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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jan 05 2018 1:00pm
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State of the Program for January 5th 2018
 
In the News
Rivals of Ixalan Previews League:  MTGO players will be able to play with Rivals of Ixalan on the Thursday BEFORE the paper prerelease. Starting on Thursday, January 11th, at 11am PT, MTGO player can enter a keep-the-cards for-real, one-day league. In years past, we had to wait for weeks after the paper prerelease before the new sets would hit MTGO. Now, we beat paper. Sweet! Details here.
 
Streamers to Stream the RIX Preview Leagues: Wizards has scheduled a bunch of streamers to showcase the preview league. Names and times here.
 
Rivals of Ixalan Previews Starting:  The new set will be here later this month. Previews are starting. The Card Image Gallery is here
 
It’s Too $&^* Cold!: Short article this week, because the cold has messed up the week. Most importantly, I did not have Internet for most of the week, so I could not do any research. Full story below, if interested.  
 
The Timeline
This is a list of things we have been promised, or we just want to see coming back.  Another good source for dates and times is the calendar and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the bug blog which appears sporadically on MTGO.com. Not listed, but important: Wizards offers either one or two online PTQs each weekend, with qualifiers running the three days prior to the PTQ.
 

Upcoming Events
Dates
Scheduled Downtime
January 10th, January 31st (extended)
Constructed Leagues End
January 15, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
January 15, 2018
Rivals of Ixalan Released
January 21, 2018
Core Set Magic  2019
July 20, 2018
25th Anniversary Edition Masters
March 16, 2018
Next B&R Announcement
January 15, 2018
SOI and EMN Redemption Ends
April 28, 2018
Ixalan Redemption Ends
May 23, 2018
Rivals of Ixalan Redemption Ends
May 23, 2018

 
WotC Covered Events
Wizards will be streaming a number of events next year, including all four Pro Tours, the Magic Championship and World Magic Cup, along with 35 Grand Prix. Since Wizards does not schedule premier events on prerelease weekends and certain holidays, that means they will be streaming an event nearly every weekend. Here’s the schedule we have so far.
·       Jan. 6–7: Grand Prix Santa Clara
·       Jan. 20–21: Grand Prix Indianapolis
·       Jan. 27–28: Grand Prix London
·       Feb. 3–5: Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in Bilbao, Spain
·       Feb. 10–11: Grand Prix Toronto
·       Feb. 17–18: Grand Prix Lyon
·       Feb. 24–25: Grand Prix Memphis
·       March 2–4: Magic Online Championship in Renton, Washington
·       March 10–11: Grand Prix Madrid
·       April 6–8: Grand Prix Seattle (double-GP weekend)
·       April 14–15: Grand Prix Memphis
·       April 28–29: Grand Prix Bologna
·       May 5–6: Grand Prix Dallas
·       May 11–13: Grand Prix Birmingham (double-GP weekend)
·       May 26–27: Grand Prix Washington, DC
·       June 1–3: Pro Tour Dominaria in Richmond, Virginia
·       June 9–10: Grand Prix Copenhagen
·       June 15–17: Grand Prix Las Vegas (double-GP weekend)
·       June 23–24: Grand Prix Pittsburgh
·       July 7–8: Grand Prix São Paulo
·       July 21–22: Grand Prix Sacramento
·       July 28–29: Grand Prix Minneapolis
·       Aug. 3–5: Pro Tour 25th Anniversary in Minneapolis, Minnesota
·       Aug. 11–12: Grand Prix Brussels
·       Aug. 18–19: Grand Prix Los Angeles
·       Aug. 25–26: Grand Prix Prague
·       Aug. 31–Sept. 2: Grand Prix Richmond (double-GP weekend)
·       Sept. 8–9: Grand Prix Detroit
·       Sept. 15–16: Grand Prix Stockholm
·       Weekend of Sept. 23–24: 2018 Magic World Championship and Team Series Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada (exact event dates TBD)
·       Oct. 6–7: Grand Prix Montreal
·       Oct. 13–14: Grand Prix Denver
·       Oct. 27–28: Grand Prix Lille
·       Nov. 3–4: Grand Prix Atlanta
·       Nov. 9–11: Pro Tour "Spaghetti" in Atlanta
·       Nov. 17–18: Grand Prix Milwaukee
·       Dec. 8–9: Grand Prix Liverpool
·       Dec. 14–16: World Magic Cup in Barcelona, Spain
 
