Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Welcome, dear reader, to a thrilling journey through the enchanting world of Magic: The Gathering (MTG). MTG is a trading card game that has captivated the hearts of millions of players worldwide, thanks to its rich narrative, strategic gameplay, and deep lore. But, one question has been a topic of heated debate among players and enthusiasts alike: Is MTG a deck-building game? In this article, we will explore the deck-building elements of MTG, delving into the art of crafting the perfect deck and examining the mechanics that make this game so addictive. So, let’s get ready to embark on an adventure through the realm of MTG, where strategy and creativity collide to create a truly magical experience.

The Fundamentals of Deck Building in MTG

Gathering Card Collections

In the world of Magic: The Gathering (MTG), the key to building a successful deck lies in assembling a collection of cards that work together to achieve a specific goal. The process of gathering card collections involves several important considerations, such as understanding the rarity of cards, acquiring cards through different means, and identifying card synergies and deck themes.

Card rarity is an essential aspect of deck building in MTG. The rarity of a card determines how difficult it is to obtain and, consequently, how powerful it is likely to be. Common cards are the most easily obtained and are typically used in larger numbers to fill out a deck, while rare cards are harder to find and often have more powerful effects. Uncommon cards fall between these two rarity levels and are often used in smaller numbers to provide additional benefits to a deck.

Different ways to acquire cards are available in MTG, such as purchasing them from local game stores or online retailers, trading with other players, or opening booster packs. Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, and players must choose the one that best suits their needs and budget. For example, purchasing cards directly from a retailer is convenient but can be expensive, while trading with other players can be a more cost-effective way to acquire cards but may require more time and effort.

Identifying card synergies and deck themes is also crucial when building a deck in MTG. Card synergies refer to the relationships between different cards in a deck, such as cards that work well together or cards that complement each other’s effects. Deck themes, on the other hand, refer to the overall concept or strategy of a deck, such as a deck focused on creatures or a deck focused on control. By identifying card synergies and deck themes, players can create decks that are both powerful and effective at achieving their desired goal.

Crafting a Deck

Deck size and structure

When crafting a deck in Magic: The Gathering, one of the first considerations is the size of the deck. The maximum deck size for constructed play is 60 cards, including the starting seven cards in your hand and the seven cards in your graveyard. The deck must also contain a minimum of 20 different cards.

Choosing a primary and secondary color

Choosing a primary and secondary color is an important aspect of deck building in MTG. Each color represents a specific energy or theme, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each color can help inform your deck-building decisions. For example, the color green is associated with creatures and nature, while the color red is associated with aggression and destruction.

Understanding mana bases and land distribution

A key element of deck building in MTG is understanding how to properly distribute your mana and land. Your mana base, or land distribution, should be tailored to your deck’s strategy and energy. For example, if your deck relies heavily on creature-based strategies, you will want to have a sufficient number of basic lands to support your mana base. Proper land distribution is essential for ensuring that you have the resources you need to execute your game plan.

Refining Your Decklist

  • Sideboarding and adapting to metagame changes
    • Sideboarding is the process of adjusting your deck between games to better suit the current metagame. This involves swapping out some of your main deck cards for others that are more effective against specific opponents or strategies.
    • Adapting to metagame changes means keeping up with the latest trends and popular decks in the game. This requires staying informed about new cards, strategies, and tactics, and adjusting your deck accordingly.
  • Identifying and addressing weaknesses
    • Identifying weaknesses in your deck involves analyzing your cards and identifying areas where you may be vulnerable to opponents’ strategies.
    • Addressing weaknesses involves making changes to your decklist to mitigate these vulnerabilities. This may involve cutting weak cards, adding countermeasures to neutralize opponents’ strategies, or adding cards that can help you win the game more effectively.
  • Testing and fine-tuning your deck
    • Testing your deck involves playing it against a variety of opponents and decks to see how it performs. This helps you identify areas where your deck may be struggling and make adjustments accordingly.
    • Fine-tuning your deck involves making small changes to individual cards or sideboard cards to improve its performance. This may involve swapping out cards for others with similar effects, or adding cards to help you achieve your deck’s goals more effectively.

MTG Mechanics That Enhance Deck Building

Key takeaway: Building a successful deck in Magic: The Gathering (MTG) requires assembling a collection of cards that work together to achieve a specific goal. Card rarity, acquiring cards, and identifying card synergies and deck themes are important considerations in deck building. Additionally, understanding color identity and land-based mechanics can enhance deck building.

