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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Mar 27 2009 12:30am
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Editorial Section:
This is usually where I expound upon some aspect of MTGO that's on my mind.  Varying topics like Casual Players, Problems, Economic impacts of this, that or the other thing.  But every once and a while WotC decides to throw a rock at the MTGO Player Hornets Nest and give me something to talk about.  And sligthly less frequently do they all stand in line and throw rocks in quick succession. 

Well, that's what they just did, and I feel that it's probably very important to cover the myriad of announcements this week that may have been overlooked just due to the sheer number of them.

1) Unofficial Format Review and Prize updates.
This is perhaps the coolest thing I've seen in months.  Not because I'm particularily enamored with the entire thing.  No, no.  In point of fact I think that some of the decisions will be detrimental to the formats in question.  What I love about it is that it's a clearly defined, thought out, business oriented document.  We've never had this in the history of Competitive MTGO.  Ever.  This is very important, as before there was not really any rhyme or reason to format acceptance, prize support, etc.  Often times a mistake in prize support would cause confusion between the Adepts, the MTGO Organized Play folks, and the players.  Now, it's actually defined, in advance, and we can propose changes or tweaks with some degree of knowledge.  But enough of this blathering, I probably should cover what's in it.  

The first format statement is regarding Kaleidoscope (or as I'll always refer to it, KScope):
KScope is a multicolored format.  It has typical deck rules (60 Main, 15 or 0 Side), and is based on the Extended card pool (no IPA!).  It has one banned card: Glittering Wish and will have events based around it.  The events have not been defined but it will pay out packs of the Extended Packs, which is currently slated to be Shadowmoor Boosters.  There's a great deal of discussion about this format here.

Next up of interest is Standard With Vanguard, or as his friends call him: StanGuard.  StanGuard is going to be getting queue support in the near future.  What does this mean?  2 Player Queues are in the cards (heh) for this crazy format.  It's a very pecuilar format, and if you're not used to hearing about it I can't blame you.  It's the redheaded stepchild of MTGO.  And if you consider that MTGO is the redheaded stepchild of MTGP, that's pretty sad.  But I digress.  The format just got a shake-up a few months ago when they changed the Banned and Restricted avatars to only allow avatars that are based on current Standard legal cards.  So if a card is legal in Standard, the Avatar of that card is legal too.  This time around they minorly nerfed the two strongest avatars to give some other decks a bit of room to breathe.  The shaved a card off of Nekrataal and Reaper King avatars.  The good news about this format is that Planeswalkers are rarely seen, so that's a much cheaper decklist to start out with.  The problem is that the reason that Planeswalkers are rarely seen is because it's so fast and aggro based.  These queues will pay out Standard Packs

Next we have Pauper.  There's not a lot of change here except that that is the change.  Instead of moving packs around to avoid prize pool tankage, they're just letting Pauper hit its balance with the 10th Edition packs.  This is slated to change in the summer when Magic 2010 comes out and then the packs will become M10 packs.  Also, there are a few more Pauper PE's being added to the events calendar. 

And again, we have more!  100 Card Singleton is getting a sideboard!  While this may not seem amazing it should certainly help 100CS decks fight hard against each other and not be only targetted at raw power.  There are now things to worry about if you put too many eggs in one basket.   The prizes for 100CS will be Classic based to reflect the Classic based nature of the pool.  The prizes will be Tempest/Stronghold packs.

Prismatic.  Pris-what-ic?  Yeah, it's been on its deathbed for a while now, at least as a tournament structured format.  It finally got the sweet relief of having a pillow held over its face by WotC and has gone into that great format round-up in the sky, where he'll get to hang out with MomirBASIC.  Official support is being dropped for this format.  My only hope is that they'll similarily drop all banned and restricted cards (save battle of wits) and just let the players have their wacky format back.

That wraps up the format specific chagnes, but there's still more to this announcement!

