Mythic price check – Rise of the Eldrazi, part one

This won’t be an article complaining about prices. Rather, after reading some interesting commentary a while back on how mythic prices drop following a set’s release, as well as reading Russ Tassicker’s post about mythic prices, I’ve decided to track the pricing on Rise mythics. I expect the majority of them to go down, of course, but I’m genuinely curious about whether I have any ability to predict, at least over the course of the early Rise Standard, which ones those will be.
I’m going to track prices from ChannelFireball and StarCityGames. Yes, I know they cost more than eBay – such is the nature of a store versus what is, effectively, a highly efficient flea market. That said, the prices scale appropriately, so if all you’re curious about is the change in price over time, it doesn’t matter what baseline you start at.
Here is the preorder pricing on the mythics we’ve already seen in official spoilers:

  • All is Dust – $14.98 at CFB, $14.99 at SCG
  • Cast Through Time – $1.98 at CFB, $1.99 at SCG
  • Emrakul, the Aeons Torn – $14.98 at CFB, $14.99 at SCG
  • Gideon Jura – $39.98 at CFB, $39.99 at SCG
  • Hellcarver Demon – $9.99 at CFB, $14.99 at SCG
  • Kargan Dragonlord – $8.98 at CFB, $12.99 at SCG
  • Khalni Hydra – $6.98 at CFB, $4.99 at SCG
  • Kozilek, Butcher of Truth – $28.99 at CFB, $29.99 at SCG
  • Lighthouse Chronologist – $5.98 at CFB, $5.99 at SCG
  • Nirkana Revenant – $6.99 at CFB, $7.99 at SCG
  • Sarkhan the Mad – $18.98 at CFB, $19.99 at SCG
  • Transcendent Master – $5.48 at CFB, $5.99 at SCG
  • Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre – $9.98 at CFB, $9.99 at SCG
  • Vengevine – $18.98 at CFB, $19.99 at SCG

I wasn’t actually expecting any significant price discrepancies between the two sites, but it looks like ChannelFireball is your place to go for Hellcarver Demon, Kargan Dragonlord, and Nirkana Revenant, and StarCity is your source of choice for Khalni Hydra. Of course, whether you want to pay the prerelease prices for any of those is the actual question, and we’ll have to wait to see how that pans out.
My own inclination is to think that Hellcarver will calm down a bit once the first wave of casual purchasers get theirs, and that Vengevine will also go down as it’s potentially powerful, but definitely narrow. I want to test Gideon a bit to see whether he’s likely to stay stable or drop, but I don’t think he’ll go up. Kozilek is my favorite Eldrazi, so it’s a touch pesky to see it at thirty dollars. I’m a little surprised that Ulamog is as low as ten right now, though.
I just put in my first pre-order, which largely dodges anything on the mythic list above, except for a couple copies of mister Vol. For now, it’s basically just the usual common/uncommon playset and then we’ll go from there, once the Standard environment has developed a little bit more.

