How to Win a PTQ – Exploring Sealed, and Drafting B/G in Coldsnap

Shaheen, in his first submission for StarCityGames.com, shares his recent experiences at a qualifier tournament for Pro Tour: Kobe. He found success that day with some excellent Sealed advice and a strong Black/Green draft strategy. It worked for him… can it work for you?

Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I’m Shaheen Soorani, with my first ever article.

Some of you may have recognized my name from previous minor Magic winnings through Regionals, PTQs, States, Nationals,

etc. or maybe through a Mike Flores article where my name is associated with janky piles of randomly assorted Magic cards I

call decks. I’m not here to talk about my recent Constructed experiences… instead, I will be going over some

drafting strategies with Coldsnap and how to successfully build a sealed deck that can withstand six or more rounds of swiss


When opening your Sealed Deck cardpool, the main thing to remember is consistency. Power will win you a couple of

matches, but consistency is far more important if you want to achieve Top 8 status. A few things to remember:

If you open bombs (Skeletal Vampire, Windreaver, Tolsimir Wolfblood, etc.), but do not have sufficient cards to support

them, don’t ruin your manabase in order to include them. Cards like bouncelands, Signets, and Green fixers will be

your best friends during the PTQ.

Most of the time, your deck will contain Green during Ravnica Block Sealed. Green offers powerful common fixers like

Civic Wayfinder, Farseek, Utopia Sprawl, Starfletcher, Elves of Deep Shadow, and Verdant Eidolon. These cards allow for an

effective 3-4 color Sealed Deck that will grant you consistent draws throughout the tournament. When Time Spiral hits, and

the multicolor madness of Ravnica passes, it’ll still be important to fix you mana. Likely, the fixing will be largely

Green — remember this fact for the new set!

The power level of certain cards in Sealed will be different than if that card was used in draft. For example, a card

like Hour of Reckoning is a very powerful card when in a well-planned draft deck, but not so strong in Sealed with your

limited amount of White playables. Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi is another card that you wouldn’t jump to play in draft

because of the amount of playables that you will pick up over him, but in Sealed he can be a great addition to your army.

Huge rares like Blazing Archon, Razia, and Sisters of Stone Death are a lot more reasonable in Sealed, because of the slower

format. It is unlikely that you will run up against a well-constructed aggro deck, therefore you have a great deal of time

to set up.

Finally, choose to draw 90% of the time. The 10% comes into play in case of three or more bouncelands, and/or if you

somehow you manage to open a fast aggro deck with Skyhunter Legionnaires and Azorius First-Wings. Choosing to draw gives

you cushion when a mulligan is needed, and also gives time to complete drops with an extra card to hit that certain color

you are missing.

With these solid tips, you should find yourself in the Top 8 of a future local PTQ in no time.

Now we move to triple Coldsnap… yuck, what a set. With so many cards that seem unplayable in Standard, who would

want to draft these cards to collect and boost their own collection? Not me, that’s for sure. But it’s a

necessary evil at the moment, so let’s get to the point.

In Coldsnap, the most playable commons rest in the color of Green. If both people on each side of you decide to draft

Green, you can still have Green as your primary color. Before I go into the specifics, my personal experiences with

triple-Coldsnap draft are a 2-1 record at Nationals and a 3-0 Top 8 in a Kobe PTQ (where zero games where lost). At

Nationals my one loss was to Antonio De Rosa, and it went to game 3 where he decided to keep a one-lander and skillfully rip

the next off the top, but I’m not bitter. Enough sidetracking on personal shortcomings, let’s get back to

Coldsnap drafting.

I believe the best archetype in Coldsnap draft is Black/Green. So, let’s draft Black/Green.

Black Top Picks —
Feast of Flesh
Zombie Musher
Krovikan Rot

Black Mid-range Picks —
Chilling Shade
Chill to the Bone
Snow-Covered Land
Stromgald Crusader
Disciple of Tevesh Szat

Black Low Picks —
Rimebound Dead
Krovikan Scoundrel
Phobian Phantasm

Green Top Picks —
Surging Might
Sound the Call
Ronom Hulk
Ohran Viper
Boreal Centaur
Aurochs Herd
Allosaurus Rider
Shape of the Wiitigo

Green Mid-range Picks —
Into the North
Boreal Druids
Brooding Saurian
Rimehorn Aurochs
Panglacial Wurm
Karplusan Strider
Snow Lands
Arctic Nishoba

Green Low Picks —
Bull Aurochs
Frostweb Spider
Simian Brawler
Mystic Melting

At the top of the Green food chain there are many different options. I would suggest slamming down Surging Might over

any other of the green rares or top picks. Viper, Shape, and Allosaurus Rider are all amazing cards, but this enchantment

in multiples is vastly powerful with three or more, but even playable with less. The other three mentioned aren’t

very far behind, but I believe multiple Surging Mights to be game finishers. As for the other top picks, if any of those

rares happen to be alone in the pack with no Surging Mights they are next in line, followed by Sound the Call, Ronom Hulk,

Aurochs Herd, Boreal Centaur in that order.

