Strovil's Standard Play Guide for MWSPlay

Table of contents


This guide is the practical instruction manual for Magic Workstation’s MWSPlay. It describes every function and feature of the play module, explains how to perform the common tasks of Magic (such as untapping, searching your library, enchanting a creature, etc.), and includes a section on how to handle specific card effects. It is up-to-date through the release of MWSPlay .94f and the Ravnica, City of Guilds expansion.

If you have any tips for using MWSPlay or handling unusual or problematic cards and their effects, please submit them to the update thread for the Play Guide on the forums. You may also download a pdf of the MWSPlay Guide as of November 15, 2005 here.

(Note - The update thread displays posts in descending chronological order, so the newest posts are at the top and the oldest posts are at the bottom.)

Before You Start

Some decks, no matter which format (casual, standard/T2, vintage/T1, etc), play slowly. Sometimes you will reach an impasse in a game and end up stalled. Other times the server is slow or the connection is poor and there is significant lag. Out of consideration for your opponent, budget at least 20 minutes to play a game and at least 30-45 minutes for a match.

Michael Lyndon's Magic Workstation Finishing School offers eight great rules for playing civil and enjoyable games of Magic on (ignore rule #1 as you should always use phases). Consider it required reading (it is really short).

Finding a Game

There are two main venues for finding and playing a game: the server and any IRC client. First, open MWSLibrary and load the deck you want to play. Whichever deck you have loaded when you connect will be the default until you disconnect and load a different deck.

(Note – You can connect to either venue without MWSLibrary by opening MWSPlay and going File -> New Game or pressing F2. Load the deck of your choice and press Start Game to bring up the connection dialogue.)

To connect to the server, go to Game -> Connect to Opponent or, while a card in your deck is selected, press Ctrl+I. A connection dialogue will open, defaulted to Click Call and you will connect to’s server.

(Note – If you have a problem connecting, go to to check the status of the server. "This page cannot be displayed" means the server is down. If the server is down, be patient and try again later; alternatively, try to find a direct connect game on IRC (see below). If is working and you cannot connect, try by opening the connection dialogue and changing to If you still cannot connect, see the connection thread at the Magi-Soft forums for help.) normally has anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen games waiting for opponents and can have more than 100 games already in progress. Scroll down the list of games and note that those with a Join button on the right side are waiting for an opponent. The text box describes, quite briefly, the criteria that must be met to join the game. Most often these criteria fall under one of four types:

  • Format: with taglines such as “T2” or “Vintage” or “Ext”, these games welcome any opponent with an appropriate deck; they may or may not be matches (best 2 of 3 games) with sideboarding,
  • Private: with taglines sporting nicknames and the ubiquitous “only”, such as “burninator only”, these games are usually arranged over mIRC or through an online league and should not be joined by anyone but the requested player,
  • Testing: these taglines almost always state “testing” and a format or upcoming tournament (such as “testing for regionals”); only join if you have a deck of the appropriate format (with sideboard), enough time for a match, and the ability to compete at a reasonably high level of play,
  • Casual: almost always designated either “casual” or “for fun”, these are the games for which Magic was invented; bring your crazy combo decks, a pre-constructed theme deck, or anything your heart may fancy . . . except, and this is a big except, do not bring decks that are 1) tournament worthy, fine-tuned, turn-four/five kill decks or 2) not fun to play against (there is no excuse for joining a casual game with your MUC, Stasis/Kismet, or Control-Slaver deck).

If you do not see an open game that you want to play, just wait a few seconds. Games start and end all the time and an appropriate one will usually appear rather quickly. If, however, you are looking to play a more eclectic format (such as prismatic or tribal or highlander or Ice Age block), then it is best to create your own game. At the top of the window is a Create button. Simply click it, fill in the format you want, and click Create. Now you sit back and wait for an opponent to join.


There are numerous channels in which to find games but two of the most populated are #Magic-League on SolidIRC and #MtG-Temple on AbsurdIRC. Once you join the channel, simply ask if anyone wants to play a game and specify the format, or watch for such invitations from others. Be aware, however, that many players on IRC direct connect to their opponents rather than utilize Direct connecting requires you to give your IP address to your opponent. Open the connection dialogue (Ctrl+I) and click on the Waiting tab. Then click on Wait to get your IP address (a series of numbers and periods sometimes ending with a colon and 4747, e.g. and prepare your computer to receive his call. Give that number to your opponent (this is best done through a private message by copying and pasting) and when he calls the game will start.

Alternatively, if you are connecting to your opponent, he will give you his IP address. In that case, open the connection dialogue (Ctrl+I) and input his IP address in place of and click Call. If you copy his IP (or any address) to your clipboard, then clicking the small icon on the right of the field will automatically paste it into the box.

