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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Mar 13 2015 12:00pm
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State of the Program for March 13th 2015

In the News:

Magic Panel at PAX East:  PAX East was last weekend.  You can watch the panel here. The panel released some spoiler info on Magic Origins, including the fact that flip cards would be back. The Planeswalkers in the set will be flip cards, with one side being the original character, which flips to become a Planeswalker. The panel also confirmed that Tarmogoyf and Karn Liberated would both be in Modern Masters 2015.   The panel closed with the announcement that the fall set would be Battle for Zendikar.
 
NPR Examines Magic Economics: The radio program Planet Money did an in-depth look at the economics of Magic.  Highly recommended. You can find the podcast on most podcatchers, and here – look for episode $609: The Curse of the Black Lotus. One of the more interesting concepts was that the Pro Tour was created, and exists, in part to convince early players to adopt the Standard format.     
 
Dragons of Tarkir Prerelease and Release Events Announced:  This is pretty much what we have come to expect. The Prerelease begins on Friday, April 3rd, and run through Monday. The release events begin Monday when the set goes on sale. Once again, the prerelease includes color-specific salted packs bought from the store, competitive and friendly events and the usual draft options.  
 
Saint Patrick’s Day Pot-o-Gold Drafts Announced: For St. Patrick’s Day, MTGO will offer all gold events – namely triple Alara Reborn Phantom drafts. These are typical Phantom events: Swiss, cost of 10 Phantom points and paying out 24 Phantom points for 3-0, 16 points for 2-1, 6 points for 1-2 and 2 points to the one 0-3 player. The will run from today through Monday.
 
Legacy Cube and Rise of the Eldrazi Drafts Start next Wednesday:  After next week’s downtime, Wizards will start offering Flashback triple Rise drafts, and the new and improved Legacy (aka non-powered) Cube. You can read Randy Buehler’s article on the Cube update here.
 
R&D Challenge Today: The Wizards folk will be hosting an R&D challenge today, at noon PDT.   The event is Standard, five rounds, and any packs won by R&D members will be given out to anyone finishing 5-0 and not a Wizards member. The list of R&D players includes Melissa DeTora, Ian Duke, Bryan Hawley, Ben Hayes, Dave Humpherys, Jackie Lee, Shawn Main, Alli Medwin, Adam Prosak and Sam Stoddard. Cost is 10 TIX. Event is Standard, five rounds of straight Swiss.
 
Bug Blog Goes to Biweekly: The Bug Blog and Known Issues List is now biweekly. Wizards will now update the blog covering the most common known issues in MTGO every other week The Known Issues list is here
 

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. 
 
Item: date and notes
·       Sealed PTQ Finals: this Sunday, 7am Pacific, prelims Wednesday through Saturday.
·       MOCS Season 3: Champs 7am Pacific, March 14th. Prelims. March 11th-13th
·       Fate Reforged Standard Champs Qualifiers: March 4th – March 10th
·       Fate Reforged Limited Championship: 8am PST, Saturday, March 7th 
·       Fate Reforged Standard Championship: 8am PDT, Sunday, March 15th 
·       Leagues (Q2 2015?) Wizards said leagues will return in 2015.
·       Tempest Remastered: May 6th. Tempest block without the chaff. Code: TMR. Details here.
·       Modern Masters II: May, 29, 2015. Mirrodin through Zendikar. Details here.
·       From the Vault: Angels: October 12, 2015. Details here.
·       Magic Origins: released on MTGO July 27th, prerelease should begin July 23rdor July 24th Code: ORI
 

Opinion Section: Prize Pack Mix

I haven’t been playing much limited recently. In the past, I have generally been able to keep the reduction of packs to a slow bleed. However, I have not been playing much constructed – or maybe I should say I have not been winning any packs playing constructed. Instead, I was mainly playing limited. That has also come to an end.  The problem is that I have the wrong packs.
 
I wanted to play Theros limited. I have some TIX. I have a couple dozen Theros packs. I have 30 Born of the Gods packs. I have zero Journey into Nix packs. I have sold off some Theros and BNG packs to buy Journey into Nix, but that doesn’t work well. The buy price for Theros and BNG packs is really low.   The sell price for JOU packs is high.   For comparison, the retail price for packs at MTGOTraders.com is
Theros: $1.40
Journey into Nyx: $ 4.06
Born of the Gods: $ 2.08
 
In short, you can get the other two parts of a draft set for less than the price of the third booster. 
 
