The EDH Deck Building Process Postscript: A Brewer’s Work is Never Done

TappedOut Commander Series

Suns_Champion

18 May 2020

248 views

Hello friends! It is I, Suns_Champion:

  • TappedOut’s resident jank EDH brewer
  • New Commander trailblazer
  • Part-time dead-Planeswalker
  • Full-time Boros Legionnaire
  • Lover of bullet-point lists

Last week I more or less finished my walkthrough of the deckbuilding process. This week I’m going to talk about an assortment of mini-topics surrounding my deckbuilding process that didn’t seem to fit anywhere within the series, stuff that got cut from articles in the editing process, and things that happened during the series that I didn’t want to go back and fit it. I figured a final article that isn’t required reading but might still be interesting would be warranted for all the little thoughts I still have about the series and about deckbuilding.


Why I started this series

I wanted to say why I started this series. The main reason is that I like brewing. A lot. I like brewing EDH decks more than I like playing EDH, which is also a lot. Now, I don’t brew as many decks as some people; I think I have 80 total brews on the site and I’ve seen people with 300+ decks. But I think few people revel in the deckbuilding process as much as I do. It’s therapeutic for me. When I’m brewing a deck, it consumes my mind and soul. I think my grades in school dipped because of all the Ikoria legends that came out and the three decks I brewed out of them. So I wanted to talk about it.

Second, I really wanted to create a beginning-to-end guide to deckbuilding to serve as a reference for newer to intermediate players and deckbuilders. After someone is set up with a precon or their first commander deck, this series is perfect to help guide people into becoming their own deckbuilders and helping them grow in the format. At the same time, I hoped to have some tips and tricks for older, more experienced dekcbuilders.

The third reason I did this series was that I wanted to give back to the community in some way, and in my own little way become a content creator. TappedOut has been a huge help to me over the years. I’ve had dozens of deckbuilders answer my calls for help and give amazing feedback and advice on my decks. A lot of those people have become legitimate friends and people who I have been privileged to deckbuild and play EDH online with. This site was so instrumental to me as an early deckbuilder, so I wanted to give back to the site and the people that use it, in a way.

The fourth reason stems from the EDH and Magic content I consume through podcasts, videos, and articles all around the web. In a sea of deck techs and political discussions, set reviews, I found the need for a discussion on the actual process of brewing. Why didn’t anyone talk about using deckbuilding sites? Or how to search for cards? Or how to cut cards? Or how to ask for help? Or how to playtest your deck? I wanted to see that content made, but not a lot of people talked about those topics. So I decided to do it myself. I decided to fill that hole.


Deckbuilding as an art form

My second article was about finding inspiration for a deck. Of all of my articles that one seems the least useful. But I love that one. Because for me it really shows (or tries to show) how deckbuilding is an artform. I think people have a hard time getting their heads around that. I see deckbuilding as simply a different medium for art, just like drawing, painting, sculpting, or crafting. You’re creating something that didn’t exist before. It has meaning and purpose. That is art!

Seeing deckbuilding as an art has really influenced my deckbuilding philosophy and thus my decks. It explains why I dislike using EDHREC on principle. It’s like using tracing paper to draw: an okay way to learn at first, but not a great way to improve and grow.


Other Deckbuilding Processes

There are definitely some podcasts that have touched on the actual process of deckbuilding. I’d like to share those now since they didn’t seem to fit anywhere else in the series.

The Legendary Creature Podcast | Deckbuilding with Andy

Commander Theory (Scroll down to “how we build decks)

A Reddit thread on people’s processes

Those are just a few of the ones I’ve dug up. I’m sure there are many more and would love to see them posted in the comments if you know of any!


Deckbuilding with a friend

While writing this series I was introduced to a new concept in deckbuilding: building a deck with a friend. That friend was Daedalus19876, and our deck started from, of all things, a disagreement on the name of a deck.

The situation was this. Zirda, the Dawnwaker had just been spoiled. I, being the Boros fanatic that I am, immediately jumped on it and started brewing, very quickly claiming the name Fantastic Mr. Fox | Zirda, the Dawnwaker EDH. Daedalus, I did not know, had a great love for that film and for foxes, and also wanted to brew Zirda for these reasons. He asked if he could use the name, which I was resistant to, but then he suggested we collaborate on the deck.

