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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Jun 26 2008 10:29pm
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Table of Contents
Editorial Section
MTGO Discussion Items
Card Prices

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.


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 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.



I've never had article where so many people came away with so many different outlooks on what I said.  I think a lot of people applied their fears and concerns to my article Mark Rosewater and the Quest to Impale Spike.  I'm both in awe and troubled by the resonses.  I've never seemed to touch such a deep nerve as that article did, but I feel that I may have caused some confusion in regards to where I stand in all things Magic, and MTGO.  Recently I wrote an article detailing a lot of concerns with what has happened to the "Spikes" in Magic and MTGO.  Namely that they're losing their habitat at the cost of building up the casual competitive play areas.  I truly believe that these events are occuring and that it is a big deal, especially to those who are directly impacted by it.  Namely 'infinite' players, Pro players and aspiring pros.  That doesn't mean that I think MTGP/MTGO is dying, or that MTG is making a ton of mistakes.  It's simply a statement that things are changing direction from the top of the company down to the bottom, and that there are impacts to be considered, even if you're not a Pro Tour player or an aspiring pro.

I personally think that the idea of getting more casual players to try their hands at something competitive is a great thing.  I think that it will pay off as people feel that it's worth the cost to try an event or two.  I think that the more that try it, the better.  Competitive Magic is a great rush.  The mix of skill, luck, strategy and determination all culminating into a win or a loss is what draws so many players into the competitive formats.

I know that my competitive streak was created from going to pre-releases in paper Magic.  Which then translated to Leagues on MTGO, then to Draft and PE's.  That's something that each player will experience differently though, and the more ways to break into the competitive scene, the better.  Of course you can't get something from nothing.  To support grass roots player events the money has to come from somewhere.  And that somewhere is from Pro/high level players.  This is one of those things that sucks for those being hurt but is a good thing for many others.  I just wanted to point out that even though more payouts for lower points players helps far more players than it hurts, it doesn't change the fact that it does indeed hurt some players.

Anyway, take that as you will, there's a lot to think about regarding pros/sharks and casual/guppies, and it's not a simple "it's good for me so I'm okay with it" type of thing.  There are lots of layers to consider.  Like an onion.  Or an ogre.



Thread of the week!

What is Thread of the Week?  It's the new part of the article where I highlight a good thread that touches on something special.  It could be a new thread or an old thread, a thread I agree with or maybe one that I don't.  The point will be that there's a thread that brings up a great point that's worth accentuating regardless of my personal feelings.

This week's Thread of the Week goes to Badalesh for his fantastic (or is that awesometastic) thread entitled: Magic's (lack of) Complexity.  It has perhaps the most coherent and thorough analysis of a client/server setup like MTGO's that we're likely to see.  I can't recall the last time I saw a post that broke down the state of MTGO as much as this one did.  I truly hope that people confused with what could go wrong take a moment to read it because he lists out some amazingly good breakdowns for each of the pieces in such an infrastructure.  I also hope that the breakdown is printed out and passed aroud WotC headquarters as a case study for how things should be done behind the scenes.  I don't know where our current problems lie, however, if they take some time to simplify some pieces of the situation I have every belief that they will wind up with a stable, expandable infrastructure that we all want to see happen.  This is a fantastic post from a knowledgable, concerned poster and should be bookmarked for future perusal.

Although I'm sure Badalesh isn't concerned about my thanks, he's getting it anyway for an amazing post and some amazing insight into the development of a Client/Server infrastructure.  Thanks again!

Shadowmoor Card Price Status

Last up for the wek is the Shadowmoor price decrease information.  Why is it in the Editorial Section?  Because I think it's important enough to list twice to ensure proper exposure.  Last week I speculated on where we'd be for the sum of the Shadowmoor set.  There has been a lot of concern around the prices dropping too fast and too far.  What did I find?  I found that the price decrease is more than Lorwyn and Morningtide's were at this time... but barely.  Here's what we see:


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
416.15 243.61 178
172.54 238.15
41.46% 57.23%


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
250.25 135.22 113.68
115.03 136.57
45.97% 54.57%


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
350.06 161.08 143.32
188.98 206.74
53.99% 59.06%

