MWS Install Guide

Table of contents [hide]

Current card counts: MWS PLC=13523 GoblinHero PLC=13939

To verify a proper installation, ensure you have the proper card counts as listed above. Then check that your pictures and themes work. UN-INSTALLATION HINTS:

  1. Start by using the uninstaller for MWS. If MWS starts acting strangely, the easiest and quickest solution is a quick uninstall followed by a clean install. 3 minutes of reinstallaton can replace a lot of head scratching.
  2. If you have just done a brand new clean installation of MWS, then and only then will the MWS uninstaller completely remove the C:\Program Files\Magic Workstation directory.
  3. If you install anything else (and you WILL, like a Game Pack, or a theme, or pictures), then the MWS directory won't be removed.
  4. So, after uninstalling, rename the remaining C:\Program Files\Magic Workstation to something like C:\Program Files\Old Magic Workstation. This renamed directory will now contain all your old pics and decks, etc., which can be moved to your new install.
  5. Optional: You can also run "regedit" and delete the "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Magic Workstation" key if it's there. Older versions of MWS would leave this key after uninstallation, but the latest versions don't.

The Comprehensive Installation Guide

  1. Install MWS:
    1. From, download MWS094f.exe and MTG_Gamepack.exe.
    2. Run MWS 094f/Click next.
    3. Accept the agreement/Click next.
    4. Accept default destination directory/Click Next.
    5. Accept Create a desktop icon/Click Next.
    6. Files are extracted and you are prompted regarding the installation of GamePacks and Game Bases. Ignore and click next.
    7. Leave "Launch Magic Workstation" selected and click Finish.
    8. Wait for the countdown, click OK.
    9. Ignore the "Show Tips on startup" box and click Close.
    10. You get another Game Pack warning now and every time you start (until you've completed Step 2, that is). Click OK. Master.mwBase 17KB, Master.mwInventory 1KB MagicWorkstation.exe 2,938 KB
    11. Look at the sample cards. You have 102 cards in your master database in the top screen, and no prices on the bottom right. It might be fun to play a game with these cards!

      Below, This is what a fresh Install looks like with some columns rearranged Image:Fresh_Install_30.jpg Above, This is what a fresh Install looks like with some columns rearranged

  2. Install the Gamepack (and Change View to Deck Edit Mode):
    1. Close MWS and Install the Gamepack. Run MTG_Gamepack.exe, click Next, then Finish when it's done.
    2. If your desktop is as crowded as mine, now is a good time to find your MWS and MWSPlay icons and move them somewhere conspicuous. 094f brings us 2 Icons!
      You will see that "_Master.mwBase" 2,518 KB has been added to the root (hit F5 to refresh your listing). The underscore will go away when you launch MWS again and it updates. The new .mwBase will replace the old one, which will be saved as Master.BAK.mwBASE. You will also see these new additions--CardShark.mwPrice 482 KB, Hastur.mwPrice 290 KB, and MagicTraders.mwPrice 515 KB, as well as a couple of decks, Sacrificial Bam.mwDeck and Wicked Big.mwDeck.
    3. Run MWS. You now have 12,130 cards and 64 sets, and are updated thru Ninth Edition. The Sacrificial Bam deck is in the bottom pane. Although this deck has 60 cards (in the Qty field) it will say "24 cards (from 24)" in the pane menu bar. This is supposed to be the number of unique cards (not total quantity), but I still can't get them to add up properly.
      Look at the bottom of the screen, where the card name, info and errata is. Resize that bottom box larger, by clicking and dragging upward. If you couldn't before, you can now see any "Card Notes", with an offline link to the rulings. Notice the vertical scroll bar that displays on the right side of this window when there is more info hidden.
    4. At the top of the screen, click on "View". You will see "Library Mode (Classic)" is selected.
      Below, Library Mode = Top and Bottom Panes
      Image:Library_Mode_Small.jpg Above, Library Mode = Top and Bottom Panes

    5. Change the setting to "Deck Edit Mode".

      Below, Deck Edit Mode = Left and Right Panes Image:Deck_Edit_Mode_Small.jpg
      Above, Deck Edit Mode = Left and Right Panes

      For people new to MWS, the Left/Right layout is usually more comfortable than the Top/Bottom layout.
      HINT: For more experienced users, the benefit of Library mode is that you can sort your cards by clicking the column headers (Name, Cost, etc.).

