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Deck Talk
7.22.04

OK, I want to start out by saying thanks for the positive e-mails. I've been getting several and I enjoy each and every one of them. However, lately, I've been getting a lot of e-mails regarding players decks and how to help those decks.

I'm seeing two things over and over that need to be addressed. There is no secret to just building a good deck. It seems as though many of you think there is some secret that we possess that allows us to create great decks. Believe me, if I had the secret blueprints on building superior decks, I would be selling it on ebay! There are some concepts and ideas that can help deck creation along, but definitely no rules set in stone.

The rules that you do you use will depend on what type of deck you are building. If you are building an aggressive (also known as "aggro") deck, then you are definitely going to want more creatures than spells. You will then have to look at the type of creatures in the deck. If you want the deck to be super fast, you want a bunch of cheap creatures with high power or high damage potential. Creatures like Slith Firewalker fit this category. For other aggro decks, you want quick spells with bigger creatures. The combo of Oxidize and Ravenous Baloth might fit this style of deck better. On the opposite end of the spectrum though, you may want fewer creatures with more efficient spells. Cards that do more for less are needed in these types of decks. Cards like Wrath of God and Thirst for Knowledge have become staples in decks like Blue/White Control.

Now, those are just some conceptual aspects of what you need to ponder when deck building. But, that all means nothing if the cards aren't that great in the deck. This brings me to my next point. For example, Paul Hagan (our resident Deck Garage guy) and myself were discussing some e-mails that had been sent to us. We had each seen several decks that included Myr Servitor. Well, that's the first thing we each told people to take out of their decks. It has next to no purpose.

When go to deck build, cards like this are not needed. First of all, they are extremely linear in their usage. They don't lend any help to anything else. Then, beyond that, it doesn't really DO anything until you already have other Myr Servitors in the graveyard to bring back to play. This means that not only are you dedicating four slots to Myr Servitor, but you have potentially dedicated another two to five slots to getting the Servitors in the graveyard. THEN as if that weren't enough, you would still need your other card that makes that makes the Servitors ability useful. This would most likely be something that you could sacrifice creatures to. So, we can then say another four cards are put in these slots. So this means that if you are trying to build a deck to effectively use Myr Servitor, you have already given up roughly 11 to 12 slots not even counting your lands. So half your deck is already dedicated to making this card work. This sounds extreme, but there's no point to play the card if you aren't going to try and make effective use of its ability. The down side is that even after we've put this deck together, it doesn't work. Why? Simple, the Myr Servitor dies to nearly every damage spells, removal spell, and artifact kill spell in the game. In other words, he's a liability.

This sound silly, but if you at least take the time to look at the cards objectively when building, you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches. Cards need to be cohesive in order to make a deck work. They need to compliment each other in working toward a purpose. If they don't, you will end up with a deck that basically has a lot of cards doing a bunch of different things OK, but not doing any one thing well.

Even with all that knowledge, the deck you build still may not be good enough. I know, sounds crazy right? I'll let you in on another secret. Most of the decks I build don't stay built as they are when I first put them together. Decks go through a lot changes. You have to test a lot. You have to play a lot. You might find that something isn't as great as you thought it was going to be. You might find out that some cards aren't as strong against certain other decks. You might even discover that you misjudged the effectiveness of something. Some cards may merit more slots. There are some cards you may want to draw less of, thus giving them less slots.

And that brings us to another point. Decks can't be allowed to go stale. Just because a deck has won a tournament or that a deck has done well, doesn't always mean that is the best version. It might be the best version for a particular deck. It might have even been the best deck at a particular tournament. However, you have to be aware that tournament environments change. Right now, Standard (Type 2) is more variable than it has ever been. Nearly every color and every deck type is in perfect parody these days. This means that you have to keep working on making your deck better. Don't make any drastic changes. Just keep notes from games to game. When some matches start getting tougher, find out why and work on changes those matchups.

There used to be a saying among the old players regarding two "netdeckers." It basically stated that the guy who got his deck on Tuesday is going to lose to the guy that got his deck on Friday. There is some knowledge in that statement. The logic is that the deck posted on Friday is has accounting for some last minute changes and surprises. Sometimes, that is all the difference you need to win a matchup.

As you can see, it takes a lot to build good decks and keep them at a competitive level. Truthfully, every Magic player possesses the ability to build good decks. You just need to learn how to observe cards and their synergy. I hope this helps open your thoughts a bit on the creative processes of deck building.

But before I go, let me post a Mirrodin Block Constructed Red deck for you all. It's an Affinity deck WITHOUT Myr Servitor. Since most of the decks we see with the Servitor are Affinity, I figured I would post a good one.

4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Disciple of the Vault
4 Frogmite
4 Somber Hoverguard
4 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Cranial Plating
4 Shrapnel Blast
4 Thoughtcast
4 Welding Jar
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Glimmervoid
4 Great Furnace
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers

Sideboard:
4 Damping Matrix
4 Electrostatic Bolt
2 Island
3 Qumulox
2 Terror


Until next time,

DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com

 

 

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