Color Identity and Colorless Manabases

  • Understanding the role of color in deck building
    • The significance of color identity in the game of Magic: The Gathering
    • The importance of color identity in shaping the strategy and theme of a deck
    • How color identity affects the selection of cards and mana base in deck building
  • Building around specific colors or colorless mana
    • The benefits of building a deck around a specific color or colors
    • The challenges of building a deck with a limited color palette
    • How to effectively use colorless mana in deck building
  • The benefits and challenges of color-specific cards
    • The advantages of using color-specific cards in a deck
    • The challenges of using color-specific cards that may not fit well with the color identity of the deck
    • How to balance the use of color-specific cards with colorless cards in a deck

By understanding the role of color in deck building, players can make informed decisions when selecting cards and constructing their mana base. This understanding can lead to more effective and efficient deck building, resulting in a stronger and more cohesive deck.

Landfall and Other Land-Based Mechanics

Utilizing lands for additional effects

In Magic: The Gathering, lands are not just sources of mana but also provide additional effects that can significantly impact gameplay. These effects, known as land-based mechanics, can include everything from creating tokens to drawing cards and even dealing damage directly to your opponent. By understanding how to leverage these effects, players can build decks that are more versatile and adaptable to different game states.

The impact of land-based mechanics on deck building

Land-based mechanics can greatly influence the way players construct their decks. For example, if a deck includes a lot of lands with landfall abilities, it may be more focused on building up a large board presence through creature tokens. On the other hand, a deck with a lot of fetchlands may prioritize fetching specific lands to activate abilities or generate mana more efficiently.

Deck-building strategies around landfall and related mechanics

There are many different strategies that can be employed when building a deck around landfall and other land-based mechanics. For instance, some decks may focus on building up a large army of creature tokens by playing multiple lands with landfall abilities in a single turn. Others may prioritize ramping up to an extremely large mana base in order to cast powerful spells and play a number of lands with additional effects in a single turn.

Regardless of the specific strategy employed, it is important to consider how land-based mechanics will impact the overall game plan and how they can be used to create a more effective and cohesive deck.

Card Draw and Hand Management

Card draw and hand management are essential mechanics in deck building for Magic: The Gathering. They play a crucial role in determining the flow of the game and the ability of a player to access their cards when needed.

Importance of Card Draw in Deck Building

Card draw is a mechanic that allows a player to draw additional cards into their hand. This mechanic is crucial in deck building because it increases the chances of a player drawing the cards they need at the right time. With more cards in hand, players have more options and flexibility to make decisions during the game.

Balancing Card Draw with Mana Production

Balancing card draw with mana production is a crucial aspect of deck building. Mana production refers to the resources a player has to pay for spells and abilities. If a player has too much card draw and not enough mana production, they may not be able to play their cards effectively. On the other hand, if a player has too much mana production and not enough card draw, they may not have the cards they need to win the game.

The Role of Hand Management in Deck Building

Hand management is the ability to manage the cards in a player’s hand effectively. This mechanic is crucial in deck building because it allows players to make informed decisions about which cards to play and when to play them. Good hand management involves knowing when to hold onto cards and when to discard them, as well as knowing when to use card draw effects to refill the hand.

Effective hand management can give players an advantage over their opponents by allowing them to play their cards at the right time and make the most of their resources. Poor hand management, on the other hand, can lead to a player drawing the wrong cards at the wrong time, making it difficult to win the game.

In conclusion, card draw and hand management are crucial mechanics in deck building for Magic: The Gathering. Balancing these mechanics effectively is essential for building a successful deck and achieving victory in the game.

Card Synergies and Interactions

In Magic: The Gathering, card synergies and interactions play a crucial role in deck building. By incorporating cards that work well together, players can create powerful and efficient decks that are difficult for their opponents to beat.

Building around theme decks

One popular approach to building a deck is to focus on a specific theme or strategy. For example, a player might choose to build a deck around a particular creature type, such as Elves or Dragons. By including multiple cards that synergize with this theme, players can create powerful combinations that can generate a significant advantage.

Utilizing token generators and enablers

Token generators and enablers are cards that help players generate and manipulate tokens, which are small creatures that can be used to overwhelm opponents. For example, a player might include cards like “Rhystic Study” or “Bonded Curiosity” to generate tokens, and then use cards like “Might of Old Krosa” or “Estrid, the Masked” to enhance their abilities.

