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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jun 27 2014 12:00pm
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State of the Program for June 27th 2014


In the News:

Current Client Going Dark July 16th: Wizards has announced that the V3 client will be going dark on July 16th.  This means that after that date, the only way to play Magic Online will be to use the new client, a/k/a the Wide Beta a/k/a Shiny, a/k/a V4. On the plus side, Wizards is giving everyone their choice of either a free M15 prerelease event or a bunch of free Phantom points. Worth’s article making these announcements is here. I will talk about getting ready for the new client in future weeks. I was considering writing something in the opinion section, but want to work up some videos, instead. For now, three points – and these are news / facts, not opinion. 
1.      MTGO is not dying. No need to sell your collection.
2.      You can play sanctioned Magic on the new client. It works.
3.      The remaining problems and deficiencies fall mainly into two categories: stuff they will get to and aesthetic problems. As for the first, those problems will get fixed, and quickly (just like leagues.) The aesthetic problems are a matter of taste. Wizards has its own sense of appropriate color schemes, style and architecture. We may not agree, but we are all nerds and geeks, so what do we know from that stuff?   
M15 Previews Starting: The previews are appearing everywhere. Presumably, Wizards may have a Visual Spoiler up somewhere, but I cannot find it, so no link. Which leads to…
Wizards Revises the Mothership: Wizards has redesigned the main Magic website. The website features a new color scheme with grey shading into darker grey. (More on this in the opinion section.)
R&D Challenge Event Today: Wizards R&D folks will be playing in a Standard event on Friday, June 27th. This will be similar to past events, with any packs won by R&D members being regifted to any undefeated players. So far, 13 R&D members are listed as playing, including a bunch with Pro Points and at least one Hall of Famer. 
New Client & Classic Decklists: The Wide Beta Client saves all decklists online, by format. With the elimination of the Classic format, all Classic decklists disappeared from users accounts. You can resurrect those decklists by installing the V3 client, then looking in the netdecks tab. The decklists still exist there, even if the Wide Beta client cannot see them. Details here.

Maybe More Truth than We Know?: A post buried deep in a forum thread may explain two of the more controversial decisions Wizards has made recently: cutting the prize payout for Legacy and Vintage DEs, and shutting down V3 so soon. I’m not saying this is true (given the source), but it is something to think about. Do we have a better explanation? Inquiring minds want to know.
[Name Redacted] wrote:
can someone explain this doomswitch? [from] /2011/06/29/ exclusive-whistleblower-admits-magic-online-shuffler-is-rigged/
Once the Doom Switch is turned on, it doesn't matter how good a player's deck is or how perfectly their mana base, that player will not receive a reasonable ratio of spells to lands during the course of a game or match.
A few years back, a group of space alien bigfoots (bigfeet?) crazed by the mind control chemicals in vapor trails (chem-trails) and spurred on by members of the Roschrucian (sic) Brotherhood broke into WotCs Renton HQ and added a secret trapdoor code to the MTGO client.  This code allows members of the Illuminati to win games by mana screwing // flooding their opponents.   This was part of their plot to control the world's money supply by winning all Eternal format DEs. 
The code was so cleverly hidden that it cannot be extricated.  Wizards was forced to take two drastic steps, in addition to installing bigfoot-safe security systems in Renton, to save the world.  The first, short term step was to reduce the prize payouts in the Vintage and Legacy events, to slow wealth accumulation.  The longer term step is to shut down the v3 client, which contains the Doom Switch code. 
Hope this explanation helps.
Is this all true? I don’t know. I sent Worth a number of questions about the new client, the transition and so forth. His answer included this intriguing comment: “I cannot talk about a lot of this stuff.” If this did happen, I can understand why Hasbro would not want anyone talking about it.
HammyBot Discount Increases: 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 over 24,000 cards left in the collection. Those cards are being sold at 10% below retail price. Erik died three years ago, so HammyBot does not include any standard legal sets, but it includes a ton of Masters Edition and Vintage cards, and some nice Modern bargains. 
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. Here’s what we know, want or are tracking. I also created another list for notable bugs. If you know of one that has not been fixed (and you or someone has filed a bug report) please let me know.
Item (date it will return) and notes
·         V3 Client Shutdown (JULY 16th) Read the latest announcement here
·         Magic 2015 (7/28/2014) M15 will be online end of July. Expect the Prereleases 3 days earlier, or four days earlier if Wizards has a Wide Beta Showcase.
·         Online PTQs & MOCS: (not before October) Latest update is here.
·         Leagues (2014) Wizards has promised that leagues will return this year. Details here.
·         Duel Decks: Speed vs. Cunning (10/6/2014) Details here.
·         Khans of Tarkir: (October) Prerelease Oct. 3-6. Details here.
Bugs Needing a Good Stomping:
A ton of bugs got stomped last downtime. Here’s what I have been told still doesn’t work. Let me know what needs to be added.
·         Marchesa, the Black Rose has a number of display issues, and will not return if she dies with a +1/+1 counter.
·         (Descendants’ Path) forces you to cast the revealed creature to move the game forward.
·         Fact or Fiction bug: moving cards between piles too rapidly will crash the client. Move them slowly.
·         Athreos, God of Passage prompts opponents to pay 3 life or 3 mana – should only be 3 life. Trying to pay 3 mana will eat 3 mana AND 3 life.
·         Daring Thief inspired trigger is still bugged, but only for certain special cases. In most circumstances, it works.
·         Gather Specimens bugged. 
·         Thopter Assembly bugged.
·         Tomorrow, Asura’s Familiar reportedly restarts the game when its ability is activated.
·         Card counts in the Wide Beta: not sure this is really a bug, but it is weird. The Wide Beta counts the number of different cards, not total cards. For instance, if your collection was just 49 copies of the Tempest Canyon Minotaur, the V3 client would say your collection was 49 cards, and the Wide Beta would say your collection had 1 “card.”
·         Wish lists don’t save correctly in the new client. You may have multiple versions.
·         Dual land text boxes don’t display correctly in the new client.

