“Craig,” said Ted. “Betrayers has just been released. How about doing a new series of Sealed Revealed?”
“Do I have to?” I replied. “I’m still a bit rubbish at Limited.”
“Well, we’re not forcing you to write more Sealed Revealed,” said Ted. “But if you don’t, we’ll have your legs broken.”
Back to bore you with dubious card-choices and terrible deck building!
If you’re unfamiliar with the Sealed Revealed series, here’s a potted history. Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to trawl back through my previous twelve articles.
*cue wibbly flashback effect*
Back when Champions was released, I developed a plan. Buying two boxes of CoK product (one box of tourney packs, one box of boosters), I set about creating twelve sealed deck cardpools (one tourney pack, two boosters apiece).
I then wrote an article for each cardpool, presenting my views, opinions and final decklist for all to see and deride.
The purpose of this was twofold:
I wanted to improve my Limited game. Practicing Sealed, and writing about Sealed, would hopefully hone my lacklustre talents. I also wanted to kick up a stink in the forums, hopefully creating some consensus as to the correct build techniques when facing any given cards.
While my Limited game has indeed improved, there’s still a way to go.
As for the forums, I think all involved would agree that we had a blast.
Overall, through twelve Sealed Deck articles, I learnt a great deal about my game, and about the game in general.
And that’s what it’s about, after all…
*end wibbly flashback effect*
So I’m back. Ready to go through it all again. This time, however, it’s a shorter series of six articles. Three this week, three next. Writing twelve in three weeks nearly killed me, and Ted still has the nervous twitch. I hear he’s up to a two bottles of Tequila a day. [I’m even having a hard time affording the “good stuff.” – Knut, sporting patron-dipped gear, yo]
Hold onto your hats, ladies and gents. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Hopefully, the forums will roar again.
To the skies!
Below, I give you the first card pool of Sealed Revealed II.
For those that know the drill, get cracking. For those that don’t, here’s the beef:
1) Take my card pool, make me a deck. Then check out my opinions on certain cards.
2) At the bottom of the article, you’ll find my decklist. See how it agrees with yours, and how it differs.
Then come to the forums and tell me that I suck.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Heart of Light
Kami of the Honored Dead
Kami of the Tattered Shoji
Counsel of the Soratami
Field of Reality
Guardian of Solitude
Kami of Twisted Reflection
Ribbons of the Reikai
Toils of Night and Day
Veil of Secrecy
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Blessing of Leeches
Mark of the Oni
Stir the Grave
Fumiko the Lowblood
So there’s your raw materials. Can you build me a fortress?
I shall now insert a number of dots to indicate the passage of time. Build build build!
A quick joke for you:
Are you done? Good! How did you fare?
It was an obvious build, surely?
Let’s begin with the White cards…
At first glance, the White cards look reasonably strong. We’ve the stalwart of any White beatdown line-up, the three-mana Kitsune Blademaster. Bushido 1 and first strike make this guy a formidable force. However, the other poster-boy for paleness, the Cage of Hands, is notably absent. Let’s look at the other Champions offerings:
- Taking to the skies, we have the Mothrider Samurai, a good deal as a 2/2 flier for four mana. I still claim that a guy on a Moth is absolutely ridiculous. Moths are very small, while men are quite big. It just wouldn’t work.
- At two mana, we have the very playable Samurai of the Pale Curtain. Whenever I hear that name, I think of Steven Buscemi in Reservoir Dogs… “Why am I Mr. Pink. How about if I’m Mr. Purple?” I mean, Samurai of the Pale Curtain?! I bet he was picked on at Samurai School. Still, he’s exceptional at what he does, and he even stops modular! Obviously important in Kamigawa block.
- One mana sees us dallying with the Kitsune Diviner and the Devoted Retainer. The Retainer ain’t all that, but he sure is devoted! I once asked him to water my cats while I was on holiday. He did it without a fuss, and he even turned the mattress on my bed! The Diviner, on the other hand, is divine. He stops dragons and all manner of gnarly beasties, and your foe is not happy to spend removal on the tricky beggar. Playable.
