In today’s video we’ll tackle another Dragons of Tarkir & Fate Reforged draft. It starts off with a high note when Matt passes a high upside card for something relatively mediocre. In round 2, Matt’s computer decided to call it quits so view the game retroactively instead of getting the usual video.
If you’re like me, drafting is your favorite thing to do in Magic. However, the costs quickly add up so understanding how to value draft is an important concept since it helps keep those costs down. There’s a real debate on where to draw the line between picking a money card and picking a solid playable, so I attempted to create a model to help make that decision. I believe the basic concept is sound, however there is plenty of room for improvement in determining how to calculate the incremental advantage a playable adds to a deck. Nonetheless, I think there are some key takeaways in the end along with areas for improvement in the model that you may be able to help with.
Background / Assumptions
First, this model is going to assume Swiss drafting on MTGO and each win has the same value. The later is not necessarily true, for example in Dragons of Tarkir / Fate Reforged limited the first win is worth 3 tickets (DTK Pack), the second is worth 2.4 tickets (FRF Pack), and the third is worth 3 tickets (DTK Pack). However, since this is just an attempt at creating a basic model I am trying to simplify as many things as possible. It could be expanded in the future.
Also, for the sake of simplicity all the example are going to assume each pack is worth 3 tickets. I will also say 3 tickets = $3 since it makes things easier to read.
The Basic Concept
First, we need to determine the value of a win. Since we are assuming each pack is worth $3 and this is Swiss, each win is $3.
Next, we need some method of assigning a point value to each card that reflects how much it increases a deck’s potential. I believe the 300 point scale described below is an acceptable method for giving a deck a point value.
- 300 Points: This deck will go 3-0 every time.
- 200 Points: This deck will go 2-1 on average (it may 3-0, it may 1-2, but if you played 99 games with it you would have 66 wins).
- 100 Points: This deck will go 1-2 on average.
- 000 Points: This deck is nothing but lands and will never do better than 0-3.
If we can accept that scale, we can convert tickets to points and points to tickets. Assuming a $3 per pack, 300 Points = $9. Then we can determine how many points a playable must add to a deck in order to be worth taking over the money card. For example, let’s say we are comparing a $1 value Rare (X) and a card that adds 25 Points of value to a deck (Y). We’ll stick with the assumption that a pack is worth $3 (K) and each 100 points is 1 pack.
- Card Value vs Value Added (converted to $ aka tickets)
- X vs K * (Y / 100)
- $1 vs $3 (25 / 100)
- $1 > $0.75
So in this case, the value added by the rare would be greater than the value the playable adds to the deck and the rare is the correct value pick.
The Challenge: Points Added
The basic concept seems logical and simple, however the struggle comes when trying to determine what points value a playable card is adding to the deck. First, I need to make sure to state that the points added should be as follows:
- Points Added = Points of card – Points of alternative
So for example, let’s say your decision involves determining the value of a Bathe in Dragonfire (estimated 25 points) and you’re pretty sure the card you’ll end up cutting from your deck for it is something like a Smoldering Efreet (estimated 5 points). The points added would be….
- Points Added = Points of Bathe in Dragonfire – Points of Smoldering Efreet = 25 – 5 = 20
Now that we have that down, we need to figure out a good method of determining the point value of a card. One problem here is that the value of a card will change greatly from deck to deck, since a fourth Flatten should probably have a lower value than a third flatten. Once again, for the sake of simplification we will just attempt to establish a baseline value for a card and you will have to adjust based on the draft.
Points Added using LSV’s Set Rating
Let’s attempt to use LSV’s set rating to get an idea of what point value different cards have using the deck below. Based on how it played in a draft, I would give it a rating of around 260 points overall since it felt like it should 3-0 half the time, and 2-1 the other half (it 3-0’d).
You can view the few attempts I made at reverse engineering that 260 using LSV’s ratings at this Google Doc (second tab Titled “Deck Values”). I’m sure if LSV was to redo his ratings there would be minor changes, and I did make notes where I adjusted two of his ratings from FRF to what I felt was more correct.
