Have you ever played a series of games against an opponent and walked away thinking you would have won more games if your opponent wasn’t so lucky? Maybe he took a turn two province three games in a row, or had just the right cards in his hand to repel your attack on the turn he hit 40 honor in four straight games. While this may at first appear to be luck, it is in truth more often than not the sign of a well-built deck piloted by a competent player. So, what constitutes a well built deck? The truth is you can throw any 40 Dynasty and 40 Fate cards together and call it a deck. If you want a winning deck however, it is going to take a lot more than that.
First, you have to abandon the idea that a deck is ever ‘done’. A well built deck is and always will be in constant flux with minor changes occurring all the time. No environment is ever static; your deck should not be either. New cards are printed all the time and people construct and play new decks every day even between expansions. If your deck is not constantly changing and adapting to meet the challenges of the ever-changing environment, it will be left behind. Making frequent minor changes will also help to keep your deck fresh and keep your opponent guessing what other cards you may be playing that he has not seen from your deck before.
When constructing your deck, do not focus overly much on any one particular strategy. It is always better to have more options. Try to include a fairly even spread of actions which kill, send home, and bow opponents. This is important because different decks you will face will require different strategies. Where possible, play cards which have multiple effects. Try to include overlapping effects on multiple cards. I call these concepts ‘diverse redundancy’. The idea is to get as many options into the deck as possible, while duplicating effects for consistency. Good examples of these concepts are cards like Justly Earned Victory and Superior Mobility. Both are send home cards, but both also have secondary abilities which allows for greater flexibility in deck construction and in game. Always remember, the more options you allow yourself during deck construction, the more options you will have while playing the deck.
Just about any tournament caliber deck is going to include slots for meta, even if that is not immediately evident. For those not familiar with the term, meta cards are cards which help to shore up a weakness in your deck, or help to solidify your deck against decks which are expected to be popular in the field. Because meta is specific to certain decks or strategies and because it is difficult to predict what decks or strategies you may find at any particular event, which meta to include can be one of the most difficult decisions in deck construction. I personally like to dedicate two slots on the Fate side and one slot on the Dynasty side to meta. These spots are constantly changing as I find matches which are difficult for my deck or as I find certain decks or strategies are becoming increasingly popular. I am a fan of less potent, but more versatile meta because even if you know you are likely to lose to a deck that is likely to be played by over half of the field, there is no certainty you will face that deck at any given event. I would rather have a slightly less potent meta card in my hand against a problem match than have a completely dead card in my hand against another deck. When making meta decisions, of course it is important that the card help against the match it is intended for, but it should also be playable against other decks if possible as well.
The last step in the process is of course playing the deck. Play it as often as you can against as many different decks as you can. Play the deck until you can almost predict the cards out of your deck before they appear, then play it some more. Keep in mind the deck building process is unending. The longer you play a deck the better it becomes and the better you get at playing it.