Starting a Game

Upon clicking Join, or establishing a direct connection with your opponent, the MWSPlay window will open with a blank play area. The chat log will state that you and your opponent have shuffled your libraries. Immediately, it will say “<------ New game started ------>”, display both player’s deck security codes (these are important for league play), and start turn 1.

(Note – If the connection is slow, the chat log will only state that you have shuffled your library and your opponent will have 0 life. If the game has not loaded within 10-15 seconds, disconnect and try another game. If, however, your opponent is able to communicate via the chat, press F2 to start a new game rather than disconnecting.)

Mind your manners and say hello to your opponent. If there are any questions to be asked, feel free to ask or answer (personally, I get a lot of comments on how cool my background image is because I do not play with the default green so I am polite and say “thank you”).

Now, you need to determine who gets to choose play or draw. While the game has a built in coin-flipper (Ctrl+F), it takes extra time to call heads or tails. Instead, the general practice is to roll a die (20-sided because that is the default size). To do this, either go Action -> Roll a Die or press Ctrl+I and click Roll. Whoever rolls higher gets the choice of play (often as p or pl) or draw (d).

Once the high-roller has chosen, shuffle your deck. MWSPlay already shuffled your deck when the game loaded but it is common courtesy and general practice to shuffle 1-3 times anyway by pressing Ctrl+S. Each shuffle randomizes your deck so shuffling multiple times is pointless and, in fact, excessive shuffling is very rude.

(Note - You can read more about the randomization algorithm and random number generator used in MWSPlay here).

Now draw your opening hand. The quickest and easiest way to draw 7 cards is to press Ctrl+M. The same command also mulligans down a card, however, so you must be careful not to hit it more than once. The second quickest, second easiest, yet safest method to draw 7 cards is to right-click on your library (the icon on the far left directly under your avatar that usually has “60” on it) and choose Draw X cards. Press 7 and click OK to draw. The slow way to draw 7 cards is to press Ctrl+D seven times. If you do it quickly, it is easy to overshoot 7 cards and that usually leads to an automatic mulligan down to 6 cards.

(Note - You can undo your last draw(s) by pressing Ctrl+R. This will put a note in the chat log, "[name] undone last draw [X card(s)]". If you drew one card, it will undo the last card you drew (putting it back on your library). If you drew 3 cards, it will undo all three, etc. This ensures that the card being put back is the card that was drawn.)

Once you draw your opening hand, take any mulligans (if you want), and are satisfied with your hand, inform your opponent by typing “Keep” in the chat box (some lazy individuals use kp while lazier individuals, like myself, just click the Ok button).

Playing the Game


Whoever is playing first needs to start with the turn under his control (the turn count on the left and the phase icons in the center of the play area should be on his side of the field). To pass control of the turn, press Ctrl+Enter or double-click on the hand on the far right of the phase icons. (Note - Holding Alt while you left-click is the same as double-clicking. I refer to this as an Altclick and, as it is the method I always use, it will be the default for the rest of this guide.)

(Note - The phase button descriptions below are for the default MWSPlay theme. If you are using a different theme (see this thread for different themes; you have to register in order to view the thread, so open this link in a new tab or window, register, log in, and then click this link again to view the theme gallery), the buttons may look different but they will always be in the same order and work the same way.)

Beginning Phase

After the first turn (since the first player essentially skips his untap, upkeep, and draw steps), play should proceed using the phase icons. At the beginning of your turn, Altclick the Untap icon (the curved arrow on the far left). The game will automatically untap all of your permanents and move you into the Upkeep step (the hammer). After taking care of any upkeep costs, triggered abilities, and instants, Altclick the Draw step icon (the hand and card) to draw a card and move into the Precombat Main Phase.

(Note – The gaps in-between the icons indicate the difference between steps within a phase (no gaps) and phases (gaps). Mana burn occurs at the end of a phase, not each step. So, for example, mana you tap during your Upkeep will burn you after your Draw step when the Beginning Phase ends.)

Precombat Main Phase

You now play any lands, spells, and abilities you want before combat. To play a card, Altclick it in your hand and it will go into play at the appropriate position. There are four rows in the playing field for cards that are automatically played from your hand in this manner. Instants and sorceries snap to the top row, creatures to the second row (except for artifact creatures), artifacts and enchantments to the third row, and lands in the fourth and bottom-most row.

(Note – In .94f, artifact creatures snap to the second row like other creatures.)

Once in play, Altclicking a card taps/untaps it. It can be moved to a different position by clicking and dragging. Local enchantments and equipment can be dragged onto an appropriate permanent and it will attach behind that permanent.

Combat Phase

Beginning of Combat

When you are ready to move into combat, click the Beginning of Combat icon (sword and arrow) or press Ctrl+Space. This icon is usually skipped, as any fast effects to be done before attackers are declared can be easily retrofitted in the Declare Attackers step, but should be used whenever a player has an obvious use for it (such as a flipped Cunning Bandit or an untapped Icy Manipulator).

