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Building Your First PDH Deck

Blaze Commando, by James Ryman, owned by Wizards of the Coast © All Rights Reserved.

Ever since I started playing Magic: The Gathering, I've always been mainly attracted to EDH. I love the style, I love the pace of game play, and I love the variation in what I could possibly see happen. Having a deck influenced by one commander just opens up so many more deck ideas and strategies, and that's what made me feel at home.

While learning how to design decks, it was such a daunting task, with no clue where to start. As I moved into the PDH world, it became even harder, as I hadn't heard of most common and uncommon cards. Now that I finally have a grasp, I want to take time here to lay out helpful steps, tips, and tools that are great to use. Whether you are brand new to the format, or just looking for information regarding what things to consider for Pauper in particular, everything worth considering when building a deck will be presented right here.

1) Choosing Your Commander

This is probably the easiest, and the most fun part of this process. This is where you view countless commanders, and just simply "let one grab your attention." To view galleries for each color, take a look over at the PDH Home Base Commanders page, so you have somewhere to start.

If you are a new, and still don't quite have enough knowledge as to what strategies , I would advise watching games at your local game store to help you start to engage your imagination, and expand your knowledge base.

2) Know Your 99

If you only pick cards based off their standalone strength or their interaction with your commander, you may find that your deck doesn't always perform the way you had in mind. When building a deck, it's important to have a general idea of what you need to consider.

I feel that the best resource regarding the philosophy behind building your deck is presented by the Command Zone Podcast. This is the thought process I use to approach my decks, and it shows an overall consistently high performance in all of my decks. I recommend watching this video below.

Now, of course there will be some differences that we must consider. This format is has no board wipes, so that leaves that space open. The remainder of this space can be used for target removal, but Its important to assess what things you need to be ready to target.

-Graveyards: Graveyard utility is still just as prominent here as anywhere else, so you should be

equipped with some-graveyards I hate. This can be done by simply adding something

like a Bojuka Bog, or a Tormod's Crypt.

-Ulamog's Crusher: This is everybody's favorite fatty of the format. Incredibly dangerous, and fast

working, you NEED to be ready to handle this, one way or another. Thankfully,

countless options do exist, but be geared up.

-Flying: This mechanic always seems to be underutilized in EDH, for reasons I can't explain. Flying

is an especially dangerous mechanism in PDH, and needs to be handled. With

Commanders as dangerous as Vampire Nighthawk, or Spellheart Chimera, this mechanic

cannot be ignored. Be prepared with your own creatures, or special removal.

3) Picking Your Cards

You now know what you need to look for, so now it's time to utilize two online tools. Your work will be much easier by using the MTG Gatherer, and the TappedOut Deck builder.

If you are not familiar with either, I'll give a quick brief. Tapped Out is an absolutely awesome website that lets you make your own deck techs online, and share them with the community. It will be incredibly helpful when making your list of cards, and then trimming it down over time.

The MTG Gatherer is a tool created by Wizards of the Coast, allowing you to search through the card archive with several filters on. If you are only interested in seeing cards of a certain rarity, maybe just a certain color, or card type, this can certainly be done.

Your best plan of attack will be to view each separate card category, one by one. Break it down by color, type, and rarity. Until you begin to build a mental library of all of your options, this is your best way to know you haven't missed the best piece for your deck.

If you're looking for a specific characteristic or piece of ruling on a card, use the "rules text" filter at top of the search engine. For example, maybe you are looking for cards with "Infect" written on them. This is the place where you would add this to the search. You can add any other terms, such as "draw," "destroy," "counter," etc.


After you make note of cards from the Gatherer, and toss them into your TappedOut list, that's the time to start cutting things out. If you find your count to be much higher, then only chop out a few cards at a time, then take a day break away from it. Trying to cut everything out in one go will feel daunting, and nearly impossible. Give yourself time to forget about the cuts you made, so you can approach your list with a fresh perspective.

There are so many different possibilities to build, and there is no wrong answer as to which commander you wish to play it. That's your choice, and it's your world to explore. Hopefully, this information above will at least help you steer yourself into building at your best. We have the most fun when we all play our best, so let's continue to do so.





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