There’s a lot to learn about Magic: The Gathering if you are just getting into it. In fact, even if you’ve been playing for years there is always something new to discover. One of the key things that you’ll hear players talk about is what deck archetype their new brew fits into. If you’ve started building decks, then you’ll have discovered how important a plan is. While having a plan is good, it helps if you know which of the four main pillars that plan fits into.

Knowing what kind of deck, you’re playing helps you identify your role in each matchup. Should you be on the offensive or trying to drag the game out, is it better to be proactive or reactive? These things can change moment to moment but if you approach every game with an understanding of where you should be, then things will be easier. So, here is our guide to what the archetypes are and what they do.


If all you want in life is to win as fast as possible then the chances are that you’re an Aggro player. Every card in an Aggro deck aims to reduce the opponent’s life total to 0. That’s all, nothing fancy. To do this it is full of cheap burn spells, cheap creatures, and the ability to empty your hand by turn 3. The downside of this style of deck is that if somebody can survive once you’ve emptied your hand then it is very hard to overcome them. This is a good deck for new players or people unfamiliar with a format.


Midrange decks are all about value. They tend to be two or three colours and have access to as many efficient creatures as possible. Where Aggro aims to crush you as quickly as possible, Midrange is happy to sit back for a couple of turns and build things up. You can expect to see a lot of Planeswalkers here because of the flexibility they offer. It’s also likely that a Midrange deck will be the aggressive player in one game and then the more defensive in another, they are more about having a tool for every job than being single-minded in their pursuit of victory.


There are a few different styles of control decks; land destruction, hand disruption, and counterspell decks just to name a few. Each of them aims to do the same thing though: disrupt your opponent’s game plan. If you can disrupt everything they are doing and then land just one big threat, then you’re likely to win. Often times Control decks require a decent knowledge of the format they are being played in. They are tricky to play but incredibly rewarding.


Combo decks are usually the fastest in the game. They can also be the most inconsistent. They have one way of winning and aim to do it on turn two or three of the game. They tend to be based around strange interactions or infinite spells. A lot of fun, but if you want variety in your matches then this won’t be for you.

Those are the four main archetypes for decks in Magic: The Gathering. The way they all look changes format to format, but the ideas behind them are always the same. Most players tend to favour a specific style of play, so make sure to experiment to find which you like. If you want even more MtG goodness, then check out our Hub.