      Notice the Sacrificial Bam deck now is listed as 60 cards.

      Now you can run the game without seeing the "missing Game Packs" warnings. You still have no mana symbols, pictures, flavor text or fancy card borders, and the card rulings and prices are slightly out of date.
      Master.BAK.mwBase 17KB, Master.mwBase 2,289 KB, Master.mwInventory 1KB
  3. Update MWS Using the Automatic Updater:
    1. Close MWS.
    2. Establish an internet connection.
    3. From the Windows Program menu MWS group, click on "Autoupdate MWS". From within the "Update Agent" box that pops up, click "Start Update". As of 5/18/05, I get 3 files, .03 Mb. They are MWSChat.ini, English.mwl, and history.txt.
      Click OK and they are updated.
      (Nothing from this step is ordinarily saved. I make a directory called "3 Run Auto Update" anyway, so that I will remember to follow these steps.)
  4. Update Your Rulings:
    1. Make sure you're online.
    2. Launch MWS. Go to File\Import\Import Rulings. Notice the Rulings Database Last Update: 12\30\1899 date, which should change to today's date when you're done. Click "Update". It will add a 2,560 KB text file named something like "Card_Rulings_05_08_2005.txt" from the CrystalKeep site to the MWS root directory. It will say "Modified 6617 ruling(s), Added 0 ruling(s)".
    3. Click "OK" when the update finishes, then cancel or close the update box.
      You can copy the rulings file into your 4) Rulings and Prices folder. If you reinstall, copy the saved file back into C:\Program Files\Magic Workstation, then you can select the file and click on "update Rulings from file" and it will be right there.



    In the MWS library, Themes change the way cards are displayed. in the MWS Play module, they determine your Avatar, Card Frames, Token Frames, Card Headings (those you see when you look into your library), PlayerInfo Sidebar, Mana Symbols, Set Symbols, Sound Effects, and Turn phases icons.

    WHEW! That said, we're finally ready to start making things look good--like Magic!

    PRE-THEME TWEAKS: We'll do some things first to get you looking good no matter which theme you prefer. Go to the Image View Tweaks Gallery to see some examples.

    Hint: F10 is the shortcut to "Tools\Preferences"

    1. F10\General\ High Quality Image Generation "ON". Allows display of smaller text on rendered cards, which can make it less crowded and more realistic. Full scanned cards won't benefit as much. The floating card view will be larger as well.
    2. F10\Image View\Show Help Info "ON". Help info is sort of new to Magic. In the old days, they didn't print the explanation for "Flying", "Banding" and such on the cards. This setting allows display of help info on cards that already have it, that is, the newer editions that have help printed on the card anyway.
    3. F10\Image View\Show Flavor Text is "ON" by default. Allows display of flavor text-see the italics in the picture below.
      Hint: You won't see flavor text unless you've installed the flavor base, even if this setting is checked.


    Finally, from, download some Themes (store them in your MWS\Themes folder of course).

    Can you spot all the differences?

    Below: The MWS Library Screen Using the MWS Default Theme and the 3 Tweaks


    Above: The MWS Library Screen Using GoblinHero's New Magic Theme and the 3 Tweaks

    Themes obviously make things LOOK good, but what you can't hear is how great they make a game in MWS Play SOUND! Themes are provided by talented volunteers, whose inspiration and compulsion to create overcomes the drawbacks of slight recognition, acceptance, and thanks. One of my favorites is "Malhavoc's Post 8th.mwTheme". It has great sounds and graphics. Do you see the six colored circles underneath the picture of "Player"?