2018 Magic Online Championship Series
Complete details, including schedule, rules, and which online events qualify you for which online or paper events is here.   Here are the main dates for the next quarter:
 

Event Date
Event Type
Event Format
Invites
Saturday, January 6
Open
Ixalan Sealed
Magic Online Championship, Pro Tour Dominaria, PT Challenge at Pro Tour Dominaria
Sunday, January 7
Monthly
Modern
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Saturday, January 27
Monthly
Standard
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Sunday, January 28
Monthly
Ixalan-Rivals of Ixalan Sealed
February 10 MOCS Playoff
Saturday, February 10
Playoff
Standard
Magic Online Championship, Pro Tour Dominaria, PT Challenge at Pro Tour Dominaria

 
Magic Online Format Challenges
These are high stakes events that happen every weekend.   They cost 25 Tix / 250 play points, and last a number of rounds based on participation (assume 5-8), plus a single elimination Top 8. Details, including prize payouts, are here. Start times are:
 

Event Type
Start Time
Saturday, 8:00 am PT
Saturday, 10:00 am PT
Saturday, 12:00 pm PT
Sunday, 8:00 am PT
Sunday, 10:00 am PT

 
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
Vintage Cube
December 20th
January 15th
[time off for Rivals of Ixalan events]
January 15th
???

 
The 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:  The Reserve List
Technically, this is a paper issue, but it has a huge impact on online Magic, so I want to discuss it.
 
The Reserve List is a list of cards that Wizards has promised never to reprint.  The Reserve List grew out of some painful history.   Early sets were printed, the print runs ran out, and chase cards got expensive. Then Wizards printed Chronicles, a white bordered set that included many of the chase cards. Since Chronicles was massively overprinted, compared to old sets, prices on the chase cards crashed. Dealers took a serious hit, and Wizards drafted the first reprint policy. After some further disputes, Wizards revised the reprint policy. The revised (and current) policy said that, beginning with Mercadian Masques, all cards were eligible for reprint. However, older rares that had never been reprinted as of that date would be on the Reserve List. 
 
The main reason for the reserve list was to reassure dealers that it was safe to invest in Magic cards. Without such a reassurance, dealers might have quit the business, and without dealers, you cannot have constructed events. Every competitive player I know has, on occasion, shown up at a larger event needing to buy cards from onsite dealers to complete their decks. Online, I often buy cards I need before entering leagues.
 
An aside: although all of the broken / super expensive Magic cards are on the reserve list, not all cards on the reserve list are broken or expensive. Take, for example, Delif’s Cube.
 
Ever since the reserve list was created, players have called for it to be abolished, and for Wizards to reprint those cards. (Okay, not Delif’s Cube, but others.)   Let’s look at the arguments on both sides, starting with the most simplistic.
 
I want cheap cards.” Sorry, but no. This is a collectible card game, and some parts of the collection are expensive. You need to work for, trade for or buy cards, because some are scarce. This is the model that Wizards created back in 1993, and it works. One reason Magic is still successful after 25 years is that it is a great game. The other reason is that the fiscal model works. That is really rare, and Wizards must not mess with that model. Sure, games like Monotony – sorry, Monopoly – have one price for the entire game, but Monopoly does not require constant work by a large team of game designers. 
 
I have these cards, and I don’t want to lose any money.” That argument is also too simplistic. Besides, Magic cards gain and lose money all the time. I bought my first Bazaar of Baghdad for $4.25, but that was back before Odyssey made the graveyard relevant. I also paid $20 each for many cards in needed for Standard decks, only to see them drop to a tenth of that value once they rotated. That’s the way Magic works.
 
