one million words's picture
By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Oct 05 2018 12:00pm
Login or register to post comments


State of the Program for October 5th 2018
In the News
Guilds of Ravnica Here: Guilds of Ravnica will be playable on MTGO on the Thursday before the prerelease. This is one day earlier than previously. MTGO players will have an option of playing a normal 6 pack competitive sealed leagues, or playing a friendly league with 5 normal GoR packs, and one guild themed booster. Details here.
No Change to B&R List: Wizards announced no changes to the Banned and Restricted list for any format. Next B&R announcement will be.
Dominaria Redemptions Ends Wednesday: The last day to redeem Dominaria is next Wednesday. Core Set 2019 is, theoretically, still available for redemption, but currently out of stock.
GerryT Boycotts Worlds: Gerry Thompson was qualified for the Magic Worlds Championships, but elected not to play.  He explained that he was protesting the lack of support for professional Magic and the pro players, along with problems with coverage and other factors of Wizards’ treatment of the Pro Tour. His statement is here.  As you would expect, this  caused a lot of controversy.
MTG Arena Goes into Open Beta: The program is now generally available. Wizards has promoted it heavily, including paying a lot of streamers to stream the game. The big push meant Arena made a big one-day showing on, but viewership numbers have dropped again.
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
October 24th and December 5th
Constructed Leagues End
Sealed Leagues End
Ravnica Allegiance
January 2019
Next B&R Announcement
November 26, 2018
Dominaria Redemption Ends
October 10, 2018
Core Set 2019 Redemption Ends
December 26, 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.
·       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 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
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:
·       Guilds of Ravnica
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:  Worlds
Worlds was two weeks ago. It did not go well. Players were unhappy going in, and the whole GerryT thing did not help. Gerry’s boycott, however, was a symptom, not a cause, f the problems. 
Right now, Wizards is concentrating on Arena. It is a launch of a digital product, and one that Wizards has spent a lot of money. It is critically important, they believe, to  the company’s future. The current company president was hired because of his knowledge about digital gaming.
It is also important because Wizards has a really bad history with digital releases. The initial release of MTGO, and each of the major upgrades, have been disasters. Wizards also introduced digital products like Gleemax, which was supposed to be “Facebook for Gamers.” That was a bust. Wizards has spent a bunch of money on their forums and interactive websites – and all of them were failures. And then there is the software that runs events: DCI Reporter, WER, WLTER, etc. Not good.
So I can see why Wizards is focusing all its resources on making sure MTG Arena breaks that mold. They want Arena to be Wizards first really successful digital product.
I get that.
But they need to pay at least a little attention to their core business – the business that actually makes the money, but making the Magic. Paper Magic.
The Silver Showcase was a disaster, but I can understand that.  The huge viewership of the first Beta Draft caught Wizards by surprise, and they scrambled to find ways to capitalize on that. Then group think took over, and they made bad decisions. Too little time, conflicting priorities and no chance to step back and really consider the result – I understand  how this sort of bad decision happens. The root causes of such failures are often studied by psychologists, economists and military historians. We know why it happens – and how to prevent it. But sometimes people forget to prevent it.    
The decisions surrounding Worlds are harder to understand. Worlds was not advertised. There was so little promotion that a significant number of Pro players didn’t know it was happening until GerryT’s protest hit the Twitterverse. Even two days before the event, I had to Google the event to find the info page on Wizards own website. That shouldn’t happen. A bunch of people have written some really good pieces on how Worlds should be promoted and covered. Wizards demonstrated how not to do it.
And then there were the formats. Worlds competitors were playing Dominaria drafts and pre-rotation Standard. The top four was four RB aggro decks playing for, fortunately, the last time ever. Now Dominaria was, arguably, a better choice that M19, but it is still a format pretty much no one will be playing after last weekend. Why not have the Pros play Guild of Ravnica. Yes, it had not been released, but Wizards got paper cards to the folks doing the Pre-Prerelease. They could certainly have gotten cards for Worlds.   And yes, I know that players would not have had a chance to practice the format, but this is Worlds! The players are the 24 best in the world  - they can figure it out.  
Wizards, this was bad. Fix it for next time.  Arena may be the cool new thing, but you still need paper Magic to be keep Wizards in the black and Hasbro happy. And that depends on competitive play, which depends on the Pro Tour.  Arena cannot carry the whole thing. 
On a lighter note, I found my copy of the initial, introductory issue of The Duelist, Wizards “Official Trading Card Magazine.”    It looks like this:
The introductory issue is small – about 4 x 5 inches in size. 
The last page helped you to “Learn the Lingo.” The terms defined in the “Lingo” article were:
·       Booster
·       CoP
·       DCI
·       Direct Damage
·       Expansion
·       Fizzle
·       Hack
·       Lucky Charms
·       Mulligan
·       PPG
·       Sleight
·       Stand-Alone
·       Starter
·       Tim
·       WotC
If you know what these are, answer in the comments. “Booster” is obvious. And I’ll tell you one of the: PPG is defined as “shorthand  for The Pocket Player’s Guide to Magic: the Gathering.” The PPG was a book. I have that, too. 
And the definition of mulligan was the instruction for taking one. It did not say “Shuffle, then draw one less card.” That’s the “Paris Mulligan” which did not appear for several more years.
I’ll show the official answers, as written, next week.
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: We have a brand new Standard. What we don’t have are any large events so far. We have MTGO Competitive league results, but all we know from those is that certain decks can, in the right circumstances, go 5-0.   They’re fun to look at.  Here’s what I would play, if I was playing a Standard event this weekend.
Modern: With a prerelease last weekend, we had fewer big Modern events, but fewer is not zero. Milano hosted a 168 player tournament.
Legacy: Milano also had a Legacy event last weekend. That event had 125 players competing.  
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 as the new metagame develops. The Guilds cards are all new – I would expect significant changes over the next couple weeks.