The new National Qualifiers system

The announcement of the replacement of Regionals with National Qualifiers sparked some concern among those of us in California. The problem – one we share to some extent with the also populous and large Texas – is that our state is very, very large. In the past few years, California has had three Regionals, one located in Los Angeles, one in the SF Bay Area, and one in Sacramento. Each one used to award four entries to Nationals.
Now we’ve been revised down to one Qualifier with eight slots, and a quick trip to the Sunmesa web site tells us that this year’s California National Qualifier will be in Los Angeles.
This kind of sucks, honestly.
It’s not an issue of fewer invites. Instead, the problem is that Los Angeles is 350 miles from San Jose and 380 miles from Sacramento. It’s even worse for people from the northern counties surrounding the Bay Area. A player coming from San Francisco proper has a 380 mile trip, and one coming from Petaluma gets to make a 410 mile drive.
This sparked a conversation over on Facebook, and Glen Godard, an awesome guy and a TO for Sunmesa, pointed out that under the new National Qualifier system you can go to an adjacent state’s Qualifier if it’s closer. Like I said, Glen is an awesome guy, but this is where California’s geography frequently catches people off guard.
There’s nothing closer.
Our neighboring Qualifiers are going to be in Portland and Las Vegas. Portland is 670 miles from San Jose, and Las Vegas is 520 miles from San Jose.
Apparently the Qualifier tournament is going to bounce back and forth between the Bay Area and Los Angeles from year to year, but that just shifts the problem between player groups. When the Qualifier is up in our area, then that forces the Los Angeles players to make the 350 mile drive, and lets the San Diego players choose between a 460 mile drive to the Bay Area, a 330 mile drive to Las Vegas, or a 360 mile drive to Phoenix.
The other option is to take a flight, of course, but that represents a whole different barrier to entry when compared with a drive that usually capped out at about two hours or so. It’s easy to grab your friends and carpool from San Diego to Los Angeles, or from Monterey to San Jose. In contrast, a flight is a big chunk of money that you can’t split like gas, along with the added costs associated with getting to and from airports, finding a place to stay while you’re at Quals, and so forth.
I was excited about National Qualifiers and generally onboard with the attempt to make them follow a unified format across different countries, but…this is pretty problematic. We could reasonably expect to see a lot of people who aren’t on the normal PTQ circuit at our Regionals each year, but with the potential for venues to be 350 or more miles away from a giant chunk of the state’s population, it feels like that a lot of the more “casual competitive” players who are drawn by the sense of community that went with Regionals just won’t make the trip.
I’d like to go to National Qualifiers, but I don’t think I can swing a 700 mile roundtrip drive or a flight that weekend. After all, if I’m flying for Magic, well…Grand Prix DC is the next weekend right after.
Our situation may be unique…even the major population centers in Texas aren’t nearly as distant from each other as we are here in California. That said, it would be nice to find a way to avoid making National Quals inaccessible to 30-50% of the state’s population each year.
You can watch LSV and Tristan Shaun Gregson discuss the change here:

The case for Force of Will

Last week I wrote about possible design solutions to keep Legacy healthy in the wake of the firming up of the reprint policy. Prior to that, I talked about why I have non-power-card reasons to want reprints, and since then I’ve put together an estimate of the total number of dual lands in the world. Now, I want to turn toward something else interesting…
Are Legacy staples all necessarily overpowered?
Click through to the extended entry to read more.

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Dread Gifts (a deck for Mirrodin-Worldwake Extended)

SunderingTitan.jpegDreadReturn.jpegWormHarvest.jpeg
Accept one favor from an ouphe, and you’re doomed to accept another.
Its secrets once wrought the greatest artifice ever known. Now crabs loot the rubble to decorate their shells.
“Release that which was never caged.” – Spellbomb inscription
During the collision of the shards, entire ways of life disappeared without a trace.
She remembers every word spoken, from the hero’s oath to the baby’s cry.
Where wasted life cries out to be reborn.
“Before I hire new recruits, I test how long they can hold their breath. You’d be surprised how often that comes up.” – Zahr Gada, Halimar expedition leader
It plucks away memories like choice bits of carrion.
The void is without substance but cuts like steel.
Amidst the darkest ashes grow the strongest seeds.
The wise pay as much attention to what they throw away as to what they keep.
The dark opening seemed to breathe the cold, damp air of the dead earth in a steady rhythm.
Elves believe the hydra-god Progenitus sleeps beneath Naya, feeding on forgotten magics.
“Roil tide! Roil tide! Tie yourselves down!”
“How can we wage war against ourselves? What happens the the kami of our very souls rise against us? I answer simply: We cannot. We die. There can be no victory in this war.” – Sensei Hisoka, letter to Lord Konda
No more shall the righteous cower before evil.

That’s all the flavor text in the Extended deck I played yesterday. Deck list and commentary in the full entry.

