Magic The Gathering Deck Building
Intro To Magic The Gathering Deck Building
This is an introduction to the many different aspects that go into greatMagic The Gathering deck building as well as some understanding for new players and even a few cool tips for making powerful and fun decks! Weither you are new to Magic The Gathering deck building or you are an advanced player, this guide should help you get a good grasp on what it takes to have a great deck ready for anything from a random game with your friends to a full on tournament. I will go over certain key aspects of the game as well as how to harness cards for their full potential.
This is an introduction to the many different aspects that go into greatMagic The Gathering deck building as well as some understanding for new players and even a few cool tips for making powerful and fun decks! Weither you are new to Magic The Gathering deck building or you are an advanced player, this guide should help you get a good grasp on what it takes to have a great deck ready for anything from a random game with your friends to a full on tournament. I will go over certain key aspects of the game as well as how to harness cards for their full potential.
Magic The Gathering Deck Building - General Gameplay Concept
You are a Planeswalker! Recounting your travels and armed with your library of spells, you will confront other Planeswalkers to engage in combat and settle the ultimate dispute! Along your travels you will discover many lands, devout creatures who will fight alongside you, and artifacts of immense power to aid you in victory! This guide to Magic The Gathering deck building will help you to refine your library and grant you the ultimate edge in deciding once and for all who the best Planeswalker is! Do you have what it takes?
Magic The Gathering Deck Building - Common Terms
There will be certain terms used in this guide to reference all sorts of different aspects of playing the game as well as building your deck. If you're used to playing the game and you don't need an explanation of certain rules, feel free to skip to the next section in this guide (you can always come back). Otherwise, this simple list is here for you to understand those terms and what they mean:
- Turn - This refers to a player's turn in the game. Turns are decided at the beginning of the game and each turn consists of several phases, or steps, in a particular order before the turn ends and play is passed to the next player. Sometimes, an ability will allow a player to take an additional turn.
- Phases and Steps - This refers to steps in the game during each turn. Those steps, in order, are:
- Untap Step - During your untap step you untap (set upright) any lands, creatures, or artifacts you have tapped (tapping is explained further down). Sometimes, certain abilities may prevent you from untapping a card. If you brought any creatures in on your last turn, they usually come into play with summoning sickness, which stops them from attacking the turn they came into play - this goes away during your untap step and from now on they are able to attack during your attack step.
- Upkeep Step - The upkeep step is here in case certain things happen. Sometimes, an ability will say something specific happens during your upkeep - now is when it happens.
- Draw Step - The draw step is when you would draw a new card from your library (the library is explained further down) and put it into your hand. Sometimes, abilities cause different things to happen during your draw step, or may even cause you to skip this step entirely.
- Main Phase - The main phase is when you may play the cards in your hand. You may only play a single land each turn, although some abilities may let you put a land into play which isn't considered playing your land for the turn. You will see that the main phase happens twice each turn. This is because you have the option of playing stuff, then taking your combat step, then playing stuff again. Sometimes you may want to wait until your next main phase to play some cards because they would be more effective then instead of now. The following card types must be played during your main phases and no other time - land, sorcery, enchantment, artifact, and planeswalker. You usually must play your creatures during your main phases as well, but there are also special exceptions with some. Still, there are also some really special exceptions with others. All cards that you play that are lands, artifacts, enchantments, planeswalkers, and/or creatures, come into play, otherwise known as entering the battlefield since the release of the rules change with the 2010 Core Set.
- Combat Phase - Once you've decided to complete your first main phase, you may initiate, or start, your combat phase by tapping (tapping is explained further down) creatures in play who are untapped (set upright) and/or are not under the effect of summoning sickness (summoning sickness is explained further down). Sometimes certain abilities stop creatures from being able to attack as well. You may attack with any number of your creatures that you have in play and that are able to attack, but they all attack at the same time. This part of the combat phase is called the Declare Attackers step. Your attackers are attacking your opponent, or you may choose to attack your opponent's planeswalkers if they have one in play. You never declare attackers on your opponents creatures. After you have declared attackers, the entire attack cannot be stopped, it is now set in motion. Now your opponent has a Declare Blockers step in which they may decide to block any of your attacking creatures with any of their creatures that are untapped and able to block. Creatures who suffer from summoning sickness may also block if they remain untapped. They may choose which of their creatures block and which of your creature theirs will block. They may even decide to block one of your creatures with more than one of their own. Once they have decided on their blockers (they do have the option of deciding not to block as well), the entire declare blockers step cannot be stopped, it is set in motion. Combat is then worked out and damages are dealt involving all combating creatures, as well as players or planeswalkers being attacked. First, you should work out combat situations involving the creatures that are attacking and being blocked. In this situation, both the attacking and the blocking creatures deal each other their power rating as their attack (if a creature is a 1/3 creature, their power rating is the 1). Both creatures hit each other. Sometimes, there are abilities that allow a creature to hit with their attack before the opposing creature does so with it's own, which I'll explain later. Next, you work out how those creatures received the damage from the other and whether they died, which depends on how much damage they can take before dying, known as their toughness rating (if a creature is a 1/3 creature, their toughness rating is the 3). Some abilities do special things to creatures when they are in combat, I'll explain later on how and what those abilities are and do. The last thing you do with combating creatures is to put the ones which die into their owner's graveyard (the graveyard is explained further down). Sometimes, dying creatures don't go to the graveyard because of special abilities, again something I will explain later. After the combating creatures have been worked out, you should total up the damage dealt to the attacked player and/or planeswalker and remove that much life (or loyalty for planeswalkers) from their life counter (the life counter is explained below). If that number is then 0, that player or planeswalker is dead (the planeswalker would then go to it's owners graveyard). Now, combat is completed and you would then move on to your next step, which is the second main phase in the turn.
- (Second) Main Phase (Step) - This is exactly like the first main phase, and you can do anything you could do in the first main phase, it's just that this one happens after your combat step. If you have yet to play your land for the turn, you may still play one now, or you may play any of the other card types listed above that must be played during a main phase.
- End Step - The end step marks the beginning of the end of your turn. During this step, all creatures still in play, or on the battlefield, are healed back to an undamaged state. A lot of times, abilities grant special effects that only last until end of turn. At the end of your end step is when those effects go away. Your turn would now be over and play would resume with the next player's turn.
Again, this was an explanation of how each turn is played out during a game. I hope this wasn't too confusing and instead helped you understand any aspects of any of the steps you may have had questions about. Feel free to post any further questions about the steps of a turn in the comments box below and I will do my best to answer them for you, or you may check out the official rules source at the Wizards Website.
