HOW TO BUILD A DECK

SPEED AND AGGRESSION

SPEED AND AGGRESSION

One of the most rewarding and fun parts of Magic happens when you’re not even at the table: building your deck.  Since you get to choose which cards go in your deck, you have complete control over the strategy you want to use and the way you like to play.

One popular strategy is ruthless aggression, also known as aggro.  Aggro is all about attacking early and attacking often.  It’s a simple strategy—put the pressure on your opponent early to keep them off balance, and relieve them of their 20 life before they know what’s hit them. 

To play aggro, fill your deck with low-cost creatures, maximizing the chance you can cast one every turn. Add in spells that take out your opponent’s creatures to clear the path for your attacking army.  You’ll often have little opposition in the early part of the game.  Take advantage of that by attacking as much as possible!

CONTROL YOUR OPPONENT

CONTROL YOUR OPPONENT

Another popular deck style is control.  Your strategy with a control deck is to survive, disrupting your opponent’s strategy, and taking over in the late game.  The idea is to use spells that remove opposing creatures, or keep them from hitting the battlefield in the first place.  Knock their battle plan off-balance by making them discard cards from their hand or stalling their army on the table. 

You’ll want to pack your deck with some early game defense, since control decks are often more about the late game.  The rest of the deck should give you ways to handle the various threats your opponent may sling at you. Be sure to include a few heavy hitters to seal the deal once you’re in control of the game.

EFFICIENCY

EFFICIENCY

Midrange decks combine elements of both aggro and control decks. These decks are efficient and agile, able to adopt an offensive or defensive posture at a moment’s notice. A midrange deck’s creatures are typically durable, often requiring the opponent to devote multiple cards to overcoming them. Instead of focusing on a single strategy, midrange decks are equipped to read the battlefield and adjust to any situation. To build a quality midrange deck, you’ll want a variety of weapons and answers, both for the early and late games.

COOL COMBINATIONS

COOL COMBINATIONS

Whatever kind of deck you want to build, it’s always good to look for cards that combine well together.  There are tons of different cards, and many of them have abilities that when combined are much greater than the sum of their parts. 

Let’s take a look at a couple of creature cards and how they interact.  The first is Gnawing Zombie:

Gnawing Zombie has a pretty strong ability. It keeps your life total comfortably high, it eats away at your opponent’s life total, and usually the creatures you sacrifice were about to die anyway.

If you’ve got this in your deck, you definitely want to add expendable creatures. Ones with abilities that trigger when they die are especially good. But even better than those is a creature that you can sacrifice multiple times. Enter Tenacious Dead:

This creature’s ability to repeatedly come back from the dead is a perfect combo with Gnawing Zombie. You can use it to block an opposing attacker, sacrifice it for a quick life swing, and repeat this over and over again for a huge advantage. Magic is truly a game of discovery and synergy.

This is just one example—there are lots of exciting and powerful card combos you’ll discover and build on along the way! 

YOUR UNIQUE CREATION

YOUR UNIQUE CREATION

One of the coolest aspects of Magic is its unlimited freedom.  With so many cards and combinations to explore, a huge part of the fun is discovering your own decks and using them to confound your opponents.  Fewer things are more satisfying than playing a deck that nobody’s ever seen before, especially when you win with it!

Exploring Magic through the various combinations and strategies is your next step to mastering Magic.  Your only limit is your imagination.

EMPOWER YOUR STRATEGY

CHOOSE COLORS WISELY

CHOOSE COLORS WISELY

The first choice you’ll make when you build a deck is which colors you’ll include.  Magic’s cards span five different colors, and each color has its own strengths, weaknesses, and personality.  It’ll be up to you to choose the colors that will put your chosen strategy into action on the table.

While you can play all five colors if you wish, it’s generally better to focus on one or two.  The more colors you have, the less consistent your deck will play, so by focusing down to a couple of colors, you increase your chances of pulling off your deck’s strategy successfully.

Take a look at each of the colors.  Once you have a good idea of what each color is about, focus on your favorite two colors for your first few decks.

WHITE: PROTECTION AND ARMIES

WHITE: PROTECTION AND ARMIES

White is the color of order, protection, and light.  White magic heals and defends, but it can also cleanse the battlefield with a wave of purifying light.  It has access to vast armies of angels, knights, and champions to help you control the battlefield.

When you play white, you’ll be able to summon a vast army and protect it from harm with powerful spells and abilities.  You’ll be able to gain life, nullifying your opponent’s efforts while you send your forces in for the kill.  Your creatures are better able to defend you, so you don’t have to worry as much about your opponent’s creatures attacking you.

White may be the color of defense, but it packs a huge punch!

BLUE: TRICKERY AND MANIPULATION

BLUE: TRICKERY AND MANIPULATION

Blue is the color of deceit, logic, and illusion.  Blue magic evades and tricks, but it can also be the source of unending knowledge.  It can summon huge creatures from the depths of the oceans or a flying army from the clouds.

When you play blue, you’ll be able to manipulate both your own and your opponent’s decks to your advantage.  You’ll be drawing a lot of extra cards.  You’ll be able to cancel out your opponent’s creatures before they ever hit the table, and make sure their spells fizzle.  You’ll rule the skies by summoning all manner of flying creatures, and since they’re much harder for your opponent to block, you’ll be able to glide over their defenders to victory.

Blue is all about messing with your opponent’s plans while fueling your own path to victory.

