It’s been a busy week in the Magic community. Today we bring you not one, not two, but three major stories from the past seven days. First up, the big news of course was the announcement of new Judge promo cards including a very special Elesh Norn and a Legacy staple. Next, we’ll take a look at the latest MTGO Beta Client spotlight and see the community response to the future of Magic online. Finally, we would be remiss if we left you without a preview of the upcoming Pro Tour in Atlanta this weekend. Let’s dive right in.

New Judge Promos

While the biggest news of the week revolves around the end of Magic Online v3.0, I wanted to begin the week on a positive note for Magic. And, to be fair, there are very few notes as positive as the ones set by these two stunningly beautiful new judge promos:


These are both about to make a lot of bank accounts lighter. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is an insanely popular card in a variety of formats. You may have come across it in one of a handful of reanimator decks such as Dredge. However, you’re most likely familiar with it from either Commander or Cube. Going forwards all the cool kids will have this phyrexian-language foiled-out judge promo version of Elesh Norn in their collections. I don’t want to speculate on a price for this guy just yet, but be prepared to pay a decent premium.

Speaking of paying a decent premium, I will speculate on the price of this foil Force of Will judge promo. One thousand dollars. Maybe I’m over-estimating the demand or under-estimating the supply, but I think I’m in the ballpark at least. According to Wizards, these were only sent “to judges who had certified other judges after 2005.” Based on a few estimates, this number at most is in the neighborhood of 1,500. That is the number of copies of this card that will be in existence. Enough for less than 400 enterprising Vintage and Legacy players to acquire a complete set. That’s assuming every judge is willing to part with them.

But those aren’t the only goodies being given out in judge packets this year. Three more Commanders from the supplemental sets will be getting foil versions. Additionally, Hanna, Ship’s Navigator, a well-known general in the format, has a new foil version with brilliant artwork by Terese Nielsen. Rounding out the set are a throwback-frame Sword of Feast and Famine and a modern-frame Greater Good. All-in-all a great showing by Wizards and well-deserved rewards for the judges of our game who often don’t get nearly enough gratitude.

MTGO Open Beta Spotlight

The future does not look very modern…

A whole lot of announcements were made this week about Magic Online, and hidden among them all was this bomb:

Cutting to the chase, if everything goes as expected, we plan on switching from the current version of Magic Online to the new version this July, prior to Magic Online‘s Magic 2015 Core Set release.

-Chris Kiritz, Digital Business Manager, Magic Online
May 7th, 2014

I put the date there because I want everyone to remember it very clearly. It is currently May. Chris Kiritz believes that in less than two months they will be able to shut off the current version of MTGO in favor of the version that is currently in Beta. That is a very aggressive timeline.

The main focus of these announcements was, in fact, an open beta spotlight weekend. This was done once before, about a year ago, and involves Wizards turning off access from v3.0 clients and only allowing folks to use v4.0. If you know anything about MTGO you may have been able to guess how things went. I logged on for a few hours one day and played a cube draft. I’m very fortunate that nothing crashed and I was able to win my three-round draft. However, not everyone is so lucky. And, even though I had no technical problems, the experience is not ideal.

If you want some more detail, here are some community analysis of the Wide Beta:

  • Adam Barnello of Channel Fireball shares a community tale of a player’s first experiences with the Beta client, and the difficulties they faced [Recurring Nightmares]
  • Peter Jahn of adds his opinions of what needs to be fixed before the Beta client can go live including the very common concerns about collection management in the new client [State of the Program]
  • Brian Kibler, game designer and Magic Pro Tour Hall of Famer, talks about how he assumed the complaints about the client were hyperbolic and blown out of proportion, until he tried to use it to record a video for SCG [BMK Gaming]
  • Court Schuett collected screenshots of all the issues he ran into during the Wide Beta Spotlight, culminating in MTGO utilizing 1.2GB of his computer’s memory [Reddit]

I could probably find another dozen or so similar articles, but these cover most of the major problems. In the meantime, with less than two months to go before the presumed shutdown of the V3 client, what is the team actually working on?

