"Why are you playing on the Beta Client, isn't it trash"?
I'm sure most of you have said this to someone who has said that they play on the Beta Client. I too, have thought this, but this wasn't from personal experience, I had just assumed that it was bad because everybody else said the same thing. I had this thought, like many others, that the Beta was so unplayable that I was going to skip the DGM Prerelease during the Wide Beta Spotlight just so I wouldn't have to use that client. Of course, that didn't end up happening, as WOTC postponed the Wide Beta Spotlight and allowed everyone to join the Prerelease that Thursday on the old client.
So, fast forward a few weeks later and for some reason, I get the urge to try out the Beta Client. I figured at worst I'd have it installed and save myself some time by not having to download it again in the future, and at best I could learn it now so that when the client switched, I'd be okay and not feel dumb trying to learn it and make potentially expensive mistakes. Essentially, my thought process is, "What's the worst that can happen?
"Challenge Accepted" - MTGO Beta Client
I log in, attempt to load my collection....and it crashes on me. I was only on the client for 2 minutes and it completely crashed trying to load my meager collection. No wonder WOTC postponed the Wide Beta Spotlight, if it can't even handle loading my collection, how is it supposed to hold up when thousands of players are in the Prerelease queues? At this point I just uninstall the Beta Client and firmly cement myself in the camp that the client is unplayable and I will avoid it like the plague.
Well, obviously that didn't happen. I figured that I might as well give it another try, and actually document what I liked and didn't like about the client. So, I decided that I would do the following things:
Play in a draft and see how that process is like.
Play in a PRE.
Build a deck, sort through my collection, get used to the deck editor.
Trade with bots (buying and/or selling)
In short, do pretty much everything I would normally do on the old client. At the very least I could have an informed opinion about the client, and who knows, maybe I'll even like it. With that said, let's get on to the games!
Return to Ravnica Block Draft
The draft itself went great, I felt like I drafted a good Simic deck and had pretty good mana so I knew I could win some games with the deck if I could just curve out and maximize the evolve mechanic. As far as drafting on the Beta is concerned, I prefer it over the old client. Being able to build your deck as you draft saves a lot of time and it makes sure that the 22/23 playables you had in your main deck actually stay there as opposed to getting mixed up and you possibly leave a card out. A perfect example would be a triple DGM draft I did where I drafted a few split cards that were going to be in my deck, but accidentally got hidden behind lands when I got to deckbuilding, and as a result I didn't maindeck a Turn/Burn that I had wanted to play. One thing I didn't like was that there was no "Stats" button like on the old client. The stats button could tell you how colored mana symbols were in your deck, what percentages you had of creatures/instants/sorceries, etc. It's a useful tool in helping decide what lands you need to run if you're a 3-5 color deck, or what color needs more sources if you're just a 2 color deck. I'm sure not many people actually used that button, but I did and I would appreciate if they would put it back, or at least make it easier to find if it's already there.
Rounds 1, 2, & 3
Most of what I say at the end of Round 3 still holds true, so I'll discuss some of them again here. The biggest issue is the lag. I'm willing to believe that the lag is coming from my end, but for now I'll just say that it's the beta client that's causing it, since I'm not 100% sure if it's me or not. Most of the time the lag won't be that much of an issue, but it might mean that I record less videos since I don't want to time out in any of my matches. Having numerous windows open seems really unnecessary, and that might be why the client lags so much. On the old client, you would just have tabs while playing, and the chat window is part of every match, so you're dealing with less windows at any given time on the old client. On the Beta, you have the option to close the chat, but if it just opens back up again whenever you take an action (I'm not sure if it does this or not), then closing it seems pointless. The stack needs a little work, at times it was unclear to me what was targeting what, and those interactions can possibly cost you a game if you don't know what's going on. Highlighting the card helps a little bit, but I liked the more direct approach of just using arrows so you knew what ability was targeting which creature.
