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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jul 31 2015 12:00pm
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State of the Program for July 31st 2015

In the News:

Update from Worth Wollpert: Worth has given us one of his periodic updates. He noted that Wizards had doubled the number of people working on MTGO, and that those people were now trained and up to speed. He recapped the improvements in stability and performance that had been achieved. He stated that “players should never be afraid to contact customer service.” He did not say anything about Leagues.   He did comment on the changes to constructed events. Regarding those changes, “we will be hyper-vigilant in the coming months as we look at play patterns, retention rates, redemption, in-game economics, and many other core metrics to track actual customer behavior in the new system. We are of course open to making changes based on feedback and behavior when warranted.”
 
Changes to Eternal Formats: Wizards has reduced the minimum number of players, as well as the number of rounds and prize payouts, for Legacy, Vintage and Pauper Dailies. These events will now cost 6 Tix / 60 PP, and run only three rounds. They pay out 80 PPs and a draft set for going 3-0, 60 PP for going 2-1 and 20 PP for going 1-2.   This is supposed to make it easier to fire these events, but the player reactions that I have seen so far might cause Wizards to rethink this idea.
 
Panic Sell-Off Abates: A few players reacted to the change to Play Points and the price increase / prize reduction in constructed Daily events by selling their collections. That seems to have ended, but we will see what happens with Dailies after the new prize structures go into effect in August. 
 
Article on Client Changes for Magic Origins: Each set, Wizards gives us an article on the changes made to MTGO to support the set, or just improve the client. This set’s article is here. The main changes are to some menus, to foil treatment and to animations. The article also recaps recent improvements in the collection screen.   
 
Prize and Event Rotation: With the arrival of Magic Origins, Wizards has made the usual changes to prize payouts and draft availability. Constructed events are now paying out in ORI packs. On the draft front, ORI drafts are now available in Win-a-Pack, 4-3-2-2 and 8-4. Older format drafts, like DTK, have changed to the 6-2-2-2 format. 
 

The Timeline:

This is a list of things we have been promised, or just want to see coming back.   Another good source for dates and times is the MTGO calendar and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the Known Issues List. For quick reference, here are some major upcoming events.   
 
Item: date and notes
·       Change to Constructed Prize Payouts: Effective August 12th after the downtime.
·       Magic Origins Release Events: These run through August12th. 
·       MOCS Season 8 Championship: 7am Pacific, August 8th. Format is Magic Origins Sealed.
·       MOCS Season 9: runs from July 29th through August 26th. Promo is textless Cryptic Command.
·       Magic Origins Redemption: Begins August 26th.
·       Leagues: Wizards said leagues will return in 2015.
·       From the Vault: Angels: October 12, 2015. Details here.
·       Implementation of the ‘Tuck” Rule in Commander: Delayed – no date given.
 

Opinion Section:  How Atypical Am I?

One of the recent changes Wizards has announced was that Vintage, Legacy and Pauper Dailies will be cut to three rounds, with a minimum or eight players. This is supposed to help them fire. I hate this idea. 
 
I enjoy playing competitive Magic, but I do not have the time to commit to being an expert. I am an occasional player. I play in Paper PPTQs, FNMs and constructed store tournaments, plus the occasional SCG or TCG event.  I enjoy multi-round paper Swiss events. I prefer them because, in the later rounds I am either in contention, which is exciting, or playing against other players who are just playing for fun more than prizes. In the paper world, I could expect to pay $15 to $25 for a 5-8 round event, with the chance of making the Top 8. It was cheap entertainment, all in the company of friends, judges and other players.  I have played in many, many constructed events over the years.  
 
Almost all of these events have been Swiss. Looking back over my play experience, I can only remember playing in one single elimination event – a grinder for US Nationals. Ingrid was judging, and I had tagged along for the ride that year. After being knocked out of the grinder in the final round, I spent the rest of the weekend playing Swiss side events.     
 