    Counters Comparison

    MWS DefaultMalhavoc

    You use them for counting. Malhavoc's Post 8th Theme will put mana symbols on those counters, so you can keep track of your mana. A left click on any color counts up, and a right click counts down. Shift+clicking will add/remove 5 points at a time. Ctrl+rightclick will reset the points to 0.

    Once downloaded, copy your *.mwTheme files into your Magic Workstation\Themes directory. Hit F10 (or Tools\Preferences), Interface. Click on Graphic Theme and you should see your themes listed.

    Below, the Preferences/Interface screen showing the Themes dropdown box Image:Preferences_Interface_50.jpg
    Above, the Preferences/Interface screen showing the Themes dropdown box

    If you only see "Default", the new themes are not in the right place. Click on "Malhavoc's Post 8th", Click Info for info, then OK. The program will initialize, and you should now be looking like Magic, but with no pictures.


    The best place to find pictures is here.


    • A "Cropped Scan" is a jpeg of the artwork only. MWS seamlessly produces the rest of the card.
    • A "Full Scan" is a jpeg of the whole card, including the border, artwork, text, symbols, etc. Different players prefer different versions for different reasons.

    MWS Picture Naming rules:

    1. Cards that aren't named according to the following rules are ignored by MWS.
    2. If you misname an Edition directory, none of the pictures for that edition will work.
    3. There have been at least four different numbered and named picture formats on the internet. You must have a named picture set for MWS, numbered pics don't work. Your pictures should read "Forest1.jpg", not "103382.jpg".
    4. CROPPED PICTURES MUST END WITH ".JPG", as in "Abyssal Specter.jpg".
    5. FULL PICTURES MUST END WITH ".FULL.JPG", as in "Abyssal Specter.full.jpg". You can put full and cropped versions of the same edition into the same directory. To be safe, start with just one or the other, or keep them separate.

    More rules:

    1. A properly named card will substitute itself for improperly named cards. So you might have four lands in a set, but if only one is named properly, all four will show the art of the one properly named picture. In play mode, you only get one picture for each type of card. Nothing is broken, this is for strategy purposes to make it more difficult for your opponent to use art to memorize and predict your cards.
    2. You can have either one space between each word or none. They can't be mixed.
    3. "Card1" will be chosen before "Card 1", so, cards with no spaces are used first.
    4. Spaces within words are NOT OK, so forget using "M e rfo lk of the Pe a rl Tri dent".
    5. Spaces between words are optional, but must be consistent. "Merfolk of the Pearl Trident" is OK. So is "MerfolkofthePearlTrident", but not "Merfolkof the PearlTrident".
    6. Case is ignored, so "PEARL" is the same as "pearl" or "Pearl" or PeArL. "8E" is the same as "8e".

    Even More Rules, Making Tokens Work:

    madbomber said:
    Still a bit confused though, some of the files are named goblin.full.jpg while there are also goblin1.full.jpg. If I create a token called goblin I don't see the correct image. This is specifically the image I like the best.

    Eldric IV replied:
    The key is the numbers. Let us say you have two pictures in TK. One is Goblin.full.jpg and the other is Goblin1.full.jpg. MWS shows token pictures based on the token's power and name. Goblin1.full.jpg will show up for any Goblin token with power 1 (and Beast4.full.jpg will show up for every Beast token with power 4, whether it is 4/1, 4/2, 4/3, 4/4, etc). For all other Goblin tokens, MWS uses the generic picture Goblin.full.jpg (and would use Beast.full.jpg for all other Beast tokens, like a 3/3, 5/5, or 1/1). Finally, MWS only matches the token's power and the number if there are no spaces. Goblin1.full.jpg shows up for all 1/X Goblin tokens. But if you change the picture to Goblin 1.full.jpg, it will only show up for tokens named Goblin 1. That is how I use multiple pictures for my tokens. If I want to put out three different pictures, then I make three different tokens: Beast, Beast 1, and Beast 2. Even though all three are 4/4 tokens, they have different pictures because of the names.

