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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
May 25 2018 12:00pm
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State of the Program for May 25th 2018
 
In the News
Three Online PTQs this Weekend: Monday is a holiday in the US – Memorial Day – so Wizards is giving us three MTGO PTQs this weekend.   Saturday is Standard, beginning at 9am PT. Sunday’s PTQ is Sealed starting at 7am PT. Monday’s Modern PTQ starts at 9am PT.
 
Announcement Day: Wizards Announcement Day was last Friday.   The article and video are here. Here’s the really short version of what was a pretty short set of announcements:
·       The superfriends are back – on Ravnica. 
·       Guilds of Ravnica set drops in fall, featuring the Golgari, Izzet, Dimir, Selesnya and Boros Guilds. 
·       Ravnica Allegiances comes out in January, with the other five Guilds.
·       Another Ravnica set will appear later, and will feature a big story arc conclusion.
·       Theme decks will appear in fall – one precon per Guild. These will likely be paper only. 
 
Battlebond Appearing in Paper: Battlebond is a new set intended for two-headed giant play. Preview season has started; the card image gallery is here. Presumably, some of the more interesting cards will appear online via Treasure Chests.
 
Uncommons CUBE Up: The uncommon cube is here until next downtime. Details are here
 
Paper Only Specials: Wizards has announced two somewhat controversial programs. They will continue the special buy-a-box promos that are only available that way. Secondly, Wizards is offering a special set of Chinese-themed planeswalker decks. These will be Standard legal, but only in China. I’ll discuss why these are controversial in the Opinion Section, below.
 
The Timeline
This is a list of things we have been promised, or we just want to see coming back.   Another good source for dates and times is the calendar and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the bug blog which appears sporadically on MTGO.com. Not listed, but important: Wizards offers either one or two online PTQs each weekend, with qualifiers running the three days prior to the PTQ.
 

Upcoming Events
Dates
Scheduled Downtimes
May 30th and June 27th (both extended)
Constructed Leagues End
July 3, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
July 6, 2018
Core Set Magic  2019
July 13, 2018
Guilds of Ravnica
October 5, 2018
Ravnica Allegiance
January 2019
Next B&R Announcement
July 2, 2018
Rivals of Ixalan Redemption Ends
Out of stock – will return eventually
Dominaria Redemption Ends
October 10, 2018

 
WotC Covered Events
Wizards will be streaming a number of events next year, including all four Pro Tours, the Magic Championship and World Magic Cup, along with 35 Grand Prix. Since Wizards does not schedule premier events on prerelease weekends and certain holidays, that means they will be streaming an event nearly every weekend. Here’s the schedule we have so far.
·       May 26–27: Grand Prix Washington, DC
·       June 1–3: Pro Tour Dominaria in Richmond, Virginia
·       June 9–10: Grand Prix Copenhagen
·       June 15–17: Grand Prix Las Vegas (double-GP weekend)
·       June 23–24: Grand Prix Pittsburgh
·       July 7–8: Grand Prix São Paulo
·       July 21–22: Grand Prix Sacramento
·       July 28–29: Grand Prix Minneapolis
·       Aug. 3–5: Pro Tour 25th Anniversary in Minneapolis, Minnesota
·       Aug. 11–12: Grand Prix Brussels
·       Aug. 18–19: Grand Prix Los Angeles
·       Aug. 25–26: Grand Prix Prague
·       Aug. 31–Sept. 2: Grand Prix Richmond (double-GP weekend)
·       Sept. 8–9: Grand Prix Detroit
·       Sept. 15–16: Grand Prix Stockholm
·       Weekend of Sept. 23–24: 2018 Magic World Championship and Team Series Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada (exact event dates TBD)
·       Oct. 6–7: Grand Prix Montreal
·       Oct. 13–14: Grand Prix Denver
·       Oct. 27–28: Grand Prix Lille
·       Nov. 3–4: Grand Prix Atlanta
·       Nov. 9–11: Pro Tour "Spaghetti" in Atlanta
·       Nov. 17–18: Grand Prix Milwaukee
·       Dec. 8–9: Grand Prix Liverpool
·       Dec. 14–16: World Magic Cup in Barcelona, Spain
 
2018 Magic Online Championship Series and other events
Complete details, including schedule, rules, and which online events qualify you for which online or paper events is here.   In addition, Wizards will be offering these special formats:
·       May 23-30: Uncommons Cube
·       May 30-June 6: CHK / CHK / BOK
·       June 6-13: Battle of the Planes
·       June 13-July 6: Vintage Cube
 
Magic Online Format Challenges
These are high stakes events that happen every weekend.   They cost 25 Tix / 250 play points, and last a number of rounds based on participation (assume 5-8), plus a single elimination Top 8. Details, including prize payouts, are here. Start times are:
 

Event Type
Start Time
Saturday, 8:00 am PT
Saturday, 10:00 am PT
Saturday, 12:00 pm PT
Sunday, 8:00 am PT
Sunday, 10:00 am PT
Sunday, noon PT

 
Opinion Section:  Special Paper Products
Wizards has announced two paper only promotions. The first is a Standard legal “buy-a-box” promo only available when you preorder a box of a new set from a WPN store, and pick up that box at the prerelease. Wizards offered this sort of promotion with boxes of Dominaria, and has announced that they will do it again with future sets. Details on this offer are at the bottom of this article.
 
