Tuesday, May 1, 2018

MtG Deckbuilding

So, as is well established by this point, I am an avid fan of the Magic: the Gathering (mtg) card game. Avid fan and avid player who now has many decks built in all colors and color combinations save for anything Black-related, Colorless, and Red-Blue; Fantasy morality forbids me from necromancy (i.e. Black) and I have not gotten around to building the others. So say around eight decks in total.

As the game's website confirms, "each color has its own strengths, weaknesses, and personality" and "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!" 

Any mtg player worth their planeswalker spark knows this to be an incontestable truth, yet I have found a special Deckbuilding approach (for the 60-card standard format) that works for all colors and color-combinations – one which has won me far more games than lost. Hence I thought it would be nice to share it:
  1. A minimum of 23 lands (24 if a two-color deck, with 12 of each color).
  2. No more than three cards with a mana-cost of 5 or above.
  3. Exactly seven cards with mana-cost of 4.
  4. The remaining cards are all of 3 mana-cost or lower.
  5. Several creatures with Flying and/or cards capably of stopping flyers.
  6. Make sure every card has a special ability (i.e. no throwaways).
  7. Unless one is building a Swarm Deck, all creatures must have a toughness of at least 2 (unless, like the Dauntless River Marshal, it has a passive ability that strengthens it). This is so that, when fighting a Swarm Deck, your opponent's 1/1 token-creatures cannot kill your creatures in a single hit.
  8. (It is not strictly necessary, but, if possibly, a couple cards capable of destroying Enchantments & Artifacts can be helpful.) 
My overall rule? A clear majority of low mana-coast cards as, if nothing else, they will defend you well and for long enough until you can get your big ones out. Frankly, though, I prefer to give my rank-and-file warriors a wing up and let them carry me to victory, but that is another story. The key to these guidelines is that, again, they allow for all the diverse strategies that make mtg so much fun. My Red (dragon) swarm, Blue mill, Green lifegain, and all my other decks were built using these. As was my first and main White deck, which is arguably built around the cards at the corners. 

Anyway, just thought I ought to share this and end by saying that this Deckbuilding style is based off something I learned from John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series: In battle it is better to do a few simple things really well than count on the success of a long and/or complex strategy. The enemy will not wait for you.
(The four cards at the corners are those that I consider to be my signature cards, though some might argue that the Preserver should be replaced by a certain Lunarch Marshal. More to the point, thought, the one that has annoyed by friends most often is, at face value, the weakest of the lot: Dauntless River Marshal.)

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