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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Sep 05 2014 12:09pm
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State of the Program for September 5th 2014


In the News:

Khans of Takir Spoiler Season in Full Swing: Wizards is giving us lots of info on the fall set. Khans of Trakir will be all about dragons, in a world without dragons. All jokes aside, the set looks good. The official visual spoiler is here, and the video of the PAX Worldbuilding panel is here. Individual spoiler articles are everywhere. We will get one middle of next week. How good is our card? Well, it’s not quite Grafdigger’s Cage, but I do expect to play the card in both limited and constructed formats. Look for it Wednesday.
Wasteland Lottery to Begin September 17thWizards will be bring us flashback drafts beginning with Tempest block on Sept. 17, followed by triple Innistrad on Sept. 24th. Save your TIX, because Tempest has Wasteland, the $135 uncommon. Innistrad also has a $100 card, but Liliana of the Veil is a Mythic.   That makes the chances of drawing a winning ticket lower, but Innistrad is a better draft environment.
CUBE to Return: Wizards has announced that CUBE will return to MTGO on Sept. 17th.   The cube has been revised, with over 50 cards replaced.
Vintage and Legacy Prize Change: Beginning with the 9/10 downtime, Vintage and Legacy events will stop paying out in VMA packs. They will change over to M15 packs, using the same entry fee and payout as other constructed events. Details here.
Wizards R&D Challenge Sept. 12th: Wizards employees will be playing in a constructed challenge on Friday, Sept. 12th. The format is Vintage. This event will function like past challenges – 5 rounds, any packs Wizards employees might win will be divided among 5-0 players. 
Community Cup Player Profiles Posted: The Community Cup team profiles have been posted. The directory is here.   The Community Cup Challenge will begin Sept 12th. In recent news, Wizards has announced a change in the Community team. Dalibor Trnka cannot attend, so Wizards has invited Erin Campbell. Details here.

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.  Here’s what we know, want or are tracking. I also created another list for notable bugs. If you know of one that has not been fixed (and you or someone has filed a bug report) please let me know.
Item (date it will return) and notes
·         Khans of Tarkir: (October) Prerelease Oct. 3-6. Details here.
·         Standard Rotation: (October) Should be Oct. 9th, but could be Oct. 2nd
·         Leagues (2014) Wizards has promised that leagues will return this year. Details here.
·         From the Vault: Annihilation: (10/6/2014) Moved from August 22 to October 6th .
·         Duel Decks: Speed vs. Cunning (10/6/2014) Details here.
·         Commander 2014: (11/21/2014) Details here.
·         Modern Masters II: (May of 2015?) 