- Tapping - Tapping is a way of showing that a card in play, otherwise known as being on the battlefield, has been used for an ability that can only be done once until your next turn's untap step, which is when you may untap it (set it upright) to be used again. You tap different cards for different reasons. During the Combat Phase (see Steps above), when you attack with a creature during your Declare Attackers step, you will tap it to show it is attacking. Sometimes, special abilities allow a creature to attack without having to be tapped, which I will explain below. When you tap something, you turn it 90 degrees to it's side so that it sits sideways (it stays face up and points to your right usually). Some cards come into play, or enter the battlefield, tapped. Sometimes, in order to use a special ability, you may also have to tap that card as part of the cost to use that ability. A special tap arrow symbol is used to show you if tapping is part of the cost of an ability you can pay to use. Creatures aren't the only card types that have these special tap abilities, they can be found on artifacts as well. Also, you tap lands in order to add mana to your mana pool.
- Mana - The powerful magic energy used to cast your spells is known as mana. Mana comes in 5 colors and also in an uncolored form known as colorless. You will obtain most of your mana from your lands - when you tap a Plains, you add 1 white mana to your mana pool; when you tap an Island, you add 1 blue mana to your mana pool; and so on. Sometimes, artifacts and creatures can be tapped to add specific mana to your mana pool. You may tap for mana at any time and during any turn, except when that source of mana is a creature who is unable to tap due to an ability or summoning sickness. When mana is added to your mana pool, it is there until it is used to cast spells or until the active player moves on to the next step in a turn. If you don't use the mana you pooled before the next step in a turn, it is simply lost, which is a new rule since the release of the rules change with the 2010 Core Set (before the rule change, players with mana in their mana pools at the end of a phase would suffer what was known as mana burn, which caused them to lose as much life as the mana that was stored and unused). You determine what kind of mana you need to play spells by looking at the symbols in the upper right hand corner of the card. A card that shows a sun symbol requires 1 white mana to pay for it in order to play it. A card that has 2 skull symbols and a tree symbol, followed by the number 2 in a grey circle requires 2 black mana, 1 green mana, and 2 mana of any other color to pay for it in order to play it. There are all sorts of mana color combinations, even some that use all five colors in their costs.
- Library - To put it simply, a player's library is their deck. Think of it as you being a sorcerer and your deck is your vast knowledge of spells, creatures, and places you've known. Each turn, you'll probably be drawing at least one card from your library, usually during your draw step. Sometimes, abilities can let you or even make you draw cards from your library - some even force you to throw them straight into your graveyard. Still, other abilities may also allow you to go through your or your opponent's libraries and either pick out certain cards or place cards on the top or on the bottom. Once your knowledge is all used up and you can't pull anything else out of your library to deal with your opponent, obviously you would lose. This is actually quite the effect of what could happen - if you go to draw a card, and you have no cards left to draw from your library, you lose automatically. This is one way for a player to be defeated.
- Hand - Each player begins their first turn of the game by drawing the top 7 cards of their library. These cards become their hand. Throughout the game, each player will draw cards, adding to their hand, and play cards from their hand. Usually, only you can see the cards in your hand, although sometimes a spell or an ability will have you reveal cards from your hand or even have you play with your hand revealed during the game. There are even cards that have a cool ability if they're in your opening hand! Another thing about your hand is that, by the end of your turn, if you have more than 7 cards in your hand, you are forced to get rid of extra cards until you are left with 7 (they go straight to your graveyard) - you get to choose which ones to get rid of. Some cards, while they're in play, or otherwise known as being on the battlefield, will tell you that you have no maximum hand size, and you don't have to worry about discarding. But usually, discarding isn't as much a worry as top decking, which is commonly what happens when your hand runs out of cards to play except for the card you'll be drawing on your draw step. Sometimes, special abilities take effect when a player or players are left with no cards in hand. Still, there are other abilities that depend on how many cards, and/or possibly how many cards of a certain type or color, are in a players hand.
- The Battlefield (Play Area) - This is where players put their cards when they come into play, otherwise now known as entering the battlefield, which is a new rule since the release of the rules change with the 2010 Core Set. The card types that sit in the battlefield, also known as permanents, are Lands, Creatures, Artifacts, Enchantments, and Planeswalkers. Sorceries and Instants never enter the battlefield, they are simply played (see Playing Cards explained further down). Other special creatures, known as Token Creatures, are also permanents and sit in the battlefield while in play. Sometimes, special abilities kick off when different permanents enter or leave play, to and from the battlefield. There are other effect that abilities can cause to happen to permanents in play on the battlefield, sometimes they are just temporary and will go away at the end of a turn. There are special types of artifacts, known as equipment, that can attach to creatures, equipping them to grant them powerful abilities, but when the creature dies, the equipment is relatively dropped on the ground, staying on the battlefield to wait to be attached and equipped by it's owner to another of their creatures. Enchantments that enchant creatures, known as auras, also attach to creatures, but leave the battlefield when the creature dies (although some you can simply re-enchant to another creature).
- The Graveyard - Each player in the game has a graveyard. This is your discard pile. Any player may, at any time, look through any graveyard. When a card leaves play, coming from the battlefield, it's usually put straight into a players graveyard, even token creatures are put there, though they instantly disappear, or are exiled from the game, as soon as they touch the graveyard. When you play an instant or sorcery, once it's abilities have kicked off and taken effect, also known as resolving, they immediately go to the graveyard. Granted, some special abilities may prevent a card or cards from going to the graveyard. Now, once a card goes to the graveyard, it's not permanently gone - there are several ways of bringing things back "from the dead" and either going back to your library, back to your hand, or even right back into play and on the battlefield! Some special abilities and/or spells will even allow you to bring back or use spells that are in your opponents' graveyards. There are also ways to remove cards from the graveyard permanently, exiling it and removing it from the game completely. Still, even things that have been exiled and removed from the game can be brought back with some very powerful and rare spells!
- Lands - Lands in Magic The Gathering are the sources for all things Magic! Without them you have no way to power up and cast your spells (though some spells can be cast without any mana if their casting cost is either an X or 0 in a grey circle, or possibly by doing something specific to play a spell without having to pay it's casting cost, a rather uncommon ability). There are some very specific features of lands. For one, no matter what kind of land it is, no matter what colors a land produces, all lands are considered colorless! Also, lands are not spells, even though there are some rarer spells that are also lands. Some lands, as they come into play and enter the battlefield, might have to be tapped or even cause some special effect to happen. Each turn, you may only ever play 1 land, but some abilities can cause or allow you to put a land into play and on the battlefield, usually tapped though. There are Basic Lands and Non-basic Lands. Some lands can produce two or more colors or even any color (though they usually require a cost to do this). Lands can, like any permanent, be destroyed or removed and exiled from the game. Lands can even be transformed into creatures or other card types with the use of some special abilities. They can even be useful while they're still in your hand, library, or graveyard. Some even have abilities themselves!