(Note –Altclick does not move you from one combat step to the next. You must either click each icon or use Ctrl+Space.)

Declare Attackers

Once you are in the Declare Attackers step (by clicking on the first blocks and arrows icon), Altclicking a creature taps it and puts a red border around it to signify it is attacking. For creatures with Vigilance, right-click and choose Declare Attack without Tapping. This will add the red border without tapping the creature. To use a creature ability that requires tapping during the Declare Attackers step without confusing your opponent as to whether it is attacking or not, right-click and choose Tap. This will tap the creature without adding the red border.

Declare Blockers

Once you are in the Declare Blockers step (by clicking on the second blocks and arrows icon), Altclicking a creature puts a yellow border around it to signify it is blocking. However, it does not indicate which creature it is blocking. To do so, right-click and drag from the blocking creature to the attacking creature to create a red arrow. These arrows disappear when you change steps. You can also remove them all by pressing Ctrl+Backspace or one at a time (starting with the last) by pressing Alt+Backspace. These arrows should also be used for targeting spells and abilities.

(Note – If you hold down the Shift key while creating an arrow, it will be yellow instead of red. Yellow arrows created in the Combat phase last throughout the entire phase rather than only a single step. Ctrl+Backspace does not remove yellow arrows but Alt+Backspace will.)

Combat Damage

The Combat Damage step (cross and sword icon) is, like the Beginning of Combat step, often skipped as damage effects are simply carried out in either the Declare Attackers or Declare Blockers step (depending on whether or not there are any blockers). However, like the Beginning of Combat step, it is appropriate to use this step when certain effects are on the board, especially those that are most often used after damage is stacked, in order to provide clarity. When an attacking creature faces multiple blockers, or other complex damage situations arise, damage on each creature can be shown by holding Ctrl and left-clicking on the damaged creature. The first click will put a red 1 on the creature and each additional click will increase that number. Using Ctrl+right-click reduces the number. Players may place and remove damage counters on their own as well as their opponent’s creatures. Damage counters last the entire turn and go away automatically when control of the turn is passed. Prior to then, they must be removed with Ctrl+right-click. Other than complex damage situations, they are used sparingly if at all.

You can adjust your life total up or down up to 10 points by right-clicking your avatar and choosing the appropriate value. Alternatively, pressing F11 lowers your life total by one while F12 raises it by one.

End of Combat

The End of Combat step (hand and sword icon) is also usually skipped and, unlike the other two skipped steps, rarely finds any use.

Postcombat Main Phase

To enter the Postcombat Main Phase you have to click the icon (crossed swords on black/white field). As with the Precombat Main Phase, you may play land, spells, and abilities.

End Phase

The hand icon signifies the End of Turn step. All “at end of turn” and “until end of turn” effects trigger (or end) and players may play instants or abilities.

If you have cards to discard, click on the Cleanup step icon (broom) and discard down to your maximum hand size. This is also the step where damage is officially removed from creatures.

Finally, click on the final End of Turn icon (curved arrow) and click the “Pass” chat button to signal your final pass of priority. Your opponent may then respond with any instants or abilities. If he does, you may respond with your own. If he does not, he both signals his pass and takes control of the turn by pressing Ctrl+Enter. The divider will now place the phase icons on his side of the field and he will play through the phases.

(Note – In solitaire mode, clicking the final End of Turn icon automatically switches control of the turn to the other deck.)

How do I ...?

General Actions

This is a listing of how to perform actions during your turn, particularly spell and ability effects. The most important advice is to right-click a card/icon or select a card/icon and choose one of the menus at the top of the screen to reveal a whole host of actions and options for that card.

