Sahannah Lions, Seht's Tigers, Grizzly Bears
February 22, 2010 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Online booster drafts at Le Bestiaire Here you can draft (the) Magic the Gathering game by selecting the editions of the virtual boosters you want to open. This Magic Draft website simulates other players of the draft which allows you to play against 'bots'. From rarities like Arabian Nights to Worldwake, The Bestiary's monsters are not merely beautiful paper tigers but gamepieces guided by gestalt player logic into a compelling simulation of the Magic booster draft game. With over 15 years of cards to admire and miser over, in French, English, Chinese, German, and more. Have fun drafting Ali from Cairo.
posted by kid ichorous (25 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Now that it's too late, I should mention that I'm not sure how much traffic their site can handle, as it gets sluggish every now and then. Hopefully they can bear our attention.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:32 PM on February 22, 2010

...not merely beautiful paper tigers...

Surely you meant Paper Tigers.
posted by persona at 2:46 PM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is awesome, but how is it not killed by lawyers?
posted by absalom at 3:01 PM on February 22, 2010

Also, I'd be interested to know if this does true random, or also mimics common runs.
posted by absalom at 3:05 PM on February 22, 2010

Also also, I wish you could draft with other people, but I guess then it really would be a lawsuit magnet.
posted by absalom at 3:08 PM on February 22, 2010

There are actually quite a few programs that let you draft/etc for free. The program that really needs to get made is one that not only lets you draft for free, but - in the same program - lets you build your deck and play against other people that drafted. Rules enforcement isn't a necessary component - Magic Workstation and Apprentice worked just fine without it - but the ability to do all that in one program would greatly streamline draft practice.
posted by LSK at 3:11 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

so, this is awesome. but am i misunderstanding the scoring at the end? is it assigning score simply based on your ability to chose the "most powerful" card from those in the pack in some abstract sense? so that if I have managed to draft pure mono-green for the entire draft and then, on pick 13 of pack 3, I have a choice between a middling-good blue card and a middling-bad green card, my draft score goes up if I choose blue?

I understand the impossibility of building an algorithm to score entire card pools but still, I would have hoped for something at least a little more refined.
posted by 256 at 3:34 PM on February 22, 2010

Surely you meant Paper Tigers.

Doh. I am impressed that this thing even accommodates Unglued/Unhinged.

is it assigning score simply based on your ability to chose the "most powerful" card from those in the pack in some abstract sense?

Yeah, I'm not sure on how the AI works there, especially when some accounting must be made for "hate" drafting a powerful card away from your neighbors. If you haven't yet, try drafting with the "hints" mode on, and mouse over the contents of a pack. It gives you a (limited) window into how it ranks your draws during the draft. If you're deep into green-white, late second pack, for example, you can see how it ranks green picks higher than superior black or blue.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:55 PM on February 22, 2010

Oh, it's not called "hints." Click on More Options below the Draft button, and enable the Picks Assistance checkbox.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:57 PM on February 22, 2010

On the legality, LSK's mention of Magic Workstation bears investigation. It looks like that thing has skirted legality forever by providing a basic card game engine without including any of the copyrighted artwork associated with MtG. The end user downloads Magic Workstation, and then looks elsewhere on the web for the various cards and sets. Similarly, it appears that Bestiaire links offsite to Wizards' own publicly-shared images of the cards. I suppose Wizards could just stop sharing them if it didn't think it kosher.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:08 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sweet, this wets my tongue for the WWK WWK WWK drafts coming online Wednesday. I love drafting triple small sets, such degeneracy becomes possible.
posted by Jezztek at 4:23 PM on February 22, 2010

What exactly is going on here? I may have played a game or two of Magic in fifth grade oh so long ago, but I have absolutely no idea what is happening here. This allows you to make a deck out of any card that has ever come out? I think all this terminology that I don't understand is really confusing me. I kind of always wished I had gotten into Magic, as it is the only CCG's I played were the one Star Wars one from the early 90's and a Marvel one from roughly the same time.
posted by Phantomx at 4:57 PM on February 22, 2010

Ooooooook well guess I should've checked out some of the ancillary links. The "Magic Booster Draft" link explained the rough concept enough. It does sound like a really neat way of dealing with throwing money at the game vs. just wanting to play it. Maybe I could convince some friends to learn Magic with me. Maybe 16 years later its time I learned how. =)
posted by Phantomx at 5:04 PM on February 22, 2010

@Phantomx - Drafting is when you open a booster pack, pick one card, and pass the rest to the player beside you to do likewise. Players sit in groups of eight and all do this simultaneously. First pack goes left second goes right, then third goes left again. After three packs, each player has accumulated 45 cards, which they then use to make a 40-card minimum deck and play against each other, eventually resulting in a winner who (in official drafts) usually wins a prize of some kind. The skill comes in building your deck on the fly and in 'reading' the table so you can tell if someone is hoovering up all of the cards you need.