- Creatures - Of all the different card types, creature cards are by far the most wide ranging! There are so many different types of creatures with all sorts of powers, strengths, and weaknesses, even some that are just creatures. Creatures can have all sorts of abilities, too many in fact for me to list here, but I will get into how you can take advantage of many of these abilities in this guide further down below! Each creature has a power and toughness rating. There are creatures that range from 0/0 to x/x (which can pretty much be as huge as you want it to be) and you can boost them up or shrink them down, clone them, destroy or multiply them, even have them come out of nowhere to save you in a flash (hence the Flash ability)! There are even creatures that are more than one card type, like Artifact Creatures. Creatures also have a creature type which can get very specific and specialized - one of the key factors to Magic The Gathering deck building!
- Artifacts - Artifacts are objects with powerful, game-changing abilities. There are some which produce mana, life, and creatures. Some can cause harm and/or prevent it. Some of them can grant abilities to other cards or take abilities away from them. A lot of artifacts are equipment which can be attached to your creatures to make them powerful or indestructible. Most artifacts are colorless, making them ideal for almost any type of deck! Some artifacts even empower other artifacts, or even alter them. Quite a few artifacts are useful only when you get rid of them, otherwise known as sacrificing, which can stop a fatal blow or return things that otherwise would have been destroyed. Most color cards are known for having specific abilities associated with them, but some artifacts can grant those abilities to the unassociated colors. Most are powerful just sitting there on the battlefield!
- Enchantments - An enchantment can do specific things depending on how it enchants. Some are a special type called auras, which can enchant creatures, either yours or your opponents, or even enchant lands, even players! Most of the time, when you bring in an enchantment it will do it's job just sitting there - it's enchanting abilities just giving or taking away elements of the game constantly. Enchantments can even be ultra-powerful, totally altering how the game plays out in very substantial ways. Others are good at totally locking down other powerful spells and creatures, making them totally useless to their owners, or even extremely harmful as long as they are stuck in play sitting on the battlefield.
- Sorceries - A sorcery is a one time use spell that can only be cast during your main phase. It gets cast, it's effect happens, then the sorcery is put into the graveyard, although some can come right back to your hand to be used again and again for their effect. Some sorceries can even be cast straight out of your graveyard for their effects to kick off again before they go back there. Some bring cards back from your graveyard, others send cards to their owner's graveyard. Most are used for a quick boost - either to pump up a creature or to boost your life, maybe even "boosting" one of your opponent's creatures or other permanents! Usually, the effects of a sorcery will last until the end of your turn before their effect goes away. Some other cards also have abilities that work like sorceries - one type definitely being Artifact - Equipment which can usually only be attached to your creatures during your main phase, hence the term "use only anytime you could play a sorcery."
- Instants - One of the most dramatic and game altering features of Magic The Gathering are Instants! These super-fast effect spells can be played at almost any time in the game and, in fact, are best used in response at the very last moment when something happens or a spell is being played to halt the effects or prevent the spell entirely. Instants can also be great for a surprise involving creatures - you can wait until your opponent has declared their blocker on one of your weaker creatures and,before damage is done, jack him up powerful enough to withstand the attack or even kill the blocker, you might even be blocking your opponent's creature with your little one and again, before damage is dealt and your creature dies, pull your guy back to your hand - the block still counts!
- Planeswalkers - One of the most powerful and recent additions to Magic The Gathering, Planeswalkers, are not creatures, but a powerful, spell-casting ally who stands beside you, loyal only to you! These allies have a loyalty counter that behaves similar to your own life counter - when your opponent attacks with their creatures, they can decide to send them after you or your ally. You can still block their creatures' attacks with your own creatures, either on your behalf or your planeswalker's. If a creature lands a blow on your planeswalker, it will lose loyalty as if it were life. The cool thing about a planeswalker though, is that, during your main phase, you can use your ally's abilities like sorceries and they can have very interesting effects, not to mention they raise or lower his loyalty counters as the cost to play the ability. A planeswalker usually has at least 3 abilities - 2 of them which add or subtract very little loyalty, and a powerful ability that usually requires quite a bit of their loyalty to use - but for a really dramatic effect! Remember, they aren't creatures,so they don't engage in combat, and things that effect or target creatures won't bother them!
- Life Counters - Each player starts the game with their life counter at 20. The most common way to win the game is by bringing your opponents' life counters to 0. Some abilities can be used to raise or lower life without actually causing damage, meanwhile there are also ways of inflicting damage on your enemies, through the use of spells and scoring hits on your opponents with your creatures. Just remember, damage causes loss of life, but loss of life isn't necessarily caused by damage!
Well, I hope this section helps a lot of people understand the basic structure of the game and answers the majority of questions you may have about playing. Feel free to come back to this if you find you're in need of clarification on a rule or situation while in game. If you can't find an answer in this, or you're still unsure, you can always post a question down in the comments section and I'll do my best to get your answer to you. Still, the best way to find your answer would be to check the official Wizards Website where you can find the complete rules.
Magic The Gathering Deck Building - Preperations
When preparing to build a Magic deck, there are several factors you should take into account. Everything, foremost, should have some sort of synchronization within the deck or otherwise be supportive, hopefully in more ways than one. You also don't want to overdo it as an effective deck is best left within the guidelines I'm about to show you.
You may choose any colors to work with, but understand the pros and cons of color schemes:
Single Color Decks (Mono-colored) -
- Strengths - Great for speed as you'll undoubtedly have the mana to play most any spell that you have in your hand. Rounding out your deck should be very simple as just about anything in the chosen color will work in your deck. Simple when it comes to updating your deck with new cards, even so much as to say you can go for a slightly larger deck than the favored size (see the section below about Deck Size). Mono-colored decks are great if you're new to Magic!
- Weaknesses - Very susceptible to protection abilities and color targeted spells. You are mostly confined within the color-based abilities and creatures at your disposal - they won't usually be able to have access to the other color oriented areas provided by a multicolored deck. Top-decking is almost guaranteed. If you start off with little to no mana, your opponents can get the jump on you fast and cripple you badly.
Dual Color Decks (Preferred) -
- Strengths - With two colors working together you can have a sweet spot of variety without being overcomplicated by more colors. One color can compliment the other and vice versa, giving extra ability to each. The deck can work fast at mana production and usually not need to worry about being caught stalling. Allows for multicolored spells which can give some good cross-colored effects.
