(As you are reading this, I am out of town and off the internet, volunteering my time at Kiwanis Camp Casey as a counselor. I’ll be back next week, but I will try to look at the comments next Sunday!)
There were times when I had trouble justifying to myself how my lifetime of deckbuilding was productive. After all, these are transient, 60-card decks for a card game that may or may no be around in a decade and may or may not even be remembered in a century. How am I contributing to society?
Well, my difficulty justifying it has long past. It’s easy. Magic has done amazing things for me, and I hope you see how it does amazing things for you. Even if not everyone sees it, as long as you see it, that’s everything.
So, today I am going to talk about the most direct and important way that deckbuilding has affected my life- and that is in developing the Sixty Card Lifestyle.
My Collection is My Deck
I started building decks at 5 years old with my brother Elliott. That’s pretty early for such a complex endeavor. I was a total noob. It took me literal years to learn basic deckbuilding principles.
In the beginning, my collection was my deck. Every single card, throw it in a pile? Why not? Well, that was the norm, and I hadn’t thought of anything else.
As our collection grew, we split up the colors. Now we had 5 decks! One for each color! I remember each deck grew to the point that it had hundreds of cards but very few lands. So we instituted a rule that we got to start with 5 basic lands in our opening hands. This was our initial solution.
Until my brother Elliott came up with another solution to the problem. He built a new black deck that was only twenty or thirty cards. Ha! twenty or thirty?? My deck has THREE HUNDRED!! YOU HAVE NO CHANCE!!
Well, Elliott’s twenty-card deck turned out to be awesome. Why? Well, it seemed to always draw his awesome cards, and he never drew [card]Scathe Zombies[/card], unlike the other deck which played literally 8 [card]Scathe Zombies[/card].
Elliott had discovered cutting cards.
Now pick up a card. The closest card next to you. Or imagine a card if there isn’t one within reach. This card right here? It could be ANY card! By picking it up, by thinking of it, you have cut EVERY and ANY other card that it could be! Make sense?
So if there is a [card]Scathe Zombies[/card] in our deck, and we draw it, we just deprived ourselves of drawing [card]Order of the Ebon Hand[/card]. That Scathe Zombies that we drew off the top, it literally and physically replaces what could have been Order of the Ebon Hand.
We Have to Cut a Card to Add a Card
Go to any tournament coverage and you will find that every Constructed deck plays 60 cards and every Limited deck plays 40 cards. There are exceptions, but generally, we can accept this as true.
We play with the bare minimum number of cards because we want to draw our best card as much as possible. We don’t want to draw that Scathe Zombies. We want to throw it out. We don’t want to deprive ourselves.
This may be obvious, or it may not. It took years to learn this. I had no tournament coverage to look at. But, I did get to learn instead of being told.
“We have to cut a card to add a card.”
This is a lesson hard-learned and a statement I make on a daily basis. The community suggests cards to add to my decks. I ask them to suggest cuts. Now, suggesting sweet cards is useful. But it is useless without suggesting a cut.
If we add a card, we now have 64 cards, right? Meaning we are more likely to draw our Scathe Zombie and less likely to draw our Order of the Ebon Hand, right? But if we analyze this new card without analyzing which new card is being removed, how do we know how this card even works in the grand scheme of things?
If we add an [card]Intangible Virtue[/card] to our black/white tokens deck, maybe it’s obvious that card is sweet, but what if it turns out that the card we have to cut to make room for it is the card that made it good in the first place?
We HAVE to cut a card to add a card. There is no other way.
The Sixty-Card Lifestyle
Sixty cards in our deck. We have to cut a card to add a card.
I see a parallel:
24 hours in the day. We have to cut an hour to add an hour.
5 MTG Streaming
2 MTG Content Consumption
2 MTG Community Responding
1 MTG Writing
1 MTG Video Recording
2 Preparing Food
4 Eating Food
2 Workout on Basketball Court
1 Workout in Pool
1 Workout on Beach
1 Workout on Grass
3 Self Massage (Myofascial Release)
1 Workout with Weights
1 Basketball Video Editing
1 Basketball Content Consumption
1 Basketball Coaching
1 Miscellaneous Errands
2 Talking to Friends
I live a focused life with a particular set of goals. I want to make the biggest possible social impact in my lifetime, and right now the way to do that is through pursuing the fields I’m passionate about. As my life progresses, my 60-card deck changes. Cuts must be made as priorities change. There are no free adds. We only have 24 hours in the day.
