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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Aug 31 2007 10:08am
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Hello all and welcome!  I was lucky enough to get Worth Wollpert, brand manager for MTGO, to answer some questions about Masters Edition, V3, and MTGO in general.  I'd like to thank him for his time taken to respond to these questions as well as thank him for all that he's done for MTGO since he's come on board.

Quick jump to:
Masters Edition Questions
MTGO Questions
V3 Questions

Also of interest to this topic is the recent changes to the banned/restricted list, which can be located here: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/daily/af186

Masters Edition Questions:

Will the MED Premium Cards subscribe to the old pack distribution method or the new method (Old being they replaces its rarity in the pack, new being a Premium Card replaces a common in the pack)?

WW: New way! (1)

Will there be theme decks for ME?  And if so will they incorporate other MTGO cards besides those in ME?

WW: None planned. Not to say we might not offer a deck or two with the next MED.

Is there a reprint policy for Masters Edition? Will MED adhere to the 'once off sale never again?' rule of regular set releases?

WW: Yep, exact same. Once I take it off sale the only time packs will enter the system is through special prize tournaments and as prizes special stuff (including those same tournaments)

Who was the target audience for the set when it was being created?  (i.e . constructed casual, constructed tournament players, etc..)

WW: Honestly, all three major groups (Timmy, Johnny, Spike) were considered, as well as those folks who play casually and those who play a little more hardcore. We tried to get something in there for everyone. I think R&D did a pretty great job spreading it all out.

Have there been any thoughts to a Masters Edition 2?

WW: In a word, yes…in theory we would wait to see how well MED 1 does, but I really KNOW it’s going to do well enough that there will be at least one more MED set.

Was there any concern about the Reprint Policy from Paper to MTGO when MED was being selected? Meaning, by picking and choosing cards that are on the Reserve List, were there any concerns about the Paper players' investments?

WW: Concern, sure…we always try to think about all of our players and how our decisions affect them, but to really affect pricing in paper I think we would have to have significant people move out of paper for online formats that contain the talked about cards, and we just didn’t see that happening…now if we decided to enable redemption on cards like Juzam Djinn and Force of Will on the other hand, the effect would be catastrophic for the secondary market value of those cards. That’s something we’d NEVER want to do, obviously.

Short version: Enjoy the online Force of Will, but if you plan on pitching blue cards in your local vintage tournament down the street, you’ll always need to find paper ones to play with.

Is WotC is keeping track of the concerns/complaints about MED from the paper players? Could there be any impact to Paper policies if MED sells well?

WW: I never like to say never, but It doesn’t seem like anything we do with MED could impact paper policies, now OR down the line. Regarding your first point, there has been surprisingly little grousing from paper folks. It’s out there, but nobody likes it when one person gets something they don’t. Paper players have gotten lots over the years that MOL players haven’t. No harm flipping the script a few times.

What's your favorite card in MED?

WW: My personal favorite card in MED is probably FoW from a power point of view, but I really like Lake of the Dead and Thaw(5) too…the Alliances lands were awesome. The art on Juzam is, simply put, the bee’s knees.

Do you expect more players to check out MTGO once Gleemax is up and running?

WW: Absolutely, hopefully we can do a ton of cross promotion once we (v3 and gleemax) are up and stable. Lots of folks who would be interested in Gleemax are likely retired Magic players, so that’s exciting.

How do you see MTGO fitting into the Gleemax world?

WW: Eventually, in a word, seamlessly. I want there to be a day when you can trade a Damnation for a couple Goblin Game starts, a few trinkets in DDi, some shiny baubles for your avatar, etc.

Will there be any reason for MTGO'ers to check out Gleemax?

WW: Yeah, I think so. Wizards is good at making great games, and from what I’ve seen out of the DG folks so far, we have some cool stuff in the pipe.

What was the toughest card to cut from MED?

WW: Couldn’t tell ya, Aaron and Devin handled most of that.  I do know though that Benthic Explorers and Library of Lat-nam were last second cuts due to programming complexities. A shame, I always enjoyed the art on the latter, Alan Ranibowitz’s “one wizard about to bash another one with a magical book” art is cool. :P

Was there any discussion about reprinting the Power 9 in MED? (Not whether or not they made it, but whether or not they were ever even considered for MED)

WW: Nope. Like I said, I never say never…but moxes (and the like) on MOL seem unlikely. That said, I have no problems printing (other) cards in MED2 that are on Legacy banned lists.


General MTGO questions:

Are there any plans to staff Customer Service over the weekends, or to at least handle emergency situations?

WW: Can’t really comment, not my department. Though, I’ve kicked around the idea of extra support on release event weekends.

You eluded to wanting to triple user base. Do you expect to see this growth from paper players or from new players?

WW: At LEAST triple it. New players mostly, I know there are thousands of lapsed paper players who’ve given up due to spouse/kids/job and lack of time that we haven’t touched because don’t even know we (MOL) exist!

When you look 5 years in the future, what's the one thing that you want to see accomplished for MTGO? (User base growth, card set availability, stability, x% decrease in bugs, etc...)

WW: Stability is my #1 goal, because I think once we accomplish that, the rest will follow.

What's your biggest concern for MTGO from both a Brand Manager and a player perspective?

