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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Black & White Deck

June 8, 2006

One of the most interesting things about being a deck mechanic is that I get decklists from all walks of life.  Sometimes I get decklists that have seen several seasons of action around the kitchen table and need a few tricks, sometimes I see FNM hopefuls with tight tournament builds looking for a few tweaks, sometimes I see out-of-nowhere combo decks, sometimes flavor-driven decks built around a theme (one notable example from the archives would be Eiganjo's Prison Block).  Today's deck fix isn't anything tricky or glamorous, but I think it's an important deck fix for me to do and for you all to read, because it's a perfect opportunity to discuss the Fundamentals of Proper Deckbuilding.
Hey this is my casual Black and White deck it’s based on discard and swarm. My main idea is to use megrim/s/ and ravenous rats to discard and damage opponent while using my white creatures to deal the remainder of the damage. Thanks.
Deck- 62
Creatures- 24
Creatures- White- 11
Tundra Wolves
Deftblade Elite
Angelic Page
Veteran Armorer
Courier Hawk- 2
Silver Knight
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Benevolent Ancestor- 2
Hikari, Twilight Guardian
Creatures- Black- 10
Festering Goblin
Kuro’s Taken
Ravenous Rats- 3
Ogre Marauder
Abyssal Specter
Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker
Creatures- Black and White- 3
Mourning Thrull- 2
Orzhov Pontiff
Enchantments- 6
Enchantment- White- 1
Shadow Lance
Enchantment- Black- 3
Dragon Shadow
Enchantment- Black and White- 2
Pillory of the Sleepless
Sorcery- 2
Sorcery- Black- 2
Walking Nightmare- 2
Instants- 5
Instants- White- 2
Quiet Purity
Instants- Black- 3
Dark Banishing
Douse in Gloom
Seize the Soul
Artifacts- 5
Necrogen Spellbomb
Specter’s Shroud
Disrupting Specter
Slate of Ancestry
Lands- 20
Plains- 9
Swamps- 10
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Side Deck
Reward the Faithful-2
Astral Steel
Trap Digger
Lingering Death- 2
Death’s-head Buzzard
Reaping the Graves
Necromancer’s Magemark
Eastern Paladin
Tendrils of Agony
Well, this is one humdinger of a decklist.  Most of these card names don't have numbers next to them, which usually means one copy.  Any frequent reader of my columns knows what I always say...
Fundamental #1: Don't tempt the odds; build your deck with the statistics in mind.
If you have one copy of a card in your deck, what are the odds you'll draw it in the course of a game?  What are the odds you'll draw it when you need it?  In your opening hand?  After ten turns?  The odds get better when you have a full playset (four copies).  For the same reason, your deck shouldn't be over 60 cards.  Even with a full playset of your bomb card, a 4/60 chance is better than a 4/61, a 4/73, or a 4/81 chance. If a card is important to your plan, you need four copies of it.  Here, Megrim is apparently an important card, and yet there's only two copies of it.  There's only two Waking Nightmare, only one Disrupting Scepter, only one Specter's Shroud, and so on.  There's one copy each of Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker and Hikari, Twilight Guardian as well, which isn't as bad since they're both legendary and neither is essential to the strategy, but they bring up another problem.
Fundamental #2: Each card in your deck should work well with the other cards in your deck, or at least not work against them.  For example, take Hikari in the deck above.  Hikari is at its best (and really, only worth playing) when you have plenty of Spirits or Arcane spells to trigger its ability.  How many Spirits are there here?  I don't see any beyond Hikari and Shirei.  Oh, wait, there's two Benevolent Ancestor as well, not that it really makes a difference.  How many Arcane spells?  Three: two Waking Nightmare, and a Quiet Purity.  And Quiet Purity is an awful card.  This is not a reason to play Hikari.  Shirei gets off the hook easier due to the fact that this deck has plenty of creatures of power 1 or less, but then I see Shizo, Death's Storehouse in with the lands.  There are only two Legendary creatures in this deck, and we just proved that one of them shouldn't be here.  Beginning to see the problem?
Fundamental #3: Have something to stop yourself from dying until your deck gets going.  Before you think this deck is total garbage, let me point out that this deck does do something well; it has plenty of cheap creatures to play, so at the very least it should be able to hold off an aggressive opponent for a while (and maybe draw something to turn it around), or maybe sneak in some early damage against slower control decks.  Ravenous Rats, Mourning Thrull, Benevolent Ancestor, and Kuro's Taken are especially proficient at this, though it would be nice to see a few creatures with a bit more edge-- Blind Hunter, Orzhov Guildmage, or even Ghost Council of Orzhova if you've got the money for it.  Maybe an Angel to replace Hikari even.
Let me just wrap up by saying; those of you who think this deck is laughably bad should think back to the first deck you ever built.  I'll admit, my first non-precon deck was worse than this.  But I got to where I am today because I learned the Fundamentals.  The ones I've discussed today aren't even all of them; but they are important, and once you master them and understand them, you'll be that much better of a deckbuilder.  So until next time, remember your Fundamentals, and remember to have Fun!
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