Sealed Revealed 5: RGD Cardpool #1

The next Sealed PTQ season is just around the corner… it’s time to pull our socks up and delve deep into the colorful horror of Ravnica Block Sealed Deck! Today, Craig presents the first of a new Sealed Revealed series, investigating the highs and lows of a select seventy-five. All the guilds are now available, leading to a plethora of tricky decisions. It’s a fiendish build, no doubt… what would you do?

That’s it, I’ve had enough.

For the past two Pro Tours, I’ve watched as English players make a splash in the Top 8s. This past weekend, Limited stalwart (and StarCityGames.com Featured Writer) made the quarterfinals of Pro Tour Prague, perhaps banishing the old lie that the English are notoriously bad at drafting. Of course, if the official decklists are to be believed, he did have a singleton Benediction of Moons in his Sunday forty. Someone more experienced that I will no doubt explain the tactical genius of that manoeuvre.

Previous to Prague, if we hark back to Hawaii, we see the decent English Craig, one Professor Jones, pulling the Lightning Helix for a top 2 spot that was largely decided by the vagaries of the mulligan. Of course, I’m not denigrating Herberheezy’s contribution to the final, but I’m English so I’ve gotta side with the local lad. Fewer mulligans, and Craig would’ve taken it all.

We, as a nation, have had a few successes of late. Sam Gomersall at Hasselt, Quentin’s numerous Top 8 appearances, and of course Martin “Ding” Dingler’s outstanding Grozoth-blessed performance at Grand Prix Cardiff.

Sure, I watch the coverage. I cheered, and even did a little dance, when the Helix came off the top… but although I’m proud that the English are currently a force in the global game, I have a shameful secret. In the depths of my black Scouse heart, I’m glad that no Englishman has won a Pro Tour.

Because I’m gonna be the first.

Not to be confused with Exalted F***ing Angel

Okay, so that particular theorem flies in the face of all the available evidence. Yes, I’ve been to the Big Show six times… but I’ve only made Day 2 on one occasion, that being my first PT in Houston 2002. It was largely through deck-choice and luck, but I believe I could’ve gone all the way… if it hadn’t been for Jeroen Remie seemingly endless supply of Ravenous bloody Baloths*.

My last Pro Tour was London. To be honest, that didn’t feel like a Pro Tour, as I didn’t actually board a plane to get there. I posted 3-3, and entered a PTQ the following day.

Since then, I’ve been all about the qualifiers. I want to get back, and make my ill-conceived prophecy come true.

In order to do so, I need to practice, and grow strong. Well, I’m about to start regular gym attendance, so that’s the “Grow Strong” thing dealt with… but practice?

I’ve a PTQ for Charleston this coming weekend. I don’t fancy my chances. I’ll give it my best shot, of course… and we’ll see how that transpires. After that, it’s the PTQ season feeding Pro Tour Kobe, that fickle format of RGD Sealed.

We all know this is the most difficult Limited format for a number of blocks. In order to practice and grow strong, I need to build, and build and build.

So here we are again. Full circle, wax and wane, introduction petering out. A rather long-winded way of introducing another Sealed Revealed series, I know… but I’m not paid by the word, so consider it a bonus.

One a week, until I get bored or win a PTQ. It pays to have goals.

Come with me. It’ll be fun.

You should know the drill by know. If not, can I suggest you trawl back through some of my previous Sealed Revealed articles? After all, there have been twenty-eight of the blighters.

The first thing? The cards, of course. One Ravnica tournament pack, one Guildpact booster, and one fresh Dissension booster. Lots of guilds, lots of colors, lots of score to screw things up. Ooh, and a Pro Player card! Peachy!

Here are the cards:

Why the hell can’t I open a Glare of Subdual when it actually bloody matters? No, I open all the good stuff when I’m testing, but in tournaments I pull the Ravnican equivalent of triple Mudhole.

I mean, look… Glare of Subdual, Faith’s Fetters, Mortify, Lightning Helix, Watchwolf, Seal of Fire, Viashino Fangtail… Hell, even Experiment Kraj is a house.

Good stuff, in all colors. I sense a pattern already.

