Sneak Peek Preview 16-25 July — Article Discussion

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Ryan Spain on the mothership.

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Greetings!

As many of you know, we have been hard at work here at Wizards of the Coast redesigning the user interface (UI) for Magic Online. In fact, I'm sure many of you are participating in the beta, where your feedback and bug-finding have helped inform our decisions and improve the experience—thank you so much! As for the rest of you, it is my great pleasure today to give you a tour of the new Magic Online beta client!


There are some exciting upgrades to almost every major Magic Online feature: the way players build decks, draft, trade, chat, find opponents, and play the game itself all have significant improvements, and those are just the big ones. When you have the opportunity to explore the new UI on your own, you will discover many other improvements—and that time is finally upon us!


The new UI is primarily a client update, so we will not need a blackout period or a hard transition as we move players from the old version to the new. Instead, we will run both versions at the same time. The transition will come in three stages, with the first stage right around the corner.


The Sneak Peek: Starting next Monday, July 16, the Magic Online beta client will be available to the general public for a nine-day test drive. Because we made no changes to the servers or game-rules engine, players running the current client can play against players running the beta client. This Sneak Peek is your chance to check out our progress and tell us what you think while we are still in development! A short survey will be available so you can share your feedback. Please take the time to do so, as your involvement will help shape the future of Magic Online.


The Wide Beta Period: Later this year, sometime after the Sneak Peek ends, we will be offering a Wide Beta. This Wide Beta will be open to everyone and run parallel with the existing client for an extended period of time. Players can transition to the new client at their own pace, either jumping right in or testing it out slowly over a period of time until they are comfortable.


The New Magic Online Launch: At some point, the Wide Beta will end and we will officially launch the new Magic Online. At this time, we will also discontinue support for the current client, but we will make sure players have plenty of notice before we do so. After we launch the new Magic Online, don't think it means we're done—quite the opposite, in fact! We have many improvements to the Magic Online experience lined up, many of which players have wanted for a long time. But none of these improvements can come until we have a robust, modern client with an improved user interface.


With the new client on its way, let me take you on a quick tour and I'll show you some of the things that fill me with excitement for the future of digital Magic: The Gathering!


The Installment Plan


As with any new application, your first introduction to the Magic Online beta client will be the installation. The time between starting the download and logging in—a process that is frequently a multi-hour, eat-dinner-and-come-back proposition on the current client—now takes about five minutes for the typical user to go from clicking on the installation link (don't forget to check the What's Happening page Monday for the link) to being greeted by a 25,000-year-old dragon.



Click for full size


Five minutes! A massive, welcome improvement that carries over into the weekly updates as well.


Home Sweet Home


As you log in for the first time, you'll notice a makeover of the Home screen. Nicol Bolas is there, as well as a list of all your buddies currently online. Nicol Bolas represents the default theme, but you can switch to a different theme in your Account tab to match your personal Planeswalker preference, as well as adjusting a variety of settings.



Click for full size


The Account tab is one of several options across the top of the screen. You can move quickly to Collection, Play, Store, Trade, Account, and Help from anywhere in the client, and the persistent Chat button allows you to join the conversation wherever you are.


Hit the Deck


In the current client, the deck building and collection tools are in two separate tabs despite the heavy overlap in function. For the new UI, we have combined these two areas into a single Collection tab while expanding the collection-filtering functionality. Instead of the icons and drop-down menus of the current client, there is an extensive checkbox system that allows you to drill deeper and more specifically into your collection, whether you are building a deck or just checking out your cards.



Click for full size


The card presentation in the new collection tab also improves upon the current client on several levels. There are size sliders in every pane that can contain cards, allowing you to set the card size to your exact desires from within your collection instead of picking from among a few options in the Settings. The card text is more readable and the background is light instead of black, making your digital cards look more like physical cards.


When you are done browsing and want to start brewing, you'll notice several improvements to the process. All of your existing decks are viewable and loadable within the Collection tab itself, and all of them are stored and saved automatically. This takes place server-side, so no matter where you log in, all your decks will be available to you.


Decks are tagged with formats in addition to names, and are stored based on format legality, or in boxes of your own creation. This makes specific decks much easier to find when you are looking to edit or play. No more hunting through clunky system folders; your decks are available right where you build and play with them!


The Play's the Thing


Now it's time to find a game! In the current client, what to do next at this point depends on what you want to play. Are you looking to draft? Play for fun in the Constructed room? Maybe you are looking to compete for prizes, or perhaps you want to practice for the next big Premier Event against serious competition. In the current client, all of these choices involve navigating to a different room, and then re-navigating if you decide you want to play in a different structure later.


In the new UI, every play experience on Magic Online resides in one room: Play. Select from Constructed Open Play, Constructed Tournaments, and Limited Tournaments, and then fine-tune the details like format, level of competition, and deck choice and you are ready to play.



Click for full size


When this time comes in the current client, it can be a little frustrating. You either have to start your own match and wait for someone to join or play the whack-a-mole game by clicking on matches from the ever-shifting list of open tables, attempting to join before someone else beats you to it. While you can still search among games waiting for participants, the new UI has a "Go to the Next Game" button to automatically match you with the next available opponent. Unfortunately, during the Sneak Peek, this function will frequently match you with someone who has abandoned his or her game in the current client, so you are better off hosting your own game or choosing one from the list. We will shore up the pairing logic for the Wide Beta, though, and at that point the "Go to the Next Game" button will be the most painless way to join a game.


The Play interface also remembers your recent play choices and offers them as quick-start options. The "Recent Play Choices" drop-down menu contains the last five ways you chose to play, and selecting one will populate your options to match it. Clicking a link automatically populates the play settings to match your selection, at which point you can jump into the next available match or tweak some of the settings if you want something slightly different.


Do You Feel a Draft?


Drafting is my favorite way to play Magic Online and I'm happy to report that drafting got one of the biggest upgrades in the new UI. When you find yourself in a draft, you will notice that the draft table is visible, showing players' avatars and their positions at the table. Additionally, you can right click on each avatar to bring up each player's user profile, so you can figure out who passed you that awesome bomb or where your first-round opponent was sitting relative to you at the table, just like you would in a paper draft.





