SCG Daily – RGD Sealed Dissected #3

I like the flavor of the Dissension guilds. They saved the best for last. Normally, White/Blue is as squeaky-clean and good as a bunch of unreformed paladins. Lawful neutral to the core, and light on the good. It’s nice to know that Wizards openly acknowledges the color combination as being obnoxious. Rakdos killers may not be good neighbors, but at least they’re sociable and throw the best parties.

I like the flavor of the Dissension guilds. They saved the best for last. Normally, White/Blue is as squeaky-clean and good as a bunch of unreformed paladins. Lawful neutral to the core, and light on the good. It’s nice to know that Wizards openly acknowledges the color combination as being obnoxious. Rakdos killers may not be good neighbors, but at least they’re sociable and throw the best parties. Looking at the Simic humanoids makes my skin creep. These guys aren’t friends of anyone, for all the good they seek to do.

Graft is one nuanced mechanic. It improves the value of Veteran Armorer and Oathsworn Giant. Helium Squirter with Veteran Armorer is the Giving Tree. It gives whole armies more lift than Victoria’s Secret. (Yes, you could get the same effect with Oathsworn Giant or any spell that increases the Helium Squirter’s toughness, but most of these are either expensive or end up as two-for-ones at your expense.)

How does graft alter the value of other cards? Viashino Fangtail and other Tim creatures (Rakdos Ickspitter, Gelectrode) have the opportunity to pick off the smaller Graft ability enablers, keeping them from truly spreading around the wealth. They become more valuable, thus bumping them up in the draft pick order. So even if you’re not playing with Graft creatures, you need to be aware of how to play when they’re around.

Forecast’s a surprisingly mana-efficient mechanic. If your plan is to come over in the air with a flier or two while holding back the armies on the ground, you need to purchase the best air force possible. Steeling Stance gives you just enough pump at a low cost to keep sending a guy through. What’s even better is that the opponent knows you’ve got the Stance in hand, which throws off their combat math. Just be sure to have the three White mana available.

I haven’t had a chance to play with Rakdos in an actual tournament yet, so I’ll reserve judgment on Hellbent for now.

In the beginning, there was dark space. And the Lord did look down, and made white space, to separate the pool from the list that the users would make. And it was good.

Surveying our mono-colored cards, it’s clear that Red wants to be a splash color. We’ve got Galvanic Arc, Cleansing Beam, and Cackling Flames for burn. Cackling Flames will take almost any creature out in the late game, or can be aimed at the head. Ogre Savant will also make it if we’ve got enough Blue to play with. Taste of Mayhem doesn’t have enough impact (though I did see it get thrown to amusing effect on a Boros Swiftblade at a Prerelease flight on turn 3) to make a difference most of the time.

Only seven White cards? So what? We’ve got a core of decent creatures. Veteran Armorer’s my favorite Grizzly Bear of the block. Nightguard Patrol usually manages to hit the opponent for four over the course of games if he makes it out early, and is handy with convoke guys. Guardian of the Guildpact’s evasion works about half the time, and the rest of the time he makes most opponents in Sealed sweat trying to crack your defenses. (About 30 percent of the guys I see in decks are multicolored.) Condemn is an extremely mana-efficient for what it does: removing troublesome attackers. It’s an answer to those pesky Dimir House Guards. I wouldn’t splash it in most decks like I would Faith’s Fetters, but it is very handy. Add to that Bathe in Light and Devouring Light, and we’ve got some worthy White.

Blue’s just not that strong today. Silkwing Scout’s the only creature I can really get behind. Yeah, there’s Compulsive Research and Peel from Reality. We could be making guys unblockable by forecasting Writ of Passage, but that makes me uncomfortable. (The enchantment’s actively worse than the forecast ability. If you attack with the forecasted creature, it’s unblockable until end of turn. If I attack with a Grey Ogre with the Writ attached and my opponent uses a Ghost Warden to pump it in response to the Writ’s trigger, the Grey Ogre is now blockable. If you used forecast to make the Ogre unblockable and the opponent countered by using the Ghost Warden, then you’re better off. Keep that in mind with Squealing Devil.)