  • Adding/Removing Counters: Cards that require counters, such as Tendo Ice Bridge, do not come into play with them. Instead, once the card is in play, you must add the counter by right-clicking the card and choosing “Add Counter” for a single counter or “Set Counters” if you wish to add more than one at a time. You can also open the Set Counters window by clicking on the card and pressing Ctrl+O.
  • Chat Buttons: Provided for ease of use are several chat buttons with common messages like “Ok”, “Pass”, and “Thinking . . .”. Clicking on a button automatically adds the message to the chat log. If you have started typing a message in the chat field, pressing a chat button will add the button text to the chat log without adding or harming your typed message. This is useful if you are typing out an explanation of a play or a question and your opponent starts to move on in the turn. You can click the Wait or Stop button without losing your explanation.
(Note – In .94f, the chat buttons are customizable. To change the macros, click on the white button with three dots at the right end of the chat field to open the Message List window. Each line is a separate button. If you add extra text or buttons, it will add extra rows below the chat log to accommodate. If your entry for a button is too long to fit on one line, it will run off the side of the screen but still work in the chat log without problem.)
  • Chat Log: The chat log fulfills two important functions in MWSPlay. First, it allows you to communicate with your opponent, whether to explain complex plays, ask questions, or just chat. Second, it records each action that occurs during the course of a game, from untapping permanents to drawing cards to declaring attackers to discarding at the end of a turn. This second function is especially useful to make sure the game is being played correctly. Did you play a land this turn or not? Check the chat log. Did you forget to take 1 for tapping your City of Brass? Check the chat log. Did your opponent “forget” to stop looking at his library after playing Kodama’s Reach? You guessed it, check the chat log.
(Note - In order to facilitate communication about cards in play, the chat log includes a shortcut. Holding Ctrl+Shift when you click on a card in play puts the card name into the chat log text box. This constitutes an alternate way to target cards or clarify certain situations.)
Particularly important in online Magic league games is the option to automatically save your chat log transcripts. To do this, open the Options menu at the top of the screen and choose Preferences. Switch to the General tab and check the “Auto save message log” box. Individual chat logs can be saved at any time by going File -> Save message log. Chat logs are saved as .txt files in a folder named Game Logs in your Magic Workstation program file folder.
  • Cycling: To cycle a card from your hand, first pay the cycling cost. Then, right-click the card and choose “Cycling Card”. This will automatically discard the card and draw you a replacement. However, since the Cycling command works on every card, and it is next to the Discard command, keep an eye on the chat log and your opponent’s hand size. Sometimes a player will accidentally click Cycling Card instead of Discard Card. If a player ever cycles a card with which you are not familiar, you can look at the card in his graveyard to see if he paid the correct costs. To do this, right-click his graveyard icon and choose the only option.
  • Damage Counters: When an attacking creature faces multiple blockers, or otherwise complex damage situations arise, damage on each creature can be shown by holding Ctrl and left-clicking on the damaged creature. The first click will put a red 1 on the creature and each additional click will increase that number. Using Ctrl+right-click reduces the number. Each player may place and remove damage counters on his own as well as his opponent’s creatures. Damage counters do not go away automatically and must be removed with Ctrl+right-click, so they are often used sparingly. Also, damage counters can only be placed on cards with power/toughness (even if it is 0/0).
  • Discard: To discard a card from your hand, such as when your opponent plays Ravenous Rats, right-click the card and choose Discard. If you drag it from your hand to the graveyard, the chat log will note this as “~ puts [card name] to Graveyard from Hand” rather than “~ discards [card name].” You can discard multiple cards at once by drag-selecting or Shift-selecting them and then choosing Discard from the right-click menu (note that to drag select, you must click and hold on a blank space in your hand area rather than on a card before dragging across).
You can discard a random card, such as when you are hit by an Hypnotic Specter, by right-clicking a blank space in your hand area and choosing “Discard Random Card” or by selecting the option from the Action menu at the top of the screen.
  • Don’t/Doesn’t Untap Effects: You can set your cards to not untap as normal in the case of an active Stasis, Old Man of the Sea, Vedalkan Shackles, etc. To do this, simply right-click the card and choose “Doesn’t Untap as Normal”. The card will be surrounded by a broken yellow and black border. Now, when you Altclick the Untap step icon, the chosen cards will not untap. Altclicking the card will still tap and untap it. You can also use Multiple-Card Effect selection to set or remove this property for multiple cards at once.
  • Drag Commands: While the right-click menu for each card contains options for putting a card to your hand, graveyard, top/bottom of your library, and removed from game zone, cards may be moved to and from any of these locations by simply dragging them over the appropriate icon on the left side of the play area (to put a card on the bottom of your library, hold Shift and drag it onto your library icon). Cards may be put into your hand by dragging them to your hand area at the bottom of the screen as well.
  • Graveyard: Either player may look at either player’s graveyard at any time throughout the game as cards in the graveyard are considered public knowledge. To do so, right-click the graveyard icon on the left side of the screen and choose the only option. The graveyard is displayed in a library-type window, allowing you to sort it alphabetically (by checking the View as a sorted list box) and rearrange the card order using the arrows on the right side. Because cards in the graveyard are public, viewing either player’s graveyard does not show up in the chat log. However, because the order of cards in the graveyard is set (and, at times, important), rearranging cards will be noted in the chat log.
Cards may be moved from the graveyard to any other zone by right-clicking and choosing the appropriate option.
  • Life: You can adjust your life total up or down 10 points by right-clicking your avatar and choosing the appropriate value. For larger variations in life, Ctrl+L brings up a Set Life window allowing you to enter your new life total. For small variations, pressing F11 lowers your life by one while F12 raises it one.
  • Mana Pool: On the left side of the screen, to the right of your library and card icons, are circles of the five Magic colors and grey. These can be used for myriad purposes, not the least of which is tracking colored and colorless mana during complex plays. To add a counter, left-click the appropriate circle. To remove a counter, right-click the circle.
  • Multiple-Card Effects: An effect that requires the same action be performed on multiple cards can often be made easier by clicking and dragging to select multiple cards. For example, if you have seven creatures in play when your opponent plays Wrath of God, you can click and drag to select them all and then right-click for “Put Card to Graveyard” or drag them straight over to your graveyard icon. If your cards are arranged in such a way as to prevent a simple click and drag selection, you can select and deselect cards using Shift+click or even Shift+drag.
  • Remove From the Game: To remove any card from the game, right-click that card and choose Remove Card from Game or drag it to the removed from game icon on the left side of the screen (the bottom-most icon that looks like a Magic card with speed lines).