When it is time to pick your cards, note that a single left-click on a card doesn't add it to your deck immediately like it does in the current client. Instead, it reserves it as the pick you will make if your timer runs out. To draft a card, you either double-click it or drag it into your deck or sideboard. This change should cut down on misclicks significantly, particularly for those who make a habit of dragging picks directly into their decks.


Wait, what? Dragging picks directly into your deck?


That's right! Possibly my favorite feature of the new UI is that instead of simply drafting a pile of cards into a window that you build into a deck after the draft, you can build your deck as you draft! Your main deck and sideboard windows are available from Pick 1, and you can move your picks between those zones at will during the draft, sorting them as you like.



Click for full size


Besides giving you a great picture of what your deck needs as you draft it, this system is a huge timesaver. In one test draft on the new UI, I submitted a deck within five seconds of the end of the draft: Suggest Lands, Add Lands to Deck, Submit. Done!


Another new feature of the deck-building interface is the card-size slider. In the current client, you can tweak some card-display settings in the options, but the options don't provide much fine-tuning ability, and they can't be changed efficiently on the fly. Now, you can simply drag a slider to resize the cards in a window to fit the needs of that window at that moment, as well as resizing the windows themselves! This allows for a lot of on-the-fly customization of your cards and windows as your deck grows larger or your pick options grow smaller.



Click for full size


Once you finish drafting, you'll notice some changes to the Limited deck-building process. In addition to the same deep filtering options found in Collection, we've also added a "Hidden" zone during Limited deck building. If you are like me, one of the first things you do with a paper Sealed Deck is put aside the cards you deem unplayable. This makes it easier to parse the cards you are actually considering for your deck. In the new UI, you can "hide" cards during deck building, which puts them in a third pane other than your main deck and sideboard. You can still access that zone if you change your mind about a card, but it is nice to put that Wild Defiance out of sight when you know it will never make the cut in your deck.



Click for full size


All in all, I find the Limited experience is greatly enhanced in the new UI, and I hope my fellow Draft fanatics feel the same way once they get their mice on it. But how about the play experience itself?


Ready? Fight!


When you join a game, a new game window appears showing the details of your match, and a three-second clock counts down before unveiling the new and improved duel scene. Note that the game window is entirely separate from the main navigation window—if you are a dual-monitor user, this is an important new feature, as you can now have different windows on different screens. The new chat system works similarly: you can dock your game log and chat within a game window, or you can float chats separately. This untethering of windows gives players much more flexibility to customize their Magic Online layout.


Once the battle begins, longtime Magic Online players will notice some changes. First and foremost, it just flat-out looks better. The battlefield is styled attractively to match the theme you've chosen and the cards themselves are sharper and better looking. Most of the panes are resizable, so you can adjust your hand, graveyard, and battlefield zones to your liking. Lesser-used zones like exile, revealed, and shield zones start out collapsed, but pop open when a card or effect enters them.



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The phase bar, which displays what part of the turn you are in, is now displayed horizontally between the hand and the battlefield for easy reference, and you can adjust your stops (which phases you want the game to stop and wait for you to act) by clicking the triangles above and below the phase names. As with current, the battlefield of the active player is highlighted so you always know whose turn it is at a glance.


Once you start playing and have multiple identical permanents on the battlefield, you'll notice one of my favorite improvements: smart card stacking. I've been known to run decks that generate a large amount of creature tokens, which can get quite unwieldy in the current client. The new UI preserves space and helps make sense of complicated board states by stacking all identical permanents and displaying the quantity in the stack. "Identical" means not only the same name, but the same state as well, so you don't have to worry about finding the token with the +1/+1 counter on it in a stack of a dozen; that buffed token will separate from the pack as soon as it is in any way different from its pals.


Now, when I'm ready to attack with some of the tokens I've been creating throughout the game, I don't have to comb the screen counting all of them before doing my combat math; they are all together for easy tracking and easy clicking when I send them into the red zone.



Click for full size


In the new UI, the red zone is more than just Magic slang; it's an actual zone that appears during combat to make it crystal clear which creatures are attacking and which are blocking. When combat begins, the red zone slides open in the middle of the battlefield. As attackers are declared, they shift into the red zone, so once the attack is underway all attacking creatures are touching the red zone. Conversely, when you move to block, blocking creatures slide into the red zone directly across from the creatures they are blocking.



Click for full size


Blocking with multiple creatures is particularly cool, with the blockers becoming stacked and tiered to communicate the order of the gang block. When you are ordering your opponent's blockers, you simply drag creatures to the left or right until they are in your desired vertical blocking order. The red zone system clarifies combat significantly, which can be a big help when you are managing your clock in a complex board state.





For those of you who use the keyboard heavily during play, your shortcuts are still there—except for undo, which is now the industry-standard Control-Z instead of the arcane Alt-U of the current client. If you are used to Alt-U and don't want to change your ways, though, fear not! You can map your keyboard shortcuts however you like in the Accounts tab!


Alert! Alert!


Have you ever missed that your second- or third-round match has started, and timed yourself out of the event before realizing it? I've inadvertently ended my run in quite a few events over the years this way—always when I had drafted the Best Deck Ever, of course!


Things like a new round starting are important enough to warrant a more forceful reminder from the system, so that option is available in the new client. Toggle your notification options from the settings, and the events you specify will produce a pop-up message in the corner of the screen when they occur. In addition to the start of a new round, you can also set alerts for chat initiation, a buddy signing in, receiving new product, and becoming disconnected. Quite handy!





Trade Secrets


I don't know about you, but as a heavy Magic Online drafter in my civilian days, I frequently found myself in the classifieds, turning drafted rares into tickets and tickets into packs. Mostly I was dealing with automated traders that would scour my cards looking for anything they wanted, so I would typically make only a very specific handful of rares available for trade.


Sometimes, though, I wanted to give some of my extra commons and uncommons to someone starting out, or loan rares and mythic rares to a friend, both of which required a different set of tradable cards. Trading different cards for different purposes at different times meant frequently overriding one carefully crafted list of tradable items for another, only to have to re-create the original trade list at some future date. Frustrating!


