Magic Online: Beta Collection

Posted in Making Magic on October 31, 2012

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.

Hello again! When we come up from the Magic Online downtime on October 31st, the Wide Beta will have some significant updates, and I'd like to share some of the new features you can expect to see when you jump into the beta client. While regular beta users will probably notice fixes and improvements throughout the client, our biggest work effort since the last big update was in the Collection Scene.

One of the major metrics our beta client survey lets us keep an eye on is the feature-by-feature preference rate between the current client and the beta client. When the first survey results came in after our "Sneak Peek" launch, the Collection Scene scored the lowest when compared to the current client. This wasn't a big surprise—we knew collection and deck building needed work before the beta client could replace the current client, and the survey results confirmed that thought.

Summary of Beta Client Updates

  • List View: List view is implemented in Collection! Sort through your collection in a table-style presentation.
  • Improved Deck Creation: The process of starting a new deck has been streamlined.
  • Multi-Import: Import multiple decks at once into your deck collection.
  • Smart Search: Expanded text search functionality that functions more like an Internet search engine.
  • Auto-Saved Limited Decks: All of your Limited decks are now automatically saved into your decks.
  • Improved Performance: Lots of performance improvements throughout the client, particularly in the Collection scene.

How Soon is Now?

If you build Magic Online decks like I do, you have sorely missed the "List View" feature listed as "Coming Soon" in the beta client. The good news is, soon is now! When I have a pretty strong direction for the deck I'm working on, I prefer to work in List View, where I apply some key filters like Format and Color, then sort by casting cost. While some people prefer to look at card images while they build decks, I like to have all the card names and other relevant stats in easy-to-browse columns.

In the current client, these columns were fixed in both content and location, but in the beta client, you have much more control over what columns you see and what order you see them in. Just click and drag the columns around to reorder them, and use the "»" button at the end of the header row to select which columns to show. (These choices currently aren't saved between sessions, but this feature will be coming in a future release.)

Based on my unscientific polling of Magic Online players here at Wizards, players seem pretty split between Card View and List View deck builders. Now, the List View side can build in the beta client in the style to which they have become accustomed—and then some!

Click to Enlarge

Starting Anew... Deck

With my List View showing me a filtered set of card options, it's time to start a new deck. Until now, this has been a more click-intensive process than we'd like, due in large part to the fact that the autosave feature—while handy—requires a name and format for your deck before you can get started.

To alleviate this, you can now right-click on a card in the collection and select "Start New Deck" or drag a card from your collection onto the "Add Deck" button, and the deck name and format will be pre-populated based on your card choice in a new, more intuitive deck-creation interface. Hitting your enter key or clicking "OK" will get you started quickly on deck building with no further typing or clicking, and you can always change the name and format later.

Click to Enlarge

We have also reintroduced the ability to import multiple decks from your local files using the redesigned deck creation interface as well. Now you can bring all of your locally saved decks to the Wide Beta quickly and easily, and once you do, they will all be net decks you can access from any computer!

Filtering Your Options

Once I've added the core cards into a new deck, I usually want to tighten the filters a bit to narrow down my choices for those final slots. Sometimes I realize I need more creatures, other times I am looking for a card whose name escapes me, but whose characteristics I remember. Once the filters begin adding up, it's not always obvious what set of filters you have in place. To help track that, we've added a "breadcrumb trail" across the top of the collection results. You can see at a glance how your filters are set, and you can also clear a filter directly from the breadcrumb trail by rolling over a filter and clicking the X that appears.

One style of filter I used a lot on the current client was the "range" filter. Setting less than, greater than, and equal to filters to narrow down things like casting cost during deck building or quantities owned when setting up my tradables was an important tool for viewing my cards. Since the last time I wrote about the beta client, setting such ranges had taken a step backwards in the beta client, involving lots of clicks to define a range. We now have range sliders to all filters and drop-downs where it makes sense.

By grabbing and dragging the ends of a slider, you can create and adjust all the ranges you want. As someone who missed my drop-down range-setting tools from the current client, I can say that I am a slider convert in the beta client. They allow me to define the ranges I am looking for quickly and adjust them easily.