I looked through my sealed packs from past years. This has been a problem for a long time. I have a number of sets where I have large stocks of two-thirds of a draft set, and none of whatever packs that completes the draft sets. I notice this most when flashback drafts roll around: I often have a couple dozen packs from the block, but can’t draft unless I pay full TIX price.
 
In the paper world, I don’t have this problem. Many stores give us choice of prize packs. My friends and I also trade packs to make up draft sets, and some stores will trade sealed packs one for one. (Obviously not a Theros pack for an Alpha pack, but Theros to JOU? No problem.) Worst case scenario, if my friends and I are all short of some set to complete draft sets, we would buy a booster box and split it.   We would get a considerable discount on that purchase, and be good to go. 
 
On MTGO, that doesn’t happen. Everyone is short of the same product – such as Journey into Nyx. You can’t choose your prize packs, you cannot trade sealed packs, and you don’t get a bulk buy discount for buying 36 packs at a time. Prizes are the same for all events, and the standard prize pools mean some packs are always going to be short. In effect, on MTGO, packs come in commons, uncommons and rares. The price of common packs is low, and rare packs are going to cost what they cost in the store. It’s just the way it is.
 
Players have been asking for alternatives to the standard payout pretty much since MTGO was created. They have asked for a choice of packs, or a generic prize pack that can substitute for any pack in current Standard. It hasn’t happened. We don’t know why. Maybe allowing a choice of packs is too hard to program, or would take up too much time that has to be devoted to improving performance and stability. Maybe Wizards’ lawyers worry that choice of packs would run afoul of gambling laws. Maybe having standardized prize payouts prevents new and deadlier eruptions at Mount St. Helens. We don’t know – Wizards has never told us. All we know is that the prize pack mix means some packs are ridiculously cheap while others are pegged at the store price.
 
Some people have claimed that Wizards does this deliberately, to force players to buy more packs from the store. I don’t have any information on that. It is possible – if players are indeed buying more of the rare packs from the store. On the flip side, the result of the shortage might just be that fewer players draft. Is getting 2 TIX per draft for more drafts better than 2 TIX plus $4 through the store for fewer drafts a better return?  I have no data on which to speculate. All I know is that I draft a whole lot less than I would if I could trade packs more freely. 
 
I have also heard people claim that this is a deliberate plot to keep the number of drafts down, so that the price of chase singles stays high. Maybe, but the problem with that theory is that while the cost of cards stays high, the value of the prize payout for constructed is also hurt by the imbalance in pack prices. If prize packs are cheap, the incentive to play constructed diminishes. 
 
Players have made a number of recommendations for ways to fix the problem. Allowing trading of packs at the store for any pack with the same retail price, or giving players a choice of prize packs at the end of an event are the most obvious.   Just creating an official Wizards BOT that would trade packs straight up would be useful. Obvious solutions, but players have been asking for them for over a decade, and they are nowhere in sight. 
 
If gambling laws or volcano safety or whatever requires that all prize payout be in the same packs, and those packs cannot be chosen or traded at the store, there are still some possibilities for solving the problem. One option that has been repeatedly suggested is shifting the prize pool occasionally, and for a short time period. For example, Wizards could change the prize payout for all constructed events for one week a month to a mix of whatever regularly draftable sets are in shortest supply. Right now, both JOU and M15 packs are in such short supply that dealers cannot sell the packs below full retail price.  If I ran Wizards, I would consider changing the prize payout for all constructed events to a 50/50 mix of M15 and JOU packs for the period between the third and fourth downtimes of the month. Then Wizards could crunch the data. Did attendance at constructed events go up or down during that week, and the two weeks after it? What happened to the price of packs in that week and the weeks following it? What about the numbers of drafts firing, and the price of singles? Were the overall impacts good or bad?
 
Only one way to find out.  
 

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: Last weekend SCG hosted a Grand Prix in Miami. The breakout deck was clearly G/W Devotion, which finished first and second and carried Brad Nelson to a 12th place finish. The Top 16 decklists are here. Brad Nelson has a deck tech on the deck here. And congrats to Daniel for another strong finish by a Madison native.  I would also note that the Mastery mirror can get complex: one picture I saw on Facebook was captioned “not a board state – he’s just sorting his collection.” Life totals at that point was something like 56 to 85, with a bazillion manifests in play. 
 
GW Masterly Devotion
Daniel Cecchetti, Winner, GP Miami
Creatures
4 Genesis Hydra
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Fleecemane Lion
4 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Elvish Mystic
26 cards

Other Spells
4 Whisperwood Elemental
4 Mastery of the Unseen
1 Temur Sabertooth
1 Banishing Light
1 cards
 
Lands
1 Blossoming Sands
4 Temple of Plenty
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Windswept Heath
9 Forest
2 Plains
24 cards

Genesis Hydra
 
 
Modern: I spent some time hunting through the Modern Dailies recently, looking for something not involving Splinter Twin or Amulet of Vigor. 
 
