Magic: The Gathering Strikes Again

So I was bored Friday evening, and decided to try a few old games out. I like to do this occasionally because once in a while, you run across these gems that validate your search and provide a few hours of non-crappy entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong, modern games are visually spectacular but they often seem to lack something in terms of gameplay. For instance, in the last two months, I’ve tried the following games:

  • Dungeon Siege – nice graphics, nice party-based hack’n’slash, but got bored about halfway through. Lacked story.
  • Age of Mythology – why the hell can’t there be a more intuitive interface? This just made me miss Total Annihilation (and TA: Kingdoms).
  • Rise of Nations – felt like the Age of… series, but with a Civilization-like twist. I played this for a few days, and got incredibly bored after winning the thirtieth single-player skirmish. This game could’ve been so much cooler if borders actually meant anything, and I missed the Civilization-like ability to totally dominate and have riflemen fighting spearmen. Perhaps it was more “fair,” but it was less fun.
  • Deus Ex: Invisible War – the story has always rocked in Deus Ex. I would love to read this as a novel, but somehow I wish there was more to do besides shooting. Maybe a Deus Ex with an adventure game twist and some actual puzzles would’ve been nice. And deformable environments.:-P
  • Neverwinter Nights – I’d looked forward to this for a while, but absolutely hated the inability to summon more than one creature or have more than one other NPC in your party. Baldur’s Gate 2 totally kicked this game’s ass.

Anyway, so I ran across Magic: The Gathering on the Underdogs website. Granted, some people would call this a questionable source for games, but in my opinion, discontinued = fair game. You can make up your own mind about the morality of this.

Moving on, I installed the game, only to have Windows XP crash on me with a fault in “cardartlib.dll” – just great. Being the inquisitive type that I am, I spent an hour or so on Google trying to dig up resources on this problem. I found a few websites that mentioned it, but essentially all they’d say was “install the game, install the patch.” Okay, morons, did that already (in fact, I believe the patch is pre-installed in the Underdog bundle for download, but reinstalled it anyway) and it didn’t help.

So I experimented a bit. The deck editor crashed every time I loaded it, and the game itself ran okay until I tried to manipulate the deck. Intuitive leap of thought led me to suspect that it was something with my display settings.

So, for those of you running Windows XP, and wanting to play Magic: The Gathering (that whole Shandalar thing) – if you get an error with cardartlib.dll and installing the patch does not help, here’s the solution: drop your resolution to 800×600 and the game will run just fine.

Yup, that’s all there is to it, at least on my system. Apparently 1400×1050 is just way too much for this old (1997) game and the card art libraries were never intended to stretch the cards that much.

Now, to deal with the consequences of installing this virtual crack cocaine…god, after the 50th loss to a !#$(!##!$#@(*(!@ druid, I want to smash something, but I want my lost cards back more. Talk about addictive…and me just the little naive innocent who wandered into this having never played or more than heard of Magic before.

Hope this helps some other addict-to-be out there.:-)

22 thoughts on “Magic: The Gathering Strikes Again”

  1. I run the game in a Win 98 VM and it works perfect. I also have the manalink 1.32 update to fix the shandlar opertaing too fast issue. I fortuneatly still have my original disks and a Win 98 disk. I ran Win 98 VM from Windows XP and now am running one created in Windows 7 64 bit. If you have the disks and can install it its the way to go. Best luck, this game is still awesome…just wish the computer wasn’t so stupid, like giant growthing MY creatures and actually blocking with Ali of Cairo instead of letting him do his thing. I do love the speed at which you can play. Hope this info helps.


  2. downloaded iso from microprose. cannot get shandalar to boot up. i have vista…can someone please help me.

  3. The screen resolution was the issue for me, too! I don’t think you need to go all the way down to 800×600, though. I was playing fine at 1152×864, but when I got a new monitor and switched to 1280×1024, the cardartlib.dll crash started happening occasionally. Dropping the resolution back down fixes it. (1024×768 works fine, too.)

