Peebles Primers – A Sealed Deck Premier Event

Click here for more info on Grand Prix Daytona Beach!The PTQ season for Pro Tour: Kuala Lumpur is in full swing, and the Lorwyn cards are available on Magic Online (if you can bear the current lag issues). Today’s Peebles Primers brings us an excellent Sealed cardpool from a recent 4x Premier Event. If you’re looking for a little practice before your PTQ this weekend, Benjamin has the goods for you!

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Lorwyn Release Events are in full swing, and so I’ve decided to take a look at Lorwyn Sealed deck today. I’ll be breaking down an actual pool from a Magic Online 4x Premiere Event and touching on my general thoughts on the format.

The last time I talked about Sealed Deck, I used three tiers to break down each color, and I’ll be doing the same thing here. Tier 1 is for cards that will make your maindeck 95% of the time you play that color, whether that card is the best rare in the set or the seventh best common in its color. Tier 2 is for cards that may or may not make your deck, depending on how deep your Tier 1 cards are and what specific holes you’re looking to fill. Tier 3 is for cards that will only make the cut under dire circumstances or when an outlandish interaction helps to push a usually-unplayable card over the top.

Lorwyn complicates this with its Tribal themes; there are cards (like an Elvish Promenade I’ll get to later) that are amazing in certain decks and terrible in others. In an effort to avoid dismissing good cards out of hand, I’m going to place those cards into the tiers I would if I knew that I’d be able to take Tribal advantage of them. In other words, I will initially evaluate Merrow Reejerey as though it pumped many of my creatures and would trigger multiple times per game, and not as though it were a vanilla 2/2 for three, even if it turns out that that’s the case.

So, let’s get to it.

The Pool


Tier 1: Avian Changeling, Goldmeadow Harrier, Plover Knights
Tier 2: Oaken Brawler, Pollen Lullaby, Sentry Oak, Shields of Velis Vel, Springjack Knight, Surge of Thoughtweft, Triclopean Sight
Tier 3: Battle Mastery, Cenn’s Heir, Entangling Trap, Soaring Hope

There aren’t very many of White’s best commons in this pool, but there is a good amount of playables headlined by two of the best flyers and a cheap tapper. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot in the way of reasonable creatures to fill out our deck, and so we’ll probably be looking to another color for the meat of our deck.

Aside: Sentry Oak is a card that I like more than many people, though its value is dependent on how your deck is set up. On the face of it, you have a 3/5 Defender that gives you the option to clash every turn. Sometimes you’ll win and have a 5/5 attacker, but you can’t count on that, so the card’s value comes down to the repeated clashing on a reasonably-sized blocking body. Clearly clashing over and over again will be good if you have something like a Wrath of God that you want to dig towards, and if you find yourself ahead and don’t want to give your opponent extra chances to draw out on you, then you can simply choose not to clash. What I mean to say is that the Oak is better in decks with a few very powerful cards than a deck where all of your cards are approximately equal in value, and I often find myself in this position.


Tier 1: Inkfathom Divers, Jace Beleren, Mulldrifter, Silvergill Adept, Stonybrook Angler, 2x Turtleshell Changeling
Tier 2: Amoeboid Changeling, Broken Ambitions, Glimmerdust Nap, Paperfin Rascal, Tideshaper Mystic, Whirlpool Whelm
Tier 3: Ringskipper

A color with a Planeswalker is extremely attractive, and that Planeswalker is surrounded by good cards. We have another tapper, two solid defensive creatures that can also hit for large chunks of damage, and so on. The filler cards are also very deep, giving us access to land and creature type manipulation, utility in the form of counterspells and bounce, and even an Assassinate look-alike.

Cards like Silvergill Adept aren’t usually as easy to enable in Sealed as they are in Draft, but this pool has a very good shot at being able to play it on the second turn. Blue offers up to seven cards to reveal to the Adept by itself, and Changelings in our other colors might boost that number even further.


Tier 1: Eyeblight’s Ending, Lys Alana Scarblade, Makeshift Mannequin, Moonglove Winnower, Nameless Inversion, Peppersmoke, Thorntooth Witch, Warren Pilferers, Weed Strangle
Tier 2: Boggart Birth Rite, Facevaulter, Knucklebone Witch, Mournwhelk, Nath’s Buffoon
Tier 3: Exiled Boggart

Black offers us a ton of removal, though some of it (the Scarblade and Thorntooth Witch) are dependent on having good tribal interactions. Even without counting those two, there are four good removal spells and the very strong Warren Pilferers and Makeshift Mannequin. The Mannequin has been getting a lot of play in Constructed recently, in a Blue/Black control deck that abuses Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw, and while we can’t have four Shriekmaws in our deck, we do have multiple good comes-into-play effects to use. Beyond that, you can simply ambush an attacker with a surprise reanimation, and the card combos with Moonglove Winnower to emulate a defensive Neck Snap. We can fill the deck out with some tribally-oriented Goblin cards, though it’s worth noting that Boggart Birth Rite can regrow Nameless Inversion in addition to things like Warren Pilferers.