  • Search your Library Effects: To search your library, right-click the library icon and select My Library. This will open a window showing all the cards in your library in the order they are stacked. You can select an individual card by clicking on it or multiple cards by holding Shift and clicking on them (this selects individual cards, not all cards between two cards). Altclicking a card puts it to your hand. Right-clicking a card allows you to look at the card (if you put a card into your library while it is open, it appears as a card back unless you use this command), reveal the card to your opponent, put it to your hand, in your graveyard, on the bottom of the library, or to remove it from the game.
If you are putting the card into play, such as with Sakura-Tribe Elder, then just click and drag it into play. Often it is easiest to reveal a card to your opponent (such as with Kodama’s Reach) by dragging it into play and then putting it to hand.
You can adjust the order of the cards in your library (such as when you use Proteus Staff on the only creature in your deck) by selecting a card and using the up and down arrows on the right side. If you select multiple cards and try to rearrange their order, only the top-most card will be moved.
Clicking the “View as a sorted list” box at the top of the library window will arrange your cards in alphabetical order, making it simple to find a particular card (such as when you are the victim of a Cranial Extraction). Unchecking the box returns your library to the exact order it was before.
By default, your library will shuffle when you close the viewing window. In particular cases, such as the Proteus Staff stacking mentioned above, you may uncheck the “Shuffle when done” box. In other cases, such as the upkeep ability of a Bringer of the Black Dawn, you want to keep the chosen card on the top while shuffling the library, hold shift and drag the chosen card into play. This will place the card into play face down. Then you may close the library window, which will shuffle your library, and right-click the card to choose “Put Card on Top Library”.
Whenever a player looks at his library, the chat log will note “~ is looking its Library…” where ~ is that player’s name. When he closes the library window, it will note “~ shuffles Library. ~ stops looking its Library”. If these fail to show up, that player is still able to view his library. If the chat log notes “~ stops looking its Library” without “~ shuffles Library”, it means that player unchecked the “Shuffle when done” box. Before moving on with the game, make sure that your opponent has stopped looking at his library and that he has shuffled it, if required by the effect.
Do not worry about a player trying to cheat by shuffling his library with Ctrl+S, unchecking “shuffle when done”, and then closing the window. When he shuffles, the library window will display card backs instead of the card names. In order to find out what each card is, he has to right-click the card and choose “Look at card”. This, in turn, will show up in the chat log as “~ looks at card” and reveal his actions to you. Simply insist that your opponent stop looking at his library and then shuffle it afterwards.
  • Setting/Adjusting Power and Toughness: When a spell or effect causes a permanent increase (or decrease) in the power and/or toughness of a creature, this change can easily be reflected on the card.
While holding Ctrl, press + or – to raise or lower the power of a creature respectively (this should work whether you use the + and – keys on the keyboard or the numberpad). To change toughness, hold Alt instead of Ctrl. You can change both power and toughness at the same time by holding Ctrl and Alt while pressing + or –.
This technique also works as a multiple-card effect. You can drag-select or Shift-select several creatures and mass adjust their power/toughness at once (very useful for Glorious Anthem or Relentless Rats).
For man-lands like Blinkmoth Nexus or Stalking Stones, sleeper enchantments like Opal Titan, morph creatures played face-down, or any other non-creature card that can become a creature, you must first give the creature a power and toughness display. To do so, hold Ctrl+Alt and hit +. This will make the card a 0/0 which you may then adjust as above.
Alternatively, you may set a card’s power and toughness to a chosen value by right-clicking the card in play and choosing “Set Creature’s P/T” or selecting the card and hitting Ctrl+P. The Set P/T window allows you to enter in a chosen power and toughness separated by a backslash. This is very useful for creatures that come into play with a variable power and toughness (such as Kodama of the Center Tree). If you leave the field blank and press OK, it will remove the power and toughness numbers from the card icon (you can bring them back by any of the above methods).
For temporary effects such as Giant Growth, it is usually unnecessary to actually adjust the power and toughness of the creature. However, in complex blocking and damage situations, it can be helpful to do so for the benefit of your opponent.
  • Showing/Revealing Cards: Many effects require you to reveal a card or cards to your opponent(s). For library search effects such as Trinket Mage, the easiest way to reveal the card is simply to drag it into play from your library before putting it to hand. Be sure to give your opponent a few seconds to see the card and, if your opponent is revealing his card, politely ask to see the card again if he puts it into his hand before you get a chance.
For effects that require you to reveal your hand, library, or sideboard to your opponent (such as Cranial Extraction), at the top of the screen choose Show to find the appropriate option. If your opponent reveals cards to you, it will appear in a library-type window. You can sort the revealed cards as a list (alphabetical order) by checking the box at the top; you can rearrange cards using the arrows on the right; and you can uncheck the default “shuffle when done” box when viewing his library (if shuffling is not required by the effect). You cannot otherwise affect the cards, so effects like Distress require the affected player to discard or remove the card(s) himself.
Once the viewing player closes the window, the chat log will note “~ stops looking opponent’s hand”, where ~ is the viewing player’s name. Make sure that this dialogue appears before moving on whenever your opponent views your cards because, until it does, he can still see your hand/library/sideboard.
If you right-click on a card in your hand and choose Reveal, your opponent will be able to see the card. However, this effect does not end until the card changes zones (you put it to play, into your graveyard, or on top/bottom of your library). This little bug usually gives your opponent more information than he is entitled to. So, instead of using the Reveal command, reveal cards to your opponent by dragging them into play and then back into your hand.
(Note – In .94f, you can hide cards that you have revealed by right-clicking and selecting Hide. This corrects the earlier bug.)
You can reveal a random card from your hand by selecting the option in the Show menu at the top of the screen or by right-clicking a blank space in your hand area at the bottom of the screen. Unlike the Reveal bug, this does not actually reveal the card to your opponent; instead, it only records the name in the chat log. Be courteous and put the revealed card into play for a few seconds so your opponent can read it (since the actual card is not revealed until you do this, you will not give away any additional information, such as having multiple copies of the card in hand). If your opponent reveals a card randomly and you are unfamiliar with the card, or otherwise wish to refresh yourself by seeing the actual card, politely ask your opponent to drag it into play so you may read it.
  • Targeting: There are two methods of declaring a target. The most prevalent method is to right-click and drag from the targeting card to the targetted card. This will create a red arrow pointing from the source to the target. You can remove all such arrows by pressing Ctrl+Backspace or remove them one at a time (starting with the last) by pressing Alt+Backspace.
(Note - If a player removes the target card(s) from play while his opponent is dragging a targeting arrow, it can cause MWS to crash or other errors (such as the arrow jumping to a different target). Always wait for targets to be declared before moving the targetted card(s) from play.)

