Deck building philosophies!!! What's yours???

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When building a magic: the gathering deck, what key elements do you normally look for? What color's do you usually sway to, what strategies, themes, ideals, ect. In short... if you were to build a deck right now, how would you do it?

To me, deck building is THE essential aspect of the game. Without a good deck build, nothing else matters in the game. The way I build a deck is like so...



  • Follow a theme: Build a deck that follows a particular theme (merfolk, cinders, wolves, wizards, zombies, ect). I like both the synergy as well as the fact that the deck aesthetically works together. Win or lose, I need to play with style 

  • The rule of nine: I need consistancy in my deck at all times. I rarely, if ever run 2-of or 1-of unless it's vital. Though the RoN is a basic deck building strategy, I'm the type of guy who goes back to basics.

  • Ratio: For creature:spells:land ratio I go 20:18:22 for conventional decks because 20 creatures is enough, 18 is plenty (I'll sometimse go for 16) and anything less or more than 22 lands to me is either under or overly unnecessary.

  • Unique wins: I need to win in non-conventional ways. Otherwise the deck is boring. For example I have a deck that abuses islandwalk, one using wither and another for a massive wolf pack. I always ask myself "How can I overwhelm the opponent"

  • Mana Curve: I usually go for as low of mana cost as possible (I hate running cards higher than and if they are I normally only put in 1-of or at the MOST 2-of them). I like to use my resources as quickly as possible.


So style, consistency, balance, uniqueness and resourceful is my deck philosophy.
 

So what elements do YOU look for when building a deck?? Also if you wanna mention your favorite deck to use that'd be cool too :D
For me, fun decks > good decks.
I also like to have a theme, I've just started playing and at the moment I'm running a white/green deck with the emphasis on Angels and a few powerful wurms mixed in too. However I'm looking to move towards a more Angel focussed deck, any advice would be appreciated Do bear in mind that I currently don't have any powerhouses such as Platinum Angel however I do have an Archangel and Seraph Sanctuary, so I have cards that can compliment my Angels
For me I would prefer to have everyone play decks that sacrifices their own fun to give their opponents more fun rater then everyone play decks that are fun to them and only them.

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I use cards that I would proudly use/lead into battle.
I use cards that I would proudly use/lead into battle.

By that do you mean if the cards were "real" in a way? Like leading an army of creatures into an actual battle?

Cuz that would be epic  
For me, it's synergy. The synergies everyone knows, but also the more modular ones.
139359831 wrote:
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I use cards that I would proudly use/lead into battle.

By that do you mean if the cards were "real" in a way? Like leading an army of creatures into an actual battle?

Cuz that would be epic  


I mean, magic is essentially an RPG where you are a Planeswalker in a magic battle against another walker, and your spells define what kind of magic you specialize in. So I play to that.
Art has to be pretty. Or flavor text has to be rad.
I try to not use the same cards (aside from basic lands) in similar decks.  For example, I have between 5 and 9 monored decks (so many, I've lost exact count).  At this point, only two use Lightning Bolts, the others run other options.  With so many different cards in print, I see it as wasteful (I have lots of cards) to only reach for the same card again and again and again, regardless of how efficient or useful that card is.

My other quirks include a flat refusal to run foil cards outside of drafts and a tendency (mild obsession?) to run different art for each basic land in a deck. 

Oddly enough, I am trying to wean myself of the 'rule of 9' mindset.  Playsets are great, but they are also predictable and boring.  A mix of playsets, doubles, and a few singletons in each deck seems to be the fix for me.

Most of my decks are geared for multiplayer games and are Standard-legal by accident, rather than design.

Cheers!
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Dislike netdecking without serious conversions or some sort of spin. I think I'm a pretty decent brewer and my strict stance has helped I think. Plus decks feel like more of my own. Have to be able to enjoy playing it, but cool with any archetype. I'm a sucker for aggro or control decks that have an 'oops I win' combo tucked within though.  
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I pick a theme (Vampires, Humans and Angels, Golargi) and try to do the best I can with what I've got. Then I try to trade for the cards that I need to make it good.
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At least for casual decks, always have a way to deal with artifacts and enchantments (even if it has to be Black's Insurance Policy), anything that does something useful and is repeatable is good in long or 3+ player games.

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Attacking the darkness since 1987, turning creatures sideways since 1994.

I made a Casual Deck once that won a 3 Player Games on turn 3.

Legalties: Freeform, Casual

Mana:

4Mox Opal
4Sol Ring
4Seat of the Synod
8Island

Artifilife:

4Master of Etherium
4Etherium Sculptor
4Frogmite
4Myr Enforcer
4Etched Champion

Organilife:

4Argent Sphinx
4Qumulox
4Broodstar
4Vedalken Certarch
 
Loads:

4Thoughtcast
 
I sometimes get very mad when players pile me for playing my deck but even then I sometimes win for some odd reason.

