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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Jul 25 2008 12:07am
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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.

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.


Hammy's How To: How to report <players, bugs, and posters>

Report a player:
First and foremost, I don't want to create a state of fear, where everyone is afraid of saying anything due to the fear of being reported.  However, I get quite a few questions about how to report users on the message boards as well as how to report users within the game itself.  First up, how to report a player in the game.  Often times players go to the Adepts in regards to a harassing private message, or being sworn at in a game.  Adepts are not the correct place to turn when this happens.  They seem the obvious choice though.  They're moderators, they have extra power in the game, and they have the ability to remove people from the server... so why not them?  To boil it down to one statement: access to information.  There is a lot of information needed to take action against a player, especially if the Adept didn't witness the infraction.  Put the possible shoe on the other foot... would you want an Adept that can and will kick you off the server every time someone tells them you swore?  Without looking up logs and account histories, etc, there really shouldn't be action taken against anyone.  That's where the Customer Service page comes in.  You can find the page at http://wizards.custhelp.com, and it holds a great deal of pertinent information, but what we're focusing on today is the reporting conduct features of the site.  Once you're logged in to the site (you may need to create a user is/password for it) you'll want to click on the "Email Us" tab.  After that, you'll want to drill down on the topic in the following order: "Digital Games"->"Magic: the Gathering Online"->"Report Conduct"

From here, you type in the pertinent information, such as your ID, your opponent's ID, the game number and what happened.  Also, I'd suggest attaching a screenshot of the incident to the report.

Not every report will have an obvious consequence.  Something may get added to the player's record or maybe they'll get into trouble during the next time CS is open.  At this point, it's out of our hands.

First, I strongly urge everyone to read both the Event Refund Policy  And the Issue Refund Policy for MTGO.  Done?  Good.

The crazy setup for reporting a bug is probably one of the largest complaints I hear from other players (it seems they know my disdain for bugs and want to gripe about the bug reporting system, and I concur with pretty much all of their points).  I would love to see an in game ability to report a bug, but that's a diatribe for another article.  This week, we're focused on reporting stuff.  How to report a bug: log in like above then go to "Digital Games"->"Magic: the Gathering Online"->"Report a Bug".  Here lies a daunting form, baby steps fill out the form...  One piece that doesn't show as critical, but it is, is the Event Number and Game Number.  Get into the habit of writing these down as the event starts if you have to but get used to collecting this information.  It can be crucially important for getting a timely refund.  If you don't have it, you may get a refund, but it's probably going to be harder than it would be if you had the event numbers.  The rest should be fairly explanatory on its own.  Excpet maybe VAT if you're not from a country that charges it.  Essentially it's an extra tax for some countries.  If you don't what that is, leave that part blank.  Last up for the bug reporting is the details.  PROVIDE ALL THE DETAILS YOU CAN.  I can't stress that enough.  If you want your bug to be seen, you'll need to be able to make them recreate it.  To do that, you must provide a good deal of information about the bug you've encountered.

Report a poster:
Last up is how to report posters on the WotC Message boards.  As one of the Voulunteer Community Leads of the MTGO boards I see a lot of questions about conduct issues.  While they're technically outside of my realm, I will impart some wisdom that I've gained over the years of posting around there.

Don't be afraid to report a post.  I can't say this enough.  If you feel that you're being attacked, report it and move on.  However!  If you feel like you've been attacked and have reported it don't respond to it!  If it really is over the line then your post will get deleted/edited and you may also get into trouble.  The button to report a Conduct violation looks like: Click it on the forums to bring up the reporting form.  Don't worry about what it says below the forum, they want to know what's making the WotC Message Boards experience less pleasant.

If you feel that you're being subtly baited, start keeping track of the instances in a notepad .txt file or something.  Compile a bunch of instances and add them to the report you send in on one of them.  A WizO may not see the problem if you just report one of them at a time.  Bundling repeated behavior into a pattern will help them see what is really happening.

Lastly, create a CustServe ticket (like the one in the player reporting above), but instead choose "Gleemax.com"->"Report Conduct".  Add in as much information and links to behavior as you have.  Then, refer to that ticket number each time you report a new post from the same user.  Again, the reaction might not be immediate, but they do add up.

Thread of the week: How to have Money for MTGO

I don't know why, but I found this extremely amusing when I read it.  Maybe it's just my 'why bother' mood that I've been in lately, but I got a huge kick out of this thread.  It's not going to change your view of MTGO.  It's not going to make you an all star numbah one winnah of MTGO... but hopefully it'll make you laugh.


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

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.

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.


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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

What to do with Commons -
Ever wonder about things you could do with the excess draft dredge commons?  Some pretty nifty ideas have been shared so far in the thread above.  Add your voice or idea!

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. 


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



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!)


Invest in Classic?

The first chart is a new chart, and probably a quartely type chart at that.  It's useless every week but at certain intervals, like say, after a set release, it may be worth delving into again.  So what is it?  I'm glad you asked!  It's a chart showing the overall 1x set value of numerous sets.  Let's get to the good stuff!

What do we see here?  Besides the obvious 'lots of stuff'...

When it comes to overall 1x set prices, Classic sets are worth more.  But wait hammy, surely that's not right?  I mean, there's no redemption, and they're only playble in the niche formats after all!  Very true, however, there's also a relative lack of continuing product entering the market, which likely contributes to the overall 'health' of the card prices of the sets that are sold as 'Classic only'.  They follow the similar pattern of bombing out towards the end of their respective release events, however, their lack of demand after the fact often makes them stabilize faster and longer than the other sets.