- Pious Kitsune is an awful card. Really, just don’t bother. Having said that, I was playing on MTGO the other day, and we’d reached the midgame. We both had about 11 mana and were stalled out. My opponent made a Pious Kitsune, and I thought, “here we go, he’s rubbish!” Of course, the following turn, my opponent made both Eight-And-A-Half Tails and Horobi, Death’s Wail. And then he wrathed my team. I lost that one. Yeah, Pious Kitsune… diabolical.
- Talking of ugly flotsam… Horizon Seed, anyone. A 2/1 for five mana? Such a small guy needs a biiiiiiiiig pecker in order to warrant inclusion. Sadly, his pecker simply states “regenerate some other bad creature”, probably Pious Kitsune, so I remain unimpressed.
- We now move swiftly into the realms of the Betrayers. New cards, that fresh smell… lovely. To begin, we have the walking sponge that is Waxmane Baku. I mean, come on! What in figgin’s name is going on with that artwork? A four-legged bunch of candles? I bet the artist was pissing himself when he cashed that check. As for playability… I reckon so. He taps things, this providing much-needed evasion. And he’s a 2/2 for three, which isn’t too bad.
- Upping the mana commitment, we see two new Kami: Kami of the Tattered Shoji and Kami of the Honored Dead. At five mana, the Tattered Shoji just doesn’t float my boat. He’s too… well… White. If ever a card screams ‘Whiiiiiite,’ then I think this is it. His counterpart, the seven-mana 3/5 flyer Kami of the Honored Dead, isn’t dreadful but wades in at one mana too much. Six, and he’s a shoe-in. Seven… benchwarmer. And I can’t forgive a card that resembles a flying uterus.
- Finally, the guys bring us Instant Samurai for six mana. The Silverstorm Samurai is a waste of time. For six mana, you want a 5/5 flyer, or Silvos, or something. Not this garbage. Into the bin she goes.
The spells of White are never much cop, to be fair. They’re tricksy and irritating, but they never break a color. And what we have here is no exception.
- Ethereal Haze is a card for cowards. There, I said it. If you run with this spell, you may as well paint “I Have No Backbone” on your forehead.
- Blessed Breath, on the other hand, is a spell I once hated but now I grudgingly respect. Its ability isn’t too special; we’ve seen many replicas of this card in the past. But it truly shines with such a manageable casting and splicing cost. It opens up a host of possibilities, and therefore I’d squeeze it in where I could.
- Heart of Light, a.k.a. Japanese Sandskin. Do you really want to give your opponent a nigh-on invulnerable blocker? Or are you really desperate to waste your own attacking options? You are? Then go for it. I’ll pass, thanks.
White looks pretty nice here, with some decent low-range guys, and even a playable combat trick. However, the pool isn’t exactly deep, and it would suck the royal tadger as a splash-color… time will tell here
And now, the moment I’ve been dreading since the last time I penned an article… I give you the Blue cards.
We shall begin, as always, with the all-important Teller of Tales count.
This pool, the Teller of Tales count is… zero.
But hang on a while. There are new Blue cards for consideration. Who’s to say that the Teller is still the all-important powerhouse it once was? I suppose we’d better proceed with the rest of the Blue poo.
The support smells- sorry, the support spells:
- Two mana gives us a Consuming Vortex! Look at it swirl! See how it consumes! Actually, when you think about it, it’s not exactly a Consuming Vortex at all. Surely if it were consuming, the creature in question would be sent to the graveyard. No, it’s more like a Chew-You-Up-And-Spit-You-Back-Out Vortex. Playable? Sure. Just don’t wet your knickers over it.
- At three mana, we have the oft-misspelled Counsel of the Soratami. I like this spell. Three mana, two cards… it does exactly what it says on the tin. However, there was some dissention in the forums over its application. Is it worthwhile? Come, have your say. Likely you’ll be ignored, but come to the forums nonetheless.
- Field of Reality… do I really need to tell you that this is terrible? I thought not. Well done.
- From Betrayers, we have the strange and unusual Veil of Secrecy. I’m unsure about this. It “counters” a piece of removal, and it helps with the arcane triggers. The Splice cost may also be useful. It just seems a little fiddly to be truly useful. What do you think?