Opinion Section:   The New Website
As I said in the news, Wizards has redesigned their website. The site is apparently optimized to run on some popular devices which I do not own. I have looked at the site on my Android phone, my laptop running Chrome over Vista, my desktop running Firefox over Windows 7 and my work machine (during lunch) which runs IE over Windows 8.2. I have the same impression of the website on all of these devices: ugly, clunky and at best semi-functional. The buttons and menus are awkward and non-intuitive.   A lot of stuff is unmarked.   A positive feature: the 404 page features Fthblthb and a big “Lost,” but since a number of prominent links take you there, seemingly at random, I suspect the cuteness will pale quickly. 
Like the way that every single time I click on my account page button in the forums, I would see a comment saying “You attempted to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website.” Could have fooled me. 
I have been visiting the Wizards websites every 1-2 days for over a decade, as part of my research for these articles. I read everything: blogs, forums, articles, news bits, etc. I have always found the website to be a bit clunky and you had to know how the website was structured to find anything. Not great, but I could use it. The new website – well, I’m writing this rant. I really did not want to. I have always felt that ranting was just a cheap way of avoiding doing real journalism. But sometimes, the provocation is overwhelming. Sorry.
The old website was nothing special, but it had buttons and icons that got me to the things I used all the time: articles, the weekly blog, the forums, the calendar, event decklists, the B&R list, etc. The new site – well, it keeps changing as they fix bugs and settings, but I am having a lot of problems finding those things.
I have lived through “updates” to Wizards software before. Remember when they dipped the website in green slime and called it Gleemax – which was supposed to compete with Facebook for gamers? I do. Or the new website where all you saw was five colored balls, with no content, links, icons or sliders unless you randomly decided to scroll way down offscreen? Or any of the last three forums reboots? Or DCI-R? Or WER? Or – well, you get the point.
Let’s go down the checklist of things we all expect of a Wizards software or website update change:
·         Implemented suddenly, with no warning. Check.
·         Multiple functions and services missing or not available. Check.
·         No indication that actual users or focus groups were involved in design or testing. Check. (Or if they were, they were on drugs.)
·         A ton of wasted space. Check.
·         Lots of broken links and non-functional buttons and icons. Check.
·         Lots of problems being fixed in the first couple weeks – in other words, a real appearance that this was released before any serious testing was done. Check.
·         Realization that, a week or so from now, I will be using it anyway, no matter how bad it is. Che-- You know, maybe not. Not unless they fix the giant pulldown menu wedged into the left side on Firefox. I want to report the news, but this might be one mess too many.  
Just once, Wizards, I would love to see you release some piece of software that just worked. Just once. Make something that just does what it is supposed to do, without bells, without countless bugs and without hassle. I want a website that shows me – quickly and easily – links to articles, event coverage, archives, resources like the comp. rules, B&R list, format rules, schedules, premier event info, etc. I don’t want to have to scroll offscreen or navigate a bunch of confusing pulldowns that are labeled irrationally and do not work consistently. If I wanted a big picture of an angry guy with purple eyes, I would go to Google Images and search for “big scary guy with purple eyes.” Yes, I understand that he’s Garruk, and he’s now evil, and I will have to fight him at the prerelease. But I am getting tired of fighting him every time I show up at this website and try to find stuff that used to be right there.
It seems like the designers at Wizards, or wherever, said “let’s try this. No one has ever done this before!” and just went with it. Well, no one has ever made a bath towel out of razor wire either, but that does not mean it is a good idea. 
Gleemax – the secret brain that runs things at Wizards – I think it’s insane. 
Cutting Edge Tech:
Standard: We had a Standard GP last weekend. The Top 8 featured a lot of Mono-Black decks, and a smattering of UW control and mono-blue. I am going to feature Adrian Sullivan’s deck, even though this build will probably not work for anyone else.   I remember trying to play Baron Harkonnen, a decade and a half ago, and trying to understand how anyone can win with the deck. The simple answer is that Adrian playtests harder than almost anyone. If you play this deck in 500-1000 practice matches, then you could probably win with it, too. Coverage of the GP is here.
Modern: We are ramping up for a season of Modern PTQs (in the paper world, at least.) That means people are practicing online. Here’s the winning deck from last weekend’s Modern Premier. This may be the most budget budget deck in Modern!
20 Mountain Burn
pmatavelli , Winner, Modern Premier #7218327 on 06/23/2014
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
4 Hellspark Elemental
12 cards