    • If you have installed a Third Party Flavor Base, you will find a few cards that don't display, like the flip cards in Champions of Kamigawa. The reason for this is that the flavor base will not always use MWS naming conventions. Where MWS uses "Bushi Tenderfoot--Kenzo the Hardhearted", the flavor base may use only "Bushi Tenderfoot". In this case, rename your pics to match your database listing
    • Once I had a problem, where I could see everything but lands. Cropped and Full scans both had the same problem.
      Cause: Lands in some Magic Suitcase picture sets are named something like "Forest368, Forest369", while the MWS Card list Display shows "Forest[1], Forest[2]".
      Solution: Rename jpg's to "Forest1, Forest2". All lands will then be displayed.

    PICTURE INSTALLATION: The default pics directory is "C:\Program Files\Magic Workstation\pics", but don't be confused; Pictures do not go here... Directories full of pictures go here. Each Directory is named for a set.
    Below, Where picture directories are placed

    Above, the Pics directory contains picture directories
    1. CHOOSE YOUR PICS. Pick a set you want to test with, and whether it will cropped or full. From Windows, create a directory for your set. For example, "C:\Program Files\Magic Workstation\pics\8E".
      To make testing easier, you can limit the number of sets you have to look at by using the card filter: click on the "Complex Card Filter" icon (to the right of the magnifying glass, it looks kind of like a pen and paper); or, right click in the card list, and uncheck all sets except your chosen one.
    2. COPY YOUR PICS. Copy pictures into the "pics" SUBdirectory you have created. Each set should go into its own subdirectory. The subdirectory must be named appropriately (i.e. 8E, CH), so as to match the set listing from within MWS (not all sets are 2 spaces, i.e., Beta is not "BE", just "B". Champions of Kamigawa is CHK. GoblinHero's Ninth Edition is 9ED).
      So, using a cropped scan, I now have "Abyssal Specter.jpg" in "C:\Program Files\Magic Workstation\pics\8E".
    3. CHECK YOUR PICS. This should give you pictures for the cards you copied. Run MWS. If you click on the 8E version of Abyssal Specter, you should see a picture.
      If some pictures don't display, remember: The name must match the card display name, and can't be a number. I keep mentioning this because there are so many numbered format pictures out there. If no pictures display, your directories are pointing to the wrong place or are misnamed (but not if you've followed these instructions, leaving all defaults.)

    HOW PICTURES ARE DISPLAYED: By default, cropped pictures will be displayed first. By default, full scan pictures will be displayed only if a cropped equivalent is missing. (See F10\Image View\ "Only Art" and "Cropped Images First".)

    Full scans and cropped scans for the same editon may be copied into the same directory without incident, then you can switch between them at will.

    If you have selected full scans to display first, then a cropped scan will display if the full scan is missing. If you have selected cropped scans to display first, then a full scan will display if the cropped scan is missing.

    You can rename a .jpg (cropped) to .full.jpg. In this case you will get stretched looking artwork filling in the whole card frame, and only artwork.

    If you rename a .full.jpg (full scan) to .jpg, you will get a whole card squeezed into a regular card's artwork frame (which is more playable than the former, as MWS still displays the needed text). So the file extension tells MWS how to display the card--you have to make sure the .jpg is appropriately named.

    If a card isn't displaying, but you have the picture in the proper directory, ensure the jpeg name matches that listed in MWS. Then check the file extension. This is especially important for Flip cards. The pictures will often be named like "Bushi Tenderfoot--Kenzo the Hardhearted.jpg", but you should rename them to match the display within MWS, like "Bushi Tenderfoot.jpg". If you use pictures downloaded from MWSData and have installed the third party Flavor Base, you will need to rename a few cards because the naming conventions between the two are not exactly the same.