I had never done that before and happily agreed, as Daedalus is a deckbuilder I’ve respected for a long time. I won’t get too buried in the details, but building with another person is a WHOLE other animal compared to brewing by yourself. Imagine having two “visions” for the deck, two sets of ideas, two deckbuilding philosophies, two pools of card knowledge, and two sets of beloved pet cards. It required a lot of communication and coordination. A lot of cards we’d have to discuss and approve, it was a lot of work. But in the end, we collaborated on the deck and it turned out to be really challenging and fun, and I learned a lot.

Daedalus19876 also introduced me to his deckbuilding process, which was quite unique. Essentially we started out with a google doc (so we could easily work together) to which we added 200 or so cards. Those cards start in the “maybeboard.” Then we highlighted cards we really wanted in the deck or thought made up the core of the deck. We added those in one by one, and then filled in the gaps. Then we look back at the maybeboard and double-check if we missed something. If not we delete the maybeboard and move the 150ish cards we added back onto the mainboard, and repeat the process until the deck is at 100 cards. It was a cool system.

All this to say: First, it’s a fun challenge to collaborate on a deck, try it out. You might learn something from the other deckbuilder, and you will learn things about yourself. And second, there are other deck-building processes and ideas beyond what I’ve presented in this series. Shop around. Maybe there’s one that suits you better!


I’ve learned stuff, too

Over the course of writing this series, I think that I’ve learned a lot about deckbuilding and myself as a deckbuilder. In addition, A few things happened that hammered home some of my own points for me. At some point during the process of writing these articles:

  • I fully defined my personal deckbuilding philosophy.
  • I discovered problems with the deck I built.
  • I made changes to that deck and to multiple other decks.
  • I retired a deck (with much sadness).
  • I thought of new deck ideas.
  • I brewed multiple decks.
  • I had a deckbuilding midlife crisis (with my Neheb deck).
  • I built and proxied and playtested the Gisa and Geralf deck.

On that note, here is the Gisa and Geralf deck. I originally planned to utilize it more as a tangible example of what we were learning, but I ended up not feeling like it was that helpful.


No Zombie Tribal | Gisa and Geralf EDH

Commander / EDH Suns_Champion

SCORE: 6 | 6 COMMENTS | 203 VIEWS | IN 1 FOLDER


I’ve played it a handful of times. It runs pretty well, but could definitely use some improvements.

The point is, I believe that no matter where you are in your deck building career, you always have more to learn. That’s why I wrote the series.

Also while writing the series, spoilers for a new Magic set dropped, which means more cards to consider for my current decks and more potential deck ideas. It goes to show that for me, the deckbuilding process is never really complete. There are always new commanders coming out that peak my interest. There are always new options for my favorite decks. Even if I’m happy with a deck doesn’t mean I’m going to stop tinkering with it. There are always new cards. I’m always ready to see what works and what doesn’t. My decks are never perfect. If you’re the type of person who can build a deck and never Tinker with it, that’s great! In some ways I almost envy you. But for me, the wonderful process of deckbuilding never ends.

Well friends, that’s all I have for this one. Just a short reflection on deckbuilding. I hope you enjoyed the series and managed to get something helpful out of it, regardless of where you are in your deck building journey.

Have to give another shout out of thanks to these people for making this series possible: berryjon, Boza, yeaGO, and Caerwyn. Thank you all.

And thank you, reader, for reading. It means the world to me.

For the Legion!

Suns_Champion

berryjon says... #1

You're welcome!

May 18, 2020 4:23 p.m.

Optimator says... #2

No deck is ever finished--only abandoned.

May 19, 2020 7:36 p.m.

Heliogabale says... #3

Nice closing remarks.

I also had the opportunity to build a deck with a friend recently, and it was the most eye-opening experience. So many things we take for granted end up being challenged, and having to explain them forced me to rethink my design method.

The deck ended up being super cool, very efficient, and top-ranked for 3 days on TappedOut, so the results speak for themselves.

Thanks again for your contribution!

May 20, 2020 9:25 a.m.

bushido_man96 says... #4

Deckbuilding with a friend does sound like fun. It's easy to get caught up in our own deckbuilding preferences, but having someone else, with different approaches, helps us learn and grow.

Like you, Suns_Champion, I truly enjoy the deckbuilding process, and find it quite fun to be trying to put something unique together. I try to limit myself from getting too many irons in the fire, and that's hard to do. I also like to have physical copies of my decks, which is a good way for me to limit myself.

I've really enjoyed your series, and look forward to your future work!

May 20, 2020 6:36 p.m.

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