Tier 1: Caterwauling Boggart, Chandra Nalaar, Crush Underfoot, Inner-Flame Acolyte, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Soulbright Flamekin, Thundercloud Shaman
Tier 2: Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Ingot Chewer, Smokebraider
Tier 3: Boggart Forager, Needle Drop

Chandra is obviously amazing, and is up there with Garruk at the top of the Planeswalker food chain. Then there are Crush Underfoot and Thundercloud Shaman, though they unfortunately don’t have much backup to help them kill your opponent’s side. The rest of the top-tier cards are all good, but they’re competing with Nameless Inversion and Mulldrifter, and it’s not likely that they’ll be strong enough to pull us away from Blue and Black.


Tier 1: Bog-Strider Ash, Briarhorn, Elvish Promenade, Leaf Gilder, Nath’s Elite, Oakgnarl Warrior
Tier 2: Kithkin Daggerdare
Tier 3: Heal the Scars, Hunt Down, Spring Cleaning

There just aren’t very many Green cards in the pool, and one of the abstractly best cards is left high and dry with few elves to copy. With only five or six cards that we’ll want to play, Green is going to be a splash at best. It’s worth keeping an eye on that Spring Cleaning, though, if we do wind up with Forests in our deck. There will be people out there with multiples of Oblivion Ring, Glimmerdust Nap, Triclopean Sight, Lignify, and so on. I have played many games where a successfully-clashed Spring Cleaning would have killed three or more of my opponent’s cards.

The Rest

Tier 1: Moonglove Extract, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
Tier 2: Springleaf Drum

Moonglove Extract is going to make our deck no matter what, and Nath could easily be a splash alongside Briarhorn. Springleaf Drum isn’t something that we’re thrilled about, given the lack of “effect when this becomes tapped” merfolk in this pool, but it might end up making the cut if we really need the mana-fixing. There’s very little chance that we will, though, given four lands that are going to help us out on that front.

The Deck

Looking over the five colors, it’s pretty clear that Blue and Black offer us the most depth and power, though Chandra is an extremely tempting reason to go Red. First I’d like to offer a Blue/Black build, and then I’ll take a look at trying to get Chandra to work.

For our Blue/Black deck, I’ll first skim the best cards from the two colors, keeping an eye on Tribal lines. We start out with

Eyeblight’s Ending
Makeshift Mannequin
Moonglove Winnower
Nameless Inversion
Warren Pilferers
Weed Strangle

Inkfathom Divers
Jace Beleren
Silvergill Adept
Stonybrook Angler
Turtleshell Changeling
Turtleshell Changeling

Moonglove Extract

At this point, it’s pretty clear to me that we have the capability to splash with this deck. We have a Vivid Creek and a Gilt-Leaf Palace to give us easy access to Green mana, and we can even run Tideshaper Mystic, Shimmering Grotto, and Vivid Meadow for more Green sources. Because of this, I’m going to add Briarhorn and Nath of the Gilt-Leaf to the deck, giving us a total of seventeen top-tier cards. To fill the deck out, I would like to add Amoeboid Changeling, Broken Ambitions, Glimmerdust Nap, Tideshaper Mystic, and Whirlpool Whelm, but this gives us an awkward-at-best mana curve. While the Paperfin Rascal is one of my least-favorite Blue commons, his place as our only three-drop is one he deserves, so I cut Broken Ambitions, because I don’t think we’ll be able to afford to sit back on it with so few creatures. This gives us a final build of:

1 Eyeblight’s Ending
1 Makeshift Mannequin
1 Moonglove Winnower
1 Nameless Inversion
1 Peppersmoke
1 Warren Pilferers
1 Weed Strangle
1 Inkfathom Divers
1 Jace Beleren
1 Mulldrifter
1 Silvergill Adept
1 Stonybrook Angler
2 Turtleshell Changeling
1 Amoeboid Changeling
1 Glimmerdust Nap
1 Tideshaper Mystic
1 Whirlpool Whelm
1 Paperfin Rascal
1 Briarhorn
1 Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
1 Moonglove Extract
1 Vivid Creek
1 Gilt-Leaf Palace
1 Forest
8 Island
7 Swamp

One problem with this deck is its lack of good early-game plays; only Silvergill Adept and sometimes Paperfin Rascal can fight well early on. Our spells like Peppersmoke and Whirlpool Whelm can help us make it to turns 4 and 5, when our deck really starts to come out swinging, but it could be a struggle against the more aggressive decks.

We can try cutting one of the colors for Red to rectify this situation. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to cut Blue, since it gives us twelve of our twenty-two cards, and we don’t have enough Red to fill that void. Adding Red to our Blue certainly gives us better early-game, and it also gives us access to an obvious bomb, though these things come at the cost of four solid removal spells, Warren Pilferers, Briarhorn, and Nath. Due to the three additional double-cost cards, I don’t think that splashing is a viable option any longer.

