Strategic Deck Archetypes

In trading card games, players build decks with a win condition in mind. A win condition is a game state that a player reaches in a game where he or she is deemed a winner by the rules. In this article, win conditions will refer to the typical and modern forms of such conditions, mainly through dealing lethal combat damage of causing the opponent to deck out. Since inception of trading card games, the deck building strategies of players can be divided among three archetypes, which are defined either on the speed at which a win condition is met or how interactions between cards achieve a win condition. These archetypes are:

  • Aggro. This archetypal strategy focuses on winning fast win in early game by methods that are too quick for an opponent to respond or defend against. Examples of decks that fit into this archetype are weenie* decks or burn** decks.
  • Control. While aggro strategies focus on the early game, this archetype focuses on the slow buildup of resources for the sake of winning in the late game. Examples of this strategy are decks with high-cost creatures.
  • Combo. When other strategies focus on the speed at which a win condition is met, this strategy uses strong synergy between cards as a win condition. Decks under this archetype mainly rely on the effect interactions between certain cards in the deck to win the game on their own.

According to many players, aggro, combo, and control are the most common strategical archetypes for deck building in trading card games to date. Other decks may appear at your local card shop, but most of them will fall into one or more these three categories. Some examples of uncommon strategies that are not covered by the main three include:

  • Midrange. Defined by its flexibility, decks that fall into this strategic archetype have the ability to speed up or slow down against opponents when the need arises.
  • Mill. While many strategies focus on dealing the required combat damage to win the game, this strategic archetype solely focuses on forcing the opponent to discard cards off of the top of his or her deck until the player cannot draw any more cards out of deck.

Thanks for your continued support! If you have any questions or comments, please place them in the comments section.


*Weenie decks focus their efforts on generating many small creatures for a low cost and/or early in the game.

**Burn decks mainly focus on dealing a large amount of damage to the opponent through the use of card effects alone.</sup>

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