Magic Online Musings: This Week on MTGO #21

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Blisterguy returns with his weekly round-up of the Premium Event action on Magic Online. He produces his buy-and-sell price findings, and has some rather interesting ideas on re-vamping the MTGO Marketplace…

I’ve received a complaint! It’s probably not the first one, but in my advanced age, my memory is not what it used to be. The fact that I can’t remember what my memory used to be is irrefutable truth that I am right! Anyway, the following message from Lackeos was posted in response to my column last week.

Caves of Koilos 8-9…

I have a story about how I bought 3x Caves today for 18, and wasn’t able to resell them for 7 apiece. Anyway, 8-9 might be off by a lot.

This is a fair call and highlights some of the flaws in my system for listing prices. Unfortunately, they are flaws that can’t really be addressed without finding some monkey to watch the message boards day in and day out, and spend that time buying and reselling every card I could possibly want to consider monitoring, and making me sammiches. I mean, the sammiches aren’t necessary (obviously), but if the monkey is gonna be doing all of that, he may as well get crackin’ on the sammiches for me too, right? Everyone loves sammiches.

All I have time to do is take a gander at what people are offering to pay for any given card, and what people are asking for it. This means that sometimes I might strike a time that fewer than usual people are selling a certain card, or perhaps at a time before a card may be about to crash, much like the case with the Caves of Koilos here. It seems that Hand in Hand has dropped in popularity since those days back before Dissension, which shouldn’t be too surprising now that we have new toys to play with, judging by the results from this week’s Standard Premier Events.

There were ten Top 8 playoffs for a change this week, so that makes 80 possible spots to be taken up by individual decks across all of the Top 8s. Also, some of these Top 8s were IPA qualifiers with well over 100 players in them, so you knows these is quality resultses! The number next to the decks below shows how many times certain archetype took up one of those slots, and the number of (parenthesis) is the number that deck had last week.

10 (6) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron Control)
10 (5) Ninja Stompy (Green/Red/Blue Aggro Control)
9 (3) Zoo (Green/White/Red Aggro)
6 (8) Blue/Red/Green Urzatron
5 (2) Simic Aggro Control (Blue/Green)
4 (5) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro)
4 (4) Magnivore (Blue/Red Land Destruction Control)
4 (4) Hand in Hand (Black/White Aggro Control)
4 (1) Rakdos Aggro (Red/Black
3 (6) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control)
3 (1) Orzhov Husk (Black/White Aggro)
2 (1) Azorius Control (White/Blue)
2 (1) Simic Snake Aggro Control (Green/Blue)
2 (0) Dimir Control (Blue/Black Control)
2 (0) Firemane Control (Blue/White/Red Control)
1 (5) Green/Blue/White Control
1 (4) Heartbeat (Heartbeat of Spring/Early Harvest Combo)
1 (3) Gruul Beats (Green/Red Aggro)
1 (2) Blue/Black/White Reanimator
1 (1) Ghost Dad (Black/White)
1 (0) White Weenie
1 (0) Green/White/Blue Glare of Subdual
1 (0) Izzet Control (Blue/Red Control)
1 (0) Green/Blue/Black Aggro Control
1 (0) Dovescape (Green/White/Blue Aggro Control)
0 (3) Selesnya Aggro Control (Green/White Aggro Control)
0 (2) Unknown
0 (2) GhaziChord (Green/White/Black Aggro Control)
0 (1) Green/White/Black Greater Good Control
0 (1) Azorius Aggro (White/Blue)
0 (1) Blue/Green/White Aggro Control

As I said earlier, a slight drop in popularity means that they’ll be slowing up on sales somewhat and therefore dropping in price, as evidenced in this weeks price watch list thingy.

(Look out! Incoming blurb!)

