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In card games like Magic: The Gathering (MTG), netdecking can be a serious topic up for debate. Simply put, a person who netdecks is someone who copies a deck they come across online – especially if a person’s strategy has found success at the tournament level.

A player may opt to switch a few cards out here and there, but the main point is they are netdecking if their cards are mostly the same. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So a player who wants to replicate another player’s strategy is quite an honor.

Personally, I do not netdeck for a variety of reasons. Half of the fun for me is making own, one-of-a-kind deck. Of course, I do not necessarily disapprove of others who choose to netdeck because there are legitimate merits to it as well.

Collected Company

The strongest cards see the most play.

Below are three respective pros and cons about netdecking from my standpoint.

Pro No. 1: Netdecks Emulate Proven Winners
At the end of the day, we all love to rally behind a winner. To netdeck a strategy that has found tournament-wide achievement makes a lot of sense. You are using a successful formula that has already proven its worth. No one can deny a deck’s components when the results already speak for themselves. Someone else has done the hard work for you.

Con No. 1: Netdecks Represent Someone Else’s Strategy – Not Yours
Sure, any player could copy a winning deck online. Anyone could track down the cards, put up the money and have the same deck as (insert pro player’s name here). In fact, you can learn every in and out to play just like the original creator – but it still would not be your strategy. For these reasons alone, I never netdeck.

Pro No. 2: Netdecks Offer Great Teaching Tools
If you look at a netdeck in a particular manner, they act as great teaching tools. Because the deck already attained success, one could think of it as a base for a successful strategy. Any new player could study the deck’s build, how the combos work together and learn how to create a solid-and-up deck of their own.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Some cards from netdecks get so popular that they get nicknames. This one was often called Gary.

Con No. 2: No Substitution Exists for Self-discovery
Perhaps this was just me, but I developed the most as a player when learning stuff individually. I would reference netdecks for some ideas – again, for the base concept of particular strategies. However, every deck I have ever built has always been my own. Sure, I have had some duds, but this just meant the triumphs were extra special. And this is because I discovered a deck’s unique build on my own. It was a matter of undergoing the trial-and-error process.

Pro No. 3: A Netdeck Will Often Be Competitive
Some players just want to compete, especially in tournaments. When armed with a netdeck, you often have something competent to work with that can hold its own. At the cost of sacrificing individuality, a person who netdecks (theoretically) possesses an upper hand in every match they enter – assuming they play the netdeck correctly.

Gisela, the Broken Blade

People often adapt to what becomes staples in the meta.

Con No. 3: People Learn to Counter Netdecks
The major weakness of a netdeck? Other players wise up and learn how to deal with it in tournaments. The decks that thrive become prime targets for counter tactics. There will be no secrets with playing a well-known netdeck everyone knows from top to bottom. Because I play rogue decks that no one will anticipate, I have more confidence in having the surprise factor when playing in tournaments.

Ultimately, I will never fault a player who netdecks. I do not personally like to netdeck, but I understand why some players do it. As long as a player is happy with the deck they are using, whether it is someone else’s strategy or their own, this is all that matters in MTG.

All Magic: The Gathering images belong to Wizards of the Coast.

 

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