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Alodar's Axioms

Heed well, O Duelist, these simple rules, and your name will be spoken with respect (and perhaps fear) wheresoever in Dominia that mages gather.

The central problem of deck construction is to reduce the randomness of outcomes inherent in the shuffle, cut, and ante. This leads directly to three guiding principles:

Primus: A Large Deck Is A Random Deck

The more cards thou hast in thy deck, the longer average time thou canst expect to need to fill in critical combinations (as, in the simplest case, mana plus spells).

herefore, O student, number thyself not among the weenies who confuse the size of their decks with the size of their di... er, generative organs. Keep your decks small.

Thy decks should consist of a viable 60-card base (to be tourney-legal) plus an optional few (as in, a small handful) of extras.

Resist stringently the impulse to construct larger decks; it will magnify thy losses. Resist also the temptation to construct smaller decks for non-tournament play; it will unfit thee for tourneys.

Secundus: Duplication Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattening

He is truly a fool who stakes the outcome of a duel on seeing some one particular card before he is dispatched.

Therefore, thy critical card types (whether they be creatures, magic, or anything else) should appear in thy decks in twos, threes, and fours.

Tertius: Rarities Are Traps

It is beyond the means of any but the most fanatic mages to assemble multiple copies of a truly rare spell or artifact. But if thou reliest on singleton rarities, thy decks will become excessively dependent on the luck of the shuffle and ante draw.

Design, therefore, with thy rarities in the `optional extras' column; use them to accelerate and intensify the base deck's theme and nature, rather than attempting to use them as main cards or to plug the holes in the remainder of the construction.

Dominia is replete with artifact weenies. While they squabble over glittering trash that will usually be lurking in the inaccessible bottoms of their decks when most needed, you can be quietly building decks that will win. And win. And win again.

Lesser Principles

The three great Axioms you violate at your peril. Other principles there are which, while they may be creatively broken by the advanced mage, will hold true most of the time.

Two Colors Suffice

Decks which attempt to work three or more colors will generally leave the duelist short of all the kinds of mana. Monochrome decks are too easily neutralized by Circles of Protection, and very vulnerable to catastrophes like Tsunami or Conversion.

Therefore, design thy decks around two colors. Often it will naturally ensue that one color is creature-heavy while the other is magic-heavy. This is no bad thing, but have some of both in both colors, lest thou findest either color stopped.

Heed Both the Great and the Small

It is a quick path to defeat to have exclusively large, costly creatures in one's battalions. One will too often be crushed while waiting to accumulate the mana required to summon them.

It is often merely a slower path to ignominy to have only small creatures in one's train. It is bootless to be able to summon many minions reliably if the result is only that they are destroyed seriatim before thou canst accumulate an overwhelming mob of them.

Therefore: when allotting creatures to a deck, include a balance of both "lights" and "heavies". Better yet, in colors that permit it, include a balanced set of "lights", "mediums" and "heavies".

Thy goal is to ensure that, as often as possible, you will both be able to summon a "light" by the second turn and be able to field a "medium" or "heavy" creature by the fourth or fifth -- ideally, with no unused mana at any stage.

Available mana that is not usable represents a waste, a lost opportunity. Accordingly, there should be a smooth rise of creature costs to match thy rise in available mana as the duel progresses.

Make Your Magic Support Your Creatures

It is a commonplace among duelists that creatures are more efficient at delivering damage than sorceries; spells, therefore, should be chosen primarily to support and protect your creatures.

Thus, in general, Unholy Strength is a better investment than (say) Lightning Bolt. You will only get to use Lightning Bolt once, while a strengthened creature may deal damage for many turns.

Keep an Eye on the Sky

All too many duelists have built otherwise-excellent fighting decks, then watched death fall upon them from the air because their card mix failed to block flyers.

If thy chosen colors do not offer many fliers, it is worth having multiples of one or two quick-kill spells specifically for stopping fliers. This is a good use for Lightning Bolts.

Alodar's Formula

Here is a template for a strong dueling deck. This is not the only way to build a good deck, but it works well.

Pick two colors. Call one the primary and the other the secondary. Thy creatures should look like this:

That's twenty creatures. Now add ten mana in each color. Thou art up to forty cards. Thou hast twenty slots remaining for enchantments and sorceries. In choosing these, select multiples from the following categories:

Try to spread your spells across all these categories for a well-balanced deck.

Finally, add no more than five specials. Specials are rarities and singletons. Thou shouldst design thy deck to win without these; their purpose is to accelerate thy victory, intimidate thy opponent, and add an aesthetic frisson to the duel.

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