The numbers shown, for instance, as 2-4, are the price people are buying the card for, followed by the price people are selling the card for. The prices shown in parenthesis – like this (2-4) – are the prices from last week. If a card and its prices have been bolded, it’s because there has been a change in price from the week before to help you differentiate those cards from the others that are a little more… static in their movements. Card prices are in Tickets, because that’s what most people buy and sell with on Magic Online. Also note that prices can fluctuate based on the time of day as well, depending on just how many people are online selling at the time. Due to my uniquely antipodean location down here in the Pacific, and my tendency to hold down a regular nine to five job, the prices below end up being more of a general indication of what’s going on than an exact science.

Pithing Needle 15-18 (16-18)
Umezawa’s Jitte 7-9 (7-8)

Vampiric Tutor 20-28 (18-30)
Cranial Extraction 4-6 (4-6)
Dark Confidant 3-4 (3-4)

Meloku the Clouded Mirror 4-5 (4-5)
Keiga, the Tide Star 3-5 (3-5)

Simic Sky Swallower 6-8 (6-8)
Voidslime 5-6 (5-7)
Loxodon Hierarch 3-4 (3-5)
Giant Solifuge 3-5 (3-5)
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV 2-4 (3-5)
Ghost Council of Orzhova 2-4 (3-4)
Burning-Tree Shaman 3-4 (3-4)

Heartbeat of Spring 3-4 (3-5)
Early Harvest 3-4 (3-5)
Birds of Paradise 3-5 (3-5)

Demonfire 4-5 (3-5)
Wildfire 3-4 (3-4)
Magnivore 2-4 (2-4)

Wrath of God 8-10 (8-10)
Paladin en-Vec 5-6 (5-6)
Yosei, the Morning Star 3-5 (3-5)

Breeding Pool 14-1 (14-16)
Hallowed Fountain 10-12 (10-11)
Shivan Reef 9-10 (8-10)
Steam Vents 9-10 (8-10)
Godless Shrine 8-9 (8-9)
Blood Crypt 8-9 (8-9)
Stomping Ground 7-9 (7-9)
Caves of Koilos 5-7 (8-9)
Yavimaya Coast 5-7 (6-8)
Adarkar Wastes 5-7 (4-6)
Watery Grave 5-6 (5-6)
Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] 5-6 (5-6)
Temple Garden 5-6 (5-6)
Overgrown Tomb 5-6 (4-6)
Sacred Foundry 5-6 (4-6)
Llanowar Wastes 4-5 (3-5)
Karplusan Forest 4-5 (4-5)
Underground River 4-5 (4-5)
Brushland 3-5 (4-5)
Sulfurous Springs 3-5 (3-5)

So yeah, my analysis of the message board isn’t perfect, but until someone designs a bot that can register every transaction that occurs on the message board, we’re gonna have to settle on a less than perfect price watch list thingy.

Speaking of things that aren’t perfect, I’ve been thinking for quite some time that the message board could use an overhaul of some kind. While I don’t have the perfect solution, my travels in the digital realm paying visits on varying RPGs and whatnot have given me a broader understanding of the possible shopping experiences available out there. However, for any of these to work, it would require Wizards of the Coast to front up and flat-out admit that the Magic Online Ticket is actually a unit of currency.

That’s actually a much bigger thing than it sounds. These things are sold in the Magic Online Store as a “Magic Online Event Ticket. This is a digital product for use with Magic: The Gathering Online game.” As their name implies, they are tickets for use in events, which is one of the things we use them for every day. The fact that they cost one American Dollar means that they are also used by the majority of the Magic Online playing community as the equivalent of a “Magic Online Dollar” to “buy and sell” Magic Online products with each other every day.

I say “buy and sell” with little quote thingies because in essence what we are doing is just trading Magic Online Digital Objects (the origin of the name MODO, by the way), we’re not actually buying or selling anything in the official eyes of Wizards. Oh sure, it behaves exactly like an economy with a currency, and in the literal sense, it really is a currency, excepting that your local bank will not take it in and give you “real” money in return. But what does that matter? You can sell them on eBay or whatever, and get your money that way.

