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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Oct 04 2007 5:26pm
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Welcome to another installment of State of the Program.  The weekly MTGO article written by a player, for the players (or you can insert something else equally cheesy!).  Big news this week!  An MTGO Worlds Qualifier is scheduled, to read more about the details, check the announcement section.  For concerns regarding security of high profile MTGO tournaments, check out my thoughts in the editorial section.

Announcements
Discussions
Card Prices
Statistics
New Bugs
Editorial
Conclusion

Announcements:

MTGO Worlds Qualifier
A very amazing yet scary announcement this week:  MTGO Worlds Qualifiers.  I've detailed my concerns and thoughts for maintaining security during these types of events in the editorial section.  The discussion for this item on the MTGO boards can be found here.  These events will be run on through the following dates: Wednesday, October 3, 2007 through Tuesday October 9, 2007.  And they'll comprise both Sealed and Constructed.

PayPal Problems

Another round of PayPal problems for MTGO.  This time it was due to an expired SSL certificate in the MTGO Store.  This has been resolved.  For the recent discussion on the ongoing overseas topic from last week's article please continue that here

New Feature coming with Lorwyn: 'Revealed hand' change
The way that revealed hands are handled is changing with the Lorwyn code push.  Now once a hand is revealed the contents are displayed in the chat/turn area.  This makes it more in line with other revealing actions such as searching your library via Harrow or Mystical Tutor.


Lorwyn Beta Underway
Not much news on this front except that the beta has started and is being pounded on as we speak... or um, I guess read in this case.

Goodbye Ravnica Leagues Events
As usual, there will be 'farewell' events for the block that's rotating that will pay out 2x Prizes.  Possibly just to keep people entertained with the old set while desperately wanting the new set.  Either way, grab those old packs sitting around in your collection and go after some double prize goodness!

New Clan Listing Page

A page for Clans to list their information all in one place.  A great tool for clans to recruit new members or just have a centralized location to say what they're about.

Lorwyn Chat Transcript with Aaron Forsyth
Another great transcript from PhoenixLAU.  Some neat information regarding Lorwyn, while nothing really MTGO specific it's just good information for those interested in general Magic information.

Discussions:
Adjourn Pop Up Abuse
"Adjourn Pop Up Abuse" is when an opposing player in a casual game spams you with requests to adjourn the game when they're about to lose.  It is an unsportsmanlike act and can be reported to Magic Conduct via the Customer Service website at http://wizards.custhelp.com

Shapeshifters in Tribal
Shapeshifters are all creature types, which wasn't too bad when the only available creature with this ability was Mistform Ultimus.  However there are now a cornucopia of spells, enchantments and creatures with this ability meaning that Tribal decks can now run removal that counts as their tribe, no matter what tribe it is leaving even more room for combo pieces or non-tribal cards.

Thoughts on Fraudulent Advertising
Some bots and players have gotten into the habit of posting blurbs of non related items at the end of their ads, such as: "Selling 64:1                                                                  XXXFoWTPF100644832".  This is not enforced by Magic Conduct, nor is it enforced by the Adepts.  That means that there's either nothing to be done about it, or it will be handled by the players.

V3 Side by Side Comparison
Jamuraa has started a site to display each version of the client as it evolves.  He's has the last three versions availalable for certain scenes and the last two versions available for many more scenes, like Drafts.  This is a great resource for anyone who's interested in what has been changing between beta versions.  Discussion of current changes can be found here.

Card Prices:
*

Price Per Rare, Year to date:

 

Sorry if that scrolls the screens of anyone running 1024x768, but there is a great deal of data there.  The blanks are where I am missing some raw data.  I will go back through what I was given and if I can track any more down I'll upload it accordingly.  This graph shows what many of us have suspected, the price per each rare has dropped consistently over the past 1.5 years.  The raw data was provided by MTGOTraders based on his price per rare (every rare including Time Spiral 'Bonus' cards).

And for those playing along at home, the following dates may be of interest to you:

April 26 2006
Redemption turned off
http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-628610.html

June 29th 2006
Redemption model changed to more expensive version
http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-660994.html

One of the most noticeable drops was between July and August and since the redemption change effectively took place in July... I'll admit to believing that they just might be related.

