The Deck

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The Deck is a control deck created by Brian Weissman. [1] Fundamentally, it functions the same as modern control decks: gradually gaining card advantage while answering opposing threats, then playing a single large threat that is sufficient to win the game. However, historically it has been constructed using many single-copy card drawing, deck searching and answer cards from every color. The result is a highly complex and variable deck, regularly said to be one of the skill intensive decks in the history of magic. Some players have even gone on to say that the deck contains no bad matchups, but only good matchups depending solely on skill of the player navigating it.

The Deck used Counterspells, Mana Drains, Red Elemental Blasts, Disenchants, Strip Mines and Swords to Plowshares to trade on a one-for-one basis with the opponent's threats. Then, when the Weissman Deck had somewhat stabilized, he could use Ancestral Recall, Braingeyser, Amnesia, Jayemdae Tome or Library of Alexandria to gain card advantage. In the environment of the day, Moat usually spelled the end, as could a Disrupting Scepter. Demonic Tutor's use is fairly self explanatory, but it is important to note how it streamlines the deck since it justifies having fewer copies of silver bullet cards. (That is, specific solution cards.) Regrowth, Timetwister and Recall gives the deck some resilience if unexpected things happened. A final strength of The Deck of course, is its sheer volume of "broken" cards (generally considered to be quite overpowered). Sometimes it could "just win" by getting a Serra Angel, Black Lotus, Tundra, Mox Emerald draw, or something of the like.

The Deck later evolved to use Fireball as a win condition instead of Serra Angel, when Weissman was having serious troubles dealing with Necropotence decks of the time. While previously objecting to the use of Fireball to render the opponent's creature removal useless, it was inevitable change to keep up with a changing game.[2]

The following is Brian Weissman's original 1996 version.[3] (Note that this version of the deck is not legal in any tournament format. For example, Strip Mine was later restricted in Vintage.)

Although The Deck was designed for Vintage (i.e. Type I or Classic), its ideas and unique style of play complexity soon influenced decks in Standard (i.e. Type II). For example, from December 1997-July 1998 many variants emerged. One of the earliest and most popular was Mike Donais 5-color Control deck, or "Donais U5C" for short. It arrived following the release of Tempest and was popularized on The Dojo and during the United States Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship.[4] The core is a U/W Control deck supported by life-gaining/mitigating cards, targeted removal, card drawing and graveyard recursion (Gaea's Blessing). Whispers of the Muse replaced Jayemdae Tome as the card-drawing engine, Wall of Blossoms replaced Swords to Plowshares as a card advantage solution to single creatures and Fireball duel-functioned as a removal and game-winning condition.

The popularity of Donais U5C quickly led players to target its unstable manabase, using Wastelands, Dwarven Miners and other cards that punished non-basic lands (e.g. Price of Progress). Responding to this, Cathy Nicoloff and Brian Weissman developed a version for the 1998 United States National Championships, called The 'T2' Deck.[5] It reduced the manabase weakness by limiting the amount of non-U/W spells, increasing colorless spells, and nearly-halving the number of non-basic lands.

Though Magic has changed tremendously in the 20+ years since The Deck's creation, the ideas behind it still apply: a skillful pilot is required to navigate consistently against every possible matchup. Its matchups depend more on skill than nearly any other deck. In fact, when played correctly it could be said to have no unfavorable matchups, but rather only those that are favorable.

In 2006, Weissman posted an updated version of The Deck.

In 2018, Weissman posted an updated version of The Deck following his experiences of competing in 'Old School' (aka 93/94 Magic) format tournaments that year.[6][7]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mike Flores. (February 17, 2014.) “The Deck”,, Wizards of the Coast.
  2. "The Deck", Chapter II: Jan '96 - Aug '96
  3. Mike Flores "Finding the Tinker Deck", Sideboard
  4. Flores, M. J. (2006). Deckade: 10 years of decks, thoughts, and theory!, 136. New York City, NY: To Be Continued LLC.
  5. Flores, M. J. (2006). Deckade: 10 years of decks, thoughts, and theory!, 137. New York City, NY: To Be Continued LLC.
  6. Weissman, B., & Edwin the Magic Engineer. (June 19, 2018). Brian Weissman and ETME discuss their GP Vegas 2018 Old School decks. Retrieved on August 5, 2018 from
  7. Levine, E. (April 28, 2016). New Format: Old School. Retrieved on August 5, 2018 from
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