Deck-building strategies for combo decks

Combo decks are decks that focus on combining multiple cards to create powerful effects. For example, a player might include “Goblin Electromancer” and “Chandra, Torch of Defiance” to generate a large amount of damage in a single turn. By carefully selecting cards that work well together, players can create powerful combo decks that can be difficult for opponents to counter.

Overall, card synergies and interactions are essential elements of deck building in Magic: The Gathering. By carefully selecting cards that work well together, players can create powerful and efficient decks that can dominate their opponents.

Deck Building in Various MTG Formats


In the world of Magic: The Gathering, the Standard format is one of the most popular and widely played formats. This format is designed to encourage innovation and creativity, while also maintaining a sense of balance and fairness. One of the key factors that makes Standard so popular is the constant rotation of cards in and out of the format, which means that players are always experimenting with new decks and strategies.

One of the biggest challenges of playing in the Standard format is understanding the current rotation of cards. Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes Magic: The Gathering, releases new sets of cards every few months, and some of these cards are more powerful than others. As a result, certain cards may be banned or restricted from play in the Standard format to keep the format balanced and fair. Players need to stay up-to-date with the latest rotation changes and understand how they may affect their deck-building strategies.

Once players have a good understanding of the current Standard format, they can begin to focus on deck-building strategies. One of the most important aspects of deck building in Standard is choosing the right mix of creatures, spells, and lands. Creatures are the backbone of most decks in Standard, and players need to choose creatures that work well together and can attack and defend effectively. Spells are also crucial in Standard, as they can provide a wide range of effects, from dealing damage to disrupting an opponent’s strategy. Finally, lands are essential for generating mana, which is needed to play spells and creatures.

In addition to choosing the right mix of cards, players also need to consider the synergy between their cards. Certain cards work better together than others, and players need to identify these synergies in order to build a strong and effective deck. For example, a deck that focuses on using small creatures to swarm the board may benefit from cards that increase the power of small creatures, while a deck that focuses on using big creatures may benefit from cards that increase the toughness of creatures.

Overall, deck building in the Standard format requires a lot of skill and knowledge. Players need to stay up-to-date with the latest rotation changes, choose the right mix of cards, and identify synergies between their cards. With careful planning and strategy, however, players can build powerful and effective decks that can help them dominate the Standard format.


Modern is a popular Magic: The Gathering format that features fast-paced, interactive gameplay. It has gained popularity due to its accessibility, low cost, and strategic depth. In this section, we will discuss the unique challenges of deck-building in the Modern format, deck-building strategies, and evaluating the power level of cards in Modern.

The Unique Challenges of Deck-Building in Modern

Modern poses several unique challenges to deck-builders. Firstly, the card pool is relatively small compared to other formats, which means that certain cards are highly sought after and can be difficult to obtain. Secondly, the format has a strict list of banned cards, which can significantly impact the viability of certain decks. Finally, the power level of cards in Modern is highly variable, which can make it difficult to evaluate the strength of a deck.

Deck-Building Strategies for Modern

Despite these challenges, there are several effective deck-building strategies in Modern. One popular approach is to focus on building around powerful, efficient creatures that can quickly take down an opponent’s life total. This can involve playing aggressive strategies such as Burn or Aggro-Control, or more midrange strategies such as Temur Midrange or Jund. Another effective strategy is to focus on combo decks that can generate powerful, game-ending combinations of spells. Finally, there are several powerful tribal strategies in Modern, such as Merfolk or Elves, that can generate significant advantages by flooding the board with powerful creatures.

Evaluating the Power Level of Cards in Modern

Evaluating the power level of cards in Modern can be challenging due to the high variability in card quality. However, there are several key metrics that can help deck-builders assess the strength of their cards. For example, the casting cost of a card can have a significant impact on its power level, as more expensive spells are generally less effective in a format that emphasizes fast, interactive gameplay. Additionally, the versatility and utility of a card can also be important factors in evaluating its power level, as cards that can serve multiple roles or function well in a variety of situations are generally more valuable in Modern.


Understanding the Commander format

  • Commander format is a popular casual format where players can choose a legendary creature or planeswalker (referred to as Commander) to serve as the centerpiece of their deck.
  • Each player’s deck must contain at least 100 cards, including a Commander, and can include any card from any set, except for a few restrictions.
  • The goal of the game is to be the last player standing, and the Commander is a key factor in the game, as they can enter the battlefield at any time and have an impact on the game.

