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Insider: MTGO Automation and Analysis Week 6

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Article #6! Quite a lot has happened in the world of MTGO since my last article. As a developer and a member of the tech industry I have very mixed feelings on these issues. My emotional attachment to Vintage magic (and Vintage Masters in June) is strong, and is the only thing that has prevented me from selling my collection. It is harder and harder to ignore the rampant technical incompetence displayed at WoTC. I haven't logged into MTGO since black Wednesday when I sold off all my standard holdings, so my article this week will focus on a side topic I enjoy talking about, PRM cards. On the automation side, I want to talk a little about the changes made to the "News & Updates" page.

Automation:

Last time around I wrote about how to use regular expressions to scrape individual decklists from the reported events. Unfortunately since then WoTC has decided there won't be anymore Premier or Daily Events and these were my primary sources of data. To replace them, Wizards now reports the top four decks from up to two on-demand eight man queues in each format. The result is a massive drop in data quality. For example, one of the last reported Daily Events was Standard Event #6282031. This event supplied 53 decklists doing 3-1 or 4-0. To replace this, I can now see the results of two standard on-demand queues, each with four deck lists. These four decklists represent 1-1, 1-1, 2-1, and 3-0. Multiply that by two events and the best we can get is two 3-0 decklists. Not quite the same as 53 unfortunately.

It is also interesting to note that this change required me to update my code! In my previous code, I had the following block:

if(ev.Event_Type__c.contains('Premier')){
Deck_Pattern = Pattern.compile('<heading>[a-zA-Z0-9._ ]+\\([12345678][\\w]+\\)</heading>');
} else if(ev.Event_Type__c.contains('Daily')){
Deck_Pattern = Pattern.compile('<heading>[a-zA-Z0-9._ ]+\\([43]-[10]\\)</heading>');
}

I was performing specific actions off of the "Premier" and "Daily", neither of which are used anymore. To update this, I had to add in a section for "Event" just to scrape the new decks. This does a good job of illustrating how scraping data is extremely dependent on the source code being scraped not changing. One minor difference and I'm suddenly not scraping any decks. I'm still deciding on whether to scrape all the decks, or just the first place deck. I'm not sure 2-1 or 1-1 is a record worth keeping. Unfortunately I think the great reports I was generating will have to go on hiatus until DE's and PE's return. I don't have enough confidence in the source data anymore to present it in an article. Damn you Wizards!

Speculation:

Since I cannot really report on the standard metagame, I thought I'd discuss an area of MTGO specific investing that I greatly enjoy.

In past months MTGO players earned qualifier points that allowed them to take part in the Magic Online Championship Series, or MOCS for short (with the MOCS suspended it will now be a limited queue). In whatever form the event takes, one of the end results is promotional or PRM versions of cards. The list of promos can be seen here: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/other/12182012c . I have been investing in PRM cards for a number of years now and I believe this is a great place to put some tickets on a regular basis. Here are my reasons:

#1 If you aggressively go after copies early, you can pick them up for less than their regular counterparts. If there is an expensive card you want with an upcoming PRM release, wait and buy the PRM version.
Examples:

    • PRM Underground Sea was 25 tickets on release day, while Master's Edition copies still sell for 35+.
      PRM Orim's Chant was 7 tickets on release day, while the Planeshift original was hovering at 18 a few days prior.

      PRM Pernicious Deed was 18 tickets on release day, while the original Deed was 35 tickets.

  • #2 PRM Prices almost always go higher than the originals over time. If you have copies of the originals, sell when the PRM version is announced and buy the PRM version when it is released.
    Examples:

    • PRM Orim's Chant is 15 tickets now, while the original has plummeted to 5 tickets.
      The big exception has been Force of Will, where the iconic original art is still more valuable than the promo art.
  • #3 PRM Prices are insulated to change where regular copies are not. If the difference between a regular copy and a PRM copy is narrow (close to release of the PRM copy), it can be much safer to hold the PRM copy.
    Examples:

    • PRM Restoration Angel is 25 tickets, while the original is 5 tickets. The margin on these a couple of months ago was much much closer.
      PRM Phyrexian Metamorph is 22 tickets, even though the legendary changes crashed the original to 2.50.
  • #4 Eternal playable PRM foils are crazy. I always try and buy at least 1 because the gains can be staggering. There use to only be 32 copies of every card, but now there are closer to 80 copies.
    Examples:

    • I did not buy a PRM Foil Yawgmoth's at release time and they were 100-150. I just bought one last week for 450. Crazy.
      The most expensive card on MTGO is a foil PRM. Know which one? Wasteland. 4x of them sold a few weeks ago for $4000.
      I bought one Foil PRM Underground Sea for 170. This will definitely go up in price once Vintage Masters goes live, as this is one of the most.
  • PRM Strategies can be great for people who want to devote a portion of their portfolio to a non-violent appreciating asset. I tend to focus on Vintage and Legacy playables only, but I suspect Modern cards would pan out as well.

    Conclusion:

    That's it for this installment. Because of the changes, I haven't logged into MTGO much so I'm not sure what my next article will entail. I'm hoping to hear some news from WoTC in the next two weeks that will inspire me a little.

    Kyle Tobener

    Kyle Tobener lives San Francisco and works as an information security engineer. He's primarily an eternal player and has been digital only since 2007 when he sold his collection and moved to Thailand to research monkeys. Outside of Magic he is a big soccer fan and supports Chelsea FC religiously. Kyle is regularly available to chat on MTGO under the username ratavagnimalf.

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    One thought on “Insider: MTGO Automation and Analysis Week 6

    1. wow what a time to sell all my paper cards… I kept my online cards in some blind faith wotc will endure. I also stared playing 2 person standard and have won 8/12.

      now that I’ve finacialy recovered I came to your articl looking for some safe bets to start my portfoilo again this time online. and guess its all in turmoil untill they can smooth things out.

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