Thankfully, trade binders are about to change all that. In the new UI, instead of marking cards in your collection as either tradable or not, you add them to any number of trade binders, which you add cards to and are saved automatically on the servers just like decks. Just as you can have a card you own in multiple decks, so too can you have a card in multiple trade binders. If you trade away a card, it is automatically removed from all binders it was in. Now you can have as many binders as you want for as many specific trade functions as you have; simply activate the binder that suits your needs before entering a trade! This is a great improvement for anyone who trades for multiple purposes on a regular basis.


Beta Feedback



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There are many other improvements as well, but I'm way over my word (and time) budget for this article, so I will have to leave the rest for you to discover on your own.


As you explore what the new client has to offer, please keep this in mind: we are launching the Sneak Peek next week not because the new client is a finished product, but because it is in a place of stability, performance, and feature implementation where we feel players can speak constructively to their experience after using it. Feedback from the community is vital as we close in on the end of the current version of Magic Online. We will have a survey link available on the download page (which will be available Monday), in the forums, and in the client. We hope you give the new Magic Online client a try and find that you like what we've done with the place, but no matter what, we hope you share what you think with us.


I hope to see you in the beta—good luck and have fun!


Ryan (@RyanSpain, Ryan_S on Magic Online)





Please add your feedback to the article below. Once the beta begins, there will be additional discussion threads available.

Magic and Magic Online Volunteer Community Lead. On Strike

I'm trying to make my official VCL posts in purple.

You posted saying my thread was moved/locked but nothing happened.


Show
Unfortunately, VCLs do not currently have the tools necessary to take moderation actions directly. VCLs submit their actions to ORCs, who then actually perform the action. This processing can take between a few minutes and several hours, depending on how busy/attentive the ORCs are.

If you see something that needs VCL attention, please use this thread to make a request and a VCL will look at it as soon as possible. CoC violations should be reported to Customer Service using the "report post" button. Please do not disrupt the thread by making requests of either kind in-thread.

General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

Magic Math Made Easy
Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

Event EV Calculator
Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
Quotables

Show
"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
Is the development of the new client the reason why no-one bothers fixing bugs in the existing one? I'm hoping you guys haven't simply made the GUI prettier thinking it will make up for the poor software engineering evident in MTGO.

Please remember to keep your comments positive, productive, and on topic. Remember we are trying to create a
mutually beneficial and productive community for everyone to take part in. At the end of the day we are all in this thing together,
and if we don't work together we will never get anywhere!


If you have any questions or would like to read the CoC you can find it here:


company.wizards.com/conduct


Remember, Keep it clean, Keep it nice, and of course Keep it fun!


Thank you for your understanding!

edit: i'll just remove my unhappy comment.
  
Hypothetically, if a closed beta existed for the new MTGO client, and you happened to be a member of it, you would be breaking NDA by making any public comment about it.
Personally, I was hoping that when Duels was released for the iPad, it might mean that Wizards was finally throwing Apple users a bone and, just maybe, an iPad version of Magic Online would be coming soon.  But the article doesn't seem to bear that out at all, so while a lot of the changes talked about seem to be positive steps, it doesn't look like I'll be able to participate in the community any time soon.

With Apple computers using Intel chips for the past few years now, it does seem like about time a Mac or iPad client became a reality.
~ Current Decks I'm Playing or Building ~ (Click a deck's name to see list) [] CorpseJunk Menace/Township Counters (Standard) [] Reanimation/Clerics Theme Deck - Commander: Ghost Dad [] Devouring Tokens (Planechase, Multiplayer) [] Krark-Clan Ironworks: 2012 Edition (Modern) [] Azorious Turbo Fog (Modern)
Great article! I've not been as active in the beta as I would have liked and learned quite a few cool things.
Will old saved decks be compatible with the new client?  It was very, very disappointing and helped drive me off MTGO for years that all my old decks I'd carefully cultivated were lost with the old client in the 2.0->3.0 disaster.  (I still haven't rebuilt many of them.)
Will old saved decks be compatible with the new client?  It was very, very disappointing and helped drive me off MTGO for years that all my old decks I'd carefully cultivated were lost with the old client in the 2.0->3.0 disaster.  (I still haven't rebuilt many of them.)


If they are saved locally, yes. But, that was true in 2.0->3.0 too. Netdecks I'm not sure about.

Magic and Magic Online Volunteer Community Lead. On Strike

I'm trying to make my official VCL posts in purple.

You posted saying my thread was moved/locked but nothing happened.


Show
Unfortunately, VCLs do not currently have the tools necessary to take moderation actions directly. VCLs submit their actions to ORCs, who then actually perform the action. This processing can take between a few minutes and several hours, depending on how busy/attentive the ORCs are.

If you see something that needs VCL attention, please use this thread to make a request and a VCL will look at it as soon as possible. CoC violations should be reported to Customer Service using the "report post" button. Please do not disrupt the thread by making requests of either kind in-thread.

General MTGO FAQ

Yes, the Shuffler is Random!
The definitive thread on the Magic Online shuffler.

Magic Math Made Easy
Draw probabilities, Swiss results, Elo ratings and booster EV

Event EV Calculator
Calculate the EV for any event with a fixed number of rounds and prizes based on record

Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
Thanks to PhoenixLAU for the [thread=1097559]awesome avatar[/thread]!
Quotables

Show
"While a picture is worth a thousand words, each lolcat actually produces a negative wordcount." -Ith "I think "Highly Informed Sarcasm" should be our Magic Online General motto." -Ith "Sorry, but this thread seems just like spam. TT is for off-topic discussion, not no-topic discussion." -WizO_Kwai_Chang "Stop that! If you're not careful, rational thinking may catch on!" -Sax "... the only word i see that fits is incompitant." -Mr44 (sic) "You know a thread is gonna be locked when it gets to the hexadecimal stage." -Gathion "It's a good gig" - Gleemax "I tell people often, if you guys want to rant, you've certainly got the right to (provided you obey CoC/ToS stuff), and I don't even really blame you. But if you see something you think needs changing a well thought-out, constructive post does more to make that happen." - Worth Wollpert
Will old saved decks be compatible with the new client?  It was very, very disappointing and helped drive me off MTGO for years that all my old decks I'd carefully cultivated were lost with the old client in the 2.0->3.0 disaster.  (I still haven't rebuilt many of them.)