Death's Shadow Aggro
PTPaul, 4-0, Modern Daily #8046447 on 03/10/2015,
Creatures
4 Death's Shadow
4 Steppe Lynx
4 Street Wraith
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl
20 cards

Other Spells
3 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
4 Become Immense
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mishra's Bauble
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Temur Battle Rage
16 cards
 
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Godless Shrine
1 Marsh Flats
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
17 cards

Death's Shadow
 
Pauper: I’m still trying to avoid featuring decks with Treasure Cruise. Maybe I’ll change that rule next month – or when I run out of alternatives. For this week, I found a red deck.
 
Cursed Red
Lolumad, 4-0, Pauper Daily #8046446 on 03/10/2015-
Creatures
4 Keldon Marauders
4 cards

Other Spells
4 Chain Lightning
4 Curse of the Pierced Heart
2 Dangerous Wager
1 Faithless Looting
4 Fireblast
4 Flame Rift
1 Incinerate
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
36 cards
 
Lands
20 Mountain
20 cards

Curse of the Pierced Heart
 
Legacy: SCG ran the GP, so it didn’t run a large Legacy event. The largest Legacy event I found this week was a Daily event. Going 4-0 in s daily event is not quite the same as winning a 300 players event, but in this case a deck gave two different players 4-0 finishes.   
 
 
Vintage: The Vintage Super League is in week five. Eric Froehlich is still in first place, and undefeated. 
 
 
 

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 almost a decade now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.
 
Standard staples: Standard prices oscillated this week, with drops outnumbering gains. The gains were often significant, while the drops varied. Whisperwood Elemental jumped big time, as a result of GP Miami.
 

Standard & Block Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$6.20
$6.24
($0.04)
-1%
$7.58
$7.60
($0.02)
0%
$17.97
$17.52
$0.45
3%
$12.79
$13.07
($0.28)
-2%
$15.81
$13.97
$1.84
13%
$15.39
$14.36
$1.03
7%
$16.36
$14.78
$1.58
11%
$12.07
$12.32
($0.25)
-2%
$7.34
$9.15
($1.81)
-20%
$12.32
$13.02
($0.70)
-5%
$13.96
$12.15
$1.81
15%
$23.80
$23.98
($0.18)
-1%
$15.53
$14.90
$0.63
4%
$10.31
$9.02
$1.29
14%
$7.35
$8.27
($0.92)
-11%
$8.75
$9.81
($1.06)
-11%
$12.49
$14.17
($1.68)
-12%
$13.58
$16.58
($3.00)
-18%
$7.45
$8.54
($1.09)
-13%
$18.31
$20.34
($2.03)
-10%
$13.57
$15.92
($2.35)
-15%
$5.45
$5.94
($0.49)
-8%
$17.28
$11.47
$5.81
51%

Modern staples:  Modern prices dropped very slightly. Goyf fell a bit, probably based on his inclusion in Modern Masters 2015. However, he’s still Mythic, so the inclusion won’t hurt his price much in the long run. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$40.35
$41.46
($1.11)
-3%
$30.09
$30.70
($0.61)
-2%
$18.56
$17.59
$0.97
6%
$10.45
$10.52
($0.07)
-1%
$6.67
$6.83
($0.16)
-2%
$19.01
$19.99
($0.98)
-5%
$16.19
$15.85
$0.34
2%
$15.62
$16.18
($0.56)
-3%
$35.72
$35.78
($0.06)
0%
$44.34
$45.15
($0.81)
-2%
$36.29
$43.48
($7.19)
-17%
$81.26
$82.77
($1.51)
-2%
$12.08
$14.88
($2.80)
-19%
$52.06
$57.21
($5.15)
-9%
$34.35
$36.94
($2.59)
-7%
$33.10
$33.66
($0.56)
-2%
$25.07
$30.21
($5.14)
-17%
$14.78
$15.57
($0.79)
-5%
$31.52
$33.81
($2.29)
-7%
$17.57
$20.45
($2.88)
-14%
$60.27
$79.56
($19.29)
-24%
$27.85
$27.66
$0.19
1%
$40.11
$40.72
($0.61)
-1%
$16.88
$16.94
($0.06)
0%

