earn, but “God Walking among Men” is impressive, and even and even “Been There, Done That” makes me jealous. (It is also motivating me to get it – and I am 98% of the way…)
I understand why Wizards got rid of ratings, but they could easily use the player information box to display such banners, if the player wants to do so. For example, if I could earn the banner “Won 50/100/200/500 PE matches in the last year,” that would totally motivate an obsessive person like me. 
Finally, Wizards could, and should, do something to give players doing well in PEs some fame. As Dangerlinto pointed out years ago, a pop-up box saying “[name] won the tournament” is not much.   Sam Black recently wrote about how the existence of leaderboards on other games were motivating him to play more. MTGO used to have leaderboards, and clan win percentages, etc. All of those non-pack prizes have real value – and are often more memorable than the packs. For example, I have won literally thousands and thousands of packs over the years, but I don’t remember many of those events. However, I won a second place trophy back in 2000 in a random league event, and I remember that quite fondly. Wizards can motivate with things other than packs – but only if they actually try. 
That’s a ton of ideas. None of them would motivate all players, and many would only be of real interested to a small subset. However, right now PEs are failing badly. Wizards should not look for a single silver bullet to cure everything, they should try everything. If prizes based on Swiss adds another two dozen people, and promos add another dozen, while leaderboards / achievement banners add just a dozen more, those increases, plus the numbers already there, would fire pretty much every PE Wizards offers. 
Whatever they do, Wizards needs to do something. Right now, more PEs are dead.

Cutting Edge Tech: 

No major events were held last weekend.  We had some MTGO events, but I’m spending the holidays in the Northwoods, and my Internet connection is not perfect. I haven’t found anything new and interesting so far, so I’m going to skip tech for this week.

Card Prices: 

Notes: All my prices come from For cards that are available in multiple sets, I am quoting the lower price. Thus, the price I’m quoting for Thoughtseize is generally the Theros price. In certain other cases (e.g Brainstorm) I will note which version I track. All these cards are generally available from the MTGOTraders Bots, so check out mtgotradersbot, mtgotradersbot2, mtgotradersbot3, mtgotradersbot4, mtgotradersbot5, CardCaddy and CardWareHouse, or you can order them directly from the website. Now, on to prices.
The cost of entire sets is relevant if you redeem, but it is also a decent indicator of overall trends. Right now, I think we are seeing a reflection of the holiday malaise (we are all overstuffed and sluggish) coupled with an impatience for the changes that will come with Born of the Gods next month.

Complete Set
Last Week
% Change
Dragon's Maze
Return to Ravnica

I will bring back individual card prices next week. A combination of a four day snowstorm and temperatures of -20F, plus the holidays, meant I could not get price lists updated on time. Next week.

The Good Stuff:

The Good Stuff starts with a list of the non-foil, non-premium cards on MTGO that cost more than $25 each. Force of Will is back above $100 – as are several other chase cards. Rishadan Port is up, again. The list of cards over $25 is now 44 cards long. 

Lion's Eye Diamond
$ 166.31
Force of Will
$ 113.94
Force of Will
$ 109.99
Rishadan Port
$    82.74
$    73.60
$    70.85
Show and Tell
$    67.50
$    67.32
$    66.09
Gaea's Cradle
$    59.98
Liliana of the Veil
$    58.62
Mox Opal
$    48.82
$    44.96
$    44.18
Natural Order
$    42.71
Underground Sea
$    40.95
Underground Sea
$    40.30
Karn Liberated
$    40.18
Vampiric Tutor
$    38.34
Fulminator Mage
$   38.03
City of Traitors
$    36.69
Tropical Island
$    36.14
Vendilion Clique
$    35.93
Volcanic Island
$    34.81
$    34.78
Vendilion Clique
$    34.77
Jace, Architect of Thought
$    34.43
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
$    33.89
Volcanic Island
$    33.60
$    33.57
Polluted Delta
$    33.22
Tropical Island
$    32.81
From the Vault: Dragons
$    32.28
Sphinx's Revelation
$    32.23
$    29.74
Sneak Attack
$    29.57
$    28.64
Tangle Wire
$    28.09
Mishra's Workshop
$    27.97
$    27.96
$    27.72
$    26.84
Voice of Resurgence
$    26.66
Mana Drain
$    26.30
True-Name Nemesis
$    25.17
$    25.12

 he big number is the retail price of a playset (4 copies) of every card available on MTGO. Assuming you bought the least expensive version available, the cost of owning a playset of every card on MTGO you can own is $25,091. That’s up about $80 from where we were last week. The holiday weekend is kinda slow.

Weekly Highlights:

Great Christmas with my Mom and sister, then excellent New Years in the UP snow country with Ingrid’s folks. Tons of good food, fun and football, but not much Magic. Maybe next week,
“one million words” on MTGO.


For your second screen shot by GainsBanding at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:29
GainsBanding's picture

For your second screen shot up there, I've found that if you expand the width of the window (may depend on your screen resolution), the 3 tiny boxes at the bottom turn into 3 large images - D&D, Magic, something else - that are much more obvious portals into what you are looking for.
Not sure why those don't just show up all the time.

The third is Avalon Hill. I by AJ_Impy at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 15:38
AJ_Impy's picture

The third is Avalon Hill. I get them large as well, but my opinion on the UI for the boards is 'It really is terrible', so this should not be seen as an advocation of the status quo.