For the third time this week, we’ve opened nice Black cards. Given enough time to operate, both Unliving Psychopath and Sanguine Praetor can hack opposing creatures to shreds. Brainspoil and Clinging Darkness handle the "point and click" removal needs. Stinkweed Imp, Roofstalker Wight, and Revenant Patriarch serve as decent filler. Vesper Ghoul has a home, and it’s in four- or five-color Sealed decks with a solid Black component. I’d only expect to see it justified in one of fifty Sealed decks, but today’s deck might be that one in fifty. Macabre Waltz is quite good if you’re running a deck with 16-17 creatures and are missing other forms of card advantage, but more often than not the Waltz will be cheerleading.

Green’s looking up today. Dryad Sophisticate gets evasion about half the time, and the rest of the time she’s merely efficient. Golgari Brownscale may have that annoying double Green requirement, but it helps against aggro decks and is quite vicious against Rakdos. Nullmage Shepherd turns into considerable card advantage in most long games, and has reasonable stats. Bramble Elemental is a quality five-drop, as is Dowsing Shaman. (And yes, we have the Shaman’s favorite tag team partner, Galvanic Arc.) Siege Wurm hits hard, and if we’re splashing Red, then Gruul Nodorog enters consideration. Yes, we’ve got Farseek, but seeing as how we’ve got so many double Green spells, the limitation on getting Green land gets on my nerves.

Verdant Eidolon isn’t a bad mana fixer or accelerant. If your deck wants to go to the long game, keep this card in mind if you’ve got six or more multicolored spells. Decks with a glut of six, seven, or eight drops that positively must have them hit the table want Verdant Eidolon as well.

Before we look at the gold cards, it’s worth noting that we’ve got four Karoos. Gruul Turf, Golgari Rot Farm, Selesnya Sanctuary, and Boros Garrison. We’ve also got Izzet and Dimir Signet and Farseek to play with. Is that enough to run a four-color special using Green and Red as the core?

None of the Blue guilds do much for me. Coiling Oracle rocks, but you’re never going to splash for him. Simply getting a card for your trouble isn’t worth the headaches of getting the manabase right. Palliation Accord is incredibly strong against small creature guilds like the Izzet and Dimir, but those guilds have alternative routes to victory. Speaking of the Izzet, we have a Chronarch and Leap of Flame, but that’s all we’ve got.

Rakdos has a Wrecking Ball. It’s always worth playing if we play both colors, and is worth splashing.

Let’s examine our Gruul and Boros beaters. Skyknight Legionnaire shines in three-color decks, but I’m not happy to play him in four-color specials. You always want Boros Guildmage directing traffic in a beatdown deck, she can wave forward hasty fatties and determine who’s going to strike first. Skarrgan Skybreaker and Burning-Tree Bloodscale like efficient beatdown, but are a little expensive for my taste. With three or four Karoos, though, I’m willing to shell out for them. Boros Recruit’s only major strength is in being a good Radiance target if there’s none other available.

Selesnya has the portable army on a stick, Selesnya Evangel. If we’re in need of yet another vicious fattie, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi does the trick nicely.

Three colors or four-color special? My brain hurts… Yesterday I wrote of finding the one true, best deck. The answer was clear yesterday. Today’s murkier. Here’s what I came up with.

1cc: Condemn
2cc: Boros Guildmage, Dryad Sophisticate, Selesnya Evangel, Veteran Armorer, Bathe in Light, Farseek
3cc: Nightguard Patrol, Skyknight Legionnaire, Devouring Light, Galvanic Arc, Fencer’s Magemark
4cc: Burning-Tree Bloodscale, Guardian of the Guildpact, Nullmage Shepherd, Cackling Flames
5cc: Bramble Elemental, Dowsing Shaman, Cleansing Beam
6cc: Gruul Nodorog, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi*, Siege Wurm*
7cc: Skarrgan Skybreaker

1cc: S
3cc: CCSSS
4cc: CCCS
5cc: CCS
6cc: CCC
7cc: C

5 Forest
5 Plains
4 Mountain
Boros Garrison
Gruul Turf
Selesnya Sanctuary

The deck’s a little too slow for my liking, but it’s got a lot of solid two-drops and four-drops, and reasonably priced removal. With three Karoos, it’s not hard to skip over the three-drops and jump right to the four-drops. In a seven round PTQ, most competent players could take this to a 5-2 finish without blinking.

Agree? Disagree? As always, bring your thoughts to the forums. Thanks for reading.

Eli Kaplan
japaneli at hotmail dot com