[Guide]: Cockatrice – PC/Mac software to play Magic: The Gathering online

While Magic Workstation (MWS) is the king of the hill to play free Magic games online, recently a new german software has started to get popular. We are talking about Cockatrice.

Cockatrice is an open source software that works on both PC and Mac developed by Max-Wilhelm (Bruker), Marcus Schütz and Marius van Zundert, and even though the game still is on its very early stages we can say it works great for the playtesting purposes. It doesn’t support tournaments yet, but, everything will come eventually!

Right after the break we’ll try to explain you some of the nice features Cockatrice has and help you install/configure it.


1. Visit www.cockatrice.de to download and learn more about the project.

2. Install it following the instructions. It’s very simple! For those mac users out there, once installed you should have a folder in your applications that looks something like this:

*Note: Don’t worry if you don’t have all the files yet. Nothing is wrong at this point if you don’t have the files cards.xml or sets.xml

3. Open the “Oracle” tool first. Yes, before actually running Cockatrice we need to run the Oracle to download all cards and sets information. Once you open the Oracle tool you’ll see that everything is empty and that you can’t really do much. So, what you have to do next is go to File -> Download sets information.

Now your Oracle should look like this:

Click on Start Download and wait a couple of minutes. You can close the Oracle once the download is finished.

*Note: By default the Unhinged and Unglued sets aren’t added. If you wish to add them too, feel free to mark them.

4. Open Cockatrice. When you open the program you’ll see an empty screen and not much to play with. It should look similar to this:

Boring, huh? Don’t worry! On your menu bar you’ll see 2 menus (in Mac both are named Cockatrice, hope they’ll fix that).

First thing you might want to do is to change the game preferences. For that, go to Cockatrice (the one in bold) -> Preferences. In there you can choose from many different options. My favorite one, and it’s definitely a MUST HAVE is the Download card pictures on the fly. This is a great feature that allows you to automatically download the cards while you are playing. You won’t need to download any pictures like you used to do in MWS. This is all automatic now.

The Preferences screen looks like this:

You can customize your own shortcut messages, or you can even add your own playmat for the battleground if you wish.

5. Create a deck. Before we actually play any games what we need to do is to have some decks to play with. For that what you want to do first is go to Cockatrice (non bold) -> Deck Editor. All your decks are automatically stored inside your Decks folder.

The deck editor feature allows you to create any deck and modify it at any time. Once opened it looks empty:

To add cards manually you can use the search box which dynamically shortens the search results at the same time you type in more characters from the card you are searching. By hitting “Return” you add the selected card to the maindeck, and by hitting “CTRL (or Command on mac) + Return” you add the selected card to the sideboard. There’s some tools in the mid-low part of the editor that allows you to modify your decklist by adding, reducing, deleting cards from it. The Deck editor works really nice and it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to type in a whole deck.

This is an example of one of my decks:

Once we got the deck ready, go to the menu to save it. As you can see there’s shortcuts for almost every function. Get used to use shortcuts as they’ll speed up a lot your gaming experience, specially when you play.

Once we got our deck(s) ready, is time for us to connect and play some games!

6. Connect to the server. The server used so far by the community is play.cockatrice.de. You can run your own servers if you wish, or you can also start a local game to playtest against the wall (*Note: This is a great feature to get sample hands). So let’s just connect:

Port number should come as 4747 by default, then pick a name and a password and click “Ok”. Our game screen should now look something like this:

Take some time to get used to the interface. The right box is the user list. There you can see who’s online and if you want you can chat with them (double click on a name). The top box is where the open games appear once people has created them. One of the coolest features Cockatrice has, is the option to join games as an spectator. For that the first thing you need to do is to check on “Show full games”.

Then all the running games will show:

When joining a game as an spectator you can chat with them if they allowed spectators to chat. Sometimes players put a password to their games because they don’t want to reveal their super-secret-techs!

On the bottom/right side of the top box you’ll find the buttons that allow you to Create/Join/Join as spectator.

Let’s create our own game so the fun can start!

This is the screen you’ll get once you’ve clicked on the “Create” button. Set up the game description, add a password if you wish, number of players (2H giant is supported) and click among the spectator options.

*Note: If you are a privacy freak, you can also add a password for the spectators to join. That way only the people you granted the password will be able to join.

Once you’ve set everything up, a new screen should appear. This is where you’ll get your deck preview:

On the top left, you’ll find 3 buttons again: Load Local Deck / Load Deck from Server / Ready to start. You can’t play without a deck, so let’s just load the one we’ve created before.

*Note: That’s one sexy deck, isn’t it?

