If any of you have accumulated a massive collection of Magic: The Gathering cards, you know you can only fill so many shoe boxes before it becomes a pain to find that card you’re looking for while building your new white-black deck. This isn’t an end-all be-all guide for the best way to catalog your collection, but this is how I do it.
First, start with color. Mine are organized according to the back of a card going clockwise from the color white, and ending with artifact (as they’re usually colorless). So mine goes white, blue, black, red, green, and then artifact. However, I put colored artifacts within the appropriate color pile, but we’ll get to that in a second.
After you’ve sorted them into piles by color, it’s time to organize them by type. Mine are typically organized with creatures first, followed by instants, sorceries, enchantments, and then colored artifacts. So take one of your colors, such as red, and split the cards out into separate piles based on this.
Now that you have the types of cards separated within color, I tend to sort them by ascending mana cost. My reasoning for this is that to ensure you’re deck is built for utility, you need to analyze the mana curve to make sure you don’t stack your deck with high-cost, hard-hitting creatures that you can’t possibly put into play until turn 5 or 6. Keeping your cards organized by lowest cost first allows you to quickly find cards that are low cc (casting cost) but may be high in utility to help you out early on in the game.
Finally, after they’re sorted by mana cost I alphabetize them. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it works for me.
Now, an alternate way of organizing the creatures would be to organize them by creature type. My friend Jon does it this way as he builds a lot of his decks themed around creature type, i.e. vampires, angels, or elves. I like this idea because I often build theme decks based around creature type, but at the same time I often worry more about the mana curve than the thematic consistencies of my cards in play.
How do you keep your cards organized?