Legacy / Vintage staples: Legacy and Vintage prices were mixed this week, but generally pretty stable. A few random tweaks, but not much.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$46.71
$46.32
$0.39
1%
$138.97
$137.75
$1.22
1%
$24.78
$25.91
($1.13)
-4%
$36.96
$34.20
$2.76
8%
$26.97
$28.62
($1.65)
-6%
$24.80
$23.68
$1.12
5%
$31.77
$31.72
$0.05
0%
$27.13
$27.20
($0.07)
0%
$34.94
$36.62
($1.68)
-5%
$22.14
$22.14
$0.00
0%
$16.22
$15.68
$0.54
3%
$10.85
$11.38
($0.53)
-5%
$106.64
$109.57
($2.93)
-3%
$38.27
$37.94
$0.33
1%
$68.21
$66.89
$1.32
2%
$145.94
$145.64
$0.30
0%
$45.05
$45.22
($0.17)
0%
$25.10
$25.08
$0.02
0%
$42.53
$44.89
($2.36)
-5%
$31.06
$30.65
$0.41
1%
$17.66
$17.54
$0.12
1%
$22.88
$22.88
$0.00
0%
$60.98
$52.75
$8.23
16%

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
$66.17
$67.77
($1.60)
-2%
Fate Reforged
$96.96
$91.12
$5.84
6%
Journey into Nix
$110.07
$108.08
$1.99
2%
Khans of Trakir
$70.12
$74.14
($4.02)
-5%
M15
$140.86
$135.39
$5.47
4%
Theros
$101.08
$102.34
($1.26)
-1%

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. Rishadan Port is the most expensive card around.   That will probably continue until we get Mercadian Masques Reforged.
 

Card
Rarity
Set
Price
Rishadan Port
Rare
 MM
$ 145.94
Black Lotus
Bonus
 VMA
$ 138.97
Misdirection
Rare
 MM
$ 106.64
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 ISD
$   81.26
Mox Sapphire
Bonus
 VMA
$   68.21
Tarmogoyf
Rare
 FUT
$   64.98
Wasteland
Uncommon
 TE
$   60.98
Tarmogoyf
Mythic Rare
 MMA
$   60.27
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
 SOM
$   52.06
Force of Will
Rare
 MED
$   46.90
Show and Tell
Rare
 UZ
$   46.78
Ancestral Recall
Bonus
 VMA
$   46.71
Griselbrand
Mythic Rare
 AVR
$   44.34
Time Walk
Bonus
 VMA
$   42.53
Vendilion Clique
Rare
 MOR
$   41.24
Batterskull
Mythic Rare
 NPH
$   40.35
Vendilion Clique
Mythic Rare
 MMA
$   40.11
Tangle Wire
Rare
 NE
$   39.58
Mox Jet
Bonus
 VMA
$   38.27
Infernal Tutor
Rare
 DIS
$   37.15
Containment Priest
Rare
 C14
$   36.96
Karn Liberated
Mythic Rare
 NPH
$   36.29
Mox Ruby
Bonus
 VMA
$   35.75
Fulminator Mage
Rare
 SHM
$   35.72
Primeval Titan
Mythic Rare
 M12
$   34.96
Hurkyl's Recall
Rare
 10E
$   34.94
Noble Hierarch
Rare
 CON
$   34.35
Primeval Titan
Mythic Rare
 M11
$   33.10
Force of Will
Rare
 VMA
$   31.77
Spellskite
Rare
 NPH
$   31.52
True-Name Nemesis
Rare
 C13
$   31.06
Bitterblossom
Rare
 MOR
$   30.09
Mox Pearl
Bonus
 VMA
$   29.14
Auriok Champion
Rare
 5DN
$   27.86
Twilight Mire
Rare
 EVE
$   27.85
Doomsday
Rare
 WL
$   27.74
Daze
Common
 DD2
$   27.70
Gaea's Cradle
Rare
 UZ
$   27.20
Toxic Deluge
Rare
 C13
$   27.06
Dark Depths
Rare
 CSP
$   26.97
Mox Emerald
Bonus
 VMA
$   26.94
Stifle
Rare
 SCG
$   26.80
Volcanic Island
Rare
 ME3
$   26.55
Sneak Attack
Rare
 UZ
$   25.10
Scalding Tarn
Rare
 ZEN
$   25.07
Volcanic Island
Rare
 ME4
$   25.01

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 $ 25,250. That’s down about $200 from where we were last week.  
 

Weekly Highlights:

I played some D&D this week, and finally finished sorting my paper cards. I can build paper decks again! 
 
 
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 three 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. 
 

