Magic: the Gathering


  • Admin

    I've been itching for a while to get back into Magic: the Gathering but the idea of sitting in rooms packed with kids doesn't appeal to me as much as it did when I was myself one. And it's not very convenient - I'd rather do so from my computer like everything else. :)

    Is anyone here playing Magic Online? If so, care to comment on its current state? Alternatively anyone playing Magic over third-party clients with some insight on their status, communities, etc?

    Thanks in advance.


  • Pitcrew

    I have no idea. But if you found a way to play it online (preferably a free one, natch) I would totally play the hell out of it with you.



  • Same. There's a client I use to play Yugioh called YGOPro, which just has ever card ever released coded into it, and you can just make decks and play at random.

    I have looked but never found anything similar to that for MtG though, which would be my ideal; this 'rack up wins to get points to buy packs to MAYBE get cards you want' is kinda meh.


  • Pitcrew

    @Bobotron said:

    Same. There's a client I use to play Yugioh called YGOPro, which just has ever card ever released coded into it, and you can just make decks and play at random.

    I have looked but never found anything similar to that for MtG though, which would be my ideal; this 'rack up wins to get points to buy packs to MAYBE get cards you want' is kinda meh.

    My younger brother is BIG in the Yu-Gi-Oh community here, and he has ties to it in San Francisco. He was helping develop a client for it. Maybe it's that one. I don't actually know.


  • Admin

    @Coin said:

    I have no idea. But if you found a way to play it online (preferably a free one, natch) I would totally play the hell out of it with you.

    There was a free client I looked into back in the day but hell if I can remember the name any more. It was the communities (i.e. actually finding games) that was the problem for me. Basically it was the same thing as playing on a table otherwise - no automations, you tapped/untapped your own cards, etc, unlike the convenience of MTGO handling the effects for you.

    What I always minded about MTGO is that it cost the same to buy virtual cards as it did physical ones. But the worth of each card is far less (you can put real ones on eBay, hand them to whoever you like, etc) plus if the game went down all players would be screwed out of luck.

    I guess I'll do some research tonight!


  • Admin


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel
    It's not free (sorry @Coin) but all of the Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers games on Steam have been pretty good, and you can unlock all the decks and cards without paying anything by playing through the campaigns, I believe. I have the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 releases, and I think they only cost like $10 each. I've easily gotten more than $10 of entertainment in playing through all their campaign modes alone. I thiiiiink they might allow for multiplayer for duels, but I haven't really tried. They're all really slick and have a ton of cards.

    There's also Magic: Duels (here's your free one, @Coin) which is also a wotc product, but I haven't tried playing it yet (I'm still working on clearing out the 2015 campaign mode) but it's purportedly a full on officially licensed Magic game made (I think) primarily for multiplayer duels and such, so you could check that out on Steam.

    Edited with links and a correction on Duels.


  • Admin

    @HelloRaptor My problem with that is that, IIRC, it gave (used to?) only limited ability to construct decks any way you wanted to and had a rather limited card pool.

    The first part for me is the dealbreaker. 80% of what I enjoy in Magic is constructing decks and theorycrafting them against common popular ones. If I can't construct my own I'd not be interested.

    Have you tried Cockatrice or XMage? Those seem intriguing, for different reasons.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel
    Hmmm. I dunno about Duels, but I seem to recall you're correct on the earlier Magic 201x titles. It may have been retroactively changed, but I know for sure in 2015 you've got a good bit of freedom. Some of it requires that you go through the Settings menu to uncheck things, as there are a few built in bits to help novice players (like automatically assigning the best land-to-spells/summons ratio), as well as turning off an option that keeps you from 'accidentally' targeting an enemy creature with a beneficial enchantment. You're legally allowed to do it but the game assumes you're making a mistake by default. Luckily the options can be changed on the fly while in a game, so I was able to target a couple of supercharged creatures with a +1/+1 lifelink enchantment since they had a rider about being sacrificed if they were the target of spells or abilities. ^_^

    Anyway, I haven't tried to get really into the deck building part of 2015 yet, other than tweaking the one I started with because I prefer to run all the way through campaign mode with a deck (then do it again with another) to see how it handles a wide variety of stuff. It LOOKS like it's pretty robust. I know I have a fuck ton of non-white/black creatures (playing a vampire-soldier deck) I haven't looked through.