Wizards has also announced a set of Chinese-themed Planeswalkers decks. These will be available in Chinese and English (and presumably other languages) in June. The cards in the deck will be Standard legal, but only in China. Details on that offering are here.   Check it out – the art is sweet.
 
Both of these offerings have a lot to recommend them. 
 
The buy-a-box promos support local stores, and provide an incentive for players to come to their local bricks and mortar stores for prereleases.  We know that presales were up a lot this time around. We don’t know what portion of that was due to the promos, and what portion was due to the fact that Dominaria is a really popular set. It is likely some of both. Personally, I bought a box at the prerelease solely because of the buy-a-box promo. Pushing sales for local store is the up side, and it is a really good upside.
 
The Chinese themed Planeswalker sets are an interesting approach to an old problem. That problem is that the history and culture of other parts of the world are not the same as those of the US and northwest Europe. Many of us are familiar with Elves, Goblins, Wizards and so forth – but much of that familiarity can be traced back to the Lord of the Rings books and English folklore. Folklore is different in other areas, and having Magic cards hearken back to different versions of folklore is great for people with different backgrounds. 
 
Wizards has tried creating special sets themed around other folklores before.   Some were not very successful – like Kamigawa. But even when the set’s themes really work, Wizards can only practically do a themed set every couple years. Doing themed Planeswalkers sets could, in theory, allow Wizards to create new Chinese-themed products every year. 
 
So why are these Planeswalker decks Standard legal in China?   Wizards has explained that they want the sets to be useful to new players. More specifically, they do not want a product aimed at newer players that those players cannot bring to a local store event.  Having players arrive at a tournament and discovering that they bought the “wrong thing” and cannot play is a huge feels-bad, and those players may never come to another event. That’s bad. So having the Planeswalker decks playable in the area they are intended for is fine. Not having them playable in other areas is fine, if the decks are not widely available there. Anyone special ordering these sets in the US probably understands what they are and where they can be played. Probably – but nothing is perfect.
 
One of the first things I checked when I read about these products is whether there are any Standard GPs in China. There are none scheduled this season. 
 
All of these are positive, and good reasons for Wizards to have announced the promotions. However, there are some potential downsides.   Actually – one potential downside: these products are produced in far lower numbers than main sets. For example, each brick and mortar store are limited to a couple to several dozen copies of the buy-a-box promos. Since the number of WPN stores is limited, the total number of those promos in circulation is not close to, say, the number of any given Dominaria Mythic in circulation. 
 
This is not a problem if the cards are just of interest to collectors. For example, the previous special buy-a-box promo – Firesong and Sunspeaker – sells for about $8 today, because it is seeing no tournament play. It’s a fun commander and okay in casual brawl, but not seeing tournament play.   If it was, then demand would be a lot higher, as would the price. That’s the potential problem. If one of these cards were to become a tournament staple, the prices would go through the roof.  Worse yet, they may be unobtainable at any price.  (For example, most of the paper dealers I buy from are out of Leovolds at present.)
 
Wizards understands this, and is deliberately designing these cards to be fun and interesting but not tournament viable. It could become a problem only if Wizards gets that wrong, and makes one of these cards more powerful or synergistic than expected. That has been a problem in the past, but not since the Play Design team has been involved.  I have faith that they know what they are doing.
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: Last weekend’ Standard MOCS Top 8 featured a nice mix of decks, including RB Aggro, Mono Green, Mono Red, GB Constrictor, and UB Midrange (welcome back The Scarab God.)   I featured a RB Aggro deck last week, so let’s look at Mono Green, once known as Stompy.  
 
 
Brawl: No post-bannings decklists yet.
 
Pauper: The format is still extremely blue, but at least one other archetype did well in last weekend’s Challenge.
 

Modern
: SCG ran a Modern Open last weekend. UW Control did well, again. The Top 32 decklists are here.
 

Legacy
: We had a couple Legacy events last weekend. GP Toronto was a teams trio constructed event, meaning that one player on each team was playing Legacy. We also had a Legacy MKM Series event in Hamburg. Elves did well at both events, so I’ll feature that deck.
 
 

Vintage: I missed this when it happened – sorry – The 2018 European Vintage Championship was earlier this month. The winning deck was a Mentor –based control deck, featuring main deck Stony Silence.

