Sealed Revealed: Card Pool Five.

Alright people, it’s time to check out the article series that has everyone talking. If you have any interest at all in improving your Limited game, or if you just like good writing, then Sealed Revealed is for you. Craig’s articles are well-written, delightfully funny, and the forums have been blowing up discussing them, so isn’t it about time you hop on board and see what all the fuss is about?

What’s the best thing about Magic?

Is it the game itself? Is it the cards, the cool artwork, the collectability? Is it the challenge, the mental exercise?

I don’t know about you, but I’m of the opinion that Magic is the best game in the world. Sure, all the cool kids play Poker nowadays. After all, the potential for moneymaking is bigger on the WPT. Just ask Dave Williams. And of course, Poker is so incredibly cooooool. Adults play poker, serious people with beards and dark glasses. Not like Magic, with the skater-punks and Comic-Book Guys.

I like poker. But I love Magic.

I’m unsure why. It may be any of the above reasons. Poker is fun, but it ain’t the real thing. You can’t swing for two with the Nine of Hearts, and there’s no way you’ll open a foil Ace of Spades no matter how many decks you buy.

Magic has treated me pretty well, so far. I’ve made a few Pro Tours, won a little cash, made a top 8 here and there (well, here at any rate). I’m no Kai Budde, but the game has been kind.

Through this game, I’ve travelled all over, I’ve met many new friends, I’ve had many great times. And I know that, wherever I go in the World, I can find a group of like-minded folk huddled round a gaming-shop table, ready to laugh and roll dice and fling spells.

It’s the community, the collective, the like-minded spirits I meet, that truly make Magic what it is. It’s not a direct element of the game: The Great Garfield could never have foreseen how his kitchen table baby has grown. It’s a by-product, a happy coincidence.

Strange, really, if you think about it. The beauty of Magic has nothing to do with the game after all.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had some great times in Magic. And some bad ones too. Then again, that’s reality for you. There are highs and lows in everything.

But I know that if life forces me to mulligan, I can pick up the cards and play.

Did you have a nice weekend? I hope so. Mine was suitably debauched.

Ready for another sealed deck challenge? Believe me, this one will be tricky…


2 Cage of Hands

2 Devoted Retainer

2 Ethere…

2 Cage of Hands!



Starting over…


2 Cage of Hands

2 Devoted Retainer

2 Ethereal Haze

Hundred-Talon Kami

Isamaru, Hound of Konda

Kami of the Painted Road

Kitsune Healer

Konda’s Hatamoto

Nagao, Bound By Honor

Otherworldly Journey

Quiet Purity


Terashi’s Cry


2 Callous Deceiver

Consuming Vortex

Eye of Nowhere

Floating-Dream Zubera

Hisoka’s Guard

Lifted by Clouds

River Kaijin

Soratami Rainshaper


Teller of Tales


Wandering Ones


Blood Speaker

Dance of Shadows

Devouring Greed

Gibbering Kami

2 Kami of the Waning Moon

3 Midnight Covenant

Nezumi Bone-Reader

Nezumi Cutthroat

Nezumi Graverobber

Numai Outcast

Pull Under

Ragged Veins

Villainous Ogre


Crushing Pain

Desperate Ritual

Devouring Rage

Ember-Fist Zubera

Hanabi Blast

2 Kami of Fire’s Roar

Mana Seism

Ryusei, the Falling Star

Stone Rain

Uncontrollable Anger

Yamabushi’s Storm

Yamabushi’s Flame


Burr Grafter

2 Commune with Nature

Honden of Life’s Web

Iname. Life Aspect

Jukai Messenger

Kashi-Tribe Reaver

Kodama’s Reach


Order of the Sacred Bell

Orochi Ranger

Orochi Sustainer


Wear Away

Joyous Respite


General’s Kabuto


Shizo, Death’s Storehouse

Make me a deck, make it shiny and bright,

Fill it with synergy, love and delight…

A joke for you:

Q: What’s a Shitzu?

