Building a kitchentable Magic deck for the wife

Deck Help forum

Posted on Jan. 17, 2021, 1:09 p.m. by the_solitaire

This is one of these situations. My better half wants to give Magic the Gathering a try. I just got back into the hobby after 20 years, and she watched me build up these old decks and shows moderate interest.

In an attempt to help her out with the start, I tried to build a fairly straightforward deck. Play land, play creature, watch for interaction, step and repeat. Kind of like these starter decks, but then one featuring some artwork she actually likes.

What I came up with is Animal Lover Deck

Rin and Seri, Inseparable is a good card to create tokens. Release the dogs creates more dog tokens.

Song of Freyalise, Beastmaster Ascension and Pack Leader all boost the dogs (and cats), while Feline Sovereign offers a small degree of board control.

Trying to establish a mana base with 3 colors is not easy. Again, Song of Freyalise helps, as does Farseek

The Bronzehide Lion and Resolute Watchdog are kind of included because of the artwork, as well as an ability to protect Rin and Seri, up to a certain degree.

From there on, I am pretty much open to suggestions. I might proxy the deck first, to see how it works. But the amount of good looking dog and cat artwork is still not overabundant.

Should I include Giant Growth or rather focus more on the cats and dogs theme?

At this stage, board control should not be too important. The match ups for this deck should be a moderate mono-red deck I can put together, and maybe a mythical creatures deck from one of the wifes friends

Flooremoji says... #2

I would defenitley reccomend adding in Giant Growth, learning how and when to use it as a combat trick/protection or jut forcing through damage is always going to be a good basic lesson for newer players.

January 17, 2021 1:28 p.m.

I agree with Flooremoji, as I came here intending to post something almost identical. Adding some instants open the door for LIFO concepts, which I think are better learned at the same time as the rest of magic, rather than after you get “boring magic” figured out. Combat tricks will let you introduce -x/-x, +x/+x, hexproof, indestructible, “until end of turn” and the like.

January 17, 2021 2:31 p.m.

the_solitaire says... #4

That is very much true, and I would, by no means, reduce the magic experience of a beginning player to "boring magic" as you state correctly.

3 copies of Giant Growth were added to the deck. I still have a whole bunch of Giant Growth cards in my rather small collection of cards, so that was an easy fix.

If there is something else you think I could add, I'll gladly do that as well.

January 17, 2021 3:05 p.m.

Fast effects would be another facet to the game, and it would be a good excuse for adding an artifact. Maybe a mana rock, to further re-enforce the idea of colorless mana? Some stacks would be fun too... as I’m always trying to add Copper Tablet to everything ;D I’m super excited for your endeavor!! Let us know how it goes!!

January 17, 2021 5:34 p.m.

the_solitaire says... #6

I certainly will keep you informed. Funny thing is, she is not so much of a gamer, but a friend of her got me back into the game.

One thing she disliked about this initial setup for the deck is the repitition of the cards. Having sets of 4, so maybe that would lend itself to add some other aspects and diversity in the deck.

None of the cards listed are high dollar cards, so getting sets of 4, then mix and match and keep the spares for later would not be an issue. Overall, the complete deck is well below $80 as it is, so there is room for options and alternatives. I just have to find the suitable cards

January 17, 2021 5:46 p.m.

Xianling69 says... #7

3 color mana bases are easy with fetch lands and shock lands. if fetch lands are out of budget, you can just use shock lands and check lands. i'd also really recommend some removal spells like Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile

January 17, 2021 7:58 p.m.

StopShot says... #8

Rith's Grove or Ash Barrens provides great mana fixing. Let's say you don't have white, but your hand has a lot of white spells. Either of those lands ensures you get a white source untapped the turn you draw it. Abundant Growth is another valuable card as it provides a permanent source of color fixing and you draw a card off of it meaning it won't take away too much from your strategy of cats and dogs.

As for creatures I'd recommend Bolt Hound over Zodiac Dog. Same cost and stats, but Mountainwalk is sort of an outdated keyword and Bolt Hound effectively pumps all of the cats and dogs. If you'd rather keep Zodiac Dog for artwork then a good mana-fixer would be Lush Growth as it gives you all three of your deck's colors or if you don't need it for color-fixing you could put it on one of your opponent's lands effectively making the dog unblockable against non-red decks. I would still advocate Abundant Growth over Lush Growth just for the card draw as that's better than the small scale interaction. If you want a card that can do both effects there's Nylea's Presence, but that card costs one more mana than either card. Personally, I'd advise Bolt Hound and Abundant Growth but you do have other options if you'd rather deviate from that.

The deck also feels like it has a lack of cats. I think a Pride Sovereign would do wonders to boost the deck's cats without taking away too much from the dogs. I think you could remove a Zodiac Dog and a Release the Dogs to fit two in. Exert is a bit of an unconventional ability but you can keep track by putting a marker on it and removing the marker on upkeep instead of untapping it.

January 18, 2021 1:47 a.m.

jconeil1988 says... #9

if she doesnt like multiples, perhaps she would enjoy commander more?

January 18, 2021 12:36 p.m.


Commander is a pretty hard format for new inexperienced players. Not to say she can't do it, but new players will generally get overwhelmed by all the cards. However it should be possible for OP to make a fun casual deck with Rin and Seri, Inseparable and keep the theme going. But it might be a too big beast for him to tackle - considering he just got back into the game.

January 18, 2021 3:57 p.m.

the_solitaire says... #11

I agree. Commander with it's 100 card deck style might be a bit much. I just made a deck out of proxies so she can find out why multiple copies in a 60 card deck make sense.

Maybe I can get a game in after work today, to see how the deck does as it is. I can then start thinking which cards could be replaced with other cards that technically fill the same slot

January 19, 2021 12:41 a.m.

Xianling69 says... #12

i'd recommend taking out the Animal Sanctuary in a 3-color deck, especially if you're not using dual lands.

January 19, 2021 1:01 a.m.

Xianling69 says... #13

if you've been out of the game for 20 years, you may have missed the fetch lands like Wooded Foothills. fetch lands are especially strong with shock lands like Temple Garden. since Temple Garden has the forest type, it can be grabbed with Wooded Foothills. an example of a "check land" would be something like Rootbound Crag, which also works with shock lands to come into play untapped.

January 19, 2021 1:08 a.m.

Balaam__ says... #14

Let us all know how it turns out

January 19, 2021 10:21 a.m.

What a sweet idea. I would consider adding Selfless Savior because works like Resolute Watchdog, but better since you don't have to spend the additional mana for protection. Plus the art is really cute ... just don't have her read the flavor text though (the feeeeeels).

Also, I know you said you wanted to keep this simple, but maybe just a single copy of Impostor of the Sixth Pride to show a bit of rule bending in magic, since the imposter is "changeling" it is a cat and a dog simultaneously (catdog?) and will trigger Rin and Seri, Inseparable twice. Plus it doesn't hurt that the art is depicting it changing into a cat. Hope this helps.

January 19, 2021 5:45 p.m.

the_solitaire says... #16

Selfless savior is acard I have been thinking about, and you are right. Adding that is agood idea.

January 20, 2021 5:04 a.m.

Rhyno52 says... #17

the_solitaire I have played Magic with my GF the first time almost one year ago with normal dual decks. The thing was, either deck i or her was playing i would win the game almost every time regardless of bad draws (because i know the rules and also cards much better as she does). That was pretty frustrating for her and after several games we didn't play the game for months.

But after the first lockdown was over i continued to play magic in our group again and fixed her up with her own Commander after i have seen that very commander in play in my playgroup.

Its the Obuun Landfall Commander deck. Landfall is one of the best Mechanics to teach new players the game because it rewards the most essential thing in the game (playing lands) and by upgrading the precon you can have very nice interactions and stuff happening on the stack too (upkeep triggers/stacking landfall triggers of multiple permanents right).

And guess what she started to actually enjoying it despite loosing some rounds because the games went longer than 60 card games and there was much more interaction going on (i also picked up a precon commander so it was somewhat even. [the Rouge commander of the same set]).

So as long as she knows the basics of the game you can prolly go for a commander deck. Also you yourself would also profit from it because i heard Commander is new for you aswell.

January 20, 2021 5:39 a.m.

the_solitaire says... #18

Rhyno52, I expect going down the same route eventually. Personally I prefer 60 card decks, but once my better half has a grasp on gameplay and play order, I might pick up some preconstructed commander decks, to enjoy an evening of gaming with friends.

Fornow, this deck should not set me back more then a couple of Rishadan Ports, so I happily invest that.

My daughter (age 4) is also fascinated by the cards, so when the wife is done with the cats&dogs deck, and Iplundered it to build acommander deck out of, I miht stock up the number of cards so the daughter can play around with them. Still a bit early to make amagic player out of her, but I did give her some basic lands and a unicorn card and she loves arranging them.

January 20, 2021 6:26 a.m.

Commander may be a great secondary in a one-two punch. The idea of having a cool card you like that’s always available to you is especially appealing after you experience the pains of “if I had just drawn one of my XXX’s I would have won! I have four in there, where are they?! begin flipping the top cards on deck”. Also, pro-tip: my young kids have gotten boxes of bulk from my LGS for gifts and they LOVE it. Something to keep in mind for later. It’s not too dissimilar from how us old guys got started; I.e. buying collections from friends after they sell the good cards individually.

January 20, 2021 10:31 a.m.

the_solitaire says... #20

We managed a game or two with the deck as it was, and decided that it needed something.

After doing some research on which cards would work with this kind of tribal deck, I decded to splash in Camaraderie, Chance for Glory, Rhythm of the Wild and Unbreakable Formation.

It is still not a fast deck. I guess it would need Birds of Paradise and fetch lands to become faster, but that is then a possible future upgrade.

Harrow is also a possible card, and I might have a few copies of that flying around here somewhere.

January 30, 2021 5:33 a.m.

the_solitaire says... #21

With the recent additions the deck actually works. I will add two copies each of Abundant Growth , Path to Exile and Pride Sovereign

Actually, I was able to beat my oldschool mono black with the cats and dogs deck. The outcome could have been different, had I played the black deck, but I asked a friend to play that one so I could get a better feel of what the animal deck is lacking.

I think packing 2 more path to exile inthe sideboard would be useful. Song of Freyalise and Camaraderie saved the game. I was surprised by the impact those cards, combined with the flood of cats and dogs had. Rin and Seri entered the game a bit late, but they really turn the table as well.

All in all it is a nice deck to get to know the game with. And if I pair it up against slightly detuned decks, it is a lot of fun to play.

Next up is searching for some small cat and dog miniature figurines to represent the tokens. Adding flavor is what it is all about

February 3, 2021 5:20 a.m.

the_solitaire says... #22

So I promised to report back on how this developed.

We played about 10 or 12 games, and had fun playing them. For my wife, the typical non-gamer, it was a bit of an awkward situation at first. Playing a game I seem to play intuitively, yet she does not know at all. But I let her shuffle the decks we played, and took my time to lay open cards and explain how they work.

By game number 10 or 11, she said my decks had such cool mechanics where hers seems to be very straightforward. I told her, this was an obvious choice, so she would have time to get accustomed to the different phases of the turn, and get used to the basic game mechanics.

I guess it is time to move on however, and she seemed to hover towards my green/red decks in terms of gameplay.

So I constructed a new deck, keeping parts of the previous one.

Dog tribal deck

We'll see how this new deck works. If it is completely the wrong direction, I could swing it towards a cat tribal control style deck I guess.

March 14, 2021 2:53 p.m.

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