Magic: The Gathering Wiki
Magic: The Gathering Wiki

The game Magic: The Gathering requires each player to have their own deck in order to play. There are thousands of unique cards which can be used for this purpose, thus a considerable number of different decks can be constructed. However, decks can usually be loosely classified based on their play style and mode of victory.[1]

Decktype and Subtype Breakdown


Control decks seek to enforce the pace and rules of the game. They are reactionary and often extremely disruptive to the opponent, protecting their resources and prolonging the game at all costs. Control decks require a large amount of mana over many turns to build up control over the game, and eventually become unbeatable via an academic win condition (a resilient creature) or through inevitability (recursion). Most control decks exercise the concept of card advantage; that is, gaining more cards than the opponent, or making uneven card-for-card trades. Blue and White together are the classic Control colors, though Black is also more than capable.


Aggro-Control (often referred to as "Tempo") is a hybrid archetype that contains both aggressive creatures and control elements. Aggro-control is well-typified by Blue-Green Madness and Threshold. These decks attempt to deploy quick threats while protecting them with light permission and disruption long enough to win. Attempts have been made to classify the more controlling versions into a completely different archetype, known as midrange.[4]


Normally, control-combo is a control deck with a combo finisher that it can spring quickly if need be. A notable subtype of combo-control is "prison," which institutes control through resource denial and tap/untap effects (usually via a combo).


Aggro-Combo is a relatively rare archetype that usually stems from a typical Aggro deck that has a notable, but non-critical combo. For the sake of simplicity, Aggro-Combo decks are usually regarded simply as Aggro decks with a "trick" that can suddenly win the game. They can be dangerous due to the fact that this can give them an edge against simple Aggro decks while giving them some possibility of matching speed against Combo decks.


Some Magic decks are adaptable enough to perform all three roles. By utilizing strong "engines", playing only the best cards for sheer power level, or using a large "toolbox" of silver bullet cards, decks that can claim to be all archetypes at once are usually both adaptive and unpredictable in nature. Generally lacking the full speed of an aggro deck, the constant disruption of a control deck and the pure focus of a combo deck, the extremely rare Aggro-Control-Combo archetype attempts to make up for any shortcomings with metagame adaptability and/or sheer power.


  1. Aggro, Combo, and Control by Jeff Cunningham
  2. Chicago-Style U/W Control by Zvi Mowshowitz
  3. Giant-Sized Regionals Primer: Psychatog by Mike Flores
  4. "What's in a Midrange" by Richard Feldman
  5. Deconstructing Stasis by Brian David-Marshall
  6. Chaining Goblins by Paul Sottosanti
  7. Deconstructing Suicide Black by Brian David-Marshall
  8. Deconstructing Fires by Brian David-Marshall
  9. Gardening In Vintage: How To Gro-A-Tog And Clip A Lotus by Stephen Menendian and Paul Mastriano

See also

  • Preconstructed decks