June 15, 2012
By Sean aka SwordsToPlow
The link below refers to a collection deck building templates. People can use these to build some of the basic archetypes of Commander. The templates are meant to be starting points to use if you are unsure of how to go about building a new deck. Like most systems, the templates are not perfect. If you use them, don’t be afraid to adjust them to fit your needs. There are four basic Archetypes among the templates, Casual, Aggro, Combo, and Control. These templates cover 4 different sub-archetypes for each of these main archetypes. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, I hope you find them useful for a starting point in Commander deck building.
Casual decks are decks that are not chasing a particular path to victory. The goal of a casual deck is more centered on how the deck plays than how the deck wins. These are the kind of decks I have noticed new players being drawn to. The positive side is that you will be playing something that is fun to play. The negative side is that they usually don’t win as often as focused decks.
Aggro decks try to win though combat damage and tend to be very straight forward. Aggro decks are great for players who like to focus on what is on the battlefield. While they will have some answers to opponents threats, their favorite answer is just to kill someone before they become a threat.
Combo decks win by putting together several specific cards to become victorious. Combo decks are for people who really like to solve puzzles. While combo players will often win when no one interacts with them, games are more enjoyable for them if they are challenged. Combo players carry the deck equivalent of sniper rifles. They need to be very careful in how they play to not attract the attentions of their opponents.
Control decks are highly interactive decks. These decks are meant to touch the game during many turns and on all levels. Control decks are the dungeon masters of the Commander world. Contrary to popular belief, control players aren’t there to stop people from playing cards. These decks are the politicians of the Commander world. You want to govern the direction of the game with a gentle touch. if the people unite against you, it’s game over.
The four casual templates provided are Good Stuff, Tribal, Themed and Tokens.
- Good Stuff decks are built around incremental card advantage. You can basically put any variety of card advantage producing cards in the deck. You plan to win in the long run thanks to the advantage created. These decks are great for beginners because they play in a way that lets you always have cards to play or in hand.
- Tribal decks are just decks built around a specific creature type such as elves, goblins or merfolk. Tribal decks are best used if you are a fan of the creature type and have been collecting them anyways. Usually a tribe will bring with it certain styles that will be reflected throughout your playing experience, even if it wasn’t planned. Tribal decks can end up being very good simply because they generally give you low costed spells and effects that stack to create powerful late game threats.
- Themed decks try to push any sort of theme throughout the deck. This could vary from building a deck around Planeswalkers, a proliferate mechanic or picture of old dudes on the cards. Themed decks are very fun to build and play, even if they are less effective than other decks. Themed decks are for players who want to create a world while they play.
- Like Tribal decks, Token decks are actually a kind of themed deck. They are so popular I thought they should be covered on their own. Token decks try to overrun the table with all sorts of creature tokens. The goal of many players who like token decks is to see how many tokens they can get and how big they can get their tokens. I have seen players refuse to swing for damage while they build a huge army of monster squirrels. The pride of having 20/20 squirrels eat Eldrazi can be more rewarding than winning the game.
The four templates for aggro decks are Ramp, Land Regulation, Voltron and Zoo.
- Ramp decks are based on the ‘bigger is better’ principle. Ramp decks largely ignore the first several turns of the game and spend that time getting access to as much mana as possible. Once these decks have access to enough mana they will start dropping the biggest bombs possible onto the table.
- Land Regulation is the opposite of ramp decks. The decks will drop efficient creatures in the first few turns of the game, and then try to protect them by removing access to mana for the rest of the table. The idea behind these decks is that most Commander decks depend on spells that cost a lot to win. These are built to run off a very small amount of mana and create game states that keep everyone away from the bigger spells.
- Voltron decks use the Commander Damage rules to win the game. They play a bunch of individual creature buffs so that they can swing for 21 with their Commander as quickly as possible. These decks are for people who prefer swordfights to all out wars.
- Zoo decks are the most basic kind of aggro deck. They play threats spread through the mana curve and just keep the pressure on their opponents throughout the game. Zoo decks operate on the principle that if players are trying to deal with you they won’t have the time to win themselves.
The four templates for combo decks are Graveyard, Storm, Inf Mana, 2-3 Card
- Graveyard decks are also referred to as reanimator decks. They drop cards into their graveyard then use recursion or other type of graveyard utility to benefit from cards being in their graveyard. By allowing themselves to utilize cards in their graveyard these decks create massive amounts of virtual card advantage.
- Storm decks try to play as many spells as possible during a turn and then play a storm spell that kills everyone off. These decks either use effects that draw a large number of cards or find ways to play spells for free over and over to build up the spell count.
- Infinite Mana combo decks attempt to create an infinite amount of mana then they use a mana outlet to win the game. These infinite mana combos can be as easy as putting 2 cards together or get as difficult as having the right 5+ cards all out at the same time. These decks will need something to do with the mana once they have generated it, which is what separates them from 2-3 card combos.
- 2-3 Card combo decks use library manipulation to find the 2 or 3 cards they need to win the game. These cards win on their own and do not require an extra card to take advantage of the combo going off. These combo decks have more library manipulation than any other style of deck.
The four templates for control decks are Classic, Prison, Rock and Enchantress
- Classic control decks use a variety of answers to keep everyone else from winning until they can drop down a game ending bomb. These decks have the ability to interact with any other type of deck. They will have a larger number of cards that can be played at instant speed compared to other decks.
- Prison decks are only for the type of player who likes be the archenemy of the group. The idea of a prison deck is to put a soft or hard lock on the table that prevents opponents from casting any spells or using any mana. These decks can be light on win conditions and usually depend on having enemies forfeit due to having no way to win themselves.
- Rock decks are the kind of control deck you would want to play if your group was full of aggro decks. Rock decks focus almost all of their energy on killing creatures. They will either kill opponents with efficiently costed giant creatures or just twiddle people down with man land damage.
- Enchantress decks protect themselves using a variety of enchantments. These deck build a pillow fort to hide behind then slowly use attrition to take their opponents out of the game.
Feel free to use, print out, and distribute these templates as you see fit. Let me know if you would prefer these in spreadsheet form to use online. I hope this helps people who are trying to build and having a hard time either cutting cards or figuring out where to start. Just to remind you, these are loose templates, so if you have to move several cards from category to category you will still be fine. If you need any help in building a deck, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,