The fact of the matter is that’s not how Wizards can see it, because I suspect there are laws or something around creating an actual currency, despite what my favoritest ever book “Cryptonomicon” tells me. You may ask why this is an issue? Well, most other shopping infrastructures in other games involve some kind of in-game money and or currency, and the following ideas kinda depend on the Humble Ticket being viewed as such by the programmers employed by the company at the top of the tree, so to speak. But let’s build a bridge and get over that and move on to a couple of ideas that could be used to inspire a better system for Magic Online commerce. An added bonus of these ideas is that they would alleviate the need for people to use bot software, which probably tends to make Wizards uneasy.

The first example allows players to buy a store, which is located in a Mall. Shoppers can use a search function to look for a certain item or maybe just a bunch of items with in the name. For example, you could type in “Simic” and the search engine would return to you any card with the word “Simic” in it, on it or possibly even looking sidelong at it. The returned results would be ranked from cheapest to most expensive, and the browser could opt to have only the “X” cheapest prices for each card found show.

As far as storeowners are concerned, they buy the store and then they can put items in the store at whatever price they want to sell them at. The items remain in the store until they sell, or the seller withdraws them. The seller can alter the price at any point (and yes, if the price changes from the time you searched on it to the time you click “buy,” you’ll get a warning message) to suit the ever changing economic climate or the passing whims of a half eaten carrot, or whatever.

For this to work for Magic Online in the context of a Trading Card Game, the seller would have to be able to stipulate what they wanted for their digital item, or a group of items, which could be either Tickets or a certain card or cards. We all know that sellers would mostly only get hits on their Ticket items, but you have to let people try to offer up a Force of Nature for two 7th Edition Serra Angels pls I need for my Angels deck pls.

The other thing this system featured was an advertising element. Storeowners could pay any amount they liked each week, and that would constitute their store’s advertising budget. The person who paid the most would be displayed at the top of the Master List of stores (people don’t have to use the search function), and so on down to the person or peoples who had advertising budgets of zilch. At the end of each week, everyone’s advertising budget would reduce itself by a square root, so that you only paid once, no matter what you paid, you’d end up back at zero and therefore, at the bottom of the list.

The second option is an Auction House, in which items (which could again be a single card or a group of cards) are placed with a starting bid price, and a buyout price. After a maximum of 24 hours, if the buyout price hasn’t been paid, the item is sold to the person who has bid the most on it. The original system features auction-hosting costs, which are refunded if the item sells, and not if the auction reaches the end of it’s allotted period without a bid. If the item sells, then the Auction House also takes a small cut to (I assume) pay its virtual auctioneers and such. This is to prevent people from just throwing anything that’s unused up for sale, and causing the server to lag under it’s own weight of useless auctions.

This system would also cause there to be a need for some kind of mail box or inbox for messages, where you would received not only your expired auctions, the proceeds from successful ones and items you have been outbid on, as well as any items you have won. It would also be a nice place for those private messages that were sent while you were offline.

Food for thought there, a couple of ideas that could go a long way toward improving the current message board system, while also helping casual players and people in funny time zones (cough) get their stuff to market more often.

Because people liked the little chat log I posted a couple of weeks ago, I decided I’d leave you all with another one I found this week. It may not be very funny, but you have to feel for these guys and their luck.

11:37 The_World chooses to play first.
11:37 The_World mulligans down to 6 cards.
11:37 The_World mulligans down to 5 cards.
11:37 The_World mulligans down to 4 cards.
11:37 The_World keeps this hand.
11:37 J.T.MONEY mulligans down to 6 cards.
11:37 J.T.MONEY mulligans down to 5 cards.
11:37 J.T.MONEY keeps this hand.
11:37 J.T.MONEY: trying to keep it fair

Until next week, here’s to your opening seven actually being a keeper, and good luck at your Coldsnap prereleases!



P.S. Oh, you may remember that I blathered on last week about my pal JoINrbs coming to stay for the weekend. It was good times, to be sure, even if we didn’t have many opportunities to actually play Magic because I happened to be shifting house at the time. That boy is rather good at Guitar Hero, by the way; if he offers to play you at it for money, turn him down as soon as you possibly can. Or, if you’re me, stand behind him with a real guitar and show him how it’s done.