On rare occasions, I also play in online constructed events.  They have been Dailies or, way back, Premier events.   I don’t believe I have ever played in a single elimination event online, with the exception of the one-on-one queues.   I don’t like being knocked out, or ending with a loss, so I don’t like single elim.   
 
I know my limitations. A decade and a half ago, my constructed ELO rating put me in the top 10% of constructed players in the world. I know what I did to get there. I played a ton of Magic. I worked and playtested a couple nights a week with a very good team. I spent endless hours brewing and studying formats.   If I put in the work, I might be able to do that again, but I don’t have the time. Real life intrudes. The result, however, is that I am now somewhere in the middle ranks – which is significantly below the average player in the MTGO single elim queues. 
 
Right now, on the rare occasions I enter the one-on-ones queues, I win roughly one in three matches.  If I were to join a dozen single elim 8 mans, I could expect to make the finals maybe once or twice and money in maybe 4 events.  I would finish with a loss in nearly every event. That’s a terrible EV in terms of TIX, and even worse in terms of fun. So I don’t do it.
 
On the flip side, in Swiss events, I tend to either cash or win my later rounds. I seem to be better than the average player who remains in a Swiss event even when they have no chance of making Top 8. That means I generally finish my event with a win or two in the last couple rounds. That is infinitely more rewarding, at least to me, than being eliminated. 
 
Four round Swiss events were always tempting, but I rarely play in them. I almost never found the time, and I have had a number of bad experiences with players not showing in the third or fourth rounds.  I looked at Dailies as paying 1.5 TIX per round for entertainment, and that entertainment was severely limited when I had to wait endlessly for a round to end, especially if I had a bye or no-show opponent. At 6 TIX, a four round event was only marginally appealing.  At 6 TIX for a three round Vintage or Legacy event, or 12 TIX for a four round Daily, I am going to have even more trouble justifying the time and expense. 
 
I am not sure MTGO has a place for me, other than Swiss drafts.   I’m not a new player – I have been playing in sanctioned constructed events since 1999 – but I am closer to a new player than a grinder.  I don’t want to play under-powered decks or smash truly new players in the casual rooms, and I am sick of the random disconnections in the tournament practice room.  I am tired of playing opponents who are multi-queuing.  I want a chance to play Magic for fun, and MTGO makes that hard.
 
I want to play competitive Magic against people of roughly my skill level.   That happens in rounds 4-9 of constructed Swiss events, among the players already out of contention.   It very rarely happens in single elim events, and not in three round Dailies.  I have the cards, I know the decks, but MTGO is just not giving me a chance to play them in a way that is appealing to me. 
 
My ideal event would probably be a five round Swiss event with a moderate entry fee. That might mean the prize payout would be low or very top-heavy, but I could live with that. I don’t really play for the prizes, I play for the joy of playing.
 
Newer players trying to learn formats, or those without the cards to build Tier One decks will be in a similar situation. Where do they go to play sanctioned Magic and have a chance of finishing the day with a win or two, even if they don’t earn any prizes?    Expensive Dailies? Single elim queues? 
 
Am I alone in wanting that?  Am I such an outlier that a five round low cost, low payout event would never fire? Is that why Wizards does not offer them?   Or are we just waiting for constructed leagues? 
 
Magic is not all about prize payouts, at least not to players like me. But maybe I’m not a player anymore, at least to Wizards. I cannot tell you how often I have fired up MTGO and looked at the constructed queues – dozens of times in the last couple months – without finding anything to join. MTGO has something to offer grinders and streamers and those testing for large events, but it does not seem to have anything to offer a constructed player like me. So I log on, look around for a bit then draft or play Guild Wars or something like that. 
 
Cutting Vintage to three rounds is not the answer, at least not for me. I now have 500 or so play points, but I can’t see myself spending them on Vintage Dailies, even though I played more Vintage Dailies in the last couple years than anything other constructed format.  
 
Random MTGO Suggestion of the Week: 
Leagues. Just saying. 
 