Other Spells
4 Flames of the Blood Hand
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Magma Jet
4 Rift Bolt
3 Searing Blaze
3 Shard Volley
4 Skullcrack
28 cards
20 Mountain
20 cards

Eidolon of the Great Revel
Pauper: Still no UG Madness, but here’s a green deck splashing blue for you pauper fans. It’s as close to UG Madness as I could find.
Stroyer24, Winner, Pauper Event #7236290 on 06/23/2014
4 Birchlore Rangers
3 Elvish Mystic
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Llanowar Sentinel
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Priest of Titania
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Sylvan Ranger
4 Timberwatch Elf
4 Wellwisher
43 cards

Other Spells
4 Distant Melody
1 Foresee
5 cards
11 Forest
1 Island
12 cards

Timberwatch Elf
Legacy: Another week, another super fast aggro deck won the SCG Legacy Open. This Open was in Las Vegas, and the Top 16 lists are here.
Vintage: Vintage events are firing. On DE actually had two players going 4-0, which requires at least 25 players. That’s great, given how many times Classic events failed to fire, or fired with exactly 16 players. Another thing worth noting: Montolio has dominated the format. I looked at several events which were held over the weekend, and he 4-0ed them all.  Here’s his list
Forgemaster Shops
Montolio, 4-0, multiple Vintage DEs.
1 Duplicant
4 Kuldotha Forgemaster
4 Lodestone Golem
2 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Steel Hellkite
1 Sundering Titan
1 Wurmcoil Engine
14 cards

Other Spells
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Black Lotus
4 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
4 Sphere of Resistance
2 Staff of Nin
4 Tangle Wire
4 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
20 cards
4 Ancient Tomb
2 Mishra's Factory
4 Mishra's Workshop
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Wasteland
16 cards

Kuldotha Forgemaster

Card Prices

Note: all my prices come from the fine folks at These are retail prices, and generally the price of the lowest priced, actively traded version. (Prices for some rare promo versions are not updated when not in stock, so I skip those.)   You can get these cards at web store, or from their bots: MTGOTradersBot(#) (they have bots 1-10), CardCaddy and CardWareHouse, or sell cards to MTGOTadersBuyBot(#) (they have buybots 1-4).
Standard staples: Standard prices took a beating again this week, but nothing like last week. People are getting tired of Mono-Black and Pack Rat. Hang in there; M15 is coming.       

Standard & Block Cards
Last Week
% Change

Modern staples: Modern staples dropped as well, but nothing like Standard.   We are heading into a Modern PTQ season, so players will want to test online.

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Pauper: Pauper climbed again a bit this week. I am just showing the cards that have significant cost in all printings. Let me know if I missed anything.

Pauper Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy / Vintage: The market for Vintage cards seems to be settling down. The initial swings after the prerelease frenzy and second week crash are in the past. I would expect these prices to be pretty stable over time. I guess.

Legacy / Classic Cards
Last Week
% Change

Set Redemption: You can redeem complete sets on MTGO. You need to purchase a redemption voucher from the store for $25. During the next downtime, Wizards removes a complete set from your account, and sends you the same set in paper.   For those of you who redeem, here are the retail prices of one of everything set currently available in the store.   M14 is falling hardest, but that’s to be expected as we see what is, and isn’t, coming back in M15.

