Monday, December 19, 2011

New Version

Santa’s little computer programming elves have been furiously coding in order to bring you new cards for the Christmas season. (Back to real life.) Forge’s development team, which has been called the “A-Team of programming” and the “Java Giants”, has been energetically coding new cards and features. There are 400 new cards for a total of 9,745 cards, making Forge the “best videogame ever created”. (Soon to be copyrighted phrase by Forge’s crack team of invisible lawyers.)

Some of the new cards include:

Aerial Caravan (4UU, 4/3 creature, flying) has "1UU: Exile the top card of your library. Until end of turn, you may play that card" which is awesome because you can play any card for only 1UU. Combine this with Sensei’s Diving Top for complete insanity.

Autochthon Wurn (10GGGWW, 9/14, trample) - Has convoke so you tap creatures to reduce the mana cost. Other convoke cards include Conclave Equenaut (4WW, 3/3, flying) and Conclave Phalanx (4W, 2/4).

Instants can also have convoke like Devouring Greed (1WW, "Exile target attacking or blocking creature").

Basandra, Battle Seraph (3RW, 4/4, flying) has "Players can't cast spell during combat" as well as "R: Target creature attacks this turn if able". Both abilities combine to completely dominate the game. If you can get this card on the board, you have a good change of winning the game.

Cease-Fire (2W, instant) says “Target player can't cast creature spells this turn. Draw a card". This card (almost) makes your opponent skip a turn AND replaces itself. Cease-Fire is very good in constructed and awesome in sealed or draft.

Please note that you need to play Cease-Fire BEFORE your opponent’s main 1 phase. If the computer has already cast a creature and it is on the stack, you are too late.

Damping Matrix (3, artifact) turns off all activated abilities, which is awesome. This one card can completely change the flow of the game.

Engineered Explosives (X, artifact) has "sunburst" which means "This enters the battlefield with a charge counter on it for each color of mana spent to cast it."

Engineered Explosives lets you destroy all non-land permanents that have a converted mana cost equal to the number of (sunbursted) charge counters. This card is roughly a targeted Final Judgement. Any card that lets you destroy multiple creatures is a game-winner. Engineered Explosives combines well with cards like Birds of Paradise, which can produce any color of mana.

I presume most everybody knows this but let me mention it anyways. If you have green mana Engineered Explosives will destroy all cards that have a converted cost of 1, which means if the card cost was 1 or W or B or U or R or G, the card would be destroyed. If you have green and blue mana Engineered Explosives will destroy any card with a converted cost of 2, such as 1G, 1U, BB, or RG.

Goblin Cannon (4, artifact) says "2: Goblin Cannon deals 1 damage to target creature or player. Sacrifice Goblin Cannon". This card makes me laugh. A beginner will pay 2 and deal 1 damage. An advanced player will wait and spend 6 to deal 3 damage.

The reason that you can use this ability multiple times is because Goblin Cannon is destroyed when the ability resolves, i.e. is pushed off of the stack. If Goblin Cannon said “2, sacrifice Goblin Cannon: etc…” then you could only use the ability once because the ability’s cost forces you to sacrifice the card. Before the colon is a cost. After the colon is an effect.

And I’m pretty sure that the computer will only pay 2 and use Goblin Cannon once.

Pro-Tour Wannabe,



(11-25 is when this version of Forge was first posted to the forums.)

Link - Forge 11-25 (Windows, Linux) 31 MB and can be
          unzipped with Winzip or 7-Zip (free, open source)

Link - Forge 11-25  (Mac) 32 MB and can be unzipped with Keka

Download - Card Pictures (160 MB) - These are some of the low-quality (LQ) card pictures. 

Java - Forge requires Java in order to run

If you have any questions/comments, please post them to the forum.

Contains lots of goodies such as:
Installation and Updating to a newer version Instructions
Advanced Updating to a newer version Instructions
The Mac OS application version info
Picture location info
Launching Forge and Memory Issues
Java 7 Issues
Card Picture Issues

Reporting Bugs:
Forge is always a work-in-progress. Some cards (and card interactions) are more buggy than others. To report a bug, please follow the instructions here.

New Features:
When a spell or an ability appears on the stack and it says "(OPTIONAL)" you can right-click it to decide if you want to always accept or to decline it.

The JuzamJedi cube has been updated with a newer list of cards.

These are the people that help make Forge awesome. They donate their time to: slog (read) through somebody else’s code, fix tiny details, stress out and go prematurely bald so we can have such a great piece of software. I (and everyone that uses Forge) sincerely thank you.