How do we load a deck from the server? Cockatrice allows you to upload decks to a server so you can play with your own decks wherever you are. This is a pretty cool feature! On the top of the screen you’ll see different tabs, one of them is the Deck Storage.

To upload a deck to the server, just click the Deck storage tab. Then a new screen will show. On the left there are your local decks and on the right your decks on the server. Use the buttons bellow to move and delete decks, create folders, edit, etc…

Once we’ve created a game, we’ve upload a deck, what’s next? Get friends! You can either convince one of your msn mates to stop flirting online with school girls or wait for some random player to join your game. Once both players are “Ready to start” the game will begin.

7. Play the game. A new screen will show. This is the screen that simulates both battlefields and that has all the features to play Magic games online.

The screen is divided horizontally. We are the player underneath. The game areas are:

  • The green area is our Hand.
  • The blue area is the Battlefield. Our battlefield is divided as well, the bottom part is where all mana sources will go if we double click to play them from our hand, and the top part is where we’ll put our permanents.
  • The left red area is the Stack.

On the very left of the screen we have the Phases bar. There you’ll find all the phases of the game.

*Note: There’s people who, to speed up the game drastically, don’t use the phases and leave it at the “Untap”. This way, you do most of the things as if you’d play in Real Life ®. Use the chat to send your messages by configuring shortcuts.

Then, between the phases bar and the play area, we’ll find some token buttons, our lives, and then (in order from top  to bottom) the Library, Graveyard, Exiled and Cards in Hand count.

On the right side part of the screen we have the card preview (works on mouse over on a card), then a little box with the players and spectators and then the game log/chat. The game log is very useful as it allows us to keep track of everything our opponent is doing and, if needed, tell him to stop if he did something wrong. Just underneath the game log there’s the chat box where we can type in whatever we need.

These are some of the shortcuts you should use the most:


+ i = Roll a dice.

+ s = Shuffle.

+ d = Draw a card.

+ e = Draw cards.

+ m = Draw 7 cards / Mulligan.

+ w = Watch the top cards of your library.

+ u = Untap all your permanents

+ t = Create a token

+ a = Attach to card (Equipments)

+ r = Remove all local arrows

And then,

F2 to conced the game

F3 to watch your Library

*Note: You can sort your Library view by name or type to speed up your searches.

F4 to watch your Graveyard

If you added custom messages like “EOT”, “Go”, “In response”, etc… those shortcuts are CTRL or COMMAND + 1,2,3,4,… numbers.

What else do you need to know?

Game arrows

You can create game arrows to point things out, like creatures blocking, or spell targets. To create an arrow (such as the one in the picture), you have to hold the right click button of your mouse from the initial card to the desired target.

Library options

Some options are kind of tricky, for example: “How to show your opponent the top card of your library when he’s using Jace 2.0 on you”. For that, if you right click on your library you’ll get plenty of options there, including the “Reveal top card to…”

Changing Live Totals and Tokens

Right Click on the Live Count Circle or one of the Colored Token Circles will make +1 to it.

Left Click on the Live Count Circle or one of the Colored Token Circles will make  -1 to it.

The very bottom white circle is the Storm Count.

And finally, if there’s anything you don’t know how to do, you can find most of the game options inside the Game Menu on the top menu bar. And remember, you can also ask your opponent for assistance!

This is pretty much it. We hope you guys enjoy Cockatrice as much as we are already. The game will only get better and better as it’s constantly improving thanks to the wonderful job done so far.

If you come up with any suggestions/bugs about the game, please contact the Cockatrice staff team or leave them a post at the forum board that you can find at www.cockatrice.de

  • Ferran

    Wow! I’ve just installed in a few simple steps and really quickliy! Instead of do all this things in MWS!

  • Alex

    Great guide, I’ve installed it as well, looking forward to playing lots of legacy.

  • Pingback: In the Lab – Legacy Transformers | Eternal Central()

  • Maybe you know how to take a look to your sideboard, and play some card from them using some of the wishes.

    In the Documentation of Cockatrice there’s no clue about it.

    Take care.

  • SamR

    Basically LackeyCCG, which is also mac-compatible. I haven’t tried it yet, but everything looks like exactly the same.

    • SamR

      after trying Cockatrice, I can say that Lackey is way better.

  • Peter

    I downloaded the game on my mac, but the application window is so tall I can’t see anywhere the bottom, and I can’t figure out how to resize it. Any hints?

    Also, how do you sacrifice cards?

    • What do you mean by the application window is so tall? I mean, once you open it it should fit inside your screen. Maybe you should check out your screen options or resolution just in case. Else I don’t know how to fix your problem.

      To sacrifice a card, just drag it to the GY.

