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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 09 2018 1:00pm
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State of the Program for November 9th 2018
In the News
Pro Tour This Weekend:  The Pro Tour will be this weekend. The preliminary overview article is here – but that is about the extent of the promotion. At least, that’s all I have seen.   Coverage will be on
Player of the Year is Luis Salvatto: Luis Salvatto defeated Seth Manfield in the PotY playoff.   Interesting format – and congrats to Luis.   
Ultimate Masters is the Last Masters Series:  Wizards managed to keep the fact that they will be releasing a Masters Series early next month secret until they announced it on Monday. That’s amazing. They also sent out box toppers to the people impacted by the recent problems with the Hasbro store, which is a nice way to apologize. The set itself will be released in December, and spoiler season will be the week before US Thanksgiving.  Details – including the 40 cards spoiled so far – are here. More on the set in the opinion section.
Format Changes for GP Vancouver and Magic Fest Prague: It is relatively short notice, but Wizards has announced that these two events will be Ultimate Masters limited. That is likely to up the entry fee, but making day two will be sweet. 
Core Cube Up Now: The next special draft format is Core Cube. The cube includes 540 cards from Core Sets Seventh Edition through Core Set 2019.   Details 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 running the three days 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.
·       Nov. 9–11: Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica in Atlanta
·       Nov. 17–18: Grand Prix Milwaukee
·       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:
·       Cube Spotlight: Core Cube – starting November 7th
·       Time Spiral Block – starting November 14th
·       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: Ultimate Masters
Wizards will be releasing Ultimate Masters on December 7th.  
We know a few things about Ultimate Masters, but only a few. (Details here.) There is a lot more we don’t know. I’d love to be ranting about the set – but it’s too early. 
We know that the set contains 254 cards, including 20 Mythics. We know that the 15 card packs will all include foils – like all the previous Masters sets. 
We know that this is the last Masters set. Wizards has been releasing reprints in drips and drabs, and the last couple sets have not been well received.  Wizards tried, in my opinion, to include  just enough chase cards in each set to “justify” the high pack cost.  The problem was that many of the “chase” cards were not really in demand – they were just expensive because so few were in circulation. With more in circulation, their prices crashed, as did the EV of the set. Some of these Masters sets were selling below MSRP within weeks of release. That was bad. Wizards has kept churning out Masters sets, and people are not buying. It’s time for a change.
Wizards will keep producing sets for reprint, but they may be doing new things. They recently posted a survey asking what people thought of having product that include new cards playable only in Eternal sets, and people seemed to like the idea. Presumably, that means a draftable set with new cards playable only in older formats.  Sort of like Commander limited. Again, no details, other than a statement that Wizards is working on a replacement for Masters sets.
We know that Wizards is packing a lot of value into Ultimate Masters. They should – as I said, the last couple Masters sets have been a bit short on EV. This set includes a lot of value cards. We only have 40 cards spoiled so far, but they include 7 of the 10 most expensive cards in Modern, and some sweet Legacy stuff.   Here’s the list of cards spoiled so far, together with their paper and online prices. 

Paper Price
Online Price
 Ancient Tomb
$   44.99
$   5.02
 Balefire Dragon
$     9.99
$   0.01
$   49.99
$   3.97
 Cavern of Souls
$   89.99
$ 11.88
 Celestial Colonnade
$   59.99
$   7.27
 Creeping Tar Pit
$   19.99
$   1.08
 Dark Depths
$   44.99
$   4.25
 Demonic Tutor
$   44.99
$   3.51
 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
$   39.99
$   4.28
 Engineered Explosives
$   99.99
$ 18.83
 Eternal Witness
$     6.99
$   0.97
 Fulminator Mage
$   19.99
$   3.95
 Gaddock Teeg
$   59.99
$   8.31
 Goryo's Vengeance
$   44.99
$   2.04
$   74.99
$   1.12
 Karn Liberated
$   99.99
$ 17.08
 Kitchen Finks
$     6.99
$   1.08
 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
$   44.99
$   1.12
 Lavaclaw Reaches
$     1.99
$   0.01
 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
$   24.99
$   2.93
 Life from the Loam
$   29.99
$   5.93
 Liliana of the Veil
$   99.99
$ 26.93
 Lord of Extinction
$   15.99
$   0.30
 Maelstrom Pulse
$   22.99
$   0.85
 Mana Vault
$   29.99
$   1.39
 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
$   29.99
$   0.56
 Noble Hierarch
$   84.99
$ 16.14
 Platinum Emperion
$   14.99
$   1.09
 Raging Ravine
$   11.99
$   1.47
$   29.99
$   0.04
 Sigarda, Host of Herons
$   15.99
$   0.29
 Snapcaster Mage
$   79.99
$   7.42
 Stirring Wildwood
$     0.59
$   0.09
$   79.99
$ 13.23
 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
$     1.25
$   0.13
 Temporal Manipulation
$   69.99
$   2.02
 Through the Breach
$   39.99
$   1.48
 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
$   34.99
$   0.86
 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
$   29.99
$   1.31
$   44.99
$   2.73
$   41.49
$   4.57