- Toils of Night and Day… when you desperately need to swing for the last few points of damage, then I suppose this might cut the mustard. But it ain’t no Choking Tethers, that’s for sure. That said, it can spring a surprise defensive duty on the attacking hordes… again, unsure. I vote no, but only because the wording on the card screams “combo deck”.
- Ribbons of the Reikai… five mana for a bunch of snot-colored snakes? No thanks! Seriously, such an investment for terribly situational card-drawing cannot be good for business.
Now we face the ginger step-child of the creature pool: the Blue man group.
- We’ll start with the definites, such as the bite-size biscuit Jens that is the Floating-Dream Zubera. It’s pronounced Zoo-BER-ah, yes? Or is it ZOO-buruh? Ah, who cares, it’s still playable. Anything that replaces itself on death is good.
- Still at two, we see the mock-folk looter Soratami Cloudskater. This cheap and cheerful chappie can swap lands for cards, and even swings in for the odd point here and there. As you can see from the artwork, he’s plenty of space for tricks up his sleeves.
- The other two-drop is the Guardian of Solitude. A 1/2 that grants flying to other creatures when spirit and arcane conditions are triggered… he’s a house in the right deck (Blue/Green springs to mind), but would need decent support cards to warrant automatic inclusion. If the pool is helpful, then the sky’s the limit.
- Three mana brings us the most Callous of Deceivers, and the bundle of pig-parts called the Kami of Twisted Reflection. I’ve played both of these in the past, and I must say I wasn’t very impressed with them. The Deceiver has his uses, but flatters to deceive (see what I did there?). As for Kami of Twisted Reflection, the bag of smashed crabs… forget about it. For a start, the mana requirements dictate you’ll need to play with at least two Islands, which is obviously two Islands too many.
- Rounding off the Champions creature-pool, we have the five-mana Soratami Seer. His ability is fantastic, and he’s reasonably costed… but he sure does miss that third point of power. If he were a 3/2, I’d be drooling over him. As he is… playable, but weaker than I’d like.
- Betrayers only gives us one Blue creature. Luckily, it’s the best common of the bunch, the 2/3 Shimmering Glasskite. He flies, and needs two spells to kill him, all for four mana! A definite inclusion. That said, his ability is good but nothing spectacular. Betrayers has brought us many targeting abilities on cards across the board, therefore “wasting” one on the Glasskite before targeting him with a Yamabushi’s Flame is a very real danger. And let’s face facts, people: a glass kite? You’re having a laugh.
Overall, the Blue brings us some nice-ish spots here and there… but nothing worth maindecking. Splashing? I’m not even sure about that.
In fact, screw it. I’ll state it now. I’ll not be playing Blue this pool.
Thank you, drive through. Nothing else to see here.
Onward we leap, with joy in our hearts, to the graveyard and pacts with the Devil! Let us peruse the Dark Side. Come with me, I’ll be your guide.
*flicks through the Black cards*
Well, they’re alright, I suppose. Nothing to get wound up ove-
*breaks out in laughter*
Only jokin’ folks!
Black looks spectacular.
- Okay, I can’t lie to you. I never really got past Kokusho. 5/5 flying dragon, kick-ass graveyard trigger… he makes the team, no doubt about that.
- On closer inspection, however, you can see that he’s not the only gamebreaker in the pack. We have the cheap and cheerful Nezumi Graverobber, able to come down early and beat with impunity, then shine in the mid and end games with cheeky graveyard fun. Killing your foe with his own creatures is brilliant.
- Five mana gives us the spirit stalwart names Scuttling Death. He’s a beefy body, he’s a graveyard grabber, he’s mini-removal, he’s a combat trick… is there no end to his talents? Well, yes there is: one look at him, and you’re sure he’ll never be a catwalk model.
- Champions also brings Blackness with the one-drop Rag Dealer, and the two-drop Bone-Reader. This Rag and Bone pairing, a.k.a. Steptoe and Son, are weak and ineffectual. They may see play in a post-board world, but don’t hold your breath.
- Betrayers brings us the first of the most widely anticipated creatures in modern Magic history: the Ninjas. We have, both costing five mana, the Throat Slitter and the Okiba-Gang Shinobi. The Throat Slitter is the juiciest, slitting his throats for a measly three mana. Skinthinner was playable. I see no difference here.