Deck-building strategies for Commander

  • Commander format allows for a high degree of customization and creativity in deck-building, as players can include a wide variety of cards and synergies in their decks.
  • Some popular strategies include building around tribal themes (such as elves or vampires), focusing on specific types of cards (such as artifacts or enchantments), or building decks that focus on combo or control strategies.
  • It is important to consider the Commander’s abilities and how they can be used to support the overall strategy of the deck.

Building around specific Commanders and their abilities

  • Some Commanders have unique abilities that can greatly influence the game, and building a deck around these abilities can be a powerful strategy.
  • For example, a deck built around the Commander Vraska, Golgari Queen, might focus on using her ability to recur creatures from the graveyard to overwhelm the opponent with a large army.
  • Another example is a deck built around the Commander Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, which might focus on using his ability to cast artifacts from the graveyard to assemble a powerful arsenal of spells and abilities.
  • When building around a specific Commander, it is important to consider the synergies and interactions between the Commander and the cards in the deck, as well as the overall strategy and goals of the deck.

Draft and Sealed

  • Adapting to the unique challenges of Limited formats
  • Deck-building strategies for Draft and Sealed
  • Evaluating cards and making choices during a draft

In Limited formats like Draft and Sealed, deck-building presents unique challenges that differ from Constructed formats. The focus shifts from creating a highly optimized deck to adapting to the cards available in the given pool. The primary objective is to assemble a cohesive deck that can perform well within the restrictions of the format.

Adapting to the unique challenges of Limited formats

Limited formats, such as Draft and Sealed, require players to think on their feet and adjust their strategies based on the cards they receive. The element of surprise is inherent in these formats, as players do not know what cards they will get during the draft or sealed phase. This forces players to make decisions quickly and adapt to changing circumstances.

Deck-building strategies for Draft and Sealed

Deck-building strategies in Limited formats often involve identifying the strongest cards in the pool and building around them. This might involve drafting a strong aggressive strategy, such as a burn deck or an aggressive creature deck, or building a control deck that focuses on disrupting the opponent’s strategy.

Players must also consider the mana base of their deck and ensure that they can consistently cast their spells. This might involve drafting a combination of low-cost creatures and early-game spells to establish a foothold on the board, or focusing on a few high-impact spells that can win the game quickly.

Evaluating cards and making choices during a draft

During a draft, players must evaluate each card they receive and make choices based on their overall strategy. This involves considering the card’s value in relation to the other cards available, as well as its synergy with the cards already in their deck.

Players must also be mindful of the colors they are drafting and ensure that they have a balanced mana base. This might involve passing on cards that are not easily castable or drafting additional lands to ensure that they can cast their spells consistently.

In summary, deck-building in Limited formats like Draft and Sealed requires a different mindset than Constructed formats. Players must be adaptable and make quick decisions based on the cards they receive. Strategies must be built around the cards available, and players must evaluate each card’s value in relation to their overall strategy.

Maximizing Deck Building Potential in MTG

Understanding Metagame Trends

Analyzing the Current Metagame

  • Examining recent tournament results
  • Identifying dominant strategies and cards
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of various archetypes

Identifying Popular Deck Archetypes

  • Classifying decks by strategy or theme
  • Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each archetype
  • Determining which archetypes are currently popular

Adjusting Your Deck-Building Strategy Accordingly

  • Incorporating popular cards and strategies into your deck
  • Considering alternatives to dominant archetypes
  • Balancing your deck to counter popular strategies

In order to maximize your deck-building potential in Magic: The Gathering, it is essential to understand the current metagame trends. By analyzing the current metagame, identifying popular deck archetypes, and adjusting your deck-building strategy accordingly, you can build a more effective and competitive deck.

Leveraging Set Review and Spoilers

When it comes to deck building in Magic: The Gathering, set review and spoilers play a crucial role in maximizing your potential. Here’s how you can leverage them to your advantage:

Using set review and spoilers to inform deck building

Before a new set is released, many websites and content creators provide set reviews and spoilers. These previews give you a glimpse into the new cards and mechanics that will be available in the upcoming set. By reading these reviews and watching spoiler videos, you can gain valuable insight into which cards might fit well in your existing decks or could be used to build new decks around.

For example, if a new set includes a lot of cards with evasion abilities, you might want to consider building a deck around those cards. Similarly, if a set includes a lot of powerful combat tricks, you might want to focus on building a deck that can take advantage of those abilities.

