Thursday, December 27, 2007

Deck Building and Card Search Utilities

Due to the recent changes of the ARDB, I have updated the article and I have added links to the card pictures/images downloads.

There are quite a number of deck building programs or online card search utilities for VtES available. The good thing is, all of them are free for use. I will list the most common tools here and briefly give some information about each of them. The raw data for the VtES card databases comes from the "White Wolf" website where the complete list of cards including the card texts are stored. Usually two to three weeks after the release of a VtES expansion this list will be updated. Although the card text list is the basis of all of the utilities listed below, but the WW website offers no search or filter functionality by itself.

Elder Library Deck Builder (ELDB)
The ELDB is a legacy program, since it is no longer maintained. The author David Andersion-Davila discontinued the development of the program quite some years ago, but for long time it was the only working and usable deck builder program for VtES. So, kudos to David for his great program, the mother of all VtES deck builders!!

Fragments of Elder Library Deck Builder ("FELDB")
Current Version: 2.4.0
Author(s): Balasz Kuno Kiss
Description: After the ELDB ("Elder Library Deck Builder") was no longer maintained, the ELDB's author David Andersion-Davila published the sources and FELDB was the result of the development with serious improvements over the old program.
Advantages/Disadvantages:
  • Card List & Inventory
    • complete card list with card text
    • almost complete collection of pictures of actual cards (only LotN is missing), but not always the latest version of the cards.
    • basic ability to filter and sort cards, this could be better, especially when compared to the ARDB.
    • card inventory can be kept, but needs to be used carefully when updating to the next version or expansion.
  • Deck Building
    • offers the basic functionality of deck builder
    • includes some statistical information about the decks as well as card drawing simulation
    • ability to store decks in native format (*.eld), as text (*.txt), HTML file (*.html) or for use with JOL (*.jol).
  • Other Features
    • several import/export options for decks and inventories
    • usually the quickest update after an expansion has been released
    • can update card database from White Wolf website (indirectly)
URL: http://webware.interware.hu/bala0/feldb.html
URL for card images: http://feldb.extra.hu/pictures.zip
Cost: free software
OS Platforms: Windows
Expansion Updates: about 1 to 2 weeks after an expansion has been released.
Expansions: all VtES expansions.
Latest Posting: 05/Oct/2007

Anarch Revolt Deck Builder ("ARDB")
Current Version: Version 2 RC 4
Author(s): Francois Gombault / Graham Smith
Description: Layered Filters, multiple export functionality and a tidy interface are the top features of this program, somewhat newer than the FELDB it had a fresh start and gained soon popularity in the VtES community.
Advantages/Disadvantages:
  • Card List & Inventory
    • complete card list with card texts
    • almost complete collection of pictures of actual cards, but not always the latest version of the cards. The card images are only working on Windows.
    • great search & filter use, multiple, layered filters
    • card inventory can be kept
  • Deck Building
    • offers the basic functionality of deck builder
    • includes some statistical information about the decks as well as card drawing simulation
    • ability to store decks in XML format (*.xml), as text (*.txt), HTML file (*.html) or for use with JOL (*.jol) or for posting to internet forums (*.phbBB).
    • gives some advice on deck building based on the "Happy Families" theory
  • Other Functionality
    • can update card database from White Wolf website
    • little utility for creating proxy cards
URL: http://ardb.googlecode.com/files/ardb_11_01_2008.zip
URL for card images: http://www.divshare.com/download/3437098-a1c
Cost: free software
OS Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X 10.3+
Expansion Updates: about 2 to 4 weeks after an expansion has been released.
Expansions: all VtES expansions.
Latest Posting: 12/Jan/2008

Simple VtES Deck Builder
Current Version: ??
Author(s): Bob Joseph
Description: I haven't had the pleasure of testing it, since it requires both a Linux OS and/or an installed Perl. There is also little advice on how to install the program, definetly nothing for the casual Windows user.
URL: http://www.cse.ohio-state.edu/~joseph/svdb.tar.gz
Cost: free software
Version: ???
Platform: Linux (possibly Windows or Mac as well)

Comparison

While FELDB is the oldest (working) deck builder available, it sometimes shows, especially when it comes to the design of the interface and the filter abilities. Having it lost the advantage of showing the card images recently, it has a slight disadvantage against ARDB. The only real advantages I see is that the FELDB is slightly faster when it comes down to expansion update and it does not require any Java installation.
ARDB is equally good, while it sometimes lacks the speed of expansion updates, but it has to offer great search and filter capabilities as well as clear and tidy interface. With the addition of the card images it has overtaken the FELDB.
All in all I have no clear favourite, and it's more a question of belief (and maybe history of usage) for most VtES players which program is the better one.

Online Card Utilities
There are also quite a number of online search (and filter) websites for VtES cards: All of them offer a quick search by card text or name as well as an advanced search & filter functionality. They all include the cards from all VtES expansion. Their advantage is their availability from a computer or internet terminal without the need to install extra software. Good for the quick search while away from home at least.

VtES Monger
Current Version: 3.7
Author: Ethan Burrow
URL: http://monger.vekn.org/
Description: The oldest web site offering a VtES card search, unfortunately the site was quite often down in the last few weeks, but it still does it's job. The most distinguished feature is the ability to set (and store) preferences for viewing the search result. Also quite unique is the "Crypt Challenge" where you can enter a few constraints and based on the "Happy Family" theory a sample crypt is generated.

V:EKN nu
Current Version: ??
Author(s): Archibald Zimony
URL: http://www.vekn.se/search.php?page=search
Description: A swedish website, also with search and filter capability. The filter capability is somewhat enhanced from the functionality VtES Monger offers.

Secret Library
Current Version: 0.6.0
Author: Jussi Hattara
URL: http://www.uusimaailma.net/vtes/
Description: A finnish website with similar filter & search functionality as "V:EKN Nu" and "VtES Monger". Nice, fresh web design and the ability to keep one's inventory as well as deck building utility. Definitively the best web-based site. The only "drawback" you need a (free) account to use the deck building and inventory functionality.

3 comments:

jhattara said...

Thanks for your compliments to the Secret Library. It always feels good when people compliment your work. And looks like you were quick to notice the new possibilities of v.0.6.0

extrala said...

Yeah, after you posted that the new feature is available on the newsgroup, I almost immediately started using it, since it is so much easier than looking up the correct card numbers on VtES Monger (and the search there sometimes give duplicate results).

Radoslaw Derkus said...

http://vtes.pl/search

It's in polish, but I don't think it will be problem in that case.