A: One with no animals.

*a distant bell tolls*

I think, of all the pools so far, this pool throws up the most questions. These questions are insistent, like paparazzi after pissed-up royalty. I have no idea where to start.

But start I must.


Let’s all sing the Double Cage Song!

Want to be a powerful mage,

Winning on the Pro-Tour stage?

C’mon, kids, it’s all the rage!

All you need is Double Cage!

Sod Akroma, Bosh and Phage,

Join the Kamigawan Age!

Sick of rhymes? Then turn the page!

All you need is Double Cage!

This song was brought to you by the letters B and Q, and by the number twelvety.

We have double Cage of Hands. Cage of Hands is the best white common in the set… but do the other support cards live up to such illustrious standards?

Reciprocate is a fine card, dealing with anything you’re uncomfortable blocking. It also screws with the graveyard-effects of dragons, making it doubly good when fat flying lizards are screaming overhead.

Otherworldly Journey… what do you think? Personally, I like it. It protects (and boosts) your guy from removal, allows him to block and then “slide out”, and also acts as temporary removal in a crisis. In a deck with a few important cards that you’d like to keep (such as a dragon, or Kumano), then the protective shield of this spell is very nice indeed.

Other than that, we have little to sing about. Good thing, really, as my throat still smarts from belting out the Double Cage Song.

Ethereal Haze is a spell for the weak. Sure, it stops the alpha-strike… but if they’re alpha-striking, they must be in decent shape. Ethereal Haze does nothing to the board, so it should do nothing in your deck.

A friend of mine insists on maindecking enchantment removal.

“But Craig,” he cries, from the depths of table 100, “there are Shrines and Cages and Restraints, oh my! We must be prepared.” Prepare yourself for 0-3-draft, Sparky. Enchantment removal such as Quiet Purity is strictly sideboard stuff.

And bringing up the rear, we have Terashi’s Cry. Believe me, if you’re bringing this card up your rear, I suggest you seek professional help.

We have the support, but do we have the beef? Do we have the Blademasters, the Moths, the good old-fashioned slapsticks?

*inspects White cards*

Damn You, Wizards Of The Coast!

We’ve none of the obvious good stuff. So what have we got?

Nagao, Bound By Honor (or Mr. Magoo to his friends) is a bomb in anyone’s book. Look at the squat little chap, with his big sword. He’s an important guy to have in battle, as he pumps his troops, and he appears to have a collection of toilet roll with him, indispensable should things get a little messy. He also has a hole through his head, so he’s literally a no-brainer.

Devoted Retainer is a passable card, but 1/1’s don’t win matches. He trades with 2/2’s, and is combomatic with Mr Magoo, so he’s not too terrible.

Konda’s Hatamoto, also Magoo-meat, is slightly better. Magoo is a legend, and therefore the Hatamoto gets double-super-special! Sadly, without Magoo, both the Retainer and the Hatamoto are pretty uninspired.

The non-samurai aren’t much better. Isamaru is great on turn 1, but terrible on turns 3 and above. Kami of the Painted Road and Hundred-Talon Kami are both playable, but I’d be looking for more beef for my buck and more squid for my quid.

Overall, the White has dazzling support, but insipid guys. Apparently, White has become Blue for this card pool.

Will I play White? With double Cage, it’ll be hard to avoid.


Starting with the support cards…

  • Eye of Nowhere is not a good card. Mistakenly, I had one of these in my final deck for card pool four. Then it was pointed out by someone infinitely wiser than I that the Eye is a sorcery. And here was I thinking that it was instant-speed trickery. In conclusion: where would I play the Eye? Nowhere.

  • Consuming Vortex, however, is a bounce spell with class. You can splice it, it’s single Blue and it triggers a number of cool arcane abilities. This tempo card is valuable.