The second method is to hold Ctrl+Shift while clicking on the targetted card. This will put the card's name in the text field of the chat log (you still have to press Enter for it to appear in the chat log). You can do this for multiple cards at once but you must click on each card individually.

(Note - When you use the second method, the cursor moves to the beginning of the line. If you wish to type something after the card name, either press Enter and then type it as a new line or press End and continue typing.)
  • Tokens: To create a token (such as when using Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker’s ability), right-click the playfield or hit Ctrl+T to bring up the Create Token window.
Enter the token’s type in the topmost field. A list of common token types (from Angel to Zombie) are included in the drop-down menu and will auto-complete when you type (for example, if you type g it will automatically display Goblin; if you continue typing, perhaps you want a Golem token, it will override the auto-complete without problem). All tokens must have a type.
The second field is for the token’s power and toughness. Enter the numbers separated by a backslash (/). All tokens must have a power and toughness. If you are making a token for another purpose (for example, keeping counters for Umezawa’s Jitte), just use 0/0.
The series of boxes allow you to set the token’s color(s) (or lack of color by choosing Colorless), as well as whether or not the token is an artifact. All tokens must have at least one of these boxes checked.
The final field allows you to add abilities to the token, such as Flying for Meloku tokens or Poison for Snake Generator tokens. Unlike the previous three aspects of the token, this field can remain blank.
Once you have finished defining your token, click Create to put the token into play.
If your deck regularly makes a certain token creature, it is best to add that token to the Predefined Tokens list. To do so, open the Create Token window and define the aspects of the token creature. Then, instead of clicking Create, click the Add button. This will add the token to the list. Once a token is on the list, you can create it by right-clicking the playfield and selecting it from the list in the Create Token submenu.
Tokens in the Predefined Token list can be deleted from the list (as when you remove Beacon of Creation from your mono-green aggro deck), edited (if you defined them incorrectly or want to make a new token that is only slightly different from an old one), and replaced (after editing).
Some effects create a large number of tokens (such as Orochi Hatchery with 8 charge counters). There is currently no way to create multiple tokens at once, so you must either manually make all the tokens or utilize a shortcut. The easiest way to represent multiple tokens is to create one token of the appropriate type and then add counters equal to the number of tokens it represents. For example, using the Orochi Hatchery with 8 charge counters, I would create a single 1/1 green snake creature token. Then, I would right-click on the token, choose Set Counters (or select the token and hit Ctrl+O), and put 8 counters on it. This shortcut should only be used in excessive circumstances as the visual difference between 8 cards and 1 card with 8 counters can be confusing (especially when your deck has cards that give counters, like Test of Faith).
(Note – In .94f, you can duplicate a card by selecting it and pressing Alt+D or right-clicking and choosing Duplicate. This is a faster and easier method to represent multiple tokens. You can also create the first token in the token list by pressing Alt+T)
  • Top of library Effects: To view any number of cards from the top of your library, right-click your library icon and choose “Top Cards of my Library”. Enter the number of cards you wish to view and click Ok. These function exactly like Search your Library effects except it will not shuffle your library when you close the window.
  • Undoing a Card Draw: To undo your last draw(s), press Ctrl+R. This will put a note in the chat log, "[name] undone last draw [X card(s)]". If you drew one card, it will undo the last card you drew (putting it back on your library). If you drew 3 cards (by right-clicking your library and choosing "Draw X cards"), it will undo all three, etc. This ensures that the card being put back is the card that was drawn.

