Written by RThomas on February 07, 2011

Greetings and welcome to the second installment in our series of interviews, where we find out more about's notable personalities. Today we're speaking to Azania, the developer of the new website.

RThomas: Please introduce yourself so we can get to know you a bit better.

Azania: I am Azania as everyone probably knows. I am 25, and a Computer Science student in the Netherlands. I hope to finish soon with my studies.

RT: When did you begin playing Magic? When and how did you find your way to

A: I have been playing magic for a long time, since the sets of Portal and Mirage were printed. How I got into Magic-League is more or less somewhat a funny story: I was asked to work on the new website by Koen and nico, so I joined the staff as a website administrator. I was never a judge, and I only play Magic in real life. I've been a part of since September/October 2009.

RT: In your own words, describe what you do at

A: What I do is, once in a while, take a look into a giant messy spider web, get a lot of “WTF?” moments out of it, and shake my head in disgust. Then I work on creating another spider web that is better organized :)

Putting jokes aside, what I do is develop an entire new website from scratch that will replace the current website. I do not administrate the current website; the league had someone that always did the maintenance on it. I used to do bits and pieces of maintenance until the league switched webhosts last year. From that point on, I did full maintenance on it up until the start of 2011, when derflippi took over.

RT: What kind of spider webs have been the toughest to fix?

A: There were three of them, actually:

The first problem was a request from the graders of the judge tests: they wanted to make the answer to questions visible while they graded tests. It was a small issue, normally a fix under five minutes (getting an extra field from the database and echoing it), but it took me about 5-7 hours and several workaround solutions to get it done. Neither the database nor the code was useful in any kind of way, and it was (and still is) horribly constructed at the time.

The second situation was basically the switch of webhosts itself. There were quite a few things that had to be changed in order to fit the new host; this took several days to accomplish. The files had to be uploaded and re-uploaded a dozen times, and a single one would take 2-5 hours.

The third problem was the fix of the full-art Zendikar lands. When they were put in decks in Magic Workstation, they caused incorrect security codes. The source of the problem was a strange encoding. To explain, every file is set with an encoding (usually UTF-8/UTF-16; so when I type 'a', others will see it as an 'a'). With an unusual encoding set, you instead will see weird characters, worse then Chinese...

That made fixing the problem rather difficult, since I couldn't read what was written in the code, so I had to have a bit of help pinpointing the problem. It ended with a minor change of '\d' to '\w+', literally. All that work for two characters...

RT: What is it about Magic-League that's kept you around? Besides compensation, of course :)

A: Compensation? Where? Lol. I like the fact that Magic-League affects competitive Magic around the world: starting new sets earlier, a constantly changing meta. It is interesting to see how the balls always keep rolling from Magic-League. That and I have a website to finish :)

RT: In your opinion, what is it that keeps people returning to There are

many other conduits through which magic may be played, both casual and competitive. What makes stand out in your mind?

A: I think that it's due to many factors. The fact that we offer rated online tournaments is a big one; there isn't any other place to do that, unless you play on MODO. People can make decks with any card possible. Sealed deck play keeps droves of players coming back. The random formats that have a home here are also quite popular. Players love to be creative, and on Magic-League they can be as creative as they want and play against other players doing the same thing.

I have heard more then once people saying that the comeback of sealed was the best thing of 2010, with

the web host switch the second best. That says a lot, compared to how bad our previous web host was with all its major problems.

RT: How's the new website going to change how works?

A: The new website will basically make a lot of fundamental changes. All sections will have a smoother and more easily accessable layout, and some will function completely different. It will be more flexible in that new features can easily be coded and added to the site. For an example, judges can take a look at the training center for new judges. Right now, when you become a trainee, you're trained almost exclusively by another judge in IRC. In the new website, it will be simpler for staff members to check in on trainee's progress, and trainers and trainees can exchange advice and information through the training center.

The player community will also be radically improved. There will be a new private message system incorporated in user's profiles that allows users to contact each other outside of the forums and IRC. The forums themselves will be better integrated with the rest of the website. New news, articles, and guides will also be found from the forums, which will make locating and discussing content much easier. These are just a few items I can mention that have been finished thus far.