  • Thoughtbind is a counterspell. I hate counterspells. It’s also narrow, only helping to counter spells of four mana or less. If you can’t deal with a four-mana spell without countering it, you’re in trouble. Sure, it may stop a game-winning Devouring Greed, but it won’t stop the 5/5 dragon pounding down your back-door. Play it if you must, just don’t come crying to me when it sits in your hand like a frightened bird.

  • Squelch? Squelched.

  • Lifted by Clouds: If you’re thinking of playing this card, the best way to make your guys fly is to throw your deck out of the window. Believe me, it’s more reliable than Lifted by Clowns, and it’ll help you in the long run.

It seems that all we have here is a single bounce spell. That does not bode well. How about the creatures?

We have a Teller of Tales. The Teller is the best Blue common in the set. He’s almost worth forcing Blue into your sealed deck.

  • With him, we have double Deceiver, who’s passable but clunky.

  • We have the River Kaijin, who’ll block opposing Blademasters and trigger the Teller ability.

  • We have the one true Zebra, the mini-Jens that is Floating-Dream Zubera.

  • And we have the 2/1 flying Soratami Rainshaper.

Is it just me, or are these Blue guys boring? Other than the Teller, they have mediocre abilities and a distinct lack of beatdown prowess. This set of guys relies on the presence of their all-star Quarterback, T. Tales.

I don’t think the Blue is strong enough to warrant inclusion in my final build. Sure, there’s the Teller, but he has little support from guys or spells. And he can’t win the whole shebang on his own.

NB: although I’m jumping ahead slightly, it’s also important to note that Blue provides us with almost all of the three-drop guys in this card pool. Something to bear in mind as we head on…


So, what’s the best Black common in Kamigawa?

Is it Pull Under?

Is it Devouring Greed?

Is it Nezumi Cutthroat?

Well, we have all three so it doesn’t really matter.

Of course, it may be something else entirely… Have your say in the forums, folks.

  • Pull Under is a fabulous card. Giving a guy -5/-5 is as good as it gets. This one common can deal with dragons, indestructible guys, regenerators… and it’s easy to splash. Bish bash wallop; stick it in your deck.

  • Devouring Greed is also bomb-diggetty. In fact, it may actually be superfly-wack. I’m unsure on the final categorization. In the right deck, it wins games immediately.

  • Dance of Shadows is a card I’ve not played with. However, I’m pretty sure it is obscene. “What, all my guys now have fear? And they’re all bigger? Okay, I’ll win now. Got any trades?”

  • Other than these three playables, we have three Midnight Covenants and a single Ragged Veins. Three Covenants? Why not three Befouls? Or three Rend Spirits? No, when I open three of something, it has to be a bad card. As for the Veins… they’re stains.

In the Black support, we have an excellent removal spell and two game-ending finishers. Sure, we miss depth of removal that a Befoul, a Rend Flesh and a Rend Spirit would add… but beggars can’t be choosers.

Onto the guys…

  • We have the ten-turn clock called Nezumi Cutthroat. This guy will draw removal off your opponent: if he comes down on turn 2, he’s a bad rat in a no-nonsense hat.

  • The Nezumi Graverobber is a very playable card. If he hits early, there’s a very good chance that you’ll trigger his flip-side. Once you do… carnage. This guy will also draw removal, as he becomes stupid if he turns the other cheek. Hell, even if he doesn’t, he’s still a 2/1 for two mana. Playable, methinks.

  • Skirting the edge of playability, like Jacko skirts controversy, we have the Kami of the Waning Moon. And, like Jacko, these Kami are also (allegedly) on the wrong side of the good-guy line. A 1/1 flyer for three won’t impress the kids.

  • The other three-drop is our good friend, the Villainous Ogre. We’ve been here before with this guy, but we’d better go through it one more time… 3/2 for three? Thumbs up! Doesn’t block? Thumbs down. May regenerate? Who gives a monkey’s ball? Play him if you like. As this pool lacks three drops, I suspect he’ll make the team.

