For as long as I have been host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, I have been using DCI Reporter version 3, which is a now-defunct program designed by Wizards of the Coast for running large Magic the Gathering tournaments. It was recently replaced with Wizards Reporter, which I have also tested and found it pretty lackluster.
The other alternative is to using Gatherling, a program designed and coded by jamuraa, who maintains PDCMagic.com, which was once the premier site for all things Pauper online. Not too long ago, jamuraa updated the program to allow it to perform many of the functions of DCI Reporter while also taking advantage of its previous use as a database of events and decklists.
For yesterday's event, I decided to run both side-by-side and see what happened. Here are some of my observations, not only from yesterday but from my experience with both programs.
- Gatherling is much simpler. Assuming a player can login to his or her Gatherling account, the entire process is essentially automated. Players submit their decklist, submit their results, and view standings all from within one program.
- However, Gatherling lacks a lot of the flexibility and advanced features of DCI Reporter. You can't change the spelling of a player's username once the event has started. There are no pretty tables you can export to a public forum for ease of reference. And if something goes wrong, there's no backup, no way to fix results from a previous round, and no way to create multiple byes in a round. While these features aren't something I use often, when I need them, I really need them.
- DCI Reporter has these extras built in. It does everything Gatherling does and more. But it's a lot more work to use. You end up having to enter the data into Gatherling eventually anyway, although that process is sped-up by a handy feature that allows Gatherling to read DCI Reporter's backup files.
- DCI Reporter also requires you to enter all the data manually. Players have to registered one at a time, results have to be entered table by table, and both pairings and standings have to exported to somewhere else in order for the players to see them.
- Perhaps strangest of all, the two programs don't calculate standings the same way. In every round, the standings from Gatherer were different than those reported by DCI Reporter, based on some sort of difference in the way tiebreakers are calculated. In the end, both programs reported the same final standings after Swiss, so I suppose it all worked out in the end, but it's still strange.