First up on our must-fix list is finishing what we call “sticky settings.” The goal here is for players to only have to adjust a scene or feature once, and then Magic Online will remember that moving forward. From chat location to the columns shown in the Play Lobby to the panes in the draft window, most settings will be remembered between your sessions.

Yikes. Two months from launch and we just figured out how to save your settings between sessions. Good luck meeting that July launch date.

Pro Tour Preview

Pro Tour Journey into Nyx is less than a week away! It’s taking place in Atlanta, Georgia and the featured constructed format will be Theros block constructed. Expect to see a lot of devotion decks and a glimpse into some possible futures for Standard. Also, for the first time in many moons, the Pro Tour will be open to the public! There are a ton of exciting events including:

  • An R&D design panel featuring Ethan Fleischer and Ian Duke
  • VIP drafting with Fleischer, Duke, and Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Mike Turian
  • A booth where you can get your picture put onto either a Minotaur or Snake token
  • Spell-slinging against Shahar Shenhar, members of Wizards R&D, and others
  • A big screen viewing party for the Top 8 on Sunday

You can also check out the official coverage. Stream information can be found in this convenient post by Trick Jarrett. You definitely don’t want to miss out on the Sunday coverage. In case you forgot from the PAX East panel, the theme and name of the fall block, code-named “Huey,” will be unveiled on Sunday during the official coverage.

I don’t really have time in the space of this column to talk more about what you can expect from this major tournament (especially since I went on and on about Magic Online). Thankfully, Brian David-Marshall has you covered! First, he’s put together a look at the Theros block limited format and some of the pros to follow in Atlanta. Next, the entire coverage team took part in a round-table discussion on the tournament. Catch-up on these two posts in your free time and you’ll be all set for the coverage this weekend.

The Quick Hits

  • User basic_forest on Reddit was kind enough to compile a very well thought-out collection of essential MTG articles, from Jeff Cunningham’s Aggro, Combo, and Control to LSV’s Playing Intuitively. This list is a must-bookmark for any competitive player [Reddit]
  • Ethan Fleischer participated in a Reddit AMA last week, mostly tackling questions about his role as the lead designer for Journey into Nyx [Magic Arcana]
  • Speaking of Journey into Nyx, it releases on MTGO today! That’s assuming MTGO is still working right now… [Daily MTG]
  • Magic artist Steve Prescott, best known for illustrating Shriekmaw, sat down for a podcast interview last week [Inside the Deck]
  • Despite the ongoing turmoil in the region, Wizards plans to go ahead with a Grand Prix tournament in Moscow scheduled for mid-June [Magic Arcana]
  • James Arnold presents a look at the works of Magic artist Amy Weber, best known for illustrating Time Walk. Sorry to steal your thunder Steve Prescott [Gathering Magic]

Wallpaper of the Week

But mom, I want snakes when I exile my opponent's creatures!

But mom, I want snakes when I exile my opponent’s creatures!

Next up in our cycle of Journey into Nyx god wallpapers is Pharika, God of making people ask why you don’t get tokens when exiling your opponent’s dudes creating a cycle of oppression that would be very reminiscent of the glory days of black/green Pernicious Deed decks. Pharika’s art has a very noxious tone which is unique in the realm of MTG art. It’s definitely worth a few days on your desktop for that alone.

Grade: B+

The Week Ahead

In case you missed when I mentioned it above, there’s a Pro Tour event happening this weekend in Atlanta, Georgia! What’s that? You want more information? Alright, here are some fun facts. This will be the third time that Atlanta is hosting a Pro Tour. In 2005 they hosted a team limited Pro Tour which featured Champions and Betrayers of Kamigawa. Atlanta was also host to the 8th ever Pro Tour way back in 1996. That Pro Tour was actually doubling as the pre-release for Mirage! Check out this tournament report if you don’t believe me.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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