RT: How long in the making has this change been?

A: It's been over the past year and a half or so. I used a framework that was basically an evolution of my previous project, so there has been a lot of work in just that alone. I often call the project Black Widow, since that is the name of the framework.

RT: What's the future hold for and its players?

A: Well, to check up on the actual size of what is to come in the new website, I wrote a script that counts everything in the coding. In the files themselves, I found:

# of Files: 269

# of Lines: 23,107

# of Words: 81,618

# of Characters: 780,673

Writing a 300+ page novel is way easier, and that is no joke!

The future of Magic-League will change when the new website comes online. For the time being, it will stay the same, but I will be giving support for new features, which includes a current tournament overview. It will include tournament details, pairings, status of the current and forming tournaments, and so on. Players will be able to download decks that they signed up for tournaments with.

There will be a plug-in system for every tournament type, making it easier to give support for new formats to include Swiss play. The forums and article comments will have support for linking decks and cards directly. Coverage will change in that users will be able to upload their own articles to be displayed. Users will have their own unique profiles which will list basic info, rating, and other features to be determined. They'll be able to put their own time zone in so that all scheduled events are listed in their time zone.

One major new feature is code that will invite new players from all over the Internet. After the new website is launched, there will constantly be new additions, such as support for a personalized theme. I think the first theme will be the “Pink Lady” ;)

Overall, I think that I'm about 75% done with it all. There are quite a few other areas that have been “finalized” as well.

RT: We can't get through the interview without asking about your favorites What's your favorite card and set in Magic?

A: Couldn't you have asked that before 2011? :(

I always played decks that used Survival of the Fittest. I played Welder Survival at my local cafe for a while, and other players didn't want to play against me after a while. Even in multiplayer they were not so happy to use a Wrath effect every turn to keep my table clear while I got everything back the next turn.

There are a bunch of other cards I like as well, but never played any of them as much as SotF. Other favorites: Serra Avenger, Natural Order, Tolarian Academy, Decree of Justice, Isochron Scepter, and Kira, Great Glass Spinner. My favorite set is probably Shards of Alara. I also like the more recent sets, but Shards feels like it had the most power of the sets and also some of the best cards. I particularly liked playing Bant Survival. I'm mostly a Legacy player, and played Vintage before it existed.

RT: Any tournament wins you can share with us?

A: I do not play in tournaments really. I should, but I already play a lot in my cafe with people from Team ADHD. Locally I just help out around FNM and judge. I hardly ever play but it's always fun :)

RT: A lot of new information to share. To close, what does Azania want to share with and its players? The floor is yours!

A: Well first of all, how about:

(Yes, the menu on the left can expand and collapse :) It's by no means final, but just a glimpse of what is to come)

Second, I might made a proposal for an entirely new team system public to receive comments from the community. The team system would be overthrown and changed to be much more competitive, and this of course would also mean team battles and team tournaments. It would resemble the rating system, which means the teams at the top would have to fight hard to stay at the top, while lower teams could catch up and compete.

The final thing I'll add is that I hope 2011 will be the year where the new website will be finished and launched. Especially since at the end of the year, Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released, hopefully along with Final Fantasy Type-0 (aka FFXIII Agito). And I will be hooked to those games, guaranteed :)

Thanks for reading the second in this series of interviews of's notable personalities. Look for more to come in the coverage section of soon!

Back to Magic-League Coverage/Profiles

by Jacois on 2011-02-07 21:57 CET

that was pretty fun. Thx monkey. And I totally agree with your views on FF X-2, I'm gonna be hooked to, I just know it.

by RThomas on 2011-02-07 23:17 CET

You're welcome.

by Burton911 on 2011-02-08 17:31 CET

"A: What I do is, once in a while, take a look into a giant messy spider web, get a lot of “WTF?” moments out of it, and shake my head in disgust. Then I work on creating another spider web that is better organized :)"

by bilo on 2011-02-11 22:40 CET

thx for your work

by darkwizard42 on 2011-02-16 21:07 CET



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