This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Up! Your! Deck!

378127_10150441621792624_1477312954_n“I’m sick of this!” Yangus whined as he picked up his Tahngarth, Talruum Hero deck and started reshuffling it after his third loss in a row.

“Calm down, it’s just a game. You should try to enjoy yourself,” Angelo responded with a smirk, as he got his Geist of Saint Traft deck ready for another game.

“Don’t tell me to calm down! You smack me around every game!” Yangus looked down at his deck with disappointment. He had loved using a red card with vigilance as his general, but every game it was seeming more and more likely that he would have to take the deck apart. He just couldn’t make it work how he needed it to.

“Chin up, Yangus. Don’t you know that winning isn’t everything?” Angelo asked, still with that arrogant smirk.

“Easy for you to say,” Yangus grumbled under his breath. “You’re the one who’s winning.”

One internet to the nerds who got the reference without the help of this picture

One internet to the nerds who got the reference without the help of this picture

Ah, another season, another column, another chance to aggravate EDH trolls the internet over. Life is good.

But, of course, I can’t just hop in and start jabbing away; I have to have some kind of goal or mission statement to give the illusion of a constructive column. And while last season I was arguing for some of the harsher strategies in EDH, this season I will be teaching you how to use them. I will create a nation of try-hards, and together we will unite as one enormous nerd-wave that will crush all the opposition beneath our feet! AHAHAHAHA!

A tsunami would be blue mana. How fitting in a metaphor about try-hards...

A tsunami would be blue mana. How fitting in a metaphor about try-hards…

Well… Not really. That’s just what some of you were expecting.

See, the goal of this article series will be to share strategies on how to build better and stronger EDH decks. But I’m not out to create a try-hard nation. Instead, I am setting out on this particular mission in order to help players build their “perfect” deck. The one that they can tune and improve constantly, the one they can buy tons of foil cards to pimp out, the one that they can always whip out and be assured that they will have a good time. The one they put in the special deck box and give a fancy girl’s name to, like “Bianca” or something.

Big job, right? And one that could probably use a bit more explanation. So today’s article is just going to be an introduction to what we’re going to be building over the next few weeks, and the definition of “perfect” that we will be using as a guideline. Because to my mind, a perfect EDH deck…

Fits the Player

Every player has different strategies, different lines of thinking, and different play styles that they prefer to use. They also all have different favourite colours, pet cards, preferred types and abilities…

You get the picture? There are more types of magic players out there than there are flavours of Jelly Bellies.

Oompa Loompa doopity doo, there's a wide range of players, who knew?

Oompa Loompa doopity doo, there’s a wide range of players, who knew?

As such, what is perfect for one player will not be perfect for another. If you want to follow along with this series and build yourself an optimal deck, it’s going to take a serious amount of self reflection on what you want out of one. Counter spells? Tokens? Squirrels carrying swords forged in Mirrodin’s core? Everyone has a different definition of fun, and figuring out what is fun for you before moving forward to the next step will be vital. And the next step you will be taking is making sure your deck…

Is Consistent

No deck is going to be amazing every single game. Our goal is to build a deck that has the right ratio of cards to draw well in about 80% of the games you play. Land floods or starves are still going to happen, but excluding those you should be able to play every hand you get effectively. Your deck doesn’t have to be the bring-down-the-house every game, but it does have to show up to the party. And while we’re on the topic of winning…

Mandatory Charlie Sheen joke here. For those who remember that this guy exists.

Mandatory Charlie Sheen joke here. For those who remember that this guy exists.

Has a Good Win Percentage

This is where I’m going to piss off some people. A great many of you are probably in the “it doesn’t matter who wins, just play the game” camp, and just as many are likely of the opinion that you should play to win every time. So which group am I siding with?

Neither, you’re both wrong. I’m going to make like Buddha and take the middle path.

Not the only thing we have in common, Buddha was also famous for podcasting about his hobbies. Nirvana is just filled with hours of audio about how he loved to sit cross legged.

Not the only thing we have in common. Buddha was also famous for podcasting about his hobbies. Nirvana is filled with hours of audio about how he loved to sit cross-legged.

See, if your deck never wins you will quickly become frustrated and burnt out on it – but if it always wins then everyone else will get sick of seeing you pull it out. You’re going to have to edit and test your deck till it wins a percentage of games that you are comfortable with. I have personally found that the sweet spot appears to be somewhere between winning 25% and 80% of your games. Any less and your self esteem will suffer, any more and your wins will no longer be satisfying (and might cause angry play groups to try and inflict some Mob Justice on you). And to keep your deck satisfying it will also have to be…

Always Changing

While a good deck will have a fairly solid list, it should never have a concrete one. You must always be testing, swapping, and cutting cards in order to make room for new releases or to shake up your meta. Think of it like a car, you can’t just build it. You will also have to get new parts and regularly maintain it, or your baby is going to break down on you when you need it the most.

Also like a car, you will have to occasionally rub down your deck with the soft side of a diaper.

Also like a car, you will have to occasionally rub down your deck with the soft side of a diaper.

The always changing principle should apply to games to. You should never have just one road to victory or one thing you try to do every game, or you’re going to get restless from monotony. A lot of good generals are going to be dismissed by this column (Zur the Enchanter, Rafiq of the Many, etc.) because they are too narrow or repetitive. Variety will keep you coming back to your deck game after game, and not losing in the same way over and over will stop your opponents from having tantrums.

And this is the kind of deck I’m going to try and help you guys build. So for those who like some audience participation in their articles, this one’s for you. Every week I am going to post a new step, from beginning to end, in building an EDH deck. If what I listed above sounds like what you want out of a deck, then feel free to follow the steps and post your progress in the comments below! And if it doesn’t, then give the steps a try anyway. I might surprise you, and if I don’t than you get to scream “I told you so!” at me over the internet.

If that day comes, I have taken the liberty of supplying you with a picture of a smug puppy for use in your gloating.

If that day comes, I have taken the liberty of supplying you with a picture of a smug puppy for use in your gloating.

And we all know there isn’t very much that Magic players like more than that. Except for new legendaries, and cheap pizza.

If you think that Eric forgot a quality to mention for his “perfect” deck, sound off in the comments below. Or send him an email at EricBonvie@gmail.com, or hit him up on twitter @ThatBonvieGuy. Just don’t follow him home, he’s already asked his girlfriend and she has said he’s not allowed to keep you.

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