This is a neat webtoy. If I cared more about winning, I'd be positively thrilled at the chance to practice. As it is, I'm just tinkering with WWK cards and smiling.
posted by Scattercat at 5:04 PM on February 22, 2010

I've been using Le Bestiare for some time and... honestly, some of the picking engines are mediocre. The "other drafters" are lousy at sending signals, not least because their rating engines to determine what card is the best pick in any given situation are often questionable.

Still, drafting Magic is the best way to play the game.
posted by mightygodking at 5:09 PM on February 22, 2010

Oh, and:

This is awesome, but how is it not killed by lawyers?

Because they're hotlinking images off Gatherer, the official Wizards online visual database.
posted by mightygodking at 5:10 PM on February 22, 2010

I've drafted online using the site ccgdecks which allows for bot drafting or other human drafting. After the draft is over it'll let you build and download your deck and then you can play with others in your draft using Magic Workstation or Apprentice.
posted by tehdiplomat at 5:40 PM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I played the hell out of the delightfully bug-ridden MicroProse Magic series, which had a booster-pack mode somewhat like this, a spectacularly bug-ridden single-player quest and the ability to play either human players or quirky AIs.

Having compared what I know works well in that environment versus how my 4th Edition drafts got rated here, I can safely say that either their rankings are way off or I know infinitesimally of what I thought I did about Magic. Probably the latter.
posted by delfin at 5:48 PM on February 22, 2010

*taps two islands*
posted by sciurus at 5:54 PM on February 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've lost too many years of my life to that MicroProse game. I still curse the Wizards' most trusted servants, who were impossible to avoid, pretty difficult to beat, and didn't give you any ante when they did win. Ah well, you could always just tap all their lands for mana burn. Oh, delicious errors.

And the AI was terrible! They'd ALWAYS block with a Time Elemental, even if it killed them. I seem to recall it had trouble figuring out how Mana Vault worked too.

Still, it's amazing. Anyone know if I can make it run in OSX?
posted by yellowbinder at 6:18 PM on February 22, 2010

From the "Player Logic" link up there, it appears that its preference for Mythic Rares is just borked. Sure, Basilisk Collar is very powerful from Worldwake, but Jace, the Mind Sculptor should be in the top 10. Same thing with Baneslayer Angel in M10.

Pretty cool all the same.
posted by explosion at 9:07 PM on February 22, 2010

Sure, Basilisk Collar is very powerful from Worldwake, but Jace, the Mind Sculptor should be in the top 10.

In the context of a ZEN, ZEN, WWK draft, I think it makes sense that Basilisk Collar would be rated higher. By the time the 3rd pack rolls around, you might not be in blue, so passing along Jace actually makes sense if there's a better card in the deck for your pack where as Basilisk Collar fits well into almost any deck.

I would guess the Baneslayer Angel rank is a similar problem. Pack 2 Pick 1, maybe you can take it and switch to white, but Pack 3, Pick 1 if you aren't in white, you're likely going to let it pass.

Of course, in real life or drafting on Magic Online, of course you'd grab these cards, even if they aren't in your colors, because they're worth 60 bucks.
posted by mge at 10:22 PM on February 22, 2010

Ah that microprose game was all sorts of awesome. You could load up your deck with a ton of Contract from Belows (something you'd be loathe to do with real cards) for optimal brokenness. 1 black to draw 7. Card advantage out the wazoo.
posted by juv3nal at 10:32 PM on February 22, 2010

I dunno. Jace2 is such a bomb, I'd be tempted to try and splash for it. If you can set up a ground stall, a free Brainstorm or scry/bounce/bounce each turn *will* win the game. I know the UU cost is a problem, but you need to pick up things like Pilgrim's Eye when you see them.

Also, I might not be the best drafter in the world, but I'm far from a terrible one. The scoring on this seems wonky.
posted by salmacis at 2:29 AM on February 23, 2010

Also, it claims not to know my DCI number.
posted by salmacis at 2:30 AM on February 23, 2010

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