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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Aug 01 2008 10:06am
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Table of Contents
Editorial Section
MTGO Discussion Items
Card Prices


Per requests from last week's article, I've started a way to indicate the 'freshness' of an item in the article.  The darker the background the older the item, I will remove the oldest item and shift the others around as necessary so that I can hopefully make things easier for those who just want to see this week's updates.  If it's on a white background, it's new.

V3's First Month can be found here.  I'm going to cover the progress week to week, then break them into months so as to keep this section somewhat manageable.V3 Month of May  Again, I will be shortening up the V3 section now that we're hitting our stride.

Week of June 13th:
We had our first real 'crash' type issue with V3.  According to the downtime notes this week they are pushing a patch to fix this issue going forward.  Tomorrow marks the start of the first release events on V3, and based on the popularity of the Shadowmoor set we should have some hefty server load this weekend, likely moreso even than the Nix Tix events a few weeks back.  I'm excited and nervous for this weekend.

Week of June 20th:
After last week's 'crash', things have been quite good, server wise.  Although there have been sporadic reports of issues from Comcast users as well as some overseas users.  However this appears to be outside of WotC's control and largely ISP related.  However, besides that (and the client based lag some users have), the system stood up to the stress very, very well.  No server lag or server crashes to speak of, not even during the busiest most heavily hit times of the events.  This week we heard another "oh yeah, that's a feature" statement regarding PE's and replays.  Namely that the lack of replays may become a 'feature' of playing online, since if they could stop deck scouting in paper Magic, they would. 

Week of June 27th:
Oh boy oh boy oh boy.  What a difference a week makes, eh?  So, here's the break down of the week: I jinxed the crap out of us.  The day after my last article (Saturday), we start to experience some hefty lag.  Games aren't starting, sideboards aren't showing up, and matches in general are pretty much toast.  Sunday they try restarting the game servers.  This doesn't fix the issue.  Monday they bring down the queues and restart the servers.  This doesn't help, the queues are down until Tuesday.  Tuesday they bump up the maintenance and try something.  It doesn't help.  The queues are down still and they try rebooting them again.  They do a Wednesday maintenance.  We come back up but the queues remain down.  They do some DB cleanup.  The queues are still down but at least the casual games are running fairly well again.  That brings us to Thursday.  Queues are still down, and apparently they're still no closer to solving the issue than they were on Saturday when it started.  That about sums up the turmoil from this week I think.

The scent of V3 in June reminds me of my childhood.  I spent countless hours sitting on the banks of a river.... blowing things up.

So far the first patch of June has not gone over well.  It didn't fix everything that it was supposed to fix (the art for the cards), and the card merge broke currently working cards (like Cabal Coffers, and the "Wish" style cards, and some of the "Enhanced" spells from the Ravnica block).  Also with this patch we get the information that there may be no progress in the backlog of bugs and fixes next week because of the events and not wanting to risk breaking things.  I can understand that trepidation, however, each week of pushing back fixes pushes back the time when we can start to get NEW things into the system, as well as return some of our old missing functionality as well.  On the plus side though, we did get Commander (aka Elder Dragon Highlander) back as a multiplayer format.  That alone almost balances out the issues that they caused with this latest patch.  Almost.

Week of July 4th:
So, the servers seem to be stable again... and the last statement we got from WotC mentions something about decks being stored and needing to be cleaned up.  Once they finished that up events started firing fine again.  Other than that, nothing much has happened this week.  Although the issue that the developers fought with last week came at the price of getting work on SP1.i, and it has been delayed at least a week and will be deployed on July 9th at the earliest.  Other than that, not much V3 news to report, which compared to last week, could be considered a good thing.

Week of July 11th:
No SP1.i this week.  Again.  As a consolation prize we do get a 5 hour downtime and a list of things that should be fixed when we do get SP1.  It seems that a few people figured that the 5 hour downtime was meant to deploy SP1 as a few seperate rants have started up since then.  A great summarization of the announced SP1.i fixes was done by Maxeel here: http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=16305040&postcount=40

Week of July 18th:
SP1!!!  It didn't change the world but it definitely didn't cause it to implode either.  I, among other, had some pretty low expectations in regards to the outcome of SP1.  I'm happy to say that I'm not disappointed with Service Pack 1.  To the contrary, it did everything they said it would, and didn't create any huge new bugs.  There is a very irritating bug in regards to trading that this patch brought us (namely that you have to click 'Reset' to see anything).  We did however get some new functionality that'll I'll be going over in the editorial section below.

