Magic: The Gathering - Always Be Bolting


I hope it’s ok to bump threads like this.

Been playing a bunch of magic lately. We’re doing a sealed league at work with the release of Ixalan. It’s a lot of fun, but I had god pulls in my card pool, so people don’t wanna play against me. (I’ve somehow gotten a very consistent Naya dino deck with Tyrant, Burning Sun’s Avatar, a bunch of dino discounters + someone to fetch a dino…).

I heard that ixalan draft is a little crummy, which is unfortunate because I really like the dino tribal right now and don’t wanna mess with standard.

Aside from limited stuff at work I’ve been playing a bunch of Commander, which is my go-to format. The multiplayer nature keeps power levels in check, and it’s just a great way to get together with a bunch of people.


Ixalan draft is just super linear. You find a tribe early and then packs become a slog of “I can take this one or one of these other ten cards that’s not relevant to my archetype”


This thread seems pretty dead, but has anyone been checking out Rivals of Ixalan? The Limited environment is significantly better than triple Ixalan (some ridiculous bombs aside) imo, and with the bannings Standard is actually interesting again, at least for now. Interested to hear other thoughts, since I only have one or two friends interested in Limited and Standard.


So I finally got into the MTG Arena beta this weekend and it’s pretty neat. It’s almost exactly “Hearthstone except with Magic” which is pretty much all I want. Hopefully the full release sees some single player content like Magic Duels, but otherwise I’m good with the current feature set. The way drafting works is pretty neat, having you draft and play until you reach X amount of losses, although it seems like you won’t have a great idea of what anyone else is drafting as your would in a physical draft. Bugs are present, including showstopping full freeze ones, so I’m a little miffed that they are already charging for premium currency at this time.

Has anyone else been playing it?


So I’ve been playing the Singleton hopper over the weekend and I can’t seem to grok a proper deck construction for it. Obviously the mode is inherently chaotic, but I keep only making it to 3-3 at best. My current deck is a mono-white angel deck with removal and stalling until the big boys (or girls) hit the board, but does anyone have ideas for better deck constructions?


So I got into the MTG Arena awhile back but didn’t get around to trying it until this weekend. Anyone have any tips for someone new? I used to play a ton of the year numbered MTG games against a friend to the point that we unlocked all the cards so I have a fairly decent understanding of the game but I’m not really great at deck building or where to even begin with it.


I think I can help with this. Here are some guidelines I use:

  1. First off, think about what you want your deck to accomplish. Do you want to play big creatures? Is there a card or card synergy you’ve noticed that you want to exploit? Take a look through your collection and see what pops out. For most decks, you want a single focal point that if you can get on the board, you will win.
  2. Once you’ve picked a theme, double down on it. That means lots of duplicate cards. For a deck to be consistent, you basically want four copies of almost every card you wish to play. Like Serra Angel? Make sure you are packing four deep. Starting out this might be tough to do, but for now simply pack as many duplicates of the spells you want to use, and round out the remaining set with similar cards to act as placeholders until you get more of the card you want.
  3. Keep in mind the mana curve. The mana curve is the concept that on turn one, you will have one mana in play, on turn two you will have two, and so on. You want to be able to play a spell on most turns, if not every turn. What that means is you want to make sure that you have cards that can be played at one, two, three, and four mana, and higher if you wish. So if you are playing angels, you still want lower cost creatures to stall until your big guns can hit the board. The deck builder has a mana curve chart that makes this easy to track.
  4. As a rule of thumb, you want somewhere between 22-30 lands in your deck depending on requirements. Lots of high cost or multicolor spells? You’ll want to be closer to the 26-30 range. For most decks that are at most two colors, 24 is a good amount. Of course, if you have multicolor or non-basic lands, that counts as a land for these purposes.
  5. Once you’ve created your deck, play it, play it, and play it some more. And in between playing it, tweak the hell out of it. Maybe you are getting stymied by your opponents’ creature removal spells, so perhaps adding counterspells and hexproof spells to your deck will help. Maybe your control deck isn’t making it to turn five due to your opponents’ speed. Look for ways to slow them down. Maybe the synergistic combo you were hoping for isn’t hitting the way you want. See if you can tweak it to be more consistent. And don’t forget to tweak your land mix if you are getting too many or too few consistently!