Back to the 'normal' stuff!

Ham Jones shows that Classic stayed put, Extended lost about 10 tix, and Standard lost about 30 tix.  So what lost value? 


Last Week: This Week: Card Name: Price Diff:
31.43 27.47 Tarmogoyf -3.96
9.07 6.62 Reflecting Pool -2.45
4.41 2.94 Wilt-Leaf Liege -1.47
4.41 2.94 Sunken Ruins -1.47
3.68 2.43 Mystic Gate -1.25
3.43 2.43 Fire-Lit Thicket -1
12.38 11.63 Hallowed Fountain -0.75
3.68 2.94 Fulminator Mage -0.74
2.43 1.7 Vexing Shusher -0.73
2.43 1.7 Oversoul of Dusk -0.73
15.35 14.85 Bitterblossom -0.5
29.21 28.71 Mutavault -0.5
4.41 3.92 Angel of Despair -0.49
2.43 1.94 Mirrorweave -0.49
2.43 1.94 Thistledown Liege -0.49
Last Week: This Week: Card Name: Price Diff:
0.86 1.7 Swans of Bryn Argoll 0.84
0.76 1.46 Seismic Assault 0.7
9.9 10.4 Chameleon Colossus 0.5
0.76 1.26 Seismic Assault 0.5
1.46 1.94 Vendilion Clique 0.48
0.86 1.26 Seismic Assault 0.4
2.67 2.94 Howling Mine 0.27
2.67 2.94 Shivan Reef 0.27
0.86 1.12 Marrow-Gnawer 0.26
5.39 5.64 Pact of Negation 0.25
4.41 4.66 Birds of Paradise 0.25
2.18 2.43 Teferi's Moat 0.25
4.66 4.9 Doran, the Siege Tower 0.24
1.7 1.94 Graven Cairns 0.24
1.26 1.46 Steely Resolve 0.2

The drops can be summarized in two categories: Standard Legal Tournamant Cards and Shadowmoor.  The gainers were also pretty easy to classify this week: Seismeic Swans and misc.

Until next week, "why so serious, son?"

- hamtastic


congrats -- one screen only by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 07/28/2008 - 17:34
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Whatever you did, the scrolling problem finally got fixed.  Maybe I'll start reading this article series more than once a month now that I don't have to scroll back and forth.

Good job. 

by hamtastic at Fri, 07/25/2008 - 11:54
hamtastic's picture

My editorial section was meant for one thing and one thing alone: to serve as a guide for players and posters to report problems.  If someone has a problem with me I hope they're reporting me as well, because I am in no way above or beyond any of the rules we all agree to follow, both in game and on the WotC boards (and here as well).

The reason I wrote it is because I get asked about it pretty frequently.  And when I notice a pattern of questions from users/players/posters I try to make a point of doing something that can help them and others with the same question.

Anyone who wants to discuss my actions or recommendations personally can PM  me either on the WotC boards or in the game to discuss.  It's possible that there will be nothing additional I can offer besides the obvious answers, but even so, I do appreciate anyone who wants to comment on what I've done.




As for the article itself, I will start making a new and old business section for discussion topics as well as V3 information in hopes of making it a bit easier for people to parse at a glance.  Interviews would be great, but it seems to be getting harder and harder to get interviews from staffers lately.  I wonder what's keeping them so busy... ;)

As always though, this article is primarily for the players and meant to serve them and what they want to know.  If there's something that can benefit the players I'm completely for adding it in if it fits the article.  


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 07/25/2008 - 13:41
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

not the sharpest tool in the shed now are we?

by khirareq at Fri, 07/25/2008 - 10:22
khirareq's picture

I also enjoy this article series, but don't like searching for the new information, because I am lazy.  Perhaps if the top portion was in Descending date order?  Maybe some sort of visual clue regarding the new information, like a change in font?  Content's great, but the layout could be improved.  Not that I'm complaining.  I happy to see it all on one page! :)

Let's see, suggestions for new content...nudity?  No, probably not.  Not of hammy, anyway.  No offense.  Can't think of anything, really.  The content is spot on.

Attacks by mtgotraders at Fri, 07/25/2008 - 09:40
mtgotraders's picture

Hey guys if you attack someone else i'm removing your comment.  If you disagree with someone please do it in a mature manner.  We want our site to be safe for readers of all ages.  Keep the feedback coming and thanks for reading the articles.

by mtgotraders at Fri, 07/25/2008 - 09:42
mtgotraders's picture

What sort of information would you like to see in the SOTP?  Hammy removes information once that information is no longer relevant to the article.  We are working on getting some interviews with WOTC staff among some other things but are always open to more ideas on the type of content you would like to see.  The majority of the time put into the article has to do with the prices which is a lot of database work.

Irony by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 07/25/2008 - 08:27
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I presume the previous comment is designed to be an ironic commentary on the fact that there is no apparant way to report abusive comments made about this article which includes advice on how to report abusive message board comments.

Reposts by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 07/25/2008 - 05:17
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Please stop posting text from previous articles.  If we want to see that information, we can look at your old articles.... ie... the weekly recaps at the beginning of the article and the links to the discussion boards that has previously been included.  Otherwise, I enjoy your column each time it is posted.