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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Mar 01 2019 1:00pm
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State of the Program for March 1st 2019
 
In the News
Autumn Burchett Wins Mythic Championships: The first Mythic Championship came and went. It felt exactly like a Pro Tour – same set, same coverage. Wizards is, apparently, saving their coverage improvements for the Mythic Arena Challenge. However, what was covered was a lot of good Magic, including a win by Autumn Burchett. Autumn won because they were clearly the best with the deck they brought to that event. Congrats!
 
Wizards to Experiment with New Mulligan: Wizards will try a new mulligan rule at the next Tabletop Mythic Championship, in April.  Note that this trial will only happen at MC London. For now, at least, everything else, from prereleases and FNM to the GP at MagicFest London, will continue to use the Vancouver mulligan. For now. If the trial works out, this may change.  Details on how the new mulligan works, and my thoughts on it, in the Opinion Section.
 
How to Qualify for the Mythic Championships: Wizards has explained how players can qualify for the tabletop and Arena Mythic Championships.  Most important for us – you can qualify on MTGO. Details – and there are a ton of them – here.
 
Third US Nationals Champion Dies: Dennis Bentley, the US National Champion in 1996, has passed away. Obit 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 for limited PTQs running the days immediately prior to the PTQ.
 

Upcoming Events
Dates
Scheduled Downtimes
--
Constructed Leagues End
April 23, 2019
Sealed Leagues End
April 26, 2019
War of the Spark
April 25, 2019 
Next B&R Announcement
March 11, 2019
Guilds of Ravnica Redemption
Ends March 27, 2019 (currently out of stock)
Ravnica Allegiances Redemption
Ends July 10, 2019
“Archery”
September 2019
“Baseball”
January, 2020
“Cricket”
Spring, 2020

 
WotC Premier Events
Wizards has announced a number of Premier events. Here’s what we know about. Text coverage by CFBevents.
·       March 1: Los Angeles – Modern – video coverage on Twitch.tv/channelfireball
·       March 15: Tampa Bay AND Bilbao – both Modern
·       March 22: Kyoto – Standard
·       March 23: Arena Invitational – will be streamed
·       March 29: Calgary – Modern
 
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:
·       Chaos Draft Feb. 13th – Feb. 27th
·       Lorwyn Flashback Draft Feb. 27th – March 6th
 
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
Sunday, 8:00 am PT
Sunday, 10:00 am PT

 
Opinion Section: Mulligans
Wizards will be testing a new mulligan rule at the next Tabletop Mythic Championship, in London. This is partly due to their ongoing attempt to even out some of the variance in the game. It may also be due, rumor has it, to the deciding game of the previous  Pro Tour being decided by one player mulliganning to four and then never playing anything significant.  That made for a very disappointing finals. If true, this would not be the first time a change to the rules was implemented after a Pro Tour made the problem with the previous rule particularly obvious. The original Legend rule was that, if a copy was on the board under either player’s control, no more copies could be played. When T8 matches were decided by who dropped their Legend first, while the opponent sat there unable to play an opposing Legend, it was clear a change was needed – and Wizards made it. After that event, both players could control copies of the same Legend.  
 
Now, Wizards is experimenting with a change to the mulligan rule. At MC London – and only at the MC for now – the following mulligan rule will apply:
 
103.4. Each player draws a number of cards equal to their starting hand size, which is normally seven. (Some effects can modify a player’s starting hand size.) A player who is dissatisfied with their initial hand may take a mulligan. First, the starting player declares whether they will take a mulligan. Then each other player in turn order does the same. Once each player has made a declaration, all players who decided to take mulligans do so at the same time. To take a mulligan, a player shuffles the cards in their hand back into their library, draws a new hand of cards equal to their starting hand size, then puts a number of those cards onto the bottom of their library in any order equal to the number of times that player has taken a mulligan. Once a player chooses not to take a mulligan, the remaining cards become the player’s opening hand, and that player may not take any further mulligans. This process is then repeated until no player takes a mulligan. A player can’t take a number of mulligans greater their starting hand size.
 
This is not the first time the mulligan rule has been changed.  From the beginning of Magic organized play, mulligans were allowed. Initially, players could reveal hands with no lands, or all lands, then reshuffle and draw a new seven cards. This was repeatable. It also predated decks like manaless dredge and one land Charbelcher.
 
The first change to the mulligan rule was tried out at PT Paris – and was therefore called the “Paris mulligan.” The Paris mulligan allowed players to mulligan any hand, and draw one less card each times. This could be repeated, technically, up to seven times. This was clearly better than the previous option, but hardly perfect. 
 