I think that should set you on a good path. Though the temptation might be there, I recommend heavily against net-decking (i.e. copying successful decks from Pro Magic). It might mean you win a few more games early on, but understanding of deck construction is critical to being a better Magic player. After a while, you will see the patterns in your opponents’ decks, and knowing how those are likely constructed will allow you to make better strategic decisions, leading to better outcomes. Anyway, hope that helps!

EDIT: Oh, and also, never have more cards than the minimum required for your format. Standard decks are minimum 60, and any more than that only dilutes the chance you will draw the cards you actually want.


In addition to all the rules Navster laid out, there are a few MtG Arena specific things to consider:

  1. Unlike ye old Duels of the Planeswalkers, Arena plays with only standard legal cards. Sites like mtggoldfish or mtgtop8 can point you in the direction of what the “best” decks are. Thanks to matchmaking and free to play technology, you don’t have to have a list that looks anything like those! They’re chock full of rares and hard to get dual lands. But if you’re lost, they point out what archetypes have good cards.
  2. Look at the cards you already have. MtG Arena gives you a pretty healthy starting collection and a few free decks. There’s also a quest chain that unlocks additional precons and rewards you for using them.
  3. If you know the basics of limited, Quick Draft is a great deal if you can save up the gold! You break even on packs very quickly and get rewarded a little premium currency if you do well. Just know that you keep all the cards you draft - so be sure to rare draft if you see a card you need for standard. Plus, Limited really forces you to take deck building step by step. It’s a bit higher stakes, but if you’ve never drafted and want to try it, there are lots of articles and videos about it out there! I highly recommend it.

Also, sick brags, I went 7-2 while M19 draft was up with a great GW midrange deck.


To add on to that, I’d say it’d be good to understand deck archetypes to give you a base to start building from; namely Aggro, Tempo, Midrange, and Control.

Aggro decks are trying to end the game as quickly as possible by being as aggressive as possible. These decks typically want to put down the most cost/power efficient creatures in their colors every turn, and turn them sideways. Versatile burn spells (meaning spells that can deal damage to creatures and players,) are also a mainstay of these decks, to remove early blockers and send damage to the face. Red Deck Wins is a type of monored aggro deck that is dead simple as far as individual card complexity goes and works off these types of cards.

Tempo decks are somewhat nebulous by definition but can be defined generally as decks that are both aggressive and disruptive, and win by maintaining “tempo.” Individually the cards in tempo decks are not the strongest available but when working in conjunction with one another to disrupt an opponents’ gameplan while putting on pressure they do a lot of work. Tempo decks often pack small evasive creatures, and lots of cheap ways to disrupt your opponent, i.e. targeted discard, bounce effects (effects that send something from the battlefield back to the opponent’s hand.) These decks have a high level of synergy between most of their cards. Some of them have enough disruptive elements to play a more control-style game as well. UW (Blue White) Spirits is an example of a tempo deck.

Midrange decks are built off the backs of individually strong cards, to the extent that winning with a midrange deck is described as a process of meeting your opponent “card for card.” Synergy and aggression take a back seat to playing deal-with-this-or-die creatures, removal (often with additional upsides tacked on,) and any card that can generically generate value by itself. An iconic midrange card would be Thragtusk, which provides a ridiculous amount of value off a single cast by giving you a 5/3 which will either do a ton of damage or force a bad trade, 5 life, and a 3/3 token to replace it once it dies. Grixis Midrange is a powerful deck that’s in Standard currently.