The column that felt moderately accurate was the column where I took LSVs rating and had a bracketed adjustment with the ranges below.
- Rating 4.00 to 4.99: Multiplied by 6 to get point value.
- Rating 3.00-3.99: Multiplied by 4 to get point value.
- Rating 2.00-2.99: Multiplied by 2 to get point value.
In my opinion, this tiered adjustment granted a high value to the powerful cards giving something like Deathbringer Regent 24 points and almost 10% of the deck’s total point value. Meanwhile, something like Shambling Goblin only received 4 points ad 1.5% of the deck’s total point value.
Analysis of Points Added
Now I don’t think that the adjustment I did using LSV’s set review was perfect, but I think that there is one key observation to be had. Let’s say we replace a Shambling Goblin (4 points) with a Silumgar’s Assassin (24 points), that’s a 20 point increase. Converting that to matches we are saying that if you play 500 matches with Silumgar’s Assassin you will win 100 more than you would have with Shambling Goblin in its place. Keep in mind, approximately 31.7% of those matches you won’t even see Silumgar’s Assassin.
To me, that increase seems like a fair estimate, and more than I thought I would see going into this analysis. If you agree, then you’ll notice that it is REALLY hard to find a card that adds 33 points of value (point equivalent of a $1 rare). This makes me think that picking a $1 rare is generally going to be the correct play for Swiss assuming packs are $3 each. If pack prices go down, the point equivalent of the $1 rare increase and as the price pack goes up it decreases.
I think that the basic concept of this model is a sound base to build upon. However, I think there is plenty of room for improvement in regards to determining the points added to a deck. Until I see a sound alternative that says otherwise, I personally will assume that the $1 rare is almost always the right pick since it is the equivalent of 33 points at $3/pack or 25 points at $4/pack. Based on the tiered LSV model, adding 25 points would take replacing a land with a bomb or a bear with a Pack Rat. Adding 33 points is even harder.
In addition to a more statistically proven model for determining what points a card adds to a deck, specifically see potential improvement through a points added model that takes lands into account along with the concept of being playing 22 vs 23 spells. I think an accurate points value added model would take an expert drafter’s ability to analyze a deck, and even then we would have to understand how to adjust the base value of a card depending on the draft.
In today’s Magic the Gathering draft, I fumble my way through a draft then trip and fall through the salty desert that is Round 2 and Round 3.
This draft was a particularly salty draft on my end, and I strongly considered just shooting a new video and submitting that. It shows me in a bit of a bad light, however I realized I should post it because it shows that everyone gets salty and what happens when it gets the best of you. However, you will notice that it was very easy for me to not send my opponents message and keep the emotions to myself. When you find yourself in a similar situation, whether its online or in paper, remember there’s a human on the other side and keep your composure as best as you can. No need to take it out on anyone else.
Also, in the third round video, a bit of a bug happens during the sideboarding. For some reason the cards I had highlighted were added to the deck, so I submitted the bug to WotC and did get a reimbursement for the draft.
Attending your first Friday Night Magic (FNM) event at your local game store (LGS) is a bit first step for any player. It’s usually the first time you’re get to play sanctioned Magic against people you don’t know, and it can be a bit intimidating for some new players. Luckily, I’m here to help you get ready with this primer and show you that it’s nothing to be nervous about since they’re usually very casual.
I’m a bit nervous, how competitive is FNM?
To start off this section, I’m going to show you an excerpt from the judge’s guide to judging at your FNM.
[FNM] encourages a welcoming atmosphere and friendly competition. As judges, we should be friendly and involved, sometimes playing in events ourselves. Like players, we are encouraged to help at appropriate times, such as during deck construction or between matches.
Now having judges makes this sound official, but as this says they are just there to help you. They are not there to make sure everyone is playing perfectly and rule with an iron first, they are there to help you learn to play at an FNM and teach you about the rules of the game. If you watch Magic tournaments on Twitch or participate on forums, you’ll hear about people making a small play mistake then getting a game/match loss. No need to worry, this won’t happen to you at FNM! At FNM, unless you’re cheating the judges will help you solve those small mistakes without giving you a game/match loss. At this level, they understand that mistakes happen and just want to help you learn so they don’t keep happening.