- Weaknesses - Sometimes you might find you have a good supply of one color land and none of the other but your hand is full of spells of the color you need. You still leave yourself open to protection and color targeting cards, but not as bad as a mono-colored deck. You can still miss strengths of the other 3 colors unless you have some hybrids or artifacts to fill in for this.
Three Color Decks (Tri-color) -
- Strengths - Usually best played with 2 major colors with support from the 3rd, or even 1 major color with support from the other two (preferred) granting some really good possibilities for cross-color powers. Tri-color opens the door for some valuable multicolor spells. Exploiting a weakness of your rivals can be done easier.
- Weaknesses - You can easily find yourself wide open and stranded, stuck with only 1 or 2 of your colors and the other 2 or third far out of reach, making land search spells almost a must have (probably even forcing your third color to be green). If most of your cards focus on all 3 colors, just protection from 1 of them could shut you down quick. You can find yourself with a lot of high cost spells that just won't be able to be used quick enough. Your mono-colored spells might suffer if you can't come up with the mana to play them.
Four Color Decks (Quad-color) -
- Strengths - Usually best done with 1, 2, or 3 main colors with support from the others. Gives you access to three sets of tri-colored, multicolor cards - great for some powerful spells! Artifacts that focus on any of your colors can give you some nice, constant abilities and help you stomp your competition.
- Weaknesses - Almost guaranteed that you'll need green as a major color just for land production, probably even for defense while you get your other colors running. May cripple your deck if you don't find your mana quickly or get stuck with high cost or multicolored spells that might never see the light of day. If your opponent(s) have any protection, landwalk, or color targeted spells, they'll most likely be in full effect against your range of colors.
Five Color Decks (Full Multicolored) -
- Strengths - Door is opened completely for some of the most powerful spells in the game (5 color spells) which can usually knock out your opponents all by themselves. Any multicolored spells are an option and there re tons of artifacts and other spells that take advantage of multicolors. Green is one of your 5 colors so you shouldn't have much of a problem with getting land out quick.
- Weaknesses - Protection from 1 color also means protection from all 5 of anything fully multicolored. Your opponents' landwalk and color targeted spells will always be effective. You may find yourself a slave to your lands while your opponent sets you up for an ambush. Even with land production going good, the fact that you have 1 land per turn makes getting anything worth playing out difficult if not impossible - you could end up with your land production sitting lower in your deck with you being stranded and wide open. Your lands can be a very easy target!
Choosing your colors can be fun, but you'll want colors that will compliment each other, not get in each others way. This isn't to say that any certain color works better or worse than any other, in fact, some really great decks can be made with rarer combinations of colors. Here I'll list some pros and cons of the individual colors themselves, as well as how some of them are effective with others:
- WHITE -
White focuses on order and protection through it's structured assortment of creatures and magics. Soldiers, Knights, and even Angels are creatures of light, bringing armies of might and flight. They also harbor magics of protection, prevention, and control. Their enemies are Black and Red due to their evil and chaotic alignments. They tend to work good with either Blue or Green, favoring the control and strength those colors provide.
- White + Blue - Great when you want to construct a control deck! White provides fliers, digressing instants, and lock-down enchantments while helping the player live longer while blue can shut an opponent down with counters and sneaky creatures while playing mind games with your enemies' cards.
- White + Black - What happens when Light and Darkness join together? A life and death deck! While you terrorize your enemies with horrors and wicked Black creatures who keep coming back to life, the powers of white hold their defenses against their will while constantly giving you more life - as if Black's vampirism wasn't enough!
- White + Red - White protects you and keeps you distanced from your enemy while Red's fury delivers a constant bombardment of burn spells, elementals, and dragons that toast your enemies to a crisp!
- White + Green - Soldiers fighting alongside elves with gargantuans accompanied by angels and all the lifeforce and mana you can get to power them up!
- BLUE -
If you like the idea of scrambling your opponents' brains using your mind, then Blue is for you! Conniving Merfolk, twisted Wizards, Birds of prey, and the occasional sneaky Rogue are all there to help bend your opponent to your will, not that they have much choice as you take command of their best creatures or stop them before your opponent has a chance to gasp! The intellect of Blue sees no room in the world for furious Red and the pea-brained brute of Green. They favor the tight control White offers almost as much as the twistedness of Black!
- Blue + Black - The only thing worse than death is death with a brain! What Blue doesn't stop, Black sucks the life out of. Meanwhile your opponent is bent to the vile wishes of both!
- Blue + Red - With the powers of water and fire, your enemies won't have a chance to survive an onslaught of bursting Red burn spells and bombarding Blue counter spells! While your enemies' creatures are in such disarray, you might as well let them join you and allow them to have fun punishing their prior master!
- Blue + Green - Play mind tricks with your enemies with your will-bending Blue powers - then bash their brains in with the grossly gigantic strength of Green! All the while as you put your enemies' creatures out of commission so you don't have to watch them get trampled!
- BLACK -
Death, disease, and decay abound in the powers that be in Black! Necromancy has the dead returning at your vile will to wreak havoc on your burdened opponents with scornful Spirits and Skeletons who don't mind dying again and again! You also have blood tithes of your Vampires to serve you the remains of your enemies - on a dish best served cold! Evil Black shows no mercy for the life and abundance found in White and Green. The wise ways of Blue's wickedness compliments Black wonderfully while the ash produced by Red's rage will work well also!
- Black + Red - Black brings death to the living and life to the dying while Red's fires burn ashes to ashes, and dust to dust! Then Black brings Red's minions back to dust what's left of your opponents off!
- Black + Green - The only thing worse than a grizzly Gargantuan is an undead grizzly Gargantuan. If Green's strength in both brute force and numbers don't get it done the first time, Black's evil tendency to bring them back from the dead will! Meanwhile, Green's growth will spread Black's wilting disease ever further.
- RED -
The burning fury hatred of all things is all things Red! Burning, roasting, and boiling your opponent's tears as your armies of Goblins and Elementals deliver double-striking blows to your rivals minions in a ravenous rage of ever growing cinders! It's said, the only thing redder than Red are your opponents' faces! The chaos in Red cares not for the control found in Blue's waters and the only thing good about White is how bright it's embers glow! The burning decay of Black's rottenness is perfect for Red's burning rage and what's wrong with helpful burning kindle from Green? It's just like what's left - nothing!
- Red + Green - A chorus of consumption that grows - like wildfire! Red lights the way ahead as Green tramples along crushing everything underfoot. Watch in delight as everything your enemies' own - land, creatures, and anything that burns or crumbles - brings them to their knees as you crush them and leave them smoldering in your wake!