Kierkegaard said something by Lagrange at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 16:25
Lagrange's picture

Kierkegaard said something like "The joy of expectation is the greatest joy of them all". What Wizards has accomplish with the new forum UI is to prolong the "joy of expectation" by prolonging the time it takes you to find the forums and getting your expectations resolved.

I believe replays were turned by GainsBanding at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:33
GainsBanding's picture

I believe replays were turned off in events a few years ago to keep players more "honest." Remember when you used to spend the first 2 minutes of each match watching your opponent's replays? This was a particular advantage in limited, and became a necessity since everyone did it.

Competitive Balance Issue by enderfall at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 18:35
enderfall's picture

Yeah, they were turned off due to competitive balance concerns. Some people were getting valuable information while others were not. I can't say I don't disagree with WotC in this case. I hope they don't return. It's not something that you can really do in the Paper world, unless you are part of a huge team and can pool information to exploit those that don't have such resources.

While it was your choice (assuming you knew that watching previous replays were possible) to watch replay's or not, it certainly was annoying to wait 2-3 minutes each round waiting for your opponent to finish watching your previous match.

1. Thank you for quoting my by ArchGenius at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 14:37
ArchGenius's picture

1. Thank you for quoting my thread on the forums.

2. I love and support the idea of giving away some type of promos as prizes to take some of the economic pressure off of packs. I hadn't thought of random promo packs. It's an interesting idea.

3. One of the biggest problems in Magic Online is that the entire economy is very narrow. Newer set packs and playable mythics and some playable rares are the only things that hold much value. WotC seems very determined to keep the economy as narrow as possible by focusing on their core formats.

For example, let's eliminate all of the Daily events for pauper right before we have several weeks of flashback drafts. The flashback sets are fun and draftable in good part because the pauper tournaments are holding up the value of commons in those sets. Taking away the demand for a product right before you add a large supply of that product is not an economically sound idea.

If there were more well supported formats, there would be more valuable cards to draft. Thus, there would be more incentive to play everything. We should be supporting more formats like Pauper, SilverBlack, Choose your own block, Commander, 2-headed giant, Planechase, etc. I understand the argument that expanding the number of formats would mean that some players might be stolen away from Standard and Modern, but I don't really see that as a bad thing. Magic Online is much better suited to smaller tournaments anyway.

The player-run events do a by RexDart at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 16:59
RexDart's picture

The player-run events do a pretty good job of supporting niche formats.

The issue with the market is that, for sets currently being drafted, draft volume is absolutely insane compared to the volume of constructed play. To the point that I'm occasionally shocked there's a secondary market AT ALL. If it weren't for set redemptions taking some cards out of the system, a set might only have one or two mythics even exceeding the price of a single pack online.

As for the older sets, there are plenty of rares priced at $5+ in older sets that see no competitive Legacy or Modern play, or at best appear occasionally in Tier 2 strategies and below. Commander certainly impacts the secondary market online and so does casual Legacy/Classic play in the JFF room. Mycosynth Lattice is over $4 entirely on demand from that minor segment of the player base. Those old sets were drafted at a much lower volume, and some of the digital copies are sitting idle in accounts that haven't been touched for a long time. When they are drafted again, you do see big dips in those cards because the market demand is satisfied very quickly, but you can get value out of those cards.

Why do you think the PREs are by ArchGenius at Sat, 01/04/2014 - 17:28
ArchGenius's picture

Why do you think the PREs are doing a pretty good job of covering niche formats?

From what I can tell is the only site really hosting events and it only hosts 10-15 events a week. Over half of those weekly events are for WotC fully sponsored formats like Modern and Standard.

2-man commander and tribal have PREs even though those formats need a lot of help in terms of their banned list.

Formats like Heirloom are nice social exercises but there is no room for growth in them because you can't have an officially recognized format based on card price.

PREs do a lot to foster community and provide free playing options for a lot of players, but they don't really support niche formats. At least not in the way that providing 2-man queues and 8-man queues could support a niche format and generate a secondary market for cards and provide a profitable revenue source for WotC.

Heirloom could happen with a by Xaoslegend at Sun, 01/26/2014 - 19:38
Xaoslegend's picture

Heirloom could happen with a bit of creative thinking. You make it an introduction to magic tournaments format. First you make packs of everything you want in the format based on cards that are currently cheap. Then you put something desirable in the packs like unhinged lands appearing every so often, alt art cards ect. Then you make the draft have the worst payout by proportion of entry with packs being say 1 tix/dollar each, so maybe 5 tix total fee. You also allow any Heirloom card to be bought in the online store for a fixed price based on rarity to prevent singles from rising above the intended cap (but not the alt art/special versions). Then you again have constructed events with worse payouts than the events that require more investment. The first set would have everything in it with additional sets designed for limited with new special inserts appearing randomly and adding new cards as needed.

I mean its probably too ambitious but it could be done and it would be awesome.

Great article, Pete! by caliban17 at Fri, 01/03/2014 - 15:00
caliban17's picture


I love and have supported the idea of "random" promo packs. I think one would need more of the old, offline cards to be able to have them in normal numbers. Maybe something like 3 "offline" cards, 2 completely random "already online" cards. Maybe a foil too. Maybe you could make them larger, 10 cards, and then divide them by rarity.

Just a note - there's way, way more cards not online than you list. Without knowing Vintage masters, there are currently 820 cards not online in any form, and another 19 you can't draft in any format. There's still a lot (of crap) out there. And I really hope someday we get all of it.