We need the cards to keep old formats alive.”  True. Absolutely true. Wizards cannot run a Vintage GP because there are just not enough copies of the Power Nine. Wizards is even having trouble with card availability for Legacy GPs. They have now shifted, primarily, to team constructed, where one player plays Standard, one Modern and one Legacy.   It is doing this because 1) team events are awesome, and 2) by pooling their cards, a group of three Magic players might manage to cobble together one viable Legacy deck.
 
But we – meaning Wizards – promised.” Back when Wizards announced the reserved list, the company framed the decision as keeping their promises. Keeping promises is important, and we should respect companies for that. However, it has now been almost 20 years, and circumstances have changed. 
 
Dealers have invested in the cards.” Also true. And, unfortunately, professional investors have also invested in reserve list cards. As I mentioned, dealers are critical to the game, and need the ability to trust that the cards they buy will hold value; or at least lose value in predictable or at least foreseeable ways. Nearly all Standard cards are going to tank when they rotate, but this is predictable, and dealers factor this into their purchase prices. Individual cards may also suddenly gain or lose value due to bannings, the printing of new cards, etc. This is also part of Magic. 
 
What is not acceptable, however, is do something like Chronicles. In Chronicles, Wizards reprinted chase, high-value cards in a print run several times larger than the original set. For example, the original Nicol Bolas was a chase card back then. The print run of Legends was 35,000,000, with 121 rares in the set, meaning that about 20,000 copied of Nicol Bolas were printed. Then Chronicles dumped another roughly 375,000 copies of the big dragon into the card pool. In short, the Chronicles printing meant the number of Nicol Bolas in circulation went up by an order of magnitude overnight. No wonder dealers were upset.
 
Back when the reserve list was created, Wizards had a terrible record on handling reprints. Chronicles was the nadir (look it up – expanding your vocabulary is important), but Chronicles was not the only slip-up back then. Wizards needed to take strong action, and an ironclad guarantee was the strong action needed. But that was then.
 
I have often written about the potential cost of breaking that promise. Years ago, I calculated the total value of the paper Power Nine cards at over $60M – that’s average price times number printed (22,792 of each, between Alpha, Beta and unlimited.) Obviously many have been destroyed or lost over time, but a lot are still around – and that does not count the other 564 cards on the reserve list, which were printed in much larger volumes. The entire reserve list could be worth well over $100 million, possibly $200M or more.   Which brings me my version of the dealer / investor argument “Dealers and investors could sue, and the EV of that suit is too high.” I’m no longer convinced by that argument. 
 
My simplistic EV calculation was the potential payout of a suit, if Wizards loses, multiplied by the odds of losing the suit. I was assuming that the cards might lose half their value. I was also assuming that the odds of losing the suit were a couple percent. Actual attorneys (which I am not) have told me that suing on the basis of the reserve list promise would be difficult, but not impossible. So, a couple percent odds of losing times $100M was an amount that seemed like a show-stopper to me. But I’m reconsidering that.
 
First off, I think Wizards has proven that they can manage reprints without tanking the price of reprinted cards. Take Tarmogoyf, for example. That was super expensive chase card for a long time. Wizards has reprinted it in a number of Masters sets, without taking the price. In fact, the price of Tarmogoyf was almost unchanged, up until (Fatal Push) was printed. Fatal Push pushed Goyf out of favor, and that tanked its price – but the reprints did not. Ditto Vendilion Clique and a host of other chase cards. 
 
I think that the argument that the price of reserve list cards will tank, if reprinted, may not hold too much water. Yes, the price of Power Nine cards has soared because of scarcity, and any reprint would cause a drop – but not a crash. More importantly, if players get more opportunities to play with their cards, then demand form players might offset most of the drop in price due to greater supply. More importantly, Wizards knows how to handle supply.   They have proved that with the paper Modern Masters series.
 