State of  the Client: Trading Away Draft Leftovers

I have been testing different areas of the client recently. I drafted, and that worked. I constructed a deck from a written list, and that worked better than expected. This week I decided to try trading. Personally, I’m risk averse, so I didn’t want to try trading with strangers, possibly losing cards I might actually want to keep. Instead, I decided to clear out my draft spares.
I play lots of formats, and am something of a collector. That means I want to keep one playset of every card. Everything else I trade away.   I give to my wife first crack, to complete any of her playsets.   Everything else gets traded away to my storage account, then I let the MTGOTradersBuyBots loose on that account.   I get reasonable prices on what I sell. I could probably get a bit more running my own bot or advertising, but my scarce resource is always time, not money. I cannot afford to devote an hour or two a week to trading, just to make a couple extra TIX. Everything else I do, even playing, has a higher return.
Anyway, I decided to clear out the spares from the limited events I have done in the last month or so. That proved to be a fair number: I have played in a couple VMA sealeds, plus a dozen or so drafts in a variety of formats. This meant that I had a lot of duplicate and spare cards in the inventory. Time to fix that.
First, the background. I am doing these tests on either my desktop or laptop machine. The desktop is a Windows 7 machine with a decent nvidea graphics board. It is by no means a gaming powerhouse – it is what my local computer store built for me three years ago for about $800, including transferring my data from the smoking ruins of my last desktop system. My laptop is an anemic single core Acer Aspire 5532 (review.) My Internet connection is DSL, running at 1.5M down, 300k up on a good day, which is all that I can get here in the country. This test was done on the desktop, trading cards to Ingrid’s account running on the laptop.
I opened the collection tab, and set Display to List View. This is faster when building decks. It did not prove terrible useful when searching for duplicates. The first thing I wanted to do was get rid of the basic lands that pile up after drafting and sealed events. I set the Type filters to Lands and Basic, and Versions to Show Versions Separately. I then searched for “Forest”. I ended up with a list of about a dozen different Forests.  Like this:
I could not find a way to select all or highlight multiple rows, so I had to click on each row individually. Right clicking brought up some options, including adding one to active binder, adding all but four to active binder and adding all to the active binder. This worked, but each and every click had to reset the spreadsheet view, and this took 1-2 seconds every time. Clicking too fast would bring up the hated “Main Navigation” pop-up, offering me the choice of waiting or killing MTGO. I waited, and it disappeared almost instantly, but still…
I spent an hour bashing on this. It was not a fun time. I was able to add all the basics to the trade binder. I was also able to reset filters, then set the quantity filter to 5-20, showing just cards that I had too many of. I was then able to click on add all but 4 to active binder again and again. And wait.
In the past month, I have drafted 2-3 times per week, maybe a bit more. That’s not a lot, compared to other MTGO users. It does mean that I accumulate at least 100 cards I don’t need every week. Trading those away is necessary, both because I am a bit obsessive, and because the revenue from selling cards helps defray the cost of drafting. 
The client makes this really, really difficult. I would give it a D. It works, but that is the only thing that you can say about it.
Wizards R&D, and associated groups like the MTGO team, do a lot of things really, really well. However, they have a blind spot. The Wizards folks play Magic with proxies and big boxes of spare cards. They play MTGO with god accounts, containing 4 copies of every card. They do not play on their own accounts, and do not have to struggle with collecting, collections and collection management.
Back in Future Sight, Wizards folks decided to slip in a joke card – a card that “foreshadowed” an intriguing mechanic (Riggers making contraptions) that was not real. It was clever, but then Wizards put it on a Rare. As a joke, it worked. However, if you opened it as your rare, it was a totally wasted pack. For me, this really reinforced the fact that R&D folks just do not understand the problems people with limited incomes have in buying cards and packs. A pack is a real cost for many people, and having a joke that destroys the value of that pack is just mean. The joke should have been uncommon. 
The “Collection” screen seems to be symptomatic of this same problem. It is clearly built to allow players to build constructed decks. It searches for cards by format, name, and even type. If you are looking for a Hexproof green two drop, you can search for one fairly easily. If you want to bring up all the format-legal lands in your collection, you can.   WotC folks build decks, so they built a screen that lets you build decks. WotC folks never manage collections, so they didn’t bother designing actual collection management tools. They duct-taped some basic collection functions onto the deckbuilder and called it good.
It is not good. 
Yes, technically, the tools work. You can make them work, but doing so really reminded me of the time I had to cut through a 3” solid steel axel, and all I had was a hacksaw. I did it – I used up four blades in the process – but that was clearly not the tool for the job. Cutting that axel was hard work that took forever, and I was hurting and blistered by the time I was done. Slow and painful – that is a pretty good description of the collection management functions in MTGO. 
Just to be thorough, I tried resetting the Display to card mode. I also set Versions to display all versions, and started scrolling through my collection, looking for anything with more than 4 copies. The advantage of this approach was that it became a lot easier to identify cards where I had multiple playsets. For example, I had four Onslaught Naturalizes, plus playsets of Naturalizes from M12, M14 and a couple from random other sets in my collection. I added every copy with the hated new frame to my trade binder.   I feel better now. 
Surprisingly enough, adding cards to the trade binder in card view was no slower than the spreadsheet view. Scrolling was slower, but not massively slower, since scrolling the spreadsheet also lags. 
The downside of the card view was that it became very difficult to correct a misclick. Because of the lag, I did occasionally add one more copy to the binder than I actually wanted to trade away. Finding it in the trade binder and returning it to my collection was tedious. The client would have benefited from an undo function, or a way of removing cards from trade by clicking on the card in the collection tab, but if those functions exist, I could not find them. 
In the end, I added over 1,000 cards to the trade binder. This took me almost three hours. It was miserable (and made worse because my final hours were while listening to the Packers game, which we lost.) I never did get around to actually trading them. That will probably be next week’s test.
Overall – a D. The client has some functions which almost help. For example, if you set the collection to spreadsheet view, you can sort by quantity. This lets you find the cards with quantities over 4 fairly easily. However, you cannot (or at least I cannot find a way to) exclude basic lands, and seeing that I have seven M15 Lightning Strikes does not let me know whether I should trade them all, because I have a playset of the Theros versions. 
This is the first section of the client I tested where I really feel that V3 was significantly better. And I’m just talking about using the collection tab for trading away draft leftovers. I am not talking about the complete absence of a binder view, or any other decent method of viewing my collection.
I have written about this before, and maybe this is a first world problem, but when I draft a set like M15, I have no need for most of the cards I draft. I may end up with yet another copy of some constructed-unplayable rare like Stormtide Leviathan, plus some Welkin Terns, some more Frost Lynxes and Coral Barriers, my 84th Negate, etc. I don’t want any of these cards, once the draft is over. So why does the program dump them into my collection? When I do a paper draft, I pull apart my deck and give any unwanted cards to some of the kids around the store, and put only the cards I need into my collection boxes. The cards don’t automatically fly into the boxes, requiring me to find them and manually remove them. All new cards should go into an “unsorted” pile. The program should let you drag or click on specific cards to move them into your collection, then dump all the rest into your trade binder. 
That would just make sense, but since the WotC folks have god accounts, it apparently never occurred to them.  
WotC – fix this.  Please. 

