Using a mono-color deck to learn Magic: the Gathering can provide several positive benefits for beginners. It may even speed up the learning curve! I like to teach with mono green for beginners MTG decks, but read through and see what color might work best for you!
When I learned to play the trading card game Magic: the Gathering (MtG) in the mid 90’s most of the kids I played with at the time used mono-colored decks. This refers to an MtG deck built with all green cards that use only green mana, or only white cards that use only white mana, and so on for each color.
In the days of Arabian Nights, Unlimited and Revised, the Dark, and later Fallen Empires and Ice Age, the card base wasn’t big enough for multiple colors to have the great synergy we can find today. Wizards of the Coast wasn’t the card-releasing behemoth they’ve become, especially recently under Hasbro.
Original dual lands at the time did help if you wanted to try it. But when the best cards anyone had were a Shivan Dragon or a Vesuvan Doppelganger, you just didn’t see a lot of color mixing.
My first deck was mono-green and very much a beginner deck for the time, full of Craw Wurms and Llanowar Elves.
Eventually adding a Force of Nature and Gaea’s Liege!
There were far fewer abilities which also made the game easier to learn. Though the basics of the colors haven’t changed much since then!
I’ll focus on 60-card decks for casual players in this article, but keep in mind there are many different play styles and deck types when you construct your own deck. The most frequent format decks that follow Wizard’s rules are Standard and Modern. Different formats such as the Commander format and Cube are frequently found in local game stores. Booster drafts are also popular, especially at Friday Night Magic.
The MtG Arena is a great way nowadays to practice and use cards you aren’t able to easily get on paper. It offers competitive play online for anyone looking to learn the game of Magic.
This quick start guide is meant to help new players find a color to match their personality and get started playing one of the best trading card games around with a mono-colored deck that fits their preferred play style. Magic’s several colors can offer something for everyone!
Why Beginners Should Start With a Mono-Color Deck
I recommend starting with a mono-color deck as the best way to learn for beginners for several reasons:
- Simplicity: mono-color decks can be simpler to build and play. With only 1 color of mana needed, the mana base of the deck is simple and the land cards are easy to come by and to work with. Most of the lands can be simple basic lands. This allows the player to learn the fundamental mechanics of their color without overwhelming complexity.
- Consistency: When you only need one color of mana you don’t have to worry about drawing the wrong land, every land in your deck should help at any time! This cuts down on getting mana screwed or having to mulligan because your starting spells don’t match the land in your hand. The game is a bit more enjoyable and predictable for beginners playing a mono-colored deck.
- Budget friendly: Single colored decks don’t rely on expensive dual or pain lands, and don’t require fetch lands that can grab multiple colors. You also won’t need high-cost cards from multiple colors that can add up quickly in multi-colored decks.
- Color Identity: New players can quickly learn the color identity of their deck, the mechanics, play styles, strengths and characteristics. Getting a solid foundational understanding of a color individually leads to better understanding of how to branch out into multi-colored decks later with that color.
Mono-color decks offer a simple, consistent, and focused learning experience to help beginning players learn and advance their knowledge, play, and eventually decks and strategy. Dual-colored decks may double the card base available, but they also complicate the mana base and those I’ve taught have had a better time learning from mono-color decks.
Let’s take a look at how each mono-color deck might look a little different, and offer a different play style for beginners.
Mono-Black Beginners MTG Decks Overview
Mono-black decks in Magic: the Gathering offer the unique flexibility of being good at both aggression and control. This makes a mono-black deck both strong and versatile.
Mono-Black Control Decks for Beginners
A Mono-black Control Magic: the Gathering deck offers removal spells in the form of direct removal, sacrifice, and mass removal. Cards like Terror and Murder are great at targeted removal, while sacrifice can be achieved with such cards as Cruel or Diabolic Edict.
Mass removal such as Infest for early board wipe and Mutilate or Damnation for the later game make black potent at dealing with everything from weenies to tokens, and even stompy beatsticks.
Mono-black Control may lean on disruption tactics like discard spells. Discard spells such as Duress and Thoughtseize can wreck a hand, and even take away their graveyard options in the case of a card like Go Blank.
Mono-black Control may use techniques such as graveyard interaction or recursion to build its army or cheat cards into play. Cards like Buried Alive or Entomb can be used to retrieve creatures from libraries, and then reanimate effects on cards such as Reanimate can bring them back to life, in some cases even stealing them from your opponent’s graveyard! Talk about grave danger!