    (The error happened only when attempting to show a large picture of a card — maybe the program just can’t translate those images to high resolutions.)

  4. *bows down*
    Let me start out by saying, you are the man.
    I was actually doing the same amount of searching for an answer as you were. Thanks to you I can actually play this game.
    Instead of just sitting on the solution, you posted it and as such led me to the answer. I hope other people can follow in your lead.
    Thanks again.

  5. Yanto,

    I had the same problem with the deck builder, and traced it to a process running in the background by ending a bunch of them one by one. The process that caused my conflict was opwarese2.exe.

    Hope this helps.

  6. I got the game from underdogs. Installed fine and all, however, one big problem. Underdogs claim that the installation is the whole package, Shandalar, Spells of Ancients, and Duels. Two problems for me:

    1.In deck builder, only one card appears in the selectable (all cards). This sole card is the Air Elemental. WHERE THE HELL ARE THE REST!! I can’t make a deck this way, so I had to this the long way. I had to copy a play deck, load the master.xls document and find the keys for the appropriate cards. By the way, if some of u noticed, there are some power cards like Mirror Universe and other goodies which are in the database, but are unplayable in the game. You can load your deck in the deck builder after saving and view the cards, but you cant select the cards like in the first version (shandalar). What a nuisance. Anybody have the same problem? Any solutions?? I love this game so much i’ll do anything to solve it. (Readme claims that if u dont have the first two versions, your cards are not visible via the deck builder. If this is so, how come I can build a deck and still play it via txt coding?!!)

    2.I cant play strip mine, dual land, etc.. in shandalar.

    I’d appreciate any solutions to this problem. Thanx a lot guys!!!

  7. none of this works for me, I always get the cardartlib thing and I dunno how to work with executables so well

  8. I have this game running at home and at work, and it s very good. However, I found that the same things did not work to get it running in both locations. After a bit of research (OK, lots of message board threads), I discovered that the problem can be any number of things. For me, the Logitech G15 applets killed it at home. When I killed those TSR progs, it ran just fine. At work, it was my video driver and my antivirus prog.

    I recommend killing all background apps for anyone still having issues.

  9. Hi to all.
    It’s amazing to play this again, thank you!

    Researching on this matter, I also learned that if you right-click the executable, go to Properties, choose the Compatibility tab, you can change it to Windows 98.



  10. There have been reports that logitechs setpoint software will crash this game in the deckbuilder. Stopping the service for setpoint has gotten me some play out of this old game.

  11. I hve had it running for a few years now on my old lap top, now the new one is vista I hope it still works as I play the game like every one else plays solitarie

  12. Hey, thanks for posting your findings. I was having a similar problem, my resolution was 1600×1200 and when I bumped it down to 1280×1024 the deckbuilder stopped crashing. If there are other problems with this res, I at least know what to play with to get it to stop exploding.

  13. I’m interested in a finding a copy of this game and also hope that it works in Windows XP. I can remember those hours lost to this game, and I dare tempt myself with it again. What is the Underdog site and your talk of its questionable morality? In other words, is there a place where I can find the original, bug-riddled MicroProse Magic: The Gathering computer game? Or better yet, do I really have hope that it will work? This post really inspired me, though, here I am three years later…

  14. Thank you for solving the cardartlib.dll problem I was having. I was only crashing in “Gauntlet” mode, but after changing my resolution to 800×600 the problem went right away. I recently rediscovered how much fun this game when I ran across my install CD, and I agree with your testimony that this game is virtual crack.

    My sincere gratitude-

  15. Hi sweetie!

    Hi, anyone else.

    I always thought the Magic card game would be cool as a computer game. The concept of the game itself is mythology inspired, at least I always thought so. Check the book stores for books in the series though not sure if the books are as interesting as the cards are. While the computer game is indeed fun to play (and challenging), I still recommend collecting the cards for the great artwork even if you only play the card game once or twice or never if you have no one around the try to card game on. I just happen to have a silly propensity to collect card decks being a tarot enthusiast.

    Okay, well… got to go.


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