Article written by GlitterTail, published by Raindet.
Building a 60 card standard deck, when you’re newer to the game of Magic: The Gathering, can seem like a daunting task. After all, the game rides on the deck being built to be “good” especially if you’re playing competitively. It is a process that involves selecting cards to include in your deck, and arranging them in a way that is balanced and can effectively achieve your goals. In this article, we are going to cover the basics of deck-building and what things there are to consider as you a putting together a deck.
The very first thing you’re going to want to consider when you build a deck is what kind of deck you’re going to build. This includes the colour or colours of mana or an overarching theme or archetype to your deck. See the article Magic: The Gathering and the Five Colours of Mana for more on the colours and what they mean and do.
Secondly, you’ll want to consider the synergy between different cards that you may want to put into your deck. Some in the MTGA community may call this ‘jank’. Jank generates card advantage or cards that help you deal with certain kinds of threats. There may be cards that work together to even generate potential win conditions, too. It is important to always read the cards you are working with and consider what the possibilities are.
You need a decent balance between the types of cards in your deck if you’re going to be competitive. You may be building a mono-coloured deck as your first attempt, so consider the number of lands, creatures and other spells that you have in your deck. Likewise, you’ll want to be able to draw a selection of each depending upon the type of deck you’re playing, so consider the numbers of cards carefully.
Finally, consider the current meta. Do some research into what cards people are using most commonly. You may even be able to pull deck lists from certain sites that will let you test out the most popular decks or decks similar to what you have in mind. Furthermore, consider the decks you expect to face and try to have answers to the popular cards and strategies.
You’ll want to start with a few cards that work within your base idea or concept or colour selection, and then build upon that foundation. Again, consider synergy here. As you become familiar with the meta and the balance of your deck, you can always change cards around.
After you’ve gotten the first set of 60 cards that you feel confident with, it is time to play test! This could be a good time to set your games to casual rather than competitive, as if your deck needs rebalancing (as most decks do) you won’t be losing games and your precious ranking while testing. It is important to analyze each of your games in your head briefly after you win or lose, but especially after you lose. Consider what happened, what went well or wrong, and why.
Finally, ask yourself if it is because of a balance problem in your deck. Do you often draw too much mana? It may be time to cut back on the count of land and replace it with other cards. Do you find you typically don’t draw enough? Likewise, it may be time to cut a different card type and replace with some land.
If you’re looking to go truly competitive and try for Mythic rank, then definitely try a deck tracker. This will help with your building immensely, as they can track your deck stats for you and give you an idea if things are going the way you want them to or not. Are you winning your matches? You need to consider a deck’s win rate when building, too! If your deck wins more than 50% of your matches, you’re in a good spot, but closer to 60% is preferred.
In short, building a good deck requires practice, experiences, testing and often patience. It is also of great importance to be up-to-date on the current meta, strategies, and card evaluations to have a good understanding of the game and the cards. Remember to be sure the information you are getting on the meta is as up-to-date as it can get to be the most optimal in game.