Magic: The Gathering deck types

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The game Magic: The Gathering requires each player to have their own deck in order to play. There are over ten thousand unique cards which can be used for this purpose; thus a considerable number of different decks can be constructed. However, decks can usually be loosely classified based on their play style and mode of victory.[1]


[edit] Basic Deck types

Most classifications of decks begin from one of three major types: aggro (aggression), control, and combo.

[edit] Aggro

Aggro or beatdown decks attempt to win quickly through force rather than focus on a long-term gameplan. Aggro decks focus on converting their cards into damage; they are interested in engaging in a tempo-based race rather than a card advantage-based attrition war. Such decks generally rely on creatures as a cumulative source of damage. According to Jeff Cunningham, aggro is often underestimated because it is "the most strategically primitive of the decktypes" despite being able to quickly punish opponents with subpar draws while remaining dangerous in the late game against a severely damaged opponent. Aggro decks also generally have access to disruptive elements, which can signficantly inhibit the opponent's ability to curtail their attacks.[2]

[edit] Control

Control decks avoid racing and attempt to slow the game down by executing an attrition plan. Once they do, they capitalize from their slower, but more powerful, cards.[10] The most empowering attribute of control decks is their ability to devalue the opponent’s cards. They do this in four ways:[11]

1) Erasing threats at a reduced cost. Whether this means killing a multitude of creatures with one spell, using a relatively cheap counterspell to stop an expensive spell, drawing cards, or using a single discard spell on multiple cards, control decks gain card advantage when they have the time and opportunity to match their answers to opposing threats.

2) Not playing threats to be answered. Control decks are so robustly dedicated to reactive spells that it can go without playing early creatures and other proactive spells. This means that whatever reactive cards the opponent has may not find targets. This has been labeled virtual card advantage, as it makes opposing removal cards so narrow that they are almost as good as dealt with.

3) Disrupting synergies. Even if control decks do not deal with every threat directly, they can leave out whichever ones stand poorly on their own and still be in good shape. The most extreme example of this is a creature enchantment that might never need attention if all enemy creatures are quickly removed.

4) Dragging the game out past opposing preparations. An opponent's faster, efficient cards will become less and less effective over time.

[edit] Combo

Combo decks utilize the interaction of two or more cards (a "combination") at the same time or in sequence, resulting in a powerful effect. Combo decks can also use a single powerful spell to instantly win the game while the rest of the deck is designed to ensure its success. Many decks have smaller, combo-like interactions between their cards, which is better described as synergy. A good combo should be fast (achievable early enough in the game to matter), consistent (regularly achievable), and powerful (so the effect translates into victory).

[edit] Hybrid strategies

[edit] Aggro-Control

Aggro-control is a hybrid archetype that contains both aggressive creatures and control elements. Aggro-control is well-typified by Blue-Green Madness and Threshold. These decks attempt to deploy quick threats while protecting them with light permission and disruption long enough to win. These are frequently referred to as "tempo" strategies, as their control elements are often more temporary; for instance, they may return opposing creatures to their owners hands rather than remove them entirely.

[edit] Midrange

Midrange strategies seek to control the game's first few turns and then win in the middle turns with large, yet highly efficient, threats. The black-green "Rock" deck is one of the most common decks to execute this strategy: it uses cheap creature removal and discard in the early turns to disrupt aggro and combo decks, and then starts playing large creatures in the middle turns that are, if not removed, capable of ending the game quickly after hitting play.

[edit] Control-Combo

Normally, Control-Combo is a control deck with a combo finisher that it can spring quickly if need be. A notable subtype of Control-Combo is "prison," which institutes control through resource denial and tap effects (usually via a combo).

[edit] Aggro-Combo

Aggro-combo decks employ aggressive creature strategies along with some combination of cards that can win in "combo" fashion with one big turn. For instance, Ravager Affinity decks that include Disciple of the Vault can win by attacking with creatures and also with a combo finish of sacrificing multiple artifacts to Arcbound Ravager and killing the opponent with Disciple triggers.

[edit] Aggro-Control-Combo

Aggro-control-combo decks combine efficient, creature-based damage, heavy disruption elements, and an ability to unleash an extremely powerful internal synergy. This very rare decktype is usually only seen in deeper formats that feature enough specific cards and enough powerful cards to allow decks that are strategically very versatile. [25]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Aggro, Combo, and Control by Jeff Cunningham
  2. ^ Playing Against Aggro by Jeff Cunningham
  3. ^ We've Got the Beatdown by Mark Rosewater
  4. ^ Aggro, Combo, and Control by Jeff Cunningham
  5. ^ Gob-volution by Brian David-Marshall
  6. ^ Deconstructing White Weenie by Brian David-Marshall
  8. ^ Famous Red Decks in Magic History by Alex Shvartsman
  9. ^ Vintage on a Budget: Suicide Black 2K9 by Stephen Menendian
  10. ^ Playing Against Control by Jeff Cunningham
  11. ^ Your First Control Deck by Ben Rubin
  12. ^ Standardizing Standard: Mono Blue Control by HKKID
  13. ^ Chicago-Style U/W Control by Zvi Mowshowitz
  14. ^ Giant-Sized Regionals Primer: Psychatog by Mike Flores
  15. ^ You CAN Play Type I #17: The Control Player's Bible, Part I by Oscar Tan
  16. ^ The Perfect Storm by Stephen Menendian
  17. ^ Painters, Grindstones, and Blasts, Oh My! by JACO
  18. ^ Dragon bu Peter Olszewski
  19. ^ Landstill in Legacy by Belgareth
  20. ^ Deconstructing Stasis by Brian David-Marshall
  21. ^ How to Play Control Slaver Now by Brian DeMars
  22. ^ Drain Tendrils: Staying Ahead of the Curve by Codi Vinci
  23. ^ Chaining Goblins by Paul Sottosanti
  24. ^ Deconstructing Fires by Brian David-Marshall
  25. ^ Aggro, Combo, and Control by Jeff Cunningham
  26. ^ Gardening In Vintage: How To Gro-A-Tog And Clip A Lotus by Stephen Menendian and Paul Mastriano

[edit] See also

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