The Truth About Netdecking
I remember making the jump from the casual mage to the competitive grinder – and the reality is that it really wasn’t much of a jump at all. It was more like climbing a giant staircase over the course of several weeks.
News flash: the staircase doesn’t actually end. You’ll make it to a landing a few floors up, be pleased with your progress (which you should do from time to time), and realize that you have a great journey ahead to enjoy.
But even improving your gameplay so that you reach those first few “higher landings” can be difficult. To make it there, you need to start by learning and mastering a top-tier deck and playing it card-for-card.
This is also known as a form of netdecking, and while this practice is frowned upon by many, it’s a necessary first step when you’re plunging into competitive Magic.
Why netdeck a top tier list?
#1: You’ll learn what a well-constructed deck looks like. When you first started playing Magic, you likely began by playing a deck that you built yourself. Maybe you built it from scratch, or perhaps you upgraded a preconstructed deck.
Playing such a deck is fine for learning the basic mechanics of the game in the first few months of your journey.
In time though, you’ll realize that your deck is lacking in some major areas. Maybe the curve is out of whack, or you just don’t have enough removal or creatures.
In short, it’s hard to know what a well-constructed deck looks like until you’ve played a well-constructed deck over an extended period of time.
Playing and mastering a top tier deck shows you the essential elements that is required for that deck’s archetype, so that you can make adjustments to that deck and build your own successful brew in the future.
It also gets you into the mind of the advanced player or pro that created the deck, so that you can understand the reasons they included specific cards. These reasons will also help guide your own deck construction in the future.
#2: You’ll learn advanced lines of play. Top tier decks will have some quantity of rares and mythics that are capable of creating game-breaking or otherwise unique lines of play that may not be all that obvious – the types of plays that you probably won’t see in Starter Decks.
For example – using the activated ability of your Scarab God, targeting a copy of The Scarab God that is in your graveyard from a counterspell. Since TSG is a legendary creature, you’ll have to sacrifice one of them. You sacrifice the first one, leaving the reanimated one on the battlefield. When you move to your end step, you return the first Scarab God to your hand from its triggered ability.
#3: You’ll learn how to beat other top tier decks. It’s difficult to learn how to beat a top-tier strategy when your opponent simply has a much stronger deck than yours. But when you play a top tier deck, you’ll typically have the tools to succeed against other top builds.
After you get enough reps in against the other top decks, you’ll have practical first-hand knowledge of what works against them and what doesn’t – and you can often apply this knowledge to general deck styles.
#4: You’ll get a taste of success. When you gain a lot of experience playing a top tier deck, you’ll eventually win with it – which is important for a lot of reasons. Next week we’ll dive deeper into the reasons why winning matters (and why it doesn’t).
What’s the goal?
Ultimately, the larger goal of playing and mastering a top tier deck at the early stages of your development is to create a solid foundation for your overall growth as a player.
Short term achievements are good, and they’ll come if you put in the work to master top tier decks. But the main goal is to set yourself up for sustained long term growth, which will lead to greater enjoyment of the game, and inevitably, greater long-term success.
What is NOT the goal?
The goal is NOT to become a master of only playing other people’s lists. Think of netdecking as a starting point. As you become more familiar with the deck and learn how to beat other top decks, you can begin experimenting with the list and add in other cards you see fit.
From there, you’ll have the knowledge you need to begin building your own decks – so that it’s your build that other players are discovering and mastering.
If you’re looking for some incredible tips on deck building, then I highly suggest you look into the Deck Builder’s Master Class. This comprehensive course is loaded with videos and tips from real Magic pros who walk you through their best deck building strategies and practices. I got a ton of value out of it, and I know you will too, so check it out!
If you’re new to the game and still have yet to play and master top tier decks, come back and let us know how you’re progressing once you do.
If you’re experienced with playing top tier decks, tell us how they’ve helped your growth. Either way, you can reply to this email or post about it on the MTG Pro Tutor Facebook page.
Thanks for reading.
– Jeff Sheerin, MTG Pro Tutor Scribe
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