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My other quirks include a flat refusal to run foil cards outside of drafts and a tendency (mild obsession?) to run different art for each basic land in a deck. 

Oddly enough, I am trying to wean myself of the 'rule of 9' mindset.  Playsets are great, but they are also predictable and boring.  A mix of playsets, doubles, and a few singletons in each deck seems to be the fix for me.

I have a bad habit with lands where they all have to look alike hahaha I can't stand different pictures for the same cards (I once had two Lord of Atlantis one was the colorful one and the other was the greenish one... I got mad so I got rid of the first one for a full play set of the latter).

I think I have OCD with that... if you looked at my blue deck you'd know what I mean.
I made a Casual Deck once that won a 3 Player Games on turn 3.

What the  did you use? 
I made a Casual Deck once that won a 3 Player Games on turn 3.

Legalties: Freeform, Casual

Mana:

4Mox Opal
4Sol Ring
4Seat of the Synod
8Island

Artifilife:

4Master of Etherium
4Etherium Sculptor
4Frogmite
4Myr Enforcer
4Etched Champion

Organilife:

4Argent Sphinx
4Qumulox
4Broodstar
4Vedalken Certarch
 
Loads:

4Thoughtcast
 
I sometimes get very mad when players pile me for playing my deck but even then I sometimes win for some odd reason.



I made a Casual Deck once that won a 3 Player Games on turn 3.

What the  did you use? 



This.

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2. Hundred Acres (Dead Town)

3. Open

4. Open

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Oddly enough I get piled as the only 1 who plays casualy sometimes.

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2. Hundred Acres (Dead Town)

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This.

veeeeeeeery nice :D
I made a Casual Deck once that won a 3 Player Games on turn 3.


What am I missing? How did that win turn 3?

139359831 wrote:
That is a lovely painting of Richard Garfield. It really brings out his feminine side.
My first goal in deckbuilding is designing something I find interesting or fun to play.  Once Ive figured out what I want to play, then I have to make sure it meets a certain level of efficiency so that its competitive with the people I generally play against.

Lastly, I try to always have some chance of winning, even against a horrible match up.  Even if the backup plan is incredibly unlikely, it has to at least be possible.  I hate finding myself in a situation where it is literally impossible for me to win, I consider it a design failure on my part.

Current decks
Comments or suggestions are always welcome

Modern
nothing at the moment

I know it can win on turn 4 (since I have a similar deck, that run 4X both etherium, seat and etched)... althrough it's legacy legal, I run much stronger cards for the deck, such as 4Xdarksteel citadel, 4X ornithopter and ESPECIALLY 4X cranial plating, I've swung for 20 on turn 4, but that was an insanely lucky draw (10 artifacts on the battlefield, including 1 master etherium and 1 cranial plating0
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Yeah, but he's claiming a win in a multiplayer game. I agree that Affinity is capable of some crazy stuff, but that deck doesn't look like it can deal 40 damage by turn 3. It does need some Plating, and the [darksteel citadel]Citadel[/c] and it probably wouldn't neuter the deck to replace the last 4 islands with Great Furnaces, perhaps throw in Feedback Bolt as an alternate win-con, though that could just be idle blathering on my part. I don't play affinity.

139359831 wrote:
That is a lovely painting of Richard Garfield. It really brings out his feminine side.
When I build a deck to keep (as opposed to a troll deck I throw together for one FNM, then dismantle) I have three criteria:
1)  The deck must be enjoyable to play with. Pretty obvious rule.
2) The deck must be unique. I have nothing against netdecks, but I love the feeling of playing a deck I tweaked and built myself.
3) The deck must be able to win. If there's one thing I hate more than losing because of play mistakes, it's losing because my deck never had a chance.

...

MEGA BONUS) The deck contains Ball Lightning.

Embrace imagination.

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I only just got back into MtG (again) but I have some new deckbuilding philisophies this time around.



  • Rule of 9 is now my thing. I cringe when I see 2-ofs and 1-ofs in tournament decklists, I accuse it of being lazy. (such as when a deck has 2 Victim of Night and 2 Geth's Verdict in the maindeck, but neither in the sideboard. It's like the person can't decide which is better and is afraid of having the wrong one.) Redundancy is still ok (such as having 4 Geth's Verdict and 1-2 Diabolic Edict) as are tutor targets.

  • Redundancy is key.

  • I don't like lack of win conditions. If you play a big creature it *will* get removed. So you need something resilient and you need it in high quantity.