So far, this looks like pretty good EV. However, we only have 40 cards spoiled so far. Presumably, these are the best of the best (although Tasigur might be gate-crashing here.) If the rest of the set continues in this vein, it will be great.   If the rest of the set includes more cards like Plague Wind, that may change. We just don’t know yet.
We do know that sealed boxes of cards include box toppers – special large art, foil treatments of the cards listed above. A few of these are not high value:  Stirring Wildwood and Lavaclaw Reaches are here because the entire cycle was invited, and I expect Tasigur snuck in while the bouncer was distracted. Overall, though, these look pretty good – both in art treatment and value. 
The set was revealed suddenly, and it started with everyone who ordered the last special paper set – Planeswalker Masterpieces –  because of the difficulties with the Hasbro Toy Shop. Apparently, the people meeting to discuss rolling out Ultimate Masters met the people discussing how to make it up to the people who suffered through the Toy Shop problems. The result was that Wizards mailed all those people a “box topper” over the weekend, and let the hype build on the Interwebs. On Monday, they announced the set. This seems like a sudden change that actually worked out. Nice job, Wizards.
So far, all of this is great. Now to the other part of the announcement. Packs will cost $11.66 at Walmart and Target.   That’s MSRP, based on the $34.99 MSRP for three packs blister packs that these big box stores will be offering.   That’s a lot.
Bricks and mortar games stores are screwed, at least when it comes to packs. These stores will be buying 24 pack booster boxes with a MSRP of $335.76, which equates to a per booster price of $13.99. That’s $2.30 per pack more than what Target and Walmart will be selling these packs at. Yes, the boxes include box toppers, which the blister packs do not, but those box toppers are prominently stamped “Not for individual sale.” So the stores may sell sealed boxes – assuming people are willing to pay the $56 surcharge to get a box-topper – but it will be really hard for these stores to sell individual packs. It’s even worse because, I understand, Ultimate Masters has one of the lowest margins of any Magic product.   Stores are going to have a really hard time offering Ultimate Masters sealed events with prize support without charging a ton of money.   The Ultimate Masters sealed events at PAX unplugged are $80 per person, and the PAX events are subsidized by Wizards. Store drafts will be even more expensive.   
Wizards appears to be grabbing all the monies. 
Wizards said, in their announcement video, that this set may not be for everyone. I’m wondering if, at these prices, if it is for anyone. Ingrid and I both have real jobs, and our income makes us upper middle class. We have serious questions about whether we can justify this price. And if we can’t, who can?
Again, this is all really preliminary. We have one sixth of the cards in the set.   If Wizards throws in a bunch more much-needed reprints and value cards, that would help justify this. Likewise, if the set is a real blast to play, that could help push the set. Even so, I don’t know how many $50 drafts I can justify. And maybe it’s not for me.
So far, this set has the potential to be great – but it needs to follow through. If the set includes a bunch more chase cards, it could be awesome. If it trickles off badly, like Masters 25, it is going to be a bust. If we see Oubliette at uncommon and Mox Opal at rare, the set could be great. If, on the other hand, we see cards like Phage the Untouchable and Triskaidekaphobia filling the rare slots, then maybe it’s a good thing that this is the last Masters set.
We’ll know soon enough.
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: Standard continues to evolve, week after week. The Pro Tour will show us even more changes, but for now:
Modern: It has been a while since I have featured Humans. But this is Modern, and Humans is always somewhere in the mix.
Legacy: Last Weekend was Eternal Weekend – one of the largest Vintage events of the year. 628 players showed up to play with dual lands and the like. In the end, it took Miracles to win it all.
Vintage: Last Weekend was Eternal Weekend, and 381 players showed up to play with paper Power.  The winning deck was a Vintage powerhouse (no pun intended) that we have all seen before.
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 mixed again this week. The metagame swings are driving a lot of volatility – and the Pro Tour is due to shake things up again this weekend.

