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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Sep 07 2018 11:00am
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State of the Program for September 7th 2018
 
In the News
Ravnica Spoiler Season Starting:   Guilds of Ravnica info is coming out. We know that we have five guilds, shocklands, split cards, hybrid mana, new mechanics, returning mechanics and more. Spoiler season is just starting, so expect more as we go.
 
Ravnica Mechanics Announced: Surveil, Jump-Start, Undergrowth, Mentor and Convoke. Wizards has given us both written and video info on these new (and one returning) mechanics. The rules manager’s mechanics overview is here. The videos are here.
 
Counters on MTGO: Wizards – and more specifically Christopher Bellach – have reworked how counters work on MTGO.  The new counters are more elaborate, easier to read, and appear to be easier to grok. Mr. Bellach has written an article explaining how they were developed. You can read it here
 
Six Pro Tours: Wizards has announced that they are reworking their Competitive Play offerings from 2019, in consultation with their Pro Player Advisors William Jensen, Eduardo Sajgalik, and Willy Edel. In effect, Wizards is splitting the PTs in half – six PTs, with a bit more than half the invites from previous PTs.  No info on how the numbers are culled, or formats, or changes to the Pro Players Club. No info on GPs, Worlds, etc. Details, at least what we have so far, are here.
 
Special Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition: Wizards will be printing special, full art Planeswalkers in special packaging. The Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition will cost $249.99, and contain 8 planeswalkers and 24 boosters. It will be available only in the US and Canada and only through the online Hasbro Toy Store. This announcement has sparked a lot of discussion on the Intrawebs. 
 
Magic Customer Survey: Wizards has a new survey out. You can find it here. It took me about 25 minutes to complete.
 
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 MTGO.com. 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
Dates
Scheduled Downtimes
September 26th and October 24th (both extended)
Constructed Leagues End
September 25, 2018
Sealed Leagues End
September 28, 2018
Guilds of Ravnica
October 5, 2018
Ravnica Allegiance
January 2019
Next B&R Announcement
October 1, 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.
·       Sept. 8–9: Grand Prix Detroit
·       Sept. 15–16: Grand Prix Stockholm
·       Weekend of Sept. 23–24: 2018 Magic World Championship and Team Series Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada (exact event dates TBD)
·       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:
·       September 5-September 28: Legacy Cube
·       (not yet announced)
 
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 2pm PT this week
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:  Why I Won’t Recommend Magic to New Player
Wizards posted an online customer survey this week. You can take it here.  
   
One of the questions was about how likely I was to recommend Magic to a friend. After some thought, I ranked the likelihood at 3 out of 10 – in other words, I was unlikely to recommend Magic to a friend, or, for example, my nieces and nephews. The survey then popped up a box asking why I said that. I did my best to explain in 500 characters, but I can answer more broadly here. So I will.
 
First, I think Magic is an amazing game. I have been playing it for over 20 years, and have invested a ton of money into cardboard crack. The game is interesting, complex and compelling. The golden rule of Magic – that if a card’s text conflicts with the rules of the game, the card wins. That’s what makes Magic great. It’s what leads to complexity and synergy and fascinating game play. It’s great.
 
Magic involves more than just game play – it also involves deckbuilding. You take the cards you have and build a deck. In sealed, the cards you have are those you open in a the packs you are given. In draft, you select from a limited number of cards. For constructed, you chose from what you own, subject to format rules. This is yet another great facet of the game, that requires an entirely different set of skills. 
 
However, deckbuilding for constructed formats requires you to look for the best cards, and best synergies, available, because your opponents are certainly doing that as well. Not all cards are created equal, so not all decks are of equal power. A well constructed deck, filled with carefully chosen cards, will destroy decks that are not carefully constructed, or contain sub-optimal cards. It’s just how Magic works. 
 
And that leads us to the problem: cost. Chase cards, because they are chase cards, are expensive. Constructed Magic is expensive. Looking back to last weekend’s GPs, we see that the Standard decks (which are about to rotate) cost hundreds of dollars, and Legacy decks cost thousands of dollars. Online decks are not a lot cheaper. And that’s why I don’t tend to recommend Magic to other people, unless I know they are quite wealthy. I am happy to play Magic with anyone, including my relatives, but I supply the decks or sealed product. I recommend that they not get into constructed, because it is a very expensive addiction. 
 
For me, the problem is a bit more specific than just decks being expensive.   My concern is that good decks rely on solid mana bases, and mana bases rely on expensive lands. Players can generally live with having some expensive chase cards, like great Planeswalkers, creatures or spells. They have less tolerance for paying a ton of mana for the mana base. The cool cards win games; the mana base is just kinda there. 
 
I am really bothered by high cost lands. I have always been bothered by high cost lands. Not personally – I have multiple playsets of fetchlands, true duals, etc. – my personal collection is not the point. The point is that lands cost new players too much, and that Wizards won’t do anything about it.
 