If they are saved locally, yes. But, that was true in 2.0->3.0 too. Netdecks I'm not sure about.


Netdecks will be converted automatically to work with the new client.
Ryan Spain on the mothership.

Show

Greetings!

As many of you know, we have been hard at work here at Wizards of the Coast redesigning the user interface (UI) for Magic Online. In fact, I'm sure many of you are participating in the beta, where your feedback and bug-finding have helped inform our decisions and improve the experience—thank you so much! As for the rest of you, it is my great pleasure today to give you a tour of the new Magic Online beta client!


There are some exciting upgrades to almost every major Magic Online feature: the way players build decks, draft, trade, chat, find opponents, and play the game itself all have significant improvements, and those are just the big ones. When you have the opportunity to explore the new UI on your own, you will discover many other improvements—and that time is finally upon us!


The new UI is primarily a client update, so we will not need a blackout period or a hard transition as we move players from the old version to the new. Instead, we will run both versions at the same time. The transition will come in three stages, with the first stage right around the corner.


The Sneak Peek: Starting next Monday, July 16, the Magic Online beta client will be available to the general public for a nine-day test drive. Because we made no changes to the servers or game-rules engine, players running the current client can play against players running the beta client. This Sneak Peek is your chance to check out our progress and tell us what you think while we are still in development! A short survey will be available so you can share your feedback. Please take the time to do so, as your involvement will help shape the future of Magic Online.


The Wide Beta Period: Later this year, sometime after the Sneak Peek ends, we will be offering a Wide Beta. This Wide Beta will be open to everyone and run parallel with the existing client for an extended period of time. Players can transition to the new client at their own pace, either jumping right in or testing it out slowly over a period of time until they are comfortable.


The New Magic Online Launch: At some point, the Wide Beta will end and we will officially launch the new Magic Online. At this time, we will also discontinue support for the current client, but we will make sure players have plenty of notice before we do so. After we launch the new Magic Online, don't think it means we're done—quite the opposite, in fact! We have many improvements to the Magic Online experience lined up, many of which players have wanted for a long time. But none of these improvements can come until we have a robust, modern client with an improved user interface.


With the new client on its way, let me take you on a quick tour and I'll show you some of the things that fill me with excitement for the future of digital Magic: The Gathering!


The Installment Plan


As with any new application, your first introduction to the Magic Online beta client will be the installation. The time between starting the download and logging in—a process that is frequently a multi-hour, eat-dinner-and-come-back proposition on the current client—now takes about five minutes for the typical user to go from clicking on the installation link (don't forget to check the What's Happening page Monday for the link) to being greeted by a 25,000-year-old dragon.



Click for full size


Five minutes! A massive, welcome improvement that carries over into the weekly updates as well.


Home Sweet Home


As you log in for the first time, you'll notice a makeover of the Home screen. Nicol Bolas is there, as well as a list of all your buddies currently online. Nicol Bolas represents the default theme, but you can switch to a different theme in your Account tab to match your personal Planeswalker preference, as well as adjusting a variety of settings.



Click for full size


The Account tab is one of several options across the top of the screen. You can move quickly to Collection, Play, Store, Trade, Account, and Help from anywhere in the client, and the persistent Chat button allows you to join the conversation wherever you are.


Hit the Deck


In the current client, the deck building and collection tools are in two separate tabs despite the heavy overlap in function. For the new UI, we have combined these two areas into a single Collection tab while expanding the collection-filtering functionality. Instead of the icons and drop-down menus of the current client, there is an extensive checkbox system that allows you to drill deeper and more specifically into your collection, whether you are building a deck or just checking out your cards.



Click for full size


The card presentation in the new collection tab also improves upon the current client on several levels. There are size sliders in every pane that can contain cards, allowing you to set the card size to your exact desires from within your collection instead of picking from among a few options in the Settings. The card text is more readable and the background is light instead of black, making your digital cards look more like physical cards.


When you are done browsing and want to start brewing, you'll notice several improvements to the process. All of your existing decks are viewable and loadable within the Collection tab itself, and all of them are stored and saved automatically. This takes place server-side, so no matter where you log in, all your decks will be available to you.


Decks are tagged with formats in addition to names, and are stored based on format legality, or in boxes of your own creation. This makes specific decks much easier to find when you are looking to edit or play. No more hunting through clunky system folders; your decks are available right where you build and play with them!


The Play's the Thing


Now it's time to find a game! In the current client, what to do next at this point depends on what you want to play. Are you looking to draft? Play for fun in the Constructed room? Maybe you are looking to compete for prizes, or perhaps you want to practice for the next big Premier Event against serious competition. In the current client, all of these choices involve navigating to a different room, and then re-navigating if you decide you want to play in a different structure later.


In the new UI, every play experience on Magic Online resides in one room: Play. Select from Constructed Open Play, Constructed Tournaments, and Limited Tournaments, and then fine-tune the details like format, level of competition, and deck choice and you are ready to play.



Click for full size


When this time comes in the current client, it can be a little frustrating. You either have to start your own match and wait for someone to join or play the whack-a-mole game by clicking on matches from the ever-shifting list of open tables, attempting to join before someone else beats you to it. While you can still search among games waiting for participants, the new UI has a "Go to the Next Game" button to automatically match you with the next available opponent. Unfortunately, during the Sneak Peek, this function will frequently match you with someone who has abandoned his or her game in the current client, so you are better off hosting your own game or choosing one from the list. We will shore up the pairing logic for the Wide Beta, though, and at that point the "Go to the Next Game" button will be the most painless way to join a game.


