TWR: Social Isolation via Virtual EDH

I first wrote about playing EDH over webcam last year, but since then have played more regularly and thought I’d touch on a few points. The initial discovery of the playEDH Discord channel came with learning to use my webcam along with the tools available at the time. I had seen plenty of discussions about people playing via Facebook Messenger, Skype along with Google Hangouts, all that seem like they’d probably function okay, but I never indulged. Instead, I went with what was more prevalent on the Discord server, which was using Discord for voice communication, and Whereby for video conferencing. Soon, I’d learn that other tools existed and/or were needed in order to make the process go smoothly. Sites like What’s That Do? could give critical information at a glance, and allow you to independently keep track of important cards on the battlefield. Players were left to their own devices for keeping track of life totals, poison counters and commander damage, with most opting for traditional methods like Spindowns or cell phone app life counters. Due to social distancing measures, a group of guys who were already developing a better alternative decided to push out a new platform. I only learned about this in the last few days, but man, it makes a huge difference!

Behold, Virtual EDH! What you see above was my browser view while in game. This view should look familiar to those of you who have watched EDH games on YouTube and such, as mats are typically displayed as such (though orientation might be off). What makes Virtual EDH stand out from the crowd of apps and websites that I’ve already mentioned, is that it combines everything you could want to play EDH remotely. Built in life counter, that updates for everyone in real time? Check. Built in trackers for commander damage and infect? Check. There’s even the ability to switch up your user name and picture, so you can match what’s on Discord to cause less confusion.

Another nice feature is the ability to set your commander, so that anyone can mouse over its picture in the bottom corner of each players’ window and see a blown up version of the card. This is what I used to use What’s That Do? for, so that I could always have my opponent’s commanders on hand for reference. You can also flip the orientation of your camera within the app, so it eliminates the need for 3rd party software like Xsplit, OBS or ManyCam which I was using. It automatically detects the camera and makes it easy to set the orientation as you like. Also, a handy feature from Whereby allowed you to drag and drop players into turn order. With Virtual EDH, only the host player needs to do so, using the settings to manage players and change the order; it will be reflected on each players screen. Simply eliminating the need for multiple open tabs and being able to focus more completely on the game is a huge boon for the remote format.

All in all, Virtual EDH packs a lot of punch into a sleek design. If everything I’ve already mentioned doesn’t make your remote games more fun and streamlined, then you’re probably doing it wrong. But wait, there’s more! The last feature I want to point out absolutely blew my mind. As you can see in the picture above, The card on my playmat is highlighted in green. Yes, I clicked on my card on my screen, and the card was pulled from their database and displayed so that I could clearly read it. Talk about a fucking amazing feature! Fun fact, the card above on my playmat was also a proxy, so as long as the artwork is recognized, you’ll be able to pull up the card. Probably doesn’t work with alters, but I was super impressed by this. Now you don’t really have to ask about shit, you can see for yourself and keep the game rolling. I played only a couple of rounds so far with this software, but it has already converted me. The other options still exist, but why bother?

The developers have already stated that they are working on audio implementation but recommend using Discord for now. Perhaps some sort of integration could happen, or perhaps we’ll start using this even more whole-heartedly. Whatever the case, this has been a big upgrade in my eyes and I’m considering supporting them on Patreon for their efforts.