Shadowmoor is about about 4.5% ahead of Morningtide but only 1.8% ahead of Lorwyn, the previous big set of the block.  This is actually encouraging I think.  Yes, it dropped more than the previous two, but by a margin that can largely be attributed to some slight changes.  The first being no redemption yet.  The second being a not Constructed necessity set.  It has some decent cards like Mirrorweave and Reflecting Pool, but those cards are no Bitterblossom or Mutavault.  Not every deck will even want those two cards.  All in all I'd say things aren't fantastic in the MTGO market, but they're hardly dire either.  I was actually almost scared of looking them over, but after digging through the numbers this week things weren't as bad as I expected.

I've covered a lot of the important items this week already, those items being card prices, Shadowmoor events down, MTGO Lag, and the breakdown of our client/server infrastructure.  But that's not to say that there isn't more stuff to talk about!

Burning non-renewable resources -
This thread brings up the fact that MTGO is using up its ability to draw in new or lapsed players by enticing them with old cards.  When they use up all their MED's and old sets we will be in a state of stable, static, MTGO sets being a month behind paper and nothing new in sight. 


Big MTGO fixes, again -
It seems that the plan to McNuggetize the SP1 fixes has caused issues internally and the MTGO staff are now heading down the path of a big fix to get them 'caught up' again.  I ranted about this before, and I think I'm happy to see this change back in philosophy.  I'll be happier once they push the fix and things don't break though.  Discussion of the announcement here

Shadowmoor Price Fall -
Every recent set release has followed the same pattern.  Cards start high, then dip down after a week of release events, then dip a little more the week after that.  However, the prices seem to be falling a bit faster than usual this time and that has some people concerned, as well as curious as to when the best time to buy is.


Budget Deckbuilding Contest! -
Hollow0n3 has a very restrictive contest brewing on the MTGO Message boards.  Think you have what it takes to win it? 

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.

No Drawing in PE's? -
Wow.  This topic exploded from last week.  One of the best discussions I've seen lately actually.  It's heated in many places but a really good back and forth without name calling.

UPDATE! 06-08-08

A forum goer took the time to create a simulation to view the ID vs No ID and the eventual top 8 in both.  He came up with some amazing findings through his tests that I feel deserve special attention.  To anyone interested in this debate I'd strongly recommend r ead from post 448 through the end of the thread.  I think you may be surprised.

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

Shadowmoor release event plans -
Shadowmoor's MTGO release is just around the corner and as always, there's a lot of goodies in there for the good MTGO girls and boys. I'm really excited about a lot of the Commons and some of the stranger Rares and Uncommons.  Discuss your plans in the link above!

The Thrifty Djinn!

DonTheMage has started a blog that was inspired by his desire to play MTGO on a "World of Warcaft" budget (which for those not used to the game is $30.00 up front and $15.00 dollars a month.  His blog is linked from the thread I've linked and looks to be a fantastic endeavor.</ font>


Bugs: Client

04-20-08 Can't /join rooms Closed
05-02-08 Trades don't update Collections properly Mostly Closed


Bugs: Card Related

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!)