Complete Set
Last Week
% Change
Born of the Gods
Dragon's Maze
Journey into Nix
Return to Ravnica


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. Prices are settling down in what may be a new equilibrium. Vintage Masters limited is really popular, so much so that the prices of nearly everything in the set have fallen. The big ticket items, other than Black Lotus, are all cards that were not in VM.   And Wasteland is over $100. That’s quite a price for an uncommon.

Black Lotus
$ 251.15
Rishadan Port
$ 119.83
$ 106.84
Mox Sapphire
$    99.75
Ancestral Recall
$    99.61
$    87.86
$    85.81
Mox Jet
$    77.94
Liliana of the Veil
$    77.92
$    77.12
Time Walk
$    75.99
Mox Ruby
$    74.32
Show and Tell
$    73.88
Mox Pearl
$    73.85
Mox Emerald
$    70.78
Polluted Delta
$    65.23
Gaea's Cradle
$    56.95
Flooded Strand
$    56.33
Vendilion Clique
$    56.20
Mox Opal
$    53.92
Vendilion Clique
$    52.79
City of Traitors
$    48.14
Scalding Tarn
$    43.04
Force of Will
$    42.06
Misty Rainforest
$    39.95
$    39.87
$    39.54
True-Name Nemesis
$    38.12
Lion's Eye Diamond
$    38.00
Hurkyl's Recall
$    36.97
Karn Liberated
$    35.17
$    34.50
$    33.73
Toxic Deluge
$    32.36
Sneak Attack
$    31.96
Undiscovered Paradise
$    31.41
Dark Confidant
$    31.19
Tangle Wire
$    29.75
Force of Will
$    29.58
Dark Confidant
$    28.80
Cryptic Command
$    26.80
Infernal Tutor
$    26.34
$    25.87
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
$    25.59
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
$    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 version available, the cost of owning a playset of every card on MTGO you can own is $ 23,150. That’s up about $50 from where we were last week, which is pretty steady.

Weekly Highlights:

Late edit: a highlight this week was BBD’s tournament report from GP Chicago. An old-school report, complete with a description of the road trip and a mish mash of bad puns, good games and tech. Almost worth the price of premium all by itself.
“one million words” on MTGO
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.


Website lost RSS feeds by pcjr at Fri, 06/27/2014 - 13:49
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I use the Feedly RSS reader (and prior to that, Google Reader) to keep track of articles on Seems that the RSS feed has gone dry. I can't find a replacement URL.

I no longer check WotC's website on a daily basis. So far, I'm not missing it.

I think the thing that by MarcosPMA at Fri, 06/27/2014 - 14:06
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I think the thing that irritates me most about the new website is that titles aren't links. For example, if I want to read the "Ode to Jace" article clicking "Ode to Jace" does nothing. You have to click "read more" to actually read it. This works not how anybody expects it to, and is frustrating at times.

Their website redesign is by GainsBanding at Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:18
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Their website redesign is terrible. I can't find anything. My biggest complaint is that the regular list of articles at the bottom of the DailyMTG page doesn't list the column name (Making Magic, Latest Developments) or the author. It just shows the name of that week's article. That doesn't help me read the articles I keep up with every week.

Yeah. I've been going by IYankemDDS at Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:46
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Yeah. I've been going elsewhere for Spoilers. I really do feel the Website is going the way of the Forums.

Yeah, I used to go to the by olaw at Fri, 06/27/2014 - 16:31
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Yeah, I used to go to the Daily MTG page daily and I could find all the info I needed fairly easily. Now I don't even want to try navigating all the irritating screens and menus to try and find the information I want.

This morning I went to take a look and saw LSV had written an article about a new Jace. I clicked on the article but couldn't get the link hiding the card's image to work and so gave up and went to mtgsalvation to look at their spoiler instead. I'm just going elsewhere to get my information. I used to enjoy spoiler season on the mothership but now the information is just difficult to find and the articles aren't presented in a way that I like.

Another terrible interaction between Wizards and technology.

First by howlett23 at Fri, 06/27/2014 - 23:45
howlett23's picture

Thanks Pete, as always for continuing one of the most useful articles on the game. Second, and this is kind of random but with VMA got me thinking...has any of our player run event leaders tinkered with a "throwback" magic idea...or queried WoTC about this type of filter?

My definition/desire:

Throwback magic = A magic format that has an age limit. Like nothing newer than 3 years or printed after Shards of Alara, etc. etc. etc.

