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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
May 01 2015 11:00am
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State of the Program for May 1st 2015

 
In the News:

Regional PTQs: Last weekend we saw the first incarnation of the regional PTQs. In the paper world, we used to have a couple PTQs in each major region (state, province, metro area, etc.) per season, with the winner qualifying for the Pro Tour. Beginning last season, Wizards introduced store-level Preliminary PTQs, which qualified players for the regional PTQs. The regional PTQs were all held on the same day, and qualified players could play in any of them. The RPTQs awarded invitations to the Pro Tour to the top 4 players, or top 8 if attendance was greater than 128 players. Only 3 events topped the 128 player mark, even about 90% of the qualified players attended a PTQ. (Wizards listed attendance for the Regional PTQs here.) I haven’t crunched the numbers very hard, but it looks like the total number of players earning an invite through the RPTQs was a bit lower than under the old system. However, the total number of people playing in PPTQs and the number of local events are both much, much higher than under the old system. More importantly, Pro Tour events cannot have more than about 400 people and still function. (Seriously – I’ve worked as a judge at a dozen of them, and the logistics and statistics for events larger than 400 get messy, for both Wizards and the players. If the event gets any larger, you either have to add rounds or be content when the Top 8 is decided by tiebreakers.)  Since we have a lot more Grand Prix, and since these GPs award a lot more invites to the pool, PTQ invites had to become a bit more special. Personally, I also like the fact that winning an invite through the RPTQ system requires doing well at two events. I know that I have seen many people who really are not good enough to run with the pros run really well / get lucky and win a PTQ – the RPTQ system will keep some of those people off the Tour. That’s a good thing, and I believe that even though I am one of those people who got lucky at PTQs. In any case, Helene Bergeot has stated that Wizards has received a lot of feedback on the events and process, (send feedback to ptqfeedback@wizards.com). Wizards will review the events and feedback, and may tweak the system for the future. 
 
MOCS 2014 Championship is Coming Soon: The MOCS 2014 Championships will be held May 15th -17th. The event will be streamed live on Twitch.tv/magic. For more information on the event, including the full roster of competitors, look here.   
 
Modern Masters 2015 Preview Season is Starting: Modern Masters 2015 is this month. Yes, we have a preview card that we can’t tell you about, yet. Yeah, it’s good. I have played this card many times. Tune in May 5th to hear more.
 
Mulligan Bug Persists: Last week’s build introduced a new bug – your cards are greyed out while you decide to take a mulligan. (You can read the cards – the screen just has a grey overlay.) Wizards announced that this would get a priority fix, but I was still mulliganing in the dark again this week, even after the downtime. 
 
Ham on Wry IV this Sunday: Five years ago, we lost Eric “Hamtastic” Friborg. Eric was a great community asset and the original author of this column. Every year since then, BlippytheSlug has organized a free tournament in his memory. It is free to enter but has insane prizes. The format is Vintage, but the prices of power are at an all-time low so decks like UR Delver / Pyromancer are not much more expensive than a good standard deck. You can find more info on Ham on Wry IV here. If you aren’t already committed to doing something else, plan on playing. 
 
Tempest Remastered Events Begin Next Week: The streamlined and trimmed down Tempest block limited events will start next week. Details are here. A primer on the Tempest Remastered limited format is here. Wizards will also stream some special drafts on May 4th at1pm and 6pm PDT on twitch.tv/magic. Also related to Tempest Remastered – a bug means that the set is hidden from view until you own some TMR cards, and at that point you can only see cards you already own. This messes with wish lists, but the bug is being worked on and a fix is expected with the downtime on May 27th.
 

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 and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the Known Issues List. For quick reference, here are some major upcoming events.   
 
Item: date and notes
·         MOCS Season 5: Champs 7am Pacific, May 9th. Prelims. May 6th-8th
·         MOCS Season 6:  runs from April 29th through May 27th 
·         Dragons of Tarkir Limited Championship: Saturday, June 20th, 8am PDT
·         Dragons of Tarkir Standard Championship: Sunday, June 28th, 8am PDT 
·         Dragons of Tarkir Redemption: May 6th
·         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.
·         Magic Origins: released on MTGO July 27th, prerelease should begin July 23rdor July 24th Code: ORI
·         From the Vault: Angels: October 12, 2015. Details here.
 