Cutting Edge Tech:

Standard: We are rapidly approaching the end of the current Standard, at least in paper, but the format will line on in MTGO for a while.   That format is pretty diverse at the moment. The most recent large events, like the SCG Invitational, featured a number of decks in the Top 16. Here’s the winner.
Modern: PTQ season is over, but Modern is still interesting. Here’s a slightly different blend. I have played Amulet of Vigor decks, and Hive Mind decks, but not both at once. 
Legacy: SCG had a Legacy Open last weekend, but they also ran their Invitational event.  Tom Ross won his second straight Invitational, defeating Reed Dukes Miracles deck in the finals.   If you like creature-based combo decks, and don’t want to play Elves, play this.
Vintage:  Vintage is still firing. The metagame is evolving, slowly. Vintage players need to adapt to that evolution, but remember the fundamental rules. Today’s decklist shows what happens if people forget that half your sideboard should be about beating Dredge.     
Fatestitcher Dredge
Sand__Crab, 4-0, Vintage Daily #7424632 on 08/31/2014
4 Bloodghast
2 Fatestitcher
1 Flame-Kin Zealot
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
2 Golgari Thug
2 Ichorid
4 Ingot Chewer
4 Narcomoeba
4 Stinkweed Imp
1 Sun Titan
28 cards

Other Spells
4 Bridge from Below
4 Cabal Therapy
3 Dread Return
4 Mental Misstep
4 Serum Powder
19 cards
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
1 Dakmor Salvage
4 Mana Confluence
4 Undiscovered Paradise
13 cards


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).
Standard staples: Standard prices are, overall, up again this week. Cards that are due to rotate soon have dropped a bit, but cards seeing a bunch of good results, like Rabblemaster, are climbing. 

