“All right then,” said the savage defiantly, “I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
On A Comedown
When Brian Kibler first started ranting about the November MOCS crashing, many Magic Online regulars rolled their eyes. We already knew that MTGO was a terrible piece of software: multiple MOCSs have crashed, PTQs die on a frequent basis, and Wizards is tightening the screws and milking every ticket from the player base (as I briefly discussed in my previous article). The thing is, many of us don’t want to listen to Kibler and quit Magic Online. We didn’t grow up with Hearthstone or Hex or SolForge. We like the instant gratifications (both playing and trading) that digital offers over paper. Heck, some players just don’t want or can’t handle in-person interactions. It’s not like the community has been silent, either; criticism has been loud and constant when these things happen, it’s just that nothing has improved.
However, I guess when you’re a two-time PT winner with nearly $250,000 of winnings important people start taking notice.
Wizards is making a high-risk, high-reward play, but it’s certainly a nuclear option. I’ll discuss my personal opinion of the changes towards the end of this article, but I’m not just here for opinions. I’m also here to provide some more cold, hard numbers.
We’ve got some new events to analyse!
Pay For Stability
As always, I’m calculating these based on current prices from supernovabots. At the time of writing:
Theros: Sell 3.6, Buy 3.49
Magic 2014: Sell 3.21, Buy 3.12
Constructed 8-Player Swiss (Standard, Modern, Legacy)
Entry: 6 tickets
Payout: Swiss (1 Theros pack per win)
50% Match Win = -0.765
55% Match Win = -0.242
60% Match Win = +0.282
65% Match Win = +0.805
Constructed 8-Player Single Elimination (Standard, Modern, Legacy, Block, Pauper, Momir Vig)
Note: only Pauper and Momir are new, but given that these are the stand-ins for DEs it’s worth visiting them.
Entry: 6 tickets
Payout: 5-3-2-2 Theros
50% Match Win = -0.765
55% Match Win = +0.056
60% Match Win = +0.952
65% Match Win = +1.928
Two-Ticket Tuesdays (Phantom M14 Sealed)
Note: These are only available for 2 days in November – 19th and 26th, but are now going to be on-demand queues.
Entry: 2 tickets (or 4 phantom points; not calculated here)
Payout: 6-4-2-1 M14 for Top 8
50% Match Win = -0.245
55% Match Win = +0.348
60% Match Win = +1.091
65% Match Win = +2.01
- The days of printing tickets by playing constructed with a 50% win rate (read: Momir) are dead.
- Constructed Swiss queues are terrible value.
- If you need your fix, play 5-3-2-2s if you’re good and 2-man queues if you’re bad.
- Two-Ticket Tuesdays are pretty decent value even if you’re just paying tickets. Paying phantom points make these a steal.
The Right to be Unhappy
“You’ve got to be hurt and upset; otherwise you can’t think of the really good, penetrating, X-rayish phrases.”
I want to wrap up my feelings on the matter in two parts: the financial impact and the wider health of Magic Online.
Financially, this blows for those of us who help to fund our Magic playing through daily events. This change by Wizards reflects a serious reduction in the equity of these events. To help put this into context, the current EVs for the old-style DEs are:
50% Match Win = +1.63 (change of -2.395)
55% Match Win = +3.78 (-3.72)
60% Match Win = +6.21 (-5.26)
65% Match Win = +8.90 (-6.97)
In the past, I’d have given Wizards the benefit of the doubt, but when the trend over the last couple of years is taken into consideration, I have to come to the obvious conclusion: This has been in the cards for some time. Kibler-geddon has simply provided an opportune moment to roll these out. If DEs ever come back (and it definitely is “if,” not “when.” See leagues.) I wouldn’t expect to see them paying 11-6.
It isn’t all doom and gloom for grinders, however. This will force the majority of the player base to move to 5-3-2-2 queues which will be a lot more convenient and allow for much greater volume. From a purely personal standpoint, it’s wonderful to see some Momir queues worth playing, especially given many of the DEs started at 11pm where I live.
Regarding the long-term health of Magic Online, I don’t think these changes will actually have much of an impact. I return to the title of this section and the quote at the top from “Brave New World.” Although not a perfect analogy, we the userbase are choosing to be unhappy. We’re taking the crashes and the squeezing of prizes and the shitty beta because we love this game and are willing to put up with it. This is a damn shame – Wizards desperately needs the kind of shock Kibler calls for to actually improve Magic Online for the better but I just don’t see these issues or the competition hitting their bottom line. Growth might get hit as new players choose to take up Hearthstone or Hex instead, but those of us already addicted to digital paper crack are probably just going to keep trading our tickets over for another hit.
Maybe we all collectively need to check into rehab.