If you have a suggestion for an improvement to MTGO, send it to magiconlinefeedback@wizards.com.       
 

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: SCG hosted a Standard Open in Richmond last weekend.   Once again, Bant Heroic placed quite highly in the Top 32 decks. The winner, however, was yet another deck built around Rally the Ancestors, which has now shown strong finishes in both Standard and Modern. 
 
 
Modern:  SCG also ran a Modern IQ event in Richmond. Grixis Control was the big winner, taking three slots in the Top 8. The next few level was heavily Burn decks, but none of them made the playoffs.   
 
 
Legacy: SCG also ran a Legacy IQ last weekend. The Top 16 decks include the usual fair.  This week, however, I want to feature a deck from the last Legacy GP, a couple weeks ago. 
 
 
Vintage: The Vintage Super League is taking a week off, after which time it will be replaced (for a while) by Standard. We will see whether Vintage Dailies continue to fire, but one did last weekend. One interesting note: I was talking to another judge at the GP. We were both former paper Shops players who could not really justify getting that fourth Mishra’s Workshop, now that the price of paper shops has hit $1,000 each. I told him to try MTGO – the price of a Workshop on MTGO is about $5. In fact, the price of this entire deck is about the same as a single paper Workshop.
 
 

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 went down, hard. The one exception were the lands that will remain playable, especially Mana confluence. That never should have dropped that low.
 

Standard & Block Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$5.23
n/a
n/a
n/a
$6.55
n/a
n/a
n/a
$19.30
$22.03
($2.73)
-12%
$9.65
$7.62
$2.03
27%
$10.69
$14.30
($3.61)
-25%
$14.76
$19.07
($4.31)
-23%
$8.76
$8.89
($0.13)
-1%
$7.61
$8.73
($1.12)
-13%
(Hangerback Walker)
$6.06
n/a
n/a
n/a
$25.47
n/a
n/a
n/a
$26.03
$25.45
$0.58
2%
$6.12
n/a
n/a
n/a
$4.82
n/a
n/a
n/a
$18.39
n/a
n/a
n/a
$14.08
$8.72
$5.36
61%
$8.37
$10.34
($1.97)
-19%
$17.44
n/a
n/a
n/a
$9.29
$10.11
($0.82)
-8%
$7.02
$7.77
($0.75)
-10%
$8.85
$10.10
($1.25)
-12%
$9.71
$6.88
$2.83
41%
$7.02
$8.36
($1.34)
-16%
$8.61
$9.08
($0.47)
-5%
$5.94
$6.51
($0.57)
-9%

Modern staples:  Modern prices fell hard this week, like everything else. The panicked sell-off has ended, but that sell-off dumped a bunch of cards into the system, and prices will take some time to adjust.  
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$16.19
$18.17
($1.98)
-11%
$27.08
$27.70
($0.62)
-2%
$32.83
$35.59
($2.76)
-8%
$28.44
$34.68
($6.24)
-18%
$15.43
$18.56
($3.13)
-17%
$14.21
$16.76
($2.55)
-15%
$11.23
$15.86
($4.63)
-29%
$47.58
$56.46
($8.88)
-16%
$28.51
$32.04
($3.53)
-11%
$13.65
$16.62
($2.97)
-18%
$14.04
$16.10
($2.06)
-13%
$99.21
$106.05
($6.84)
-6%
$26.55
$29.34
($2.79)
-10%
$19.08
$20.99
($1.91)
-9%
$23.86
$24.33
($0.47)
-2%
$24.67
$31.32
($6.65)
-21%
$15.10
$18.18
($3.08)
-17%
$10.58
$14.18
($3.60)
-25%
$47.77
$52.93
($5.16)
-10%
$29.87
$30.05
($0.18)
-1%
$18.32
$20.37
($2.05)
-10%
$25.12
$27.55
($2.43)
-9%

