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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Mar 29 2019 12:00pm
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State of the Program for March 29th 2019
 
In the News
Mythic Invitational Happening Now: The event runs March 28-31, so it has started. Depending on when you read this, it may even have ended.  Congrats, someone! Coverage is on Twitch.tv/Magic. 
 
Another Last Minute Roster Change: Owen Turtenwald will not be playing in the Mythic Invitational. Wizards has not said why. He was replaced by Brian David Marshall, which was great.
 
MTG Arena Staying PC Only: Wizards has announced that MTG Arena will not, for the foreseeable future, be ported to other platforms.   No Macs. No Android. No phones. Wizards had said they were building the program on a framework that was easily transportable to other platforms. They said that about earlier versions of MTGO as well.   Remember Silverlight? Apparently porting is difficult, like always.    
 
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
(none yet)
Constructed Leagues End
April 23, 2019
Sealed Leagues End
April 26, 2019
War of the Spark
April 25, 2019 
Modern Horizons
June 6th prerelease
Next B&R Announcement
May 20, 2019
Ravnica Allegiances Redemption
Ends July 10, 2019
“Archery”
September 2019
“Baseball”
January, 2020
“Cricket”
Spring, 2020

 
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:
·       Legacy Cube   March 27th to April 25th  details here.
·       War of the Spark Limited starts April 25th   
·       Modern Horizons drafts – prerelease June 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: The Evolution of Event Coverage
In a few hours, as I write this, the coverage of the Mythic Invitational will commence. We will see what Wizards has created for their big eSports debut for MTG Arena. Here’s hoping we will see some serious innovation above and beyond the Pro Tour coverage we have seen at the last few events. At the very least, Wizards could repaint the desks.
 
One improvement we have heard already – Wizards will be running the twitch.tv extension that shows decklists. That extension was developed by Cardboard.Live.  It should allow viewer to pop up both decklists (it’s dual Standard) for both players. The cardboard live plug in has been used by SCG events, and by a number of streamers.
 
The cardboard live plug-in is a nifty new innovation. So is streaming coverage, for that matter. Coverage has changed a lot since I started watching. Technically, since I started reading coverage.
 
I started paying attention to tournament Magic twenty years ago. That was a long time ago, both in terms of Magic and in terms of the Web. The world wide web was invented in 1991, but even in 1998, what Magic coverage that existed was still mainly message boards and email lists – and most of that was ASCII text in courier font. By 1998, we had one website – The Dojo – that published Magic content. I wrote for it, as did several pros of the time. Many others submitted articles and tournament reports. Back then, tournament reports on The Dojo were the best way to get information, and even decklists. Tournament reports generally started with “so we drove to the event..”, but then moved on to a match by match recap.   The good ones talked about what was important in each matchup, and how the player sideboarded.   
 
Back then, Wizards published an actual, printed with glossy ink on dead trees magazine, called The Sideboard. It also contained some decklists and articles, but they were hardly current. The Sidebaord was a monthly magazine, so everything in it was at least two months old, by the time it appeared, physically, in your mailbox, or on the racks in your local game store. 
 
That changed when Wizards turned the sideboard into a website. At that point, text coverage of a major event, like a Pro Tour, went up later that same day. Coverage reporters sat next to matches, taking notes. At first, those notes were taken with pen and paper. Laptops came later. I remember back when one of the challenges the judges in charge of logistics faced was getting power to the feature match areas, because laptops of the day did not have anywhere close to enough battery life for a whole event. 
 
Eventually, Wizards started streaming events. They adopted the techniques Rashad Miller and his ggslive team developed for the SCG Open Series – and they also hired Rashad and the ggslive crew. Early on, video coverage consisted of mounting a video camera on a pole above the feature match table. Over time, that evolved into multiple cameras, an awning to cut glare, and so forth.   After a couple years, Wizards had professional videographers, boom mounted cameras and a full control room to handle switching. 
 