Old Price New Price Name Amount Changed Percent Changed
21.29 29.7 (Mutavault) 8.41 39.50%
10.89 11.88 (Phyrexian Dreadnought) 0.99 9.09%
4.66 5.64 (Fulminator Mage) 0.98 21.03%
0.62 1.46 (Juniper Order Ranger) 0.84 135.48%
5.88 6.62 (Magus of the Moon) 0.74 12.59%
2.43 2.94 (Cloudthresher) 0.51 20.99%
1.94 2.43 (Crusade) 0.49 25.26%
1.94 2.43 (Serendib Efreet) 0.49 25.26%
1.94 2.43 (Door of Destinies) 0.49 25.26%
3.43 3.92 (Zur the Enchanter) 0.49 14.29%
3.43 3.92 (Skizzik) 0.49 14.29%
12.38 12.87 (Reflecting Pool) 0.49 3.96%
1.26 1.7 (Ajani Goldmane) 0.44 34.92%
0.33 0.67 (Mind Spring) 0.34 103.03%
0.67 0.97 (Mind Shatter) 0.3 44.78%
Old Price New Price Name Amount Changed Percent Changed
2.67 1.26 (Painter's Servant) -1.41 -52.81%
2.43 1.12 (Enchanted Evening) -1.31 -53.91%
33.66 32.42 (Tarmogoyf) -1.24 -3.68%
2.43 1.26 (Furystoke Giant) -1.17 -48.15%
30.69 29.7 (Meddling Mage) -0.99 -3.23%
17.82 16.83 (Destructive Flow) -0.99 -5.56%
15.84 14.85 (Fact or Fiction) -0.99 -6.25%
10.89 9.9 (Pithing Needle) -0.99 -9.09%
16.83 15.84 (Bitterblossom) -0.99 -5.88%
16.83 15.84 (Vedalken Shackles) -0.99 -5.88%
Old Price New Price Name Amount Changed Percent Changed
0.97 0.38 (Runed Halo) -0.59 -60.82%
0.11 0.05 (Advice from the Fae) -0.06 -54.55%
0.11 0.05 (Umbral Mantle) -0.06 -54.55%
0.11 0.05 (Wicker Warcrawler) -0.06 -54.55%
2.43 1.12 (Enchanted Evening) -1.31 -53.91%
2.67 1.26 (Painter's Servant) -1.41 -52.81%
0.67 0.33 (Order of Whiteclay) -0.34 -50.75%
0.76 0.38 (Savor the Moment) -0.38 -50.00%
2.43 1.26 (Furystoke Giant) -1.17 -48.15%
1.7 0.97 (Reaper King) -0.73 -42.94%

So what do we have here?  Some pretty interesting stuff, that's what.  We have some interesting movement from cards outside of Shadowmoor.  70% of the top 10 drops by cost weren't from SHM, whereas 100% of the top 10 droppers by percentage were from Shadowmoor.  What's the difference?  The percentage droppers dropped from lower starting points compared to the cost droppers dropped from higher price points, but not as drastically as the percentage based cards.

As for the gainers, let's see.... we've got some very interesting movements.  Some Classic cards gained out of nowhere, like Crusade, Serendib Efreet, and Phyrexian Dreadnought.  Dreadnought I can kind of see as he's certainly a tournament staple, but Crusade is strictly casual fodder now a days, yet it too makes a jump.  Mutavault on the other hand is one that I expect to see rising higher and higher actually.  The set itself will have been drafted a rather low amount, thanks to the V3 transition in the midst of its run, not to mention being released late due to not knowing which platform it was going to be used on.  (V3 or V2.5).  Expect the big money cards in this set to climb for a while.

A quick look at our format by format card compilation breakdown (prices are in tix):

Also, a quick breakdown of the "Big Four" IPA cards (prices are in tix):

Whew!  This was a rough week, all things considered.  I'd like to say that I think next week will be better, but I have nothing to base that on.  I certainly hope that things will be better, and I certainly WANT them to be better, but they need to figure out what has gone so terribly wrong before they can hope to fix it.  Good Luck MOL Team... we're counting on you!

- hamtastic


Yeah, the scrolling is bad by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 06/29/2008 - 12:57
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

While I think you do a good job on these articles, I'm only bothering to read the one at the end of every month, because thes scrolling is a such a pain to deal with.  Consider fixing it?

by hamtastic at Mon, 06/30/2008 - 06:18
hamtastic's picture

I keep trying to figure out what is causing the scrolling for so many of my readers.  I've shrunk down my topic dividers and I've tried to shrink down my images and charts as well... I'll keep working on it, since I totally agree that scrolling articles is sucky for anyone who has to read it like that.  :(

Hopefully I can get it to fit inside everyone's browser windows shortly! :) 

Horizontal scrolling? by Diem at Fri, 06/27/2008 - 14:02
Diem's picture

Thanks for the update hammy.

I dropped out of Magic Online about 18 months ago when my son was born (lack of time) and have therefore managed only a single casual game under v3. I keep up to date with your SotP posts.

That said - do you know why your posts are always so wide across the screen? it always wraps and I have to scroll left and right to read it all. Take pity a poor guy with a 14" screen? :-)

Keep up the good work!