I also use the text search to navigate my card options while deck building, and there is a nice revision to the search functionality in this client update. In V3, the text search simply looks for that text string on the cards in your collection. You can still search this way in the beta client by putting quotes around any text string, but without quotes, spaces are treated like "and" for search purposes, much like any Internet search engine would do. So, if you type "wizard damage" (without the quotes) into the search field, you will find all cards containing both of those words instead of cards with the text string "wizard damage." This broadens the search potential in the beta client.

We have also included recognition of "~" as "not" and "|" as "or." Combined with using curly brackets to express things like mana symbols, where {r} means , you can search for something like this:

{r} ~{g} ~{u}

...and you will find all cards in your collection with a red mana symbol in the rules text, but not with a green or blue mana symbol. While a bit arcane for the average user, it's nice to have some deep search options for the "power user."

Click to Enlarge

And Another Thing

Besides these bigger, obvious changes to the Collection Scene, there have been a lot of bugs and issues fixed and some less-noticeable features implemented, both in the Collection Scene and in other parts of the client. Here are some of the ones that impact the player experience the most.

  • Card Quantities: The card quantity indication in the Collection Scene has been updated with new iconography, a lower-left justification, and an additional number to track the quantity in the currently open deck or binder.
  • Auto-Saved Limited Decks: When the first round of a Limited tournament starts, a copy of your deck is automatically saved to a "Limited" deck box in your collection. We do not yet have the functionality to save and load decks during sideboarding of a Limited event, but that is planned.
  • Deck Context Menu: We have added several useful options to the menu that comes up when you right-click in an empty space in your deck. You can now sort via this menu, close the deck, or open a new copy of it in case you want to make changes without overwriting your current version.
  • Drag and Drop: You can add cards to a deck by dragging a card from your collection onto a deck box. Doing so will add that card to the deck and then open that deck for further editing.
  • Trade Bugs: Trade had some serious blocking issues that were preventing trades from completing successfully on the beta client. These have been resolved and trading is functioning normally as of our testing on this build.
  • Targeting Players: When playing a game, you can collapse the left-side pane that shows player avatars to make more room on the battlefield. This created a situation where you could not target players whose avatars weren't visible due to this feature. You can now target the player's pane to indicate a player target so you don't have to expand this pane to use a player-targeting spell.
  • Logging In: In a fix for one of my personal "most annoying" bugs, the keyboard focus will be on the password field (or username field on first login) after launching the client instead of just appearing to be, such that you type with no result.
  • General Performance: It is an ongoing mission to increase speed and performance throughout the client, and we have made many strides in this area with this release.
  • Quick Chat: On the home page, you can now double-click a buddy's icon to quickly initiate a chat with him or her.

There are more improvements beyond this, and for a more complete changelist, keep an eye on this forum thread, where we will share the latest updates with players when we release new versions of the beta client.

While we've made some great improvements with this release, particularly in the Collection Scene, we also know it's still not done yet. There are some Collection features we didn't quite finish in time for this release that are being worked on as I type. Other changes will come from the ongoing iteration process, and we hope you will continue to help guide that process with your feedback and testing in the beta client.

Our next work effort is focused on the game play experience, or as we call it, the Duel Scene. In the effort to maximize the space for cards on screen and to clarify which creatures are attacking and blocking, we currently have a game play experience in which the cards move around too much on the battlefield. Now that deck building experience is much improved, we are turning to this as the most important aspect of the beta client.

While we work on improving the battlefield experience, give the latest update a try and let us know what you think of the Collection changes! Your feedback continues to be valued and vital to us. Until the next milestone...

Good Luck and Have Fun!


Latest Making Magic Articles


September 26, 2022

Making Space, Part 2 by, Mark Rosewater

Welcome to the second week of Unfinity previews. Last week, I talked about the creation of the set's main two mechanics. This week, I'm going to talk about everything else, all the other ...

Learn More


September 20, 2022

Making Space, Part 1 by, Mark Rosewater

Welcome to the first week of Unfinity card previews. It feels so good to write that. Today, I'm going introduce all the design teams, walk through how we designed the two main mechanics, ...

Learn More



Making Magic Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All