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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
Nov 14 2008 8:34am
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Editorial Section

Hammy's How To:  How to protect your decks with Subversion.

I saw yet another user lose a lot of hard work this week when his decks were not backed up before a system restore and I thought: Screw this, it's time to come up with a better way to handle decks.

And it just so happens that there is a MUCH better way to handle deck back-ups, and many might not even know that it exists.  It involves some up front work, but trust me when I say, it's 100% worth the time when you want to get information back.  It's calld 'Subversion' and technically it's a code revision system.  I won't bore you all with too much history, but I will explain what it's for and why it is such a boon to the heavy-duty deck designers out there.

CVS/SVN History
SVN is the next generation of Version tracking.  The previous, and more well known CVS (Code Versioning System) was created to solve a very distinct need in the programming world: more than one person working on code.  SVN does pretty much everything that CVS did, and then some.  While we're not writing code or sharing our files with others, we will happily reap the benefits of the groundwork that has already been completed.

What you'll need to do to get ready for SVN.
First, you'll need a free SVN Repository Site!  Here are some
Google results or you can use what I decided to use, which is a site called Unfuddle.

Then you'll need a client to send your files to the server.  The one I'm familiar with (and used to using) is  TortoiseSVN client (free)

After installing Tortoise, you may have to reboot.  If you do, reboot, then you'll be ready to start using this fantastic tool.

How to put it all together
To back up ALL your decks:
1) On your SVN server instance, create a repository called "alldecks"

2) Find the folder that currently holds your decks, rename by adding "old_" to the folder name.  For example, my "Decks" are located in my "c:usershammyappdata oamingwizards of the coast.0" folder.  I would rename that top level "Decks" folder to "old_Decks".

3) Right click inside the folder that contains the newly renamed "old_decks" folder and select "SVN Checkout".

4) Paste in the SVN directory of your "alldecks" SVN repository from the website in step 1.

5) Rename the new "projectname_alldecks" folder  to "Decks"

6) Copy your decks out of your "old_Decks" folder into your new "Decks" folder.

7) Right click on the folder and select "Commit".

You have now transitioned your decks from your old "Decks" folder to your SVN enabled repository.  Congratulations.  To keep this up to date, right click on your "Decks" folder and select "Commit".  Do this each time you make changes and you'll have some fantastic version tracking for your decks!

To back up just some folders of decks:
1) Create a repository on your SVN server for each folder you want to have version control.  Be sure to choose descriptive names and identifiers.

2) In Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory that has the folder that holds the decks you want to back up.

3) Right click and select "SVN Checkout"

4) Paste in the URL to your repository.

5) Copy the deck files/folders from their current folders to their new, SVN checked out folder.

6) Right click on the new SVN checked out folder and select "Commit".

You've now backed up a specific deck folder to a specific repository.  Repeat the process as needed for all of the decks that you're interested in backing up with SVN.

Pros and Cons of the two choices
Both of those options have pros and cons, and for most users I'd recommend the first option which is the easiest to set-up and use.  However, the pros and cons should certainly be mentioned as well.

Pros - All Folders at once
Cons - All Folders at once
  • Easy to configure
  • Easy to use
  • Once you're set-up, you just update and revert, nothing else to worry about (mostly).

  • Version numbers grow quickly.
  • Harder to pick out individual changes, must be more descriptive with comments.


Pros - Indvidual Folders
Cons - Indvidual Folders
  • Much more manageable version numbers
  • Easier to specify and revert to individual changes.
  • Harder to set up
  • Harder to use

I've started backing my files up to SVN for about a month now and I can't imagine why I didn't do it sooner.  The control I have over viewing changes, going back to old versions as well as knowing that my files are backed up, really makes me more at ease with my MTGO experience.  I really hope that some day WotC puts this functionality into the client.  The ability to view changes, restore to older versions and keep my decks would be much better if it were built into the client and part of the deck editor's "Net Deck" feature.

Until then I hope that some others can get some use from this tutorial.  I won't lie, this is indeed a fair bit of work to get set-up,  however, once you've done the up front work you will probably never want to live without it again.  It's just that handy!  You can also use this service for homework revisions, work documents, etc.  Anything that you use that might be changed and/or that you want backed up is fair game for this utility.  Anyone interested in some more SVN reading, I'd highly recommend the SVN Manual, locate



Last but certainly not least, is some very good information from another MTGO dealer, known in game and on the WOtC boards as CardHoarder.   I asked him to provide some information about his services and he provided the following:

"Cardhoarder has been involved with MTGO for 6 years, first selling cards directly and on third-party sites, then eventually on its own website, www.cardhoarder.com. A few years ago, Cardhoarder added smartbots as an alternative way for their customers to shop for cards.

The website offers all MTGO products, including cards, packs, tickets and foils. Sales are run continuously, offering customers the best value for their money.

The smartbots, Cardhoarder.bot and HotBot, have the most advanced technology, are the most reliable and have very competitive prices. They feature a credit system which allows users to return to the bots and use their stored credits.

Cardhoarder contributes to the MTGO community by sponsoring Infobot, a free bot pricing service which features prices of several dealers simply by issuing a command to it inside the game. Cardhoarder has also started a weblog,
www.mtgoblog.com, to offer a unique perspective on MTGO."

Yes, this is a direct competitor with the sponser of this site (www.mtgotraders.com).  However, if I want my eventual list to be of any actual use to the community, it has to be complete and fair, otherwise there's no way I can ask anyone to take it seriously.  As an aside, I expect to be building the actual article that will compile all of my information in the next week or two. 