Specific Card Actions

This is a listing of how to perform actions for particular cards with unusual effects that are not detailed in the above section.

  • Bottled Cloister: To remove your hand from the game, drag the cards from your hand into play (preferably an open area of the play field off to one side) while holding shift. This will put them into the play area face down so your opponent will not know the contents of your hand. Dragging them into the removed from game zone will reveal the identities of your cards, information to which your opponent is not entitled.
  • Fact or Fiction/“Pile” Cards: Whoever played Fact or Fiction (or another “pile” card), should drag the cards from the top of his library into play (drag from the library icon on the left side of the screen to the play area). He should then drag-select or Shift-select those cards and drag them onto his opponent’s side of the play area. The opponent then separates the cards into two groups and drags each group back to the first player’s side of the play area. The first player then puts one group into his hand and the other into his graveyard.
  • Flip Cards: To indicate that a card like Cunning Bandit has flipped into Azamuki, Treachery Incarnate, one must follow two steps. First, utilize the chat to inform your opponent that your card has flipped. Then, change the power and toughness of the card using Ctrl/Alt and +/- (eliminating them altogether for the Saviors enchantment flip cards). If you regularly play with certain flip cards, an alternative solution is to create a token for the flipped form and replace the card in play with that token when it flips.
(Note - In .94f, you can indicate a flipped card with a note. Select the card and right-click "Set Note" or Shift+Enter. Either type in the name of the flipped card or simply type "flipped".)
  • Future Sight: To play with the top card of your library revealed, simply open the Show menu and select “Play with Top Card of Library Revealed.”
  • Gifts Ungiven: When you play Gifts Ungiven, search your library for your four cards and drag them into play. Then, select those cards and drag them onto your opponent’s side of the play area. He will then drag two cards back to your side of the play area and specify whether the “chosen” cards (which go to your graveyard) are the two he is passing back to you or the two that are still on his side of the field. Drag the chosen set into your graveyard and the other set into your hand.
  • Imprint Cards: The imprint mechanic requires a card or cards to be removed from the game. However, with imprint cards such as Isochron Scepter or Spellweaver Helix, you still need to have easy access to the imprinted card.
When you imprint a card, put the imprinted card into play and place it next to the imprinting artifact. For cards like Spellweaver Helix, where two cards are imprinted, place one on the left and the other on the right.
(Note- In .94f, you can attach any card to an artifact with imprint as though it were an enchantment.)
  • Oath of Druids/Proteus Staff: When you must reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a certain card or type of card, the simplest method is to drag the top card of your library into play (drag from your library icon on the left side of the screen to the play area, preferably an empty, out-of-the-way section of the play area) until an appropriate card appears and then drag the revealed cards to the graveyard, removed from game zone, etc. specified by the effect.
  • Rise/Fall: The target of Fall can reveal cards at random by using the Discard Random Card option in the Action menu. Any land cards discarded this way can be returned to hand while any nonland cards are conveniently already in the graveyard.
  • Stasis Cards: You can set your cards to not untap as normal in the case of an active Stasis. To do this, simply right-click the card and choose “Doesn’t Untap as Normal”. The card will be surrounded by a broken yellow and black border. Now, when you Altclick the Untap step icon, the chosen cards will not untap. Altclicking the card will still tap and untap it. You can also use Multiple-Card Effect selection to set or remove this property for multiple cards at once.
  • Storm Cards: Storm count, the number of spells played during a turn prior to a spell with Storm, can be of critical importance. The simplest way to keep track of storm count turn by turn is to create a storm count token by right-clicking the playfield or pressing Ctrl+T to bring up the Create Token window. Enter Storm Count for the token type, click the Colorless box, and give it a power/toughness of 0/0. Whenever you or your opponent plays a spell, hold Ctrl and click on the token to add a damage counter. The damage counter serves better than normal counters because it, like the storm count, is automatically removed when your opponent takes his turn.
  • Telepathy: If you are ever subject to Telepathy, it is easiest to drag-select the cards in your hand and drag them onto the playfield (usually off to the right is easiest). Arrange your cards on the playfield so your opponent can see all of them. When you draw a card, simply drag it into the playfield next to your hand.
Do not use the Show -> My Hand to My Opponent command as it only reveals your hand at the time you select it. Whenever you draw a card, to your opponent it will appear as a cardback unless he closes the view window and you reselect Show -> My Hand to My Opponent. As this gets tedious turn after turn, dragging into play is easiest.
  • Umezawa's Jitte: Unlike most equipment, Umezawa’s Jitte collects charge counters. When the card is attached to a creature, neither you nor your opponent can see the counters placed on the Jitte. There are three ways to correct this.
Place the counters on the creature rather than the Jitte. This allows both players to see the number of counters. However, if the creature is one that collects counters (such as Slith Firewalker or an Arcbound creature), you need to use one of the following two methods.
One, you can leave the Jitte card unattached from the creature after making it clear that you have equipped it (usually by paying the equip cost, moving the Jitte onto the creature, and then removing it). You can then keep track of the counters on the Jitte itself as it is in clear view of both players. This method requires giving an explanation to your opponent, as he may believe you are not attaching the Jitte to your creature.
Alternatively, create a token Jitte to hold the counters. To create the token, right-click the playfield or press Ctrl+T to bring up the Create Token window. Enter Jitte for the token type, click the Artifact box, and give it a power/toughness of 0/0. This token can now sit in play and hold the Jitte’s charge counters for you.
(Note- In .94f, it is easiest to duplicate the Jitte by selecting it and pressing Alt+D (or right-clicking and selecting Duplicate). The duplicated Jitte can then hold the counters just like the token Jitte.)
  • Wishes: While each wish allows you to find a “card you own from outside the game”, MWSPlay, like tournament Magic, only allows you to utilize the cards in your sideboard. In order to access your sideboard during play, open the View menu at the top of the screen and choose My Sideboard. This action will be noted in the chat log. Your sideboard will be displayed in a library-type window, allowing you to sort it alphabetically (by checking the View as a sorted list box) and rearrange the card order using the arrows on the right side. Once you have found the card you want, drag the card to play to reveal it to your opponent (if necessary) and then drag it to your hand.