If you tell me that Game of Thrones is a sweet show and that I should watch it, I will pull up my deck list and ask you to suggest a cut. If you tell me that I should come out to a party tonight, I am going to pull up my deck list and ask you to suggest a cut. I might really do this.
If this sounds like a spartan way of living, it is, but it’s just the way I live. You don’t have to live this way. But I hope that you get to thinking about the Sixty-Card Lifestyle. Maybe it will open your mind in deciding how to spend your time.
1 Cow Milk
This is my ideal. I feel like water is really all we need. It’s amazing. As animals we are made out of majority water and it is crucial to so many physical functions. I can’t recommend it enough.
The reality is I find myself consuming coffee, gatorade, beer, etc., on rare occasions. I do this consciously acknowledging that I am cutting water cards from my deck. There are no free adds.
1 Miscellaneous Greens
6 Brown Rice
4 Chicken Egg
10 Eating at Restaurants
Everything I eat, my future body is constructed out of. My current body is constructed out of everything I have eaten in the past. My mind is a part of my body, so my brain is literally made out of these 60 cards.
So when building my 60-card diet, I want to build the best deck. Sure, I could add potato chips and candy (and on rare occasions I do), but in order to do that I have to consciously acknowledge that I am making a cut. There are no free adds!
The Sixty-Card Lifestyle
This is it. The most basic deckbuilding principle of opportunity cost and how it applies to our lives. Each thing replaces every other thing. Each card replaces every other card. Each activity replaces every other activity. Each drink replaces every other drink. Each meal replaces every meal.
There are no free cuts.
We have to cut a card to add a card.
If you buy into this you might find yourself quitting or cutting back on things you enjoy, like smoking, eating french fries, or drinking soda. You might realize that these things might not be particularly harmful, but they are for sure taking the place of something else.
You might find yourself missing these things. This is hard.
But, when you do spend time on a thing or with a person, you will know that it was a choice. You could be doing anything else in the world, but you chose to be right here. That is beautiful.
THAT is the Sixty-Card Lifestyle.
This is my favorite deck right now. I have been dredging [card]Stinkweed Imp[/card] for years and it never gets old. This deck does everything I want a Stinkweed deck to do. It controls the opponents, grinds gradual advantage, and has an insurmountable end game. It’s amazing to me.
I cut the [card]Smallpox[/card] from my list. The card can be game-winning on the second turn, but it is sometimes useless on the draw. More importantly, cutting Smallpox liberates our mana. We no longer have to worry about getting double-black on the second turn. This means a much more consistent deck.
Intruder Alarm Elves
This is by far the most explosive deck I’ve been playing. It is capable of wins out of nowhere and is getting surprisingly resilient with new updates.
I have moved to [card]Ranger of Eos[/card] over [card]Elvish Visionary[/card]. Elvish Visionary wasn’t impressing me, and I am happy to finally cut it for a card that provides significantly more punch. [card]Ranger of Eos[/card] also makes us much more resilient to cards like Pyroclasm in the main and gives us access to [card]Burrenton Forge-Tender[/card] after board.
I’ve also moved toward white sideboard cards. Thalia is really powerful against spell combo, [card]Stony Silence[/card] is great against Robots and Urzatron decks, and [card]Rest in Peace[/card] can be a game-ender against graveyard decks.
A guy recently contacted me on Twitter, telling me that he was having success with a TWELVE-land version of this deck. While I think that is too few, it shows us that there is a lot to still explore with this archetype. I will keep working on it.
Izzet Pyro Storm
Finally, we have the new deck I have been working on. It is extremely difficult to play—although it isn’t particularly interactive. It is also rough and fragile. But it has potential for sure:
There are versions with [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and versions with [card]Beck // Call[/card] running around, so there is a lot of room to maneuver with this archetype. I have a feeling that the deck is not going to be viable at the very top level with the rise of cards like [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card] and [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card]. That’s not going to stop me from trying though!