Week of July 25th:
A boring week in MTGO land... no crashes, no new events, no news on MED2.  Beta has started though, and that's good for some entertainment.
Week of August 1st:
Some tidbits on MED2 this week.  According to this post it looks like we'll be getting Dry Spell and Panic as very likely inclusions into MED2.  The Beta test for Eventide is underway and while I'm not at liberty to discuss exactly what goes on in Beta (confidentiality stuff), I can say that there are some pretty interesting things coming out soon.  We've been beta testing new/improved aspects of the client as well as the cards.  Look for more information as we get closer to the time when they will be released.  I think some people will be happy with the work done.  But to temper expectations, neither of them are Leagues/Redemption (at least not that we're testing, I have no clue what WotC's doing internally for those).



Hammy's How To: How to troubleshoot your connection to MTGO.
There are a lot of places that things can go wrong when dealing with a Client/Server application like MTGO.  This isn't helped any by MTGO's apparent inability to deal with dropped packets sure doesn't help matters either.  So here is a compilation of things that you can do to figure what is likely happening to your connection to MTGO.

First up is a very throrough route checking utility.  It does a tracerout from your machine to the specified host, and then it pings each hop along the way to see how 'good' the connection is between you and it.  Large packet loss from a router, or lots of routers with minimal loss might be part of your problems.

Next up is a neat utility for showing a lot of very detailed information about your ISP and network settings.  Mostly we're looking for data in the Statistics page to see if there are any large issues that can be fixed on our side or possibly tweaked by our ISP.  There's a lot more information here than I know what to do with, however, some normal things to check for are your Link Speed and Duplex settings as well as any type of packet queuing that might be mentioned.  

This is the site that has the files for MTGO to be directly downloaded.  Some basic troubleshooting would involve downloading the files by hand from here (using either Internet Explorer or Firefox).  If you can do that, it's something specific to MTGO on your machine.  If you can't it's something specific to your machine/ISP.

If you're a Comcast customer (or are just experience weird disconnects while updating/downloading/playing) then following some of the steps listed in this post would be a great idea.  If you're getting lots and lots of reset connections then you're being hit by something that's trying to limit your bandwidth.  Contact your ISP about what types of network shaping they may be doing for the host listed above.

Hopefully between some of these pieces most issues can be resolved.  Also, something to consider is that if you've opened ports based on what was originally communicated by WotC it seems that there may be more that need to be opened.  This thread. has more details about the recent findings

Thread of the week: Gleemax to Come Down -
There were actually a few of these threads made around the boards, but I chose ours because it was probably one of the largest ones out there.  The demise of Gleemax is a pretty big item for MTGO, which is why we had so many replies to it.  Gleemax, or more accurately, the development and testing of Gleemax was coming directly out of the available cycles of MTGO and our gasping web presence.  With the removal of the technology distractions of the Gleemax project we should likely see more focus back on our beloved product.  The scrapping of the project is also double edged.  On one hand, it shows their willingness to make a tough call and admit when something wasn't working.  On the other, it shows a distinct failure to execute an IT project.  So far, the reactions have been positive about WotC admitting defeat with Gleemax.

However, from the sound of things, most of the games will continue to be supported/developed, however those don't appear to have a lot of impact to the WotC development side of things.  Overall, I really think this is a good thing for WotC to do right now.  They really need to focus on MTGO more than they were. 


Secondary Market -
About a month ago I waxed philosophic about the state of MTGO's economy right now.  The above thread has the Cliff's Notes version.

Who Controls MTGO's Secondary Market
Some really insightful discussions regarding the nature of the 'free' market of MTGO.  Since everything originates from WotC, and WotC controls formats, scheduling and potential demand, how free is our free market?

Downtime Announcements going to UTC -
This isn't a huge deal, but it shows that WotC is listening to the posters of the boards when they can.  This has been suggested quite a few times before and looks like it's finally going to be done now that there is an official person who handles announcements for the down time.