Control decks are about controlling the game. They tend to have 1 or 2 very expensive cards that will win them the game, and are otherwise about making sure your opponent can do as little as possible. You almost never play spells on your on turn and are entirely reactive as a deck. Winning is a matter of spending your removal, counterspells, and discard spells at the right time on the right threats, and then dropping a bomb of some kind once you’ve stabilized and your opponent is running on a quarter tank. Esper Control is a control deck in Standard right now that wins off of Torrential Gearhulk.


Through the power of Unnamed Software I have been transformed into a Modern player, and it turns out I really like Pox and 8Rack.


TBH I already knew this, the first deck I built out of deckbuilder’s toolkits and booster packs was a bad Shrieking Affliction deck.


If I wasn’t enjoying standard for once I’d definitely be grinding UW Spirits games. It’s the first budget modern deck I’ve ever felt comfortable playing against the big boys. The only hopeless matchup is Tron, and I don’t really want to play that anyway.


UW Spirits was the first proper deck I ever built myself, during Dark Ascension. Spent like $50 on it and was surprisingly competent, although it had Shriekgeist and Drogskol Reaver in it. Strangely while I’ve been paying attention to Modern UW Spirits for a long time now I’m not actually so interested in it as a deck now that it’s gotten enough tools to be a very solid tier 2, I think cuz I just don’t like the art on the Eldritch Moon spirits that are core to the deck compared to the offerings from Innistrad. Glad it’s finally getting it’s time to shine with Supreme Phantom though.

Has anyone been paying attention to Penny Dreadful? It’s an MTGO format where all the cards have to cost a cent or less, so decks can’t get more expensive than 75 cents. It rotates with every Standard season so you don’t have to constantly check prices, which is smart. I’ve been fooling around with it using Unnamed Software against bots cuz I’ve got no internet at home or I’d be all over it. Put together a fun Monoblack Infect list based on another one that I thought I could improve upon, so I’m learning I like Infect when it plays more like an aggressive Tempo deck that can sideboard in to a Midrange deck as opposed to the aggro-only offerings of UG infect.

EDIT: Here’s the Penny Dreadful site:

EDIT: EDIT: Also thinking of amending the OP with a better, more accurate version of the post I did explaining deck archetypes when I get the time if that’ something people would find useful.


The beta is now open so anyone fancying a bit more of a Hearthstone take (no trading of digital cards, gaining booster packs via play, Standard format) on playing Magic online should give it a go:


I tried logging in last night after getting an open beta email, but it wasn’t working for me. Have you had better luck?


Logged in, played the tutorial games, clicked around and it seemed to be operational.

There was a message about something being buggy (or just not going through first attempt) in the store an hour ago but I can’t see it now. I assume they’ve been dealing with a lot of new people signing in but maybe the flood is over.


So I spent this morning grinding up the ladder post reset. My takeaways:

  1. Ravnica is still cool! I made a dumb Izzet Tempo deck and did something like 5-0 before hitting Silver in constructed.
  2. Sealed is mysteriously expensive? I realize it pays out 100+ cards but it costs as much as an IRL prerelease right now (and is only a hair cheaper than MtG:O)
  3. I really, really miss the freebies from before. They start you out with exactly 5 decks now, and they’re all pretty terrible. If you’re loading up I would immediately go from the tutorial to the deck editor and throw something together with your 2 favorite colors. (I’m also curious as to how quickly you can unlock the two color precons, if its 1/day maybe the new way is fine).
  4. Rest in peace Mono-Blue Storm.


The biggest problem with Arena currently is that building a deck from free-to-play takes absolutely forever. In the closed beta they at least mitigated this with a bunch of free packs from each set, but in the Open they dropped this completely and now you’re forced to go through their terrible on-boarding system just to get your baseline of cards, which really sucks.


Yeah, I feel like giving people a few dozen commons would mean you aren’t playing against identical decks for 10 hours unlocking… those decks?


it especially sucks because they cut packs down from 15 to 8 (“to reduce filler” they say lol, nice try) meaning it takes way more money and packs than it would for paper magic in order to get a decent amount of commons and uncommons.