The mid-ranged Green picks are very debatable, and depend on the access to the first picks previously. I tend to pick

up Resize, Rimehorn Aurochs, Karplusan Strider, Artic Nishoba, and Brooding Saurian over the mana accelerants Boreal Druids

and Into the North in the first two packs. In pack 3 I attack for the accelerants after my deck is beginning to form into a

solid draft deck. And for the lower picks of either color, you should grab them as they come from pick 10-15 freely.

When drafting the top Black picks I always grab Feast of Flesh over any other Black pick. When debating between Surging

Might and Feast of Flesh I would go with Surging Might, but Feast of Flesh is the next best thing early on. Zombie Musher

is the next Best black pick after Feast, which is only surpassed by the earlier two mentioned cards. I would only take a

Sound the Call over a Musher if I had one or two already and needed to continue down that path. In the mid-range Black

picks, the reason that Disciple and Stromgald Crusader are included is because they are double Black to cast. I find myself

having a hard time to include enough Forests to support Green as the main color, and then add enough Swamps to be able to

support double Black in the early game. The power level of these two cards is very high, but the consistency is the issue


I see Chilling Shades going very late, and therefore I would take removal over him, but make sure to at least snag one

before pack 3. Out of the low-end picks I would suggest grabbing Rimebound Dead over the others because of the synergy with

Surging Mights and very low curve. Throughout all these mid-ranged picks snow lands should be grabbed at a reasonable rate,

with at least two on-color and one or two off-color.

There is the description of the picks, and here is how my draft deck turned out at the PTQ.

2 Surging Might
5 Sound the Call
1 Zombie Musher
3 Chilling Shades
2 Boreal Centaur
2 Feast of Flesh
2 Boreal Druid
1 Disciple of Tevesh Szat
1 Rimebound Dead
1 Krovikan Rot
1 Stromgald Crusader
1 Panglacial Wurm
1 Grim Harvest
1 Into the North

1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Forest
7 Swamp
5 Forest

This deck turned out to be fantastic. The five Sound the Call were forced, and it involved me passing Sunscour and

Adarkar Valkyrie. Sunscour isn’t amazing in the slightest in the format, which is important to remember. Wrath of

God isn’t what it used to be in Limited, especially when you hit a three-for-one advantage at best

unless you’re pitching cards, because then it will almost always be a disadvantage. The Valkyrie is awesome, and I

had to add the additional Sound the Calls in order to complete my deck. Hate-drafting in this format is fine if you receive

a maximum amount of optimal cards in pack 1 and 2, but in this case I needed all the help I could get in order to fill mine

out, so I made that sacrifice.

The person to the left drafted B/W because of the cards passed, and to my right was the good old U/R deck. This gave me

a great chance to make an optimal B/G build, and here it is. If you follow this model for drafting the B/G archetype, then

you will receive an equal amount of success I argue, because of the vast amount of playables throughout both colors with

removal and efficient cheap creatures. Chilling Shade is the real sleeper, which is amazing. You play it on turn 3, and

attack for four on turn 4 if you draft a decent amount of snow to go along with it. I suggest also picking up any Coldsteel

Hearts you might see, which is in the same category for me as snow lands in priority picking.

Don’t get me wrong: there are other good archetypes out there, including U/R skies, R/G or R/W aggro, and Black

plus any of the other colors for support, but Black/Green is by far the best way to go. I drafted the same archetype at

Nationals, and had an equal amount of success, with four Surging Mights, four Feast of Flesh, two Ronom Hulk, and a few

other goodies. The plentiful amount of Green playables will give you a very powerful triple-Coldsnap draft deck time after


I hope you guys enjoyed this article and found some valuable information in it, and I look forward to seeing your

comments in the forums. As you might know, I’m a regular in the forums. I enjoy debating and working on revising

strategies and different deck ideas, so all comments are welcome.

Take it easy guys, and I hope to become a regular writer in the near future.

Shaheen Soorani