Okay, then what do I need for FNM?
First, for FNM there are two common formats that you’ll stumble upon: Draft and Standard. So below we’ll go through what you need for both of these.
- A DCI Number: This is basically a unique number Wizards of the Coast (those guys that make Magic) give you so you can keep track of how you’re doing at tournaments. If this is your first FNM, don’t worry because you don’t have one yet. When you show up to your LGS and ask to play, they’ll ask for your DCI number and you can just say “I don’t have one.” Then, the judge or person running the event will give you one. Make sure to save a picture of this on your phone since you may want to use it next time you play, although if you lose it you can always just get a new one!
- Money: It ain’t free. Most drafts cost around $15.
- Knowlege: You should have a vague idea about what a draft is. It’s my absolute favorite format, but it helps to know what you’re doing. Here’s an article on how to draft and here’s a video on how to draft. If you read/watch either of those, you’re good to go, and when you get to FNM let the judge know you’ve never drafted before, and he or she will help you out. Also, be aware of what cards are expensive and pick those if you see them because it helps make each draft less expensive.
- Recommended: Sleeves! Your store will be selling sleeves, and you can get 100 “penny sleeves” for a dollar. These sleeves will help keep your cards from getting too damaged when you play with them, and you want this because you may open up a $20 card.
- A DCI Number: Same as above.
- Money: Once again, it’s usually not free. Price range is usually $5-$15 for this.
- A Deck: Unlike draft, standard is a “Constructed” format, which means that you bring your own deck. For standard, the cards in the deck have to follow a few rules so here is a brief overview of what standard is. Once again, if you ask a judge for help they’ll be more than happy to help!
Sounds fun! Where do I play?
Friday Night Magic happens at nearly every Local Game Store (LGS), and Wizards of the Coast has this handy store finder to help you find a place to play. If you’re fortunate enough to have a few stores within your area, I highly recommend trying different ones until you find the right fit. For example, I am lucky enough to have 4 LGSs within 20 minutes of my house. The first place I went to was large with a competitive crowd. The second was similar, although a bit smaller. The third was casual, although a lot of players were very young so it was not much of a challenge. A few months ago, a new place opened up that was also casual but with an older crowd. As a very casual player that’s been playing a while, I found the fourth was far more enjoyable for me since it’s a laid back crowd and I can have good conversations with the players.
- Bring a snack and water, but never put them on the table! These events can last for a few hours, and for most of the time you are going to be deep in thought trying to beat your opponent. Turns out this can get tiring quickly, but bringing a snack and some water can help keep you going at a high level of competence.
- Don’t be discouraged! If you don’t do so well at your first FNM, don’t let it get to you! Your opponent have probably been playing for years, and this is your first time playing outside of your friend group. Just try to figure out how they beat you, and learn from their experience. If you’re looking for help to improve, there are plenty of resources out there if you google for them. I’d also recommend finding someone playing the format you like on Twitch, then watch them play and learn to think like they do.
- If you run into any problems, ask a judge and they can help you out. If not a judge, you can always just ask me.
Now get out there and have fun!
Today Matt punts his way through his first Dragons of Tarkir draft. Find out how it goes in the videos below, and let him know would you would have done differently!
Today’s draft was done by the new guest host Bryan, and this is his first go before his videos start going up on our Planestyling Youtube page with the rest. He takes on Dragons of Tarkir limited with the kind of “turn ‘em sideways” deck that I’ve learned to love. Enjoy!
Since that video seems to have quality issues, here is a written summary of what you’re watching.
On the left, Seth Manfield’s Elspeth is at 7 loyalty and risking going ultimate, but he passes the turn knowing Jamie Park’s Silumgar will be able to deal with that and the 1/1 tokens. During his turn, Jamie Park’s already indestructible and hexproof (from earlier exiles while casting) Soulflayer get’s bestowed with a Chromanticore to make it insane. You thought the UW Heroic guys were hard to deal with? This Soulflayer is now an 8/8 with Hexproof, Indestructible, Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample, Lifelink, and when this creature dies put a 4/4 with Flying, First Strike, Vigilance, Trample, and Lifelink into play. Surprisingly, the game does not last long from there.