  • I like resilience and engines for when the game goes long. When the game stalls but only one player has a secret weapon to cruise to victory, that is something I admire. That player was prepared and it's his deck that's in control. I also think it is important for aggro decks to be able to have a lategame strategy. (unless the aggro deck is just that good that it doesn't need it)

  • I like high land counts! Missing land drops is no heaven. 24 is merely the bare minimum. 28 isn't even that much, since if the game goes 7-8 turns you'd only be drawing 1 extra land on average compared if you ran 24. Come to think of it, maybe instead of starting at 24 and adding 4 to make 28, I should start at 30 and subtract 4 to make 26. (i.e. half of the deck is land, minus on average 1 draw per game) I also feel like I finally understand why Limited decks run 18 land even though most constructed decks don't run 27 land. (which is what 18 equates to) This actually helps me enjoy Limited more. :p

  • If you cannot have a card in your deck in sufficient quantity, you might as well not run it at all! This theory actually developed when I played Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 (which has 1-ofs of many cards with no way to get more) but I found that it sometimes applies to MTGO as well. Singleton formats are a good example of this. For instance I can run Gauntlet of Power in a mono-colored deck... but it's only 1 copy of the card.. why even bother? I would have to design my entire mana base assuming I won't draw the card, because in fact, most of the time I won't draw it. So why bother running it at all? By not running it I can run something else and maximize deck consistency. It can even apply to 4-ofs as well. For example if my deck hinges on drawing a certain card, but no way to run more than 4 of that card, then it's possible the deck is not very good.

  • Making a deck designed to be fun (and even fair) is a new area I've been exploring even more than I ever got to before, due to Duels 2013 (where winning doesn't seem to matter much, at least on iPad) and from getting into casual formats on MTGO. Another perhaps darker aspect of this is making decks where it doesn't seem like you're winning until the last minute, and making decks so you can pretend you are tied with your opponent in terms of board position. (such as hoarding removal in your hand but not playing it -- your opponent doesn't know you have it! You can let him keep creatures on the board and use that as an excuse not attack. Etc etc.) The object is to self-adjust your power level in casual games, whereas in Duels 2013 the object was to reduce the chances of the opponent quitting until it was too late.

  • Netdecking is a good way to learn a format. (but the cost of cards is an issue)

  • I had this idea even the last time I played MtG.. so it's not new.. but if you can run more than 4 of a card (e.g. the cardpool as both Lantern Kami and Suntail Hawk) then why would you run exactly 4? You have to run either 3 or 5 otherwise you're just being lazy. Ok I admit this is odd, but the theory is that the 4-of limit means we never really have to think about how many of each card we will run. If you had a choice to run any number, but chose 4 anyway... well did you really choose? Maybe you did choose and just happened to end up at 4. But most likely you did not.

For me, the most important thing in my deck is synergy. The more little combos and interactions I have, the better my deck works, I find.
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56778328 wrote:
Why did you post it here? "Hey, all you guys who play this game! I'm not gonna play it!" "Umm... Ok, dude."
I only just got back into MtG (again) but I have some new deckbuilding philisophies this time around.



  • Rule of 9 is now my thing. I cringe when I see 2-ofs and 1-ofs in tournament decklists, I accuse it of being lazy. (such as when a deck has 2 Victim of Night and 2 Geth's Verdict in the maindeck, but neither in the sideboard. It's like the person can't decide which is better and is afraid of having the wrong one.) Redundancy is still ok (such as having 4 Geth's Verdict and 1-2 Diabolic Edict) as are tutor targets.




You are really missing some basic concepts here.  The rule of 9 is seriously subpar deck design in the majority of situations.  Its only sometimes taught to beginners because it is strictly better than the "include 1 or 2 of 30 different cards with cool names!" approach common to kids starting out.

Also, running different cards with similiar purposes is a very valid strategy.  For one, it allows you to handle different situations, secondly, Surgical Extraction, Extirpate, and their ilk exist.




  • I like high land counts! Missing land drops is no heaven. 24 is merely the bare minimum. 28 isn't even that much, since if the game goes 7-8 turns you'd only be drawing 1 extra land on average compared if you ran 24. Come to think of it, maybe instead of starting at 24 and adding 4 to make 28, I should start at 30 and subtract 4 to make 26. (i.e. half of the deck is land, minus on average 1 draw per game) I also feel like I finally understand why Limited decks run 18 land even though most constructed decks don't run 27 land. (which is what 18 equates to) This actually helps me enjoy Limited more. :p




This is honestly bad practice.  You want to make sure you have enough land certainly, but top decking a land when you need another card to play is just as bad as not having enough mana to cast that card if you had it.  Limited decks run an inflated land count because that format is completely different, it revolves around huge overcosted bombs which are far too inefficient to be played in constructed decks.




