I started playing Magic: The Gathering about a month before the M14 prerelease when my friend Wayland invited me. I say I started at that time, but in reality I already knew how to play. I learned from my brother 2 years before except this time was different. I got hooked.
After the prerelease a defining moment was when I started looking at cards online and seeing what decks I could make in standard. It was so easy to start dreaming about the fun decks that could win and how cards could combo and create fun synergies.
My mind was battling 2 big conflicting desires. Having the best cards possible and not spending more than I needed to. I ended up with trying to save money while still trying to brew the perfect deck for my local meta. The decks didn't win all that much, but I found that the making the decks part of Magic was a lot of fun too.
The more I played with friends, brewed decks, and bought cards, the more I was excited to play. Magic for me was all about the cool deck possibilities and the fun interactions between cards that I could come up with.
I had been sticking to standard because the idea of looking beyond the 1,000+ cards available for that seemed overwhelming. Wayland was hoping I would get into EDH, but I was still excited about standard and brewing decks, so I wanted to stick to it.
He also hoped I would join him in going to our FNM, but I wasn't really interested in since it was drafting. However I eventually gave in, tried once and realized I should have listened to him. Drafting is awesome! It’s everything I wanted out of magic. Playing with the cards I already understood from standard sprinkled with deck building. What else would I need?!
Drafting was a whole new ballgame when it came to building decks though. After I got some advice from friends, watched some YouTube videos, and did some drafting simulators online, I started feeling like I was okay at it. Looking back I know I wasn't, but I at least felt like I was at the time.☺
At some point I wasn't getting enough magic. I had started visiting the /r/magicTCG every morning, had ideas floating around on TappedOut and was playing with draft simulators every once in a while, but it still wasn’t satisfying. I started watching Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage and was amazed at how good the players could be. They were so smart, perfectly timed, patient, and made so many decisions that it blew me away!
My brain started asking itself, “how can I get better at magic?” I started by watching more commentated matches, watching the VS series, read SCG and Channel Fireball articles, looked at the decks of the top 16 at tournaments. Ultimately though, I knew I needed to play more too.
All this passion whelmed up in me but inconveniently happened while I was planning a wedding. I had no real outlet to actually play because it took too much time and I wanted to spend time with my fiancé Joanne. So my brain changed the question of, “how can I get better at magic?” to “how can I get better at magic without actually playing?”
Channeling The Passion — Developing a Magic App
At some point, when I was looking for outlets to channel my Magic passion towards, I remembered there was a drafting simulator app I started a year ago but didn't finish. I started working on it since the drafting apps on mobile and web had some good qualities but were missing some features or had usability gaps.
When I pulled up the project I felt like the state of what was available hadn’t changed and I really liked where I was going with the app.
I felt like it was about 90% complete before I could put it on the App Store, and Joanne and I thought it would be a fun project to work on. We spent a few days visioning out what would make it the best experience and how long it would all take to create and began working.
Where is it Now
The app has been in the App Store for over a week and we have an update coming out soon. We've gotten a lot of great feedback on how to improve it and have a lot of great vision on how to improve it ourselves too.
Some of the upcoming stuff with it are plans for an Android version as soon as we can, continued AI improvements, research to have more accurate booster generation, usability improvements and a lot of other features I am personally excited for but feel like it is too early to share.
I have a huge passion for helping other passionate Magic players who have families, school, work, or other time constraints get better at Magic. The times I get to go to actual tournaments, like GP San Jose 2015, now are such an awesome experience because I feel like even though I don't get the practice I want with real playing, I get more than I would otherwise.
The app doesn't replace drafting on MTGO or drafting paper cards. However, it is another tool in helping grow as a player. The same as watching videos, reading articles, brewing decks and talking with other players.
I use the app myself and see improvements that can be made in it and am always working towards the passion of getting better at Magic.
Trent Ellingsen (Software Engineer)
5 Color Combo Team