Legacy / Vintage staples: This week, Legacy and Vintage staples also dropped, but not as hard as other formats.   We will see what happens next week – the announcement that these Dailies would be cut to three rounds is too recent to be fully reflected in these numbers.    
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$32.99
$37.90
($4.91)
-13%
$96.96
$104.20
($7.24)
-7%
$27.50
$28.80
($1.30)
-5%
$14.49
$16.06
($1.57)
-10%
$19.14
$19.33
($0.19)
-1%
$24.85
$26.31
($1.46)
-6%
$39.21
$39.27
($0.06)
0%
$25.71
$31.72
($6.01)
-19%
$24.52
$24.54
($0.02)
0%
$31.13
$32.02
($0.89)
-3%
$14.42
$16.00
($1.58)
-10%
$116.67
$116.33
$0.34
0%
$25.28
$27.41
($2.13)
-8%
$54.39
$59.63
($5.24)
-9%
$158.13
$162.88
($4.75)
-3%
$59.17
$58.70
$0.47
1%
$20.21
$20.90
($0.69)
-3%
$29.47
$30.38
($0.91)
-3%
$22.61
$22.86
($0.25)
-1%
$27.68
$29.54
($1.86)
-6%
$21.28
$23.54
($2.26)
-10%
$23.28
$27.76
($4.48)
-16%
$13.11
$14.49
($1.38)
-10%
$18.52
$19.11
($0.59)
-3%
$20.37
$20.56
($0.19)
-1%
$75.75
$79.32
($3.57)
-5%

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.   For those of you who redeem, here are the retail prices of one of everything set currently available in the store, excluding sets that are not currently draftable or not redeemable.
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Born of the Gods
$34.19
$36.54
($2.35)
-6%
Dragons of Tarkir
$99.15
$101.66
($2.51)
-2%
Fate Reforged
$47.47
$50.10
($2.63)
-5%
Journey into Nyx
$98.13
$89.38
$8.75
10%
Khans of Tarkir
$84.82
$89.34
($4.52)
-5%
M15
$84.74
$95.19
($10.45)
-11%
Magic Origins
$153.22
n/a
n/a
n/a
Theros
$58.98
$64.37
($5.39)
-8%

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. And Liliana has now passed Black Lotus, which is under $100. 
 

Card
Set
Rarity
Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
$ 158.13
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
$ 116.67
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
$ 99.21
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
$ 96.96
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
$ 77.19
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
$ 75.75
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
$ 59.17
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
$ 56.89
Tangle Wire
 NE
Rare
$ 55.59
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
$ 54.46
Mox Sapphire
 VMA
Bonus
$ 54.39
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
$ 47.77
Griselbrand
 AVR
Mythic Rare
$ 47.58
Doomsday
 WL
Rare
$ 39.21
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
$ 39.05
Blood Moon
 9ED
Rare
$ 33.10
Ancestral Recall
 VMA
Bonus
$ 32.99
Batterskull
 NPH
Mythic Rare
$ 32.83
Blood Moon
 8ED
Rare
$ 32.75
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
$ 31.13
Twilight Mire
 EVE
Rare
$ 29.87
Stifle
 SCG
Rare
$ 29.47
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
$ 28.87
Grove of the Burnwillows
 FUT
Rare
$ 28.51
Blood Moon
 MMA
Rare
$ 28.44
Magus of the Moon
 FUT
Rare
$ 28.15
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
$ 28.09
Time Walk
 VMA
Bonus
$ 27.68
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
$ 27.50
Daze
 DD2
Common
$ 27.39
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
$ 27.31
Auriok Champion
 5DN
Rare
$ 27.08
Jace& Vryn's Prodigy
 ORI
Mythic Rare
$ 27.05
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
$ 26.55
Keranos& God of Storms
 JOU
Mythic Rare
$ 26.03
Mox Ruby
 VMA
Bonus
$ 25.74
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
$ 25.71
Mox Jet
 VMA
Bonus
$ 25.28
Voice of Resurgence
 DGM
Mythic Rare
$ 25.12

The 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 $ 24,875.  That’s down about $1,275 from last week. This reflects the heavy sell-off following the announcement of the changes to constructed prize payout.. 
 

