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Brewer's Minute: Why Brewers Should Net Deck

Hey, everyone! It's time for another Brewer's Minute. For reasons I don't fully understand, there's this weird divide in parts of the Magic community. Some players identify themselves as brewers and seem to think it's wrong to play other people's decks. Other players are considered "net deckers" because rather than building their own decks, they play decks built by other people. This disagreement is not only silly but harmful—especially to brewers. The idea that you shouldn't play and learn from other people's decks to be a brewer is absurd. In fact, playing and learning from other people's decks is one of the single most important things you can do to make yourself a good brewer. As such, this week for our Brewer's Minute, we're going to talk about why brewers should net deck!

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Let's start with my personal story into Magic and brewing. I started off as an extremely casual player jamming games at home with my friends, and while I technically built my own decks, it's a stretch to call the decks I built back then brewing or deck building; instead, I would mostly just throw cards that looked cool together. Eventually, I started playing Magic Online, which kindled my interest in competitive Magic, and at this point I became a "net decker"—not just someone who played other people's decks but someone who was too scared to even change a single card in those decks out of fear of messing something up and making the deck not work right. Eventually, I got over this fear as I grew in the game and started changing cards here or there in the decks I found online. Over the course of time, I changed more and more cards, until one day I realized that the deck I was playing didn't really look all that much like the net deck I started with, which made me realize I could probably just build my own decks from scratch.

This progression from casual to "net decker" to tuner to brewer seems natural and healthy. I wouldn't be brewing decks today if I had never spent time playing other people's decks. Think about other hobbies. Is it reasonable to expect someone to sit down and write a novel without ever reading a book? Or, what about writing a song without first playing and learning from others' music? Of course not! Thinking that you can write a great song or novel without first learning from others is not only insanity but amazingly arrogant. It's the same way in Magic—playing decks built by other people is a necessary and important part of building your own decks! Becoming a great brewer is an exercise in humility and admitting that you need to learn from playing decks built by other people.

The idea that "net decking" and "brewing" are two competing forces in the Magic world is silly. Actually, rather than fighting each other, net decking and brewing work hand-in-hand. Playing other people's decks allows you to recognize interactions and archetypes, which is essential to building your own decks. Take the Two-Tix Red deck we played on Budget Magic. While it's technically a deck I "brewed," the brewing takes place within the history and context of hundreds of Mono-Red decks built in past formats. My own build of Mono-Red wouldn't have been nearly as good without playing and studying those decks! Actually, I wouldn't even be brewing decks at all without playing and studying other people's decks, so Two-Tix Red wouldn't even exist.

Along the same lines, building your own decks gives you greater insight into how cards and interactions work, and makes you think about decks on a deeper level, which help you improve as a Magic player in general, whether you're playing your own deck or someone else's deck.

You're doing yourself a disservice if you box yourself into easy categories like "I'm a brewer" or "I'm a net decker." You can't be a good brewer without playing other people's decks, and you won't have a full understanding of the decks you play without having at least some experience in the deck-construction process. If the goal is to be the best Magic player you can be, instead of boxing yourself in, you should do everything! Strive to be a complete player. Play cool decks you find online, tune decks to make them your own, and eventually build your own decks! 

The bottom line is this: much like life, Magic is a learning and growing experience, and being well-rounded is extremely important. Don't limit yourself to being part of a Magic player (a net decker or a brewer); do your best to experience everything—net decking and brewing. In the end, you'll be a better player. 


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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