Standard & Block Cards
Last Week
% Change
(Garrukk, Apex Predator)
(Thasssa, God of the Sea)

Modern staples: Modern cards are a mixed bag this week. We are past the Modern PTQ season, but that wasn’t applicable to online anyway.  Mox Opal and Scalding Tarn were overpriced, possibly because of speculators and hoarders, but those prices are correcting themselves.

Modern Cards
Last Week
% Change

Legacy / Vintage: Legacy and Vintage prices were pretty stable this week, but two cards took a tumble. Wasteland is down because Tempest block drafts will be happening shortly. Polluted Delta is crashing because it will be reprinted in Khans of Trakir.

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Last Week
% Change

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.   I will probably stop reporting on M14 shortly. It is no longer drafted, and is about to rotate.  RTR block will also rotate, so I will pull those sets sometime late next month.      

Complete Set
Two Weeks Ago
% Change
Born of the Gods
Dragon's Maze
Journey into Nix
Return to Ravnica


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. Black Lotus continues to lead the pack, but Wasteland and Rishadan Port are not that far behind.   We will see whether a week of Tempest drafts can reduce the price of Wasteland. One effect we are already seeing – the announcement that Khans of Trakir will include the Onslaught fetchlands has pushed the price of those cards down. 

Black Lotus
 $ 202.13
Rishadan Port
 $ 134.71
 $ 131.27
Liliana of the Veil
 $    95.67
 $    95.25
 $    92.00
 $    88.87
Mox Sapphire
 $    87.42
Mox Opal
 $    86.98
Ancestral Recall
 $    74.92
Show and Tell
 $    69.95
Vendilion Clique
 $    61.76
Time Walk
 $    60.95
Hurkyl's Recall
 $    60.69
Vendilion Clique
 $    60.19
 $    60.10
Mox Jet
 $    58.90
City of Traitors
 $    51.66
Mox Ruby
 $    50.53
Mox Emerald
 $    46.75
Force of Will
 $    46.57
Mox Pearl
 $    44.99
True-Name Nemesis
 $    43.79
Tangle Wire
 $    43.50
 $    42.80
Force of Will
 $    37.26
Sneak Attack
 $    37.09
Dark Confidant
 $    36.73
Toxic Deluge
 $    36.63
Karn Liberated
 $    36.38
Noble Hierarch
 $    35.68
Gaea's Cradle
 $    34.62
Dark Confidant
 $    34.28
Undiscovered Paradise
 $    33.63
Infernal Tutor
 $   33.04
Lion's Eye Diamond
 $    32.87
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
 $    32.29
Nissa, Worldwaker
 $    31.16
Polluted Delta
 $    30.95
Tezzeret the Seeker
 $    30.93
Dark Depths
 $    30.58
Twilight Mire
 $    30.50
Fulminator Mage
 $    30.14
Craterhoof Behemoth
 $    28.80
Flooded Strand
 $    27.95
 $    27.65
Scalding Tarn
 $    27.58
Cryptic Command
 $    27.31
Cryptic Command
 $    27.00
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 $    26.65
 $    26.35
 $    26.12
Goblin Welder
 $    25.77
Voice of Resurgence
 $    25.77

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 $ 26,790. That’s up about 5350 from where we were two weeks ago.

Weekly Highlights:

Tough week this week. My dog, Bailey, is losing his fight with cancer. He was diagnosed early last November, and the veterinarians at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital had doubts that he would last to Christmas. However, a lot of chemo, combined with loving care from a lot of nice folks there kept Bailey going and comfortable for the last nine months.  But we always knew that this cancer was not curable. All the treatment could do was keep him comfortable and happy. It did. His tail never stopped wagging all this time (multiple doctors noted that in his medical records.)  It is still wagging, a bit, but the cancer has now spread throughout his lungs. Breathing is beginning to hurt, and all we can do now is ask the doctors to stop the pain one last time.
I’m sorry to end this on such a down note, but that’s where I’m at this week.
Here’s Bailey.   We call this picture “Throw the stick, Dad! Throw the stick!”
Ingrid and I like to talk about Doggie Heaven.   It’s a place with a lake always nearby, self-throwing tennis balls, car rides whenever you want and a couch in the sunlight with room for all the dogs.  I’m not sure that Bailey will really be joining our other dogs there, but it’s good to pretend. 
“one million words” 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 over 24,000 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 sets, but it includes a ton of Masters Edition and Vintage cards, and some nice Modern bargains. 



