Pre-Customized Decks

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Creation of decks of cards by players for their own use before gameplay starts.

Some games have players have their own decks of cards that they make use of during gameplay. Games with Pre-Customized Decks let players construct these decks before gameplay, either on their own or as a pre-phase to actual gameplay.

Note: See Deck Building of the creation of decks during gameplay.


Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Illuminati: New World Order, Pokémon Trading Card Game, Magic: The Gathering, and Star Trek Customizable Card Game are all games where players create their own Pre-Customized Decks in most game formats before gameplay begins. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game is an example of a co-operative game with Pre-Customized Decks.


Airborne Commander, A Few Acres of Snow, A Study in Emerald, Dominion, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, Thunderstone are all games where Deck Building is done during gameplay rather than before it begins.

Using the pattern

Pre-Customized Decks is used to allow players to select which Cards should be in their Decks before gameplay begins. It is often enabled through Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership so players can select which Cards they want from their own collection without competition from other players but Drafting (potentially using Drafting Spreads) provides an alternative. Quite naturally, if there is Strategic Knowledge possible regarding the Cards - typically how they can create Combos and Gameplay Engines - this will heavily modify how well players can create Pre-Customized Decks.


Pre-Customized Decks is a common way to modify Collectible Card Games. Since it affects players' Decks, it indirectly affects their possible Hands and more importantly which Combos they can try to make happen. It provides Game Element Insertion into game instances since the chosen Cards would otherwise not be in the game instances.

Pre-Customized Decks allow players Construction of Abstract Player Constructs in the form of Decks as Extra-Game Actions before gameplay begins. This is often used to try and create Gameplay Engines or succeed in achieving Gain Competence goals during gameplay. It can also lead to Pottering since different Pre-Customized Decks can be created simply for their own sake.

Being able to build efficient Decks in this way is a way of showing Gameplay Mastery, and invites Stimulated Planning. It typically results in Complex Gameplay and Freedom of Choice due to the many different combinations possible as well as Player Unpredictability. The pattern is very likely to create Asymmetric Starting Conditions given the many different Decks typically possible.


Can Instantiate

Abstract Player Constructs, Asymmetric Starting Conditions, Complex Gameplay, Construction, Extra-Game Actions, Freedom of Choice, Game Element Insertion, Gameplay Engines, Gameplay Mastery, Gain Competence, Player Unpredictability, Pottering, Stimulated Planning

Can Modulate

Collectible Card Games, Combos, Hands, Decks

Can Be Instantiated By

Heterogeneous Game Element Ownership

Can Be Modulated By

Drafting, Drafting Spreads, Strategic Knowledge

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.