Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
9 Posts

Magic: The Gathering» Forums » Strategy

Subject: What are good deck building strategies? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jacob Fulwiler
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
So I just bought a bunch of cards in the Alara block and am eager to start building some Standard constructed decks. It's been many years since I played before so I'm trying to get some strategies on deck building other than looking at a card and thinking, "This card is cook, I'll put it in my deck!" I'm not asking for anyone to give me their deck designs or anything like that, but rather, how does one go about determining what cards go best together and a basic foundational strategy.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Douglas Buel
United States
Hollywood
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When you go to play other people, and you want to build your own decks to do that, one important thing is card legality. Are you going to be playing with people who like to use cards from every set? Or are you going to be playing with people who only like to use cards from the most recent sets?

You'll want to know the answer to this before you go spending a lot of money.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jacob Fulwiler
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll be doing mainly Standard format which is the current block, the last block and the current core set. With a new core set coming out in July, I'm not even going to bother with 10th Edition and since the new block comes out in September, I'm not going to go with the previous block. So, all my cards will be in the current, Alara Block: Shards of Alara, Conflux, and Alara Reborn.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Vantries
United States
Woodbury
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
If you're sticking with just Alara block, you're going to want to stick with a deck based on one of the shards.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nick Short
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A few tips for typical deck construction:

d10-1Play exactly 60 cards in your deck. This will improve consistency and help ensure that when you really need to draw the right card, you have the best possible odds of hitting it.

d10-224 of your 60 cards should be lands. While it is possible to build a deck with more or less lands, 24 is the gold standard. It is just the right amount of lands to ensure you get your colors reliably, and draw enough mana to play your spells before it is too late, while not overwhelming you with too many lands and not enough spells.

d10-3Don't play too many colors. In a typical set, I would suggest sticking to two colors, but Alara is a little off your typical environment. Wih the Shardlands, Panoramas, Obelisks, and other mana-fixing available, three colors is easily achievable. Even on a budget.

d10-4Plan out your mana curve. You need to have a good assortment of cards for both early and late game plays. What kind of deck you play will vary what this means. A control deck may consider a two-cost mana accellerant or a three-cost draw spell to be "early game," while a balls-to-the-wall aggro deck may top out at four or five mana with several one-cost creatures for early plays.

d10-5Have a cohesive game plan. Consistency pays off in Magic. Each card in your deck should lead down the same path to victory, though not always in the same way. For example, an aggro deck plans to win by putting constant offensive pressure on the opponent and wearing him down before he can stabilize. This means having lots of efficient creatures. It may also include removal/pump spells to get potential blockers out of the way, or discard to disrupt slower decks. However, defensive spells (such as walls or Story Circle) are likely just going to disrupt your own tempo, distracting from your own deck's focus.

d10-6Be aware of the metagame. In Magic, the metagame is the general variety of decks you can expect to be competing with on a regular basis. For tournament play, there are typically several archetypes that are popular. If your deck can be built in a way that preys on the weaknesses of other decks in your metagame, it will win more consistently. This does NOT just apply to tournament Magic, even casual players have metagames. If one player in your group frequently plays an enchantment themed deck, you will probably want to be sure to include enchantment removal to properly deal with his deck. Basically, you don't want to keep losing to the same deck due to lack of preparation, so adding cards to deal with specific problems you see on a regular basis will keep some frustration out of the equation.


I'm sorry if these all seem very general, but I really wasn't sure just how familiar you are with Magic deckbuilding. If you are looking for more specific advice, I'd be glad to help, just give me a little more detail to work with. Do you know what style of deck you are planning to build (control, aggro, midrange, combo, etc), and/or what colors/themes you plan on utilizing? There is no "standard script" for deckbuilding, but with an idea of where you were leaning, I could give much more useful advice.
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremy Beck
United States
St Cloud
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Very good notes. Even for vets those are still cardinal rules.
The only thing I would add is to do 2-3 dead draws with your rough draft deck. Do a couple shuffles and lift the first ten cards. If your strategy for your deck doesn't show up in the first ten cards you should look at a retailering to address the problem.
i.e. smash and dash goblin deck would have a lot of damage in the first three turns. If you don't have at least 5-10 points of combined playable damage, do some retooling. Note: combined playable damage is considered playing out x number of turns in your head or out loud and calculating the total of damage you can inflict with little or no blocking available to the opponent.
first two turns could be a raging goblin, and a goblin grenade for a total of 5-6 depending on the starting turn order.

