ach of us approaches the game of Magic: The Gathering in a different way,
drawn to various aspects which we find enjoyable; whether it be experimenting with new cards, playing out a sweet “combo” or just swinging in with the biggest creatures you can find.
Regardless of the appeal, each of us has one thing in common, the Magic deck. Without it, one is simply just another Trading Card Collector.
Building a good deck is what proves your mettle as a Magic player – building one that consistently proves itself in battle between you and your friends.
If you do not include the right amount of consideration and preparedness, [highlight]a deck can be just an ineffective assortment of cards.[/highlight] What you will begin to notice the longer you play Magic is that each of your decks will have a certain flair to it; something that you contribute as a deckbuilder, even if you are copying the deck offline.
This is your inner player showing himself within your deckbuilding process.
There are three types of Magic players that exist, according to those in the know, which are fondly referred to as: Timmy, Johnny, and Spike.
Each of these “player types” have different desires when it comes to building a deck, infusing their playing style and deckbuilding process with their own approach to the game.
Learning which type of player you are…
…is the first step to mastering the art of deckbuilding.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s begin with Timmy. According to Magic lore, Mark Rosewater was the first to give this label to those players who are also known as power gamers; players who like to have fun, win huge victories, and use gigantic creatures to do so.
Bigger is better to the Timmy player. This is a player who gets his jollies from throwing a Darksteel Colossus on the table cackling as their opponents suffer 11 points of indestructible, trampling damage each turn.
This player likes to win but doesn’t mind losing so long as his victories are significantly impressive. To a Timmy player, winning with the biggest creature possible is much more impressive than slowly poking an opponent to death with a single 1/1 or 2/2 creature.
If Timmy is going to win with 1/1 creatures, [highlight]there had better be tons of them. [/highlight]Timmy players want to live it up and be able to leave a game table with a new story about some incredible victory.
So what kind of deck does a Timmy build?
A Timmy player is most likely to build an aggressive, creature-based deck
These decks win with swarms of creatures or through the strength of a handful of powerful creatures.
Specifically, Timmys will lean towards building tribal decks (decks with most of the creatures of the same creature type) since they might find a specific creature suits their fancy, and its brethren not only do neat things, but they also function together.
Elf decks suggest a Timmy player, which is only confirmed when they reach over to pull out their Dragon deck. Dragons are often Timmy cards since they are usually big, flying, and often do something cool.
What Timmy could resist the lure of any of these?
While tribal decks are a big Timmy favorite, it is only scratching the surface of the decks that Timmy players enjoy.
Timmys are also known to make decks stuffed with as many big and intimidating creatures as they can find.
I personally have a deck that makes use of Kavu Predator – which I consider my most Timmy-like deck. A decklist is included in Appendix B*.
Timmys have a very specific strategy…and if you are a timmy
Moving away from Timmy, the next player on the list is the Johnny player. A Johnny player looks at the individual interactions of cards and finds joy in the most amazing combinations of cards.
A Johnny’s ultimate goal is to prove that no card, no matter how hideously bad, can be used in conjunction with another card so that the end result is victory (or something close to it).
Johnny players want to prove that something can be done even if it requires the most convoluted combination of cards.
For this player, the fun of the game comes from the creation of the deck, the thrill of hunting down specific cards that allow them to do the things that they want to do. A Johnny player enjoys the process of building the deck.
A Johnny player might have a lot of difficulty using someone else’s deck, simply because they didn’t make it themselves.
For the Johnny player,[highlight] the game is a proving ground of their creativity[/highlight]; if a Johnny player can get their deck to do the one thing that it was built it to do, the Johnny player has succeeded.
Johnny players usually like decks that revolve around the interaction of multiple cards. They don’t necessarily have to build a deck that uses bad cards and makes them good, but they do enjoy the interaction of the cards.
Johnny decks have the tendency to be full of cards that rely upon each other to succeed. A good example of this is the cycling mechanic.
Johnny might stuff his deck with a bunch of cycling creatures, a few Fluctuator, and a couple of Living Death to put them all back into play for one big win.
The deck’s the thing; however, winning is still important to a Johnny player, but…
…winning through the proper functioning of their deck is the ultimate victory for this player type.
In multiplayer, a Johnny will be just as content defeating only one opponent with their deck’s intended strategy as they would be with defeating every opponent.
A potential drawback to being a Johnny deck builder is that in the struggle to create decks out of increasingly bizarre combos, Johnny players tend to create increasingly convoluted decks.
Trying to create decks out of entirely improbable combinations can lead to decks that almost never deliver.
Creating decks that use likely combinations of cards and that will function consistently is something that Johnnys need to focus on. How frustrating is it to have only two of the four cards you need for your “ultimate combo.”
If your deck only focuses on one thing, you might begin to run into issues. Specifically, if your deck has only one way to win and that is through a complex combination of cards, you will most likely have a hard time achieving victory.
There should always be a Plan B- be it beating the opponent down with 1/1 creatures or drawing them out…
…a combo deck should have an alternate method of winning.
A Johnny can have a neat idea in theory, but when a deck needs more than four pieces for a “combo”, the deck begins stretching too thin and you run the risk of NEVER winning OR getting your combo.
*Apendix B can be found in The Casual Planeswalker’s Guide to Deckbuilding