    Again I can't speak for Duels, but it's newer than 2015 and SEEMS like it's aimed more at the multiplayer deckbuilding crowd, so... It's free to play, and you can earn all the cards by playing it claims, so no reason not to give it a try.


  • Admin

    @HelloRaptor How are they not canibalizing their own MTGO game with it? What's the major feature missing?


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said:

    @HelloRaptor How are they not canibalizing their own MTGO game with it? What's the major feature missing?

    I'm not sure what you're asking. Cannibalizing their ...whatnow?


  • Pitcrew

    @HelloRaptor said:

    @Arkandel said:

    @HelloRaptor How are they not canibalizing their own MTGO game with it? What's the major feature missing?

    I'm not sure what you're asking. Cannibalizing their ...whatnow?

    "What is better about the paid versions that make them not completely obsolete by the free versions?"


  • Pitcrew

    @Coin said:

    @HelloRaptor said:

    @Arkandel said:

    @HelloRaptor How are they not canibalizing their own MTGO game with it? What's the major feature missing?

    I'm not sure what you're asking. Cannibalizing their ...whatnow?

    "What is better about the paid versions that make them not completely obsolete by the free versions?"

    Oh, I don't know. Like I said, I haven't played Magic: Duels, the one that just came out and is free. But... it's free. It costs absolutely nothing except some bandwidth and time to go check it out. So it seems like it'd be worth looking into for people who want a MTO game for PC.

    My impression is that the previous yearly releases were campaign-and-challenge-mode play first with multiplayer stuff tacked on, while the newer Duels thing is more focused on multiplayer stuff with some single player tacked on (practice matches against the AI, maybe challenges).

    If anybody really wants to wait that long, I'll probably finish up with the Magic 2015 campaign mode in a few days and load up the M:D free game to see what it's like, and post something here.


  • Tutorialist

    @HelloRaptor said:

    @Arkandel
    I thiiiiink they might allow for multiplayer for duels, but I haven't really tried. They're all really slick and have a ton of cards.

    I know that Magic 2014 does. I have it as does @Saulot. I won't speak for him, but I'm more than willing to play people. (I'd have to reinstall it, but I would if anyone wanted to play.)


  • Admin

    @Cobaltasaurus I'll do some tests tonight, including Duels and some free versions to evaluate. Obviously if anyone plans to do the same and you want to compare notes, let's do so.

    My uneducated theory is Duels simply has a smaller pool of cards. I seriously doubt they'd allow the full Standard sets to be available for free on multiplayer without butchering their own full product.


  • Admin


  • Admin

    So, a couple of hours spent on Duels yesterday. First of all some facts:

    It's got 251 Unique cards, 158 of which from the Origins paper set. After the first free deck building pack, you'll reportedly require something like 72 boosters to get everything, besides those gotten free through campaign and skill quests.

    Every new update should get 80% of any given paper set.

    Rarity restrictions still apply, maximum number of copies for each card are 4C, 3U, 2R, 1M.

    It has no trading, you get 5-15 coins per win (plus some from quests) and each booster costs 150 coins to buy. There's also a story mode which apparently yields some more card unlocks.

    I'm not sure I prefer it over MTGO - it's free but the paywall seems to hit pretty early on, especially without trading to let you specialize in a winning deck to use in the beginning. It's different than Magic, too, with its card restrictions and the concept of unlocking cards (rather than finding them in boosters one by one).


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel
    Doesn't MTGO require a paid account or something? I also hear a lot about it being buggy as shit.