22 Comments

The cost of Alara drafts is by mihahitlor at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 14:26
mihahitlor's picture

The cost of Alara drafts is 16 not 10 phantom points. It would be a really good way to accumulate phantom points if it was only 10 (which was my intention after I saw your article, haha).

As someone who got into Magic by TheKidsArentAlright at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 14:32
TheKidsArentAlright's picture
5

As someone who got into Magic right around the time Type 2 was born, I have little doubt that the PT and other premier level events were created, at least partially, to get people to play the format. I remember the prevailing attitude at the shop I used to frequent being "Why the hell would I want to play a format where I can't use all my cards?" 20ish years later, sentiments have changed and I would not be surprised if Standard were the most popular format even without PTs, GPs, or SCG Opens, but back then the reception was lukewarm at best.

I watched the finals of GP Miami. The viewing experience was excruciating. At one point, they were over an hour and 15 minutes into the match, still in game 2. Between both players they had over 50 permanents in play (Yes, I actually counted.) and more than 200 combined life after playing Draw, Manifest, Go for at least half an hour. I believe it was Patrick Sullivan who, on air, made the observation that the board state was "2 guys sorting their collections". Their match was like watching a steamroller play chicken with that thing NASA uses to move the space shuttles. You already knew who was going to win, but it took forever and was not exactly exciting to watch.

Tarmogoyf at Mythic is hardly surprising and another in a long series of disappointing blunders (IMO anyway) WotC has made in their (mis)management of Modern. If they want people to play the format, they need to make it Rare at some point. Getting slotted at Mythic in a $10 a pack reprint set is hardly going to satiate current demand let alone get new players interested. I find it absurd and off putting that a vanilla beatstick retails for more than I spent on several pieces of Power in my teens.

Pack price price difference by ajr at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 16:52
ajr's picture

Now that we're on two-set blocks, the pack price problem seems very easy to solve - whenever there are two sets in the current draft, have two two-man queues for standard, one that pays out each set. Presumably only one of them would fire, but that's totally fine. This should work as long as the following reasonable-seeming assumptions are true:

1) Two-man queues are the biggest piece of the problem - payouts for other events are at least somewhat close to balanced, but the two-man queues flood the market with whichever pack they pay out.
2) Standard two-man queues fire substantially more often than the other two-man queues - ideally at least a 3:1 ratio - so they can overwhelm the effects of the other queues paying out an unchanging pack.

I'd like to hope that this would require zero additional programming effort from Wizards, it doesn't involve adding a ton of queues - just a single new option - and it doesn't require any active market management from Wizards. Is there something I'm missing that would make this not work?

WOTC is Clueless... by Fred1160 at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 18:11
Fred1160's picture

I was looking at the preorder prices for the next Modern Masters set. There's gonna be more of the product than last time and yet the boxes are getting preordered at around 370 bucks a box. The set hasn't even dropped yet and here we are getting gouged again.
You'd think Wizards would be able to figure out problems like that and "the pack problem" but they can't seem to get much of anything right. Problems (and some solutions) seem pretty obvious to even the most casual of observers, but no, Wizards can't figure it out. It's just too complicated for them.

At this point I don't think by MarcosPMA at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 21:02
MarcosPMA's picture

At this point I don't think they're clueless, I just think they don't care to fix these problems.

I'm sure they don't see a by Paul Leicht at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 21:31
Paul Leicht's picture

I'm sure they don't see a problem at all in that scenario. Collectible card games after all need to be collectible. Even if that means the 2ndary market goes insane. This is why it seems they are clueless because their players are not collectors first but only by force.

Yeah, I doubt Wizards by Procrastination at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 21:51
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Yeah, I doubt Wizards considers the Secondary Market price of MMA2015 a problem, or more, THEIR problem. Now, they had to take steps to print more product for the consumer to buy this time, but if Stores jack up the price and people actually pay it, well, that was the consumer's choice.

It makes me sad, especially for a set like MMA2015, because I want Modern to become even more accessible than it is now, but as long as people throw money at vendors, that's how it's going to be.

As for prize pack distribution, yes, it would be nice if you could select which prize packs you would receive from a limited range of packs to help finish out draft sets. That does become a question of "Does the complication of implementing this in the code and making things easier for the player base outweight the money gained from doing nothing?"

Well said, I agree with your by bdgp009 at Fri, 03/13/2015 - 23:01
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Well said, I agree with your point it is not Wizards problem and they are probably also looking at the game in a business point of view rather than a players point of view. They did not know the impact a card would do when they first printed them anyway so the secondary market prize is definitely not in their minds.

