How to Build a Black & White Deck

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Many gamers looking to entertain guests at a home party, convention or other event turn to Magic: The Gathering as a staple game that’s easy to learn and quick to play. Magic players construct decks from cards purchased from booster packs or starter kits and based around the game’s five-color scheme. The colors of black and white represent death and order, respectively. These two colors commonly appear as opposed forces in the game’s mythology, but the use of both colors can create a very powerful combination.

  • Choose at least 20 inexpensive creatures with black and white mana symbols. Mana symbols appear in the upper right-hand corner of each card. More symbols increase the expense, or casting cost, of the card. Both black and white offer many different options for powerful inexpensive creatures, commonly known as weenies. Common choices include Drudge Skeletons, Savannah Lions, Black Knights, White Knights and the Will O’the Wisp. These cheap creatures allow you to attack quickly in the early game to whittle down an opponent’s life total or overrun her defenses.

  • Add five to 10 expensive creatures with high power and toughness values. Black creatures with these values typically take the form of powerful undead monsters. These include vampires, zombies, lich lords and demons. Massive white creatures include angels and noble lords, ladies and knights of many different fantasy races. These larger creatures offer an opportunity to inflict massive damage in the middle or late game.

  • Select at least 10 to 15 spells designed to protect your creatures. Black protection spells include creature destruction abilities such as Bury or Doom Blade. White offers a variety of control spells that do not kill opposing creatures. Pacifism, Lifelink and similar cards allow you to incapacitate your foes, then send your creatures in for the kill.

  • Count the number of each type of mana symbol on every card selected for the deck. This count provides you with a basis for adding lands to the deck. Lands produce the mana required to cast the creatures and spells chosen for the deck.

  • Divide the two numbers obtained by one another to determine the ratio of the two colors of mana. The order of division does not matter, but it should produce a ratio that allows you to select a number of lands that match the ratio. For example, if you have 30 black mana symbols and 10 white mana symbols, the ratio of black to white lands equals 3-to-1.

  • Add 20 or more lands to your deck using the ratio derived earlier. Swamps produce black mana, and plains produce white mana. Most 60 card decks will only require 20 lands, though you may wish to include more if your overall mana costs appear very high. Err on the side of the predominant color in your deck if the ratio does not return an even number of lands for each color. Round up when necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Colorless lands with special abilities also work well in a two-colored deck.
  • Never include more than four copies of any creature or spell card in your deck. Official Magic: The Gathering tournament rules allow a maximum of four cards with the exception of basic lands.

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