The Play interface also remembers your recent play choices and offers them as quick-start options. The "Recent Play Choices" drop-down menu contains the last five ways you chose to play, and selecting one will populate your options to match it. Clicking a link automatically populates the play settings to match your selection, at which point you can jump into the next available match or tweak some of the settings if you want something slightly different.


Do You Feel a Draft?


Drafting is my favorite way to play Magic Online and I'm happy to report that drafting got one of the biggest upgrades in the new UI. When you find yourself in a draft, you will notice that the draft table is visible, showing players' avatars and their positions at the table. Additionally, you can right click on each avatar to bring up each player's user profile, so you can figure out who passed you that awesome bomb or where your first-round opponent was sitting relative to you at the table, just like you would in a paper draft.





When it is time to pick your cards, note that a single left-click on a card doesn't add it to your deck immediately like it does in the current client. Instead, it reserves it as the pick you will make if your timer runs out. To draft a card, you either double-click it or drag it into your deck or sideboard. This change should cut down on misclicks significantly, particularly for those who make a habit of dragging picks directly into their decks.


Wait, what? Dragging picks directly into your deck?


That's right! Possibly my favorite feature of the new UI is that instead of simply drafting a pile of cards into a window that you build into a deck after the draft, you can build your deck as you draft! Your main deck and sideboard windows are available from Pick 1, and you can move your picks between those zones at will during the draft, sorting them as you like.



Click for full size


Besides giving you a great picture of what your deck needs as you draft it, this system is a huge timesaver. In one test draft on the new UI, I submitted a deck within five seconds of the end of the draft: Suggest Lands, Add Lands to Deck, Submit. Done!


Another new feature of the deck-building interface is the card-size slider. In the current client, you can tweak some card-display settings in the options, but the options don't provide much fine-tuning ability, and they can't be changed efficiently on the fly. Now, you can simply drag a slider to resize the cards in a window to fit the needs of that window at that moment, as well as resizing the windows themselves! This allows for a lot of on-the-fly customization of your cards and windows as your deck grows larger or your pick options grow smaller.



Click for full size


Once you finish drafting, you'll notice some changes to the Limited deck-building process. In addition to the same deep filtering options found in Collection, we've also added a "Hidden" zone during Limited deck building. If you are like me, one of the first things you do with a paper Sealed Deck is put aside the cards you deem unplayable. This makes it easier to parse the cards you are actually considering for your deck. In the new UI, you can "hide" cards during deck building, which puts them in a third pane other than your main deck and sideboard. You can still access that zone if you change your mind about a card, but it is nice to put that Wild Defiance out of sight when you know it will never make the cut in your deck.



Click for full size


All in all, I find the Limited experience is greatly enhanced in the new UI, and I hope my fellow Draft fanatics feel the same way once they get their mice on it. But how about the play experience itself?


Ready? Fight!


When you join a game, a new game window appears showing the details of your match, and a three-second clock counts down before unveiling the new and improved duel scene. Note that the game window is entirely separate from the main navigation window—if you are a dual-monitor user, this is an important new feature, as you can now have different windows on different screens. The new chat system works similarly: you can dock your game log and chat within a game window, or you can float chats separately. This untethering of windows gives players much more flexibility to customize their Magic Online layout.


Once the battle begins, longtime Magic Online players will notice some changes. First and foremost, it just flat-out looks better. The battlefield is styled attractively to match the theme you've chosen and the cards themselves are sharper and better looking. Most of the panes are resizable, so you can adjust your hand, graveyard, and battlefield zones to your liking. Lesser-used zones like exile, revealed, and shield zones start out collapsed, but pop open when a card or effect enters them.



Click for full size


The phase bar, which displays what part of the turn you are in, is now displayed horizontally between the hand and the battlefield for easy reference, and you can adjust your stops (which phases you want the game to stop and wait for you to act) by clicking the triangles above and below the phase names. As with current, the battlefield of the active player is highlighted so you always know whose turn it is at a glance.


Once you start playing and have multiple identical permanents on the battlefield, you'll notice one of my favorite improvements: smart card stacking. I've been known to run decks that generate a large amount of creature tokens, which can get quite unwieldy in the current client. The new UI preserves space and helps make sense of complicated board states by stacking all identical permanents and displaying the quantity in the stack. "Identical" means not only the same name, but the same state as well, so you don't have to worry about finding the token with the +1/+1 counter on it in a stack of a dozen; that buffed token will separate from the pack as soon as it is in any way different from its pals.


Now, when I'm ready to attack with some of the tokens I've been creating throughout the game, I don't have to comb the screen counting all of them before doing my combat math; they are all together for easy tracking and easy clicking when I send them into the red zone.



Click for full size


In the new UI, the red zone is more than just Magic slang; it's an actual zone that appears during combat to make it crystal clear which creatures are attacking and which are blocking. When combat begins, the red zone slides open in the middle of the battlefield. As attackers are declared, they shift into the red zone, so once the attack is underway all attacking creatures are touching the red zone. Conversely, when you move to block, blocking creatures slide into the red zone directly across from the creatures they are blocking.



Click for full size


Blocking with multiple creatures is particularly cool, with the blockers becoming stacked and tiered to communicate the order of the gang block. When you are ordering your opponent's blockers, you simply drag creatures to the left or right until they are in your desired vertical blocking order. The red zone system clarifies combat significantly, which can be a big help when you are managing your clock in a complex board state.





For those of you who use the keyboard heavily during play, your shortcuts are still there—except for undo, which is now the industry-standard Control-Z instead of the arcane Alt-U of the current client. If you are used to Alt-U and don't want to change your ways, though, fear not! You can map your keyboard shortcuts however you like in the Accounts tab!


Alert! Alert!


Have you ever missed that your second- or third-round match has started, and timed yourself out of the event before realizing it? I've inadvertently ended my run in quite a few events over the years this way—always when I had drafted the Best Deck Ever, of course!


Things like a new round starting are important enough to warrant a more forceful reminder from the system, so that option is available in the new client. Toggle your notification options from the settings, and the events you specify will produce a pop-up message in the corner of the screen when they occur. In addition to the start of a new round, you can also set alerts for chat initiation, a buddy signing in, receiving new product, and becoming disconnected. Quite handy!