Wizards Still Clueless... by Fred1160 at Sat, 03/14/2015 - 08:45
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The thing about this round of Modern Masters is that they have said on more than one occasion that they want to make the set more accessible to players than the last set. That's obviously not happening.
Not sure why I was surprised, though. Wizards is one #EPICFAIL after another, just witness the fine contraption known as Magic Online.
Don't make excuses for Wizards. They pay flunkies good money to do that. Don't put a flunky out of work!

Fred. No one has made excuses by Paul Leicht at Sat, 03/14/2015 - 08:50
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Fred. No one has made excuses for WOTC. Just not everyone agrees with you about the sky falling and others agree but think that it is pretty normal for WOTC's business, not extra nefarious or with evil intent.

In addition, taking such a negative tack gives you nowhere to go when you want to praise them for getting something right (which does happen) because you end up painting yourself into the anti-wizard corner. Instead deplore THIS action and make noise to get something done about it. That way you aren't written off as just another an angry fella and instead have a shot at being heard. Unless of course you really are just an angry fella and in that case nevermind...

As disappointing as the by TheKidsArentAlright at Sat, 03/14/2015 - 11:23
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As disappointing as the pricing for MM2 is to someone trying to get their foot in the door of Modern, you have to realize that it is probably born of equal parts fear and greed. If you lived through the debacle of Chronicles, you'd know first hand how bad releasing a glut of chase cards is; that set almost single-handedly killed the game. Players were pissed that their collection values tanked. Stores threatened to stop carrying the game entirely. WotC created the infamous Reserved List as a knee-jerk reaction in an attempt to restore consumer confidence. It worked, but at a terrible cost to the long term sustainability of Eternal Magic. To this day they are afraid of large scale reprint sets and the repercussions of over producing expensive cards.

They admit that they by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 03/14/2015 - 14:40
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They admit that they over-printed chronicles by far. Then, they under-printed MMA.

Can they find a good medium? How about a conservative run, followed up by another if the demand is there?

Does WOTC have any power to get stores to be a little nicer and gouge people less? I don't know if that's possible, or ethical, or a good business move on their part.

When I was young, there was a neighborhood pharmacy that sold all their Magic product at a higher price than MSRP. Once a game store opened up, and sold at MSRP, the pharmacy had to do the same to compete. If some stores these days did the same, instead of going for a money-grab, things would be different.

Things wouldn't be any by longtimegone at Sat, 03/14/2015 - 17:22
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Things wouldn't be any different, the store that lowered prices would just sell out a lot faster.

When you are talking about products with a limited run like this, a store is only going to get a certain quantity of that product. It doesn't matter if they sell it at a lower price, since they will quickly sell out and no longer be in competition for sales with the stores that has a higher price.

This creates no pressure on the other stores to lower their prices.

Unless...the print run ISN'T by Paul Leicht at Sat, 03/14/2015 - 20:46
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Unless...the print run ISN'T limited as expected.

Lucky I don't play paper and by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 03/14/2015 - 21:18
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5

Lucky I don't play paper and have goyfs, bobs, and two lilianas online. So, I'm modern-ready (if I ever want to again, that is).

Hey... by Fred1160 at Sun, 03/15/2015 - 17:04
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I never said the sky is falling. I never said I was angry. You are assuming facts not in evidence.
I am simply calling attention to the fact that, once again, Wizards is taking what could have been a good experience and finding new and inventive ways to screw it up.
"We want to make this product more accessible" is not achieved with very limited print runs and price gouging. I have my modern deck (Twin) and I have two unopened boxes of the last Modern Masters set, so I'm not hurting.
I would love to be able to go to my LGS and draft the set without paying a fifty dollar entry fee, though. I'd also like to not have to hope the dominoes fall just exactly right so that I can be one of the fortunate few who get to draft. Hearing, "Sorry, but we don't have enough product for more than eight drafters" sucks.
I was there for Chronicles. Not everyone thought it was a bad thing. I guess if you were counting on funding your kids college education with Sol'kanar the Swamp King you might have been bummed out. Otherwise the set brought in a lot of new people. It hurt some card values but that's okay. Cards go up and cards go down. Remember Balduvian Horde? And last I checked Blood Moon seems to be holding its own very nicely.
Every time I think Wizards is on the right track the train goes off the rails.
I remember once that I emailed one of the guys at Wizards after reading his article and offered some polite suggestions. His response was to fire back with, "I guess we should let you make the cards, huh." Every Wizards employee I've ever had contact with has this attitude: "we know what we're doing, we're the experts, we'll fix it."
Didn't they say the same thing just before the Titanic went under?