The End-Game

At the end of the game, remember common courtesy and extend a “Good game” or, more commonly, “gg” to your opponent.

If you wish to play more than one game with your opponent, ask for another with “Game 2?” or, more commonly, “g2?” (or 3 or 4 or “another”). If he accepts, press F2 (or File -> New Game) to bring up the Start the Game window. From here, you can load a new deck, utilize cards from your sideboard, or pretend to utilize cards from your sideboard.

(Note - Ask, or at the very least inform, your opponent before switching decks between games.)


To utilize your sideboard cards in-between games during a match, first bring up the Start the Game window by pressing F2 (or File -> New Game). Then, click the Sideboarding button to bring up the Sideboarding window.

The Sideboarding window displays your current maindeck on the left and your sideboard on the right. In order to move cards between the sideboard and maindeck, select the card in your sideboard you wish to add and the card in your maindeck you wish to remove and then click the “<< >>” button. Each press will switch one copy of each selected card. Copies of cards not already present in the sideboard or maindeck will be added at the bottom of either list.

If you wish to undo all the changes you made, click Cancel. If you wish to keep them, click Ok.

When a player utilizes his sideboard in-between games, the New Game announcement in the chat log will display his deck’s security code followed by /sb to indicate the use of his sideboard. If you are not sideboarding in-between games, but do not want to give this information away to your opponent, check the “Proceed Sideboarding” box underneath your decklist in the Start the Game window. No changes will be made to your deck but the /sb note will appear during the New Game announcement.

(Note – The Proceed Sideboarding box is not available unless your deck has at least one card in the sideboard.)

Sideboard changes remain until you disconnect, load a deck, or press the Restore button in the Start the Game window, which will return your deck to its pre-sideboard form.


As the developers release new versions of MWSPlay, I and the community will continue to update this guide. However, we appreciate any help we can get. If you have any tips for using MWSPlay or handling unusual or problematic cards and their effects, please submit them to the update thread for the Play Guide on the forums.

(Note - The update thread displays posts in descending chronological order, so the newest posts are at the top and the oldest posts are at the bottom.)


I would like to thank Detonator and CrazzyWizard for developing Magic Workstation and working so hard to make it the best online Magic client available.

I would like to thank the players who taught me how to use MWSPlay better as well as the players whom I helped in turn.

I would like to thank the members of the forums for their constant insights and information on tips for using MWS as well as standards of play.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this play guide in one way or another, specifically and in no particular order:


And Michael Lyndon for his Magic Workstation Finishing School.