Constructed Queue Changes:

2 Player Queue Formats and Payouts:
Each of these queues costs two tickets per player and pays out in the following manner:

Format Payout
Standard Shards of Alara booster
ALA Block Constructed Conflux booster
Extended Shadowmoor booster
Classic Masters Edition 2 booster
Pauper 10th edition booster
100-Card Singleton Tempest booster
Standard w/Vanguard Shards of Alara booster
Kaleidoscope Shadowmoor booster
100-Card Singleton
(after April 15th)
Stronghold booster

8 Player Queue Formats and Payouts:
The announcement says that Standard will get an 8 player queue which would award Magic Online Championship Series (aka MOCS) Qualifier Points and the rest of the official formats would only get 4 player queues.  This has since been revised so that each official format (Block, Standard, Extended, Classic) will get 8 player queues which award MOCS points and all the 4 player queus will be removed to avoid fragmenting the player base too much.  The payouts are as follows:

Format: 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place 4th PlaceS
Block 3 Shards of Alara + 2 Conflux 2 Shards of Alara + 1 Conflux 1 Shards + 1 Conflux 1 Shards + 1 Conflux
Standard 3 Shards of Alara + 2 Conflux 2 Shards of Alara + 1 Conflux 1 Shards + 1 Conflux 1 Shards + 1 Conflux
Extended 3 Shadowmoor + 2 Eventide 2 Shadowmoor + 1 Eventide 1 Shadowmoor + 1 Eventide 1 Shadowmoor + 1 Eventide
Classic 3 MED2 + 2 MED1 2 MED2 + 1 MED1 1 MED2 + 1 MED1 1 MED2 + 1 MED1

Whew!  That wraps up some very big changes to the constructed changes... cue the ominous music.

The next major news section involves Sealed environments and then we'll get to some major changes to the Draft dynamic and some big news for the Classic based sets.

First up... Ticket Only Drafts aka "Nix Pax".  As mentioned on the WotC boards... this is a gigantic can of worms in some ways and it certainly makes us question some major aspect of MTGO itself.  I won't get into all that in this article, but expect a good long diatribe in a future article.  Anyway!  Nix Pax have been unveiled.  What are Nix Pax, you ask?   A good question.  Nix Pax are events where you pay in all tickets.  The big news about this is what the first nix pax events are made for... Ravnica/Guildpact/Dissnention as part of the Customer Appreciation Events (more on these in a second).  Yeah.  An out of print set is techincally being sold for $15.  The door that this opens is a scary, scary door.  I expect to see Salad Fingers on the other side of this door, actually.

There's also HUGE news for the Classic fans out there.  Get ready for some strange changes in Classic based Set Releases like the upcoming Stronghold events.  I'll use their words so I don't get accused of making it up:

"Starting April 13th with the Stronghold release, Classic sets will only be available in the Magic Online Store a limited time, either to support set release or support a special event. These releases will be short, but sweet, and filled with all the cool stuff you expect for a set release or big event. Afterwards, we will remove the sets from the store until the next release period. For Stronghold (and Tempest), the off-sale date will be April 27th. "

Wait, what?  Yeah.  Two weeks of being onsale and then you can't buy it from the store anymore. Now, before you light your torches there's been an update by WotC_WorthW:

"Hey guys,

When the announcement went out we weren't quite settled (we're still not) on how much exactly they're going to cost, but our plan all along was to offer (for example) TTS Nix Pax queues for the entire time that the packs themselves are not available in the store.

In addition, we will most likely run a concurrent Nix Tix queue (to use the prizes won from the former).

Like I said, we weren't sure on the pricing and exact implmentation (details to come later), but I wanted to reassure people that there will always be a way to get your Tempest or Stronghold fix even while they're not available in the store, as I'm sure plenty of players will have won these packs as prizes and thus, be available for trade."

Now this is a fantastic use for the 'on demand' drafts so that they don't have to worry about keeping inventory stocked in the virtual store, they don't have to have items in the store that people can buy and can't find a draft with it, etc. 

Tournament Information:

Upcoming Events -

Discussion Items:

99 Tix Madness -
A fellow epic WotC poster, Ivo, pointed this PRE out to me and now I point it out to you.  If you're tired of the normal Standard/Extended decks, or if you're good at coming up with unique decks for bizarre formats, then this is the free event for you!  Free to enter, big ticket to the winners, and how about this for a format: cards that start vowels (but not 'y').  Aether Burst is okay, Wrath of God is not.  There are more rules, of course, just check the thread for details!

Return of 8 Man Queues -
I call this out especially for those who are interested in the Magic Online Championship Series as these are going to be a great way to grind in through repeated tournament joinings.  I'm going to be in these pretty much every night from April 1st until I'm qualified. 