Opinion Section: Leagues

There are leagues and there are leagues. There are the leagues that players have created for themselves, and the leagues that Wizards hasn’t, yet. I want to talk about both kinds today. 
 
The first major league to get a lot of attention was the Vintage Super League, created by Randy Buehler. Randy wanted to stream content, and he did an amazing job of it. Together with the team at Shotgun Lotus, Randy brought streaming to a whole new level. When you watch a VSL match, you see the battlefield and both players’ hands, all at the same time. You also hear two knowledgeable commentators discussing the match.   This creates a viewing experience closer to a professional sports broadcast than classic streaming, but it does come at a cost. Randy has several people working to assemble the stream – something well beyond the resources of most streamers. On the plus side, Randy is showing everyone how well MTGO can be presented. Just like the coverage form SCG Opens, the VSL coverage is probably pushing and inspiring Wizard’s own coverage.
 
The other advantage of the VSL is that Randy got together ten very talented, knowledgeable and skilled Vintage players   Some of them (like Rich Shay and Steve Menedian) are Vintage specialists who have been top 8ing the annual Vintage Championship year after year.   Others are Hall of Famers and long term pros (like Bob Maher and David Williams) who have also been Top 8ing the annual Vintage Championship year after year.   And some are just great players like LSV and Chris Pikula. It is a fascinating group, and has done a lot to bring Vintage to the masses. The event even introduced a new archetype, Blue Belcher, which is seeing play in other events. Details on the VSL can be found here.   VSL Season Two wrap-p article is here.
 
More recently, Randy Buehler has started a new league, this one devoted to the Standard format. The Standard Super League broadcasts a weekly eight man queue made up of notable Standard experts, with Randy and LSV acting as commentators. Personally, I find it a great thing to watch while waiting for a match to start on MTGO, or when I have some other activities that require just a part of my attention.  While, like the VSL, the standard league might get a bit inbred, it does provide some great marketing for the game. The Standard Super League homepage is here.
 
And that brings us to the final kind of league – the kind that we had with MTGO Version II and were cancelled with V3. Wizards has promised that they will return the first half of this year, but that sort of promise has been broken many times before. So far, we have heard nothing about leagues since this announcement.   Leagues were part of the beta test, at least for a while, but Wizards has offered nothing further. We do know that leagues will be slightly different than they used to be – which is good, because the old format was busted for anything but the most recent format – but we don’t have many details. Hopefully, we will get more, soon.
 
Random MTGO Suggestion of the Week: 
I found this on the forums. The poster suggested adding an additional button to the new product screen. He suggested adding a [ADD ALL TO ACTIVE TRADE BINDER] button next to the [CLOSE] button. This seems like a brilliant idea.
 
I submitted this suggestion to magiconlinefeedback@wizards.com. If you have recommendations or advice, send them to that email address. Wizards does read them.     
 

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: This was an insane weekend for high-level Standard events. Wizards held Regional PTQs around the globe. Decklists for those events can found here. SCG also ran a Standard Open (decklists here) and a bunch of TCGPlayer IQs were held.   Finally, the Standard Super League held its first outing – decklists here. I have spent lots of time thinking about Standard this weekend, since I will have a chance to play in a paper PPTQ this weekend. I would love to play something like Flores’ Dragon Control deck, but I don’t own most of the cards, and cannot justify investing a couple hundred dollars for one PPTQ. Esper Dragons is another solid archetype – but I own zero Dragonlord Ojutais, and even if I did, I will have no time to practice with the deck, and I am also not always fast enough to play control decks without going to time. I will be playing in this event because Ingrid is head judge. Choosing a deck that would put her into the position of calling me for slow play is a bad idea all around. That leaves a mono-red / almost all red deck or some Abzan build. I have never liked playing mono-red, whether it was playtesting it back when red decks had Jackal Pups and Fireblasts, or now, or anytime in between. That leave Abzan – and that could mean anything from the Abzan Aggro deck Owen Turtenwald used to win the first week of the Standard Super League to the classic Abzan Tom Martell was playing in a video earlier this week. So many choices – and I haven’t even mentioned the Bant Heroic deck that won the SCG Open, or the Abzan Metamorphs decks several pros have been toying with. It’s a wide open field. 
 
 

 

  
Modern: SCG ran a Modern IQ last weekend. The Top 16 decklists are here. The most interesting decklist had to be the third place finisher; GW Trap. It lost to Sulati Control and Amulet Combo, but those are known entities. GW Trap is at least a fresh face – or at least not a common deck.
 
 
Legacy: The big SCG event was in Cleveland this week. Lots of Miracles again, plus this deck.. Top 16 decklists can be found here.
 
 
Vintage: The Vintage Super League is wrapping up, and Ham on Wry IV is this Sunday. The VSL finals wrap-up included win percentages by deck, with Blue Belcher and Doomsday tying for best record at 78% each. If you are not already familiar with making Doomsday stacks, it is too late to learn, so here’s Blue Belcher. Details on Ham on Wry IV are here
 
 
 

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 dropped again this week. People have acquired the cards they need for the decks they want to play, of made due with the cheap red builds. I cut a couple cards that fell well below $5, like (Polukranos). Let me know if there is something I should add. 
 

Standard & Block Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$7.59
$8.07
($0.48)
-6%
$7.18
$7.78
($0.60)
-8%
$21.46
$23.01
($1.55)
-7%
$4.73
$5.29
($0.56)
-11%
$28.52
$31.08
($2.56)
-8%
$6.39
$12.66
($6.27)
-50%
$17.47
$18.64
($1.17)
-6%
$12.84
$12.88
($0.04)
0%
$10.06
$8.67
$1.39
16%
$9.34
$9.47
($0.13)
-1%
$17.25
$23.98
($6.73)
-28%
$10.51
$8.83
$1.68
19%
$7.05
$7.54
($0.49)
-6%
$16.98
$17.56
($0.58)
-3%
$10.49
$10.09
$0.40
4%
$5.44
$4.63
$0.81
17%
$8.14
$7.96
$0.18
2%
$8.53
$10.96
($2.43)
-22%
$9.99
$11.57
($1.58)
-14%
$3.44
$6.05
($2.61)
-43%
$8.25
$9.94
($1.69)
-17%
$6.35
$6.21
$0.14
2%

Modern staples:  Modern prices were down somewhat this week.  A few cards are likely to fall off the chart – cards like Scapeshift and Splinter Twin are not pricey enough to keep tracking. I may add some cards. If anyone knows of anything I should add, mention it in the comments. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Auriok Champion
$24.45
n/a
n/a
n/a
$40.20
$41.02
($0.82)
-2%
$20.68
$20.53
$0.15
1%
$19.17
$18.77
$0.40
2%
$9.84
$9.76
$0.08
1%
$15.97
$16.75
($0.78)
-5%
$14.96
$15.84
($0.88)
-6%
$9.56
$11.00
($1.44)
-13%
$23.77
$25.25
($1.48)
-6%
$38.64
$40.58
($1.94)
-5%
$22.32
$25.13
($2.81)
-11%
$77.98
$79.35
($1.37)
-2%
$38.97
$41.64
($2.67)
-6%
$17.83
$18.29
($0.46)
-3%
$21.71
$22.96
($1.25)
-5%
$22.85
$19.24
$3.61
19%
$8.38
$10.02
($1.64)
-16%
$18.44
$18.54
($0.10)
-1%
$7.93
$9.29
($1.36)
-15%
$58.10
$64.42
($6.32)
-10%
$25.83
$25.68
$0.15
1%
$24.04
$34.73
($10.69)
-31%
$16.80
$17.32
($0.52)
-3%

Legacy / Vintage staples: Vintage took a hit this week. In other news, people are beginning to realize that Tempest Remastered is getting closer, so people are selling Tempest cards due to be reprinted.  I will likely kick City of Traitors off the list next week. In its place, I added a couple other cards worth watching.    
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$45.76
$46.62
($0.86)
-2%
$117.51
$116.61
$0.90
1%
$8.98
$13.31
($4.33)
-33%
$38.28
$38.15
$0.13
0%
$20.96
$21.54
($0.58)
-3%
$21.00
$21.19
($0.19)
-1%
$29.02
$28.46
$0.56
2%
$33.20
$33.32
($0.12)
0%
$26.83
$25.31
$1.52
6%
$30.43
$30.53
($0.10)
0%
$32.17
$32.24
($0.07)
0%
$18.36
$18.05
$0.31
2%
$112.60
$111.01
$1.59
1%
$30.64
$32.76
($2.12)
-6%
$60.75
$63.68
($2.93)
-5%
$152.85
$152.85
$0.00
0%
$47.79
$47.42
$0.37
1%
$25.09
$25.33
($0.24)
-1%
$27.50
$27.25
$0.25
1%
$19.82
n/a
n/a
n/a
$37.43
$38.19
($0.76)
-2%
$23.25
n/a
n/a
n/a
$29.70
$31.37
($1.67)
-5%
$16.60
$16.44
$0.16
1%
$19.84
$19.99
($0.15)
-1%
$20.83
$20.43
$0.40
2%
$41.28
$48.28
($7.00)
-14%

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.   Dragons of Tarkir will be redeemable in May. 
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Born of the Gods
$44.32
$45.39
($1.07)
-2%
Dragons of Tarkir
$121.60
$150.39
($28.79)
-19%
Fate Reforged
$49.30
$49.67
($0.37)
-1%
Journey into Nix
$87.60
$97.26
($9.66)
-10%
Khans of Trakir
$75.37
$71.30
$4.07
6%
M15
$106.90
$107.52
($0.62)
-1%
Theros
$79.14
$77.89
$1.25
2%

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 shrank a bit more this week. Mox Pearl and Mox Emerald fell off the list last week, and MM15 knocked Karn Liberated off. On the plus side, we have a Dragonlord on the list now.  
 

Card
Set
Ratity
Number
Price
Rishadan Port
MM
Rare
324
$ 152.85
Black Lotus
VMA
Bonus
4
$ 117.51
Misdirection
MM
Rare
87
$ 112.60
Liliana of the Veil
ISD
Mythic Rare
105
$   77.98
Tarmogoyf
FUT
Rare
153
$   62.40
Mox Sapphire
VMA
Bonus
9
$   60.75
Tarmogoyf
MMA
Mythic Rare
166
$   58.10
Show and Tell
UZ
Rare
96
$   47.79
Ancestral Recall
VMA
Bonus
1
$   45.76
Force of Will
MED
Rare
33
$   45.50
Tangle Wire
NE
Rare
139
$   42.47
Wasteland
TE
Uncommon
330
$   41.28
Batterskull
NPH
Mythic Rare
130
$   40.20
Mox Opal
SOM
Mythic Rare
179
$   38.97
Griselbrand
AVR
Mythic Rare
106
$   38.64
Containment Priest
C14
Rare
5
$   38.28
Time Walk
VMA
Bonus
2
$   37.43
Mox Ruby
VMA
Bonus
8
$   34.48
Force of Will
VMA
Rare
69
$   33.20
Infernal Tutor
DIS
Rare
46
$   32.17
Mox Jet
VMA
Bonus
6
$   30.64
Hurkyl's Recall
10E
Rare
88
$   30.43
True-Name Nemesis
C13
Rare
63
$   29.70
Doomsday
WL
Rare
66
$   29.02
Dragonlord Ojutai
DTK
Mythic Rare
219
$   28.52
Stifle
SCG
Rare
52
$   27.56
Gaea's Cradle
UZ
Rare
321
$   26.83
Twilight Mire
EVE
Rare
180
$   25.83
Sneak Attack
UZ
Rare
218
$   25.09

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 $ 23,460.  That is down another $150 from where we were last week. I blame it on Tempest Remastered beating down some of the prices for Tempest chase cards.
 

Weekly Highlights:

I had a chance to judge the regional PTQ in Chicago last weekend. It was the largest in the US, but it was still tiny compared to PTQs and Regionals in the past. We had nine experienced judges, so we were bored much of the time. I did get to watch a lot of good Magic being played, but that’s still not as much fun as playing it. (There are other perks for being a judge, of course – including earning enough store credit from the TO to get some sweet Mythics for my paper decks.) My only regret was falling 15 players short of 128, which would have given us 8 qualifying slot instead of just 4.  
 
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.