Somewhere in there, Wizards started allowing one free mulligan in all single-game matches, such as 2HG and Commander. I don’t remember when this was “official” – it was first adopted by the governing boards of non-sanctioned multiplayer formats, like EDH and 5color. 
 
The next change, for one-on-one sanctioned matches, was the Vancouver mulligan, tested out at – you guessed it – PT Vancouver.   This is what we have now: the Paris mulligan, plus a scry. This was adopted a couple years ago. 
 
At that time, Wizards studied a number of other options. Some of these were too powerful, some too complex and clunky, and some just worse than the Vancouver mulligan.  Wizards described something very close to the London mulligan at that time, but the returned cards were shuffled in instead of going to the bottom of the library. At that time, Wizards found that the chance of redrawing the cards made that option too powerful in older formats. 
 
Wizards rejected that mulligan then. Now they are going to try a close variant at the next tabletop MC. What’s changed?
 
First, this is not quite the same mulligan they discarded earlier. The London mulligan is slightly different – on the bottom of the library is not the same as shuffled in. (Of course, in formats with fetch lands, it’s not all that different, either.) More importantly, a couple years of experience has shown that the Vancouver mulligan is not perfect, either. Wizards has a lot more information, especially information from MTGO play, and it shows that taking a mulligan has a far greater impact on your chance of winning than Wizards would like.
 
So Wizards is going to try a change. And they are going to test it out at a PT  MC, with good players playing good decks. Wizards can then compare that data against data from MTGO and other main events. We can speculate all we want about whether this is broken in eternal formats, but speculation is not enough. You need data, and the London MC trial will give Wizards that data.
 
The proposed change does have a very large potential impact. Under the current rules, if your first two hands are bad, you only see five cards and have to decide whether to keep that hand. The scry helps – but it happens after the keep/mulligan again decision is made. Under the new rules, you will have more information, and more ability to sculpt a passable smaller hand.   It will never be as good as a keepable seven card hand, but it will be an improvement on what we have now. Mulligans hurt – the London version will be better.    
 
The biggest question is whether the London mulligan will be too much better, when used with combo decks. If you are playing a deck that just needs to assemble a small number of cards to combo off, then the London mulligan will give you a far better chance of finding those cards. Under the Vancouver mulligan, if you mulligan to four cards, you see 22 cards, plus a scry. With the London mulligan, you would see 28 cards, but would not scry. It’s still better. Too much so – well, that’s why Wizards is going to test it at a Modern event.
 
If – and this is still a big if – if Wizards adopts the London mulligan, it will have an effect on older eternal formats. It is not clear how much – Legacy can adapt to a lot of changes, but this might mean that some of the cards that lock players out of the game – things like turn one Blood Moon or Chalice of the Void get restricted. It could also means Wizards give us some new tools for the Eternal formats by printing them in Commander or the new Masters sets. In Vintage, it might finally mean that Wizards restricts Bazaar of Baghdad, and maybe Mishra's Workshop at the same time. We will see. Personally, I think Legacy can adapt, and that Vintage needs a shake-up. I’m tired of showcasing nothing but Shops, Paradoxical Outcome and Mentor decks, with the occasional Dredge list for “variety.” But that’s just my opinion.
 
I have concerns about the change, but I don’t think the fact that Wizards is going to test this means they hate Legacy and Vintage, or that this is more evidence that this means they are forsaking paper for Arena.   Let’s see what the test reveals, and what Wizards decides to do. If the evidence shows that the new mulligan rally favors combo decks and Dredge, and Wizards adopts it and makes no changes to Legacy and Vintage at all, then I might agree. For now, it is way too early to say. So, for now, I am not selling my Bazaars, and I am not buying more.  I need more data before I decide. Like Wizards.    
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: The Mythic Championship was mixed format – limited and Standard – and that can mean that the winning Standard deck might not be the best deck, since it might have been carried by a 6-0 limited record. In this case, the deck was carried by the pilot. Autumn Burchett put on a master class in playing this deck. If you want a guide, watch Autumn’s matches. Or Reid Duke’s – Reid played the same archetype, but Autumn is better with it.
 
 
Modern: I was skimming lists this week and found this. My first thought was “another classic coming back – you can win with anything if you know it well enough.” Then I noticed the Experimental Frenzies. One problem Affinity has always had is running out of cards. Thoughtcast can only take you so far. The Frenzy might take you a lot further.
 