Customer Appreciation Week -
Some special events and special promotions for the week ending on Monday March 30th.  There are also two stacks of free events on Monday and Tuesday (Standard Events and Sealed Events, respectively).  The information on the events can be found here.

Card Charts:


Card name: Last Week This week Percentage Changed
Pillar of the Paruns 1.5 8 433.33%
That Which Was Taken 1 1.5 50.00%
Ghitu Encampment 0.5 0.75 50.00%
Dismiss 0.08 0.12 50.00%
Proclamation of Rebirth 0.85 1.25 47.06%
Seismic Assault 0.9 1.25 38.89%
Mosswort Bridge 0.3 0.4 33.33%
Midnight Banshee 0.2 0.25 25.00%
Wasteland 7.5 9 20.00%
Glorious Anthem 2.5 3 20.00%


Card name: Last Week This week Amount Changed
Pillar of the Paruns 1.5 8 6.5
Null Rod 27 32 5
Reflecting Pool 22 24.5 2.5
Taiga 22 24 2
Lion's Eye Diamond 30 32 2
Wasteland 7.5 9 1.5
Reflecting Pool 20.75 22 1.25
Tarmogoyf 17 18 1
Pithing Needle 4.75 5.5 0.75
Sunken Ruins 7.5 8.25 0.75


Card name: Last Week This week Percentage Changed
Armillary Sphere 0.05 0.03 -40.00%
Doomgape 0.4 0.3 -25.00%
Scepter of Insight 0.2 0.15 -25.00%
March of the Machines 0.2 0.15 -25.00%
Ad Nauseam 0.2 0.15 -25.00%
Fusion Elemental 0.2 0.15 -25.00%
Skullmulcher 0.2 0.15 -25.00%
Hostility 0.2 0.15 -25.00%
Shambling Remains 0.65 0.5 -23.08%
Dodecapod 0.62 0.48 -22.58%


Card name: Last Week This week Amount Changed
Engineered Explosives 30 27 -3
Chrome Mox 20 17.5 -2.5
Flooded Grove 6.5 5.75 -0.75
Phyrexian Marauder 6.5 5.75 -0.75
Chameleon Colossus 7.75 7 -0.75
Sarkhan Vol 9.5 8.75 -0.75
Bitterblossom 17 16.25 -0.75
Cloudthresher 2.5 2 -0.5
Barbarian Ring 2.5 2 -0.5
Leaf-Crowned Elder 3.25 2.75 -0.5

Type five Standard/Extended Movers!
Path to Exile
Volcanic Fallout

Disrupting Shoal
Pillar of the Paruns
Watery Grave
Golgari Rot Farm

Card Graphs:

Card Discussion:

As usual I start to dig into the movers and shakers.  Pillar of the Paruns leapt into 'good land' range on the back of the the announcement of KScope (see the Editiorial Section above for more details).  This is going to be a very good land for this new multicolored format and has spawned some very amazing debate on the WotC forums. 

The odd mover this week was That Which Was Taken.  I don't know who's out there buying these up, but go nuts you crazy cats!

Wasteland... Wasteland... Wasteland... you keep climbing as you keep on messing up Classic Manabases!  Just another reason to hop into the Stronghold release events coming up in mid-April.  That, and Earthcraft, I guess. 


Whew!  What a huge week for announcements, and my article keeps growing and growing... I may need to split some of my stuff up, especially as we start moving into the MOCS events and keeping track of all that information.  And if you haven't listened to the PureMTGO podcast yet, give it a listen and let us know what you think!

'till next time!

Hamcrest Out!


I didn't see you mention the by bjbrains at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 02:13
bjbrains's picture

I didn't see you mention the weekly nix tix queue rotation that they are implementing now. It should be interesting to see the effect of semi-regular drafting of older sets.

Indeed! by hamtastic at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 08:45
hamtastic's picture

I realized that last night after submitting the article (once it's submitted the author's can't edit it). :(

The Weekly Nix Tix schedule is here:

From WotC Mike -
"Each week we will offer these drafts (no event tickets required) on different product in order to make it easier to try and earn qualifier points for the season championships and to coincide with our Weekend Premier Events. The announced events will start after each week’s downtime and run until the next one begins.

We will offer 4-3-2-2, 8-4, and Swiss booster drafts for the product(s) selected each week.