WW: Right now that’s easy…making v3 something to be proud of, and for that matter getting work started on v4.

Do you read any of the third party web sites for MTGO like PureMTGO, ClassicQuarter, MTGONews, etc?

WW: All of them, at least occasionally. A smart man once said commonality is the cornerstone to building community. Couldn’t be more true than with MOL. I need to be able to react to what my customers want, and to do that most effectively, I need to know what’s going on at the grassroots level.

Are there any updates to the changes of the Redemption policy? Its effect on the secondary market appears to still be increasing (meaning that the price of junk rares continues to plummet due to the reduction in redemption collectors buying them to complete sets).

WW: Other than some minor stuff to cover MED and it’s non-redeemability (did I just make up a word?) not really. Redemptions aren’t actually down, by the way…even with our 10 week “timeout” earlier this year. I don’t want to get into specifics, but redemptions are still going strong.

Are there any plans to assist PRE's? Either with some sort of tourney organizer benefit or some better way to organize them? Maybe with a ladder system, or tools of that nature?

WW: Not at the moment, but DL(2) and I have chatted a little about some support for some PRE stuff related to MED stuff that ClassicQ(2) wants to run, and I offered my help there in the form of prizes and packs. I’m happy to do what I can to support these kind of grassroots initiatives. The “guess the MED cards” (3) contest on the forums is another good example. I’m going to make sure Jyalt(4)gets some stuff for organizing that kind of thing as well.


V3 Questions:

Now that the newest UI is about to be out, how do feel about using it for hours at a time?

WW: I realize you asked this months ago, but to look at the UI that is currently up on the production rack versus the one 2 months ago is TOTALLY night and DAY, legibility-wise. The text in the client no longer gives me a headache, and actually (imo) looks far better than 2.5 text does. We will continue to make progress here, the UI was my number 1 priority pre-launch and we’re still tweaking. Looks for better menus (buttons!) and other stuff in the weeks to come.

What are the plans for advertising V3? Will we see magazine ads, online ads, etc?

WW: All of that. Once we’re up and stable and feel like we can support the growth without harming the existing playerbase, I’m turning on the spigot in a big way.

Are you expecting to see players start MTGO who have never played MTG Paper?

WW: Very, although those folks are quite rare.

How has the new Agile methodology been working and what are the current 'sprints' working on?

WW: The 2 sprints that I know of right now are the NACs stuff (nearing completion) and the one I’m involved with, the UI related one.


I'd like to thank Worth for his time in answering these questions.  It's greatly, greatly appreciated by the community.

(1) This means that rares will be a bit easier to come by as there will be packs with 2 rares in them.

(2) DL refers to dangerlinto from the "Classic Quarter" a Classic based clan with a website (www.classicquarter.com) and forums for discussion of the Classic format.  dangerlinto also organized "The Eternal Struggle", a series of player run events for Classic players until WotC started to host the weekly Classic PE's on Sunday.

(3) "Guess the MED cards" contest was located here: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=890754


(4) Jyalt is another MTGO Boards poster.

(5) Thawing Glaciers


This is a good shot in the arm for Mtgo. by joekewwl (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 09/02/2007 - 09:49
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Great job Hammy. Thanks to worth and Hammy for this . Good stuff all around. - Joe

by hk3family at Sat, 09/01/2007 - 09:19
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This is absolutely fantastic!

Good job on the questions Erik, and much thanks to Worth for taking the time to be as dedicated to the community as several of the beebers are! Like Erik, I was planning on leaving a while back, but his hard work kept me in the game and keeps me looking on until I can get back in later!

Thanks again Erik and Worth!

by JXClaytor at Fri, 08/31/2007 - 13:47
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Fantastic article.  We're got a really good brand manager in Worth.

by SpikeBoyM at Fri, 08/31/2007 - 14:57
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/me applauds for Erik

/me applauds for Worth 

Thanks again Worth! by hamtastic at Fri, 08/31/2007 - 10:29
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Seriously, I can't say this enough... Worth is doing amazing things for MTGO right now.  His attitude and dedication is amazing.  To be blunt, his interaction with the community singlehandedly kept me from leaving MTGO a couple of months ago. 
So, keep up the good work Worth.  We're listening! 

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While I'm sure you can't have an articles with an WoTC employee evry day or week or even month, this is exactly the type of thing I'd love to see more of on PureMTGO.

Hammy - nicely done/

On Worth:   I dunno - maybe Justin Ziran knew he was leaving long in advance of when he actually left?   Worth is so supportive - and I don't think it's costing WoTC one cent more.  He makes it look so easy, and iprobably some of it is.  I wonder if he sits there thinkin how easy it's been for him to gain favour.  I've certainly never seen anything like it in the world of online gaming, the turnaround he's gotten out of the community. 

Nice work by iceage4life (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 08/31/2007 - 10:33
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I'd like to thank Hamatasic, Worth, and PureMTGO for this interview.  Be nice to see more of these in the future.


P.S. For the love of god at some point can we get P9?  I mean if we're getting Urza Block and Legacy restricted cards Classic will need a split at some point anyways. 

Great Job! by mtgotraders at Fri, 08/31/2007 - 10:22
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A very positive article and good job asking good questions Hammy.  I really like how he is wanting to reach out to the community instead of ignoring like WOTC has done in the past.  Great job A+++