Sunday, July 31, 2016

Eldritch Moon USA booster packs are searchable

If you are buying boosters or playing drafts in real life, you must watch this video:

Magic cards are pinted and packaged in multiple factories and this problem occurs only in booster packs meant to be sold in USA market. Nearly all non-doubled-faced Mythics are in the booster packs with the same picture inside that display. Before opening display (6 booster boxes), you cannot tell which picture it will be, but once you find your first Mythic in any booster pack, the rest of Mythics could be find only in booster packs with the same front picture, for example Tamiyo or Liliana. If you don't want to be fooled, don't buy single booster packs from unknown source.

Two excellent MTG Finance podcasts

If you prefer to keep up with your MTG Finance listening to podcasts, there are two options that stand above the rest.

Brainstorm Brewery

This used to be the #1 MTG Finance podcast but at this point they have been surpassed. The crew is entertaining but they tend to derail and lose focus on the subject. Still, they know what they are talking about and are definitely worth a listen.

You can find Brainstorm Brewery on itunes or here:

Mtggoldfish has been the best hard numbers site for MTG Finance for a very long time and their podcast shows the same devotion to excellency as their web site. This podcast is short, knowledgeable and to the point - exactly what I want from a MTG Finance podcast.

Do you know of any more good MTG Finance podcasts? Please let me know

Thursday, July 28, 2016

MTGO Library Bot 11.36

A couple of hours ago we released ML Bot 11.36, supporting the new set Eldritch Moon (EMN). Prerelease events start tomorrow, Friday.

Please note that previous bot versions are unable to pick Event Tickets while in trade, due to a change with the latest MTGO build (.621). ML Bot 11.36 fixes the issue. We forced the update to 11.36 from the server so you probably already have 11.36 running on your machines.

Happy botting to everyone and happy prerelease events!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Modern Budget Replacements: Liliana of the Veil

Earlier installments in this series
Budget replacements for Dark Confidant:

Oh, Liliana, that very expensive planeswalker that does so much for so little mana. As I write this she costs $105 on Magic Online. Here is a true need for a budget replacements. Replacing a planeswalker with a budget card is very hard as Liliana is so versatile.

Just look at this amazing card.

My first instict would be to replace her with another walker. There are three alternatives that I can think of.

Domri is as cheap as Liliana but would require a very creature heavy Jund deck to work properly. Domri thrives if you play 30+ creatures. That is not really what Jund is about. The average Jund deck on MTGO right now has 13 creatures.

I think this is more like it. It is an alternate walker that does powerful things but costing four instead of three changes the entire composition of the deck. Can we do even better?

If you are playing Abzan with your Liliana, Sorin could perhaps be your replacement. I don't like the fact that he costs four but he does have some impressive abilites that could turn a game in your favor. 

What if we are after one of the effects of Liliana? What if we like playing off the top against opponents that rely on having cards in their hands?

I think this card is both expensive and weak but it does emulate the Liliana discard ability quite well. It does see fringe play in 8-rack decks where it is probably at its best as a Liliana replacement.

If it is the sacrifice ability we are after there is a better replacement in my opinion.

Gatekeeper of Malakir costs 3 to cast and has a nice sacrifice effect. I think this is probably the best replacement so far. However, there is a pretty big gap between how good this card is and how good Liliana is. 

In the end, Liliana of the Veil is quite hard to replace. It turns out that there is probably a very good reason she costs so much. 

If you can think of any other card as a budget replacement for Liliana of the Veil, please tell me in the comments below.  If there is any other card you want me to suggest budget replacements for, please let me know.

Modern on a budget

Some competetive modern budget decks:
Modern decks that cost under $5:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Eldritch Moon: impact on Modern format

The most interesting cards from Eldritch Moon that may find home in Modern format:

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger may be replaced by Emrakul, the Promised End in RG tron. The mana cost is similar, but a Mindslaver effect makes a difference. It helps a lot in the not favorable matchups. Take Infect deck as example. If you manage to cast Emrakul, the Promised End the game is almost yours. The creatures will swing right into Emrakul eldritch maw or/and you may use up all pump spells, leaving your opponent with nothing.