  • If you cannot have a card in your deck in sufficient quantity, you might as well not run it at all! This theory actually developed when I played Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 (which has 1-ofs of many cards with no way to get more) but I found that it sometimes applies to MTGO as well. Singleton formats are a good example of this. For instance I can run Gauntlet of Power in a mono-colored deck... but it's only 1 copy of the card.. why even bother? I would have to design my entire mana base assuming I won't draw the card, because in fact, most of the time I won't draw it. So why bother running it at all? By not running it I can run something else and maximize deck consistency. It can even apply to 4-ofs as well. For example if my deck hinges on drawing a certain card, but no way to run more than 4 of that card, then it's possible the deck is not very good.




In any format where tutors exist (all of them currently), you should not be running 4 of something you intend to tutor for.




  • I had this idea even the last time I played MtG.. so it's not new.. but if you can run more than 4 of a card (e.g. the cardpool as both Lantern Kami and Suntail Hawk) then why would you run exactly 4? You have to run either 3 or 5 otherwise you're just being lazy. Ok I admit this is odd, but the theory is that the 4-of limit means we never really have to think about how many of each card we will run. If you had a choice to run any number, but chose 4 anyway... well did you really choose? Maybe you did choose and just happened to end up at 4. But most likely you did not.




There is nothing special about the number 4.  The purpose of running 4 of a card is to differentiate it statistically from the cards you are running 3 of, which are similiarlly more likely to be drawn than one you are running 2 or 1 of.  You can say a deck the runs 4 of everything is consistent.  What is actually means is that each card is just as likely to be drawn as every other card.

Its certainly more consistent than a singleton deck, but it gives you no more control.

Current decks
Comments or suggestions are always welcome

Modern
nothing at the moment

1)  Don't netdeck, or otherwise intentionally do what everyone else is doing to win.  I build my decks with very little insight into known combos and tournament archetypes, but if I happen to loosely recreate something that's out there in the process I can honestly consider it my own.

2)  The deck should be fun, and somehow reflect my personality.  This means that I often build decks that are technically inefficient and fit only for casual play—but again, they're my own and it is quite satisfying to win with any of them.

3)  Tune regularly.  Tune constantly.  Replace cards, then switch them back in.  Nothing is ever necessarily 100% finished, and I shouldn't expect to get there overnight even if it is.

4)  Think outside of the box: creativity counts.  I have a standard-legal UG land destruction deck because I really, really wanted to find a way to make LD viable again and this was, in my opinion, a reasonable way to pull it off.  Will it ever place in a tournament?  No, almost certainly not.  But it sure as hell is fun to off opponents' lands for 1U apiece during their end-of-turn step, once it all comes together.

Beyond that, I have no hard-and-fast rules for myself. 
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For me, the most important thing in my deck is synergy. The more little combos and interactions I have, the better my deck works, I find.

I gotta agree with you 100% synergy is my best friend
I am a huge fan of repeatable ETB triggers, and two of my decks are built around this. If a deck I run doesn't have any means to reuse ETB effects, then it'd damn better do something else that's really cool. (like the Lorwyn elementals deck I'm almost done putting together - Nova Chaser and Flamekin Harbinger most certainly are BFF).

L1 Judge

My favorite decks are the one's that can win and are still fun to play. Although fun decks that aren't that good are some of my favorites as well.
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Philosophies? Hmm...

- Always run at least two colours to prevent being shut down by protection and the like.

- Always identify what my weakness is and try to do something to alleviate it.

-Make sure to have some form of control, to keep the enemy down while I work.

-Always have something big to throw at him lategame, usually a dragon.

- dont be a one trick pony, and assume your plan is going to go wrong, so have alternatives (my recent BGR beatdown-control deck did this wonderfully, being able to recycle cards that were destroyed over and over and hitting the enemy every time it happened. Drove people crazy XD)

"Also, running different cards with similiar purposes is a very valid strategy.  For one, it allows you to handle different situations, secondly, Surgical Extraction , Extirpate , and their ilk exist."

It doesn't mean you will be able to handle the situation, it just means you could, but there is an equal chance of the opposite happening.
If you run 2 Doom Blade and 2 Go for the Throat, whether you draw the one you need comes down to luck. All it accomplishes to run 2 of each so when your opponent casts a black creature or an artifact creature, you at least can hope you draw the removal spell you need (even if you don't) as opposed to knowing you will lose. (even if you will end up losing)

But then again if I am in a game and facing down an black creature and have 3 Doom Blade in hand, yea then I might wish I ran 2 Doom Blade, 2 Go for Throat, instead of 4 Doom Blade. So come to think of it, there is at least some logic behind going 2 and 2.