My brother and I are living several 100 miles apart, which makes playing MTG face to face a little difficult. We have been playing via web cam (mounted over the table) for several months now but are still facing some problems with this setup.

The most annoying one is the problem stated in the headline. If a spell allows me to search his library, I cannot really do so, because I cannot reach through the web cam. We discussed having full deck lists that we can pass on whenever this happens, but this list must be adapted each time such a spell is played, because the library is different every time.

Another problem is enslaving enemy creatures or putting enchantments on them. We created some workarounds but they are just that - workarounds.

How do others deal with this issue when playing MTG over web cam? Are there any software tools that can help us with that? We are using Skype and I considered editing the video stream directly with my web cam software, to indicate enchantments and stuff like that. This helps in many cases, but does not solve the "searching the library" problem. I am grateful for any solutions.

  • 1
    Enchanting/enslaving enemy creatures sounds like a clear use case for proxies. Set aside the actual card, and have the opponent put a proxy into play in the appropriate place. Way simpler than editing a video stream.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:27
  • When playing with my friends, to speed the game up, we normally just ask what the strong cards of their decks are (or whatever cards have the traits we are looking for). I often find that you know your opponents deck strategy after playing the deck a couple of times so both players already have an idea of whats about to get searched for.
    – Colin D
    Nov 16, 2012 at 20:05

3 Answers 3


You need the proper tool. Webcams are not designed to keep track of MtG game states, so use a tool that can. There are many choices available MTG Online III (offical product, costs money for cards and packs), Apprentice (one of the first, but not a favorite of mine), Magic Workstation (my favorite), Magic Suitcase, Magic Studio, ...

The card manager keeps track of the game state, and the webcam allows you to observe the reactions of your opponent.

  • 2
    Can you elaborate on why Magic Workstation is your favorite?
    – Pat Ludwig
    Mar 7, 2012 at 16:35
  • 1
    OCTGN also provides a nice interface... the client itself is free; I'm not sure about the legality of playing Magic on it, but the necessary card files are readily available to torrent. Mar 8, 2012 at 22:47


Cockatrice is an open source platform for playing MTG online.

Project description

Cockatrice is an open-source multiplatform software for playing card games, such as Magic: The Gathering, over a network. It is fully client-server based to prevent any kind of cheating, though it supports single-player games without a network interface as well. Both client and server are written in Qt 5. It is supported on Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX.


Cockatrice is fully GPL licensed and thus free software.

Development status

Cockatrice is under active development as of January 2015.

Cockatrice play field screenshot.

Game availability is very good (typically anywhere up to 1000 online users at a time and move), there are moderators to manage troll infestations, and a built in chat client to talk with other users.

  • 2
    FWIW, I've recently heard a fair number of people say they prefer Cockatrice over MWS and some other clients.
    – David Z
    Mar 10, 2012 at 5:10

Could not your brother look through his library for you and vice versa? He could slowly reveal every card from his library, show them to you over the webcam, and take whatever action you tell him to. Secret searching is ultimately unnecessary because whatever you do after searching your opponent's library, the affected card(s), if any, will either go into that same player's library, hand, or into a public zone.

As for enchantments etc., the easiest solution is probably scraps of paper and a pen for enchantment names. Ask for the card text and/or run Gatherer in a browser window for card text reminders where necessary.


Okay there are actually 2 cards that allow you to exile cards from an opponent's library face down, one of them quite recent:

I guess in those cases you can still use the above method, except the revealing player may not look at his own cards - hold the cards directly into the camera and reveal them from behind until you say stop or whatever.

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