When I was young someone explained to me how to make a Magic the Gathering deck (way back in 1994). I went home and then built a deck. It had at least 120 cards in it. It was a monstrosity filled with War Mammoths, Serra Angels, and wall of woods (because I definitely needed something to protect myself with and trample had to be the best ability ever). I could not shuffle it. I then I got some more advice and built a terrible 60 card deck full of terrible things likes Bendalish Heroes, Leviathans and more War Mammoths (because trample still had to be the best ability ever).
Don’t worry buddy. I still think you’re great.
If you feel overwhelmed by deck building, then here I am with a handy dandy how to guide. Here is the first tenet of pony deck building: it is hard and your deck should not have more than 45 cards and two colors in it. “But what about-?”, NO, if you need this article then those are two rules you should abide by absolutely. I don’t care how bad you want to put that Element of Honesty into your blue/yellow agro deck, do not put it in. “Surely 46 cards is ok?” No, it is not. You get 45 cards and you should be grateful you get that many.
“OK, so now what do I do with my pile of pony cards?”
First we figure out which mane you want to play. It doesn’t have to be a good mane; it just has to be a mane that you enjoy. Then you can build your deck to suit that particular mane. For instance: if you are playing Rarity Hat Maker, you probably want a deck full of accessories that you can dress your ponies in. If you are playing with the wonderful “Bubbly Mare” you probably want a few Finger Snaps. The mane you choose will help you create a foundation for the rest of your deck. That is why I start there.
This is a fixer. It has no requirement and gives you color requirement. Plus she is adorable.
Next thing to focus on is fixing. This is the hardest part of deck building for me and is often neglected by beginners. These are your filler cards that you need to get your good cards out. It is important to ensure that you have enough of these to make your deck work. Ideally your off color should have at LEAST 6 friends with no color requirement. If there are only 6 friends then they should probably not be less than 2 power. Ideally, you want between 8 and 9 good ways to get into your off color. These can be friends or fixer spells such as Royal Guidance or It’s Elementary. For your Mane color I like to have between 4 and 7 ways to get up to 2 or 3 color requirement in that color. The nice thing about your on color is that you can include 1 requirement friends that may be a little more efficient or useful than the usual fixer friends.
Now that you have your fixing and your mane all set, you can start focusing on what your deck actually does. Often that is directly tied to what kind of Mane you are running. If it is someone like Maud, you might think about defeating trouble makers or quickly confronting your opponent’s problem. If you have someone like Rainbow Dash, you might think about doing hard and fast double confront since she is fast and cheap. Now we select cards to fill the remaining slots in your deck (probably around 30 cards).
Here you need to decide if you want trouble makers in your deck. To do so look back at what your deck does. Can it keep your opponent from defeating them? Will your TMs buy you time to get your score up? Or will they just cause your opponent to gain points while giving you no reward? It is perfectly fine to decide not to run any. After all 30 slots is not that many to fill and each slot is very important.
Once you do that make sure you have a good ratio of friends to other cards. Usually I like to have at least half my deck be friends. You should probably keep the ratio under 75% though. There is definitely a point of diminishing return on having friends in your deck (unless you are Greg and build a Grave Digger deck…).
“All right but how do I know if a friend is good?”
This is a bad card. Do not use it.
If you are new to deck building, try to stick with efficient friends. That means that 1 AP buys you 1 point of pony power. There are a few exceptions to this rule but generally if a pony has a requirement, you should not pay more AP for it than it has power. Some exceptions include: Lady Justice, F-Stop, Action Shot, and Rarity Truly Outrageous. Obviously there are more, but as a deck building foal, stick to the efficiency tenet. Do not put cards like: Premier Hoity Toity, Golden Grape or Aunty Applesauce in. I don’t care how bad you want Inspired. Don’t. Do. It.
“So what should the rest of my deck have in it?”
Probably good cards. That advice aside, go back to what you want your deck to do and what your mane needs. Is it a Rarity Hat maker deck? If so make sure there are plenty of accessories! Is it a Premier Rainbow Dash mane? Better throw in a bunch of TMs. Maud caught your fancy? Probably want to cut back on the friends, make an even spread on the card types, and find ways to discard your own stuff. How about Luna: Princess of the Night? Definitely want to put some useful (or non-useful) events in there!
“OK, I cobbled something together. What about my problem deck?”
Keep it to one point problems. That way you always know what kind of point value you will have coming up. You can also check out my article on Problem Decks here.
“So I followed your advice and my deck sucks! WTF man?”
The final piece of advice I can give is that deck building is a process. It does not end after you sleeve all your cards. Your deck should be ever evolving. Did you have fun but lose? Figure out why you lost and what you can swap out to help you not lose. Did you win and have fun? What did you not use? Can you scrap that and add in something more useful? Do not stop altering your deck. There are always different things you can do to improve and modify your deck. Doing so will not only help you with deck building, but help you become a better player.
“That’s too much work!”
Go home Berry Punch. You’re Drunk!