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Brewer's Minute: Building with Packages

Hey, everyone! It's time for another Brewer's Minute. When it comes to building decks, we often get trapped into the idea that we need to find 60 cards, but this often isn't the case. Especially in Modern, there are certain packages of cards (depending on the style of deck and your colors) that should be the very first cards you add into your deck. When you toss in the lands that you need to actually cast your spells, this means that instead of needing to find 60 unique cards, you often only need 20 or 25, which makes the deck-building process much easier. And this is the topic for today's Brewer's Minute: building with packages!

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Remember the Gideon Tribal deck we played on Against the Odds a while ago? It felt fresh, unique, and different; however, when you really look at the construction of the deck, it relies on two popular packages commonly found in black decks in Modern: the discard package and the removal package. These packages are groups of cards that we already know work well together and often form the foundation of popular decks, and learning to use them is a great way to cheat on the deck-building process. Basically, using packages gives us a way to minimize the number of cards we need to select in the deck-building process (because some slots are dedicated to the packages and to lands), while also making sure our deck has a relatively high power level (because even if our card selection is poor, we know that the packages are good because they have been tested and played by thousands of players over hundreds of thousands of games). So, let's start by looking at the packages used in Gideon Tribal and then talking about how these packages impact Modern.

Package #1: Discard

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Our first package might be the most popular and important package in all of Modern: the black discard package. This package typically contains six total copies of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek (the exact breakdown depends on the deck; Death's Shadow tends to play four Thoughtseize since they want to lose life, while other decks tend to be 3/3 or even 4/2 in favor of Inquisition of Kozilek), and often one additional discard spell (currently most commonly Collective Brutality, although it can be an extra copy of Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek). 

Package 2: Spot Removal

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The black spot-removal package is a bit trickier, but much like the discard package, it typically contains seven cards in total (although sometimes eight and sometimes six). The foundation of the package is four copies of Fatal Push, but then the secondary removal spells vary by color. If you're red, the secondary removal is often Lightning Bolt; if you're white, it's Path to Exile; if you're green, it's Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse; and if you're blue, it's typically another black removal spell like Dismember. The important thing here is that this package will be at least seven more cards added to your deck.

Putting It Together

Now, to recap where we are so far, we are building a Modern deck that we know is going to contain black cards. We start off with 24 lands so we can cast our spells, then we add in the discard package of seven cards (bringing our total up to 31), and then we add in our removal package of seven cards (total: 38). This means that we essentially have 22 slots to play with. This is where the fun part of deck building comes in. Since we know that both of our packages are very strong, we can theoretically fill the remaining slots with whatever types of threats we want to win the game. In Gideon Tribal, this was a pile of Gideon planeswalkers, but if you look over the Modern metagame, you'll see that a ton of different decks are built from these packages while featuring a huge range of styles and threats to close out the game.

Take a look at all of those deck lists. The main things they have in common are the two packages we were talking about, but beyond the two packages, they go a ton of different directions. You can plan on making a ton of tokens with Monastery Mentor and Young Pyromancer, you can reanimate Griselbrand with Goryo's Vengeance, you can beat down with Tarmogoyfs in Jund and Abzan, you can be a Blood Moon deck with Pack Rats and Goblin Rabblemasters, or you can be a delve-based Death's Shadow list. Of course, even beyond these tier decks, you can be Liliana or Gideon tribal, or play Thragtusk or whatever random cards suit your fancy. The power of these packages is so great that you can use those last 20-ish slots on just about whatever you want, and you can expect that your deck will be at least somewhat successful because even if the cards you add to the deck aren't that strong, the packages help make up for the deficiencies. 


The point of all this is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel when you sit down to build a deck. A lot of the heavy lifting has already been done by the community at large. Using packages that we already know are good is an easy way to simplify the deck-building process (by minimizing the number of card-selection choices necessary) while also making sure your deck has a reasonable power level. Basically, packages enable all of the janky fun stuff that we like to do, so next time you sit down to build a wacky brew, try starting with some of the popular packages in the Modern format—your deck will be much more powerful and playable as a result!


Anyway, that's all for today. Can you think of any other popular packages used in Modern decks? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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