- GREEN -
A rolling rock may grow no moss but how dangerous it is to watch the grass grow! Green can plant a seed that cultivates a desert that bursts into a wild, wandering jungle filled with Elves, Wolves, and Trees that like to mingle and mangle! Treefolk and wondrous, wild Gargantuan get ever bigger as they trample your enemies to a pulp. The growth of Green plows over the decaying leftovers of vile Black while sucking sucky Blue dry. Sunlight from White gracefully blooms Greens wilds while Red's burning hunger only adds to Green's Beasts'!
These descriptions, fascinating as they sound, are actually quite spot on to their actual play!
Again, the descriptions above are here to give you an idea of what colors to base your deck on. You should choose one or more that sound good to you and move on to this next area where I am going to tell you how to select the best cards to fit the style you like above.
Akroma - Angel of WrathTM
Magic The Gathering Deck Building - Assembling Your Deck Options
Great Magic The Gathering deck building is achieved by following this list which will have you put together an assortment of cards, match them to a theme you chose above, and construct your deck! Remember, there are a very wide range of cards to choose from. The first thing to consider is what kind of game you are going to be playing your deck in. For instance, if this is going to be a deck used for tournament play, you will only be allowed to choose cards from the most recent playsets, commonly known as Type 2, which is a limit imposed due to tournament rules.
- PLAY TYPES -
Tournament Play - To make your deck for tournament play, you must have a deck of no less than 60 cards that is comprised of cards roughly from the last 4 released sets. For official rules concerning which playsets are currently considered for tournament play, usually known as Type 2, either visit your locally sanctioned gaming center or consult the official Wizards Website.
Extended Play - The extended play rules roughly cover any and all cards which have not been banned or outlawed from play. These cards are very select due to their nature of either being "Broken" (meaning they cause the game to be no contest or otherwise prevent the game from being played and won) or illegal for most any play. You can find out what cards are currently within the extended category by visiting your locally sanctioned gaming center or the official Wizards Website.
Free Play - In free play mode, used for any game with your friends, you can pretty much pick any cards in existence that aren't illegal. Illegal cards are those which either violate gambling laws or are stolen or otherwise violate the intellectual property rights of Wizards (see Disclaimer below).
Remember that a deck assembled for tournament play can also be used for any other play type and those constructed for extended play can also be used in free play mode. Consider that the limited play types may leave you at a disadvantage while playing a more extended play style - they may also grant you an immediate advantage if your deck is comprised of cards which have new abilities that have no weaknesses from previous sets.
The best option here is to go with either Type 2 or Extended - Type 2 being the play style appreciated in most scenarios, while Extended being best in a more open game.
On to the assembling of your cards!
- CREATURES -
Depending on your theme, you will want creatures which add to your playability and not derive from it. For instance, if you have a deck comprised mostly of Elves, you don't want a Treefolk that has an ability that only works with other Treefolk because it won't be helpful with Elves. If your deck has both Treefolk and Elves, the mentioned card might actually be useful then. Just tossing in random cards is not a good idea with Magic The Gathering because this is a game that values strategy in order to really be fun.
- Mana costs of Creatures - The cheaper the mana cost of a creature, the sooner it can come into play. These cheaper costing creatures are usually rather weak in comparison to their more expensive brethren but there are quite a few that have a really nice bonus. Here are some things to consider:
- Creatures with no abilities are good if they match the creature types in your deck when your deck consists of cards that grant strengths and abilities to those creature types. This is known mostly as the Tribal effect. For example, a 1 mana cost 1/1 soldier creature with no abilities doesn't sound to useful, but when you bring in a creature or spell that gives all of the soldier creatures you control +1/+1 and First Strike, that soldier is now capable of killing any 2 toughness creatures that it hits because it will hit first! He is also good because, due to his 1 mana cost, you could probably play him on your first turn, which could give you a free strike on your second turn if your opponent has no creatures out yet.
- Some cheaper creatures might have a good ability that allows them to either grow bigger or be dangerous to touch by your opponents creatures, or even by your opponent. For example, a 1/1 lizard with the Deathtouch ability is almost guaranteed to either get a hit in (because your opponent may not want to sacrifice his good creature to block it because the Deathtouch would kill it) or even prevent your opponent from attacking (if you block an attacking creature with your lizard, it could kill it no matter what size it is). Abilities like this can make the cheaper, weaker creatures very deadly and powerful!
- There are other creatures that are both cheap and weak that have abilities that you can use repetitively for a nice bonus! For instance, a 1 mana cost 1/1 monk might have an ability that, when you tap it, prevents the next 1 damage to you or your creatures. This means, if he was to block another 1/1 that your opponent attacked with, he could block it, killing it when damage is finally dealt, then, before the damage is dealt to him, be tapped to prevent the 1 damage he would have otherwise received. Granted, he would have to wait till after your next turns untap step before this ability could be used, but then you wouldn't have to worry about any other 1/1 attackers. Another example of a good, cheap creature ability is what is known as Firebreathing, which can allow you to pump mana into it at any time to raise it by +1/+0, making it hit harder! It will probably still die, but say it was blocking a 4/3 creature, you could pump 2 mana into it before the damage was dealt and it would take the opposing creature out with it.
- Useful Creature Abilities - There are tons of different abilities that make a creature tougher than usual and it's best to exploit these strengths to defeat your opposition! Here are just a few examples:
- Flying Creatures (usually White or Blue) can give you the swift advantage of being able to fly over the opposing forces and deliver blows to your enemies without worrying about being blocked, considering your opponents have no flying creatures in play of their own or creatures with the Reach ability, which would allow that creature to block flying creatures as though it had flying.
- The Trample Ability is a common ability for bigger creatures (usually Green) that allows them to trample right through your enemy's blockers and still deliver damage to him or her! When a creature with trample attacks, if the creatures assigned to block it have a combined toughness rating lower than the power rating of the attacker, the difference in damage is done to the defending player. For example, Say you attacked with your 8/5 Beast Creature with Trample, and your opponent blocked it with both of their 3/1 creatures. The combined power rating of the 2 blockers (3+3=6) would kill your 8/5, but the lack of defense provided by those blockers (1+1=2) would allow your 8/5 with Trample to kill both of it's blockers and also deal 6 damage (8-2=6) to your opponent!
- Some creatures have special Landwalk Abilities. This can be - plainswalk, islandwalk, swampwalk, mountainwalk, and/or forrestwalk. What this means is, if you attack using a creature with landwalk abilities, and the defending player controls the specified land type, then the attacker is unblockable and the attack cannot be blocked at all! For instance, attacking a player who's using Black in their deck with your 2/2 Knight with Swampwalk, as long as they control a Swamp, they can't block the attack from hitting them. There are creatures from all 5 of the colors that may have this ability.