OK, OK so maybe you AREN'T by Paul Leicht at Mon, 03/16/2015 - 02:27
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OK, OK so maybe you AREN'T angry. But you type like it... And your phrasing seems to indicate a sense of a doom that I took as "the sky is falling!" Because of the hyperbole perhaps. And that was what I was aiming at there. Less hyperbole and more talking about actual problems is what I was hoping for.

And this post was much more on point. I still don't entirely agree but it seems like a reasonable claim to make. Wizards employees do have that cocksure "don't question our abilities!" attitude that most often seems to be brought by the moron who leads his troops right into the big muddy. (I alluded to that in several articles concerning the beta because rather than be swayed by player suggestions and complaints they stuck to their guns with v4 in a strikingly rigid manner.)

I remember both sides of Chronicles too. Even though I wasn't hurt by it. I actually opened some nice chronicles cards. (City of Brass, etc.) But I remember some people getting very very upset as their pricy collections hit the toilet. They do that quite often in subtle ways now a days. (Anyone remember the old extended fiasco?)

And I hear you about the draft experience. It does not seem fair or well thought out to make it untenable to draft the set for a normal price range.

I feel like with Wizards they get to do very disappointing things because they make an awesome game. If the game wasn't awesome people wouldn't even care half as much when they screwed things up. And at the same time because it is an awesome game they probably feel justified in being cocksure and bullet proof with regard to outside opinions. And when they do screw up, they don't always know it right away.

But to look at it another way I suspect their main attitude about making bold changes is: "If we don't take big risks, we can't reap
big benefits." Which sometimes goes hand in hand with "We're immortal! What can kill us?" as famous last words go. But I don't think the modern masters II (or mma 2015 which sounds much worse imho) reprint follicy will be their ultimate undoing.

It might not do any good but definitely point out the gougers to WOTC to let them know they are being too stingy with the print runs. See what happens...Maybe if the horse speaks this time they'll listen? I doubt it but hey who knows?

Nah, on the Titanic they said by Rerepete at Mon, 03/16/2015 - 19:09
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Nah, on the Titanic they said "That little ice cube isn't going to hurt us." LOL

Hey, Paul... by Fred1160 at Mon, 03/16/2015 - 08:26
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I figured if anyone would sympathize with my point of view it would be you. You've made similar comments before. Angry? No. Frustrated? Yes. Things could be so much better than they are. Based on things I've read online (forget the website, Glass Ceiling maybe?) employees at Wizards are afraid to point out potential problems because they are afraid they'll lose their jobs. Management doesn't want to hear about problems because they want to think everything is running smoothly. They also think there's nothing wrong with Magic Online. It's just a bunch of whiny babies complaining.
As for Modern Masters II, go on Amazon.com and check out how much they are charging for preorders. Some stores are charging more to preorder MMII than it costs to buy a box of MMI. Considering there is supposed to be a lot more of MMII than the first set, this seems insane.
I was checking one of the local stores yesterday to see what they will charge for a MMII draft and the guy tells me with a straight face, "Sixty bucks." Will he get people to pay that much? Who knows? Magic players are crazy. Maybe that's why we care as much as we do.

Too early by one million words at Mon, 03/16/2015 - 11:08
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When doing as reprint set like Modern Masters, Wizards needs to balance two conflicting goals - getting cards in the hands of players while not tanking the value of cards owned by existing players and dealers. That later is hugely important: Constructed Magic only works because players can buy singles, and players can only buy singles easily because dealers exist. That means they have to carefully control the number of cards reprinted.

With Modern Masters I, Wizards was conservative. They calculated, using the best info they had, what demand would likely be. They also calculated what impact the print run they planned would likely have on prices. They then deliberately underprinted a bit, since it is easier to correct and underprinting than an overprinting. In the actual fact, demand proved much higher than Wizards estimates, so the product retailed for a lot more than it would have if stores could get all they wanted.

With Modern masters II, Wizards has said that it will produce the product in greater volumes than MMI, but we don't have any details, yet. At this point, everyone is guessing. Preorders are the ultimate guess - and stores would be idiots not to set their preorder prices based on worst-case scenarios - scenarios where MM2015 is severely underprinted. If that is the case, then stores will have to charge a ton on the small amount of product they can get. Distributors will also likely charge prices well above MSRP, so if a store sells preorders for less than they can buy the product at, they either take a loss, or violate their promises. Both options are bad, so stores will set preorder prices quite high. If the actual print runs means lower prices, they can always reduce their sell prices later on.

BTW, the only reason to preorder a set like this is if you assume that the print run will be really small and prices really high. I doubt this will be a problem with MM2015, so I have not preordered anything.