Hope that helps you on your way. Let me know if you have any questions.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Nerman
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I would add a few things:

1) If your deck has a theme, such as a shard theme or a creature type (tribal) or creature enchantments, make sure that as many of your cards as possible fit that theme

2) You probably want ways to deal with problem creatures, artifacts and enchantments, if they are available in your colours (although artifacts can provide decent creature removal sometimes)

3) When Nick mentioned the four deck types: control, aggro, midrange, and combo, he was talking about:

Control: Plays defensively and kills the opponent later in the game using evasion and card advantage. Because it draws out the game, it can play with some more expensive spells

Aggro: Tries to kill the opponent before they can do anything to stop it. Plays with very cheap spells

Midrange: In between control and aggro with creatures big enough to outmatch aggro's, but fast enough to dispatch control before too late

Combo: assembles cards that when combined create a repeatable combo that will win the game quickly, if not immediately. Likely requires counterspells or shroud to protect the combo parts.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Nerman
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
And, regarding 24 lands, it's a good start, but later think about how changing the mana ratio will affect your draws. A deck with lower mana cost cards wants less land (and other mana sources), and if a deck has many colours (more than two), you might need extra mana sources to ensure you have the right colours, unless you buy expensive multilands.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Mana fixing isn't expensive. The Alara block has all the mana fixers anyone will ever need, at common and uncommon, therefore dirt cheap to acquire. Zendikar has a thousand ways to draw extra lands, plus a few from M2010.

What is expensive in multi-lands and in mana accelerants are the fastest possible cards in Standard. Not fixing. Getting your colors is cheap. Getting all your colors without any lost tempo is not.

The best "fetch lands" go get the basic land you want without paying any mana for it, and let the land you just got come into play untapped, ready to be used that turn. The utility "trilands" in Alara and Zendikar, (3 color in Alara, 2 color in Zendikar), come into play tapped. You use them the following turn, and can tap them for any of their types of mana. The 2 color ones give you 1 point of life as well (while the fetch-lands cost 1 life).

The very top decks use the fastest land strategies available. But this is not remotely necessary to be competitive at your local Friday Night Magic events. Just get the "uncommon" dual lands from Zendikar, or tri-lands from Alara block.

There are cheap accelerators in green in the form of mana-producing creatures, a few elsewhere in the form of creatures that reduce mana costs of certain types (e.g. the artifact specialist Etherium Sculptor), and lots of other artifacts that can be "hard cast" to accelerate your mana beyond the 1 per turn land plays give.

The "borderposts" in Alara block are another fixing resource - they are artifacts that cost 3 including 1 each of 2 colors, make mana in eitherof those 2 colors, and can be played tapped for free as an alterate cost by returning a basic land to your hand (effectively, as a land drop). Then in M2010 there are "terramorphic expanse" cards, the poor-man's fetch-land, that will go get anything immediately without mana cost. The land just comes in tapped, but these are readily affordable "wild cards" in your mana draws.

There are also the "panoramas" from Alara block, which fetch any of 3 basic land types, tapped, but cost 1 mana and tap to do it. They produce colorless mana before you do this, though, so they are fast if you already have your color. You can fetch at the right times, end of your opponent's turn, when you have mana free. There is also a special land in Alara that produces mana of any color but only for casting creatures, and another for any color for any role, that costs a mana and comes into play tapped.

Then there are the "obelisks" in Alara block, artifacts which cost 3 colorless to cast and produce 1 of any of 3 colors, the turn they hit the table. These are good accelerators and color-fixers, but don't substitute for that 3rd land in your initial hand. There is also a fetcher artifact than draws 2 basic lands, but takes mana to play, and "cyclix" artifacts that change the color of one mana per turn.

In Zendikar there are "gems" at uncommon that produce 2 mana of any color, but cost 4 to cast initially and return 2 lands to your hand. They don't count as your land-drop, though. These are effectively color-fixers and also ways to draw 2 mana sources in 1 card slot in your initial hand - at, again, some price in speed and mana spent (a net "2" on the turn it hits the board).

There are also creatures and sorceries in M2010 and Zendikar that fetch more lands for you. Examples are Borderland Ranger, Rampant Growth, and Harrow.

A deck needs a mana strategy if it goes for lots of colors. A mono color deck, on the other hand, has to worry about dedicated "hate" cards with protection from X, where X is all you can play. But every kind of mana strategy is workable at the uncommon level and without significant cost. People paying up for fetchlands are buying 1 mana of speed when they hit the table, not fixing or access to multiple colors. Everyone has that, cheaply.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.