Mono-black Control decks as a general rule include different forms of card advantage such as Phyrexian Arena or Necropotence that let your hand stay ahead and control the game. Many would be considered midrange decks that control the game early and close with efficient creatures.
Aggressive Mono-black decks for beginners
The other mono-black deck type is aggressive. Aggro mono-black decks can include creatures with high power and evasion to apply pressure on opponents quickly. Cards like Vampire Nighthawk, Dread Wanderer, or Bloodghast are examples of creatures that can form a great aggro deck.
Aggro mono-black decks often have access to spells or abilities that can deal direct damage to opponents, bypassing their defenses. Cards like Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Tendrils of Agony, even a good ole Drain Life allow you to drain opponents’ life totals and apply aggressive pressure.
Aggressive mono-black decks can leverage sacrifice mechanics and token generation to swarm the board and overwhelm opponents. Cards like Carrion Feeder, Grave Pact, or Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder allow you to sacrifice creatures for various benefits, generate tokens, and attack relentlessly.
Aggressive mono-black decks can utilize cards like Dark Ritual or Cabal Coffers to ramp up mana quickly and deploy threats ahead of schedule, allowing for aggressive starts and explosive turns.
The flexibility of mono-black decks allows them to shift between control and aggressive strategies depending on the game state, matchup, or personal preference. They can adapt to different playstyles and adjust their game plan accordingly making them a great way to start your Magic: the Gathering journey.
Mono-black can use several solid tribes for beginners. Zombies and Vampires are probably the easiest to build, but Demons, Rats, and Rogues can also be effective.
Whether you prefer controlling the board, disrupting opponents’ strategies, or attacking aggressively, mono-black may be one of the best starter decks that provide the tools to pursue various paths to victory.
Mono-Blue Beginners MTG Decks Overview
Mono-blue Magic: the Gathering decks require careful planning, precise timing, and resource management to effectively control the game and outmaneuver opponents. They offer unique cards where by countering spells, drawing cards, and manipulating the board, mono-blue players aim to maintain control until they can establish their win condition and secure victory.
I mentioned Vesuvan Doppelganger earlier, which was my personal favorite card in the Revised set. A powerful clone that could take the shape of the best creature on the board each turn. It hasn’t been mass reprinted since Revised and isn’t legal in much other than a casual game, but still a fun card! Different clones are one aspect still found in mono-blue decks.
Mono-blue is best known for its control strategy. The main thing a mono-blue deck is known for is countering opponents’ spells with cards like Counterspell, Mana Leak, and Cancel.
Also, for board control and bounce with cards such as Boomerang and Echoing Truth.
Mono-blue will use its control and bounce cards to dictate the tempo of the game and upend an opponent’s strategy.
Mono-blue also excels at card draw and manipulation. It ensures a steady flow of resources and answers to opponents’ creatures and other spells, along with ways to dig through your library for exactly what you need. Card advantage is one of mono-blue’s great strengths.
Look for early game cards like Brainstorm and later game hand refill such as Concentrate, or a card like Rhystic Study will either draw extra cards, or mana tax your opponents’ spells.
Mono-blue decks use win conditions such as flying, unblockable, or hexproof creatures. They may also employ artifacts and enchantments that provide these or other special abilities to large, hard-to-deal-with creatures. Sphinx of the Final Word, Consecrated Sphinx, and Deepchannel Mentor come to mind.
Some other Mono-blue win conditions are more advanced strategies, like “milling” or “decking” your opponent. This involves using spells like Traumatize or Archive Trap to force all of an opponent’s deck into their graveyard (or even removed from the game.) If you have no cards to draw and are forced to draw, you lose the game.
Mono-blue may be the toughest of the mono-colored beginner strategies. It’s a balancing act. It requires understanding the tempo of the game and not overcommitting resources.
One of the most well-known jests in Magic is to not play anything you want to keep into a blue player with 2 or more open mana. But even with 1 or 0 open mana, you may still lose your spell to a card like Force of Will!
Mono-blue does have some tribes that work well for beginners. New players may look to put together decks based on Merfolk, Wizards, Sphinxes, Illusions, or Faeries. You can build your deck around the chosen tribe, focusing on the tribal creatures’ abilities, card advantage, and control elements to create a powerful and enjoyable mono-blue tribal deck.