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On fishing

“Fishing,” if you’re unfamiliar with the colloquialism, is the practice of trying to win games and matches not on deck choice or play skill, but by very actively following up on apparent tournament rules violations in hopes of getting your opponent game- or match-lossed.
There’s a lot of fuzzy thinking about “fishing” versus “proper play,” and this is contributes to some players’ hesitation about calling a judge. Are you “fishing” if you call a judge because your opponent missed a trigger, or because they searched for a card, riffled once, and then presented the deck to you?
No.
Fishing is usually done intentionally in gray areas, like insisting that a scuffed sleeve is actually marked (which amounts to fishing for a DQ, which is pretty ugly) or that your opponent is player slowly when they actually aren’t. More to the point, if you know you aren’t fishing, then you aren’t fishing. If you legitimately want to call a judge, do so. Don’t sit there second-guessing the decision to call. If you have correctly identified a game play issue, then the judge will let you know. Similarly if you haven’t. Either way, it’s fine.
I was accused of fishing by one commenter on my report from GP Oakland because I count out my opponent’s deck each time it’s presented to me to start a game. That’s not fishing – it’s just good standard operating procedure. If everyone did this, it would stop any cheaters and generally lead us all to clean up our act in sideboarding. Perhaps even more to the point, at GP Oakland I caught my opponent’s error of shuffling his Marit Lage token back into his deck – there was no game loss for that one, and it headed off the giant mess that him drawing his token would have yielded once we were well into the game.
So far in my sanctioned tournament career, I’ve only made three judge calls that led to opponent game losses. Two were for tardiness, which doesn’t really fall into the same category – although one of these led to a match loss when my opponent was tardy, and then we were deckchecked and he had a registration error. The opponent was Kenny Ellis, though, so he naturally had a great attitude about what a comically bad beat he’d just experienced. My one other “game lossing” of an opponent came during a Standard tournament just after the 9th to 10th edition transition, when I was resolving a Head Games against my opponent and noticed he had Weird Harvest in his deck.
Overall, I’d say that good players don’t tend to fish. They may call judges more often than a typical PTQ player would, but I think that comes down to an attention to proper player procedure more than anything else.
This is on my mind after a match yesterday that mixed clumsy fishing with player sloppiness.
This was late in the tournament, and I was having one of those “deck malfunction days,” including highlights like mulliganing down to four cards in search of land in a deck featuring twenty-four of them. I’ll talk more about the deck in another post, but this was Extended, so it was Gifts.
In game one, my Scapeshift opponent hits the eponymous spell and says “I do eighteen to you” without doing anything else. I wonder for a moment how many people have just been scooping to him there, and say, “Show me.” He then explains that he’s going to get a Valakut and six mountains.
“Okay. Run through it for me.”
And no, it wasn’t a bluff, he had the lands (in fact, barring a weird draw that saw them all in his hand, I don’t know how he couldn’t have, so I don’t know why he didn’t just do the spell properly in the first place).
I lose that game, then take the second on the back of a Bitter Ordeal for all of his Valakuts. Ordeal is a hilarious card in an environment with fetchlands.
In the third game, I play a Snow-Covered Island and he asks, “Did you write Snow-Covered Island on our deck list?”
I don’t know if I was annoyed more by the fishing, the fishing in the wake of the half-assed Scapeshift execution, or the half-assed nature of the fishing itself. I assured him that I did, indeed, write the correct card names on my deck reg sheet and we moved on…to him playing two lands in the same turn a few turns later.
I said, “That’s your second land this turn.” He picked it right up and put it back in his hand, and I said, “It’s not a big deal, but I’m going to go ahead and call a judge.”
Which I did, and he picked up a Warning for a Game Rule Violation. I wasn’t fishing for anything here – I didn’t imagine he had prior Warnings, and I was going to be dead to an unopposed Scapeshift awfully soon. That said, you need to do these judge calls because:

  • 1 – You don’t know if they’ve been doing this all day, and you’re going to actually stop them by netting them their third Warning
  • 2 – You don’t know if they’ve been doing this all day and no one’s called them on it, so you want to be a good citizen and make sure they play properly and there’s a record if the sloppiness continues

Either way, I did die to that unopposed Scapeshift soon after, and even that execution was sloppy, as he cast Scapeshift, then picked up his library and began to search without sacrificing anything. At a PTQ, I think I’d stop him there, call a judge, and point out that he was searching for no lands because Scapeshift requires that you make the sacrifice choice first. At this local tournament, I just stopped him and made him do it right.
My punchline here is that this was one of those rare moments when my opponent’s behavior just put me off. That said, I think it’s important to remember that it’s okay to call a judge, and helps improve the environment of the tournament in general. Even though some folks will clumsily fish for wins via the tournament rules, if all you want to do is make sure the game proceeds correctly, it’s okay to call a judge. Fishing is all about intent – if you’re not trying to do it, you’re not doing it.

There are a lot of good memories out there

This week’s In Development really hit a positive chord with the audience. I’m glad that my most commented columns are the ones where I share my love for the game, whether I’m telling everyone that PTQs are fun are reminding all of us that we’re blessed with a wealth of awesome play in the video coverage.
If you haven’t already, head on over to the column and check it out, then find me on twitter and let me know what you think.