Duel Scene: Advanced Techniques

Posted in Magic Online New Players on July 18, 2014

By Ryan Spain

Ryan Spain has been a digital designer in R&D since 2011. He is involved in all things Magic Online, from new card sets to the new client and everything in between. He likely has more lifetime hours played on Magic Online than anyone at Wizards.

Still Had All These

Frequently, when casting a spell or paying a mana cost, you want the same type of mana from all of the lands in a pile. Land piles now have an “All of these cards…” option that allows you to apply the same action to all of them. This menu will come up with any click on a pile of lands with multiple abilities, or a right-click on lands with only one ability.

When clicking on any mana source, if you hold down the “M” key (or whatever key you would like to bind it to via the Input Settings in your Account tab), it will automatically add the first mana option available. This helps pay for colorless mana costs quickly using sources with multiple activation options, such as dual lands.

In combat, you can use the same “All of these” trick on a pile of creatures to declare an entire pile of creatures as attackers. Further, should you want to attack with every legal attacker you control, you can right-click on any empty spot on the battlefield during the Declare Attackers step to bring up the “Attack with all creatures” option.

This is handy when you have a lot of creatures and want to alpha strike with most or all of them. If you only want to attack with “most,” fear not. Selecting this option moves all legal attackers into the Red Zone, but you can still “unattack” any individual creatures you want to pull out of combat before finalizing your attack.

Shortcuts Unbound

Experienced Magic Online players typically use the function keys (F1, F2, etc.) as shortcuts for clicking OK and for passing priority for more than one instance. Those commands still work, but you can now bind them to whatever key combinations you prefer. Go to your Account tab and click “Input Settings” to view and change your keyboard shortcuts.

Note that “Undo” now defaults to the universal Ctrl-Z instead of V3’s Alt-U. If you are an Alt-U die hard, though, you can always bind the command back to Alt-U.

Associations

What is that spell targeting? What things can my spell target? Which creature did you take with that Sower of Temptation? Which of your two Bloodthrone Vampires did you just activate? Magic games are filled with interconnections between game elements, which we refer to from a user interface standpoint as “associations.”

In the new client, these associations are clarified through the use of dimming unassociated elements, putting borders around associated elements, and applying arrows to indicate things like “is targeting” or “is a target.” Some of these associations display automatically, such as showing legal choices and mana sources when paying for a cost or resolving an effect, while others display upon mouseover.

For example, casting a spell with a target will dim the things you can’t target, and put a glowing border around the things you can target.

When a spell is on the stack, the top item on the stack shows any targets and sources automatically, although without dimming the rest of the battlefield. Mousing over an item on the stack applies the dimming effect for easy identification of a spell’s target.

When mousing over an effect on the stack, the source of the effect will gain outward-pointing arrows for easy identification.

Mousing over anything associated with other duel scene elements will slightly increase the size of those elements and dim everything else, as well as applying any relevant arrows.

Combat

The new client introduces the Red Zone to the combat phase. The Red Zone helps clarify attacking and blocking decisions by having all creatures in combat touch the Red Zone. When Planeswalkers are involved in combat, mousing over an attacker will dim everything else but the Planewalker or player it is attacking, as well as adding combat arrows to the display.

During the Declare Blockers step, blockers you declare move into a special blocking row, which allows them to line up directly across from the creature being blocked.

While the addition of the Red Zone and blocker row mean cards are smaller during combat (although, as above, you can lower your hand to counteract this), there are big benefits to combat clarity. It is easier to process combat in this view, and it better reflects the way players communicate combat decisions in face-to-face games.

On the Scene

The new Duel Scene has a lot to offer Magic Online players, and there are more improvements to come! By the time you read this, the player information boxes and life totals will be larger than these images depict for a better spectating experience, and high on our improvement list is adding the ability to pop out each zone into a floating window that can be resized as desired.

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