    Pictures come in widely varying sizes. MWS will scale them automatically. To appreciate what MWS is doing in the background, browse your pictures with IrfanView and see how they go from large to small.


  5. Backgrounds and Avatars. From MWSData, you get a 20 Meg file with 20,000 backgrounds, for the completist only. Other Backgrounds, and Avatars as well, are available for download elsewhere. These are then accessed from Game\Test Deck in Solo Mode. Then click Options\Preferences. The default directory for both is My Documents. Both take gif, jpg, bmp, and png files, 15 KB max. You can view, but not apply backgrounds and avatars until you register. I skip this step.
  6. OTHERS. Get other downloads Here, including Mana Gifs (contains mana and tap symbols, but I don't remember how to use them), and the Magic Font (used for proxy printing and display in F10\Grids, doesn't help much, is installed into Windows using normal Windows font installation procedure.) I skip this step.


You should now be installed and functioning. You should be in Deck Edit mode, with themes, cards, and pictures. At this point you could play a game with the default (should be already loaded) Sacrificial Bam deck. You will see everything except pictures (unless you have put Mirrodin pictures into an "MR" directory.)

This guide hopefully got you past the most frequenly encountered problems installing Magic Workstation, and will allow you to reinstall and tweak with confidance.

Bonus Section!


This database is not supported, and this step can be skipped.

The flavor base adds "italicized quotes" to your cards. It may also change your available cards and sets, though the flavor base and MWS base have become more congruent over the last year.

IMPORTANT NOTE: GoblinHero follows WOTC naming conventions, and MWS does not yet, so a small number of pictures that work with MWS will not with GH (notably flip cards). For instance, with the GH base, Ninth Edition is called 9ED, not 9E.

Expert tweak: You can easily copy and rename a few pictures to make them work with both bases. See "Picture Problems" above). There may still be problems with decks, though.

Ninth Edition DB instructions:

  1. From GoblinHero download the 931 KB Full Flavor Database as a rar archive.
  2. Instructions: You will download a compressed file in the .rar format. If you do not have a decompression utility to handle this format, try the free 7zip. Once extracted, copy your new GoblinHero Master.mwBase file into the MWS root directory, and from the "Data" folder, the Sets.dat file into your MWS\Data folder, after renaming the original files, i.e., Master.mwBase.old and Sets.dat.old.

Run MWS and take a look. you should have 12,430 cards and 64 sets.
You will see flavor text on many--but not all--of the cards.


  1. Seeing Prices: To see prices, select "Tools/Price bases Management" and in the "Select Active Price Bases" box, choose what you want to see. What is placed in the "Active Price Bases" box will be displayed.
  2. Updating Prices: Click "File/Import/Import Prices".
    You must choose or create a file first. It's best to save over the preexisting ones. If you're updating Hastur, choose Hastur and not MagicTraders for example.
    Note that these downloads might take some time, especially Hastur. Hastur has the longest download and the smallest database with the most errors, so it's definitely optional.
  3. MagicTraders has a lot of coding errors that prevent all the cards from updating properly. Planeswlk has fixed the file as of January 06. Get it here, look for "Fixed Magic Traders Price Bases". Copy the two .MWPrice files to MWS root. Then, from the MWS tools menu, go to Price Base Management and select MagicTraders and MagicTraders Foil. For the full scoop go here [1]. Notice there is no option for Cardsharks. I guess sponsorhip makes them mandatory and automatic.

Once updated, you can save the .mwPrice files (they're in root), then copy them back to root if you need to reinstall. Once the mwPrice files are in place and selected, they should activate automatically. If not, close and relaunch MWS.

The price updater doesn't check for version info, so it always downloads the latest file, even if you already have it installed.


By Huggybaby, starting 11/11/2004