Card Price Increases:

Card Name Last Weeks Price Change in price Current Price Percentage Changed
Vindicate 55 5 60 9.09%
Destructive Flow 27 2 29 7.41%
Bringer of the Black Dawn 2 1.5 3.5 75.00%
Eladamri's Call 8 1.5 9.5 18.75%
Siege-Gang Commander 3.5 1.25 4.75 35.71%
Siege-Gang Commander 3.5 1 4.5 28.57%
Goblin Ringleader 5 1 6 20.00%
Haakon, Stromgald Scourge 2.5 1 3.5 40.00%
Chrome Mox 14 1 15 7.14%
Barbarian Ring 2 1 3 50.00%
Goblin Piledriver 6.5 1 7.5 15.38%
Shivan Wurm 8.5 1 9.5 11.76%
Undiscovered Paradise 5.75 1 6.75 17.39%

Some interesting moves I think.  Namely the increase in both versions of Siege-Gang Commander and other goblins.  An indication of Goblins viability in Classic Extended with some possible price speculation about their viability in post Lorwyn Extended.  I'm also guessing that Haakon's increase is directly due to the Changeling removal spells that Lorwyn is bringing us.  The few that I'm stumped on are Eladamri's Call, Shivan Wurm, Undiscovered Paradise, and the Black Bringer.  Eladamri's Call I'm thinking is part of the Enchantment based decks that are gaining popularity, but the others... I feel like an Underpants Gnome explaining step two: "???".

Card Price Decreases:

Card Name Last Weeks Price Change in price Current Price Percentage Changed
Armageddon 5.75 1.25 4.5 21.74%
Thawing Glaciers 4 1 3 25.00%
Force of Will 18 1 17 5.56%
Chains of Mephistopheles 3.5 1 2.5 28.57%
Berserk 5 1 4 20.00%
Ball Lightning 3.75 0.75 3 20.00%
Jokulhaups 1.75 0.75 1 42.86%
(Juzám Djinn) 3.5 0.75 2.75 21.43%
Lord of Tresserhorn 1.75 0.75 1 42.86%
Moat 3.5 0.75 2.75 21.43%
Sylvan Library 2.75 0.75 2 27.27%

Forest Promo

2.75 0.75 2 27.27%

*Giggles sophomorically about Ball Lightning's dropping*

-ahem-

Anyway, nothing out of the ordinary here, really.  Card prices from the most recently released set are dropping as those who need them have purchased their copies.  I'm not sure why the hate on the Promo Forest though.  Seems out of place.

Highest Card Prices:
These are the same as last week, only more so:

Orim's Chant 85
Vindicate 60
Meddling Mage 58
Pernicious Deed 55
Vampiric Tutor 32
Destructive Flow 29
Undermine 26
Terravore 23.5
Fact or Fiction 22
Burning Wish 21.75
Haunting Echoes 21.5
Tarmogoyf 21
Absorb 20
Spiritmonger 19
Force of Will 17

Statistics (as of Midnight Central Time, 10-3-07):

Note: the average for 10/3/07 includes two hours of scheduled downtime.  I'm including it in the daily stats because I think it's fair to do so as it's time when we aren't able to play and I'm tracking availability, not unsheduled downtime.  If you'd prefer I not include them, let me know!

New Bugs:
(Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker
) + return from graveyard issues.  It appears that Shirei isn't allowing for creatures to return to play as it should.  The card has been bugged.

Editorial:
I've posted the following in one form or another before, but I feel that it's still applicable when it comes to the topic of any high level events on MTGO.  It's not exclusive content, but it's old enough that the thread's been archived at WotC.

How to make MTGO a secure enough platform to hold Pro Tour type events.

This editorial will discuss the technological necessities for making Pro Tours (PT’s) and Pro Tour Qualifiers (PTQ’s) a feasible option for Magic: the Gathering Online (MTGO).

The first thing needed for Magic Online to be able to host serious events is a physical user authentication system; or to summarize this need in a word: Biometrics. For any PT/PTQ type of event the attendees would have to have a biometric mouse or keyboard to validate that they are indeed the player sitting at the keyboard. This requirement would only be needed for high level events and would not be used for any other events or purposes. No leagues, Premier Events, Drafts or 8-Man queues would be required to use this technology. The impact of this change would reduce the amount of account handoffs that currently happen. Periodically the game would request you to validate your biometric data. If you fail to provide the biometric information the game stalls on your time and you will eventually lose to inactivity.

The second line of defense would be a web cam. This would allow for physical validation of only one player at the computer, or at least within range of the web cam. The web cams could be monitored by WotC staff periodically (like judges) to ensure that there is not a group of users gathered around one computer, or that the player isn’t consulting other players via a second computer (more on what this means in the next paragraph). And you can still play without pants, just make sure that the web cam is focused from the waist up. I’ll reiterate that this functionality wouldn’t be forced on any other events, although by enabling this feature it could be used for casual players and friends as desired.

The third line of defense would be making the Magic Online client into a firewall. Once you’ve logged into the client and joined the event MTGO would block all other network traffic besides the traffic that the program itself is generating. Web browsers, chat clients, etc would be forcibly disabled by the client. This is to prevent collusion via chat clients as well as make the events closer to paper events. You only know what you know, you don’t get to look up print runs or query a rules database to ensure you’re doing something right. While this seems very different to current MTGO, that’s the point of these proposed options.