 

 
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. The format is still maturing, so expect more changes.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aethersphere Harvester
$4.64
$4.64
$0.00
0%
Carnage Tyrant
$11.18
$10.47
$0.71
7%
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
$21.33
$25.13
($3.80)
-15%
Disallow
$6.01
$5.57
$0.44
8%
Gideon of the Trials
$13.07
$12.12
$0.95
8%
Hazoret the Fervent
$9.00
$8.33
$0.67
8%
Heart of Kiran
$22.07
$23.62
($1.55)
-7%
History of Benalia
$11.25
$11.94
($0.69)
-6%
Karn, Scion of Urza
$34.88
$33.42
$1.46
4%
Lyra Dawnbringer
$7.79
$9.72
($1.93)
-20%
Rekindling Phoenix
$29.08
$24.20
$4.88
20%
Settle the Wreckage
$6.40
$9.53
($3.13)
-33%
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
$30.36
$21.64
$8.72
40%
The Immortal Sun
$4.90
$7.68
($2.78)
-36%
The Scarab God
$16.40
$13.57
$2.83
21%
Torrential Gearhulk
$8.62
$13.79
($5.17)
-37%
Vraska, Relic Seeker
$10.22
$2.77
$7.45
269%
Walking Ballista
$27.29
$32.64
($5.35)
-16%

Modern staples:  Modern prices mostly fell again this week, but some cards rallied. And some just stayed where they were. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$15.59
$16.80
($1.21)
-7%
$28.66
$29.84
($1.18)
-4%
$24.82
$23.27
$1.55
7%
$20.39
$20.38
$0.01
0%
$19.74
$22.29
($2.55)
-11%
$34.70
$35.14
($0.44)
-1%
$28.21
$26.07
$2.14
8%
$17.05
$16.77
$0.28
2%
$48.43
$46.07
$2.36
5%
$30.64
$32.65
($2.01)
-6%
$28.27
$26.32
$1.95
7%
$18.66
$19.33
($0.67)
-3%
$49.95
$44.42
$5.53
12%
$32.63
$34.41
($1.78)
-5%
$56.29
$56.78
($0.49)
-1%
$23.75
$23.75
$0.00
0%
$23.35
$20.18
$3.17
16%
$22.37
$21.51
$0.86
4%
$21.55
$22.09
($0.54)
-2%

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage continue to drop. Lotus recovered a bit, but that’s about it.
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$33.82
$26.39
$7.43
28%
$28.15
$26.60
$1.55
6%
$11.88
$14.07
($2.19)
-16%
$20.55
$20.75
($0.20)
-1%
$10.97
$11.66
($0.69)
-6%
$30.97
$31.04
($0.07)
0%
$32.11
$33.78
($1.67)
-5%
$17.90
$17.06
$0.84
5%
$34.90
$34.90
$0.00
0%
$27.30
$27.87
($0.57)
-2%
$67.24
$72.16
($4.92)
-7%
$24.85
$24.70
$0.15
1%
$11.67
$13.67
($2.00)
-15%
$22.40
$25.18
($2.78)
-11%

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

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
$112.64
$121.48
($8.84)
-7%
Amonkhet
$79.96
$82.24
($2.28)
-3%
Dominaria
$119.67
$114.11
$5.56
5%
Ixalan
$93.65
$92.59
$1.06
1%
Hour of Devastation
$47.49
$43.78
$3.71
8%
Kaladesh
$78.22
$90.94
($12.72)
-14%
Rivals of Ixalan
$92.06
$89.33
$2.73
3%
Treasure Chest
$2.23
$2.29
($0.06)
-3%
Dominaria Booster
$3.41
$3.39
$0.02
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.  The list has dropped to 55 cards this week. Lotus is back ahead of True-Name Nemesis, but the list is shrinking.  
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $   76.73
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $   71.15
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $   67.24
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $   58.77
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   57.33
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $   56.29
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $   50.33
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $   49.95
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $   48.91
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $   48.76
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $   48.43
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $   41.89
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $   41.14
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $   39.85
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   37.19
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $   36.20
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $   36.19
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $   36.13
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $   35.96
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $   35.34
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $   35.26
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $   34.90
Karn, Scion of Urza
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $   34.88
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $   34.70
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   34.07
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $   33.98
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $   33.82
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $   33.30
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $   33.28
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $   32.98
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $   32.63
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $   32.11
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $   31.88
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $   31.87
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $   30.97
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $   30.85
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $   30.69
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   30.64
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $   30.36
Underground Sea
 ME4
Rare
 $   30.32
Underground Sea
 ME2
Rare
 $   29.77
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $   29.26
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $   29.24
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $   29.20
Rekindling Phoenix
 RIX
Mythic Rare
 $   29.08
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $   28.88
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $   28.66
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $   28.59
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $   28.28
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $   28.27
Ensnaring Bridge
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $   28.21
City of Traitors
 TPR
Rare
 $   28.15
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $   27.30
Walking Ballista
 AER
Rare
 $   27.29
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $   26.93
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $   25.62

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 $ 18,275. That’s down another $500 from last week. 
 
In Closing
My guilty pleasure this week is a video posted by Jon Kendall. It is the soundtrack of Marvel’s Infinity War trailer, remastered with animations pulled from Magic coverage. It’s really well done. The video is here
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.