Standard Cards
Last Week
% Change
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Assassin's Trophy
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
Carnage Tyrant
Doom Whisperer
History of Benalia
Karn, Scion of Urza
Lyra Dawnbringer
Nexus of Fate
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Rekindling Phoenix
Search for Azcanta
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Vivien Reid
Vraska's Contempt

Modern staples: Modern prices fell heavily this week. Generally, prices for eternal formats fall at rotation, as people sell eternal cards to pay for release events, drafts, and new cards. This drop, however, is a lot larger than in the past.

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy and Vintage: Back to Basics continues to climb. Everything else, however, is sliding.

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 pretty stable again this week. And a Black Lotus is way over $100, with Mox Sapphire a step behind. The table has shrunk, however – just a bit over 50 cards this week.

Black Lotus
 $ 137.05
Mox Sapphire
 $    83.36
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $    71.83
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $    69.13
Horizon Canopy
 $    68.99
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $    66.28
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mythic Rare
 $    66.10
Horizon Canopy
Mythic Rare
 $    64.09
Force of Will
 $    59.63
True-Name Nemesis
 $    59.34
Mox Emerald
 $    57.00
Ancestral Recall
 $    57.00
True-Name Nemesis
Mythic Rare
 $    56.52
Mox Ruby
 $    56.51
Mox Jet
 $    53.00
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
 $    52.20
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 $    45.99
Mox Opal
Mythic Rare
 $    44.02
Back to Basics
 $    42.91
Liliana, the Last Hope
Mythic Rare
 $    41.80
Mox Opal
 $    41.53
Time Walk
 $    41.00
City of Traitors
 $    39.47
Horizon Canopy
 $    38.08
Mythic Rare
 $    37.92
Mox Pearl
 $    36.81
Surgical Extraction
 $    35.14
Dark Depths
Mythic Rare
 $    34.68
Surgical Extraction
 $    34.53
Liliana of the Veil
Mythic Rare
 $    34.03
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Mythic Rare
 $    33.70
Engineered Explosives
 $    31.02
Ensnaring Bridge
 $    30.74
Ensnaring Bridge
 $    30.22
Ensnaring Bridge
Mythic Rare
 $    30.17
 $    30.03
Ensnaring Bridge
 $    30.02
Force of Will
 $    29.89
Mythic Rare
 $    29.84
Ensnaring Bridge
 $    29.75
Engineered Explosives
 $   29.71
Scalding Tarn
Mythic Rare
 $    28.80
 $    28.56
Force of Will
Mythic Rare
 $    28.13
Cavern of Souls
Mythic Rare
 $    27.68
 $    27.30
Rekindling Phoenix
Mythic Rare
 $    26.97
Engineered Explosives
 $    26.71
Force of Will
 $    26.54
Mox Diamond
 $    25.67
Mox Diamond
Mythic Rare
 $    25.60
Mythic Rare
 $    25.02