In this article we are going to go over how to sell Magic Cards on TCGPlayer, which is one of the best places to sell Magic cards. TCG is very straightforward, so this guide is condensed. However, if you have any questions leave them in the comments here or send them to me at socialmtg. I will personally answer them and updated this guide with more details.
What It Takes
In order to sell on TCG, all you need is an account which you can create here. If you already have an account for buying with TCG, just sign in at that same link. TCG is fairly straight forward, so from there your account will just involve answering some informational questions so TCG can create your account.
To add cards to your inventory, go to your Seller Portal (Login -> My Account -> Seller Portal). From there, click on the inventory tab and search for the card you want to add. If you need to, select the edition you want to sell and it will take you to a “Manage Product” page where you can edit inventory and prices. To add a card, change the quantity available to the amount you’re selling, and set your price. Be sure to pay attention to the lowest available price and the condition that you are putting the card in as.
Someone bought one of your cards! Now to fill their order you go to your Seller Portal (Login -> My Account -> Seller Portal) and find the Orders Tab. In here you can print order invoices, mark an item as shipped, add a tracking number, etc. At the end of each day where you receive a message or order, TCG will send you an email with the total number of orders received and messages received so be on the lookout for those as reminders.
There are plenty of options for selling Magic: the Gathering cards, and in this article I’m going to give a brief overview of different outlets including ratings of ease and safety on a scale of 1-5 stars.
Fees: 12.9% + $0.30
How To: Link
Description: eBay is possibly the best known name for selling anything online, and it’s no different for Magic. They aren’t particularly hard to use, since you can find a listing for the card you want to sell then quickly copy it. However, if you ever have to create/edit an add the interface is very complicated, and you have to learn what wording to use for listings. Additionally, eBay will almost always side with the buyer so there is some risk of being scammed but it doesn’t happen often based on my few hundred transactions. eBay does have huge fees compared to other options, since you have to pay eBay and Paypal when using eBay.
Fees: 11% + $0.50
How To: Link
Description: TCGPlayer is the big name in Magic Sales, along with StarCityGames and ChannelFireBall. This means that your cards will receive a high number of views, which is good. It is easy to use since as a seller you open your seller portal and can search through cards, resulting in a cleaner interface than eBay. Just like with eBay, TCG will always side with the buyer so there is some risk of being scammed, and it has happened to me more here than on eBay but that’s an anecdote not a statistic. This is where I have moved to doing most of my selling, although the fees are still high.
Fees: ~50% of Retail
Description: Buylisting is something not everyone may be familiar with, so for the unaware it is selling your cards directly to a store. Stores have their own buylist (SCG, CFB, etc) and that is how much they are willing to pay for a card. This is great if you have a lot of small cards to get rid of where selling on TCG/eBay may not be viable with fees and shipping costs. The hardest part is figuring out which stores to sell to, and MTGPrice has a feature to help with that (under current prices select “Sell To”). The main risk here is the store you sell to, so make sure to research since some stores like StrikeZone are known for being finicky in regards to things like condition.
Fees: 0% to 2.9% + $0.30 to 10%
Description: Selling on forums like /r/magicTCG, /r/mtgmarketwatch, Facebook High End, mtgsalvation, or any of the many others is an option. The exact rules vary from one source to another, however this allows you to sell without fees. This benefit is usually shared between buyer and seller, so that a buyer gets more than they would off TCG/eBay and the seller pays less than they would on TCG/eBay. However, the anonymity of this option can be a bit of an issue so I always recommend paying through paypal and not paying as a gift. You cannot dispute the transaction if you sent a gift, but if you paid that 2.9% + $0.30 you can dispute if the cards are not sent.
Description: This is about selling, but I just wanted a reminder that trading is an option. Whether you trade at your LGS, at a GP, through Pucatrade, or one of the million alternatives just remember that this is an option. Depending on where you are, the ease varies as does the safety. But don’t forget that this can let you get the cards you want using the cards you have, without paying those pesky fees.