Magic: The Gathering players and collectors around the world have many things in common. One thing is that after a while of playing and collecting, it can get hard to remember what cards you have and how many of each. There are a few sites around trying to help players tackle this problem and the newest of them is OzGuild.
The two things that initially piqued my interest about OzGuild were that it was a homegrown Australian service and that it offered a card scanning app. The app was apparently capable of scanning multiple cards simultaneously and adding them to your collection.
I was skeptical about the app at first as I’d tried out several similar products and none of them had worked well for me; if at all. OzGuild’s scanning app however, is a triumph. With a little adjustment of lighting and the right coloured background, I found I could add up to 4 cards at a time to my collection with minimal reading errors.
I was able to add a booster box of cards to my collection in about half an hour while watching TV with this method, without trying particularly hard to work fast. Once my cards were scanned in, it was very easy to search them, sort them and also to view their value, collectively, individually or in any selected group.
This is really handy if you’re looking at deck building and wondering if you have a certain card for a combo you have in mind. Another nice feature is being able to tag cards however you like, so you know if they are already in use in a deck or free to be traded, sold or whatever.
Being Impressed with the services offered so far, I reached out to Seb at OzGuild to ask him a few questions about what he and his team have created and why.
PowerUp! – What inspired the creation of OzGuild?
OzGuild – Initially, the idea was to start an online store for Magic singles here in Australia. I’d bought lots of cards from online stores in the US and had paid so much in shipping fees, I thought it was crazy there wasn’t a similar store for Australia.
I was talking to my brother about it, he’s a software engineer, and he didn’t think it would be too hard to make a website. We realised though, that what was going to be hard was getting enough cards to start a store and cataloguing them all. Not to mention keeping a track of everything once we were making sales.
I had built up a decent collection after only a few of years playing the game and I was spending ages sorting and searching to build decks (I’m always building new decks with fun themes or strange mechanic interactions), so the idea of managing that for a store was pretty overwhelming.
We realised that collection management was the bigger problem. The solution to that was a digital catalogue, making searching and sorting a lot easier, but getting cards into one was a whole other problem in and of itself. The idea of taking even more time to type in the name of every card wasn’t very attractive. We also knew there was a solution to that – card scanning.
Most people have a high quality camera in their pocket on their smartphone, so we created an app that could quickly recognise cards and save them to a digital collection. At the same time, we developed a website specifically for a digital collection of Magic cards that allowed easy browsing and access to collection statistics and card prices.
The final realisation was that it didn’t stop there. We imagined every Magic player and local game store cataloguing and organising their cards on our website and the potential for great things to come out of that. A database of everyone’s collections could easily turn into a global marketplace for buying, selling and trading cards.
A single website that everyone visits to manage collections and get new cards could easily turn into a social network purely for the Magic community – a place to help other players with deckbuilding, organise matches in new cities or chat about developments to the game or Magic lore.
It was that vision that really inspired us to start OzGuild and we were excited to work on something that would be valuable to a lot of people and help to bring the incredible community that exists around Magic even closer.
PU! – What differentiates OzGuild from other MtG collection cataloguing sites like Deckbox?
OG – The main thing that differentiates us from other collection management sites is our card scanning app – it makes creating a digital catalogue so much quicker and a lot more fun too! There are some services and standalone apps that have card scanning capabilities, but we found them to be a little clunky and difficult to use. Also, having both the app and website working together means there’s no need for updates each time a set is released and our users collections can be accessed at any time.
One feature that’s unique to OzGuild is our tagging feature. You can tag cards with extra information, such as their location (eg. #tradebinder or #box2), who you’ve lent them to and pretty much anything else to suit your needs. Tagging is really useful for bridging the gap between an easily manageable digital catalogue and the physical cards that it represents.
The next major thing that makes us different is our vision for the fully integrated service I described above – collection management, deckbuilding, statistics and card prices, a marketplace for buying, trading and selling and a social network. Rather than relying on a bunch of services that don’t necessarily work nicely together, we’re bringing it all into one platform and we can see huge value for the community in that.
Finally, we’re growing and always keen to improve the service. We saw a lot of other websites that hadn’t changed or added features in a long time and didn’t think that fit well with a game that’s constantly evolving with new cards and stories every few months, so we’re building a platform that’s going to last well into the future and only get better and better.
There’s a few other little things, like a focus on beautiful design, easy to use interfaces, and flexible management and display options that don’t restrict users to a particular way of doing things.
PU! – What features do you have in the pipeline?
OG – We’ve just released the beta version of our Deckbuilder, so for the next few months we’re focused on developing new functionality for it and improving the UI and design to fit with the rest of the website. Features we’ll be adding into the Deckbuilder soon are the ability to links cards in your decks with cards in your collection, the ability to save decks to enable browsing and sharing, and creating the most fully featured playtesting we’ve seen available!
Afterwards, we’ll be developing a publicly available database of all Magic cards. This will include the much loved and sorely missed feature of public commenting and discussions on cards. You’ll also be able to add cards directly into your collection from this database.
After that we plan to start work on the marketplace, social features like commenting on decks for ideas and advice with building, and improving the statistics page.
PU! – What are the OzGuild crews favourite decks or combos at the moment?
I couldn’t speak for anyone else at OzGuild regarding their favourites, the ability to have such personal connections with different parts of the game is one the things I love about it!
As for me, deciding on a favourite deck is really hard – I’ve got over 30 and they all explore different themes and mechanics. I’m mostly a Timmy and very much a casual player, so I think the deck closest to my heart is my mono black zombies deck. It was the first one I ever built myself and I’ve constantly added to it and improved it over the years.
For favourite combos, the ones I like the most are unique and unexpected combos that require a lot of pieces to get working. Extra points if they don’t really result in anything except laughter!
There you have it. To access the full capabilities of OzGuild, there is a modest subscription fee but personally, I think the price is worth paying to support a local service that could be a great help to a lot of MtG players.