you ever wondered what it would sound like if Britney
Spears and Megadeath worked together on a song?
Well now we know! (The
Way You Like It, by Adeama)
was thinking of doing an article about Magic Online (MO),
and a friend recommended I go ahead and do it, so I
For those who aren't familiar, Magic Online is
the new software Wizards plans to release this spring.
It allows for online play, drafting, and
certainly not the first to discuss this software, by any
I read several, and they all seemed to talk about
it as if playing Magic in this venue was some
life-changing, mind-boggling experience.
So I became a beta tester, and to be honest, I'm
is plagued by lag.
Often I stare at the screen frustrated as I wait
for the computer to acknowledge that I have asked it to
play the Island in my hand.
Folks, I have a cable modem.
There's no reason for this.
Sometimes it will operate speedily, and at those
times I can actually act faster than I do in a
conventional game, because I don't have to actually say
the names of the cards.
At those times, if I already have planned out
exactly what I want to do for that turn, it can even be
Often though, too often, I want to go downstairs
and get myself another glass of water while I wait for
my opponent's triggered effects to resolve.
a related issue.
Getting kicked off the service entirely, or being
unable to connect in the first place, is rather common.
The other night I was kicked off during three
I appreciate that reconnecting allows the
resumption of the game, exactly where we left off, but
waiting for the reconnect is incredibly frustrating.
And that's not to mention the times when I'd be
kicked off and unable to reconnect.
used to playing Apprentice, and not having the cards
available for the deck I want to build is a great
I understand that if all cards were available in
unlimited amounts there would be no purpose for trading.
I don't even like trading, so I'd be more than
willing to sacrifice that aspect of the software.
The trade window was done pretty well, though.
I think if you like trading odds are you'll like
the way this software handles it.
the limited casual room the games are rated.
In the constructed casual room they are not.
Sure, the constructed games are free and limited
are not, but why do I have to join a tournament to have
a constructed rating?
I most definitely prefer constructed, and I'd
like the idea that my games were having some
longer-lasting effect than the immediate win or loss.
My MO rating isn't very important to me, but it
would still be nice.
individual timers are a very clever idea and at first I
liked them a lot.
It's a pretty complicated issue, though.
First, let me explain.
When one is playing in a draft or tournament, the
games have a 40 minute time limit that is done the same
way it is in conventional tournaments.
If the limit expires, there are 5 more turns in
the game, then the match is over, and quite possibly a
tie (unless it's the second game and the first had a
However there are two additional timers, one for
Whenever the game is waiting for a particular
player to make a decision, that player's time is
If a player's individual clock expires, that
player loses the match.
The amount of time remaining carries over from
duel to duel.
This is good because it eliminates the strategic
advantage to stalling, which is cheating.
There's a downside to this though.
There exists a feature in the game that most
players use, that allow one to skip over many decisions
if one is tapped out.
When that is combined with the fact that
aggressive decks tend to play their spells during their
turn, sometimes even their first main phase, and one
sees that it the game will save you the time it takes to
click the OK button every time you have priority,
therefore disproportionately saving time on your clock,
if you're playing an aggressive deck.
Also, control decks, particularly those heavy in
permission, need to pay attention to what their opponent
is doing before clicking OK and allowing the game to
This also takes time off the clock.
But the worst part about it is that it penalizes
those who stop to think.
Perhaps you've decided to try a new deck out.
You're not familiar with the deck so you'd like
to consider how you play the deck carefully.
Well now you're in danger of losing to the clock,
and I'd rather not punish people for trying new
Perhaps you're playing a deck that simply
requires more thought.
You've filled it with cards that pose interesting
decisions to be made.
This could be a new form of beatdown, it could be
a control deck, or it could be a combo deck.
In any case, I don't like the idea of punishing
people, even if only lightly, for playing
After all, isn't complicated strategy what this
game's all about?
What it will probably have the greatest impact on
however, is not an individual deck but an individual.
Some players don't trust their own gut reactions
so they stop to logically argue with themselves the
virtues of a particular choice.
I don't see anything wrong with this, and believe
that it tends to be something that improves players'
abilities, and so should not be discouraged.
do have something nice to say.
One of the greatest annoyances I have outside
tournaments, on Apprentice in particular, is opponents
who believe they understand the rules when in fact they
I hate arguing about the rules, especially when I
know I'm right and I know there's no way the opponent
will believe me.
Somehow I thought that by becoming a level 2
judge my opinion on rules issues would somehow be a
little more respected than what it was, but that is
simply nowhere close to the truth.