Chris H
Friar Sol
Jeff Wadsworth
Max mtg
Rob Cashwalker

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wizards of the Coast - Lay-offs

You want to work at Wizards of the Coast right? The place were Dungeons and Dragons is right around the door and is home to best TCG ever created. Even the venerable, Pro Tour commentator Randy Buehler was laid off, ouch!

I have a hard time understanding how Wizards isn't rolling in money because Magic Online seems like such a huge success.

Here is a link to those laid off.

Dork Tower, a free online comic, is great!

Rich Baker has posted his farewell on WotC's forums.
Today, Wizards of the Coast eliminated my position. I have unfortunately been let go, after more than 20 years of employment with TSR/WotC.

I still hope to write for the Forgotten Realms novel line as time and opportunity permit. In fact, I'm going to go home tonight and finish my second draft of Prince of Ravens. There may be some more opportunities down the road.

D&D fans... thanks for a great run. I hope I've given you some good gaming over the years. Your game is in good hands with Mike and Monte.

For fans of the A&A minis games, I would like to say that this does not signal the cancellation of any miniatures lines. I hope I can take on some of the design work on a freelance basis, but we'll have to see.

Time to splice the main brace, as they say. Good gaming, all!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Accidental Creation of Forge

In many ways Forge was a happy accident. I was bored and looking for something “interesting” to code. People can go there whole lives without programming something “interesting” and most code is as interesting as a phone book.

Magic: The Gathering had a number of hard problems, such as how to code many different types of cards. Obviously the more card text meant that the card would be tougher to program. Some of the thorny problems were, “How to encode a Magic card into Java?” and “How you do allow a card to override almost any rule?”

Forge uses two mechanisms for the card code. Readable “scripting” and Java code, which is much longer but infinitely flexible. The scripting is very useful that it probably accounts for 90% of all of the cards in Forge. The scripting has also become more complicated, which is a good thing, because it can be used to add more cards.

Forge allowed me to witness the trials of a “real program”. Once a program is over 10,000 lines of code, then you start to see all of these tiny problems that you may or may not be able to fix. A “real program” is like a concrete building which is set in stone. Although buildings can be moved and overhauled, they take an enormous amount of effort. (When I began writing Forge I purposefully ignored “protection” because it was too complicated. I was amazed when Dennis changed hundreds of lines of code just to get protection working.)

The graphic user interface (gui) is also a hard problem, with no clear solution. There is a ton of information that the player would like to have at his fingertips and the screen quickly become full. I took my stab at Forge’s gui design and it was functional but sparse. More and more gui details have been added, such as attacking and defending icons, which makes the game easier to play.

The gui continues to evolve. Here is a beautiful screenshot to wet your whistle. (Please note that this gui is not currently available and is a work-in-progress.)

Devoted Magic Player,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Forge Sharpens Your Skills

One of my goals of Forge was to sharpen people's Magic skills even though the AI would be a little dumb. My idea was that people would use a wide variety of cards and could play more games.

Having actual experience with a wide variety of cards is essential to becoming a good Magic player. Rarely will one card be better than another in all circumstances. Comparing Terror and Assassinate will make a good example.

The question is, "Which card is more valuable?" Obviously Terror costs 1 less and is an instant, making it very valuable. Assassinate can kill any creature if it is tapped, which usually means that the creature gets in one good swing before you can kill it. In general I would take Assassinate over Terror because Assassinate can kill black creatures but it would really depend on the type of deck or format. (Forge doesn't really use the concept of formats like Modern or Legacy.)

Obviously the best way to get better at Magic is to just play the game. It doesn't matter if your opponent is the reigning world champion (Jun'ya Iyanaga) or a random friend. Just playing the game will help you know when you should attack and if you are winning or losing.

(A quick side note, if you are winning you should be willing to trade creatures when you attack but not when you block because you want to the game to end sooner rather than later. If you are losing, you want the game to last longer because you are hoping that you can draw a powerful card to change your situation. When you are losing you should trade creatures very carefully.

Trading creatures means that both creatures die.)

In Forge, the AI attacks often to put pressure on you. The AI may even lose because he attacks too much but sometimes the AI is correct. Since the AI tries to be aggressive, it will occasionally startle you and make you sweat, which means that it is a good game.

Hopefully Forge has made you a better Magic player :+)

Question of the Week:
Has Forge sharpened you Magic skills?

Just a guy,