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How to build a Magic the Gathering Deck (for beginners)

Updated on February 23, 2013
A pre-built MTG deck
A pre-built MTG deck | Source

Building a deck

Building a Magic the Gathering (MTG) deck is not an incredibly complicated process but it is in no way a simple one. Typically beginners will put together a deck by just throwing some cards together, adding a couple rares, putting in some land, and hoping for the best. This is, obviously, not the best way to go about this and if this hub does nothing else it will at least teach you about some structure to deck building in MTG. Before we get started I will warn you that this is not for pro MTG players. This is my technique, it has worked well for me, and I hope the same goes for you.

Also, you may notice the picture of a pre-built deck to the right, these are great for beginners but lack originality. For this How To you can start with a pre-built deck but you should have a pretty good amount of other cards that you can use to create a new deck.

Let's get started!

Okay, so the first thing you should do is pick something to base your deck around. This could be a certain ability (flying, shroud, first strike) a color (green, red) or a card type (goblin, wizard, beast). You can mix these together if you want (a green-red beast and goblin deck). When you are picking a base for your deck I do not recommend having a single card as the base. This is the downfall of many decks because having your entire deck revolve around one card will yield a weak deck. You may possibly be able to do this with a plainswalker but I would still not recommend it.

Next, arrange all the cards you have that are related to the base of your deck. What I typically do is lay out all my cards on a table so I can get a good visual of everything I have. Now we're ready to build a deck.

A forest land card
A forest land card

Building the deck

The first thing you should do once you have all your cards laid out is pick out your land. I recommend you build a 60 card deck with 20 land. If you are building a 45 card deck then use 15 land. Your land should make up 1/3 of your deck.

Picking land should be relatively simple, if you have a one color deck then all your land should be that color, if you have a two color deck then use 10 of one type of land and 10 of the other. This is your choice, your deck may rely heavily on a single color but does include other colors so you may want to have 15 of the type of land you will rely heavily on and 5 of the other. An example would be my sunburst deck, I have 10 forests, 3 islands, 3 mountains, 2 plains, and 2 islands. This may seem like an odd arrangement to you but it has worked really well for me. Picking what kinds of land you include is really up to you, this shouldn't be a complicated process.

Next is picking your creatures. I usually have around 20-25 creatures in each of my decks. Most decks rely more on creatures than on cards in the "other" category (instants, sorceries, enchantments, artifacts, etc.) so I would recommend have closer to 25 creatures unless your deck has a focus on a type of card in the "other" category. When picking creatures look through all the cards you have laid out and pick any card that you like and you think might work in your deck. Don't worry about how many cards you pick, you will narrow down your picks later on. Make sure to remember to pick a healthy mix of weak creatures, strong creatures, mythic rares, rares, uncommons, and commons.

Once you have done this then repeat the process for cards in the "other" category (instants, sorceries, enchantments, artifacts, etc.). Again, do not worry about how many cards you have picked, the next step will be to shrink your deck until it is 60 cards (or 45).

Refining your deck

Now that you have all the cards you would like to have in your deck go back and take a look at how many cards you need to get rid of. Hopefully this is around 0-15 cards, if it is anything more that is okay but it will mean more work for you. Get rid of cards you don't think you'll need until you have 60 or 45 cards in your deck, remember to include 20-25 monsters and 15-20 "others." If you are a little bit over or a little bit under 60 or 45 cards that is okay but you shouldn't be more than 5 cards off. For example, if you are building a 60 card deck then make sure you don't have more than 65 cards or less than 55.

Once you are done with this then CONGRATULATIONS, you have built a deck. This should be all you have to do but I would recommend looking at the next section before going to play.

Re-Refining your deck

You have a deck and you can't wait to play right? Well good, you have a right to be excited but keep something in mind when you are playing. Watch how your deck is performing as you play, do you need more creatures, is there a card that really doesn't need to be in your deck, is there a card you really need in your deck, does your deck perform well in the start of the match, can you finish the opponent? These are all questions you need to ask yourself as you are playing. After you've played with your deck a couple times go back to your cards and try to fix the problems you've had. This is an ongoing process but once you have re-refined your deck a couple times you should have a good deck on your hands!!!


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    • profile image

      Xavier 12 months ago

      Wow actually worked

    • profile image

      patrick 2 years ago

      Wow best article ever!

    • profile image

      owen carmean 3 years ago

      I just started

    • profile image

      Cloud shift 1732 4 years ago

      I Just started MTG and I was having an erroneous time crafting my deck

      I tried 7 different times none of the other websites would even there decks out (maybe that's just me?)

    • profile image

      Sturgis Liapis 4 years ago

      I need help with my black vampire deck. It seems to work most of the time, but on the other hand is weak. I'm new to Magic, and really, really enjoy it. Is there something I can only, somewhere I can go to get help??

    • profile image

      Rolo 5 years ago

      This is a nice guide, though in the official MTG rules it states that your deck must contain AT LEAST 60 cards. You can have as many cards as you want, as long as it is above 60.

      Also for 60 cards of which 20 are lands I think 25 creature cards is quite a lot. This also depends heavily on what kind of deck and what color(s) you are playing. Also it depends on your own playstyle. I like a lot of creatures but I know some people that like to play with a lot of artifacts, enchantments, instants or sorceries instead. :)

    • profile image

      Aspen 5 years ago

      I have only 38 cards do I enough for a deck?

    • profile image

      Jay 5 years ago

      The less than 55 cards thing seems odd. Your deck has to be 60 cards minimum - so poor example.

    • profile image

      Gio Ver 5 years ago

      What should I name my UW Human AGGRO Deck?

    • profile image

      Sweet 5 years ago

      I have a red/green deck lol

    • profile image

      content apreciated 6 years ago

      helped out a lot actually, just started getting into Magic, so this helped me out very much. thank you very much :D

    • Drenguin profile image

      Drenguin 6 years ago from Somewhere

      Nice, yeah I have built a lot of decks so I don't even know where to start. I've built a couple goblin decks (my boomy decks) a mill deck, I have a blue flying deck and a white cat/loxodon deck along with a lot of others. I don't play magic too much any more but I'm still into it.

    • jeremejazz profile image

      Jereme Causing 6 years ago from Philippines

      Whoah you play magic cards..

      I used to play that before but I'm kinda busy at work.. I just built my first deck a few months before.. what deck did you build?.. mine is a soldier type.. with some healing stuffs.. I just need an ajani but it's very expensive


    • Drenguin profile image

      Drenguin 6 years ago from Somewhere

      I still play but I do notice that Magic isn't quite as popular as it used to be. The new video game that came out did help bring the game back though.

    • thranax profile image

      Andrew 6 years ago from Rep Boston MA

      I have a friend who still goes to Magic conventions/tournaments. I assumed it was basically dead but I guess that's just around my local area.