one million words's picture
By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 23 2018 1:00pm
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State of the Program for November 23th 2018
In the News
Ultimate Masters Coming December 7th:   This was UM preview week. The image gallery is here. The events, and UM cards, will be on MTGO Dec. 7th
Commander 2018 Cards Coming: They will be in Treasure Chests starting December 6th. Full collation to be announced later.
Adrian Sullivan Wins GP Milwaukee: Not all that many players have built important, metagame defining decks in three different decades. Adrian Sullivan has – from Dread Panda Roberts, Baron Harkonnnen, Eminent Domain, PT Junk, etc. etc. And now he has taken his most recent brew to first place at GP Milwaukee. Congrats Adrian! Coverage is here.
Announcement on the Future of Pro Level Magic Coming Dec. 6th: And that’s about it. Wizards did another pre-announcement, and that’s all the details we have so far.
Modern Cube Up: If you have US Thanksgiving off, and the turkey hasn’t made you too sleepy, play some Cube. Details / card list 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 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
Scheduled Downtimes
December 5th
Constructed Leagues End
January 16th 2019
Sealed Leagues End
January 17th 2019
Ravnica Allegiance
January 2019
Next B&R Announcement
November 26, 2018
Core Set 2019 Redemption Ends
December 26, 2018

WotC Premier Events
Wizards has announced a number of Premier events. Everything on this list in 2018 will be streamed. No word on what sort of coverage we will see for events in 2019.
·       Dec. 8–9: Grand Prix Liverpool
·       Dec. 14–16: World Magic Cup in Barcelona, Spain
·       Jan. 4: Oakland – Modern
·       Jan. 11: Prague – Limited
·       Jan. 25: New Jersey – Limited
·       Feb. 1: Sydney – Limited
·       Feb. 8: Toronto – Modern
·       Feb. 15:   Memphis – Standard AND Strasbourg – Limited
·       Feb. 22: Cleveland – Limited
·       March 1: Los Angeles – Modern
·       March 15: Tampa Bay – Modern AND Bilbao - Modern
·       March 22: Kyoto – Standard
·       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:
·       Modern Cube – starting November 21st
·       [REDACTED] – starting December 5th
·       Vintage Cube – starting December 19th through January 17th
·       Ravnica Allegiances – starting January 17th
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: Thanksgiving
I’m writing this just before US Thanksgiving. I’m getting ready for the family meal. We’ll be heading down to my Mom’s place for the big meal. I’ll be bringing deserts – a couple of pies. We bake them ourselves. We get some kudos – and really good tasting pies.   
You should try it. Simple baking is cheap and efficient – assuming you have an oven. Start with cookies – basic chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies are easy, taste way better than store bought and are generally cheaper to make. Pies aren’t that much harder, and taste great.
The secret is in the crust. It’s just flour, shortening, water and a little salt, but you combine them by “cutting” it together. If you have a friend or relative who can teach you, great, but you can always just check out some YouTube videos.  Then you have to roll it out between sheets of wax paper. A rolling pin is nice, but I have used an empty wine bottle. Don’t buy your crust – homemade is way, way better once you get the hang of it.
You also need a pie pan. They are cheap, especially if you get one at a rummage sale or thrift store. Simple aluminum is fine. The filing is either going to be fruit (generally frozen fruit, tapioca as a filler, sugar) or custard (eggs, cream, sugar, spices and – for Thanksgiving - pumpkin.)   Put the shell in the pan, pour in filling, bake. Easy. Fruit pies are done when the top crust browns. Custard pies are done when you stick a knife into the center and it comes out without custard sticking to it.  
Pro tip: let it cool before you try to eat it. 
This isn’t really Magic related – except for the obvious “tastes like Magic” jokes. But as one of my favorite authors once said:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
This weekend I’ll be specializing in eating.
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: Adrian Sullivan won GP Milwaukee. I feature his deck, but with a caveat. Adrian playtests his creation endlessly, and knows them inside out. As a result, he can sometime dominate with decks that just don’t work for anyone else. Other times he designs decks that put multiple people into Top 8s. Not sure which type this is, but playtest it before you take it to a tournament.
Modern: In Legacy and Vintage, you have to face Dredge at times – be prepared. In modern, sometimes you have to face Infect. Be ready – in other words, have sideboard answers. If you don’t, this happens.
Pauper: Hey, it’s slivers. I’ll feature a Pauper deck when it’s fun. Also, I have played Slivers in serious events.  Counterslivers, that is. 
Legacy: No Leovold decks this week, so I’ll feature a classic archetype I haven’t featured for a while.
Vintage: Since you can now qualify for the Pro Tour playing Vintage (via the MOCS), time to feature the metagame staples again. 
Card Prices
Note: all my prices come from the fine folks at 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 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 down again this week, but GP Milwaukee shows that the format is not solved.   