- The last 2 abilities I'm going to mention are also quite common and very devastating! I've already mentioned above the First Strike ability. What this means is, whether a creature with first strike is attacking or defending, when it hits, it hits before other creatures without first strike. For example, say your opponent attacks with his 3/2 Merfolk. If you chose to defend this attacker using your 2/2 creature with First Strike, your first strike creature would hit and kill his creature before it even had a chance to damage yours, leaving your creature unharmed! Another ability called Double Strike allows the creature with this ability to not only hit before other creatures without first strike, but also hit yet a second time when all normal creatures hit. For instance, say you were being attacked by the same 3/2 Merfolk mentioned above, but this time you instead blocked it with your 1/4 Goblin with Double Strike. Your Goblin would first hit the Merfolk with 1 first strike damage, then, as the Merfolk hit with it's 3 damage, your Goblin would hit again for another 1 damage, killing it (1+1=2) while surviving the attack (4-3=1)!
I hope the tips above have helped you to decide what creatures you want to use, but creatures aren't the only cards you will want in your deck. Next I will help you choose some support from Instants and Sorceries!
- INSTANTS -
Instants are Magic's way of just saying no! These are some descriptions of the many counters and calamities that may cause your competition major complications!
- The Counter Spell is the most common form of instants (favored by Blue). Just when your opponent thinks they've got the drop on you, taps a bunch of mana, and slaps down their most feared creature, you tap in a few mana of your own and say No! s you plop down a simple Counter Creature spell and watch as the look on your opponent's face turns from gleeful victory to instant aggravation as they are forced to toss their best card straight into their graveyard. There are all sorts of counter spells, some are specific to card types but they all have the same effect - play it in response to a spell being played and that spell is canceled before it even goes off. One special note - if a player has an ability in play on the battlefield that states something "happens whenever" a certain spell is played, and that type of situation is "happening" when a counter goes off, the spell has technically still been played, it just never went off, so the "something happening" effect still counts!
- Another brutal Instant is the Burn Spell. Burn spells are instant damage spells that allow you to choose a creature and/or player (known as targeting) that is instantly dealt damage. These are common in Red decks for "burning" away your rivals life and creatures throughout the game, but they do have some great uses - one, during an attack or while you're defending, say one of your creatures fought an opponent's creature and didn't quite do enough damage to kill it. Now, you play an instant burn spell and finish it off! What if you just nailed your opponent with every creature you had on the board, but it left them with 1 or 2 life left, just coming up short? You could even currently have the same amount of life left yourself and had just left yourself wide open for your rival's next turn. Well, if you have an instant burn spell handy, you can finish them off right then and there and beat them before they even have a chance to retaliate!
- Another great Instant is the Destroy Spell! These spells can, again, be specific to what card types they effect, but when used they instantly destroy whatever you target with them. Sometimes even preventing the target from regenerating!
- Regenerate is yet another Instant in magic that, when used, puts a regenerate counter (in this case, the counter is a coin or a die that represents an amount, not counter as in a counter spell) on that creature. Regenerate counters are for whenever the next time that creature is destroyed, you can regenerate it (back to full health), tap it, and remove it from combat. It's one way to prevent death or destroy spells from effecting a creature or other permanent you have in play on the battlefield. This is also usually an ability that many creatures have, and it can be used at will (considering you can pay any costs to use it) just like an Instant spell.
- The next Instant I'm going to mention here is the Blink Spell. What this spell does is blink a creature out of existence - meaning it is instantly exiled and removed from the game so that whatever was about to happen to it completely fails to happen because the creature is suddenly not there for anything to happen to it. There are different blink effects - some blink a creature out and have it come right back, some are good for blinking out an opponent's creature, exiling it and removing it from the game forever. Others have the creature blink out and return that creature card to your hand to play again later, or even putting it back on top of it's owners library!
- The last Instant I'll discuss is the Buff Spell. Buff spells do exactly as they suggest - they buff up (or down) the creature you choose (target) a certain amount of +1/+1 (or -1/-1) rating points, effecting their power/toughness rating. Sometimes, this buff is in the form of permanent +1/+1 (or even -1/-1) counters (in this case, the term counters refers to a coin or a die that represents an amount, not counter as in a counter spell) that stay with the creature for the duration of the creature's existence (unless removed or altered by other spells or abilities) in play on the battlefield. The buff spells that aren't permanent will usually only last until the end of the turn. There are many different buff spells in the game. Some of them will grant a +X/+X to a creature. The writing on the card will tell you how to figure out what number the X's are (usually you will pay a mana cost that has an X in a grey circle as part of the cost, meaning you can pump as much mana of any color into X - other times, X is represented by how many of a certain card or creature type you have).
There are plenty of other Instants in the game. There are some special things you should know about instants. They can be played during any players turn, even during combat, but are best played in response to another spell being played or effect happening. You will notice that many Sorceries have effects you may see on Instant cards - That's because an Instant is pretty much the same thing as a Sorcery, just that you can use it whenever you see fit instead of only during your Main Phase like a sorcery. Another similarity shared between Instants and Sorceries is that they are played, their effects happen, and then they go directly to your graveyard - these two Card Types are the only ones that are never permanents! You will also notice most of these spell effects can also be found as Activated Abilities (see description just below) on Creatures and other permanents, most of which can also be used instantly at any time (sometimes it will say "play this anytime you may play a Sorcery" signaling it can only be used during your Main Phase) considering you can pay the costs required to gain the effect.
Here I want to mention a very special ability called the Activated Ability. Activated Abilities are recognized by their format, which is -COST: effectNotice the (:) colon character. What this means is, if you pay all of the costs on the LEFT of the colon: you get to cause the effects on the right side of the colon!Most lands will have the tap symbol, followed by the (:) colon, followed by "add (specific mana symbol(s)) to your mana pool." This is an example of an activated ability! Unless otherwise stated on the card, activated abilities act just like instants - they can be played at any time!
- SORCERIES -
A Sorcery is pretty much the same type of spell as an Instant - you play it, the effects happen, it goes to the graveyard - but you can't play a Sorcery just any time you want to - you can only play a Sorcery during your Main Phases. This is because the effects of Sorceries are usually, a little to a lot, bigger than the effects of an Instant. I will list a couple of these more dramatic spell effects here:
- Destroy All Spells are one of the most brutal spells in the game and they may or may not also effect you and/or your creatures/permanents. This does exactly as it says and everything it effects is put into their owners' graveyards (or removed from the game, or reshuffled back into their owners' libraries - whatever the card says). This kind of spell, as you'll notice, doesn't specify a target - it simply "blankets" everything in play that's on the battlefield, that the spell pertains to. This means that certain cards that "can't be targeted by spells or abilities" are still effected! This spell may also state that the effects can't be prevented, countered, or that permanents effected cannot be regenerated.
