🃏 Magic the Gathering

Updated at 2021-06-22 17:21

Simple Start

How to build a basic, more aggressive, monocolor tempo deck.

Standard constructed deck has 60 cards.

Take 24 lands of a single color of your choosing, to keep it simple.

Next look for some solid creatures:
* the goal is to have something permanent on the board, giving you board presence
* the creature could give more than X/X stats for X mana e.g. has 2/1, 1/2 for 1 mana
* creatures that have a neat or synergy with your other cards are good
* the card must be able to be played without any pre-conditions to an empty board

1  mana creatures = 2
2  mana creatures = 8
3  mana creatures = 6
4  mana creatures = 6
5+ mana creatures = 2
This is total 24 creatures.
* Some of them can be sorceries or enchantments that create creatures.

With just this basic 48 card setup above + mulligan instructions down further below
will make you win over 50% of newbie games, thus steadily climbing ranks.

2 and 3 mana creatures are important as they get out early enough but also have impact
in the late game while 1 cost minions are a wasted draw in the late game. It is 
important to have less expensive minions as you don't want your hand to be filled 
with those in the early game.

This leaves you with 12 cards of sorcery, instants, planeswalkers or whatever you like.
Focus on 1-3 mana cost sorceries and instants, the expensive ones are for special decks.
You can throw in some big cards if you wish, but you just rarely get to cast them.

Having a little bit of single creature removal is always a good thing.
Having board clears is advisable but not a must as your deck also relies on creatures.

Or if you are playing some form of limited rules:

Limited decks have 40 cards.

17 lands; if dual color; 10 color for majority of low mana, 7 for high mana.
* Don't try to use 3 colors when starting out, but depending on format
  and the options you are presented, you frequently have to use at least two colors.

1  mana creatures = 0
2  mana creatures = 5
3  mana creatures = 5
4+ mana creatures = 7 (focus on creatures with big stats or growth potential)
This is a total of 17 creatures with hopefully decent toughness to keep you in the game.

6 other cards, instants spells are usually the best.

Use 1, 2 and 3 mana cost sorcery spells to control the board. Sorcery with 4 or more mana cost have to be really valuable to be in the deck e.g. the card will most likely remove 2 or more enemy creatures.

24 lands is the baseline. Up to 27 in heavy control decks and down to 18 in very aggressive decks.

In mulligan, aim for 2-4 land cards and something to play by your 2nd turn. 2-3 lands for more aggro, 3-4 lands for for more control. Mulligan up to two times to get it. Never take a hand with 5 or more lands. Never take a hand with nothing to play for 2 turns.

Prefer to cast your spells on the 2nd main phase if possible. Wait after combat to possibly learn more about the board state.

Not attacking with your creatures is the number 1 rookie mistake. If you are not sure if you should attack or not, write it down / take a screenshot and figure it out later. Attacking with everything on every turn is usually less of a mistake and works as a better learning experience.

If you want to play multiple mana colors, divide the standard 24 lands. Just count how many icons of each colors you have in your cards (not the full mana cost, just the icons) and divide your lands accordingly.

30 blue icons     15 black icons  => (45 / 15   = 33% black)
15 blue lands     8 black lands   => (24 * 0.33 = 8 black lands)

Make a note of the marked mana (the symbols) of the cards. The more marked mana the cards have, not the any-color mana number, the more of those lands you need. To keep it simple, if some of your cards has 2 marked mana you should have 18 sources that give that color, if some of your cards has 3 marked mana you should have 23 sources that give that color. They can be cards that give mana of multiple colors though.

In reality it's not that simple; the non-colored mana number and when you want to cast the spell also come into play but this is a good guideline.

A common formula for creatures in deck is:

  • 12 - 16 one and two mana drops
  • 8 - 12 three mana drops
  • 6 - 8 four mana drops
  • deck either has ways to take card advantage or a strong late game engine

How many copies of a card?

In constructed formats, you can take up to 4 copies of a single card.

  • 4 copies = You always want to draw this card, not matter the situations, multiples ok.
  • 3 copies = You want to draw this at least once in the game and multiples are playable.
  • 2 copies = You want to somewhat reliably to get this card e.g. all Legendaries.
  • 1 copy = This is a highly situational card or you can somehow search for it.


Constructed formats usually have a side board of 15 cards.

You use these to counter the more meta decks that are good against your main deck.

Deck type

Your deck always lands somewhere on the scale from Aggressive to Controlling.

Aggressive <----------------------------> Controlling
(this does not strictly mean Aggro or Control deck!)

To figure out where your deck is on this scale:

  • Count the number of Threats and number of Answers
  • Threats are the cards that you play proactively to win the game (most creatures).
  • Answers are the cards that you play retroactively to win the game (most instants).
  • The more threats you have, more aggressive your deck is, and via versa.

If your deck lacks answers, it becomes hard to control the board state. A single big creature can chip away your creatures one by one if you can't remove it.

If your deck lacks threats, it becomes hard to finish the game. For example, 6 creatures is not enough in most common decks.

I addition to this, you have a mana curve; how many CMC (total mana cost) card you have in each tier. For fast decks you want to have most of your cards in 2 or 3 mana and slow decks have more in 4 and upwards.

Aggro   = deck that wins by a mass of 1-3 cost minions and direct damage
Control = deck that tries to out-value the opponent in the long game
Combo   = deck that wins by finding and playing strong card combos
Tempo   = deck that wins by maintaining superior board presence, out-tempoing opponent
Ramp    = deck that wins by gaining extra mana to play big threats early
Weenie  = deck that wins with a horde of creatures that are then buffed, usually White
Token   = the same as weenie but creatures are mostly summoned non-card tokens
Mill    = deck that wins by exhausting opponent's deck
Theme   = decks built around a theme like "cats" or some lore thing, not playing to win
Gimmick = usually not playing to win, but try to achieve certain situation(s) to happen