MTGO Server Status Link Now Works! -
Many a joke was made about the MTGO server status window and its extremely optimistic views on the term 'up'.  The widget has been remade and actually, really, seems to work this time.  Bookmark this site for future use!

Set speed too fast? -
A good discussion about the difficulty of keeping up with sets on MTGO as well as MTG in general.

A new League site is in the works -
The lack of actual leagues is starting to wear a bit thin, and I've started work on a site that can handle some casual play coordination.  It's still really rough yet and I'm only taking some sign-ups for it by hand right now.  But if you're interested in helping test out the functionality please join in my Preconstructed Deck League in the link above.

Is Casual Classic Dead?

Similar to the Casual Prismatic thread, this question asks about the health and popularity of the Classic Casual format on MTGO.

MED2 Compiled Information -
What do we know about MED2?  Click the link above and find out!

Budget Deckbuilding Contest! -
Hollow0n3 has a very restrictive contest brewing on the MTGO Message boards.  Think you have what it takes to win it?   (Bumping this since it's almost over)

Is Casual Prismatic Dead? -
A recent forray of a player into the world of regular Prismatic Casual play left a poster wondering... is Casual Prismatic dead?  Add your thoughts to the thread!

Request for comment regarding lag -
There has been relatively little official comment about the lag some users are seeing.  This thread contains discussion about the lack of information.

New website: Draftbetter.com
A new site for people to see and discuss draft walkthroughs.  I've walked through a few of them and so far it seems to have some good information about SSS drafts.

SP1 Discussions -
Now that SP1 is out, the discussion of what it fixed, broke and added can begin!

MTGO Usage Stats -
I've stopped collecting my numbers as either someone was doing it faster, better, or both.  The above thread has the quick and dirty numbers for the SHM release events as well as the post event information.

League Discussion -
Leagues, and the lack thereof.  Also, format fixes as well as discussion of shortcomings of the previous league system.  Unfortunately, there's been no official WotC communication about what is in store for V3 leagues as of yet.

Taking a break + Mailing Lists -
When yet another poster mentioned that they were leaving until <insert reason to play here> I decided to step up and make something happen.  Rather than waiting for them to come back I've created mailing lists to which interested people can subscribe.  Instead of letting them go away and hope they check back peridiocally I wanted to be proactive about letting them know when their favorite format is back.  Leagues List, Multiplayer List


A great thread has been started here that has a lot of bugs in V3 listed and validated.  If you've seen any card bugs in V3, I'd love to see them posted (after they're submitted via the http://wizards.custhelp.com web form, of course!)


Good News/Bad News from the Ham Jones Charts.  Good news is that Extended and Classic gained a bit of value.  The bad news?  Standard more than made up for that though.  Behold!  The Ham Jones chart approacheth.


As I said, Extended and Classic gained (yay!) but Standard dropped (boo!).  Surprisingly, it wasn't just Shadowmoor that pulled it down this week, it was large drops in the heavy hitters of the Standard pool: Tarmogoyf, Reflecting Pool, and Wilt-Leaf Liege, to name the top droppers. 

Card name: Amount Changed Percentage Changed Final Price
Tarmogoyf -3.96 -12.60% 27.47
Reflecting Pool -2.45 -27.01% 6.62
Wilt-Leaf Liege -1.47 -33.33% 2.94
Sunken Ruins -1.47 -33.33% 2.94
Mystic Gate -1.25 -33.97% 2.43
Fire-Lit Thicket -1 -29.15% 2.43
Hallowed Fountain -0.75 -6.06% 11.63
Fulminator Mage -0.74 -20.11% 2.94
Vexing Shusher -0.73 -30.04% 1.7
Oversoul of Dusk -0.73 -30.04% 1.7
Bitterblossom -0.5 -3.26% 14.85
Mutavault -0.5 -1.71% 28.71
Mirrorweave -0.49 -20.16% 1.94
Thistledown Liege -0.49 -20.16% 1.94
Angel of Despair -0.49 -11.11% 3.92

So what gained this week?  