- Card Draw Spells come in many varieties. Some let you (or a chosen (targeted) player) draw either a predetermined amount of cards or X amount of cards (where X is the amount of mana you pump into the spell, or creatures you control - whatever the card says). There are also Discard Spells that work similar.
There are a ton more Sorceries that you will find and they all have a wide range of effects and uses.
Now I will discuss Artifacts and Enchantments. These 2 card types are similar to each other as well - they both cost mana to play, they are both permanents, and they both sit in play on the battlefield. Artifacts and Enchantments, Equipments and Auras, respectively, can also be attached to Creatures. Enchantments (auras), when they come into play and on the battlefield, do so targeting and attaching to a permanent. They go to the graveyard when the permanent they're attached to goes away (though some abilities can prevent this by either bringing the enchantment back to it's owner's hand, or letting the owner reattach it to another target permanent, or whatever else the card says). Artifacts (equipments), come into play unattached to anything and stay in play and on the battlefield if a permanent they're attached to goes away (the creature that "had" it, "drops" it). Also, most Artifacts are colorless.
- ARTIFACTS -
The Artifact Card Type is usually used as filler because of it's nature of being colorless, although there are colored artifacts. They all do really different things, most of them are far out of the ordinary and/or grant extraordinary abilities! Special artifacts, called Equipments, can be attached to creatures (and sometimes other permanents) to make them stronger of grant abilities. Again, they stay in play if the creature they are attached to leaves play, and they can be used again and again, even taken from one creature and attached to another. Attaching can only be done any time you could play a Sorcery, unless the card mentions otherwise. Here I will list some common uses Artifacts provide:
- Mana Source Artifacts do just as this suggests, they can, either with or without further cost, be tapped for mana as if they were a land. As are most artifacts, they come with the activated ability to do this, sometimes even having more than one activated ability!
- Triggered Artifacts have a special ability that automatically kicks off whenever the situation occurs that triggers it (even though most will say that you "may" have the ability happen - meaning you don't have to have it happen if you don't want it to). Good examples of this are the many artifacts that give you life whenever a spell of a specific color is played (even if your opponent played that color spell).
- Sacrificial Artifacts are artifacts that usually have one main purpose - they sit there in play on the battlefield until you need their abilities, and when you do, you usually have to tap it, sacrifice it, sending it to the graveyard (there is usually even a mana cost to do this as well) all in order to get the ability stated on the card. This is a nice ability because it sits in plain view of your adversaries, telling them that you can do this any time you deem necessary (it's an activated ability so it works like an instant), making them think twice about what cards they might play or actions they might perform, should you use it against them!
- Most Equipment Artifacts are for use on your creatures, and most grant more than one ability to the creature you attach it to. Usually, it grants a buff to their power/toughness rating and a special ability like Deathtouch or Shroud (which means the creature it is attached to can't be targeted by any spells or abilities while it is attached to that creature (your spells or abilities either - though remember that "blanket" effects aren't targeting this creature so they will effect it)), or whatever the card says it grants, some even give activated abilities to the creature!
I hope the above tips have helped you figure out what artifacts you may want to use. Now for some Enchantments:
- Blanket Effect Enchantments will cover everything on the battlefield they pertain to (unless a card has protection from that color enchantment). Quite a few will buff all of your creatures (or all of a specific type of creature you control) constantly, or give them all an activated ability constantly, or even make specific spells cheaper than their original mana cost - constantly! Some will even allow or make your lands (or all lands on the battlefield, including yours and your enemies') tap for more mana, sometimes of different colors, or even colors of your choice. They can even have effects that dig very deep into the game, like making all non-land cards the color you choose (meaning, if you choose Red, then even spells that are White are also Red) or a specific card type (like making all your creature cards Enchantments as well as creatures), in addition to whatever color or type they may be! These types of enchantments can be very dramatic, even resetting the game each turn (life counters stay the same but everything else is reshuffled and all players redraw their hands, etc., depending on what the card says)!
- Lock Down Auras are good for stunting or even disabling your opponents' creatures! Most, when they are brought in and attached to your opponents' creatures, will say that the enchanted creature is no longer allowed to attack or block! Sometimes, the creature isn't even allowed to use it's activated abilities. Others are used on the creatures that are tapped, making it so the creature can never be untapped!
- Protection Auras can protect their wearer from different things depending on what the card says - a color, any enchantments, even from your opponents spells and abilities (almost like Shroud but it doesn't stop you from using your spells and abilities on your protected creature) - what's more is that some of these auras are made to attach to a land, or an artifact - even some attach to you, the player!
I bet you have a bunch of great ideas on what you want to use in your deck now! I hope you've also been looking at your cards' abilities and effects to see how different cards work well to power up others. I suggest you also take into account that things you know that your cards can do are also things you need to watch out for from your opponents! This is where you will want your Instants, Sorceries, and activated abilities to focus on, mostly, so that you can defend yourself as well as attack.
Once you have a great batch of cards that have some good flow with each other and are matched up to as few colors to make them work as possible, it's time to move on to the next section where I will explain how to best sort and set your cards along with how to figure out how many of each color land you'll need. You're almost to the point of having a terrific, powerful deck!
Magic The Gathering Deck Building - Completing Your Deck
I've discussed the essentials of how the game works. I've discussed how to decide on what colors and themes to choose from. I've also discussed how to sort through your cards to flesh out your theme with Creatures, Instants, Sorceries, Artifacts and Enchantments. Now, in this section I will explain how you put it all together, figure out your land base, and finally complete your new, powerful deck!
After you have decided on what cards work for your theme, you now need to sort them in this specific way. First off, make sure there are no more than 4 copies of the same card - this is called a playset of a card and you may not have more than 4 copies of any card in a deck. At the end of this you may have less than that in your deck. Sort your cards as follows:
- First, we divide your cards by color. In front of you, lay out the cards, face up, in stacks, per this color rule from left to right - White, Blue, Black, Red, Green, Colorless - Don't worry about the colors you decided not to have in your deck.
- Now, separate each stack into viewable, stacked columns using this card type rule from top to bottom - Creatures (and/or Artifact Creatures), Sorceries, Instants, Enchantments, Artifacts - You probably won't have any Sorceries, Instants, or Enchantments that are colorless.
