Concept[edit | edit source]
The concept of tempo is to dissect the more intricate means of how and when lands and spells are played, as opposed to the "race" which approaches aggressive strategies haphazardly. A player who has a strong understanding of tempo can often put the game state in their favor without having to resort to copious amounts of card advantage or card utility for contingency's sake during the game. Tempo is not specific to any one color, nor does it favor a specific color for having the "best tempo", as tempo exists merely to scale the game's pace and allow its reader a better understanding of how to seek victory.
The term has its roots in musical notation, where it means the rate of movement between sounds in relation to one another, it was later adopted into Chess where it found its origin in Magic: The Gathering as the gaining or losing position and productivity in relation to victory. Often when in relation to a player's deck, tempo is simplified to "Speed" which refers to the absolute "fastest" tempo a single deck can produce (not necessarily the one most optimal for the match.)
Winning with tempo[edit | edit source]
Tempo is often used in conjunction with mana acceleration. Aggro decks are built around maximizing their own tempo by "going under" other decks. Aggro as well as Midrange decks generally win with tempo, and often trade card advantage to gain it. They use their mana more efficiently in the early turns and, by doing so, try to kill the opponent before the opponent's more powerful game plan comes online. Control decks, of course, only care about tempo to the extent that it allows them to survive long enough to where card advantage becomes more important.
Tempo decks[edit | edit source]
"Tempo decks" are named as such because they attack the opponent's tempo, forcing them to use their mana inefficiently by bouncing the creatures they play or Remanding their spells. An example of a tempo deck is a Delver of Secrets deck, which is very popular in the formats of legacy, modern and standard. It tends to have a large number of instants and sorceries that Delver of Secrets will trigger off of with quite a bit of disruption.
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- Scott Johns. (May 15, 2006.) “My System - A Guide to Tempo”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Aaron Forsythe. (May 19, 2006.) “Constructed Tempo Powerhouses”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Scott Johns. (September 30, 2006.) “Introduction to Tempo”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Reid Duke. (September 22, 2014.) “Tempo”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
- Reid Duke. (March 2, 2015.) “Investment”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.