what if's intro

Deck construction is an art as much as it is a calculation. And as art changes with the eras, so do our decks alter with every new update. Trying to fit in new cards, deciding which ones to get rid of. But in reality, your deck should be changing more often than with the level cap.

A recent conversation with azoresgirl brought about this article. After a few matches on her Balance w/ Death Mastery build, she felt like she had too many heals in her deck.

At current, she has three availing hands, and a sprite for infection. Four heals (really 3) out of 64 cards. As far as deck construction is concerned, her motto is “If you haven’t used it in 3 duels, take it out”. Even then, I wasn’t sure how removing more of her already scarce heals would play out.

what if'sBut you know, she’s way better than me, so I went to her videos to see what she was talking about. A ton of Doom, even more pouncing and mauling. But out of the matches, I can’t recall her even using a heal. And why keep what you don’t use?

The best artists will not give you superfluous details. Every last piece and nuance will have a distinct purpose. As an artist of deck construction, every card in your deck should have a purpose. Those that don’t are just hindrances. This plays out more directly in tournaments—where you design a deck to fight a specific person—but still holds weight in ranked. You have a maximum of 64 slots to fight 50+ people, of several different schools and play-styles.

And boy did I try to do that, back when I first started dueling. At the cost of embarrassing myself, my first Magus-Life deck used to be full of random, purpose-less spells. I mean really random. I had Guidance, of all things. Supposedly to protect against smokescreen spammers.

P.S… If you had to click the Guidance link to remember what it does, that alone says how much it should not be in a PvP deck.

I had a card for almost everything, but couldn’t hit Captain. I asked Azores for help, and for an hour and a half we went through every card in my deck. “Why do you have this?” “What is it for?” and most importantly “Have you used it recently?” Nothing else (except for the occasional “Did you really put that in there?”). By the end of it all, I couldn’t even recognize my deck anymore. And I hit Captain within the hour.

In my situation, I tried to prepare for every “What if”, and ended up with a gargled mess that could barely handle any threat. Decks are just too limited to do that, to counter every threat. So, instead of asking “What if I need X card”, try asking “Have I needed X card in my last 3-5 matches.” It’s a little thing called context: seeing the present/future as the result of the past. Decks shouldn’t come from speculation, they should come from context.

There’s a quote from a friend that I always like to come back to: “There’s a deck that works in theory, and then there’s a deck that works.” What ifs are only the theory. And don’t get me wrong, they are where you start. But trial-and-error, constant streamlining, experience, observation, and editing are how you finish.

With that, I give you….a challenge:

The Challenge….

  • If you haven’t already been doing this, and you feel there’s something missing in your dueling, give what I’m about to say a chance:
  • Take your deck. Remember all the cards, if you can. Then duel, taking note of what you use and what you don’t. And most important of all, if you haven’t used a specific card in 4-5 duels, remove it or replace it.
  • If you have multiple copies of that same card, just remove one copy. If you remove that copy, do another few matches. Take another one out if you still haven’t used it in your time frame.
  • Your time frame is your choice. It doesn’t have to be 4-5 matches. Many duelist authors will go as short as 2-3 matches. But whatever you pick, stick with it.

And let us know what it does for you. If this is something you already do, tell us if it has helped or hindered you. We’d love to know.

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