Trading and Deckbuilding
First off, I feel I should mention that this was my 2nd attempt at making the video for this portion of using the Beta Client. The first attempt led to the Beta crashing while it was updating. I didn't even get to login before I got annoyed by the Beta Client. Also, the time it takes the Beta to update is far longer than the old client takes, I would guess it took 2-3 times longer for the Beta Client to update than the old one did. For the purposes of the video, I found a list for Modern Silverblack that A) I actually would like to play, B) didn't have the cards for, C) didn't have the deck saved already, and D) would make me have to trade with the bots. You'll notice that I actually have some decks saved already on the Beta, those are actually just decks I made on the old client that I saved as Net Decks. It would appear that the only decks that will auto-transfer from the old client to the new one are net decks, so I would advise anyone making new decks going forward to just save them as net decks so that you don't have to import them when you get on the beta. If it wasn't for me asking the ORC, I don't think I would've found out that you can import decks, and would've had to open the text file and manually looked for cards, which is a lot more work than it needs to be. Now we get to one of my biggest problems with the beta: not enough space to view both your maindeck and sideboard, and still have room to see the cards you want to put in. For reference, here are the two deck editor screens for both clients:
Side-by-side comparison of both clients
You can adjust the settings to make it where you can see both your maindeck and sideboard, but you're dealing with less space than you did with the old client, and I personally liked being able to use the entire screen to fiddle with my deck, not just 1/4th of it. The filters got slightly updated, you can search by type and subtype now, but that's a small thing that I don't think many people will use. As for the collection itself, you can't thumb through sets like you could the old client, on this one you have to select with sets you want to see at any given time, and then you have to wait for that set to load. Yes, each set has to load, even if you're going back to a set you've seen before. I believe this is because the collection also serves as the cards for the Deck Editor, so each card has to be loaded like it does on the old client. This results in some lag issues (but lag issues are numerous on the Beta so it's more common than you'd think.)
As for as trading is concerned, it's far more annoying on the Beta Client than it is on the old client. This is mostly due to the numerous notifications I get from the client every time the bot says something in the chat window. While this is probably intended for PvP chats, it gets very annoying when it's used during trading, as every single card you select will give you a notification. This is often results in a backlog of notifications if you are selecting cards much faster than the bot can update your total.
Player Run Event - Round 1
I only recorded 1 round because I only needed one round for this part of the exercise. Finding the Getting Serious room (Beta version of Anything Goes) was easy enough, but setting up a table was a bit more difficult, but not so much so that it bothered me. The only problem I had was that the Beta Client does not have an option of giving each player 30 minutes like on the old client. This is a problem because PRE's work on the 30 minute clock, while the Beta only gives options for 25, 40, and 60 minutes. One solution is to just have the player on the old client make the table, but if both players are on the Beta, you can't make it for 30 minutes. This means that PRE's will have to find a new time limit for each player once everyone is on the Beta. One solution is to use the 25 minutes and be aware that we now lose 5 minutes, or set it for 40 minutes and say that the first person to hit 10:00 on their clock loses to time. Gameplay was about the same as it was the for the draft rounds, which the usual lag annoying me but otherwise it was fine.
I have mixed feelings about the Beta Client, but if I had to simplify it, the old client is vastly superior to the Beta at this point in time. The Beta Client does have a better look to it, and feels more modern than the old client, but we are paying customers, and we don't want a shiny inefficient product, we want a working reliable product that we feel safe using. To clarify, these are the good and bad points of the Beta Client:
Draft experience is a lot smoother.
You can tell who you are passing to and who you passed to.
Client is lagging constantly
Trading with bots is a bit annoying
Too many windows open during events
Client is not clear on what is targeting what.
Client is prone to crash from time to time.
Deck Editor screen is too small
These points are based on what I observed by using the Beta Client 3 separate times (once for draft, once for trading, once for PRE), so I'm willing to believe that I had an atypical experience and the Beta runs more smoothly than it did for me, so if you feel that I was just unlucky, please tell me your experience in the comments below. Also, I only covered a few parts of the Beta Client, I did not use every single feature, I only used the ones that have the most impact to us once we start using the client. I do understand that the Beta Client is a work in progress, and I can't expect everything to be perfect the first time I use it, so I'm understanding and won't judge the client too harshly. This being said, the client is not ready for widespread commercial use, and it would be foolish for WOTC to push out a product that does not run smoothly and potentially alienate a chunk of the MTGO player base. At the very least, if the Beta Client can stop lagging so much and crashing, I think players will be more willing to use the client. I myself would be more inclined to just use the Beta as my primary client if I knew I could do things as smoothly as I could on the old client (mainly just not have it lag). The lag is a big issue for me, as I can't use the internet and the Beta Client without wanting to shoot myself, or any other program for that matter. Like I said in the start of this section, the client looks good, but doesn't operate well, and that is what is driving myself and quite possibly others from using the client. I will be sending Wizards some feedback on the Beta Client so that when we have to start using it, things will have changed for the better. As always, comments are appreciated!