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How to Build a Sideboard in MTG

Building sideboards has never been a strength of mine. In my early competitive events, I generally leaned on my teammates in terms of actual construction, providing feedback and some ideas, but at the end of the day they put together the sideboard, not me. Over time though, I’ve gotten a lot better at it, and put together a series of steps that help me construct my sideboards for pretty much whatever I’m building.

 

 

Header - Maximize Your Win Rate

One of the big things people frequently fail to grasp when building sideboards is that it’s ultimately not about solving problem matchups, it’s about maximizing your win rate. Many people will fill their sideboard up with a bunch of cards for their worst matchups, and while those are the matchups that generally tend to be swung the most, that’s not always the correct choice.

The numbers behind why it’s better to work on your hard matchups are fairly straightforward. It’s easier to shift a matchup from 50 percent to 60 percent than to move one from 60 percent to 70 percent because there’s only so high your win rate can go thanks to variance, and this puts a cap on how much better you can make an already good matchup with sideboarding. The issue that comes up, however, is people will prioritize a card that moves a matchup from 48 percent to 50 percent over one that moves a matchup from 60% percent to 65 percent. While all of this assumes an even amount of each matchup, and the actual numbers are made up, the general idea is that many players prioritize improving bad matchups over having a higher win rate.

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