  • Gibbering Kami, the generic 2/2 flyer for four, is perfectly fine. But the artist who drew him, Mr. Jim Pavelee, must have a seriously troubled mind to come up with such a hideous, psychedelic beast. What in the name of all that is holy is that thing?

We also have Blood Speaker, who’s fine if you’re packin’ demons. We have Numai Outcast, who should be torn to pieces on sight as an abomination against Cardkind.

And we have Nezumi Bone-Reader

I’m unsure on this guy. Discard is weak in Limited, after all. But in a deck heavy with Zubera…


So the Black has bombs, but it has weaknesses.

Like the Blue before it.

And the White.

So what the devil do we build?

Magic sucks.


All together now…

Up from the depths,

Thirty storeys high,

Breathing fire,

His head in the sky,




(and Godzoooookiiiii, la la-la la-la…)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

“My name’s Craig, and I’m an Alcoholic.”

Oops, sorry. Wrong meeting. I’ll come in again

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

“Big fat dragons win Magic games.”

The other guys? Of little consequence. Nevertheless, the dragon is getting played no matter what the other Red cards bring us. Let’s have a look…

Three guys? Is that it?

Can I not open decent Red spells and creatures? I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as decent Red common guys in this block.

  • We have Kami of Fire’s Roar. He’s a 2/3 for four, triggering mini-Falters with spirit and arcane interaction. I think I’ll pass, thanks.

  • We have the Ember-Fist Zebra, who’s alright in a “do I really have to play this card” way.

With such a dearth of Red men, it looks like splashing for a dragon is the sensible route. Maybe the support cards may add a little fire to this theory.

Yamabushi’s Flame? Okay, you’re in. As for the rest…

I’m Homer Simpson, coaching the little-league American Football team.

“Crushing Pain? You’re cut. Desperate Ritual? Cut. Devouring Rage, Hanabi Blast? You’re both cut. Mana Seism? Sorry, cut.

I like you, Stone Rain. That’s why it’s hard to cut you. Uncontrollable Anger? You showed spirit today. You’re cut.

Oh, and Yamabushi’s Storm. I may use you. Until I do, though… you’re cut.”

Whatever colors I settle upon, I’ll be splashing for the Dragon and the Flame.

If you don’t agree with me, then you’re cut.


Green makes men.

Big fat men.

Green likes big fat men.

I like green.

Here’s how the fat stands up. Watch yourselves, the floorboards are creaking.

  • As with all the colors, we have some nice cards in Green. For a start, the double-hulk Order of the Sacred Bell is more than welcome to my party.

  • Then we have the Giant Growth boy: Burr Grafter, or Raymond as I like to call him. He’s pretty sharp.

  • There’s the regenerating, combat-bumming Kashi-Tribe Reaver, probably the best of that particular tribe.

These three guys cost four mana apiece.

In the two-mana slot, we have a serviceable Orochi Ranger, the desirable Orochi Sustainer, and the oddity of the Soilshaper. The first two guys are decent if not powerful, but the Soilshaper… Any ideas? In the right deck, I think he’d be brilliant. There may even be a place for him a weird constructed LD deck…

“Make a spirit, turn your Island into a 3/3 guy, Volcanic Hammer it.”


Anyway, in the three-mana creature slot we have…




This is a gaping hole. One that it shares with White. And Red. And the three-drops in the other colors are no Johnny Depps.

This card pool is bizarre.

We have another two guys. The Jukai is junk, and the Iname is inane. Move along people, there’s nothing to see here.

The support cards in Green show some promise.

And now, the Honden.

The Green shrine is one of the strongest shrines. Everyone loves getting a creature for free, every turn. I think I’d play it, but I’d not overrate it. After all, this ain’t no Squirrel Nest. And there’s no Overrun or Echoing Courage in Kamigawa.