Mono-Green Beginners MTG Decks Overview
Mono-green decks typically embrace a playstyle centered around ramping up mana and playing large creatures. They’re a good place for beginners to start. They also have several viable tribes and can also excel at creating tokens. Green support spells may cause opponents fits by preventing combat damage, forcing creatures to block, or manipulating opponents’ land.
Mono-green decks excel at accelerating their mana development, allowing them to cast spells with high mana costs earlier than their opponents.
Mana ramp is achieved through various means, including creatures that directly generate additional mana like Llanowar Elves or Birds of Paradise, or through land-based ramp cards like Rampant Growth, Cultivate, or Kodama’s Reach. The goal is to quickly increase available resources with your ramp deck in order to cast larger threats sooner than your opponents.
Mono-green decks may also manipulate their opponents’ mana through spells such as Plow Under. Plow Under can be disastrous to an opponent’s strategy if a mono-green deck has ramped into being able to play the spell on turn 3 or 4, and then sets their opponent’s mana back 2 turns.
Mono-green decks that focus on large creatures often revolve around big nasties with high power/toughness and abilities such as trample that allow them to deal damage to players even when blocked.
Examples of some oft included large green creatures are Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Krosan Cloudscraper, and Voracious Hydra.
Mono-green decks may also take advantage of spells to pump up their creatures to deal extra, unforeseen damage. Cards like Giant Growth and Rancor can pump individual creatures, and cards such as Overrun or legendary creatures like Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, and Planeswalkers like Garruk Wildspeaker can pump a whole army and give them trample for your combat phase.
Use a green creature tutor to go grab a Craterhoof Behemoth and quickly end the game.
Green excels at deflecting opponents’ attacks. Cards such as Fog and Moment’s Peace are called fog effects in Magic. They prevent combat damage for the turn. They are instants that can be played when opponents’ creatures have tapped to attack you, leaving them dealing no damage and your opponent vulnerable to your attack the following turn, with fewer available blockers.
Mono-green decks may make use of card advantage similar to blue decks using cards such as Harmonize. They may also be able to recover from removal and boardwipe by making use of flashback cards such as Roar of the Wurm, or Crush of Wurms.
Mono-green decks may have trouble dealing with flying creatures, as most of their big creatures are on the ground. There are a few cards that can assist with this, including the whole Spider tribe which can almost always block flying creatures, or mass removal spells such as Hurricane which can double as a direct damage win condition if you have more life than your opponent(s)!
Some of the most popular tribes can be played as mono-green decks and are great for beginners. Those tribes include Elves, Treefolk, Beasts, Werewolves, and Hydra. There are also a few popular token tribal options such as Saprolings or Squirrels.
Tribes in Mono-green typically have symbiotic relationships with nature, and work to pump up other creatures in the same tribe.
Mono-green decks for beginners usually ramp their mana in order to beat your face in. Whether you do it with the typical big stompy creatures, a tribe of elves, or an army of Overrun Saprolings is up to you. They have tricks up their sleeve like preventing combat damage, devastating their opponent’s mana, or quickly recovering from boardwipes.
Personally, I think mono-green decks are the easiest to learn and THE BEST place to start for most beginners. You’ll often find a mono-green deck available for beginners at your local game store. I keep a mono-green elf deck intact that I hand out to any newcomer wanting to learn when I’m around. It’s simple, but they still have great opportunities to win so it’s fun to learn with!
Mono-Red Beginners MTG Decks Overview
Mono-red decks in Magic: The Gathering are known for their aggressive playstyle, aiming to quickly reduce the opponent’s life total through direct damage and relentless assaults. If you like to win quickly or move on to the next game, mono-red may be the deck for you.
Mono-red decks are designed to apply immediate pressure on your opponent. They often feature low-cost creatures with haste or efficient combat abilities, allowing you to attack and deal damage early in the game. Look for creatures such as Raging Goblin, Fanatical Firebrand, and Hellspark Elemental. The goal is to establish dominance on the battlefield and force the opponent into a defensive position.
In addition to creature-based aggression, mono-red decks rely on spells and abilities that deal direct damage to the opponent or their creatures. Cards like Lightning Bolt, Shock, and other burn spells are frequently included to bypass blockers and finish off the opponent and can also be used as spot removal of opponents’ creatures where needed. Look for Banefire and Fireball as such win conditions or to clear big creatures.
This allows for a flexible and aggressive approach, bypassing potential obstacles and reducing the opponent’s life total directly. This is sometimes referred to as Reach, but not to be confused with the ability Reach that can be found on cards like spiders.