    I started playing M:D and my two main gripes are:

    1. For following immediately after Magic 2015 the interface feels less polished. M2015 felt very smooth in how the cards played and the flow of a turn. M:D isn't bad, it's just different in ways that feel a little rough to me.

    2. Requiring me to go through all the tutorial things to get some of the initial coins was a hugely boring pain in the ass. I own like four of these games, I know how this shit works. >_<

    I got 3 boosters as a bonus for finishing the first Origin, and enough coins to get another 2. I haven't played much more, aside from the one AI duel to unlock deck building, and just went with the deck wizard for that one so I could get right into it. I'll probably play s'more today to see how fast it seems to go. I'm curious to run through all of the Origin stories anyway.


  • Coder

    I play M:TGO and have never had it bug out on me so I don't know anything about all of that. I like M:TGO but I don't have the funds to get into it all the time because it is pretty pricy and I'd rather buy physical cards. The problem is I work third shift and so I can't ever get to a game store to do any playing at any reasonable hours for that sort of thing.

    That also killed my Warhammer 40K addiction too, not being able to play on Saturday and Sunday mornings...

    M:TGO I think requires a small 10$ investment to start, they give you a bunch of newbie tickets you can use to join newbie tournaments and such to win some additional cards and the like, it's really not so bad.

    I've never tried the free option or the steam games though, I heard that there was massive hacking problems with the 2014 version.


  • Admin

    So I did some research (MtG used to be one of my nerd-life's biggest obsessions) last night.

    For starters I consider Magic Duels superior to Hearthstone - its closest direct equivalent and rival - for a simple reason: It's far more affordable. Mathematically speaking if you buy (be it with in-game earnable gold or real life $$) 72 boosters on M:D you are done - you have all the cards unlocked at the cap, and you only need to do it again when new expansions hit every few months. With Hearthstone there are a lot less ways to keep up or, worse, catch up to other people who've been playing a while. Someone else did the math and a new player starting today is around $300 on average behind someone who started a year ago and has been doing dailies, with the gap only growing. Furthermore, on Hearthstone you need to find enough of each card that you want for decks - the expense is significant. Hearthstone does look damn good though, it's a very polished product (Blizzard is a little better at making video games than WotC, eh?).

    As for MTGO vs M:D, the former is of course the most robust product. It features the full card list for many, many expansions as opposed to 80% of each of a few recent ones and utilizes all of Magic's rules rather than a (slightly) simplified version. It, however, is a reflection of the paper game - you need to buy a lot more boosters than 72 to keep up, although of course being able to trade helps in focusing on some specific decks or colors. On the other hand it looks significantly worse and the cumulative complexity of supporting a decade+ worth of mechanics has cause more than a few technical issues and bugs. On the other hand MTGO does give players the ability to be part of sealed deck tournaments, participate in real ladder play, etc. So for competitive players it really is the only way to go.

    To me at the moment M:D looks like the superior game. It's slimmed down but it's manageable in terms of how much I'm willing to spend playing online. I mean I have 1400+ cards on MTGO from back in the day but almost none of them are Standard-legal any more, and I don't look forward to a huge investment just to start playing.

    I did install both Cockatrice and XMage yesterday. Both of these have a main advantage - since they're unofficial projects you get the whole database of every card and they are all free.

    Cockatrice looks good! It's very clear in what it does and the deck-building interface is pretty sleek but I didn't know anyone to try and play a couple of games to see how it handles itself. Basically it's a virtual table; you tap, keep track of life totals, make sure your deck is format-legal etc all on your own just like the paper game, so I read this sometimes causes complications with cards which have weird flip-over effects and whatnot.

    XMage is written in Java and looks... messy, at least to me. YMMV. It's supposed to be automated though, so cards actually do whatever they do like on MTGO/M:D. If I find an opponent tonight I'll make a deck there and give it a whirl.