Card name: Amount Changed Percentage Changed Final Price
Swans of Bryn Argoll 0.84 97.67% 1.7
Seismic Assault 0.7 92.11% 1.46
Chameleon Colossus 0.5 5.05% 10.4
Seismic Assault 0.5 65.79% 1.26
Vendilion Clique 0.48 32.88% 1.94
Seismic Assault 0.4 46.51% 1.26
Howling Mine 0.27 10.11% 2.94
Shivan Reef 0.27 10.11% 2.94
Marrow-Gnawer 0.26 30.23% 1.12
Pact of Negation 0.25 4.64% 5.64
Birds of Paradise 0.25 5.67% 4.66
Teferi's Moat 0.25 11.47% 2.43
Doran, the Siege Tower 0.24 5.15% 4.9
Graven Cairns 0.24 14.12% 1.94
Steely Resolve 0.2 15.87% 1.46

Post submission edit:


Card name: Amount Changed Percentage Changed Final Price
Dakmor Salvage $0.06 120.00% $0.11
Imp's Mischief $0.15 107.14% $0.29
Swans of Bryn Argoll $0.84 97.67% $1.70
Seismic Assault $0.70 92.11% $1.46
Scuttlemutt $0.02 66.67% $0.05

A little bit of Standard stuff that rotates around the Swans of Bryn Argoll and Seismic Assault gained in value.  The "Buh? of the week" this week was Imp's Mischief (Editor's Note:  It's in the sideboard of the Swans deck.).  Although looking at it, I can see where it might be worth running.  It steals the card draw from Ancestral Visions for 'free' and can mess with a couple of the pacts; all for no life lost in the process.  Neat to see a sleeper junk rare get some love though.

Some good stuff this week!  Hopefully we'll be getting some MED2 previews in the next week or two.  Also, once we're closer to the official release of Eventide I'll give a breakdown of the expected changes to V3 (once they're more public than they are now).



by hamtastic at Tue, 08/05/2008 - 11:38
hamtastic's picture

They're small now because I think they were the culprits for making people's screen's scroll when viewing my article.  It's a piece that I need to update to either make them look better smaller or change how I'm breaking apart the sections.  The only constant is change.  :)

Thanks by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/01/2008 - 18:50
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Hammy... last week I made the suggestion about helping us sort through old/new info.  Thanks for the fix.  It is simple, but good enough for me.  However, next week... would you mind making sure all the new info appears at the top of each section?  Go from white at top to darker at the bottom like you did in the discussion items section.  Have a nice chicken dinner!

Great Idea by JXClaytor at Fri, 08/01/2008 - 22:09
JXClaytor's picture

Love that idea, hammy make it happen :)

Section title by guronzor (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 08/05/2008 - 03:33
guronzor (Unregistered)'s picture

I am just commenting on the layout (because, as usual, the content is great)

Good job on the background colors to help identify how old is the information. That is a very clever way to do it.

Is there any reason that the titles of each section are so small? The original images seem ok (height is 20px) but the html code set it with a height of 10:

<img width='500' height='10' alt='' src='../../../userfiles/image/hamtastic/sotpGlobal/cardprices.gif' />

Section title by guronzor (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 08/05/2008 - 03:34
guronzor (Unregistered)'s picture

I am just commenting on the layout (because, as usual, the content is great)

Good job on the background colors to help identify how old is the information. That is a very clever way to do it.

Is there any reason that the titles of each section are so small? The original images seem ok (height is 20px) but the html code set it with a height of 10:

<img width='500' height='10' alt='' src='../../../userfiles/image/hamtastic/sotpGlobal/cardprices.gif' />

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/01/2008 - 11:45
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

what about "Imp's Mischief"? Can't see it in your price guide

by hamtastic at Fri, 08/01/2008 - 15:01
hamtastic's picture

Weird, it must have gotten lost in one of my updates.  I've added the chart back in that shows it (and essentially the Swans deck).  The chart shows the largest gains by percentage (meaning that it's easier for a cheap card to make the top of it, assuming it gains more.  Think of it like penny stocks in the stock market).  The largest ever gain was Spinerock Knoll when knollstorm took off, but this is a pretty good competitior for single week growth as a whole.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/01/2008 - 11:37
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

grrr i wish i had bought the swan deck when everything but mana was like .5 apiece