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February 11, 2019

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The Art of Magic: Choosing Your Deck

There has been a lot of discussion over what makes someone a good Magic player. Some say that the deck makes the player, some say it’s how the deck is played. Others go as far as to say that dedication to the brand and flavour is the way to go. It’s all subjective because the fun of the game comes from so many things. I can’t tell you how to enjoy the game. What I can do is give you some tips on how to improve your game and be the best player that you can be!

Welcome to “The Art of Magic”! Today we’re looking at the importance of choosing the right deck. I know that might sound silly, but hear me out. If you take a look at Grand Prix or Pro Tou-winning lists, you’ll often find a fair amount of variety. And while Modern hasn’t changed much since I returned (aside from the recent banning of Krark-Clan Ironworks), other formats like have seen a lot of fluctuation.

This is especially true when it comes to competitive play in Standard. Plus, choosing which deck works for you in a more casual format like Commander can be the key to both your enjoyment of the game, and to winning.

I mean, choosing the right deck for you sounds like kind of a “duh” moment. However, as you play you’ll find yourself gravitating towards certain play styles. For example, back when I first played the game, I absolutely adored discard mechanics as well as going in for spell-based damage with cards like Fireball. Getting the mana to make that a bomb wasn’t as hard in those days. But more importantly, I just liked playing the both of them in a single deck.

Now, I don’t know about everywhere else, but in my local scene two-colour decks were taboo back in the day. It wasn’t entirely as efficient, either, because dual lands weren’t exactly easy to come upon back then. And even then, they were expensive to obtain. But I loved the idea of refusing you a hand, then blasting you in the face.

Nowadays, though, my play style has changed. While I still like discard effects, I’ve adopted more of a Grixis play style that favours general oppression. My play groups may not appreciate it very much, but that’s always been my thing. Even then, my play style is still being refined and changed as I learn about cards, mechanics, and as new stuff is being released.

Realizing this has allowed me to learn what kind of decks I would like the most, which I play well with, and how to build to accommodate for other factors. It kind of makes it easier to focus on other things when I’m playing, brewing, and checking out spoilers. When it comes to Commander, things are a bit easier because I can choose almost any cards I want. But in Standard? It’s a little more important. In this rotation alone I’ve gone from Dimir to Izzet to Esper and back to Izzet again because those decks fit my play style.

At the time of posting, this Standard rotation is incredibly healthy. That’s why knowing your play style and choosing a deck around it can really benefit you. Back in the previous rotation there were three decks you could play. At least, before the big bans that pretty much busted Energy decks.

If you wanted to win, you could play Energy, Zombies, or Red Deck Wins. If none of those fit your play style, you were faced with an almost absolute loss against those decks due to the fact that there wasn’t much variety in terms of playable cards or accommodation for different play styles. Should Standard continue to be this healthy you could see limited success with a variety of play styles and some unlikely heroes have come about from such experimentation.

I guess I’m rambling at this point, but I am getting somewhere with this. My point is, knowing your play style means you can choose and brew the best deck for you. When you have a deck that makes you happy and works for you, then you can focus more on the turn-to-turn play, board state, and the multitude of other things that can happen during a game. If you just copy over a deck that you don’t really care for, there’s a larger chance that you may slip up or not know how to react or sideboard for other decks you’d play against.

And I mean, creating a deck you enjoy and know can just be more fun all around. So be sure to keep your eyes and ears open, because you never know what’s coming.