I suppose I’d better give you all some time to build. It’s a common courtesy, after all…

A joke for you:

There were two dyslexic skiers on vacation in the Alps. They stood atop the slalom course, debating the best strategy for descent.

“When we go down the slalom,” asked the first dyslexic skier, “do we zig-zag, or do we zag-zig?”

“Zig-zag or zag-zig?” pondered the second dyslexic skier. “I haven’t a clue.”

They cast their eyes around the mountainside, and spied another Winter Games fan, bedecked in sporting finery.

“Let’s ask that guy,” said the first dyslexic skier. “He looks like he’d know the answer to our zig-zag zag-zig conundrum.”

“Excuse me, sir,” asked said the first dyslexic skier, approaching the Winter Games fan. “We’re two dyslexic skiers, and we’re wondering… when we descend the slalom, do we zig-zag, or do we zag-zig?”

“I’m afraid I can’t help you,” can the reply. “I’m no expert on skiing. I’m actually a tobogganist.”

“Fantastic!” said the second dyslexic skier. “In that case, I’ll have a pack of Marlboro Lights.”

Ah thank yew.

Actually, that’s probably only funny if you’re English. Ah well.

After that expert bout of hilarity, I bet you’ve all hit the back button. That leaves just you and me, fella. Keep reading, we’ll improve together.

I hope your deck is a good one. I hope it involves some sort of Green and White. Let’s face it, those who know me could guess the colors I’d be taking even before they clicked to open the article.

It’s now time to take a look at the cards in the pool, and see where the strength of the build could lie. Can we ally ourselves with a guild, or guilds, and build around that framework? Do we have the manafixing available to cherry-pick the colourful bombs across all colors? Do we plump for a consistent yet underpowered build, or should we thrash our mana within an inch of its life and let the lands fall where they may?

Now, I usually start with the White cards, but today I’m going mad! I’m beginning with the Green cards, because I’m a wild and crazy guy!


Ravnica: Well, we have Green guys, and most of them are playable… but there’s little to tweak our banana. When I think Ravnica Green, I think Siege Wurm, Bramble Elemental, Moldervine Cloak, even Greater Mossdog. Our biggest Green dude is the Root-Kin Ally, and as we have no token producers he’s less that stellar. The same can be said for the exponential Scion of the Wild. If we’ve five other guys on the board, he’s a 6/6… but if we’ve five other guys on the board, why aren’t we winning anyway? Without tokens, or the ability to grant evasion, he’s rubbish. A Scion, by definition, is a “descendant or heir” (it’s also a detached shoot or twig containing buds from a woody plant, used in grafting, but that’s neither here not there). This descendant of the Wild is obviously the progeny of Oscar Wilde and Kim Wilde: ugly, ineffectual, talented in parts, but largely useless. And let’s face it… Oscar Wilde isn’t likely to spawn the manly man that Green requires. We’ve also the fine Transluminant, and the admirable Elvish Skysweeper (who I’ve christened Little Elvis, in honor of the Ferrett), but the meat of the Green Guy brigade needs to come from the boosters or the allied Green guilds. As for Green support, there are three cards that bear investigation. Gather Courage is fine, but a card I usually cut at the last minute (I’m a coward, you see). Sundering Vitae… should this be maindecked nowadays? I’m happy running a Seed Spark, or an Absolver Thrull, but this card seems a little too vanilla to be truly efficient. Finally, there’s Rolling Spoil, a card I believe to have elevated in stature now all ten guilds are in effect. On the play, hitting a second turn bounceland with an accelerated Spoil has actually caused me to throw up in excitement. Everyone loves bouncelands, so I’m happy to maindeck this and piss on the proverbial chips.

Guildpact: Now, this looks more promising! Three men, and they’re all big-assed bastards. Ghor-Clan Savage is superb, as anything with a toughness of six will not be killed easily. Gruul Nodorog, while underwhelming, is still a 4/4, and therefore he beats with a big clock. Finally, there’s Bioplasm, a 4/4 for five mana with a semi-irrelevant special ability. He can be randomly huge, but he can also be randomly awful. Myself, I’d play him most of the time. After all, I’d play Bramble Elemental even if I didn’t have any juicy enchantments to foil up his grill. He’s also an Ooze, which is fun to say… especially if you add a few extra O’s

Dissension: Rounding off the Green cards, we have three newcomers from the newest and shiniest of sets. As with all the Dissension, I’ll give you a card-by-card.