So Green looks nice, with some strong cards and some saddening weaknesses.

Like the Blue.

And the Black.

And the White.

And the Red.

Can you see where this is going?


Equipment is pretty nice in the world of Kamigawa. The General’s Kabuto is a lovely Yoshimitsu helmet. It had a nice effect, but I think it’s a little too expensive to bring down. If it could equip at instant speed, or made the guy unblockable, then I’d grad it and laugh. As it is… unsure. I wouldn’t blame anyone for playing it. I’d just choose not to.


I have a rare Black land. It produces painless Black, and it comes into play untapped and ready to go.

If I play Black, I’ll run this land. I don’t care what it does. It’s a Swamp with an ability, which may or may not be relevant. [If nothing else, it’s good for taking down opposing Horobis. – Knut]

I still hate getting rare lands in my sealed decks, though. Anyone want to trade it for a Cranial Extraction?





So where do we go from here?

We have extremely playable cards in all colours. Dragons, removal, finishers, flyers, mana-fixers…

But each color has holes in it, holes bigger than the one in Magoo’s helmet.

I want to play White, for Double Cage of Hands.

I want to play Blue, for Teller of Tales.

I want to play Black, for Devouring Greed, for Pull Under.

I want to play Red, for a big fat dragon.

I want to play Green, for the mana-fixing and the Commune with Natures.

Verily, I am screwed.

Anyway, I built a deck. Would you like to see it?

Here it comes…

I am almost positive that I’ve built it wrong.

What would YOU do?


Isamaru, Hound of Konda

2 Devoted Retainer

Konda’s Hatamoto

Kitsune Healer

Hundred-Talon Kami

Nagao, Bound by Honor

Kami of the Painted Road

2 Cage of Hands

Otherworldly Journey



Nezumi Graverobber

Nezumi Cutthroat

Villainous Ogre

2 Kami of the Waning Moon

Gibbering Kami

Pull Under

Dance of Shadows

Devouring Greed


Ryusei, the Falling Star

Yamabushi’s Flame


Shizo, Death’s Storehouse

8 Plains

5 Swamp

3 Mountain

There were many, many ways for me to go with this card-pool. In the end, I went for quick-ish beats, decent removal and a couple of bombs.

Here’s some of the things I don’t like about the build:

  • I’d love to run another Swamp, to ensure that I see double-Black for the Devouring Greed and the Dance of Shadows. Unfortunately, I need a turn 1 Plains to drop the Devoted Retainers and Konda’s Hatamoto.

  • There aren’t quite enough spirits to make the Greed fantastic, and not quite enough Samurai to make Nagao unstoppable.

  • I don’t like Kami of the Waning Moon. But I needed three-drop guys.

  • The entire pool had a weakness around the three-drop area. Unless I see a Retainer or the Hatamoto, I’m very much in danger of being overrun when I make my non-blocking idiots, waiting for the sixth mana to cast my dragon.

And here’s some of the things I do like:

  • D…rrrrr….aaaAAAAAAAGON!

  • We have some top quality removal, which should see us through until the late-game bombs appear.

  • There are a lot of evasion effects, especially fear, which works well with Mr Magoo.

I’ve left out a great number of fabulous cards. And I’m playing with some frankly poor ones. I have some method in my madness, but that’s for the forums. Hopefully, I’ll see you there.

On the whole, if these were my PTQ cards, I’d have mixed feelings. I’d hope to challenge, and take some wins with my big fat Red guy, but as the early game is a little shoddy, I’d expect something like a 4-2 record in a six round tournament. [I think this is probably the best card pool you’ve opened so far. – Knut, who built his deck nearly identically to Craig’s]

Limited is a funny game.

I hate opening the bad cards.

But sometimes, opening good cards in all colours is just as problematic.

Come help me in the forums. I think this pool warrants a lot of discussion.

Until the next pile…

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson

Scouseboy on MTGO

[email protected]