Trade Secrets


I don't know about you, but as a heavy Magic Online drafter in my civilian days, I frequently found myself in the classifieds, turning drafted rares into tickets and tickets into packs. Mostly I was dealing with automated traders that would scour my cards looking for anything they wanted, so I would typically make only a very specific handful of rares available for trade.


Sometimes, though, I wanted to give some of my extra commons and uncommons to someone starting out, or loan rares and mythic rares to a friend, both of which required a different set of tradable cards. Trading different cards for different purposes at different times meant frequently overriding one carefully crafted list of tradable items for another, only to have to re-create the original trade list at some future date. Frustrating!


Thankfully, trade binders are about to change all that. In the new UI, instead of marking cards in your collection as either tradable or not, you add them to any number of trade binders, which you add cards to and are saved automatically on the servers just like decks. Just as you can have a card you own in multiple decks, so too can you have a card in multiple trade binders. If you trade away a card, it is automatically removed from all binders it was in. Now you can have as many binders as you want for as many specific trade functions as you have; simply activate the binder that suits your needs before entering a trade! This is a great improvement for anyone who trades for multiple purposes on a regular basis.


Beta Feedback







There are many other improvements as well, but I'm way over my word (and time) budget for this article, so I will have to leave the rest for you to discover on your own.


As you explore what the new client has to offer, please keep this in mind: we are launching the Sneak Peek next week not because the new client is a finished product, but because it is in a place of stability, performance, and feature implementation where we feel players can speak constructively to their experience after using it. Feedback from the community is vital as we close in on the end of the current version of Magic Online. We will have a survey link available on the download page (which will be available Monday), in the forums, and in the client. We hope you give the new Magic Online client a try and find that you like what we've done with the place, but no matter what, we hope you share what you think with us.


I hope to see you in the beta—good luck and have fun!


Ryan (@RyanSpain, Ryan_S on Magic Online)





Please add your feedback to the article below. Once the beta begins, there will be additional discussion threads available.

Some legal questions from a Beta tester re: the client release.

1. Are Beta Testers released from the BETA CONDUCT AND COMPETETIVE PLAY POLICY specifically in regards to confidentiality (pseudo 'NDA') regarding the BETA going forward?

2. Are people allowed to stream (using sites such as Twitch.tv) using the Beta client, whether to demonstrate it, comment on it, or simply to play with it?


As someone who is has been on this beta for a long while, and was on the original v3 beta I have a few comments. Some positive, some not.
1) It is not ready, and is clearly still a beta. Wotc are kidding themselves if they think that this is anywhere near a finished product.
2)It is functionally worse than our current v3 in nearly every way. Almost every "improvement" is useless or worse than useless.
3)It is substantially uglier than the current v3, and thats saying something.
4)Chat is actually worse than on current v3! Who knew that was possible?
5) it still looks and feels like a 3rd rate program made many years ago. It does not look or feel like a program written within the last 2 years.
6)As with the original v3 beta, wotc has ignored many of the issues brought up by beta testers.

Ok, and some good stuff:

1) Making your deck while drafting is nice.
2)installing is easy and much much quicker. Smaller hd space needed though I doubt that a few hundred megs matters to anyone nowadays.
3)Decks autosave and there is more options to sort cards with
4)when someone is dc you actually know, instead of trying to guess whether its you or them.

Will I be switching over?
No way.

There needs to be massive changes before the new version is something I would pay to play on.
Personally, I was hoping that when Duels was released for the iPad, it might mean that Wizards was finally throwing Apple users a bone and, just maybe, an iPad version of Magic Online would be coming soon.  But the article doesn't seem to bear that out at all, so while a lot of the changes talked about seem to be positive steps, it doesn't look like I'll be able to participate in the community any time soon.

With Apple computers using Intel chips for the past few years now, it does seem like about time a Mac or iPad client became a reality.


The new client utilizes Windows Presentation Foundation, which requires .NET.  This means that an Apple version of this new client is not currently feasible.
6)As with the original v3 beta, wotc has ignored many of the issues brought up by beta testers.


Ignored? You have noticed how much has been changed since beta started, right? There's definitely stuff that still needs to be addressed, but I don't think you can reasonably claim feedback has been ignored.

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Dual means two. A duel is a battle between two people. Lands that make two colors of mana are dual lands. A normal Magic battle is a duel.
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Personally, I was hoping that when Duels was released for the iPad, it might mean that Wizards was finally throwing Apple users a bone and, just maybe, an iPad version of Magic Online would be coming soon.  But the article doesn't seem to bear that out at all, so while a lot of the changes talked about seem to be positive steps, it doesn't look like I'll be able to participate in the community any time soon.

With Apple computers using Intel chips for the past few years now, it does seem like about time a Mac or iPad client became a reality.


The new client utilizes Windows Presentation Foundation, which requires .NET.  This means that an Apple version of this new client is not currently feasible.



Well, that's too bad. But it is nice to have a logical reason why there isn't an Apple friendly client.
~ Current Decks I'm Playing or Building ~ (Click a deck's name to see list) [] CorpseJunk Menace/Township Counters (Standard) [] Reanimation/Clerics Theme Deck - Commander: Ghost Dad [] Devouring Tokens (Planechase, Multiplayer) [] Krark-Clan Ironworks: 2012 Edition (Modern) [] Azorious Turbo Fog (Modern)
looks like 420gabriel answered my question. 
New gui have not large "Card" panel ! So if I dont know cards very good, I should every time click on permanents* and read card-text ...
Thats really terrible.  In fact, play with new gui at small screen - impossible
Yay! Trade binders!

Please wait while I do my happy dance! Cool
New gui have not large "Card" panel ! So if I dont know cards very good, I should every time click on permanents* and read card-text ...
Thats really terrible.  In fact, play with new gui at small screen - impossible

If you read the article, you would know that you can resize it on the fly.
One very quick question - what resolution were the example screenshots taken at?  I'm still in the dark ages here having only 1280x1024 Smile and whilst that is more than enough for most of the work I do (and games I play), this is one of the rare cases where it might not be anywhere near enough.
As someone who has never used magic online, I thought I'd chuck in my 1.5 cents on what I would look for to make me start. My paper magic buddies say good things about drafting online, but I've been hesitant to dilute my time and cash between paper and online. So here's a no-particular-order list of the sort of thing I would look for to reason it whorthwhile starting now:

1) Deck Building

I understand the economics of this are that you can't play with cards you don't yet own (just like in paper), but can you at least deck build with cards you don't own and test shuffle?