  • Indrik Stomphowler: A 4/4 Naturalize? Splashable? Where do I sign? The only downside I can see is in the artwork. It’s easy to see why he stomps and howls so much… I would too, if my neck and head were shaped like a giant penis.
  • Utopia Sprawl: The latest in a long line of Rampant Growth-alikes. Beautiful artwork, fine effect. However, it’s dependant on the amount of Forests in your deck. Hit this turn 1, good stuff. It’s not so shiny when you need to top a chump blocker. I also like the fact that there is a Bird of Paradise flying around the garden in the artwork… shame there’s no Utopia Tree to be seen.
  • Street Savvy: How the hell can the character on this card claim to have “Street Savvy?” After all, while he’s perfected the art of finding a quiet nook in which to squeeze out his illicit open-air loaf, his stance lends us to believe he’s gonna be scraping elf-poo off his shoes for many nights to come. Erm, yeah… it’s a Web. Don’t bother.

Associated Green Guilds

Selesnya: Yeeeeeeee-haw! We have the pimp pick of the crop today… Glare of Subdual. Add to this the serviceable Centaur Safeguard, and the desirable Watchwolf (Watch the wolf! WATCH HIM!), and it seems our Green in improving with each new card. While it’d be nice to base our build on staple Ravnican offerings, I’m more than happy with how things are shaping up here.

Golgari: A Signet and a Green/Black Karoo. Workable, if uninviting. They’ll help the Black splash, if one seems appropriate. (The Black Splash! Now that’s a good name for a band. Either that, or a particularly nasty sexual disease.)

Gruul: Nothing. Only one card, but it’s a doozy: Streetbreaker Wurm. I tell you, the independent contractors of Ravnica must be minted. With Riftcutters and Stoneshakers and Streetbreakers, they’ll never be short of work. Again, a fine card should Red seem relevant.

Simic: Danger! Barney the Dinosaur has mutated beyond measure! Yes, the Experiment Kraj is in effect. He’s tricky, and his fine butt is not to be sniffed at, but his ability could be largely irrelevant a lot of the time. Well, other than pumping up an army of evasion guys, natch. In a heavy Blue/Green build, definitely. Sadly, there’s no other Simic goodness (where’s my Assault Zeppelid, my Coiling Oracle?), but he bears investigation. There’s also the Simic Signet, but we do not talk about this bar of soap. By the way, is it pronounced Simick or Simich?


Green looks fine, when the dust has settled. Some fat monsters, some fine spells, a number of splash options, and the stone cold nuts in Glare of Subdual. Why are “good” nuts described as “stone cold?” Why not “red hot nuts?” Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Bloody poker… gah!


Ravnica: So far, I’m looking to pair Green with White, in order to access the Glare of Subdual. Thankfully, the Ravnica White gives us some toys to play with. There’s the excellent Faith’s Fetters, shutting down guys and gaining four life for the past seven months. The White Army comes in the form of Veteran Armorer (Magic’s very own Lemmy), Nightguard Patrol (Darkblast fodder but blocker supreme), and Screeching Griffin (better with Red, but a flyer regardless). I’ve played each of these guys before, and will so again. However, they’re lacking their usual power today. The Patrol shines when there are big guys to convoke into play… we have none. The Armorer is wonderful when boosting token toughness… again, nada. The Griffin is the only one with some hope, as a quick glance at the Red spells points us toward a Red splash. We’ll have to wait and see. The final two tiddlers on the White roof are Caregiver (surprisingly useful when negating tricky auras like Pillory of the Sleepless) and Votary of the Conclave (overblown minnow in need of an anal kicking). One may make it, and one most definitely will not.

Guildpact: Y’know, I’ve actually no idea what I’d like to open in mono-White in the Guildpact booster. Yeah, there’s the Absolver Thrull, and I’m glad we’ve got him… but he hardly sets my loins afire. Let’s take a quick trip to the card database… Okay, so there’s a few nice cards. Ghost Warden, Droning Bureaucrats, maybe Belfry Spirit… but the cream of the mono-White cards need a little Black to be wack. Shrieking Grotesque, unenhanced, is fine, but he’s not a patch on the souped-up version. Still, we take the Thrull. Other than that, there’s the unappreciated Sinstriker’s Will, a card so White that it screams “gain three life.” If I’m playing this, I’m not happy.