Standard Cards
Last Week
% Change
Arclight Phoenix
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Assassin's Trophy
Carnage Tyrant
Doom Whisperer
History of Benalia
Jadelight Ranger
Karn, Scion of Urza
Lyra Dawnbringer
Nexus of Fate
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Rekindling Phoenix
Resplendent Angel
Sarkhan, Fireblood
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
The Immortal Sun
Vivien Reid
Vraska, Golgari Queen

Modern staples: Modern prices are dropping again. Some of this will be due to Ultimate Masters. We already know that a lot of the expensive cards are being reprinted again.

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy and Vintage: Legacy and Vintage are still sliding. I clipped a couple cards off the list. Ultimate Masters includes a fair number of Vintage and Legacy staples. It may include more, once we get the full list.

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.

Black Lotus
 $    144.01
Mox Sapphire
 $      86.67
Mox Emerald
 $      56.91
Ancestral Recall
 $      56.08
Mox Ruby
 $      55.88
Mox Jet
 $      51.34
Horizon Canopy
Mythic Rare
 $      48.29
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $      46.88
Force of Will
 $      45.53
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $      42.68
Time Walk
 $      42.12
True-Name Nemesis
Mythic Rare
 $      39.91
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $      39.84
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $      39.74
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
 $      39.61
True-Name Nemesis
 $      38.96
Mythic Rare
 $      38.87
Mox Opal
 $      38.44
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
 $      38.42
Mox Pearl
 $      37.46
Dark Depths
Mythic Rare
 $      35.03
Surgical Extraction
 $      34.58
Rekindling Phoenix
Mythic Rare
 $      34.53
Horizon Canopy
 $      34.51
Surgical Extraction
 $      34.01
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Mythic Rare
 $      31.27
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 $      30.70
Horizon Canopy
 $      29.79
Ensnaring Bridge
 $      29.71
City of Traitors
 $      28.41
Arclight Phoenix
Mythic Rare
 $      28.04
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 $      26.93
 $      26.57
Liliana, the Last Hope
Mythic Rare
 $      25.50
 $      25.25

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 $ 13,550. That’s down about $775 from two weeks ago.     
In Closing
Sorry about missing last week, but I was traveling in areas without cell service, much less Internet access. I really enjoyed it, but I’m back now. Time for some Magic. Time to watch the Pro Tour on one monitor while gaming on the other.
“One Million Words” on MTGO
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.


The paper price of UMA does by Alphi at Sat, 11/10/2018 - 07:23
Alphi's picture

The paper price of UMA does seem a bit insane. No matter the EV, there just won’t be that many people able to afford it, so I guess that art, especially the ones from the toppers, will remain pretty exclusive, hence expensive. I don’t mind some things being expensive and exclusive, and I guess there is some balance with Arena bringing in the cheapest Magic experience ever, but I still think they went over the top. The symbolism of this being the last product of their anniversary year is also poor: “hey everyone, look how expensive our game can be, you can get a box with not enough cardboard to actually play a constructed game for the cost of a Nintendo Switch!” Is not what I’d call going out with a bang.

On the digital side, I’m happy to hear the full-topper art will come through treasure chests. We’ll have to see the details, but they might end up affordable enough, and some look terrific, I wouldn’t mind getting 4 of those snazzy reverse-angle Dark Depth.

Wow, they’re actually running by Alphi at Sun, 11/11/2018 - 17:24
Alphi's picture

Wow, they’re actually running MTGO ads during the PT coverage. They’re not particularly impressive ads, especially compared to the snazzy MTGA stuff, but still.

Goodbye and good riddance to by MichelleWong at Mon, 11/12/2018 - 07:09
MichelleWong's picture

Goodbye and good riddance to the Masters sets.

The company will earn some easy and effortless $ with this Ultimate Masters product which the whales will buy, but I doubt nearly as much net profit if the set was well received and widely purchased by the player base. As Pete Jahn said, if a well-paid and financially secure couple cannot justify buying this product, who the heck can?

None of us here on PureMTGO will have the figures and sales/profit data which WotC will gather over the next couple of months, so maybe I'm wrong and it actually was a savvy financial decision on the part of the company, but it seems unlikely to me.

Wizards will likely need to admit that it was one huge Experimental Frenzy failure for them (There will be 2 lands on the top of their library).