Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DCI Reporter vs Gatherling

With all the discussion of the new client, I have been taking another look at my system for running Player Run Events on Magic Online and trying to see if there is a better way.

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.
So now the question is - which way is better, and why? What do you think?


  1. Gatherling and just get Jamuraa to make the updates that you suggest so that it's better than DCI-R. Players need to use Gatherling anyway. Simplifying the tasks of the host makes your life easier and everything in Gatherling is very user-friendly for the players from my experience. As a new host my only realistic option is to use Gatherling since I know it already and if a few of the features are added to it then it will be all upside.

    For entering decklists they need to have the new cards added to the set ASAP, though. That should be a priority. If you're going to have the functionality to link to cards pics then don't delay (I just checked and it looks like M15 is updated by Journey into Nyx card links are still missing).

  2. I felt like I should chime in here and correct a few of the things you are saying...

    1) Jamuraa didn't write gatherling, he inherited it from woconation

    2) Many other programmers have contributed code to gatherling other than jamuraa such as myself, (Dabil), longtimegone, and Lord_Icon and numerous others. In fact it was longtimegone who wrote almost the entire pairing system on gatherling. I myself wrote the format editor and deck validation code, and Lord wrote the new improved deck search function. Jamuraa has not yet updated PDCMagic with the new deck search or format editor with deck validation. All these new features however can be found on Gatherling.com if anyone wants to check them out. the format editor, for example, makes entering Standard Pauper decks much simpler as it will show errors for any illegal cards. For example, when a new set comes in you sometimes end up with a common card that is now an uncommon because the set that had it as a common rolled out. Well gatherling will report this error when people enter their deck list so they know not to use the card.

    As for the differences between Gatherling's pairing and DCI-R pairing, that is because each program uses a different pairing system. They work off the same principles, but since we didn't have the actual code used by DCI-R, we had to write it ourselves. If anyone knows the actual algorythm used by DCI-R and can supply the code, I would be happy to update it to make Gatherling more like DCI-R.

    As well, many of these features you say are missing in Gatherling, we will be happy to write. Didn't know anyone wanted these features. I will make a note of them and add them as I have time.