Dissension: Dissension White brings us one card. It seems a little redundant to bullet-point it, but a man’s gotta have standards.

  • Guardian of the Guildpact: A 2/3 for four mana is passable, but the “protection from monocolored” clause is surprisingly strong in the multi-colored streets of Ravnica. It’s immune to a lot of targeted removal, and it blocks fat green monsters all night long. It’ll be popular. For some reason, it makes me think of people with one long eyebrow, an eyebrow connected across the bridge of the nose by thick hair. People thus afflicted are scary types, prone to explosive rages and nefarious scheming. Perhaps “protection from monobrows” would be more powerful in the real world.

Associated White Guilds

Selesnya: See above (giggle).

Boros: With base Green and White, a Red splash thus far consists of the playable Streetbreaker Wurm. Boros adds two fine cards, Lightning Helix and Thundersong Trumpeter. The Trumpeter messes with Combat like any good tapper should, although the guy targeted isn’t actually tapped. The Lightning Helix is a premier removal spell, with cheeky lifegain added. Also, it’s a little-known fact that any Lightning Helix can be brought to the top of your deck if you slam the card onto the table when drawing it. It’s true. Just ask Craig Jones.

Orzhov: Okay, we’d like Blind Hunter, Pillory of the Sleepless, and Mortify here. We have one of them, and thankfully it’s the uncommon removal spell. It kills both creatures and enchantments, and we all know that cards that present options win us games. In fact, if used to smash a Faith’s Fetters from your Siege Wurm after your opponent declares attackers, it can count as both enchantment and creature removal in a single casting. This draws us towards the Black splash (rockin’ out with the Black Splash, yeah!), but will it be enough to keep us from Red?

The Force is strong in this 2/2

Azorius: Ah, the evil Control guild. What horrors does it cough up?

  • Master of Impediments: I love love love this card. The art, the ability, the flavor text, the everything. He’s the strongest common in the set. By the way, insert your own stuttering joke here… I can’t be bothered. The dyslexic skiers joke above has sapped me of my comedic strength.
  • Azorius First-Wing: Another 2/2 Flyer for two mana… looks fine for the U/W Birds archetype in Standard. His protection from enchantments clause is double-edged. Yes, he doesn’t die to Seal of Fire… but he can’t wear a Moldervine Cloak either. Be prepared to see “Azorius Second-Wing” and “Azorius Third-Wing” in future sets. Followed by “Azorius Green Wing,” “Azorius West Wing,” and “Azorius X-Wing.”
  • Azorius Aethermage: When will those mages realize that playing with Aether causes all manner of mischief? This ain’t a Limited card, fellas. I’m sure that’s obvious.


White offers a fine complement to Green, fleshing out a passable creature base and providing fun combat tricks and cheeky removal. In strengthens the case for a Red splash, and makes the case for a Black one. Questions, questions, questions… the answers lie within.


Ravnica: So far, the Orzhov bunch have given us a Mortify to play with. While never unappreciated, we’d like some more Black beef to bulk up the meal. While there’s no Last Gasp or Brainspoil, our appetites are whetted somewhat with two fine (if limited) removal spells: Darkblast and Clinging Darkness. Both should see play, especially since Dissension has added a host of irritating x/1s to the mix. The Darkblast is especially nice, of course, thanks to the dredge tricks available. Our other Black spell, Strands of Undeath, is a fine discard option, as it doubles as creature protection when needed. Regeneration is a valuable asset these days. However, when we look at the creatures the Ravnican Black brings to the buffet… slim pickings indeed. We’ve the welcome Thoughtpicker Witch, whose ugly mug can win us a game (when backed by tokens, of course — no such luck here), and the terrible Undercity Shade… anything requiring such a color-committed outlook is obviously downgraded in the full-on multicolor madness that passes for modern Sealed. You’ve gotta pity the Undercity Shade, though… he lives under Ravnica, the party city. I bet he spends most nights banging on his ceiling with a broom handle, complaining about the noise. Especially if he lives under a family of Stomphowlers.