Over time, Wizards also developed methods of getting card images on the screen during coverage. One early method was “push tool.”  Push tool put an image of a card on the screen to the side of the screen. To make it work, someone had to type the name of the card into a box, then click post. The problem was that the push tool guy was back in the control room, looking at the video feed.   Since the video was going out to the public feed was delayed by five to ten seconds, you could listen to the commentators, then try to time the push tool to get the card up just as it became relevant to the play. Timing was tricky, but it was doable if you were careful.
 
I was the push tool guy at several World Championships, and close to a dozen Pro Tours. It was a great job – I got to watch the coverage of the Sunday play.   But that was all. Back int the day, the coverage for the earlier days was all written. Video was only on Sundays.
 
A quick story. I don’t know for sure that this is true, but I heard that I got the job because of a mistake the previous push tool guy made. Wizards had been using judges to run push tool, because they were already at the event, and Wizards needed fewer judges on Sunday. So they were using a very good judge, but not one who played a lot of tournament Magic. So when coverage talked about how important “Sky Swallower” was in the match, that judge pushed an image of Sky Swallower.   Here are some images. Which one do you think was seeing play in a Standard Pro Tour Top 8, and which one do you think got pushed – several times? After that, I got the job, because I was writing a ton of articles breaking down the metagame. I knew what was playable, what was being played, and what wasn’t.  
 
Simic Sky Swallower Sky Swallower
 
I loved doing push tool. Over time, though, that job was moved into the control room, and automated. But it was fun while it lasted.
 
Over time, the set has evolved. I remember, at Worlds in 2004, that Wizards had giant Moxen hanging on sculptured supports that were probably 10 feet high. They were big, clunky and needed repainting.   They disappeared a few years later. At Worlds in Paris, a few years later, Wizards had a giant Serra Angel. The set, in those days, was pretty simple. A lot of the event including feature matches and some coverage, was done on convention center folding tables covered with black tablecloths. That evolved, too.   Recent Pro Tours have had dedicated, transportable sets for the coverage staff.   It got better and better – for a while.
 
I am home from work, now, and have had a chance to watch parts of the first day of Mythic Invitational coverage. Wizards has put some effort into this. The set looks good – the more so considering that the amount of square footage Wizards has in its PAX East booth is limited. Coverage seems to be flowing pretty well. I have been involved with live TV events for over 30 years, and it looks pretty good to my eye. The main problems have been delays when players were not ready to walk on stage. That should be fixed tomorrow. Other than that, the cameras work, none of the Arena sessions have crashed, and the pyrotechnics haven’t set anything on fire where anyone can see it.   That makes it a good day one. 
 
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: GP Kyoto brought us a slightly different metagame. The Top 8 was 3 Sultai Aggro, 2 Gruul Aggro, 2 Red Deck Wins (it didn’t), and one Jeskai Control. 
 
 
Modern: SCG had a Modern Classic last weekend. The top two decks were – once again – Izzet Phoenix. I’ll say it again: unless the Modern format Mythic Championship shows us a completely new metagame, I would expect to see bannings next time around.   Even now, with the format trying to adjust (note the maindeck Declaration in Stone), not much has changed.
 
 
Legacy: SCG held a Legacy Open in Cincinnati last weekend. The Top 8 had a nice mix of archetypes, with the only repeat offender being the season-appropriate Death and Taxes.
 
 
 
 
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 making a few adjustments this week. These fluctuations are what we have seen for years. The big price crash following Arena’s introduction seems to be over. We are seeing gradual price changes as the metagame evolves. Plus, we have a new set waiting in the wings.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Arclight Phoenix
$47.69
$55.03
($7.34)
-13%
Assassin's Trophy
$8.02
$6.65
$1.37
21%
Dovin, Grand Arbiter
$6.05
$6.31
($0.26)
-4%
Hydroid Krasis
$17.24
$17.17
$0.07
0%
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper
$22.07
$16.86
$5.21
31%
Nexus of Fate
$5.58
$8.14
($2.56)
-31%
Prime Speaker Vannifer
$11.70
$12.88
($1.18)
-9%
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
$5.39
$5.39
$0.00
0%
Seraph of the Scales
$7.58
$8.07
($0.49)
-6%
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
$7.59
$6.93
$0.66
10%

