How To Pick A Deck – Introduction

How To Pick A Deck – Introduction

Whether you play Magic: The Gathering professionally, casually, or you just got in to the game, picking the right deck for you is as important as knowing how to play the game. It is easy to just look at the top deck of the last big tournament, copy the decklist, and start playing it; but if you are not compatible with the deck, it is less likely for you to get the same top results. While experience with a deck will help improve your results, it is equally as important that the deck you play matches your personality. If you want positive, lasting results it is important to play a deck that you are truly compatible with and enjoy playing.

Deck Types

There are three main deck types in Magic: Aggro, Control, and Combo. Aggressive decks try to overwhelm their opponents with creatures and spells to whittle away at their life total as efficiently as possible. Control decks try to prevent their opponents from winning while amassing resources to play a threat that their opponents cannot win through. Combo decks try to put pieces of their combo together to destroy their opponent in one or two turns. Each of the main deck types have their pros and cons, and it is important that you understand how you want to play so you can pick the type of deck to build.

Note: There are other variations of the decks noted above. Magic has a wide variety of decks to fit your needs.


Magic: the Gathering R&D has labeled three main player personalities, and like deck types, not everyone fits neatly into a single personality.

The Timmy: “Win Big.” Timmy tends to build up an army of unstoppable creatures and overwhelm their opponent. They tend to care more about the quality of their win than the quantity of their wins, so if they play ten games and only win three, they are happy as long as they won those three games the way they wanted.

The Johnny: “Win My Way.” Johnny tends to be a Combo player who likes to construct pieces of a puzzle that will destroy their opponent in a way they did not see coming. They are more interested in how cards interact with one another than winning every game, but they also put a lot of thought in to building a deck that will win as often as possible. They are more competitive than a Timmy, but still care about getting style points with their deck more than or equal to actually winning every match.

The Spike: “Win, Win, Win!” Spike needs to win at all costs. They are looking at the most efficient way to win. They care less about synergy and flare than simply being able to beat their opponent. A Spike can win nine out of ten games and still not be happy if they think they could have won that tenth game if they played just a little bit differently. Spike is also considered the “serious tournament player.”

Play Style

How well do you know yourself? Knowing yourself is half the battle; do you want to play conservatively, always keeping cards in your hand to have an answer to anything your opponent plays? Do you want to just drop your hand on to the battlefield and apply constant pressure to your opponent? Do you want to always have a threat on the field and hope your opponent runs out of answers? Or do you want to prevent your opponent from winning and finally play a threat that your opponent can not catch up to? Knowing yourself will help you decide what archetype to play. Everyone plays Magic differently, and their play style needs to reflect their personality. By playing a deck type you are compatible with, you are more likely to have fun and, more importantly, see dramatic improvements in your record. By playing a deck that you are not compatible with, you will not see all of the natural lines of play, you will not understand all of the interactions, and you will not understand the synergy between cards that will surprise your opponent and lead you to victory against matches that might not be in your favor.

Moving Forward

Throughout this series, I will be going into more detail for each of the three main personalities and give examples of archetypes that personify each play style. I will signify the general pros and cons for each archetype with the expectation that you will have the information you need to pick the right deck for you to play and how to excel at having fun and doing well. I will also be detailing how to safely modify the deck of your choice to make it truly yours. So, join me next time as I go into more detail some of my favorite Timmy style decks.

Software Engineer and MTG Player

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *