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Deck Tech &endash; Deckbuilding 101
By Lion Wilson &endash; March 15, 2004

Everyone be seated, school is now in session! Welcome to Deck Tech, the place you need to go to fix your deck and give it that extra "oomph!" Because this is the first article, and I haven't received any decks to tweak yet, I'm going to present a brief and easy guide to getting started with building Duel Masters decks. I know you're probably thinking, "I know how to build a deck, Mr. Know-It-All!" Well, you may be right, but I think if you follow my steps you may find you can streamline the process and make it much better.

Getting Started

If you sit down and look at any good deck for any card game, whether it is casual or tournament-caliber, you might wonder how the deck started out. Well, to be honest, there is no one definitive way to start a deck, but we'll look at a few approaches here.

1. Civilization &endash; One of the easiest ways to get yourself a deck is to simply pick a civilization or two based on what you want to do to win. Duel Masters has an advantage of having everything be clear-cut, and yet be customizable as well. Although some civilizations work better together than others, generally anything you can dream up can work relatively well if you put some work into it.
2. Function &endash; This technique is probably considered to be somewhat more advanced, but building a deck around one specific means of winning is one of the most focused methods around. This is how tournament-quality decks are created probably 90% of the time. Although it can be harder to develop and assemble, building a deck around a certain function can also be the most efficient.
3. Flavor &endash; Even though most people play card games to win, some like to have a little fun while they're doing it. Building a deck around flavor may be having a deck with just dragons, or having a deck that consists entirely of creatures. This is probably the most difficult way to win matches, but you can achieve fun on the way.

Just to make sure everyone is following me, I'll build a deck along with you. I like the civilizations of Fire and Water, so I'll build one along those lines. As soon as you have your basic deck idea figured out, move on.

Further Development

Now that you know basically what you want to accomplish with your deck, you can further examine what you want to do. If you're building by civilizations, look within them to see what they have that complements each other and what just won't work. Functionalists will probably already have their core combo(s) figured out, so they will just need to decide what to build on top of them. Flavor players will have it easy, just picking whatever fits their theme.

One way I like to go on this step is to gather up all my cards, sit at a flat surface, and lay out every card that could be useful, grouping them into categories based on function, civilization, mana cost, attack power, and so on. You don't have to get this analytical yourself, but I recommend you make some sort of method for yourself so that you don't just throw together a bunch of cards you think might work.

For my deck, I think I'm going to go with Fire's cheap and efficient attackers and Water's blockers. I also like the board control aspects of Fire and Water spells.

The Core Decklist

You've got the cards you want to put in the deck, so now we need to develop the actual decklist itself. This is probably the most important stage of deck building after you actually figure out what you want to do. The main idea of this step is to figure out how many of each card you have and how many you want to put in the deck.

Now, here is where many people run into real problems. You have to decide what you need more chance of drawing and what you can give a little leeway on. Some decide to just throw in one of a certain really powerful card since once you use one of them you will probably be on the road to victory. This is, in fact, the exact opposite of what you want to do. If a certain card is important to your winning plan, put more in so you have a better chance of getting it. This is especially true for Duel Masters, as there is a chance your key card could end up underneath your shields. Many times you may find you have to sacrifice some card slots in order to put in more important cards, but as long as what you put in is inherently useful, it shouldn't matter too much.

Well, my Fire/Water quick attack/control deck is coming along nicely. Here's what I have so far:

Bubblebath Xylophone v0.1

4x Brawler Zyler
4x Deadly Fighter Braid Claw
4x Immortal Baron, Vorg
3x Onslaughter Triceps
3x Crimson Hammer
3x Magma Gazer

3x Candy Drop
3x Marine Flower
3x Brain Serum
3x Spiral Gate
3x Teleportation
3x Virtual Tripwire

Oh, I forgot to tell everyone, I always give my decks crazy names, so watch out! Alright, now that we have the basic plan of attack sketched out, let's perfect it.

Updating Your Roster

The rest of the steps are rather simple, and they begin with this one. Before you ever play with your deck, you should look it over once more, thinking about how all the final cards you picked work together, and fixing any errors you made in the development process. Again, you might have to drop some of your beloved cards, but if it makes the deck better overall, just go for it.

Well, as for my deck, I see I made a counting error, and it only has 39 cards. Hey, everybody makes mistakes. So I decide that in order to better my deck, I not only add a card, I cut out a few unneeded ones altogether, making room for stuff that makes more sense. Here's the new list:

Bubblebath Xylophone v0.2

4x Brawler Zyler
4x Deadly Fighter Braid Claw
4x Immortal Baron, Vorg
3x Crimson Hammer
3x Magma Gazer
2x Rothus, the Traveler

4x Brain Serum
4x Candy Drop
4x Marine Flower
3x Spiral Gate
3x Teleportation
2x King Depthcon

Now that we've cut out all the fat and left only the meaty goodness of the deck, let's give it a good test.


Quite possibly the most important step, you must playtest your deck before you try to use it to win big games. Only in very rare instances should you just go at it with what you have. Playtesting isn't that hard, though &endash; just get together some friends with different types of decks, and see how yours does against them. You'll obviously see what works and what doesn't, and you can make changes as you learn.

I went and playtested a little myself. I found that a few of my higher-cost cards weren't really worth the wait, considering there are cards that do a smaller, more efficient version of what I need for a lot cheaper. Also, almost my entire Water section was a little off, and I had to replace creatures to make it better. Here's the new deck:

Bubblebath Xylophone v0.3

4x Brawler Zyler
3x Immortal Baron, Vorg
3x Rothus, the Traveler
3x Deadly Fighter Braid Claw
3x Crimson Hammer
3x Burning Power

4x Hunter Fish
4x Aqua Hulcus
4x Spiral Gate
3x Teleportation
3x Brain Serum
3x King Depthcon

I think my deck is actually quite good now, and if you followed my steps, yours should be too, but remember, just because your deck has won a few matches doesn't mean it's perfect. There will be times that you get beaten, and there will be times when you get outright destroyed. Treat your losses as lessons, and keep your deck changing. Keep to heart the Kaijudo code: "I have no enemies. My opponent is my teacher." That's one reason I use version numbers. I like that even through all my losses and troubles, I can see how far I've come.

Contact Me

Okay, Deck Tech is only going to continue if all of you send me decks to critique. You can drop me a line at lionwilson404@yahoo.com with the subject line "Deck Tech." Please understand that I try to respond to every email I get, but if the popularity of this site and column picks up, you may have to fight to get your deck in. I'll try to get in at least 2 decks a week, but I can't promise that all the time.


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