On Magic Online, the computer handles the rules
issues, and does it pretty well.
When my opponent doesn't understand the rules, my
opponent is punished because they make the wrong
decision, and what's more important to me, I'm not
punished by having to switch to the rules as understood
by Player X.
why is it that I cannot click on the card in hand to
announce it, then play mana abilities to pay its mana
If one clicks on the card while the appropriate
mana is not yet in the pool, nothing happens.
Tap the lands, then click on the spell.
Either way is legal in Magic, but MO only allows
for the old-fashioned way of doing it.
next issue is rather minor.
As a Meddling Mage comes into play, it's
controller sees a list of cards.
As a matter of fact, that player sees a list of
every card considered to be a part of Magic: the
One clicks on the card one wishes to name for
Meddling Mage's ability, then clicks select.
Sounds simple enough, but it's far too cumbersome
trying to find the appropriate card on the list.
I typically click on a card, then press the first
letter of the card I'm looking for on my keyboard to
jump to the first card that begins with that letter,
then begin to scroll down.
This takes much longer than it would if it were
set up like the "Find Card:" field of
Apprentices Deck Editor.
will I pay to play the game?
I've decided that I will probably play if a point
costs less than five cents, because it will be something
fun to do in my spare time, better than watching
television, and it will help to improve my Magic playing
After all, practice makes perfect.
Any more than that and it's a waste of money.
I think Gary Wise said it best when he said
Apprentice is a way to practice Magic while Magic Online
is a way to put what you've learned into practice.
The fact of the matter is that there's no reason
for that, because I already have a way to put it into
That is, I can drive up to a local card shop,
spend the money I would've spent on MO on physical
cards, build a deck or draft, and play with people I've
met there or friends of mine I brought along.
I can go to a PTQ and experience a level of
competition MO will never compare to.
Sure, MO is more accessible, but when it comes
right down to it, playing online just isn't as much fun.
three people have ever played in this format.
This is a format a friend of mine, Andy Chapman,
and I created for playing on Apprentice.
The legal sets are Portal, Portal: Second Age,
Portal: Three Kingdoms, Unglued, the cards from the
Duelist Invitationals' Duplicate Limited (D1, D2 in
Apprentice), those cards listed as promotional on
Apprentice, and cards we created specifically for this
handle Unglued we made two rulings.
First, when a card involves a player saying
something, it's now involves the typing equivalent.
This means that if I play Censorship and choose
"I" and then type this sentence in the text
box Censorship will trigger three times and I will take
Second, if a spell or ability would require a
player to do something that isn't easily represented by
Apprentice, that spell or ability may not be played.
This means that while Soldier of Fortune's
ability may be played (though I don't believe he's in
the format one could still get a hold of him through a
Chaos roll, getting to that in a minute) because
Apprentice can easily do the equivalent of shuffling
your deck, Blacker Lotus' ability may not be played
since tearing a card cannot be represented on
games in A&J are played in Chaos mode, which means
at the beginning of each turn except the first turn of
the game, before the untap step, there is a "Chaos
At the beginning of the chaos phase, the active
player rolls the Chaos die.
There is no stack in the Chaos Phase so spells
and abilities may not be played unless the Chaos roll
The Chaos die is a built-in feature of
Apprentice, and it has 200 effects, from which it
There is also a Persona Die, an EnchantWorldLand
Die, and a Wackyland Die.
You roll on those only if you are instructed to
a player wins a game in J&A he (no she has ever
played J&A) designs a card and tells his opponent
No player-designed card may be played against a
player which did not know of that card at least 24 hours
prior (this is to handle the occasional third player).
didn't want to have to deal with typing in a way that we
do not normally type.
It's a very gray area, and neither of us really
like the card much anyway.
is to keep an accidentally overpowered card from getting
too out of hand.
list (for banning):
I said cards listed as promotional, not necessarily
cards that actually were promotional.
format is a lot of fun but shouldn't be taken too
seriously as the Chaos roll keeps it from being overly
I recommend this format for any of those now
geographically separated from an old Magic buddy, as
Andy and I now are.
Although I think it would be more fun for you to
create your own cards, here's the cards we've created
just in case you were curious:
of Disgrace 2U
the Eternal 1GG
of Panic 4R
Go to Heaven... W
Ultimate Knight 7
With Envy 2GUU
Protection Plan 4WW
May you find what you seek.
John B. Turpish
Copyright 2001 Pojo.com
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