Standard Cards
Last Week
% Change
Arclight Phoenix
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Carnage Tyrant
Doom Whisperer
History of Benalia
Karn, Scion of Urza
Lyra Dawnbringer
Nexus of Fate
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Rekindling Phoenix
Resplendent Angel
Sarkhan, Fireblood
Star of Extinction
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
The Immortal Sun
Vivien Reid

Modern staples: Modern prices are leveling off. Except for those cards in Ultimate Masters. We already know that a lot of the expensive cards are being reprinted again, but even some of those have bottomed out.

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are recovering a bit – although Ultimate Masters includes a fair number of Vintage and Legacy staples. Back to Basics was spoiled, so expect that to drop next week. 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Last Week
% Change

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
Last Week
% Change
Core Set 2019
Guilds of Ravnica
Rivals of Ixalan
Treasure Chest
Guilds of Ravnica Booster

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 down a bit from last week. The Power Nine – the real ones, in the original frames – are on top of the list. And even the cheesy new framed Lotus has climbed back onto the table.

Black Lotus
 $ 144.01
Mox Sapphire
 $   88.84
Mox Emerald
 $   58.17
Ancestral Recall
 $   57.54
Mox Ruby
 $   57.33
Mox Jet
 $   52.41
Horizon Canopy
Mythic Rare
 $   47.70
Force of Will
 $   45.36
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
 $   43.07
Time Walk
 $   42.12
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
 $   40.36
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $   40.05
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $   39.72
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $   39.07
Mox Opal
 $   39.04
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $   38.84
Mythic Rare
 $   38.76
True-Name Nemesis
Mythic Rare
 $   38.28
Mox Pearl
 $   38.26
Horizon Canopy
 $   35.26
Dark Depths
Mythic Rare
 $   35.03
Surgical Extraction
 $   34.96
Surgical Extraction
 $   34.43
Horizon Canopy
 $   33.69
True-Name Nemesis
 $   33.12
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Mythic Rare
 $   30.46
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 $   29.46
Ensnaring Bridge
 $   28.96
Black Lotus
 $   28.27
Arclight Phoenix
Mythic Rare
 $   27.57
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 $   27.56
 $   26.05
Liliana, the Last Hope
Mythic Rare
 $   25.22

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 $ 13,940. That’s up about $90 from last week.      
In Closing
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 
“One Million Words” on MTGO
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.


re by Hearts at Sat, 11/24/2018 - 02:20
Hearts's picture

The way they constantly change "pro"-level play (club, platinum/silver/gold degrees and whatnot) is proof that they actively want to confuse players so to not be able to use/plan their benefits properly, and thus make the pro level play more easily achievable for newer players (more rotation on the pt). This lowers the level of play skill somewhat on the pro tours.

It is not about unforeseen factors.

They use every trick in the book to make it harder for a certain percent of the best players to stay in the game, and thus the focus on the dumbing down of the game over the years receive less attention because some of the critical voices disappear.

In MtG's first 10 Pro Tour years there were way fewer changes.

And when are they gonna make GPs fair with not having "pros" receive byes ? Byes should never have been a part of the GPs.

Interesting that Patrick by MichelleWong at Sun, 11/25/2018 - 03:26
MichelleWong's picture

Interesting that Patrick Sullivan chose 4 x Treasure Map and no Chemister's Insights.

It seems counterintuitive especially since he has some early countermagic which the Map could interfere with, however if you weigh up all the pros and cons of the two cards, I can see why he concluded that Treasure Map was overall better due to the extra ramp, scryes and curve-lowering, and in a long game the Map is also more mana efficient and provides one extra card over Insight when you take into account that the map converts to a land.

I've been doing very well by Wikki at Mon, 11/26/2018 - 10:25
Wikki's picture

I've been doing very well with infect recently. Seems well positioned in modern right now with sideboard focus being elsewhere.

The big number by OdinFK at Tue, 12/04/2018 - 03:26
OdinFK's picture

Hey Pete, I wrote an article based on your big number, and why I think it has been going down so much in the last couple of years.

Thanks for doing this column,

Thanks Florian, your article by MichelleWong at Tue, 12/04/2018 - 05:01
MichelleWong's picture

Thanks Florian, your article made a lot of sense.

How are the bot owners surviving when they are bearing the brunt of these price drops?

Judging by their reactions to by OdinFK at Mon, 12/10/2018 - 09:18
OdinFK's picture

Judging by their reactions to the article they seem to be having a hard time. The article might actually have created a shockwave, but prices have mostly rebounded since.

Another interesting metric to by Cauchy at Mon, 12/10/2018 - 12:34
Cauchy's picture

Another interesting metric to consider when looking at the overall value of playsets is the bot spread on selling tickets. Right now the larger chains buy tickets for $0.85 per 1 ticket. Hence, the cost of selling out is fairly high at moment. The bot spread on a ticket could also be used to identify situations where prices dropped due to a panic.

Absolutely. However, I don't by OdinFK at Tue, 12/11/2018 - 05:25
OdinFK's picture

Absolutely. However, I don't know where to get historic information on this. The big number was the one thing that I could look up rather easily.