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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jun 29 2018 12:00pm
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State of the Program for June 29th 2018

In the News

Core Set 2019 Coming Soon(ish): The next core set is coming soon. The set is completely spoiled – the card image gallery is here.   We still have to wait a week for the set to appear online, and for the paper prerelease. However, the pre-prerelease was last weekend (seems early), and you can watch that here.  

Tolarian Community College Passes Official MTG YouTube Site: The Professor has accumulated more YouTube subscribers (343k as of last Tuesday morning) for Tolarian Community College than the official Wizards MTG channel (337k same date.) Congrats Professor!  (Note: I’m not a factor here – I subscribe to both.) 
 
B&R Announcement Next Monday: Will Chainwhirler have to put down his chains? Will Wizards unban anything in Modern? We’ll know next week.
 
Leagues Ending SoonCore Set 2019 is coming. Existing constructed Leagues are ending next week. Existing sealed and draft leagues end the following week. Get your matched in soon. 
 
Info on Core Set 2019 Events on MTGO – maybe: Wizards promised an article with info on the Core Set events on MTGO on Thursday, and I left this placeholder. However, as of 7pm CDT, 3 hours after deadline for this article, the site has nothing. With any luck, you may see it before the events begin. I can’t wait: Joshua will kill me if this is any later.  (Manager's Note:  The article was posted on mtgo.com and you can find it here!)
 
Rochester Draft of Amazing Old Sets: The Beta draft from GP Vegas was amazing. It was fun to watch, and a lot of people liked watching it. Wizards has learned from the experience, and is inviting 8 select players to the Pro Tour in Minneapolis to a giant Rochester draft. Each player will open 3 packs of Beta, plus one pack of Antiquities, one pack or Arabian Knights and one pack of Legends. This seems like a lot of cards, but remember that some of these packs only contain eight cards, and Beta packs contain an average of 5 basic lands. This should be fun to watch. Details here
 
LSV Writes a Tournament Report: Twenty years ago, before we had published decklists and video coverage, tournament reports were the best way to get strategy and deckbuilding advice. The best of them were also really good reads. If you want to read some examples, you can look in the wayback machine, or you can check out LSV’s GP Vegas report, here 

 

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 Downtimes
July 5th (THURSDAY) and July 25th (extended)
Constructed Leagues End
July 3, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
July 6, 2018
Core Set Magic 2019
July 13, 2018
Guilds of Ravnica
October 5, 2018
Ravnica Allegiance
January 2019
Next B&R Announcement
July 2, 2018
Ixalan Block Redemption
Out of stock – will return “soon”
Dominaria Redemption Ends
October 10, 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.

 ·         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 and other events

Complete details, including schedule, rules, and which online events qualify you for which online or paper events is here. In addition, Wizards will be offering these special formats:

·         June 13-July 5: Vintage Cube

 

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
Sunday, noon PT

  

Opinion Section:  Five Reasons I’m Hyped about M19

I’m looking forward to this set – and not just because it looks fund to draft. I also like what Wizards has done with the set design. Here are five examples. 

 Dual Colored Lands

Typically, every set has some multicolored lands. They help smooth out mana bases in limited environs, and in Standard. Many times in the past, these lands have taken up valuable rare slots. In this set, however, Wizards has printed common dual lands, like Foul Orchard – ten in all. These appear in place of basic lands in the booster packs. Wizards did this previously in Dragons Maze. It is a great idea. In this set, moving those lands into the basic land spot lets Wizards use the rare slots for reprints and cards that are more interesting that a cycle or two of reprinted dual lands. The common duals should also make limited mote interesting.

 I strongly approve of this approach.

Lifegain
 
Goblin Chainwhirler, and the base red or red-black decks that are dominating Standard, are a bit of a problem. However, Chainwhirler is triple red, meaning that decks that exploit him have to be heavy red. This means that the decks will kill with a combo of red creatures and burn; it’s what red does after all.

The traditional answer to red decks, especially burn decks, has been decks with lifegain. A burn deck can easily deal 20 points of damage quickly – but may struggle to deal 30 or 40 before the opponent can stabilize. White based lifegain may be an answer to Chainwhirler (although cards like Glorybringer, Hazoret and Chandra are tougher problem than that posed by traditional burn decks.) Core Set 2019 not only supports something close to the Soul Sisters decks, but the set’s Soul Warden is actually a one droop enchantment – which does not die to Chainwhirler.        

Valuable Reprints:

I mentioned that one advantage of having the set’s dual lands moved into the basic land slot was to free up space for other rares. Several of these rares are reprints that are needed for Eternal formats. Cards like Scapeshift and Crucible of Worlds are really expensive, especially in paper. Reprinting them – at rare, not Mythic – should ease that problem.    