Having a proven track record of managing value when reprinting should, at least logically, reduce the chance of lawsuits. Since Wizards has shown that is can manage value, the justification for any lawsuit should be reduced. And since it will manage the value of the reprinted cards, the losses will be less, so the potential payout if Wizards loses will also be less.
 
I now think that Wizards could eliminate the reserve list, and reprint those cards. The trick would be allowing the market to adjust. Given time, a functional market can slowly squeeze out some of the speculative bubble without crashing. The trick is to give it time: markets tend to swing widely on initial news. So here is my suggestion: 
 
Wizards announces that, because the negative impact on formats has become too great, it will need to reprint cards critical to at least the Legacy format, and is therefore modifying the reserve list. Cards will be reprinted, in limited numbers, on a gradual basis, starting with the dual lands. Vintage-only cards will remain on the reserve list for at least 3 more years. 
 
At that point, Wizards introduces Legacy Masters, which will have any chase reserve list cards as Mythics, but will include the true dual lands. Wizards could even announce that Vintage Masters (the online set) will be available in a year or so, with the new art Power Nine cards at Bonus rarity.   Old art power would remain on the reserve list indefinitely. 
 
I really think this could be done. I think it should be done, so I am officially moving into the “please reprint” camp – because the formats need it. Wizards, are you listening?
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Not this week: Without Internet, I could not do much research. Full sob story in weekly highlights, below.
 
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 doing something, but I don’t have time to figure out what.
 
Modern staples:  Ditto.   
 
Legacy and Vintage: Ditto.
 
Standard Legal Sets: Also ditto. 
 
The Good Stuff
The following is a list of all the non-promo, non-foil cards on MTGO that retail for more than $25 per card. These are the big ticket items in the world of MTGO. Nothing is above a hundred bucks.  The number of cards on the list is up slightly again this week – just a bit under 70 cards now.   We have added the old frame Power to the list, and Black Lotus is back on top. Where it should be.
 

Name
Set
Rarity
Price
Black Lotus
1E
Rare
$ 103.33
Exploration
UZ
Rare
$   73.40
True-Name Nemesis
PZ1
Mythic Rare
$   70.12
True-Name Nemesis
C13
Rare
$   69.53
Liliana of the Veil
MM3
Mythic Rare
$   64.65
Mox Opal
MS2
Bonus
$   62.53
Force of Will
MED
Rare
$   61.84
Mox Opal
SOM
Mythic Rare
$   61.31
Mox Opal
MM2
Mythic Rare
$   60.50
Liliana of the Veil
ISD
Mythic Rare
$   60.11
Mox Sapphire
1E
Rare
$   59.90
Ancestral Recall
1E
Rare
$   54.70
Black Lotus
VMA
Bonus
$   51.71
Mox Diamond
TPR
Mythic Rare
$   50.84
Mox Ruby
1E
Rare
$   47.56
Mox Emerald
1E
Rare
$   46.99
Wasteland
TE
Uncommon
$   45.12
Mox Jet
1E
Rare
$   44.11
Wasteland
EMA
Rare
$   44.10
Wasteland
TPR
Rare
$   43.48
Wasteland
EXP
Mythic Rare
$   42.97
Force of Will
EMA
Mythic Rare
$   41.64
Karn Liberated
MM2
Mythic Rare
$   41.63
Karn Liberated
NPH
Mythic Rare
$   41.58
Misdirection
MM
Rare
$   40.69
Force of Will
VMA
Rare
$   40.09
Engineered Explosives
5DN
Rare
$   40.07
Force of Will
MS3
Special
$   40.03
Engineered Explosives
MMA
Rare
$   39.73
Engineered Explosives
MS2
Bonus
$   39.58
Rishadan Port
MM
Rare
$   39.31
Mox Pearl
1E
Rare
$   37.96
Time Walk
1E
Rare
$   37.71
Scalding Tarn
EXP
Mythic Rare
$   35.62
Ensnaring Bridge
ST
Rare
$   34.86
Dark Depths
V16
Mythic Rare
$   34.76
Ensnaring Bridge
7E
Rare
$   34.60
Ensnaring Bridge
MS2
Bonus
$   34.45
Unmask
V16
Mythic Rare
$   34.07
Scalding Tarn
ZEN
Rare
$   34.07
Scalding Tarn
MM3
Rare
$   34.03
Ensnaring Bridge
8ED
Rare
$   33.86
Underground Sea
ME2
Rare
$   33.54
The Scarab God
MS3
Special
$   33.33
Mox Diamond
ST
Rare
$   32.74
Surgical Extraction
MM2
Rare
$   32.34
The Scarab God
HOU
Mythic Rare
$   31.87
Surgical Extraction
NPH
Rare
$   31.75
Underground Sea
ME4
Rare
$   30.94
Celestial Colonnade
WWK
Rare
$   30.90
Chalice of the Void
MS2
Bonus
$   30.67
Chalice of the Void
MMA
Rare
$   30.65
Chalice of the Void
MRD
Rare
$  30.60
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
KLD
Mythic Rare
$   29.52
Cavern of Souls
MM3
Mythic Rare
$   29.41
Liliana, the Last Hope
EMN
Mythic Rare
$   29.30
Tarmogoyf
FUT
Rare
$   28.15
Gorilla Shaman
ALL
Common
$   27.27
Cavern of Souls
AVR
Rare
$   27.26
Mox Diamond
V10
Mythic Rare
$   26.42
Containment Priest
PZ1
Rare
$   26.24
Horizon Canopy
FUT
Rare
$   26.10
Tarmogoyf
MMA
Mythic Rare
$   25.98
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
PZ2
Mythic Rare
$   25.96
Horizon Canopy
IMA
Rare
$   25.91
Blood Moon
MS3
Special
$   25.91
Blood Moon
9ED
Rare
$   25.89
Blood Moon
8ED
Rare
$   25.82
Blood Moon
MMA
Rare
$   25.68
Tarmogoyf
MM3
Mythic Rare
$   25.49
Blood Moon
MM3
Rare
$   25.42
Horizon Canopy
EXP
Mythic Rare
$   25.16
Tarmogoyf
MM2
Mythic Rare
$   25.04
Containment Priest
C14
Rare
$   25.02