BLACK: DEATH AND POWER

BLACK: DEATH AND POWER

Black is the color of death, ambition, and darkness.  Black magic can reanimate the dead, cause insanity, and drain the life from the living.  It can summon vampires, zombies, demons, and a host of other foul and dark beings to do its bidding.

When you play black, you’ll be destroying your opponent’s creatures and sometimes bringing them back from the dead to fight on your side.  You’ll be making your opponent discard cards from their hand, wiping out their threats before they can use them against you.  Your army will have a mix of hard-to-kill undead and hard-to-block horrors, as well as any creatures you’ve dug up from your own or your opponent’s graveyard.

Black magic will do anything to gain power, no matter the cost.

RED: FIRE AND EMOTION

RED: FIRE AND EMOTION

Red is the color of freedom, emotion, and impulse.  It uses fire and lightning to obliterate its enemies, and earthquakes to tear the very lands apart.  Red’s army can be fast and reckless, but it also has access to huge dragons that can fly overhead and devour foes.

When you play red, you’ll be dealing out damage to whatever is in your way: enemy creatures, enemy Planeswalkers, even your opponent directly.  You’ll be able to break their artifacts and shred their lands.  You’ll summon a lightning-fast horde of goblins or darken the skies with massive dragons.

Red magic isn’t subtle and it’s not clean.  It’s just raw power.

GREEN: NATURE AND LIFE

GREEN: NATURE AND LIFE

Green is the color of growth, instinct, and nature.  Green magic can make huge creatures out of small ones, flood the battlefield with mana, and hunt down enemy creatures.  Green’s army is filled with ferocious predators, mighty beasts, and other denizens of the forest.

When you play green, you’ll always have access to the mana you’ll need to fuel your plans.  Your spells will buff up your creatures and keep them in the battlefield even when it looks like they’re lost.  Your army will be filled with beefy, hard-to-kill monstrosities that will hit your opponent even when they’re blocked.

Green magic harnesses the forces of nature and throws them at your opponent.

HOW TO BUILD A DECK

PARTS OF YOUR DECK

PARTS OF YOUR DECK

Now that you’ve gotten an idea of the variety of decks you can build, as well as the different colors of Magic, it’s time to jump right in and build a deck!

When thinking about the deck you want to build, it’s important to consider a few things:

What is the deck’s basic strategy?
How will the deck win?
How will the deck deal with your opponent’s threats?
How will the deck play against a faster (“aggro”) deck?

You don’t need detailed answers. These are just things to think about while you’re assembling the cards for your deck.

Building your own deck is by far one of the most satisfying experiences Magic has to offer, so press on, and have fun!

MIX YOUR MANA COSTS

MIX YOUR MANA COSTS

When choosing cards for your new deck, always look at their mana costs.  The more mana a card costs, the more powerful it is—but it also means you won’t be able to use it until later in the game.  This means you’ll want to make sure your deck has a variety of mana costs in it.

An easy way to think of mana cost is in game turns: A card’s mana cost is roughly the number of turns it will be before you can use it.  So a dragon that costs six mana won’t be any use to you until your sixth turn, while the lowly one mana goblin can be used right away. 

This means that you can fill your deck with six-cost cards, but if you do, you’ll have nothing to do for the first five turns of the game.  If your opponent has been casting spells and summoning creatures during that time, you’ll probably be in trouble even if you do manage to summon your huge creature.

Similarly, a deck filled with one-cost cards can be very aggressive, but in the late game your cheap spells won’t compare to your opponent’s heavy hitters. Mixing it up is really the best way to go. 

To make sure you’ve got an effective mix, it helps to lay out the cards you’ve chosen into piles of mana costs: All of your cards that cost one mana in one pile, then the two-cost cards, and so on. 

Once you’ve done that, it should be pretty apparent if you have too many high-cost cards.  As a general rule of thumb, your cards that cost one to four mana should outnumber cards that cost five or more.  While some decks may get away with ignoring this rule, it’s generally a good start. 

If you find your deck is too “top heavy,” take a look at your most expensive cards and decide if they really should be in the deck.  Sometimes, the best call you’ll make will be about what not to include. 

WHAT CARDS CAN I USE?

WHAT CARDS CAN I USE?

One of the most fun parts of playing Magic happens when you finally test your newly-built deck against other Magic players.  To make sure that everyone’s on a level playing field, a standardized set of deck building rules has been developed.  Most players use these rules whether they’re building a deck for fun or for competition. 

The first rule is that your deck must include at least 60 cards.  You can have as many cards as you want in your deck, but you must have at least 60.  From a strategy standpoint, you’ll want to try and keep your deck as close to that 60 card minimum as possible, since that increases your deck’s consistency.

The second rule is that you can never have more than four of any single card in your deck.  This means that if you’ve got a Krosan Tusker in your deck, you can add three more, but once you’ve hit four Krosan Tuskers you can’t add any more.  The exceptions to this rule are the basic lands.  These are Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest.  You can have any number of them in your deck.

Finally, some tournaments will allow any cards from Magic’s 20-year history, while others only allow cards from the last couple of years.  Whatever venue you’re playing in, always check with your opponent before you start a game to make sure they’re OK with the sets your cards come from.  If you’re just starting out, this shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s a good idea to ask. 

That’s it! Now it’s time to take your new creation out into the arena!

HOW TO PLAY

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