The Set is Built Around (in part) the Welcome Decks:
 

Welcome decks are small decks Wizards gives to store to give to new players. They are typically 30 -40 cards, mono-colored and full of vanilla creatures. They are intended to teach the game to new players, and they work. One problem with past Welcome decks, however, is they have some really strange mana curves. In several cases, I could tell that the decks really wanted (for example) a 3/3 for three or four mana in a particular color, but the slot was empty.   The problem was that the cards that filled that slot, in the main set, had some additional complexity. For example, that 3/3 or 3/4 for 4 mana might have cycling, or first strike, or have banding. (Okay, not banding, but some other abilities that are also hard for a new player to grok.) 

That doesn’t mean the decks are simplistic. Here’s a Welcome deck from, I believe, Magic Origins.

A bit wonky, but that gives you an idea of the Origins Welcome decks. There was one in each color. 

 This time around, Wizards started by building the Welcome and the Planeswalker decks. They let the designers pull whatever cards they needed from the entire Magic card pool, or design new cards to fit. Then R&D built the rest of the set around those cards. That should make the Welcome decks better.   They will play well against each other, and help bring new players into the fold. 

Also, since the Welcome decks don’t actually require all that many cards, and since those decks are designed to play a limited like game against each other, the Welcome decks will not hurt the quality of the overall limited experience. The Core set will be a bit less complex that normal sets, like always, but only fractionally. It certainly won’t have anything like the complexity difference between, say, a normal set and a Cube. I expect Core Set 2019 will be fine for the couple months we will draft it, while being a good introductory tool for new players all year.  

So Many Answer Cards:
 

I was also happy to see Wizards print so many cards that answer problems in other formats in Core Set 2019.  Cards like Alpine Moon and Mistcaller are not going to be great playable in draft, but they may be needed in Modern and older formats. (Dredge won the Vintage Challenge last weekend, but Remorseful Cleric might have something to say about that. - okay, not really, but maybe in Legacy?) The point is that moving the cycle of multicolored lands out of the rare slot makes room for cards like these.   Moreover, the fairly basic play pattern of Core Set limited means that you can insert these sort of cards as rares without messing up draft. Even if your pod opens several of these, you will still have plenty of playables. (Not like the Beta draft at GP Vegas.)  

I like these decisions and trends, and hope Wizards keeps them up. This core set looks like it will meet the needs of new players, Eternal players, and possibly even Standard players. I think it may also meet the needs of drafters and sealed players, but I’m not great at predicting that from the spoiler.   I will have to play the set to find out.   I’ll be doing that in just over a week (as I write this.)

  

Cutting Edge Tech

 

Standard: Last weekend we had two Standard GPs. Chainwhirler won GP Pittsburgh, but the Top 8 had a wider mix of archetypes than in past weeks. GP Singapore also had a mix of archetypes, including a non-Chainwhirler first place deck. About time.   Coverage of GP Pitt – including decklists – is here. Coverage of GP Singapore is here.

 

 
Brawl: The bannings have finally gone into effect, and a number of new archetypes are appearing. This week’s set of decklists are here

 

 

Pauper: Lots of blue in the Pauper Challenge last weekend, but a few other archetypes appeared.   

 

 

Modern: The Modern challenge was won by – no surprise here – Humans.   However, I have not featured Humans for a while, so here you go. 

 


Vintage
: The Vintage Challenge was won by an old classic – Dredge.  Remember, people, when you skimp on graveyard hate, things like this can happen. The Top 8 decklists are here, in case you want to play actual Magic. 

 

 

Card Prices

 

Note: all my prices come from the fine folks at MTGOTraders.com. These are retail prices, and generally the price of the lowest priced, actively traded version. (Prices for some rare promo versions are not updated when not in stock, so I skip those.) You can get these cards at MTGOTraders.com web store, or from their bots: MTGOTradersBot(#) (they have bots 1-10), CardCaddy and CardWareHouse, or sell cards to MTGOTradersBuyBot(#) (they have buybots 1-4). I have bought cards from MTGOTraders for over a decade now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.

 

Standard Staples: Standard prices are mixed again this week. Without anything at the GP countering the dominance of Goblin Chainwhirler, people are down on the format.      

  

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
 
(Carnage Tyrant)
$11.67
$11.37
$0.30
3%
(Chandra, Torch of Defiance)
$8.66
$11.90
($3.24)
-27%
(Hazoret the Fervent)
$5.59
$8.53
($2.94)
-34%
(Heart of Kiran)
$3.02
$5.48
($2.46)
-45%
$9.07
$8.34
$0.73
9%
$24.32
$25.60
($1.28)
-5%
$8.12
$8.57
($0.45)
-5%
(Rekindling Phoenix)
$30.70
$33.84
($3.14)
-9%
(Search for Azcanta)
$6.06
$6.14
($0.08)
-1%
$23.74
$22.99
$0.75
3%
(The Scarab God)
$8.66
$9.10
($0.44)
-5%
(Torrential Gearhulk)
$4.87
$5.46
($0.59)
-11%
(Vraska, Relic Seeker)
$6.04
$7.12
($1.08)
-15%
(Vraska's Contempt)
$8.02
$8.40
($0.38)
-5%
(Walking Ballista)
$11.30
$14.20
($2.90)
-20%

 

Modern staples: Modern prices were mixed again this week. Overall, they appear to be climbing.  

