About This Site

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Welcome To The Library Of Shandalar

Welcome to the blog! If you are new here, then this is the place to start. Before I tell you what the "Library of Shandalar" is, I need to give you a little background info...

In 1997 Microprose released its Magic the Gathering game for the PC under Windows 95. At the time I was big into PC gaming, and though I was intrigued by the physical card game from Wizards of the Coast, I had no desire to spend hundreds thousands of dollars to try to collect cards. The PC game seemed like a good compromise. I instantly fell in love with all aspects of the game, including the deck builder, the gauntlet, and the RPG-like Shandalar. Developed by Sid Meier (of Civilization fame), he created an amazing AI to challenge the player. This was a time when the internet was in its infancy, and the wealth of information and resources available were non-existent compared to today's internet. Yes, the AI had flaws, but consider the number of cards offered (EVERY 4th addition card!) and what they do...I once tried to create a video game AI, and it is extremely difficult. I found Microprose's game challenging and fun...many sleepless nights were spent playing the game. I still have the oversized Aswan Jaguar that came with the boxed game.

Later in 1997, I snatched up the expansion Spells of the Ancients the day it was released in the stores. Providing an upgrade of the game engine and interface, improved AI, online play through the hosting service TEN (using dialup), and a sealed-deck tournament feature, it also added cards from older editions of the base set: the expansion sets Arabian Nights and Antiquities. This expansion was worth every penny, and I loved it even more, especially the sealed deck tournament and online dueling with other people. If memory serves me correctly, I had some difficulty with installation, and had to download a patch from Microprose to get it running.

In 1998, in what would sadly become the final expansion, Duel of the Planeswalkers was released, including the original game, all of the upgrades included in Spells of the Ancients, and 80 new cards from the expansion sets Legends and The Dark. It fixed several bugs from the previous versions, and I was once again there to buy it on the day of release. The switch from a Windows 95 to a Windows 98 operating system was smooth and seemed to offer some improved stability, as I played the game for several more years, although the TEN site shut down, so I could no longer duel online with others.

During this time there was a website created by Gilles Dignard called the Library of Dominia. It was basically a list of different magic decks from the physical card game, but there was also a section allowing people to download a ready-made Microprose version of the deck, if the deck was compatible with the game. I downloaded every single deck available, despite my slow dialup connection. Eventually the Library of Dominia site disappeared. Even worse, when I made the switch to Windows XP, I could no longer get the game to run properly. For awhile I had an old computer running the game on Windows 98, but eventually it died and I forgot about the game as I turned to other interests.

Fast forward to about 2008, when I found the complete game on a download site that claimed it had been fixed to run under XP. I dowloaded the game and rediscovered the fun, as the fix worked flawlessly. Last year I finally made the switch to Windows 7 and was afraid that the program wouldn't run, but I found that it worked in a Windows XP SP2 compatibility mode just fine. To this day I continue to be entertained by this piece of software written over 17 years ago, which I think is amazing. What has kept it fresh is building my own decks using the editor, and the discovery of Manalink 3.0. What is that, you ask? The fine folks over at slightlymagic.net have taken the original Microprose program and added many more cards and features, to create a new and totally amazing experience. For now, Manalink 3.0 is beyond the scope of this blog, but I will include it at some point. I also won't be discussing the RPG-like Shandalar aspect of the game, as there are many other websites that have already covered that ground.

So we come to the true purpose of this blog: to be the largest repository of Microprose MTG game decks on the internet, and spend time exploring the deck builder. Each post will profile a different deck that was created either by me, downloaded from the Library of Dominia, or was found on other sites such as Mark's Microprose Magic Museum, Nils T. Devine's shandalar.net site, and Abe Sargent's articles at Star City Games. Look for the first deck post soon and I hope you enjoy the site. Feel free to contact me using the feature in the sidebar. Happy gaming!