2) Redemption

I gather that you can redeem whole sets once collected, but that in doing so you remove the set from your online collection. This feels a bit like CDs and mp3 files - the record labels want you to buy twice! I presume it must be possible to ensure that you could redeem a card once, at which point it becomes a nontradable, nonredeemable but PLAYABLE card in your online collection. I don't think this would canabalise sales - if anything, I would say that it might keep people interested in supporting both online and paper magic.

Second thing, I can understand why the redemption applies only to whole sets but in reality you want playsets of the lower rarities. Is it not possible for Wizards to redeem whole sets of commons and/or uncommons separately from the rares / mythics?

3) Trading

This may already be a feature, but can I offer card X to be tradable for card Y and then leave it up to happen automatically?

I hear that trade values online are slightly different to paper magic, but there seems to be a fairly universal adoption of those values. Is that correct?

4) Choosing a draft

It always irritates me when I see on public posted drafts that a pro has duffed up a rank amateur. I am neither a pro nor a newbie. My favourite games in paper are competing against people my own level or slightly better. Is it possible to set the parameters of the draft queuing to opt to play against people with similar track records to yourself? I understand that pros like to draft a set a few hundred times to get the feel of it. I get to draft maybe twice a month. I'm a pretty good player most of the time (ahem!), but let's not kid ourselves that practice practice practice isn't the single biggest factor. Nor would I enjoy beating someone for whom this is the first time ever at a draft. I suppose it depends on how big a player pool there is, but those options would appeal, especially if I want to dip in and out.

If not, can we at least see some meaningful stats to our opponents (number of drafts played of this set, number of drafts played total, win ratio for each).

5) iPad version

If ever there was a swing vote to joining the online throng, it would be this.



Apologies if these are points which are long-since settled.
This is very interesting, I have been curious about the "new" Magic Online for a while. I have been playing for a year and a half and have all this time been very frustrated with the current client. 
Every time I want to play a game, I receive a message that the deck is too small, so I have to go into deck editor, load the deck, and hit Save before playing. With each and every deck, every time. This is one sure way to make me less motivated to launch the game.
Very often, when I have built a new deck, and I want to play a game, it doesn't appear in the list of decks to choose from until I have gone back and saved it one more time. The whole menu list thing is clunky and little user-friendly.
It looks like these very irritating elements may become a thing of the past, and that is good. From the screenshots it looks like the game will be looking better as well.
I like most of the ideas presented in the article and hope that it will be playable (judging from the many negative comments in this thread I am worried).

One wish that doesn't seem to come true for me is that I would have liked the cards to look more like their dead tree counterparts with regards to fonts. 

Question: Is it possible (either in the current client or the coming one) to "show" someone else your collection (as in, for getting help to build a good deck out of the pool of cards you own)? 
One very quick question - what resolution were the example screenshots taken at?  I'm still in the dark ages here having only 1280x1024  and whilst that is more than enough for most of the work I do (and games I play), this is one of the rare cases where it might not be anywhere near enough.




1280x720 is doable. The screenshots are probably 1680x1050 or lower. The game scales so it looks good on smaller screens.

Edit:

I like most of the ideas presented in the article and hope that it will be playable (judging from the many negative comments in this thread I am worried).



Don't be afraid of the negative comments here. The beta client is not perfect but it's also not all downhill! The truth is someone in the middle. Do know that it's still a beta meaning things will get fixed and redone. It's not a finished product. I think the sneap peek is a good idea because it gives people the option to try out the beta and give feedback. I'm preaty sure that if the majority of players really dislike a change (and give feedback about it) it will get changed back.
The beta client HAS improved a lot over the last couple months, no question about that. My biggest hope for it right now is that they end up making the foils look as nice as they do in the current client. I'm hoping the reason there are no foils in the screenshots posted is that they know there's still work to be done there.
Any support for OSX/Linux yet? Is the new client still written in .NET or will it have a chance to run via Wine?

Would really love to be able to fire up MODO without keeping a Windows VM around.

~Jeff
Any support for OSX/Linux yet? Is the new client still written in .NET or will it have a chance to run via Wine?

Would really love to be able to fire up MODO without keeping a Windows VM around.

~Jeff

It is WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation)...so...
And what about the Leagues?
Personally, I was hoping that when Duels was released for the iPad, it might mean that Wizards was finally throwing Apple users a bone and, just maybe, an iPad version of Magic Online would be coming soon.  But the article doesn't seem to bear that out at all, so while a lot of the changes talked about seem to be positive steps, it doesn't look like I'll be able to participate in the community any time soon.

With Apple computers using Intel chips for the past few years now, it does seem like about time a Mac or iPad client became a reality.


The new client utilizes Windows Presentation Foundation, which requires .NET.  This means that an Apple version of this new client is not currently feasible.



That's unfortunate - I hadn't been following the progress of the new GUI very closely, and was hoping it would be a pure web client.

I haven't logged into MTGO in a while, and unfortunately the limited beta coincides with a planned trip for me.  But maybe I'll try it out during the wide beta later this year.

I do think it looks nicer, but I seem to recall that a lot of my frustrations with the v3 client only became apparent after using it for a while, as well as trying to host player run events within it.  So I'd have to try it out to really get a feel for whether it's better.

Features that I like:
 - trade binders
 - decklists saved server-side
 - 5 minute client download
I got an invite to the beta not long ago and trying to navigate it gave me a headache.