1 Tideshaper Mystic
1 Amoeboid Changeling
1 Silvergill Adept
1 Stonybrook Angler
1 Whirlpool Whelm
1 Paperfin Rascal
1 Jace Beleren
1 Glimmerdust Nap
2 Turtleshell Changeling
1 Inkfathom Divers
1 Mulldrifter
1 Smokebraider
1 Soulbright Flamekin
1 Crush Underfoot
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
1 Mudbutton Torchrunner
1 Caterwauling Boggart
1 Ingot Chewer
1 Thundercloud Shaman
1 Chandra Nalaar
1 Moonglove Extract
9 Island
9 Mountain

This deck has its own fair share of weaknesses. Smokebraider really only accelerates us to Turtleshell Changelings and an Ingot Chewer, neither of which are extremely exciting. Crush Underfoot and Thundercloud Shaman are somewhat out of place, though the three Changelings help support them. Overall, the power level of the Red cards is lower than that of the Black cards (in my opinion), and so I would recommend the Blue/Black build over the Blue/Red one.

The Matches

Brian, my friend who ran the event, built his deck differently from me, though he did wind up Blue/Black. He played only seventeen lands, cutting an Island. He also opted to not run Glimmerdust Nap, instead going with Mournwhelk and Broken Ambitions.

Round 1 — Both games proceed with nothing too exciting happening. Brian’s cards are all better than the ones his opponent plays, and the opponent doesn’t play the cards he does have particularly well.

Round 2 — The opponent plays out Galepowder Mage, and then plays a Mulldrifter and “blinks” it with the Mage on turn 5. Brian doesn’t have a removal spell to stop this combo, and he’s quickly down a game, despite a reasonable opening. In the remaining two, Jace Beleren shows up and Brian is able to hold the board stable long enough to fire off the twenty-point mill.

Round 3 — This time it’s a Blue/Black mirror match, though Brian manages to play Nath on turn 5 in both games. The opponent doesn’t have an answer for it either time, and the card advantage and token generation combine with slightly above-average draws to take down both games.

Round 4 — Another Blue opponent, though we’re back to Blue/White. He leads off with Runed Stalactite and Deeptread Merrow, and they combine to Brian for eighteen points, with a Faerie Harbinger appearing to deal the final two. Sygg, River Guide appears in both games, but Nameless Inversion manages to take care of it, once with the help of Amoeboid Changeling. In game 2, Brian immediately falls behind against Pestermite and Faerie Harbinger, and an Inkfathom Divers shows up to seal the game.

Round 5 — After three running Blue matchups, Brian is up against a Red/White deck. He and his opponent trade creatures and removal spells, but Mulldrifter shows up to put Brian ahead on cards, giving him enough extra gas to overwhelm his opponent in both games.

Round 6 — The winner of this match can draw into the Top 8 and the 4x Championships. The opponent appears to be Red/Green, though there are Islands in his deck for a card that we never see. In both games, Brian comes out of the gates somewhat slowly, leaving him vulnerable to his opponent’s Chandra.

Round 7 — He’s out of contention for Top 8, but can still win some consolation packs, and so Brian plays it out. His opponent’s deck is Red/Black splashing for Brion Stoutarm, and it isn’t the fastest deck out there. This gives him ample time to tear the guy’s hand apart with Mournwhelk, Nath, and Makeshift Mannequin. In game 2, Jace shows up on an empty board on turn 3, and Brian has enough gas to defend it with creatures, removal, and bounce to fire off the mill.

Play/Draw and Your Land Count

Conventional wisdom for sealed deck used to say that you should run eighteen lands and choose to draw first if you won the die roll. Recently, Wizards of the Coast has been giving us sets that challenge these rules. Ravnica block gave us the common karoos, which gave us both a reason to play fewer lands and to choose to play first. Time Spiral block gave us pools that could be built on a tight curve and really look like draft decks, where the norm is seventeen lands and the choice to play first.

So, how about Lorwyn block? As you can see from above, I prefer to play eighteen lands. You will often have plenty of very “good” cards in your sealed pool, but the Tribal interactions (or lack thereof) in your pool might take a card that is a very high draft pick and reduce it to unplayability in your pool (such as our Elvish Promenade and Lys Alana Scarblade above). The net result of this is that I find myself stretching more than I have been to make it to twenty two cards I’m really happy with, and I don’t often find myself in a position where I’m looking at twenty five cards and struggling to trim them down.

I also prefer to draw first. I like the extra stability it gives me, though there are cards in this set that can punish you for slow opening plays, and so I really try to pay attention to my deck’s early plan. If your opponents are all leading with Kithkin Greathearts and Avian Changelings, you’d better be able to do something about that besides play a 2/2 on turn 3. Another good reason to play first is the presence of Planeswalkers. They are almost all better on an emptier board (though Ajani would rather pump as many of your guys as possible, the turn you play him won’t usually change based on playing or drawing), and it’s easier to have an emptier board if you’re on the play. Killing one creature with Chandra and leaving them with a three-drop versus your three-drop and four-drop is a very good position to be in. Still, these rares are few, and so I generally choose to draw, though I am more likely to change that choice if I see a Planeswalker in the first game.

However, these preferences aren’t as universally shared as they used to be, and I have seen good players choosing to run lower land counts and play first in PTQs and the like.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me in the forums, via email, or on AIM.

Benjamin Peebles-Mundy
ben at mundy dot net
SlickPeebles on AIM

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