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 $ 16,845. That’s down about $1,590 from two weeks ago. That a big drop – larger than usual after a new set appears.   
In Closing
I ran a couple Prereleases last weekend, and will be running another sealed event this week. Set looks pretty good. The sealed event, this evening as this posts, will have 40-50 players. I may be able to play and judge – although I will almost certainly have to drop before the last round. I‘m judging and scorekeeping and, in the last round, handling out prizes. I cannot do that and play. In earlier rounds, I can. When playing, I tell my opponent I may have to take judge calls, and if we to go to time as a result, I’ll just concede. My opponent shouldn’t be disadvantaged, by my having other responsibilities. Also, I only join if we have an odd number of players, so no one has to wait out a bye. 
In Dominaria, we had an odd number of players, so I jumped in.   I had a great pool – one that would have been a blast to play. Then, halfway through deck construction, another player arrived.  Just one – so I couldn’t play. Bummer. Hopefully that won’t happen again.
“One Million Words” on MTGO
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.


Lucky Charms by Rerepete at Fri, 10/05/2018 - 13:39
Rerepete's picture

IIRC, they are Ivory Cup, Crystal Rod, Throne of Bone, Iron Star and Wooden Sphere.

Hack is Magical Hack, Sleight is Sleight of Mind.

I'm pretty sure that Duelist by Misterpid at Fri, 10/05/2018 - 18:07
Misterpid's picture

I'm pretty sure that Duelist is from the Rivals Quick Start Set that was released around the same time Alliances came out.

Stand-Alone is an expansion set that can be played using only cards from that expansion. You don't need to mix it with cards from the base set or other expansions. At the time, Ice Age was the only Stand-Alone. It's basically what they called the first set of a block before they came up with the concept of blocks.

· CoP - Circle of by TheWolf at Sat, 10/06/2018 - 20:52
TheWolf's picture

· CoP - Circle of Protection
· DCI - Duellists Convocation International
· Direct Damage - burn spell
· Expansion - Anything that was a set without basic lands included
· Fizzle - when the target of a spell is removed, the spell 'fizzled' (had no effect)
· Hack - magical hack
· Lucky Charms - artifacts that gave 1 life when you cast a spell of one of the five colours
· Sleight - sleight of hand
· Stand-Alone - I *think* this referred to sets that had basic lands; so Ice Age, Mirage etc
· Starter - 60 card box of random cards including basic lands and a rulebook
· Tim - Prodigal Sorcerer
· WotC - Wizards of the coast

Arena by JMason at Sun, 10/07/2018 - 16:14
JMason's picture

I joined words with friends so that I could play the game. It all started to go wrong when wwf2 arrived and the app became all about quests and power-ups. Particularly frustrating are the in-game distractions which detract from thinking and the inescapable prize box openings.

See where I'm going with this?

Arena starts out with all the worst elements of the candy-crush generation of apps. I found within two days I was starting to get addicted to daily challenges but hating the experience.

Personally I have done with Arena now, but I wonder if the hit on the 'big number' is a sign of worse to come.

re by Hearts at Sun, 10/07/2018 - 17:32
Hearts's picture

JMason: What is "wwf2" ?

wwf2 is words with friends 2, by JMason at Mon, 10/08/2018 - 12:58
JMason's picture

wwf2 is words with friends 2, the version of the app that introduces the in-game distractions and the daily/weekly quests.

Regarding Arena, I'm sure it's appealing to many people who like the daily challenges and who want a bunch of video-game elements in the UI... but what I want is different, just the intellectual part of the game.

re by Hearts at Sun, 10/07/2018 - 21:44
Hearts's picture

"And then there is the software that runs events: DCI Reporter, WER, WLTER, etc. Not good."

Is one of the things wrong with this that players with same last names (or very similar) have been paired in round 1 of local shop events(fnm and you name it) more than usual ? I think it is. And it has been so for almost 20 years.

Interestingly, whenever I by TheWolf at Sun, 10/07/2018 - 22:18
TheWolf's picture

Interestingly, whenever I tend to play in the same store as a friend of mine, we would often get paired against each other round 1. This was happening frequently enough (and in different locations) that we started to become suspicious

They must use the same by Rerepete at Mon, 10/08/2018 - 17:50
Rerepete's picture

They must use the same randomizer as MODO

On my way out by IYankemDDS at Tue, 10/09/2018 - 21:58
IYankemDDS's picture

I am currently drafting away my remaining tickets on MTGO. I think they will last through Guilds of Ravnica. I will also probably redeem Core Set (when it is back in stock) and Guilds. The things that MTGO will do that Arena does not are not things that appeal to me..