The last line of defense would be IP address logging. Every time your IP address changes throughout the tournament (large changes, like, different geographical location) it is logged. Minor changes within the same subnet would indicate a user changing computers. A major change in the subnet, and subsequent whois verification would be able to identify when a player is switching physical locations. Due to the necessity of the additional hardware very few people would pick up their computers and go to an internet café very often, but it shouldn't be an automatic lock down of the account if they do.  It should be flagged for immediate verification during the event itself. If someone did need to change locations a judge could be told about the issue and the move could be done without penalty. This would require judges to be present for the event, which is no different than today, although the judges would need to be trained differently to handle these issues.

As for those who are worried about the cost of the proposed solution, currently large events require airfare, lodging, meals, and other costs. Implementing this proposal would have a one time fee for the necessary hardware, but would likely be less than one trip to a remote location. Wizards could even provide a hardware ‘bundle’ of the biometric mouse and keyboard and web cam after purchasing a bulk amount through a distributor.

Collusion, security, and cheating are major barriers to having a credible MTGO event.
These proposed options are to make a fair, balanced online event, not as a general improvement to Magic Online. The only thing these options would change would be the viability of the Online Client for higher profile events, which is currently close to zero.

Something else to be aware of, scamming around people 'selling their spot' in one of these tournaments.  This is where someone in the queue says that they'll drop and you can join in their place, for a price of course.  Unfortunately there's no way to be sure that you'll get the spot that they drop even if you do so late at night.  Anyone waiting for a chance to get in could swoop in and take 'your' place.

Conclusion:
I have some concerns about security and stability for the MTGO World Qualifier tournament, although I do I think it's great to see so much support from WotC in regards to MTGO lately.  Server instability from trying to do too much at once may scare away potential new customers.  I guess we'll see what happens this weekend with these events.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.  I wrote most of this before the events started, and here we are, into the first one on Wed afternoon and it's already crashed.  I have to believe that more problems are on their way.

That's it for this week, thanks for reading!

~Erik

*I'd also like to thank MTGOTraders for the statistics I use in the article.  He's said that he'll work with me to keep track of all sorts of things for the article.  Thanks a ton!

0 Comments

It's good you posted as anonymous.... by KnightWolf (Unregistered) 201.130.139.65 (not verified) at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 13:02
KnightWolf (Unregistered) 201.130.139.65's picture

....because you would look like a real fool if you people knew who you were. Force of Will is not posted as having a current price of 1. The current price is posted as being 17. The change in price is 1. While, admittedly, the column headers do not exactly line up with the data, and at first glance it appears that the "1" falls under the "current price" header, it is apparent upon closer examination that, in fact, the "1" does fall under the "change in price" column. It is simply misaligned. The only intelligent thing about your comment was the fact that you posted as anonymous.....

'Tis better to be thought a fool...than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Are some of the current price even correct? by Anonymous (Unregistered) 130.194.13.104 (not verified) at Tue, 10/09/2007 - 23:22
Anonymous (Unregistered) 130.194.13.104's picture

Some of the current prices are way off...

Force of Will for 1?

Vampiric Tutor by iceage4life at Mon, 10/08/2007 - 15:27
iceage4life's picture

I've got to ask, when was the last time Vampiric Tutor sold for 32?  Shouldn't it and Flash be leading the price drops?

Update: by hamtastic at Fri, 10/05/2007 - 14:25
hamtastic's picture

I just added the price per rare chart for the past few months.  Some interesting data, for sure.

~Erik 

Great job by MountainProud (Unregistered) 141.197.8.183 (not verified) at Fri, 10/05/2007 - 14:27
MountainProud (Unregistered) 141.197.8.183's picture

Great Job (again) Hammy.  It's nice to stay up to date on issues when you can't get to the boards.  Tis much appreciated.

Thanks by tempesteye at Fri, 10/05/2007 - 09:47
tempesteye's picture

Hey hammy

Great work as always.

by hamtastic at Fri, 10/05/2007 - 11:13
hamtastic's picture

Alos, another Worlds QT Tourney got hosed last night.  That marks two of them so far, and we're not even to the weekend yet...

Things aren't looking good.  :( 

Thanks! by hamtastic at Fri, 10/05/2007 - 09:46
hamtastic's picture

Thanks Heath! (Both for providing the raw stats and for the feedback)!

I've always wondered what happened to prices and why suddenly some cards creep up.  Comparing these price moves against Swimming with Sharks on WotC's homepage seems to show the cause/effect for many of them.  I'm still confused about a couple cards that went up, but that's just some food for thought I guess. :)

~Erik

INSANE by mtgotraders at Thu, 10/04/2007 - 20:46
mtgotraders's picture

I'm totally loving all the new features the state of the program has now.  I would love to see pro tour type events on MTGO once it's stable and though it seems like a pipe dream now it could be a reality if they made some of the changes hammy mentions.  I also love the new price feature too.