  

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$19.08
$18.18
$0.90
5%
$25.16
$25.83
($0.67)
-3%
$25.43
$26.97
($1.54)
-6%
$19.23
$20.25
($1.02)
-5%
$24.53
$23.72
$0.81
3%
$47.39
$44.85
$2.54
6%
$30.09
$30.18
($0.09)
0%
$51.56
$49.91
$1.65
3%
$25.46
$25.51
($0.05)
0%
$32.53
$33.76
($1.23)
-4%
$21.36
$18.01
$3.35
19%
$39.95
$43.42
($3.47)
-8%
$36.09
$36.10
($0.01)
0%
$55.81
$61.68
($5.87)
-10%
$23.63
$22.26
$1.37
6%
$26.56
$26.87
($0.31)
-1%
$30.71
$29.06
$1.65
6%
$17.46
$18.81
($1.35)
-7%

 

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage prices continue to follow a very slow downward slide, like everything else. 

 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$26.91
$25.53
$1.38
5%
$25.40
$27.50
($2.10)
-8%
$15.63
$15.76
($0.13)
-1%
$12.86
$13.16
($0.30)
-2%
$31.10
$30.91
$0.19
1%
$29.45
$30.11
($0.66)
-2%
$17.17
$14.17
$3.00
21%
$32.54
$32.54
$0.00
0%
$15.97
$16.59
($0.62)
-4%
$53.02
$53.05
($0.03)
0%
$19.34
$19.12
$0.22
1%
$29.78
$29.44
$0.34
1%
$20.11
$18.97
$1.14
6%

 

Standard Legal Sets: This table tracks the cost of a single copy of every card in each Standard legal set, plus Treasure Chests and the current booster pack. I’ll keep tracking these because they are interesting (at least to me).

 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
$54.42
$65.28
($10.86)
-17%
Amonkhet
$48.02
$55.00
($6.98)
-13%
Dominaria
$97.68
$97.52
$0.16
0%
Ixalan
$83.90
$85.07
($1.17)
-1%
Hour of Devastation
$29.27
$29.85
($0.58)
-2%
Kaladesh
$36.68
$46.66
($9.98)
-21%
Rivals of Ixalan
$80.42
$84.95
($4.53)
-5%
Treasure Chest
$2.20
$2.17
$0.03
1%
Dominaria Booster
$2.98
$3.37
($0.39)
-12%

 

The Good Stuff

 

The following is a list of all the non-promo, non-foil cards on MTGO that retail for more than $25 per card. These are the big ticket items in the world of MTGO.  The list is basically unchanged from last week.  One thing worth noting – reprinting a card in sets like Modern Masters does not affect its value all that much, not if it is highly playable. Almost all of the cards high on this list have been reprinted at least three times in general sets, plus multiple times as promos and so forth.

 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $   80.38
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   64.62
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $   62.37
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $   58.37
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $   55.81
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $   53.02
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $   52.15
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   52.00
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $   51.56
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $   49.41
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $   48.67
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $   47.39
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $   44.79
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $   41.31
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $   39.95
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $   38.57
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $   37.82
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $   37.74
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   37.19
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   36.68
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $   36.58
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $   36.52
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $   36.09
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $   36.01
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $   32.54
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   32.53
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $   31.44
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $   31.10
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $   31.07
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $   31.05
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   31.04
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $   30.88
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $   30.78
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   30.77
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $   30.71
Rekindling Phoenix
 RIX
Mythic Rare
 $   30.70
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $   30.30
Ensnaring Bridge
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $   30.16
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $   30.09
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $   29.78
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $   29.68
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $   29.61
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $   29.45
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $   28.83
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $   28.07
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $   26.86
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $   26.74
Scalding Tarn
 ZEN
Rare
 $   26.56
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $   26.53
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $   26.19
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $   26.15
Time Walk
 1E
Rare
 $   25.83
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $   25.79
Mox Pearl
 1E
Rare
 $   25.75
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $   25.68
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $   25.62
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   25.46
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $   25.43
City of Traitors
 TPR
Rare
 $   25.40
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $   25.16

 

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 $ 17,050. That’s down another $125 from last week. 

 

In Closing

 

Lots of interesting videos out there. I enjoyed a number of set reviews and video this week, but I have to call out Magic the Amateuring’s “Top 10 Worst M19 Rares for Your Sealed Pool.” The snark is real with this one, and I love it. 
 
I have mixed feelings about Core Set 2019 coming so soon. It looks good, and I like new sets, but I’m not sure I want to stop drafting Dominaria. 
 
PRJ
“One Million Words” on MTGO
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.