• My Little Pony CCG: Deck-Building Basics

    Hello again, everypony! Today I'm bringing you a guest shot written by one of our developers, Amanda, all about deck building. There are even a couple tips I'd never really considered! Take a look, here after the break:

    Building Your Deck

    There are many ways to begin building a deck, but here is one approach for building a two-color My Little Pony CCG deck.

    Choose a Strategy

    Look through your cards and you will start to see some patterns. Each color has abilities that are unique to that color. Using different cards with similar abilities, you can begin to build a focused deck strategy.

    For example, Professor Neigh is a Purple Friend boosted by Report Resources... and Reports are exclusive to Purple!

    Read through the cards until you see a strategy that seems like it will be fun or effective to play. Everyone is different and has different play styles, so take your time and find one that really grabs you.

    Gather What You Need

    Now you need to build the core engine that drives your play strategy.

    • Choose a Mane Character that works with your strategy or one that you can easily flip using your chosen strategy. Ideally, this will be a Mane Character that provides power in the color of the strategy you've chosen.
    • Identify what your deck must do to be successful. For example, if flipping your Mane Character is key, find cards that will help you do that quickly.
    • Find Friend, Event, Resource, and Troublemaker cards that relate to the strategy you've chosen. Try to stick to your Mane Character's color for now.
    • Look at Problem cards that require the color that you've chosen. See how their game text (if any) might either help or hurt your plan.

    It doesn't matter right now if you have far more cards than you will have room for in your draw deck. You will reduce later.

    Select a Helper Strategy/Color

    Keep in mind:

    • Every good plan has an upside and a downside. What will your main color will have trouble doing? Is there a color that will help you fix that?
    • Did you find Problems that require power from two different colors to confront whose game text will help you execute your strategy?
    • Is there a keyword in another color that will help your strategy? 

    Do you want to remove your opponent's Friends? Maybe you want to move your own Friends around faster? Decisions, decisions...

    Once you have selected a second color, choose the Friends, Resources, and Events that will help you achieve the goals of your overall strategy. Make sure to include some Friends with no play requirement on them so that you can get your second color into play.

    Start Paring Down

    Set aside the cards in your main color that directly support your strategy. Check the play requirements on those cards and then add Friends in that color that have a play requirement of 0 or 1.

    Look through the cards in your second color. Start removing cards that don't support the goals of your deck or help you overcome a shortcoming of your overall strategy. Add some Friends that have a 0 play requirement so you can get your second color into play. About half of the Friends in your second color should have a 0 play requirement.

    Scootaloo is useful in lots of decks. But, if you aren't using many Troublemakers? Not so much...

    When looking through both colors, keep an eye open for combos, which are two or more cards that you can try to play together for a greater effect.

    With all that in mind, remove more cards. If you still have more than 45 cards in your draw deck, that's okay! We are about to make more cuts.

    What To Aim For

    For a deck to perform consistently, it should ideally keep to the lower deck size limit of 45 cards. It's tempting to make an "everything but the kitchen sink" deck, but you will find that you will have trouble drawing the cards you really need if you are carrying a lot of extra weight in your draw deck.

    There are other ratios that will work, but a good rule of thumb is to have 25-30 Friends and 15-20 "other" cards in your draw deck. Some strategies need a slightly different ratio, so adjust from those general guidelines as you find you need to.

    Look at the Friends you selected. Remove cards that don't support or enhance your main strategy. Keep an eye on play requirements and don't cut too many low/no play requirements Friends, or you won't be able to play your higher requirements cards. Reduce the pile to around 30-35 cards. Don't worry if you're a little over, as we can remove more in upcoming steps.

    Sugar Twist isn't the most exciting card, but when you want to play Hoity Toity or Octavia? Invaluable!

    Look at your Events, Resources, and Troublemakers. Reduce that pile to 15-20 cards.

    Remember, for Friends, Events, Resources, and Troublemakers, there is a limit of 3 copies of any unique card in your draw deck.

    Look at your Problem deck. Select 10 Problems that fit the following characteristics:

    • You can confront them with the Friends you have, or by using help from your Events and Resources.
    • You have at least one Problem marked "Starting Problem."
    • If possible, select some Problems that have game text that supports your strategy.
    • You have no more than 2 copies of any individual Problem in your Problem deck.


    Let's try a draw test. To do this, shuffle your draw deck and then deal the cards into piles of 6 cards. Pick up each pile as though it is your opening hand. Take note of what's there, but also what's not there.

    Do you have:

    • At least 1 immediately playable Friend, preferably 2?
    • At least 1 card to get your deck's strategy going?
    • Too many cards that don't tie in to your primary or secondary strategy?

    Good cards? Sure! Is three of each a good opening hand? Nope!

    If many of your piles would make bad opening hands, you need to tune your deck again. Put in more cards that will help you and take out the cards that don't. Having multiple cards that feed into your strategy (redundancy) and keeping that draw deck slim (efficiency) will make your deck more effective.

    Repeat this test and your fine-tuning until you are happy with nearly all of your 6 card test hands. Get your draw deck down as close to 45 as you can. Be ruthless when cutting. Your favorite card will quickly become your least favorite card if you keep drawing it when you'd much rather have drawn something else.

    Good luck, and have fun building your new deck!