If you wondered why bulk rare Allosaurus Rider have gained on value recently, the Eldritch Evolution is the answer. Some people think it may be a Modern's Natural Order and a deck build around this card will appear soon. In my opinion, this card may find rather home in toolbox deck, such as Chord. Eldritch Evolution allows you to put into play a hatebear even by the turn two. How the whole game may change if you put Aven Mindcensor against Tron, Spellskite against Infect or Kataki, War’s Wage against Affinity earlier. Additionally, this card may give you tempo and value - sacrifice Voice of Resurgences to get a Siege Rhino Will it be a big come back of Birthing Pod strategy?

Another card with a potential is Eternal Scourge. To start with, it is Eldrazi, so it is cheaper if you spend mana produced by Eldrazi Temple. Decks running Eldrazi Temple usually have a Relic of Progenitus mainboard, what makes Eternal Scourage almost immortal. Additionally, it has a quasi-hexproof. This card plays well alongside Gemstone Caverns.

Bedlam Reveler will be tested in Burn decks for sure. Some time ago, players splashed blue in order to get fuel from Treasure Cruise. Although, mana cost of Bedlam Reveler is reduced only by instant and sorcery spells you won't spend more than 3 or 4 mana to cast it. In the earlier stage of the game you will be casting other spells and you will use Bedlam Reveler only to refill your hand and burn your opponent down.

Wizards and hashtags

In order to communicate more clearly to new players of Magic the Gathering, Wizards have made a decision to use the hashtags #wotcstaff and #wizardsemployee in their tweets.

The whole decision is detailed here:

It might seem like a non-decision or something that just eats more of their 140 characters so the big question is if we should care? Will the tags be abused by random twitter users?

The matter gets even more confusing when Wizards says: "they will ensure Wizards is consistent with all laws and regulations applicable to our business media."  I am sure there is more to their new social media policy than just some tags.

My reaction is first and foremost that I am happy that Wizards is thinking about these matters and that the company constantly works on its communication which, at times, may have been wanting. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Modern Budget Replacements - Dark Confidant

I often get the question if it is possible to play Modern on a budget. The MagicGatheringStrat collective have addressed the question several times.

Some competetive modern budget decks:
Modern decks that cost under $5:

Those two articles addressed the whole deck question, which is probably the way to go. That is not what I will be doing here.

In this series, I will be looking at specific cards and their budget replacements.

Good Modern cards become expensive. What replacements are there are and how well do they compare to the original?

The card we will be trying to replace this week is Dark Confidant.

In Modern, Dark Confidant is played mostly in Jund, but also in other BGx decks and Mardu Harbinger. What replacements are there?

Courser of Kruphix: It may seem strange to suggest a green card instead of a black but this card fills a similar role to Bob. It does provide card advantage but instead of hurting you it actually gains you life. While this all seems stellar the mana cost is steep. Courser sees a lot of play in Modern, particularly in Abzan, RG Breach and Kiki Chord. Courser of Kruphix may serve other purposes as well but I think it is the best budget replacement for Dark Confidant.

Phyrexian Arena: Not having a body is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Creature kill can not destroy the arena, but it also can not win you the game. It costs an extra mana which is a lot in Modern. It also draws cards with a lot less life loss. It sees fringe play in black devotion decks because of its BB mana cost.

Dark Tutelage: This basically has the disadvantages of Phyrexian Arena while costing a lot more life. Avoid it. Dark Tutelage sees very little play in the format.

Pain Seer: This card looks like a Dark Confidant and was the first budget replacement I came to think of for Dark Confidant. Unless you can think of a clever way to untap it Pain Seer has to attack to become a Dark Confidant which is a much bigger disadvantage than it may appear at first. Pain Seer sees no play in Competetive Modern.

If you can think of any other card as a budget replacement for Dark Confidant, please tell me in the comments below.  If there is any other card you want me to suggest budget replacements for, please let me know.

Monday, July 18, 2016

MTGO Library Bot 11.32

We have just released ML Bot 11.32. The new version introduces a redesigned card transfer (or "autotransfer") modality with server-side messages. Previous version used the mtgo chat to send and receives messages. This was slow and unreliable. Chat messages will still be active for "human interaction" (so you can still send AT messages to the bots) but bot-to-bot messages will be delivered via server.

