MTG Wiki
This page is about card collection. For the slang term meaning "to run out of cards", see Decking.

A deck is the collection of cards that a player plays with; it becomes that player’s library.

Description and history[]

A regular deck needs a minimum of 60 cards and there is no maximum number of cards of a deck. When Magic first began, the rules dictated a 40-card deck, and there was no restriction for the number of copies of each card.[1][2] Constructed and Limited had the same deck size. It quickly became apparent that 40 was too small for Constructed as it both made the game too repetitive and made it too easy to pull off key combos.[3] There is a maximum of 4 cards with the same name in each deck.

The only exceptions of this rule are the basic lands or if a card's text contradicts this rule (such as Relentless Rats). The four-of limit was not originally part of the game. In fact, that rule didn't roll around until WotC started pushing organized play more than half a year after the release of Alpha.


From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

The collection of cards a player starts the game with; it becomes that player’s library. See rule 100, “General,” and rule 103, “Starting the Game.”

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

  • 100.2. To play, each player needs their own deck of traditional Magic cards, small items to represent any tokens and counters, and some way to clearly track life totals.
    • 100.2a In constructed play (a way of playing in which each player creates their own deck ahead of time), each deck has a minimum deck size of 60 cards. A constructed deck may contain any number of basic land cards and no more than four of any card with a particular English name other than basic land cards. For the purposes of deck construction, cards with interchangeable names have the same English name (see rule 201.3).
    • 100.2b In limited play (a way of playing in which each player gets the same quantity of unopened Magic product such as booster packs and creates their own deck using only this product and basic land cards), each deck has a minimum deck size of 40 cards. A limited deck may contain as many duplicates of a card as are included with the product.
    • 100.2c Commander decks are subject to additional deckbuilding restrictions and requirements. See rule 903, “Commander,” for details.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

  • 100.4. Each player may also have a sideboard, which is a group of additional cards the player may use to modify their deck between games of a match.
    • 100.4a In constructed play, a sideboard may contain no more than fifteen cards. The four-card limit (see rule 100.2a) applies to the combined deck and sideboard.
    • 100.4b In limited play involving individual players, all cards in a player’s card pool not included in their deck are in that player’s sideboard.
    • 100.4c In limited play involving the Two-Headed Giant multiplayer variant, all cards in a team’s card pool but not in either player’s deck are in that team’s sideboard.
    • 100.4d In limited play involving other multiplayer team variants, each card in a team’s card pool but not in any player’s deck is assigned to the sideboard of one of those players. Each player has their own sideboard; cards may not be transferred between players.

Minimum deck size[]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

Minimum Deck Size
If a rule or effect states that a player’s deck must contain at least a specific number of cards, that number is the player’s minimum deck size.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

  • 100.5. If a deck must contain at least a certain number of cards, that number is referred to as a minimum deck size. There is no maximum deck size for non-Commander decks.

Starting deck[]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

Starting Deck
After a player has set aside their sideboard, their remaining deck becomes their starting deck. See rule 103.2.

From the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

  • 103.1. At the start of a game, the players determine which one of them will choose who takes the first turn. In the first game of a match (including a single-game match), the players may use any mutually agreeable method (flipping a coin, rolling dice, etc.) to do so. In a match of several games, the loser of the previous game chooses who takes the first turn. If the previous game was a draw, the player who made the choice in that game makes the choice in this game. The player chosen to take the first turn is the starting player. The game’s default turn order begins with the starting player and proceeds clockwise.
    • 103.1a In a game using the shared team turns option, there is a starting team rather than a starting player.
    • 103.1b In an Archenemy game, these methods aren’t used to determine who takes the first turn. Rather, the archenemy takes the first turn.
    • 103.1c One card (Power Play) states that its controller is the starting player. This effect applies after this determination has happened and supersedes these methods.

Planar deck[]

The planar deck is separated deck utilized in Planechase containing oversized Plane and Phenomenon cards.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 10, 2022—Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate)

Planar Deck
A deck of at least ten plane cards needed to play the Planechase casual variant. See rule 901.3.

Parts of a deck[]

A deck can be commonly organized in two fashions:

This section will deal with the latter. The former is often employed on websites as a uniform way because not all of the following categories are featured in all decks. Cards within categories are usually listed alphabetically or from lowest to highest converted mana cost.

Mana base[]

The Mana base are all cards, which can either produce mana or give access to cards that do without requiring a mana cost to be paid. While a mana base is necessary for all decks, there is a multitude of ways to achieve it dependent on the environment of the deck, but in almost all cases Lands are used.

A subcategory that may be included here is mana acceleration with cards that do cost mana themselves but yield an amount of mana as their effect.

Win condition[]

The Win condition is simply the way the deck plans to win the game it participates in. Since there are multiple ways to force an opponent to lose a deck is usually trimmed to achieve just one of them.[5] The most common win condition is dealing more damage to an opponent than his starting life total. However, combo decks or prison decks may target the opponents library instead and attempt to force him to draw more cards than his library contains. There are also cards which provide an alternate win condition which a deck may employ.


The third large portion of a deck is usually used to either shield oneself from attempts by the opponent to halt the own game plan, or cards that do so to the opponent.

  • Counters are predominantly blue and prevent a spell by the opponent from resolving and usually have the card representing the spell be put in the graveyard.
  • Discard is usually black and a proactive way to stop the opponent by removing cards out of his hand.
  • Removal is used to put a permanent on the Battlefield into a different zone. This includes direct damage spells which can target creatures, though they may also be used as a win condition.

Card advantage[]

This category is for cards which simply make other cards accessible either by putting additional cards in hand or manipulating the library. This may include Tutors, cards such as Ponder to alter what cards will be drawn next, or card draw such as Divination.


Utility cards are cards that may serve more than one function in a deck. A utility category may be named if categories such as Protection or Card advantage do not include enough cards to warrant a distinction in any one given deck.


Deckbuilding is creating a deck.[6][7][8][9]

  • A little more than 1/3 of your deck should be mana. In a 60 card deck, 24 mana will suffice.
  • If you have too many different colors in your deck, the chance that you'll draw the right color reduces. Therefore, it is better to create a deck with 1, 2 or maybe 3 different colors. Artifacts and multicolor spells reduces the danger of mana screw.
  • Most people have more creatures than other spells in their deck.


A decklist is the written version of a deck.

Deck description[]

There are no hard and fast rules to deck naming, popular decks get their own unique nickname, but decks are usually described by color, archetype and format. The colors being, Black, Blue, White, Green and Red (artifacts can be included). The archetypes being Aggro, Combo and Control (however, Combo decks are usually described by shorthanding the cards that form the actual combo). The formats are varied, but the most popular sanctioned formats are Vintage, Legacy, Standard, Modern, Block and Limited. If the deck uses only one color, it is referred to as mono. For example "My standard deck is mono blue Eye of the Storm combo", "It's an extended green blue aggro control deck".


  1. Mark Rosewater (August 5, 2013). "Twenty Things That Were Going To Kill Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Mark Rosewater (June 20, 2016). "25 More Random Things About Magic". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (August 17, 2009). "In My Day". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Reid Duke (August 31, 2015). "When to Cast Your Spells". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Gavin Verhey (February 8, 2018). "My Most Important Deck-Building Rule". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Ted Knutson (October 28, 2006). "Building Your First Deck". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. The Official Deckbuilders' Guide
  8. Reid Duke (June 8, 2015). "Choosing Your Deck". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Gavin Verhey (June 16, 2015). "You Will Be Upgraded". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[]