Discussion Items

The first part of this section will be the compilation of updates for the week, be it WotC updates, generic game updates, etc. 

Announcement Details Date
4 Man Constructed Queues The following formats now have smaller queue options: Extended, LWR-SHM Block Constructed, Classic, Prismatic, 100 Card Singleton  9/25/2008
World Champs Qualifier: MTGO Keep an eye out for qualifier tournaments that feed into bigger and more competitive events!


If you've been running the "CBS" bots you really need to read this announcement.  There's a lot of he said/she said going on right now. 

Shards of Alara Release Events
Some new changes, including the start of 16 person queues

New Skin Released
Art is subjective, don't-ya-know? 10-29-2008
Jace vs. Chandra
Updated with the most current information!
Return of the 2D avatars!
We complained, they listened!  They'll be phasing out the 3D avvies over time.






Card Prices


This week instead of my normal price breakdown (it'll be back next week!) I have a handful of custom requests from posters over on the WotC boards.

First up is Pithing Needle.  Once the 10E version was released the price decreased greatly.  It did climb back up but they've both slumped back down of late.

Next up is Reya Dawnbringer.  Try and find out where the we got the news that she was going to be reprinted in 10th Edition:

Another requested card was Counterspell and the impact that MED2 and the Extended rotation had on it.  Quick synopsis: the rotation kicked it in the shinsand the reprint punched it in the gut.

Here's an interesting one: Watery Grave, which shows a pretty neat card trend.  It starts high, decreases (from sealed events) then spikes back up, then decreases, but goes back up a third time (that's the neat part) before it started its slow decend again.  The releasing of the orignal U/B dual seems to have had little to no impact on the Grave.

Going back to an IPA 'chase' card for a moment we have Fact or Fiction... which was 30 tickets at one point.  It's taken a few healthy drops sincee then at fairly regular intervals (as the rotation inched nearer).  It has recently been announced that we're getting a new-bordered reprint of it, which should make some players very happy, and that has appeared to push it even further down.

Another solid IPA card: Terminate.  The extended rotation hasn't really done much to drop the price of these bad boys, but that's not too surprising.  When it comes to commons this is one of the top removal spells, and it doesn't really have an equal for the mana cost, especially at common.

Here's a chart of all four Wrath's of God... and they're all very very similar.   They've recently seen a spike in price...

And I wondered why... until I ran the following chart and remembered the Standard decklists of the time: Dralnu and U/B control decks!  At the time that WoG drops so does Mutilate and Damnation (after its release events).  But then Damnation jumps back up and Wrath stays low.




Whew!  There you have it folks!  The impacts of reprints, new releases, new versions and replacement cards on some of the top cards of MTGO.  Hopefully you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I have!  I feel like I'd be a fool to not publicly thank Heath and the entire www.mtgotraders.com staff for their crucial roles in providing me with these numbers that I can delve into on behalf of the players.  Without them, this would be impossible, and they are truly tremendous people.  Thanks again guys, I, and the players, really appreciate everything!


















































































































































by hammy (on the road)(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/14/2008 - 14:46
hammy (on the road)(Unregistered)'s picture

I'm not sure what you don't get, if you don't need this solution then it's not for you.  Do you have a solution that you feel works for your needs?  Great.  Please don't consider this article an attack on whatever you have going on.  I'm sure it's perfectly acceptable for whatever you need it to do.  

What this is for is to help people who don't have access to a back-up routine.  And once it's set up, it's the same amount of work to back up your files (right click->commit) vs. copy/paste.  For some, a flash drive solution is fine.  Although you do have to actually buy a flash drive to do that.  While they're quite cheap, they still cost something.  I've also fried a fair number of them in my life.  I wouldn't want any of them to be my 'backup' plan.

But really, the major bonus, and it's a big bonus to some, is that you can see exactly what you changed and when you changed it for each revision of each deck.  With comments for how the deck performed, etc.  Personally, I build decks like crazy.  I love to build decks.  I love to build different versions and make different changes and all sorts of things.  For me, and hopefully others, this is something that they can use. 

There's a lot of flexibility to a revision solution once it's up and running

by Anonymous(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/14/2008 - 09:23
Anonymous(Unregistered)'s picture

Nitpick: It was a reformatting of the hard drive, not a system restore (system restore wouldn't cause me to lose data)

 But a wonderful article regardless.

flash drives? by Bazaar of Baghdad at Fri, 11/14/2008 - 12:08
Bazaar of Baghdad's picture

I don't get it - how is this easier than right click on Decks folder (which itself can be shortcutted to the desktop) and sending to the flash drive?

Source Control by spg at Fri, 11/14/2008 - 08:46
spg's picture

If you're interested in using a versioning control system to back up your decks, I would recommend Perforce.  Subversion works also, but from my experience Perforce is just easier to setup and use.  Perforce is also free (for up to two users), but is not open source.

Just another option if people are interested...  No matter what you use, version control is always a great idea though.

Thanks by Ivo(Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/14/2008 - 08:55
Ivo(Unregistered)'s picture

Thanks a bunch to Ham for the work and to Heath for giving him access to the data. I requested some of those charts myself, so I thought I should chime in :)

I note that all the "re-print" drops I wanted to see went down a bit before the new ones are available. I didn't remember Pithing Needle getting spoiled in advance (unlike Reya), then I remembered: it's not just earlier spoilers of specific cards - the FULL spoiler is available before we have the cards online.