MTG Scanner - Dragon Shield's free-to-use smartphone app for Magic: The Gathering players

There's a free-to-use smartphone app that's a must-have for Magic: The Gathering players.

It's the Dragon Shield MTG Scanner app, and it does nearly everything a Magic player might want including collection management, language translations, deck building, trading, and acting as a real-time price guide.

"The scanner pretty much works to make the player's life easier," adds Product Owner Nuno Madureira.

Originally made by a startup known as BigAR, the app and its company was acquired a few years ago by Arcane Tinmen and given the Dragon Shield branding.  This allowed the BigAR team to grow from four people to 18 or so, likewise allowing for more robust features to be added to the app.

"Recently we launched the social aspect of the app," explains Tiago Pereira, Head of Mobile.  "Before, you just had your cards and your collection.  But now you can use the app to see your friends' cards, which is awesome."

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This new ability to see your friends' collections and trade binders digitally means that trading or borrowing Magic cards has also made the leap to digital.

"In the palm of your hand, you can access all of the 20,000, 100,000 cards your friend has," comments Pereira.  "You don't have to go from binder to binder."

"If you have your wish list on the app and your friends also have their wish and trades lists, you can actually match them automatically and propose the best trade between them," explains Madureira.

Built into the app is a trade helper, which is set up for two-person trades and compares the overall value of a trade so that in-person card trading is easier and more fair for all parties involved.

And, on the topic of fair, the Dragon Shield MTG Scanner app takes use of the smartphone camera for more than just scanning cards for pricing and inventory use.  It also has an augmented reality feature for non-English language cards.

When a non-English language card is scanned in AR mode, the English-language version of the card is superimposed over the real-life non-English card for reliable, instant translation, complete with some stats about the card to boot.

"We actually had great feedback from Magic judges who were doing tournaments abroad that used the app to be able to see what the cards did," tells Madureira.

The AR feature, it should be pointed out, is currently only available on iOS, but the app's developers are looking to add Android support for it sometime in the future.

Other features on the app include the ability to keep an eye on articles and other news related to the game, as well as charts showing the biggest value gainers and losers over the past day, week and month.  And, on the gamification side of the app, there is also a rewards system with which users can gain points (called "dragon dust") that can soon be redeemed for goodies.

"Customers want products they can already buy -- they want sleeves, they want playmats, the want boxes, some also want merchandise," says Madureira.  "So, we're pretty much building it again and adding a lot of new rewards to the program."

Beyond the MTG Scanner app, there are also versions available for collectible card games Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Flesh and Blood.  They are also considering developing a version for the Disney CCG, Lorcana.

The MTG Scanner app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store for iOS devices and the Google Play Store for Android devices.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.