Let’s look at some numbers. My prices are from MTGOTraders.com and CFB. Also, note that I am not talking about cards on the Reserve List – that’s a whole different issue. I am just talking about cards that Wizards can reprint freely. But does not – at least not in enough volume to bring prices down to something reasonable. (Personally, I think $10-$20 for paper is the upper end of reasonable for Modern. Standard lands should be half that.)
 

Card
MTGO Price
Paper Price
$ 23.50
$ 79.99
$ 61.50
$ 89.99
$ 28.91
$ 89.99
$ 27.39
$ 64.99
Wasteland (originally uncommon)
$ 23.25
$ 39.99
$ 1.80
$ 13.99

 
The Watery Grave numbers are there to show that super chase cards can be affordable, although I will admit that the prices are pretty high for a rare that has been reprinted twice in Standard sets, and is about to be reprinted in the next Standard set.
 
So long as Wizards is happy with prices for important Modern lands costing hundreds of dollars for a playset, I will not recommend Magic to people that are not, frankly, rich. Again, I have no problem with Wizards making chase cards, or chase cards being really expensive – but I draw the line when it comes to the mana base. And when Wizards repeatedly fails to address that specific problem year after year, set after set, I worry that Magic may never be affordable. 
 
There was no excuse for not including some of the above in the last couple Masters Editions, and because Wizards did not – well, you get this rant.
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: GP Richmond was another reason we are waiting for rotation.   We had 786 players at a Standard GP on a holiday weekend on the east coast of the US. A few years back, a 1,700 players Standard GP would have been considered small. 786 is tiny. The Top 8 featured half RB variants, and half UBx variants. Like most recent weeks. Coverage is here.
 
 
Modern: The biggest Modern event last weekend was probably the MTGO PTQ.   
 
 
Legacy: GP Richmond – the Legacy one – had 842 players. Coverage followed Reid Duke through most of the event, and he finished 22nd.   Coverage is here.
 
 
Vintage: Last weekend’s Vintage Challenge was won by an apparent merfolk player who played Paradoxical Outcome with a Moonfolk. Erayo is kinda nuts.
 
 
 
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 over a decade now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.
 
Standard Staples: Standard prices are mixed this week. Cards on their way to rotation are falling, and that will continue, and Chandra fell off the table this week.  Rotation is coming.
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Baral, Chief of Compliance
$7.92
$7.88
$0.04
1%
Carnage Tyrant
$8.41
$11.33
($2.92)
-26%
History of Benalia
$10.17
$8.46
$1.71
20%
Karn, Scion of Urza
$25.19
$25.55
($0.36)
-1%
Lyra Dawnbringer
$8.24
$7.94
$0.30
4%
Nexus of Fate
$14.10
$12.21
$1.89
15%
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
$15.04
$15.69
($0.65)
-4%
Rekindling Phoenix
$32.84
$40.21
($7.37)
-18%
Sarkhan, Fireblood
$7.07
$8.06
($0.99)
-12%
Search for Azcanta
$7.15
$6.87
$0.28
4%
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
$37.75
$39.45
($1.70)
-4%
Vivien Reid
$6.84
$9.79
($2.95)
-30%
Vraska's Contempt
$6.04
$6.07
($0.03)
0%
Walking Ballista
$13.86
$17.93
($4.07)
-23%

Modern staples: Modern prices were back to normal this week – and rising. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is still climbing, like it does.   
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$13.78
$14.82
($1.04)
-7%
$28.91
$27.17
$1.74
6%
$27.36
$27.36
$0.00
0%
$18.88
$19.91
($1.03)
-5%
$17.16
$16.47
$0.69
4%
$21.71
$17.46
$4.25
24%
$40.13
$38.89
$1.24
3%
$27.57
$26.18
$1.39
5%
$61.50
$50.65
$10.85
21%
$64.48
$52.95
$11.53
22%
$33.95
$31.40
$2.55
8%
$17.60
$18.99
($1.39)
-7%
$34.64
$36.69
($2.05)
-6%
$44.77
$39.73
$5.04
13%
$57.62
$53.31
$4.31
8%
$35.31
$29.53
$5.78
20%
$23.50
$23.70
($0.20)
-1%
$49.60
$44.24
$5.36
12%
$14.34
$16.14
($1.80)
-11%

Legacy and Vintage: The list of card worth over $15 and playable only in Legacy and Vintage gained Back to Basics, courtesy of Andrew Cuneo. I love Back to Basics. 
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$25.58
$20.64
$4.94
24%
$26.58
$25.85
$0.73
3%
$33.36
$38.12
($4.76)
-12%
$15.84
$14.77
$1.07
7%
$18.73
$19.15
($0.42)
-2%
$31.36
$32.05
($0.69)
-2%
$29.89
$29.89
$0.00
0%
$17.63
$18.47
($0.84)
-5%
$50.86
$50.32
$0.54
1%
$12.15
$15.76
($3.61)
-23%
$23.80
$23.73
$0.07
0%
$23.25
$22.74
$0.51
2%