Weekly Highlights:

I spent the weekend at GP Fort Worth. It was a blast, but I was at my real job Friday, flew down Friday night, worked the GP Saturday and Sunday, flew a red-eye back and was back at work on Monday. I have not had a chance to play Magic Origins yet. I’m leaving for GenCon tomorrow, so I may not get a chance anytime soon, unless I can sneak in a draft or two from my hotel room. 

By the way, if you haven’t watched this video, go watch it. It’s the new Turbo-Fog deck in action. I’m not sure if the deck is really viable, but the video is fun to watch.   Ced and Patrick enjoyed the games.
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” and “3MWords” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 
HammyBot Still Running: 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 10% below retail price. Erik died five years ago, so HammyBot does not include any standard legal cards, but it includes a ton of Masters Edition and Vintage cards, and some nice Modern bargains. 
 

7 Comments

I really don't get the by Cownose at Fri, 07/31/2015 - 12:39
Cownose's picture
5

I really don't get the Eternal changes either. People who spend $1500+ on a deck don't want to set aside hours of their lives for a possible profit of 20PP and a draft set =/. We have been saying this for years. Can you imagine if SCG made packs and fun money the prize for a Legacy SCG Open?

I've imagined SCG going by Paul Leicht at Fri, 07/31/2015 - 16:03
Paul Leicht's picture

I've imagined SCG going bankrupt more than once :p

Montolio won that event in by Joe Fiorini at Fri, 07/31/2015 - 16:44
Joe Fiorini's picture
5

Montolio won that event in part because I split the prize with him. I defeated two shops decks to get there (3-0 in round four), but in all honesty I respect him for being a master of that deck, so I decided the extra packs were worth the value. I also don't think that I play in enough Dailies to even come close to earning the QPs for a promo, so I decided that since he needed it, it was more important to him. We had a nice chat, and I went off to bed as I had work in the morning and I really needed to sleep.

I sort of wish I had tried, I'd love to have one of my decks featured in your article. More than prizes, I play to get my name and decks featured in articles and event listings, as silly as it sounds.

I sort of identify with your situation. Until I found DE's that occur after my son goes to bed, I rarely found events to play in. And I am somewhat in the middle of skill-level as well, although I've been improving steadily. I didn't mind losing six tickets to not cash a Daily, I've even joined one I didn't want to play in just to give everyone else a chance to play! I'm not going to spend 12 tix to do that, and the three-round events appeal to absolutely nobody. Literally, I haven't seen even one person say that they like the 3-round DEs.

Is there a reason snapcaster by xger at Sat, 08/01/2015 - 00:49
xger's picture

Is there a reason snapcaster isn't on any of the lists?

As for the change to Leg/Vin/Paup: It's also much worse value than previous

I'll add him. by one million words at Mon, 08/03/2015 - 11:12
one million words's picture

No reason, other than having to choose from a list of over 41,000 cards and so forth on MTGO and about 600 over $15 - I don't find everything. I hadn't realized how much Snappy had climbed. It does make me a bit happy. I don't speculate on cards, but I did buy two extra playsets a while back: Snapcaster Mages and Cavern of Souls, both at around $4.50 each.

As for Vintage and Legacy, I never played these formats for EV, just for the enjoyment. I agree much worse.

That was a killing if you'd by Paul Leicht at Mon, 08/03/2015 - 13:33
Paul Leicht's picture

That was a killing if you'd cashed them out at their peaks. 4.5 is about as low as they got.

The fact that they feel they by Jade Phoenix at Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:42
Jade Phoenix's picture

The fact that they feel they have to lower the minimum number of players to 8 for events that have the same cost as current dailies proves that even WOTC knows how awful they are...