What does this mean practically for day-to-day card transfers? This means that card transfer trades will be faster, more reliable, will take less CPU time and less time in general.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

How to draft Eldritch Moon?

I have divided commons and uncommons from Eldritch Moon set into two groups. First group includes better cards. Second group includes a little bit worse cards, but still playable. If a card doesn't appear here, you should rather not pick it. A few cards are underlined. These cards are in many cases the first pick from the booster pack.

1st group:
White: Choking Restraints, Dawn Gryff; Sigardian Priest; Blessed Alliance; Drogskol Shieldmate.
Blue: Tattered Haunter; Advanced Stitchwing; Fortune's Favor; Geist of the Archives; Nebelgast Herald; Scour the Laboratory; Unsubstantiate.
Black: Murder; Boon of Emrakul; Olivia's Dragoon; Thraben Foulbloods; Haunted Dead.
Red: Incendinary Flow; Savage Alliance; Alchemist's Greeting; Conduit of Storms; Deranged Whelp; Smoldering Warewolf; Weaver of Lightning.
Green: Kessig Prowler; Somberwald Stag; Backwood Survivalists; Ulvenwald Captive; Shrill Howler; Clear Shot.
Artifact: Cultist's Staff; Geist-Fueled Scarecrow; Noose Constrictor.

2nd group:
White: Desperate Sentry; Ironclad Slayer; Courageous Outrider; Extricator of Sin; Faith Unbroken; Geist of the Lonely Vigil; Long Road Hom; Subjugator Angel.
Blue: Drag Under; Enlightened Maniac; Exultant Cultist; Ingenious Skaab; Take Inventory; Wretched Gryff; Drownyard Behemoth.
Black: Borrowed Malevolence; Gavony Unhallowed; Succumb to Temptation; Weirded Vampire; Markov Crusader; Rise from the Grave; Vampire Cutthroat.
Red: Brazen Wolves; Galvanic Bombardment; Stensia Innkeeper; Thermo-Alchemist; Vildin-Pack Outcast; Abandon Reason; Insatiable Gorgers.
Green: It of the Horrid Swarm; Prey Upon; Primal Druid; Swift Spinner; Woodland Patrol;
Artifact; Cryptolith Fragment; Gnarlwood Dryad; Hamlet Captain.

A new Pauper Podcast!

I used to do some podcasts that were only about the Pauper format.

I am most proud of Competetive Pauper Cast that I did with Will, Chris and David. In every episode we discussed a good Pauper deck in great detail.

Here is the Stompy episode:

And then there was Pauper to the People which was a bit more casual:

You can find out more about Color Commontary at their website:

There have been other Pauper podcasts. Notably Pauper's Cage which had some fantastic episodes. If you want to know about Delver, check out Newplan being interviewed on the deck here:

Lately, there have been no Pauper podcasts on my itunes playlist. Until yesterday that is, when I discovered that Michael Petschek and Adrian Gwarzalez had started one. I gave it a listen and four episodes in I can say that am pleasantly surprised. Mike and Adrian are doing a great job.

Check them out here:

Thanks, Adrian and Mike! Keep up the good work!

You can find out more about Color Commontary at their website:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Drafting principles

A new set is on the way and a drafting madness will happen soon. So. I prepared the basic drafting principles that every player must know.

Be open minded
Simply put, your first pick do not determine the colors you must choose later on. Pick the best card out of every pack even if it is off-color. This rule applies only for a specific amount of time. But, be reasonable. Pack three is rather not a good time to change your mind and deciding on totally new color. Of course, there are always exceptions, but in general it is not. Unless you opened a absolute bomb, like a Pack Rat and you want to splash it.

Know the archetypes
Before starting your first draft, take a good look at the spoilers and memorize as much as possible, including mechanics, combat tricks, the combination of colors and others. Some archetypes are obvious, like UW skies, but would you be able to tell me the best color for a Allies tribe in Battle for Zendikar without having a butcher's at spoiler first? Definately not. There are no more Core sets in Magic, which were very easy to draft. It is a bit more complicated now. If you want to achieve something, spend a minute or two and prepare yourself well before the tournament.