Adapting to new card releases and mechanics

When a new set is released, it’s important to adapt to the new cards and mechanics. Some cards might become instant staples in your deck, while others might not work as well as you expected. By keeping an open mind and being willing to adjust your deckbuilding strategy, you can take advantage of the new cards and mechanics in the most effective way possible.

For example, if a new mechanic is introduced that allows you to draw extra cards, you might want to include that mechanic in your deck if it fits with your overall strategy. On the other hand, if a new card is released that doesn’t fit well with your existing strategy, you might want to pass on it and wait for better options.

Anticipating the impact of upcoming sets on the metagame

Finally, by keeping an eye on upcoming sets and their expected impact on the metagame, you can start preparing your decks in advance. For example, if a new set is expected to heavily favor a certain strategy or color combination, you might want to start testing decks that take advantage of those elements before the set is even released.

Overall, by leveraging set review and spoilers, you can stay ahead of the curve and maximize your deck building potential in Magic: The Gathering.

Deck-Building Tools and Resources

Utilizing Online Tools for Deck Building and Analysis

One of the most valuable resources for deck building in Magic: The Gathering is the plethora of online tools and resources available to players. These tools can help with everything from generating random deck lists to analyzing the power and toughness of individual cards. Some popular online tools include:

  • This website allows players to browse and build decks, as well as view popular deck lists and statistic.
  • MTG Goldfish: This site provides a powerful deck simulator that allows players to test their decks against other decks and see how they would perform in different matchups.
  • DraftSim: This tool is specifically designed for drafting, and it allows players to practice and hone their skills in a simulated draft environment.

Leveraging Social Media and Discussion Forums for Insights

In addition to online tools, social media and discussion forums can also be valuable resources for deck building in Magic: The Gathering. These platforms allow players to share ideas, discuss strategies, and get feedback on their deck lists. Some popular forums and social media groups include:

  • The Mana Source: This is a popular Magic: The Gathering podcast that often discusses deck building and strategy.
  • Reddit: The Magic: The Gathering subreddit is a large and active community of players who share deck lists, discuss strategies, and offer advice.
  • Facebook Groups: There are many Facebook groups dedicated to Magic: The Gathering, and these can be a great place to find like-minded players and get feedback on your deck lists.

Continuously Refining Your Deck-Building Skills Through Practice and Learning

Ultimately, the key to maximizing your deck-building potential in Magic: The Gathering is to continuously refine your skills through practice and learning. This means trying new strategies, experimenting with different cards and combinations, and studying the decks of successful players. It also means staying up-to-date with the latest set releases and understanding how new cards can impact the metagame. By continuously learning and adapting, you can improve your deck-building skills and increase your chances of success in any game of Magic: The Gathering.


1. What is Magic: The Gathering (MTG)?

Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is a popular collectible card game that was first released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast. In MTG, players take on the role of powerful wizards, known as planeswalkers, who can summon creatures, cast spells, and use artifacts to defeat their opponents.

2. Is MTG primarily a deck-building game?

Yes, MTG is primarily a deck-building game. Deck-building is a key aspect of the game, as players must carefully construct their decks with a mix of creatures, spells, and artifacts in order to defeat their opponents. Players can build their decks using cards from their personal collection, as well as by trading with other players or purchasing new cards from booster packs.

3. What are the key elements of deck-building in MTG?

The key elements of deck-building in MTG include selecting the right combination of creatures, spells, and artifacts to fit your playstyle and strategy, managing your resources and mana curve, and balancing your deck to ensure that it is both powerful and versatile. Players must also consider the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents’ decks, as well as the meta-game, when building their own decks.

4. How do players gain access to new cards in MTG?

Players can gain access to new cards in MTG through a variety of means. New cards are released in booster packs, which can be purchased at local game stores or online. Players can also trade with other players to acquire cards that they need for their decks. Additionally, players can participate in tournaments and other events to earn prizes and new cards.

5. What is the role of luck in MTG?

Luck does play a role in MTG, as players must draw cards from their deck in order to play them. However, the role of luck is mitigated by the fact that players can construct their decks to maximize the chances of drawing the cards they need, and by the fact that skilled play and strategy are crucial to success in the game. Additionally, players can use cards and strategies that allow them to manipulate their deck and draw the cards they need at the right time.

Deck Building 101 with Jim Davis | MTG Arena

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