 
The big number is the retail price of a playset (4 copies) of every card available on MTGO. Assuming you bought the least expensive versions available, the cost of owning a playset of every card on MTGO is approximately $ 20,105. That’s up about $415 from last week. 
 
Weekly Highlights
 
I was in the frozen tundra parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last week. It snowed nearly every day, and it was gorgeous.   You could walk in the woods, if you didn’t mind trudging through hip deep snow (I didn’t.) You could not really walk in the open, since sub-zero temperatures and 25mph winds meant frostbite on any exposed skin. It also meant the wind managed to get into every gap in your clothing. Still, it was great.
 
Getting home was a challenge. We were on back roads which did not get plowed out immediately, so we stayed an extra day. Before leaving, I had to clear a tree that had fallen across the driveway. And it was still cold – the gas pumps in the first town we came to were frozen. That meant 40 miles of winter driving to the next available gas, with a tank that was not all that full – but we made it. And by the time we got home, 300 miles later, the temperature was 10 degrees F above zero.
 
The temperature inside our house was 34 degrees F. In the center of the house.  The furnace was dead.  Cold also killed the router, which I don't understand.  Whatever - it was dead. 
 
Long story short – stove burners on, pray hard, start working on the furnace. I managed to get it going fairly quickly, but the pipes under the kitchen sink (on an outside wall) froze and broke.  I kept the furnace limping along until the repair guy arrived, got a new router installed and the plumber is coming today.   But the mess, and stress, and the lack of Internet, meant this article is short.  (also full of typos - sorry Joshua.)
 
All the missing parts will be back next week.
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” 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.  
 

1 Comments

Stay warm! Love your by Bazaar of Baghdad at Sat, 01/06/2018 - 10:40
Bazaar of Baghdad's picture
5

Stay warm! Love your articles but not needed at the expense of your family/home needs!