Guildpact: The Guildpact Black raises the case for the dark side with another fine removal spell: Douse in Gloom. Other than that, however, we’ve nothing special. The Hissing Miasma is a nice card in theory, but it doesn’t effect the board, and it only really matters when they’re low on life. I’d rather have a card that does something. Nice from the board if you’re facing a weenie/token horde, I suppose. Atop the mana mountain, we have a Poisonbelly Ogre, Five mana for a 3/3 guy is passable at best, and his ability can be relevant sometimes. Again, best when facing Selesnya’s relentless man-making machines. Nothing here makes us crawl to a Black splash just yet… then again, I’ve been known to crawl to worse.

Dissension: Our two Dissension Black offerings are both fellas. And frankly, they’re both pretty weak.

  • Drekavac: I suppose Wretched Anurid was alright… this guy? Not so much. In a dedicated Hellbent deck, he’s passable. However, with just one pack of Dissension, the likelihood of Hellbent being relevant is virtually nil. The loss of a spell is fatal, and the loss of a land in the early game (where Shake-n-Vac will have the most impact) can be pretty damning too. And the name! Drekavac… cleans all the nooks and crannies.
  • Slaughterhouse Bouncer: Again, a vanilla 3/3 for five. Nothing special, purely filler. His Hellbent ability is nice, but it’s a visible, on-board trick. Your opponent would have to be a chump to get two-for-oned with this guy active. So play it in Manchester. Hehe!

Associated Black Guilds

Dimir: Dimir, the proud House of Mill, has been neutered in the Draft format with each diminishing pack of Ravnica goodies. Sealed shows it similar short shrift, shunning the salacious subterfuge that showcases this symposium of sneaks. However, cards such as Lurking Informant (lurk lurk) are always welcome, be they in Black or Blue (or both) based decks. There’s also the much maligned Consult the Necrosages, a fine draw/discard option, which is often overlooked for cards such as Compulsive Research and Train of Thought. I love the Necrosages. They’re wicked keen!

Golgari, Orzhov: Both dealt with above.

Rakdos: Nothing. Zip. Nil. Nada. Where’s a Wrecking Ball when you need one? Hell, I’d even happily look at Terry Soh picture on the Invitational card if it meant I got a lil’ bit o’ the ol’ destructo-lovin’. Sigh, ‘tis not to be.


Black seems to offer us little at first glance. Each set throws us a few playables, but if taken piecemeal they’re hardly filling. However, if digested at a whole, they seems stronger. We’ve removal in Douse in Gloom, Darkblast, and Clinging Darkness – and access to Mortify – coupled with some utility guys such as Lurking Informant and Thoughtpicker Witch. Whether this is enough to sway us from Red is another matter.


Okay, so you wanna see the Red. Patience, my kittens… all in good time.

Ravnica: We’ll get through this quickly, shall we? After all, we know the Red or Black splash will be cocooning our Green/White hub. That said, of the seven Blue cards in Ravnica, there’s a total of five playables. Those five playables are spread among six cards, as I’m giving Tattered Drake and Flight of Fancy half a point each. Everyone loves the Vedalken Dismisser. He’s a fine guy for getting a job done. However, without Peel from Reality or Mark of Eviction tricks, he does lose a little in power. Snapping Drake is a fine flyer, able to trade in the air with the mighty Assault Zeppelid. Of course, he also trades with every other Dissension flier on the freakin’ planet (almost, almost, you forum fans!)… but he’s a definite keeper. Halcyon Glaze is a wonderful card, if you’ve the creatures and card drawing to support it. Also, double Blue by turn 3 can be troublesome. And late-game he royally sucks. Telling Time, another Blue card manipulation spell, is a fine end of turn trick and a good way to improve card quality and dig for answers. Then there’s the Flight, the Drake, and the Dizzy Spell, which is unmitigated bobbins.

Guildpact: One card: Runeboggle. One word: Anus.

Dissension: Sadly, we’ve only one Blue card to mock from the Dissension ranks.

  • Writ of Passage: Is it just me, or does this card look like a spelling error? Writ? I keep wanting to say “Rite of Passage.” Yeah, I know what a writ is, thanks. As for the card itself? Far too situational. Nice with ninjas, I suppose. A block too late.