Removal spells are vital in your deck. However, they will not win you a game alone. If the power level of both cards is comparable, in the first stage of draft choose a creature card over a removal.

Friday, July 8, 2016

MTGO Library Bot 11.24 - update required

Last Wednesday (6th July) Wizards of the Coast updated MTGO and changed a couple of minor internal things. We had to release a bot update (version 11.24) to cope with the changes. Previous bot versions have been disabled and now you cannot use them.

If your bot is experiencing problem, here you are the exact step to follow to restore it:

1. locate the bot folder and erase all the files in the "/log" folder. These are log files the bot created, and probably they filled the whole hard drive. You have to erase them to free some space.
2. empty the Windows Recycle bin to confirm the space
3. download the bot installer from . The current version is 11.24. Any version superior to 11.24 is fine. Do not let the bot update by itself, use the installer.
4. install the bot again. Choose as destination folder the folder of the current bot folder. The installer will overwrite all the bot files but not your settings and your price.
5. the bot is now able to work again and can handle the new version of mtgo!

We'll be on LiveChat if you need help, please contact us

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Scheduled Server updates

Today we will upgrade the hardware of all our servers. We will keep the servers down during the MTGO downtime, this means that and will not be accessible while MTGO is down.

Thank you for your patience

Important update: ML Bot 11.21

Yesterday we released ML Bot 11.21. This version fixes an important problem of the versions from 11.15 to 11.20. These versions logged too much information and in a couple of days filled the hard drive with large text files. With the hard drive filled, and no more space left, the bot encountered a lot of unexpected problems, such as DLL errors, blank screens at startup and blocks.

Not all the PCs experienced the same problem but if yours did then you have to update your bots to 11.21. You have to update manually, using the installer provided in the online control panel. Do not let bot update by itself. If the bot is already 11.21 and you still experience problem, please download the installer and overwrite the current installation.

Before doing everything you also have to check the "/log" folder in the bot main folder and erase all the files there. Most likely you will find a lot of text files there, taking all the hard drive space. Once erased, don't forget to empty your Recycle bin as well.

Thank you

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Wretched Gryff in Pauper

Of the new mechanics in Eldritch Moon, Emerge caught my Pauper eye.

Here is a brief review of the Eldritch Moon mechanics:

3/4 flyers are big in Pauper and can do a lot of work. We already know that a 2/4 flyer is a dominating card from our experience with Spire Golem. What if we can trade in some card to get this beast out early on. The card disadvantage is voided by getting to draw the card from Wretched Gryff. The card can probably not be hard cast except in Tron decks.

So what cards are we looking to sacrifice into this?

Mulldrifter - that's a lot of cards we get to see and in the end we end up with a 3/4 flyer.
Spire Golem - with 6 islands in play, Wretched Gryff suddenly costs 1 mana to play.

It could probably also do a lot of work in decks that sacrifice its own creatures for advantages, such as the Pauper Gauntlet winning deck Aristocrats (if you somehow remake it into a blue version). Creatures with Persist and Undying look pretty good with this guy.

Act of Treason-like effects could be useful but they have never really seen play in Pauper.

What other interesting interactions do you see for Wretched Gryff in Pauper?

Eldritch Moon mechanics

Prerelease of Eldritch Moon starts July, 16-17 and a dozen of new cards have been spoiled recently, meaning that new mechanics were revealed:
  • Meld, a keyword action that changes the card with meld and a specific other card into one oversized card. That single card is printed on the backs of the two other cards. From now on, it is one pernament, so a single spell that says "Destroy target creature" takes out the whole. The differences kick in if it leaves the battlefield. Wherever that permanent goes, both cards go, and they each turn front face up again. 
  • Emerge [cost] - You may cast this spell by sacrificing a creature and paying the emerge cost reduced by that creature's converted mana cost. The discount you get can't affect the colored mana part of the emerge cost.
  • Escalate, a keyword ability appearing on modal instants and sorceries, which offers you a bulleted list of different effects. By paying the escalate cost, additional modes may be activated.