I would very much love to get into some games that require folks to use the older stuff again, with the current set power creeps so many of my beloved oldies are simply obsolete and while I appreciate that the game has to evolve and I don't begrudge Standard, who's going to play Sulfurous Springs when Blood Crypt is available? Or Phantom Monster when Voyager Drake is around? Probably just my nostalgia kicking in, but hey, I've been playing since 1996.

That's certainly a deck by Paul Leicht at Sat, 06/28/2014 - 00:37
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That's certainly a deck building challenge but it is not an easy thing to do since there is no filter for it in MTGO and I suspect it would be a pain to implement on Gatherling. OTOH you could always mention it to dabil (the main guy there.)

3 years seems a bit too short a time span. I think it would be more interesting if it was everything but the last 10 years worth of sets. Call it Vintage Antiques. (Since it would have be done in the vintage filter.

Also would you count VMA as a new set or an old one (since it is almost all old reprints)?

That sounds like a really by TheKidsArentAlright at Sat, 06/28/2014 - 06:10
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That sounds like a really cool idea, maybe as an "pre-modern" format where the card pool could be every core set from 7th Edition and every block from Onslaught and back. For this, I wouldn't count VMA as a set, but would go by when the original paper card was printed. So Power, Bazaar, Workshop, etc. would all be legal, but Jace, Dack and Council's Judgment would not.

I'm sure, though, that there's no shortage of information and decklists from that time out there on Google. Off the top of my head, I remember Hulk Smash!, Gro-A-Tog, U/R Fish, Dragon, and Stax being the decks to beat in Vintage.

ok by howlett23 at Sun, 06/29/2014 - 15:35
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Thanks for the contact name/site Paul, I will check into that and send it over to him. I agree on the challenges, especially without a built in filter. The "3 years" was totally arbitrary, I really haven't done much "research" to see what sets/pools would be the healthiest.

The guys on the Mana Drain by GainsBanding at Mon, 06/30/2014 - 01:38
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The guys on the Mana Drain and Menendian on So Many Insane Plays talk about formats like this. Only pre-Mirage or Only pre-Ice Age etc. I think they play with current rules, which obviously you'd have to do if you were doing this online. It's an interesting way to re-visit those old cards with 20 years of Magic knowledge and theory. Because in the early 90s nobody knew how to play.

Another Bugged Card by Wikki at Fri, 06/27/2014 - 23:58
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Can you add Curse of Misfortunes to the bugged list plz. When you choose a curse with it to attach to another player, it says no valid target and it goes back to it's previous zone. Happens with all curses you try to fetch with it. Reported it multiple times over the past few weeks, they don't seem to care to fix it.

v3 shutdown by graphoman at Sun, 06/29/2014 - 03:53
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I found one more problem with new client, aside of personal preferences and bugs. This problem may sound like nothing, but for me and my buddies that's the real issue. I'm talking about huge internet traffic. Yes, new client generates x10 to x20 times more traffic, than v3. It may consume from 100 to 200 MB per draft, while v3 generates about 10 MB. So what's with that? You see, it's hard to believe, but there's still some places at Earth, where traffic is an issue. In my hometown, the best internet option costs 1$ for 10 MB. So, with new client, to play a draft or even constructed event, I must pay actual event cost to Wizards + 20$ to provider.

I don't know, why new client is so traffic unwise. I believe it's because of card pictures. With v3, pictures was on client's side, and now it seems to be always loaded from server. As a system engineer I think this solution is just unwise, and as a player I want to at least be able to choose to upload all pictures once with update, like in v3 (as we here have some free, but slow internet options, it's so slow, so you totally cannot play online with it, but it's ok when you need to download something big enough).

Things getting worse, if you count, that at my place there is no competitive magic at all. We have a small friendly MTG community, that can support fun FNMs. But our only option for competitive Magic is MTGO. Or should I say "was". Cause with new client, I can hardly imagine to play in any more. And all my friends feels the same way.

Your isp charges you for by Paul Leicht at Sun, 06/29/2014 - 04:58
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Your isp charges you for bandwidth by the mb? thats pretty outrageous.

My city is far from any by graphoman at Sun, 06/29/2014 - 06:22
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My city is far from any communication routes. We don't have roads or railroads to mainland. There's also no cable connections, so we get internet by satellite. And that's expensive, or so they say.

wow... by howlett23 at Sun, 06/29/2014 - 15:39
howlett23's picture

$1 for 10MB is crazy high, and I thought US internet was the worst value in the world...sorry for you, man...