Here is the schedule of upcoming Weekly Nix Tix events:

10E..........April 1 - 8
TPF..........April 8 - 15
RGD..........April 15 - 22
SHM-EVE...April 22 - 29
LRW-MOR..April 29 – May 6
TE-ST.......May 6 - 13
10E...........May 13 - 20
CBS..........May 20 - 27
SHM-EVE...May 27 – June 3
LRW-MOR...June 3 - 10
10E..........June 10 - 17
MD5..........June 17 - 24
SHM-EVE...June 24 – July 1
OLS..........July 1 - 8
LRW-MOR...July 8 - 15
OTJ..........July 15 - 22
10E..........July 22 - 29

*Each week runs from after the downtime on the 1st day up until the next week’s downtime.

As always we reserve the right to make schedule changes as needed."

Essentially what will happen is each week will have nix tix drafts that use the product from the previous week's PE's, which gives the people who win the events something to do with their product, and/or a pool of players who are interested in the upcoming nix tix format to sell it to. Pretty awesome stuff!

Hi, I am from Spain and a by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 06:50
Anonymous's picture


I am from Spain and a regular of MTGO and have discovered this page a few days ago. Just say a great work is beeing done here, I really was missing a page only about MTGO. Thanks!

Thanks! by hamtastic at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 08:46
hamtastic's picture

This has been a something that I feel is missing from the MTG Home page that I'd love to see done by WotC themselves. :) Until then, I'll be doing it!

Thanks again!

thanks by bazaarofbaghdad (not verified) at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 08:55
bazaarofbaghdad's picture

Thorough, thanks for taking your time to do this week in, week out.

Good article by IvoMV (not verified) at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 09:19
IvoMV's picture

Good article as usual Ham. I see people already pointed out that Weekly nix tix info was missing, I think it is important to know this when evaluating the "damage" that the constructed payout changes may do.

Thanks for the "plug" to the 99-tix challenge. I've pondered a bit about the format (Alphabet decks with Vowels) that the host is using for it and it should be interesting! I hope I'm able to play in this PRE, and I hope many people join up for the fun and rather nice prizes. Keep an eye out on the thread as the host will be adding specific info about it soon.


nix pax? by whiffy at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 11:15
whiffy's picture

am i seeing this right? 2 tix and i get to draft tte? if this is the way it is expect a large influx of new players and a straight up drop in the single card prices on the whole block. man if its the way it is i cant wait for nix pax mvw.

your question by hamtastic at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 11:36
hamtastic's picture

"What are Nix Pax, you ask? A good question. Nix Pax are events where you pay in all tickets. The big news about this is what the first nix pax events are made for... Ravnica/Guildpact/Dissnention as part of the Customer Appreciation Events (more on these in a second). Yeah. An out of print set is technically being sold for $15."

They are queues that cost 15 tickets to join and the product is provided for you.

ok by whiffy at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 12:23
whiffy's picture

this is still really good as i can now turn a pe top 8 in classic into any drafts i want.

More like 14-15 tix by Blade at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 11:33
Blade's picture

Your party must have been good last night, though. ;)

I'm wondering what the fact by jamuraa at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 12:21
jamuraa's picture
I'm wondering what the fact that there will only be a certain amount of time for packs to be bought and opened will do to the pauper community. The commons that stick around in drafters accounts don't get sold off that often I am thinking at the moment because trading is a big hassle - so how are we going to get more commons injected into the system?
salad fingers? by radman99 (not verified) at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 14:00
radman99's picture

How "in" do you have to be to get that "in"-joke?

so "in" that by midnight_dancer (not verified) at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 14:14
midnight_dancer's picture

typing "salad fingers" into Google and taking the first link will explain all.

Thank you Hammy for the plug for the 99 Tix tournament.

Salad Fingers! by hamtastic at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 14:54
hamtastic's picture

Dear Lord, Salad Fingers... geeze how tired was I by the end of writing last night....

Yeah. Salad Fingers will warp the crap out you. It's totally clean and acceptable for all ages... assuming you want to creep the beejebus out of said people.

"rusty spooons" *shudder*

oh yeah by midnight_dancer (not verified) at Fri, 03/27/2009 - 16:05
midnight_dancer's picture

"I like it when the red water comes..."

*runs screaming*

ok, now i'm warped. thanks by chuckles3113 at Sat, 03/28/2009 - 14:00
chuckles3113's picture

ok, now i'm very disturbed. thanks hammy