Pyroclasm and Starstorm can help you deal with multiple threats.
Mono-red decks typically have a low mana curve. Most of their spells are low-cost and deploy quickly.
Mono-red decks tend to go hard and fast, then straight for the kill. They look to win quickly. This is both an advantage when it works, and can be a disadvantage if it doesn’t.
If a mono-red deck runs into a control or life-gain deck that can slow it down, it may be in real trouble. Many times, it will still be able to pull off quick wins against these kinds of decks though! Adding red tutors may help.
There are several tribes that work well with mono-red decks for beginners. Red’s tribes are also some of the most well-known and played in Magic: the Gathering. Goblins, Dragons, Elementals, Minotaurs, and even Wizards can be found in mono-red decks.
We’d be remiss to write about mono red for beginners and not include any specific dragons. Some of the best include Thunderbreak Regent, Wrathful Red Dragon, and Voracious Dragon (which also has great synergy with Goblins!)
Mono-red decks embody a fast and aggressive playstyle, focusing on quickly reducing the opponent’s life total through direct damage and overwhelming early assaults. They require careful resource management, efficient mana usage, and calculated decision-making to seize victory swiftly.
Mono-red can be one of the best decks out there for both beginner and experienced players because while it attempts to quickly melt your face, it can still build in a lot of nuances.
Mono-White Beginners MTG Decks Overview
Mono-white decks typically employ a playstyle that emphasizes small creatures and efficient creature-based strategies. Mono-white can produce several different kinds of token creatures and excels at gaining life.
Mono-white decks often aim for an aggressive start, focusing on deploying small creatures in the early turns to put immediate pressure on the opponent. Mono-white decks may feature a variety of low-cost creatures, such as one-drops (creatures with a mana cost of 1 such as Savannah Lions) and two-drops (total or converted mana cost of 2 such as White Knight,) to establish an early board presence. This strategy is often referred to as a “white weenie” deck.
Mono-white decks often prioritize building a wide board with multiple creatures, creating a swarm of threats that can overwhelm the opponent’s defenses. This can be done with weenies, but may also feature token tribal creatures such as Soldiers. Soldiers can be created early from spells such as Raise the Alarm, and later in the game with spells like Martial Coup and Decree of Justice (which can give you an army of Angels also if you’re ready to pay the mana.)
Mono-white decks commonly utilize combat tricks, such as instant spells that grant temporary buffs or protection to your creatures during combat. These tricks can turn unfavorable blocks into favorable trades or enable your creatures to survive combat.
Mono-white decks may include cards such as Honor of the Pure and Glorious Anthem for their anthem effects, which grant a bonus to the power and toughness of your entire creature team. This enhances the overall combat effectiveness and resilience of your creatures.
Mono-white decks often feature life gain synergy, incorporating cards such as Soul Warden or Beacon of Immortality that provide incremental lifegain or a benefit from gaining life. This can help you sustain your aggressive strategy while mitigating the opponent’s attempts to race or burn you out. Some cards like Test of Endurance may even result in a win for doing nothing but gaining life during the game! Use a white tutor to go get enchantments like Test.
Mono-white decks may include cards that grant protection or indestructible effects to your creatures, making them difficult to remove or block. This can provide additional staying power and allow your creatures to survive board wipes or targeted removal.
Mono-white decks possess a range of removal spells that can target or exile creatures, enchantments, or artifacts. See Swords to Plowshares and Disenchant. These removal options allow you to disrupt your opponent’s strategy and remove problematic threats from the battlefield.
Mono-white also excels at wiping the board and resetting the game. Cards like Wrath of God, Akroma’s Vengeance, and Day of Judgment among others can all devastate the entire battlefield.
Mono-white offers some great tribes for beginners’ decks as well. The Humans, Angels, Knights, Soldiers, and Cats tribes can all be found in mono-white decks. These can excel as tempo decks, budget decks, a synergistic deck, dropping a sneak attack, and a number of other fun strategies.
The playstyle of mono-white decks can focus on utilizing small creatures efficiently, overwhelming opponents with a wide board presence, and leveraging combat tricks and synergistic abilities to gain an advantage. By utilizing lifegain, resilience, and disruptive elements, mono-white decks can maintain steady offensive pressure while controlling the battlefield.
If you’re a beginner and have any questions be sure to ask in the comments and we’ll be happy to assist!
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