- Starting from the top of the farthest left column (White Creatures if you are using White) to the bottom of that column (in this case, White Artifacts (or White Enchantments if you own no White Artifacts)) and then moving from left to right through all stacks and columns, sort your cards so that the cheaper mana cost cards are at the top of each stack and the more expensive costing cards are at the bottom of each stack.
- Now, we will be making a base of 40 cards from these stacks. For Mono-colored (single color) decks, you can choose to have a base of 50 cards because you only have 1 color, but it is suggested you have no more than 43 non-land cards in a deck for it to have the best output of card-to-land ratio. We start with 40 cards, then if we have to, we add up to 3 more. Now I want you to pull out of your stacks, the top 5 cards you want to have in your deck. These 5 cards should either be your strongest creatures or your most devastating non-creature spells. The more these 5 support all of the rest, the better -or- these cards should be supported by the rest. We call these our Primary Key Cards. It's sometimes best to pick out 2 or 3 best creatures and 2 or 3 big non-creature spells. If you have trouble deciding on the last of these 5 to pick out from 2 or 3 cards, then grab either both or all 3, but remember this cuts into your 43 cards by 1 or 2 from your 40 base. These can be Artifact Creatures as well.
- Now you want to pick 10 creatures that are strong in your deck - they give other creatures abilities or they do stuff that helps you get land in play, or other valuable abilities. If you pulled out 1 or 2 extra creatures/cards from the last step, you can decide to use them as part of this step instead and just pull 8 or 9 strong creatures out. These can be Artifact Creatures as well.
- Now you need to grab 5 great Instants out. If you don't have many instants in this theme, then fill in your 5 with sorceries, if not them then with artifacts.
- Now you need 10 cards of any combination of 1 or 2 mana cost cards that give you the best support.
- We should now have a total of 30 cards in our deck base. Set them aside. Now, doing just 2 cards at a time, pick a great card from what's left, and a good card from what's left. Try to pick out the card that supports anything else the most as your great card, and a card that gets the most support from everything else as your good card. As an example, if I had a lot of Merfolk in a Blue deck, I would pick a card that either supports my Merfolk cards, or that has a good blue-cost activated ability as my great card, and a Merfolk that is as strong as possible as my good card. Do this 2 more times, then set these 6 cards aside with your other 30 cards.
- Now, from the cards you have left, grab 5 that are cheap but effective, and 5 that are 3 or 4 mana cost that are effective. If you have a good card that you want still sitting there, use that as one of your 5 moderate costing cards. If you have 2 that are good, use one in your 5 moderate costing cards, and one in your cheap costing cards. Put these 2 stacks of 5 cards aside but separate from each other and your base cards.
- Pick the 10 best cards from your remaining selection and set them aside in yet another stack apart from your 6 card stack, apart from your 2 5 stacks and apart from your base 30. Put the rest of the cards you haven't used aside or away, you won't need them anymore - if you notice a card or 2 you want in your deck among the cards you are putting away, you can swap them with 1 or 2 cards from one of your stacks of 5 or from the stack of 6.
- Now, you know from what I said earlier that you will need a base of 40 cards, and so far we have 30. We also have 1 stack of 6, 2 stacks of 5 and a stack of 10. From your first stack of 5, I want you to remove 2 of the least favorite and put them away. Do this with your other stack of 5 as well, but remove 3 cards this time and put them away. Now put the stack of 2 and the stack of 3 with your stack of 10 and mix them up well.
- You now have a 6 card stack and a 15 card stack and you need 10 to complete your base. 3 cards at a time from the top of the 15 card stack, I want you to look at them, pull one out you want the least, put it away and set the other two aside. Now, pick either 1 card from your 6 card stack or 1 card from the 10 card stack to get rid of. Now, put the 15 remaining cards together again and do what we just did with the other 15 card stack, but put the 2 you want to keep from each 3 card choice straight into your deck. Do this until you have your 40 card base!
- Now that we have our base deck, we want to determine what our lands should be. Redo steps 1 through 3 with these cards until you have them sorted the way we did in the beginning.
- Now, I want you to total up, one color at a time, every instance of a single color from each card from left to right through your colors. For instance, at the top of the left most color, you should have your cheapest cards (probably 1 mana cost cards, and White if you are using White in your deck). Going from top to bottom, and only counting the mana symbols found in the upper right corners, count them all up and find out how many you have total of that specific color symbol. For instance, White cards may start with a couple of 1 White cost cards, a 1 colorless and 1 white cost card, a 2 white cost card, a 2 colorless and 1 white cost card, and so on - we only need to tally up the white, not the colorless. Do this for each color you have in your deck and remember how many of each color you have in your deck. If you have multicolor cards (like 2 colorless, 1 white and 2 blue cost), count them for each color they have as well (in the example, we would count the 1 white with our white tally, and the 2 blue with our blue tally).
- We now determine what lands we need by observing our color tallies. First, we need to know that we will have 20 lands total, no matter the outcome. If you are making a mono color deck (one color), just grab 20 lands of that color! If we are making a dual-color deck, we divide our colors evenly between our 2 colors so that the color we need the most we add the most of and the color we need the least we add the least of. You may end up with 12 white (plains) and 8 blue (islands) if most of our dual colored white/blue deck is white. For a tri-color deck, start with a base of 6 cards of each color - if, for instance our deck is white/blue/black, and white and blue had more in their tallies than the black, we might have 7 white (plains), 7 blue (islands), and 6 black (swamps). Maybe, we had many more white than blue, but still more than black - we could then deduce that our deck needs 8 white and 6 each of the other 2 colors. For quad color decks, you should start with 5 of each color then add/subtract what you need of each color depending on your tallies. For 5 color decks, start with 5 of each color and then remove 5 depending on what color needs the least amount of lands and so on from your tallies.
- We should now have a 40 card base and 20 lands. If you needed any extra cards to feel better about your deck, you should add no more than 3. If you have a 5 color deck, you should add 1 more land of the least color to your deck and 1 non-land card that will either produce mana of your most tallied color or allow you land search options.
FOR ANY DECK - If you have them, feel free to swap out a basic land for a Terramorphic Expanse Land card, as these cards are useful for getting any land you need into play quickly! This card is found in any core set and always will be - it can be brought in as your land for the turn, then you instantly tap it, sacrifice it and put it in your graveyard, then search your library for whatever land you need and put it into play tapped, then shuffle your library.
Now that you have your deck, simply set out your lands, then set out your non-lands, 2 at a time on top of each land, pick each 3 card pile up at random and shuffle your deck. You now have a great deck that's ready to play!
Feel free to visit this site anytime you need to reference any rules of if you would like to build another deck. If a rule isn't explained here, you can always find it on the official Wizards Website. Have fun!