Mono or Multi?
One of the most exhilarating aspects of playing Magic: the Gathering is deck construction. What does the deck need to do? What is the strategy? What color (colors?) to play? These questions and more flit through a player’s mind as she chooses cards she wants to add to her slowly growing pile of red, black, green, white, blue.
Which color provides the best chance to slap down the enemy, using the biggest and most destructive creatures and resources? Or does she want to control her enemies, using their own spells against them and manipulating them into doing what she wants? These are some factors to consider when coloring a Magic deck. Along with these factors grinds a hue halting question that sometimes creates confusion and frustration in a player: mono or multi?
The amount of colors played in the deck rests on the preferences of each individual—what you feel comfortable with, based on how you want your deck to perform. It also depends on the format. Sometimes a single color is the most advantageous deck you can build. Other times you might want to fan out the colors to pack your deck with a major one-two (three) punch.
Some argue that great mono decks depend on how powerful the colors are. Many players using mono colored decks splash a second (and in some cases, third) color, attempting to find solutions to inconsistencies or weaknesses presented by their chosen color. Using fewer colors stabilizes the mana base, making it much easier to draw the cards you need to cast spells. Fewer colors also give the advantage of reliability, creating more unified decks.
Each color has its own strategies and ideas for establishing victory. Each color has its pros and cons:
Red is the color of impulse. Chaos and emotion follow red onto the battlefield. Red employs aggression in a way that provides instant gratification, exactly suited for this vibrant color. It acts quickly, often able to crush its opponent in the first few turns of the game. And it’s unpredictable, which can spell danger for the enemy early on. However, if an opponent can hang on through the initial cannon blast of red’s destructive emotions, red won’t have a very good defense against the arsenal of the enemy.
White signifies protection, law and order, and light. The color white uses ultimate defense spells and organizational tactics to create an even playing field. It wants unity and uniformity. The greatest strength is built on the ability to establish law and order, balance and equality. White forces its opponent to play by the rules. If that happens, the enemy is finished. On the flip side, white is a very rigid color. It lacks the ability to easily adapt, and is slow at building itself.
Blue needs knowledge and expansion. It wields control as an effective weapon, raining azure smokescreens and cerulean time-reverse upon an ill-prepared enemy. Blue has an incredible ability to outwit the enemy. Blue also takes a long time to build its knowledge, and its passive nature limits the color. A quick opponent can snatch victory from underfoot before blue has an opportunity to retaliate.
Green promotes growth and nature. It operates on instinct, and is able to build up an incredible amount of creatures to ensure the greatest chance at victory. Along with this, green can destroy artifacts and enchantments with casual ease. The drawback: it loves life too much to kill creatures, and that can become a big problem.
Black possesses great ambition. It craves power, and will obtain it at all costs. Black makes use of every opportunity that comes its way, and as such leaves no stone unturned, which contributes to its greatest quality. On the other hand, black tends to take destruction too far, which sometimes results in destruction of itself.
Choosing a mono deck comes with its own set of risks and rewards, the basics of which were set above. Those players who splash colors into an otherwise mono deck do so to combat the weakness in the deck.
Multi-colored decks present their own values and limitations. When a player seeks to construct a multi-colored deck, he or she looks for colors that combine to create different abilities. If chosen correctly, a color combination can be created to respond to and defeat most decks. All it takes is a little forethought.
The best multi-color decks are created with theme and strategy in mind. The player decides that he wants a controlling deck, but he realizes that he needs to bring his creatures front and center as fast as he can. He constructs a red-blue deck. This ideally allows him to distract his opponent with his lightning-quick spells and creatures in the early plays of the game, while he builds up defensive control with blue for later, longer game strategy.
If a player wants an aggressive game that lasts a bit longer, she might pair green’s instinct and ability to amass large armies of creatures with white’s protection and order to form a formidable deck that can attack and counter through to the end.
The downside to decks of many colors, though, is this: the more colors used, the harder it becomes to get the cards wanted, due to an increased risk of mana deprivation. Multi-colored decks also limit the spells a player cast. Spells costing more mana can be forced to the wayside because the player may not have the right amount of mana to cast those spells.
As we have seen, both types of constructed decks present major strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons. They each have their specific sets of instructions, and all have their uses. It really is up to the individual’s personal strategy, theme and, dare we say it, color preferences. What’s your favorite color? How do you want your deck to perform? When do you want to emerge from the battlefield?
Mono or multi? That is the question.