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
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
$43.07
$48.93
($5.86)
-12%
Amonkhet
$34.17
$40.55
($6.38)
-16%
Core Set 2019
$143.75
$144.05
($0.30)
0%
Dominaria
$121.35
$117.69
$3.66
3%
Ixalan
$72.80
$76.10
($3.30)
-4%
Hour of Devastation
$12.20
$14.65
($2.45)
-17%
Kaladesh
$21.79
$26.59
($4.80)
-18%
Rivals of Ixalan
$90.83
$95.56
($4.73)
-5%
Treasure Chest
$2.34
$2.20
$0.14
6%
Core Set 2019 Booster
$3.21
$2.80
$0.41
15%

 
 
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. 
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Black Lotus
 1E
Rare
 $ 109.95
Mox Sapphire
 1E
Rare
 $ 76.40
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $ 69.67
Horizon Canopy
 IMA
Rare
 $ 66.71
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 VMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 65.34
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 WWK
Mythic Rare
 $ 65.34
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 65.20
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $ 64.48
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $ 62.64
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 61.50
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 58.51
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 57.62
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $ 56.62
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $ 53.58
Mox Jet
 1E
Rare
 $ 53.04
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $ 50.86
Ancestral Recall
 1E
Rare
 $ 49.95
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $ 49.64
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $ 49.60
Mox Emerald
 1E
Rare
 $ 48.14
Mox Ruby
 1E
Rare
 $ 47.03
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $ 44.77
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $ 41.42
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $ 41.03
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $ 40.44
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 40.13
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $ 39.59
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $ 37.99
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $ 37.75
Time Walk
 1E
Rare
 $ 36.95
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $ 36.82
Noble Hierarch
 CON
Rare
 $ 36.35
Noble Hierarch
 MM2
Rare
 $ 35.31
Mox Pearl
 1E
Rare
 $ 34.95
Dark Depths
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $ 34.68
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $ 34.64
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $ 33.95
City of Traitors
 TPR
Rare
 $ 33.36
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $ 33.21
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.91
Rekindling Phoenix
 RIX
Mythic Rare
 $ 32.84
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $ 31.36
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $ 30.07
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $ 29.89
Cavern of Souls
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $ 29.52
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 28.94
Cavern of Souls
 AVR
Rare
 $ 28.91
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $ 28.91
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $ 28.90
Ensnaring Bridge
 A25
Mythic Rare
 $ 28.69
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $ 28.38
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $ 27.57
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $ 27.39
Celestial Colonnade
 WWK
Rare
 $ 27.03
Scalding Tarn
 MM3
Rare
 $ 26.62
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $ 26.58
Mox Diamond
 TPR
Mythic Rare
 $ 26.00
Mox Diamond
 ST
Rare
 $ 25.64
Back to Basics
 UZ
Rare
 $ 25.58
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.47
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $ 25.34
Karn, Scion of Urza
 DAR
Mythic Rare
 $ 25.19

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 $ 18,260. That’s up about $415 from last week. Nice.
 
In Closing
Did you catch the Reid Duke show? I am truly impressed that Reid could put in those kind of days and do that well. At GPs, as a player I get time to decompress once my match ends. As a judge at a GP, I typically get a whole round off for lunch. Play, then commentate, for two full days: Reid is truly exceptional.
 
I wonder if coverage can find anyone else able, and willing, to take that kind of punishment.
 
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 

3 Comments

Nicely put about the prices by MichelleWong at Sun, 09/09/2018 - 00:52
MichelleWong's picture

Nicely put about the prices of lands.

I would also not recommend by Cauchy at Sun, 09/09/2018 - 05:27
Cauchy's picture
5

I would also not recommend MTG because of the high costs. Is that an argument in favor of Arena? Will Arena be cheaper? Not for me I guess. I have not paid anything to WotC since 2008 because I used to be good at trading (not at playing).

The article seems to contradict itself at little. Lands are too expensive but it is “Nice” that the total value of playsets went up by $400?

re by Hearts at Sun, 09/09/2018 - 14:19
Hearts's picture

"The golden rule of Magic – that if a card’s text conflicts with the rules of the game, the card wins."

To explain why Momentary Blink does not contradict in cases with tokens you have to argue that "cant" overrides "can" in wpn play. In the case of Relentless Rats this isnt true however, so "cant" doesnt always override "can", and ergo the case with Momentary Blink isnt explained.

This leaves one thing; arguing your case when situations arrive in wpn play selectively choosing what to quote/refer to. And since the rules documents are so vast/many pages long chances are that a person experienced with those documents will find something to support any kind of (wished/desired) outcome in said wpn game play situations, which isnt a good situation for wpn play to be in at all.