 
Legacy: The largest Legacy event last weekend was the MTGO Legacy Challenge. That may change next week – SCG will have a Legacy Open.   
 
 
 
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, but the gains outweigh the losses.  The Mythic Championship had an impact, but the mono-blue deck’s cards were all so cheap they don’t make the table even after their price bumps. Tempest Djinn is still only two bucks.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Arclight Phoenix
$53.54
$49.75
$3.79
8%
Assassin's Trophy
$6.55
$5.65
$0.90
16%
Doom Whisperer
$5.31
$5.41
($0.10)
-2%
Dovin, Grand Arbiter
$7.09
$7.09
$0.00
0%
Hydroid Krasis
$38.33
$38.92
($0.59)
-2%
Nexus of Fate
$24.19
$24.59
($0.40)
-2%
Prime Speaker Vannifer
$11.08
$9.69
$1.39
14%
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
$8.22
$8.66
($0.44)
-5%
Rekindling Phoenix
$5.09
$6.23
($1.14)
-18%
Seraph of the Scales
$7.71
$7.78
($0.07)
-1%
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
$8.44
$8.33
$0.11
1%

Eternal staples:  Prices for cards in the eternal formats are climbing. Surgical Extraction is doing better that that.
 

Eternal Format Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$12.61
$11.65
$0.96
8%
$11.28
$11.45
($0.17)
-1%
$23.04
$20.30
$2.74
13%
$18.65
$16.70
$1.95
12%
$9.58
$9.73
($0.15)
-2%
$14.25
$13.13
$1.12
9%
$16.37
$15.20
$1.17
8%
$19.45
$17.94
$1.51
8%
$15.22
$13.48
$1.74
13%
$18.97
$19.46
($0.49)
-3%
$27.10
$26.71
$0.39
1%
$10.91
$9.68
$1.23
13%
$24.09
$22.05
$2.04
9%
$23.08
$19.93
$3.15
16%
$27.09
$24.18
$2.91
12%
$20.29
$18.73
$1.56
8%
$52.63
$43.37
$9.26
21%
$35.32
$30.55
$4.77
16%
$10.33
$8.80
$1.53
17%
$12.80
$11.79
$1.01
9%

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
Core Set 2019
$116.04
$119.21
($3.17)
-3%
Dominaria
$33.51
$33.86
($0.35)
-1%
Guilds of Ravnica
$123.29
$120.65
$2.64
2%
Ixalan
$23.91
$25.63
($1.72)
-7%
Ravnica Allegiances
$124.36
$132.09
($7.73)
-6%
Rivals of Ixalan
$27.06
$28.65
($1.59)
-6%
Treasure Chest
$1.87
$1.87
$0.00
0%
Ravnica Allegiance Booster
$2.97
$3.16
($0.19)
-6%

 
 
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 still led by the classic frame Power Nine, but none of the new frame P9 are on the list.  Scarcity – and better frames – matter.  And right behind those cards – Arclight Phoenix. 
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $ 213.06
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $ 115.71
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $   80.98
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $   78.96
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $   65.35
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $   63.89
Mox Pearl
 1E
Rare
 $   55.82
Arclight Phoenix
 GRN
Mythic Rare
 $   53.54
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $   53.30
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $   52.63
Time Walk
 1E
Rare
 $   49.64
Hydroid Krasis
 RNA
Mythic Rare
 $   38.33
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $   35.75
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   35.53
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $   35.32
Liliana of the Veil
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $   32.92
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   31.75
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $   28.26
Timetwister
 1E
Rare
 $   28.03
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $   27.85
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $   27.31
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $   27.17
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $   27.16
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   27.10
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   27.09
Dark Depths
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $   25.90
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $   25.72

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 $ 12,260. That’s up about $500 from last week.   
 
In Closing
I have been comparing play on both Arena and MTGO.   I have drafted on both, and played constructed on both. I need more data, but for now, I have reached some conclusions.
 
For me – since I have a fair amount of store credit on MTGO and a small, random collection on Arena, assembling a standard deck is far cheaper and far more doable on MTGO. 
 
Since I have lots of play points and TIX on MTGO, drafting there is cheaper than on Arena. I have not decided which draft option I like better.
 
Playing Modern on MTGO is better than not playing Modern on Arena.
 
Most importantly, I have discovered that I really like playing Magic, on either / both platforms. I just need the time to do more of it.
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO. “4MWords” on Arena.
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.