The Elder Scrolls

“How do you build a deck?” A brewer’s guide on deck-building.

TheElderScrolls9 - "How do you build a deck?" A brewer's guide on deck-building.
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A frequent question new players ask is, "How do you build a deck?" While there's many ways to build decks, I'm gonna outline the process I personally use to make my brews and I hope this guide helps some of you grow as players and brewers. Deck-building is personally my favorite part of the game and I'm sure you can grow to enjoy it as well as you build up your collection.

Now let's get to the heart of this article, where do you even begin?! Making something from scratch can be very intimidating, there are hundreds of cards In the game after all.

We're gonna be using a deck I made called
xPUbtqE - "How do you build a deck?" A brewer's guide on deck-building.
"Manic Mage" for the example of this process.

A few ways to set the course of your brew include:

  • I like this card, how do I win with it? – Find a card you like and a few like it, understand their strengths and how to capitalized on them.

    • Ex: Manic Jack capitalizes on keywords which enables cards like Lesser Ward and Stand Watch. These cards, being actions, also have cross synergy with Gnarl Rootbender and Altmer Dragonknight.
  • I like this theme, how can I form a deck around it? – This another great way to start, and this is likely the easiest way to start because chances are others have had a few brews cooking too. Look at what previous lists have consistently used and have in common and see if they align with the your idea of how the deck functions and the current meta game.

    • Ex: Artaeum Savant and Crystal Tower Crafter have historically been action mage staples but they're not as good now. The former losing to power creep against Altmer Dragonknight, the latter having been nerfed and unfavored in the current meta.
  • I saw an awesome combo/drafted an awesome combo, how can I utilize it to it's full extent? – Arena is a great way to find new cards and synergies, so while you're out their grinding keep an eye out for them.

  • I like this class/color combo. How do I capitalize it's strengths? – The colors were designed to have inherit strengths and weaknesses, understand what the set of colors best and most uniquely do and how that aligns with the deck you're working to build

    • Ex: Mage has been a great class for Midrange/Tempo strategies as it has both disruptive summon effects in Intelligence as well as flexible creatures and abilities in Willpower.

Testing

  • Find the staples, What is essential? – This will often be the cards you built the deck around but sometimes times this can also teach you how poor that card or set of cards are. Whatever the case, find the must-haves of the deck.

  • Every deck has a card it needs least, does yours need it at all? – This argument is one often used for using minimum deck size, but here you should think about using a card because you like it vs because it's good. Note, just cause it's situational doesn't mean you can't run the card as a 1-of/silver bullet. Reserve play sets for cards you always want to draw.

    • Ex: Crystal Tower Crafter is a great card for the action mage theme, but it has been nerfed fallen out of favor in the current meta as it dies to almost everything.
  • Ex 2: Tel Vos Magister is a great card versus aggro, but versus tokens or burn it's effect can be underwhelming. The card is good enough on curve, especially versus aggro, to be a 2-of.

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Final Points

  • Not every brew is game changing. It's okay to have a good but not excellent deck.

Lets look at how I put these ideas to use.

  • Finding a theme or set of cards I like and want to build around: I found Action Mage to be largely ignored nowadays and for fair reasons. However, action decks have gotten a nice gift in Manic Jack and Gnarl Rootbender, two cards that benefit from targeted actions. Likewise, Altmer Dragonknight had been another great boon as there is great cross synergy as well as more aggressive stats more appropriate for a midrange deck.

  • Testing cards in the current context:
    FuePmvX - "How do you build a deck?" A brewer's guide on deck-building.
    This was the 1st draft of this deck, as you can see there are quite a few changes from the final draft.

    • Execute has been removed because it can be a dead vs some matchups while Firebolt can often be used even if it isn't as good as execute, sometimes you just need to trigger Dragonknight and Rootbender.
    • Sixth House Amulet was a great 1-of, however it was just a placeholder for Might Conjuring which has served to be a far more powerful addition to the deck due to the density of 5-power creatures.
    • I had found Eastmarch Crusader to be inconsistent vs aggro as you are less likely to have broken a rune and is the least efficient at trading. Also Altmer Dragonknight is better, and I had yet to craft it.
    • Cloudrest Illusionist is great for trading but the high ward density already helps in that case in my experience.
    • Lastly, Hive Defender is awesome but dodging prophecies due to Piercing Twilight is better from my experience so far and the lower power makes triggering Mighty Conjuring more difficult.

Final Points

  • Not every brew is game changing. It's okay to have a good but not excellent deck.

  • If you're hitting a dead end, take a break! Ideas get better over time and you won't always have the answers to everything immediately. Likewise, your brew might just be missing a piece or two to finally have a cohesive strategy.

  • Have fun! Those epiphanies of learning how to better your deck building and If you're more of a spikey net-decker then this guide wasn't for you but I hope you learned something.

I hope with a new set in the horizon, many of you found this guide useful and are going to stretch your creative muscles with the new cards. Brewers help find ways to find ways to keep the game fresh and as I often jest, "Can't complain about the meta if you aren't working to diversify it! /s"

I hope you guys learned something or at least enjoyed reading this. As always, May the Hist Aid you!

Links to the final version of Manic Mage

LegendsDecks:
manic mage midrange - "How do you build a deck?" A brewer's guide on deck-building.
https://www.legends-decks.com/deck/58047/manic-mage-midrange

Screenshot:
xPUbtqE - "How do you build a deck?" A brewer's guide on deck-building.
https://i.imgur.com/xPUbtqE.jpg

Deck code: SPAGaAqnbqejkAjcAEoeqddfoaAMjErCdVjHhkplkgdMgyaxmcdI

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