Building Your First Magic: The Gathering Deck In 6 Simple Steps
Magic: The Gathering has been around for years, chances are you know someone who either plays Magic or has played the it. One of the most compelling aspects of the game is the sheer number of interesting cards and combos available, and ways in which they can be played together to create a personalised expression. While having so many options is what makes the game so fascinating and varied, it can be daunting and overwhelming to new and returning players on where to begin.
Today I would like to help by offering a short easy-to-follow guide to building your first few Magic: The Gathering decks in 6 simple steps. Here are the basic starting points to building a deck that’s worthy of your sleeves and ready to put a beatdown on your opponent!
1. What kind of deck do I make?
Beginners are normally drawn to a certain type of card or creature type (also known as ‘tribe’). Whether it’s Dragons, Angels, Slivers, Werewolves, Zombies, or trusty old Humans, no choice is wrong. The first step on deciding what kind of deck you want to play is in the flavour, the overall theme. Lets start by deciding what you are drawn to and want to be playing the most, because after deciding on the what, comes the how.
So, what type of deck do you want to play with the most right now?
2. What colour should I make it?
This is all dependent on what type of deck you want to a play. A defensive Zombie spell deck could be Swamp and Island, while a Vampire attack spell deck could be Swamp and Mountain. For beginners, I personally wouldn’t play more than two colours in a deck as it can make it harder on you to manage your lands, and you may get stuck with unplayable cards in your hand.
By now you’ve decided on a deck creature theme and its colours, so lets move on…
3. Does any of my card type work?
So you’ve made a decision and you want to play a Vampire deck? Well, that’s awesome! Then this brings us to the next decision that you’re going to want to make; What type of Vampire strategy would you like to use? The best way to tackle this is to take a look at the abilities and synergies on your creatures. In Shadows over Innistrad for example, the big selling point for Vampires is their Madness cost.
Madness lets you play a card for its Madness cost when you need to Discard a card instead of putting it into the Graveyard. You can find our beginners guide to Madness here.
If this example was the deck you were building, you would be looking for Vampire cards where their abilities have either Madness, or an effect that needs a Discard to cast, so you can use Madness. A perfect example would be the flip card Heir of Falkenrath combined with the creature card Incorrigible Youths. To flip the Heir and turn your regular Vampire into a tougher flyer, you need to Discard a card. So if you Discard Incorrigible Youths but tap mana for its mana cost, you play the card instead of it going into your Graveyard.
After finding a working synergy of creature cards, you need to manage your spells.
4. What kind of spells should I play?
This is where things can get a little trickier. A solid starting deck can turn into a last place finisher with the incorrect spells, and vice versa. There are no quick answers or shortcuts here, each deck is different depending on what you want to do and you’ll need to figure this out on your own via play testing your creation. Your Vampires could be getting onto the board insanely quick and buffing them up with creature enhancements (pump spells, auras, etc) could be what leads you to more wins. If you’re more cautious you could be using more protective spells and counter spells. Personally I like to go about 50/50 in a brand new deck to playtest. After a couple plays with it, you’ll begin to know what you’ll want to use more or less of, what direction you want to take your deck in, and from there you just keep swapping spells until you are happy and get a consistent result. The same can be said for creatures.
5. Should I bring in more creatures or spells?
A good rule of thumb for a regular beginning deck is 24 lands, 20 creatures, and 16 spells. This all depends on your choice of deck still though. Some decks have only one or the other! Through playtesting you’ll get to know yourself which you should have more of. Once you begin getting comfortable with your tweaks after having a few games, you can start to worry about other details such as sideboarding.
6. How should I build a sideboard?
Building a sideboard is fundamental when designing any Magic: The Gathering decks. It should be treated as an extension of your main deck and not as an afterthought, so always keep this in mind when designing and tweaking your decks.
The function of a sideboard is to help fine tune your existing decks strategy and make it perform better against certain types of decks or cards that your opponent is using. You can take out cards that you feel are weak in that matchup and replace them with cards from your sideboard that you feel will perform better in that particular matchup, for example, if your opponent has very few or no creatures in their deck then you should reduce the amount of removal spells in your deck e.g. Doom Blades and replacing them with disruption spells e.g. Duresses and/or direct damage e.g. Lightning Bolts instead.
Where do I begin with my new-found deckbuilding knowledge?
The best place to start is right where you are! Manaleak.com has many full card albums for you to sift through. You can see full stats and abilities to start coming up with your own combos to climb your way to a Grand Prix Top 8. Did I mention that once you decide on a deck and have your solid deck list done that you can order the entire deck straight from here as well?
So what are you waiting for!? Get those synergies going, order that deck up, practice your games, and catch me on the battlefield!
Community Question: What is the single best advice you would offer to complete beginners in Magic: The Gathering?
Thanks for reading,