Eternal staples:  Prices for cards in the eternal formats are continuing to climb. Force of Will is climbing back up.   I don’t think it can reach its previous highs – over $100 per copy – but it could. It depends a lot on whether Wizards gives us another chance to play Masters Editions or Eternal Masters as real cards. Or puts FoW into Treasure Chests at higher frequencies.   
 

Eternal Format Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$12.07
$11.87
$0.20
2%
$31.49
$29.93
$1.56
5%
$13.82
$12.26
$1.56
13%
$11.51
$11.54
($0.03)
0%
$24.01
$20.87
$3.14
15%
$21.14
$20.00
$1.14
6%
$26.63
$25.92
$0.71
3%
$29.66
$30.31
($0.65)
-2%
$26.50
$26.50
$0.00
0%
$38.60
$33.68
$4.92
15%
$21.29
$17.63
$3.66
21%
$32.34
$28.02
$4.32
15%
$24.65
$24.65
$0.00
0%
$41.57
$50.57
($9.00)
-18%
$22.80
$19.21
$3.59
19%
$55.05
$53.84
$1.21
2%
$59.20
$52.42
$6.78
13%
$9.16
$9.86
($0.70)
-7%
$18.26
$17.78
$0.48
3%

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
$96.91
$98.87
($1.96)
-2%
Dominaria
$30.83
$30.19
$0.64
2%
Guilds of Ravnica
$119.21
$125.20
($5.99)
-5%
Ixalan
$21.58
$21.91
($0.33)
-2%
Ravnica Allegiances
$111.99
$109.85
$2.14
2%
Rivals of Ixalan
$22.44
$22.90
($0.46)
-2%
Treasure Chest
$2.09
$2.01
$0.08
4%
Ravnica Allegiance Booster
$2.69
$2.79
($0.10)
-4%

 
 
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 grew this week – climbing to about 50 cards. And True-Name Nemesis has climbed back up the rankings. If you want them, you should have bought them last month. ;)
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $222.52
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $126.44
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $ 92.73
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $ 85.11
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $ 74.37
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $ 71.93
Mox Pearl
 1E
Rare
 $ 64.62
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $ 60.16
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $ 59.20
Time Walk
 1E
Rare
 $ 58.79
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $ 55.75
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $ 55.05
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 52.98
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $ 50.91
Arclight Phoenix
 GRN
Mythic Rare
 $ 47.69
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 41.57
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $ 39.99
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $ 39.13
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 38.76
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 38.60
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $ 35.88
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $ 35.85
Liliana of the Veil
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $ 34.57
Liliana of the Veil
 UMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.71
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.39
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.53
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.34
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 32.30
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $ 31.86
Chalice of the Void
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $ 31.81
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $ 31.49
Timetwister
 1E
Rare
 $ 30.84
Gemstone Mine
 WL
Uncommon
 $ 29.68
Gemstone Mine
 TSB
Rare
 $ 29.66
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $ 29.30
Karn Liberated
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $ 27.76
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 27.07
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 26.91
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $ 26.80
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $ 26.79
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $ 26.75
Force of Will
 MS3
Mythic Rare
 $ 26.63
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $ 26.50
Dark Depths
 UBT
Mythic Rare
 $ 26.38
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $ 25.46
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.28

 
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 $ 13,660. That’s up about $265 from last week.   Climbing week by week all this month.
 
In Closing
It’s planting time. I should spend the weekend in the garden and cleaning up the yard.  However, the forecast is for rain. Yay! I should be able to spend a large part of the weekend watching coverage of the Mythic Invitational and playing online. Probably MTGO, but maybe a mix.
 
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO. “4MWords” on Arena.
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.