As for collection management, by Paul Leicht at Fri, 09/05/2014 - 12:43
Paul Leicht's picture

As for collection management, I don't even know that a "D" is quite the right grade. I am tempted to say F+ or Inc, because it still fails in key areas and its as if they didn't bother to finish what they started. It is a major irk to me because as I said last week I too have a large collection. I recently went through the very samething you did (I accumulated a lot of duplicates for the last year or so even though I don't do limited anymore, just because of Commander packs etc.) Tedious does not begin to describe the torture in handling a large collection.

Even my Beta account with its merely 4k+ or so cards is a bit unruly. I haven't experienced as much lag as you talk about (though to make life fun/interesting after I commented here on not getting any lag last week, I crashed out whilst building a deck.)

One tiny thing that nags me a lot is that they don't count individual cards any more. So the total # of cards in each account has to be estimated by #s of 4x, 3x etc. Really annoyed that they took out the individual counting mechanism. Tiny because it doesn't matter but it is a good at a glance way to tell how things are progressing, a long with filters for Mythics, Rares etc.

Sorry to hear about Bailey: the loss of a family member is always hard.

Sadly on the past few days, by TugaChampion at Fri, 09/05/2014 - 13:15
TugaChampion's picture

Sadly on the past few days, the Vintage DEs have not fired (at least the ones I tried playing).

Not a big surprise, WotC just by longtimegone at Sun, 09/07/2014 - 21:11
longtimegone's picture

Not a big surprise, WotC just posted that they will be changing the prize payout on those events as of this upcoming Wednesday to just match the other dailies. This works out to a higher overall prize value, so people are probably just waiting for that to kick in.

Sy! by Bartimäus at Fri, 09/05/2014 - 14:28
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Fetch Lands by Sensei at Fri, 09/05/2014 - 14:30
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Tarn and the other four Zen fetches dropped because they can be reasonably substituted with the fetches that will be in KTk.

Selecting multiple rows by pcjr at Sun, 09/07/2014 - 15:33
pcjr's picture

I think you can select multiple rows in the list view using CTRL-A or right-clicking someplace that is *not* a row in the list (such as the white space below the last row being displayed). Sorry I don't remember which, its been over a month since I learned this with the help of someone in the support room chat.

It still gets the D rating. Try dragging what you selected to your trade binder. Last I checked, it didn't drag all of each card selected.

If you don't want the cards by JMason at Mon, 09/08/2014 - 05:49
JMason's picture

If you don't want the cards from limited events in your main account then why not use your storage account for playing limited events instead? You then only need to transfer the smaller number of cards you want to retain back to your main account.

mocs points do not trade, by JXClaytor at Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:29
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mocs points do not trade, which is the only reason I could think of.

Which is actually pretty dumb by JMason at Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:36
JMason's picture

Which is actually pretty dumb of wizards not to track mocs points against the owner rather than the user name.

yeah I agree with that. by JXClaytor at Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:42
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yeah I agree with that.

Well I have more than 1 by TugaChampion at Mon, 09/08/2014 - 14:57
TugaChampion's picture

Well I have more than 1 account and there have been times that I either didn't want to play in the mocs (like the legacy mocs) or simply couldn't play it. Some of those I played enough to get more than 15 QPs so it was nice to get 2 or more promos.

Sorry about your dog! Pops by 3drinks at Tue, 09/09/2014 - 22:14
3drinks's picture

Sorry about your dog! Pops lost his oldest dog a couple years back, it's a tough time to go through. :/

At least in "Doggie Heaven", Bailey will be surrounded by happy games. :)