  • sonicwarfare

    whenever I try to connect I get the message

    Socket error: Connection refused

    • We all have the same problem and we don’t have any idea when this is going to be fixed. On the mean time we are playing in this server:

      port 4747

    • There was a stability problem with the server software, and I couldn’t fix it as I was at GP Florence and had no Internet connection.
      The server is running again.

  • diederik Diekhuis

    Hi, I’m using cockatrice for a while now and had the problem that the pictures of the cards aren’t downloaded after the first time running the program. I already reinstalled the program, but the same problem occurred after the first run the program doesn’t download the pictures anymore.
    Does anybody know how to fix this problem, all my settings are fine path etc.. Also I’m getting some pictures from the first run and I already looked at the downloaded sets there isn’t a problem at the install part.
    P.S. Using a Mac!

  • skyfox

    Good install tutorial 🙂

    But litle problem:

    I’ve created my deck and now I want to play, but when I press connect after giving my account name and psw there’s an error message, as follows:

    Socket erro: Connection refused

    …. any body could help me with this pleas?
    thank you for the help 😉

  • Ally

    Its only for legacy? or I just read bad and its allow to play type 2 also?

  • Ally

    There are a lot of cards in current standard missing, such as kalastria highborn, koth of the hammer, pulse tracker and vampire lacerator

    • JJ

      and force of will

      • Not Amused

        And Forest =_= I can’t find that bugger anywhere.

  • Matt

    ok, i just downloaded the program and its working fine, except that some cards simply dont exist in the database. for example in deck editor im making a deck, and Trinket Mage isnt in the database. neither is Lotus Cobra, or the basic land Island, or Swamp, or Drowned Catacomb…. this is rediculous the list goes on and on

  • Gerrard

    Anyone knows if this works in Android 2.2 or 3?

  • Sergio

    First of all, this software is great! Also, how do you create sealed pools or draft packs?


    • Mmm… I have never tried to draft 😀

  • Cymbiotica

    I think your guide should be bundled with the application. When I went to the website the documentation page is blank and I didn’t see anything in the D/L. Thanks for the guide!

  • ber

    there are so many missing cards!!! it is very bad because everything else was very good..

  • Bford

    I can’t find basic lands to download. Also, did the missing cards get fixed? (Per @Matt – April 7, 2011 at 1:17 am, above)

    Thanks, Brad

    • Bford

      NVM, found it. You have to download the sets while the game is shut down.

  • JJ

    Why is black lotus in it, but force of will i cant find anywhere???

  • Not Amused

    I’m searching for cards and certain BASIC LAND cards are missing. How the heck is this happening? I type in “Forest” and I get bloody “Forest Bear”. WTF?

    • Hi there,

      Please refer to the official cockatrice support forum for any troubles you might have. Here at Eternal Central we support Cockatrice but have nothing to do with the development of the software, therefore we can’t help you.

      Cheers and have a good day!

      piZZero – Jordi Amat

  • Hey Pizzero…have seen your videos in youtube and to be honest I was thinking if you guys play MTG online. Well found out that you guys play cockatrice. I would just like to share this to you and maybe you could share this to your friends..I’m not advertising any other program but you and your friends should try OCTGNw/Lobby link is: http://www.mediafire.com/?hvgo6fxnnfshmci and our IRC URL is: http://wbe002.mibbit.com/?settings=9eb9b347bba3b839fb668699e8038a9f&server=irc.ircstorm.net&channel=%23octgn&noServerNotices=true&noServerMotd=true&autoConnect=true Sets can be downloaded through this URL: http://octgn.gamersjudgement.com/viewforum.php?f=8&sid=f6dd5fe8630f71da7a0e0a4a8180cfdf Servers are always up and no server time out issues. More user friendly interface. Just try it out if you like it 🙂

  • Luke

    This is missing a lot of cards, which makes it so i can’t make a quality deck.

  • Alex Fank

    Ive downloaded the program then downloaded oracle cards i open the program and it only gives me the option of opening the preferences window its very frustrating. Im on a Mac btw

  • cyril

    I have a probleme when I install cards on the oracle he does not re-know the location, here is a link.

    • Cyril, thank you for your post. We are not the developers for Cockatrice, we simply made a how to guide. For help with your issue I would suggest checking out the Forums on the official Cockatrice.de website:

      Good luck and thank you for reading Eternal Central!

  • Jesse

    I’ve been trying to run Cockatrice on my mac. I’ve followed all of the steps up until opening the actual application. When i open the application I have only one drop down menu and no game screen opens. The only window I see is the settings window.

  • Questo e’ proprio un bel sito