Graceful Stats - Magic: the Gathering Deck Building - Design is Hard

Not sure if this should be Discussion or Show Bootstrapped. Put it here because.

Graceful Stats is a site for designing Magic: the Gathering decks.

It has three major competitors in the digital space: Deckbox (what I used before making my own), and The featureset on all of those are almost identical. They all are advertising-based and all are poor-to-mediocre when it comes to design. I do not believe (but cannot confirm) that any of them provide enough income to their creators to be livable.

Graceful Stats is aiming to be better – it should have more advanced features (which are HARD and being worked on, not there yet) and should actually be designed well. It also currently has zero ads on it, and I aim to keep it that way. Currently it costs next to nothing to run. By the time it costs noticeable amounts of money, I hope to have an alternate income stream going. Just enough to pay for itself. I see this as a reputation maker – future products in M:tG space will benefit from being from “that guy that runs Graceful Stats.”

The current site is at It is full functional and has like three active users total. It is essentially unusable on mobile and there are some technical issues with it that make adding features difficult.

As part of that “alternate income stream” idea, I have turned a lot of the backend of version one into an API. The API is “done” and I’m rewriting the front-end of the site to use that API. I put done in quotes because as I write the front-end I’m finding issues with the API and fixing them. The new site can be found at It is not feature complete, but it’s where all the fun new features go.

The design issues that I’m currently fighting with are as follows:

  • How to change the number of cards in a deck.

Originally, if you clicked on the number of copies of a card currently in the deck, it would turn into a text input box where you could type the new number. That’s how Deckbox did it when I last used them, and it has a lot of advantages once you know that’s how it works – but I found it wasn’t that discoverable. People sent in bug reports that it wasn’t possible to edit the number of copies! Currently, the live site has a + and - that show up when you hover. That has been more discoverable for desktop users, but doesn’t work for mobile at all. Showing them at all times is ugly.

The beta site doesn’t let you change number of copies yet because I haven’t figured out how I want it to work. Ugh.

  • How to make things work on mobile

The screens besides the deck building screen are relatively easy. Unfortunately the deck building screen is almost the only screen that matters.

  • Card searching

Card searching is something that changes almost daily. It’s also the only thing that the currently-live site uses from the beta site. It definitely still could be better, but it’s pretty nice right now. I just think I’m going to be agonizing over it until the end of the site/me. It can’t be perfect.

  • Colors

My designs tend to have too little color. This is no exception. I have a hard time using color without it looking like Playskool stuff.

  • Navigation / Menus

The current site has a top menu always and a side menu in some places (mostly the deck builder). In the beta I’ve so far managed to make the top menu not strictly necessary. I’m still fighting with myself over how to do the actual menu. Eventually the deck building menu will be too big to fit at the top. The menus are doubly problematic on mobile.

  • Advanced Features

The advanced features I have planned use crazy-complicated math. Multivariate hypergeometric distribution crazy. And my math is mediocre at best. Then after that I have to figure out how to make a UI for this insanity that’s intuitive. So far I haven’t managed to do it and until I do, the site is basically just another deck building website with the same feature set…

I think the hand game is pretty cool.

Anyway, stop thinking features and think value. Why would I go to this site?

I wouldn’t go because your multivariate hypergeometric distribution is great. I go because help me understand my deck better.

And start trying to drive traffic. Coding is the easy part, driving traffic is what will make the project succeed or fail.

1 Like

Hypergeometric Distribution is not something I mention on site, nor do I have plans to do so. It was just an expression of what is currently frustrating me. In fact, the hand game is the build up to the Hypergeometric bits and it’ll probably just be called the hand game for the forseeable future.

This site actually helped me finally get my butt in gear about going after a target user and having notable benefits.The new version of the site finally has a nice, simple feature that my competitors don’t. Until now it’s been mostly catch up. My other post probably did a better job at talking benefits instead of features.

The last few days I have been collecting a list of places I want to promote this and starting to slowly work connections. I’m not going to pull the trigger on that until the beta site is usable by people who aren’t me, but it’s getting close.