Wizards has also shown that it is willing to produce a second print run if demand warrants it. It did this most recently with Commander 2014. They might do a second printing of MM2015, if warranted. Alternatively, they might do another MM set next year. Isn't reprinting Goyf in MM2015 an admission that they could have printed more copies in MMMI?

So are preorder prices high? Yes. Is that a strong indication that MM2015 will be underprinted? No.

BTW, I disagree with you statement that anyone at Wizards thinks that "there's nothing wrong with Magic Online." If you read anything Worth, or anyone else at Wizards, has written or said in the last couple years, it is clear that everyone is unhappy with the state of the program, and that they all see all the same problems that users see. Having read every comment by Wizards staff I could find over the last many years, I find plenty of comments saying 1)MTGO is better now that it was 6 months or a year ago, 2)We are excited about new feature X, and 3) We are happy that we squashed this or that bug. I cannot find any comments saying MTGO is perfect or MTGO has not problems.

I am sorry if my commentary by Paul Leicht at Mon, 03/16/2015 - 12:07
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I am sorry if my commentary doesn't seem sympathetic because I am. You're right it is frustrating. I hope it is clear that I dislike how WOTC policies work in general. I did not always feel that way but lately it seems like they keep making decisions that have a negative or at best neutral impact on my enjoyment of the game. That said, if I go around blasting them indiscriminately I chance losing the message in the noise.

That was what I was saying.

They have done some good things too and if we lose sight of that we may decide we have no choice but to quit. Which would be a shame. I am pretty sure Ive lost many hundreds of tix of value on my collection online mainly because of the way V4 has driven numerous players to other pursuits. And damned if that isn't a depressing thought! Makes me feel like the reward for my spending money on the game was a huge slap in the face.

But the players leaving is on them. Not on WOTC as much as they helped encourage the exodus. The crappy interface, the lack of certain important features (key even maybe) and the general inability of the community to chat easily are factors that WOTC contributed. But the game still works. The engine is relatively as bug free as ever, doing MOST things correctly.

A lot of players are still playing (evidence that the game still works if not to our ideal*). But a lot players panicked and left. And many of those who left sold off their collections because they view the game as part game/part investment. The numbers say "sell" if you think something is going to fail. (Thanks guys! :()

You can see that the mtgo economy has been spiraling downward for a few years but it has become much worse over the last 6 months as even Vintage cards nose dived.

So yeah I am sympathetic. But as I said, being entirely negative does not help and risks losing the message in the noise.

RE: Paper prices and pack prices irl I don't really understand why anyone would pay those kinds of prices except that there must be a lot of very rich mtg players feeding and clothing these store owners and what they get in return doesn't really matter. Because charity.

Insane indeed. I don't expect to open any MMAII in paper (well I don't play paper but draft would be my choice if I did.) Lets see, brand new PC when I need it? Or...door #2...

I think WOTCs hands are tied in the short term with that though. They will eventually punish those stores/suppliers by keeping the printing going until people like myself might choose to buy in on a draft because the prices dropped as demand shrunk.

But that could be a long long time from now. Don't hold your breath. As you say they could be completely oblivious to the problem. So I do recommend talking and posting about that. Narrow the focus of the complaint and let them know they are causing a big problem for their players. *shrugs* Maybe they will notice. Maybe not.

(*And by ideal I mean they stripped out much of the functionality that made v3 bearable after years of dealing with THAT subpar interface.)

Bingo! by Fred1160 at Mon, 03/16/2015 - 20:58
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You hit the nail on the head, Paul. I used to give Wizards the benefit of the doubt...until I spoke to some WOTC employees in person. Hearing actual WOTC employees vent was somewhat eye-opening to say the least. That and some stuff I've read on glassdoor.com tells me that not everyone there is in love with WOTC management.
In fact, my first clue that WOTC is not Camelot was when I saw people land their dream job there and end up deciding they'd rather flip burgers for a living.
I don't have a problem with people making a decent profit. Magic needs brick-and-mortar establishments. I think it's a bad move to take a product like MMII and decide to gouge people just because it's desirable. I can't support that. That's no different from gas stations who jack up the price of a gallon of gas just because they know people need it and the next gas station is a hundred miles away. As I write this there are two places selling pre-orders on Amazon: one for $360 and one for $370. Want to short circuit some of this? Make boxes available at big box stores.
Anyway, what I write on this site will have zero effect on Wizards. I'm just some cranky old guy who complains. I'm sure they'd prefer that I just drink the Kool-Aid and be happy.