Associated Blue Guilds

Dimir, Selesnya, Simic: See above.

Izzet: Nothing stellar to report here. There’s a Signet, and a tiny Wee Dragonauts… but I doubt we’ll have the cards to make the Dragonauts roar. Other than that, there’s a Leap of Flame, a mana-hungry combat trick that I’ve played, but I’ve cut it much more often.


Yeah, we’ve some nice Blue in Ravnica… but there’s no Steamcore Weird, there’s no Izzet Chronarch, there’s no Ogre Savant, there’s no Peel or Mark… frankly, I’m not enthused. Next!


Ravnica: We have a lot or Red cards from Ravnica. Sadly, of the nine cardboard rectangles, only one (maybe two) of them are truly playable. That, my friends, is the eminently unsplashable Viashino Fangtail. He’s got fangs, and a tail, and he’s great at his job… but does he carry the can alone? The other maybe babies are Frenzied Goblin and Sparkmage Apprentice. I’m sure when you see that I’m listing the Apprentice as a playable, you can sympathise with my plight. He pings for one, and his stock has risen against the tricky tappers and pingers from Dissension, but even so… filler. The Goblin, however, is a card I’ve never really taken to. I like him in Constructed, but Limited? He’ll only shine against a creature-screwed opponent, and once they’re got a few lads down he’ll be killed the next time he swings. Am I wrong in this assessment? Anyway, moving on… Of our four remaining Ravnica guys, two are filler when needing to flesh out the curve (Viashino Slasher and Barbarian Riftcutter), one is an overcosted pile of diabolical effluvia (Excruciator), and the remaining lad is an embarrassment to all the glorious Red guys that have gone before. Stoneshaker Shaman, be ashamed! To round out the Rav Red, we have the Seismic Spike (no non-Wrecking Ball LD in Limited, please), Incite Hysteria (passable anti-stall card from the sideboard), and Surge of Zeal (rofflecopter).

Guildpact: No Pyromantics, no Ogre Savant, no Bloodscale Prowler… only a Fencer’s Magemark. Behave yourself, middle set!

Dissension: So far, there’s nothing to make a Red splash truly sing… We’ve two Dissension cards to mix up and fix up, so all is not quite lost…

  • Seal of Fire: Obv obv obv obv obv. Great Limited removal. Lick it and stick it, and play through the wicket. Now I’ll have to dig out my playset of Nemesis foils…
  • Kill-Suit Cultist: 1/1 guys for one mana need to be very special. This guy? Far too situational. They’ll let him through until it matters, then stick any old bobbin in his path. If only he didn’t always attack… Then again, that’d probably mean he’d cost five mana.

Associated Red Guilds

All sorted above. Go me, I am so smrt!


Hang on, there’s one more card remaining… maybe it’ll give us the answers we seek!

The One Card That Doesn’t Fit Anywhere So It Gets Its Own Bloody Heading

Terrarion. If you can fit it, play it. If not, no biggie.

Okay, the party’s over, and the trifle has been trodden into the shagpile. It’s time to survey the carnage, and call the French polishers.

It was Green/White/X, yeah?

Thought so.

Me, I chose Black.

Here’s the deck:

It was a definite choice between the Red and the Black for the third color. In the end, I chose the more splashable Black with its happier mana requirements, and the strength of the removal. It’s all very well loving up with a Fangtail if it’s just sat in your hand waiting for the second Mountain. Also, the Golgari Signet and the Rot Farm make the mana midden slightly fresher.

I included the Rolling Spoil, but this was a late edition. Maybe the Bioplasm should take his place… I dunno. I do love that accelerated Spoil on their turn 2 bounceland, though…

That’s it for today. Join me in the forums for some in- depth chatter on all things RGD… feel free to chime in with your comments. All are welcome.

After all, if I wanna get back on the tour I’ve gotta listen, amiright?

Until next time,

Thanks for listening.
Craig Stevenson
Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2
Scouseboy on MTGO

* I propose that the card should be errata’ed so that its official name reads “Ravenous Bloody Baloth,” as I’ve not called it anything else since that fateful loss.