To the point where I removed both Magic Online clients (beta and V3).  No point in spending money on cards in v3 if the new client is going to be this bad, since I won't want to play once it's forced on everyone anyways.
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Something not explicitly shown in the article was what multiplayer looks like. I wonder if this is intentional? Right now, multiplayer frames look extremely cramped. While stacking of tokens helps in some formats (especially Rhys in EDH/Commander), the thing still needs to be shown how much room we have for multiplayer, what 2HG looks like, how life-totals are handled in 2HG, team loss versus individual loss, and so on.
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I have not played on this beta. Therefore I do not know whether there are problems that make it worse than v3 that I don't know about.

But looking at these screenshots, I have to say I feel very encouraged and excited.

It seems they have taken seriously several deep complaints about v3. This looks a lot more intuitive... and a lot prettier, too. No, it doesn't look like the most amazing design I've ever seen for a game, but it's not dark (which was eyestrain-inducing for a lot of people) and the textures appear to finally be rid of that horrendous stretching and resizing problem that made everything look horrid all the time.

My hope is that some of the bugs (the same thing that happens to caladan happens to me, and also my deck list will start overlapping itself and making a mass of unreadable text) are gone as well, though I am certain since this is in beta that new ones will likely replace them. :-)

And now I want to see how foils look. I loved how they looked in v3 at first but now I feel the colorshifting is overdone much of the time (and turning the colorshifting off doesn't look good either.)

I must also admit however that I might be more optimistic than some people in general. I actually liked v3 and although I think it had problems, I was much less bothered by them than most.

One thing I don't see mentioned here though is any mention of a possible return of the avatars sitting at tables. I loved that about the previous version and was really hoping that it would eventually come back in v3. (Anyone remember those initial screenshots of v3 when it was in development that showed this? It looked so awesome. Sigh.)

ETA: One question I do have though is whether the "piles" happen automatically. It seems to me they should for land, and I'd be thrilled to see an opponent's Empty the Warrens tokens in a neat little pile instead of making everything smaller and smaller.

But if I've played two Chittering Rats, I might not necessarily want them on top of one another. How many of a certain permanent do you have before they start to "stack" and is there an option to "de-stack" them?

Again, if there are, say, more than four in play I think making it automatic is fine. But if there are less, I wonder about it. So how's it implemented exactly? If they are creatures, do they de-stack when they attack? Obviously they would if, say, one token attacks and the others stay back. But what if five of the same token attack? Are they still in a pile?
The token stacking and trade binders look like the most awesome features to me. And it's a long time since I did an MTGO draft, but deckbuilding during draft looks pretty nifty too.
And now I want to see how foils look. I loved how they looked in v3 at first but now I feel the colorshifting is overdone much of the time (and turning the colorshifting off doesn't look good either.)



The best way I can think to describe it is that it looks more like the card is coated with a rainbow glaze instead of a foil treatment.
any market place screens?  That's the thing that has me most befuddled in the current version.  Wondering if y'all did anything with that.

Edit:  Everything else looks awesome though.  Seriously. 
That sounds really awesome.  Even better, if


We have many improvements to the Magic Online experience lined up, many of which players have wanted for a long time.

means leagues, I'll actually start playing MTGO again.
is there finally also a MAC OSX Version? Since this could easy be a Browser Game in these days, I really hope this is NOT Windows exclusive again.
This version isn't Mac compatible? Seriously? After all this time and all the feedback you've gotten, you chose to ignore one of the biggest complaints about the current client? This isn't the late 90s. Lots of people use Macs now and you're alienating a large audience by making the client Windows only. It's just so frustrating that after all this time you're still ignoring Mac users. Wake up and smell the coffee.
The look of this seems beautifull and well thought out! I think that's a vast improvement over the current version. So a BIG thumbs up to your design team. It may sound odd, but this will vastly improve my experience. Looking at the interface now I get shivers every time I log on (so to speak).

What is even more important is the 'feel': does it feel smooth? is the clicking responsive etc. So I hope that's ok (will of course check that Monday when I can try it out )

There are also a few areas which I am very interested to see the improvements: Trading screens and multiplayer... multiplayer really did a huge step back from 2.0 to 3.0 (less real estate for each player cluttered everything). So with the stacking and new layout, I hope that will improve again and see more multiplayer games than now.

I hope Leagues also make a return soon, those were awesome.

Lastly, something I really liked from V2.0: you were able to select for each card: how much you want to trade AND how much physical copies you had (because there was an extra counter for each card which waas not related to how much you had of the card online). I used that a lot to track my offline collection as well, and that's something I'd REALLY like to see back. I heard other people used the same counter to track how many cards they loaned from other people etc. So it can be used for many different goals. This additional counter wasn't in V3, will it be in V4?
And for the record, I am not a Mac user but I totally agree. It's inexcusable that the client is only available for one platform. Given how much time there's been since each redesign, I deeply hope that there is some immensely good reason why you are locked into this.
Please tell me the entire trade system has been revamped.  I don't need multiple trade binders.  I need to be able to search for a card for sale or trade in the same manner I search for one in my binder and be able to compare prices.  I also want to be able to setup multi-offer trades.  Ex:  My Sword of War and Peace for 25 tickets or my Sword for your Sword of Feast and Famine, or my Sword for your playset of Sun Titans etc...

Look at Legends of Norrath card trading system.  Copy that.

PS Let me set cards and tickets to tradable while doing a trade.  I hate having to cancel out because I forgot to set my tickets to tradable.  >.<
Seriously, why does anyone think it's easy to design something that works on both Windows and Mac.  It has nothing to do with the fact that Macs have Intel processors now.  It has everything to do with software platform, and Apples closed policies don't help.  For some reason Mac people think they are this giant growing contingent and WoTC is ignoring they're complaints, but it just isn't worth it for them.  The "MacOS only" crowd is just too small a percentage to justify the amount of work and cost for negligable or negative profit.  It's as simple as that.

I would consider this to be especially true since you can simply use Parallels or VirtualBox or any other Virtual Machine software you can find.  If you are nerd enough to play MTG like the rest of us, you are nerd enough to figure that out! 

Also does anyone REALLY want a web-based version of MTGO? I for one don't ever want to play MTGO in my browser. Ever.

I haven't fired up the new UI beta for awhile, but when I did, it was somewhat promising.
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