- The other fella, Okiba-Gang Shinobi, is a different ballgame. At the moment, I like him. He strips opponents of vital resources, and beats down on a decent clock. However, rumblings tell me that his tempo-stunting activation cost should be considered when running him. What do you think? Is he all that and a hill o’ beans?
- Up at five mana, we also have the Skullmane Baku. This guy is a pile of walking… skulls! I think I see a pattern emerging here. The artist for this particular cycle is probably rolling around naked on a bed of not-so-hard-earned cash, smoking fat cigars and laughing. As for playability? I doubt it. Too expensive, too fragile… two mana too much, methinks.
Now we must look at the support cards. We need removal if the Black is to be the true powerhouse that the creatures point to. And thankfully, we’re not too disappointed.
- Rend Flesh is a fine card, dealing with anything that isn’t a spirit. While I’d be happier with a Rend Spirit to boot, I’ll take what I can get.
- But better than the Rend, we have the Hideous Laughter! This mini-wrath effect can be devastating if timed correctly. We can even Splice it onto our rend Flesh, or other Arcane goodness should the need arise. Mass removal is the grail of Limited, so pack all you can. Sadly, that’s it for the pinpoint removal. Sure, we’ve the Throat Slitter and the Scuttling Death, but a Horobi’s Whisper would’ve been nice.
- Other cards of note from Champions: We have the two-punch whammy of discard in Distress and Waking Nightmare. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: she told me she was eighteen, officer. *ahem* I’ll come in again. I’ve said it again: I dislike discard in Limited. I know that some of you disagree. Well, now’s your chance to convince me.
- Betrayers brings us three Black support cards. The first, Blessing of Leeches, can act as pseudo-removal if timed correctly. The “regenerate for zero” ability is a fine one, but the tick-tock of the countdown clock can be oppressive. And Blessing of Leeches? What sort of blessing can leeches bestow? One that involves slime, I’ll wager.
- Stir the Grave is a fine card, able to return cheap creatures early-game, and bad-ass bombs when the game drags on. It makes the team.
- Finally, we have Mark of the Oni. Persuasion for Black, two mana cheaper, with a nigh-on unplayable condition. In the right deck, then maybe. In this pool, doubtful. However, the art makes me chuckle. I imagine the gurning figure in the card to be offering his hand and saying, “hello, my name’s Mark. I’m from the Oni. Have you ever seen the Oni? It’s beautiful.”
It appears that Black makes a fine maindeck color for this pool. Indeed, paired with White, we have a decent final deck. Let’s see if Red and Green upset our applecart.
We’ve some funky stuff in Red.
- Starting with the Red creatures from Champions, even though I’d rather start with Fumiko… we have the Ronin Houndmaster, a.k.a. Smithers. He does a fine job, coming down early and maintaining the beats. And they’re some biiiiiig dogs. I bet they get through a fair few tins of Winalot.
- Two mana gives us the unspectacular Hearth Kami. Sure, he beats with decent speed, and his ability can be randomly useful, but he won’t kick the arse out of the matchup.
- Akki Rockspeaker? Well, if he speaks to rocks then he deserves to be left at home. I only speak to inanimate objects after a few too many pints of Guinness.
- Five mana gives us the moutainwalking Sokenzan Bruiser. Strictly sideboard stuff, and most times not even then. Sadly, the color against which he shines is also the color that’s best equipped to handle him.
- Finally from Champions, we have the fat-assed Earthshaker. A 4/5 body isn’t shabby at all, and his ability can be very powerful indeed. Six mana is high on the cost chart, but he’s worth it in the right deck. Not bad for what looks like a random collection of dancing pebbles.
- Okat, so Betrayers. I’ll plump straight for the rare here: Fumiko the Lowblood. Is she a bomb? Frankly, yes she is. Okay, I’d rather see Kumano, or maybe Ryusei, but as they’re missing, I’ll grab her with both hands and run like Forrest. Yes, she can be a little vulnerable, but her ability is nuts. Not only is she virtually guaranteed to take down any attacker, she also “clears the way” for corresponding alpha-strikes. And she’s hot, which actually matters.
- At the bottom of the curve, we have a pair of the all-new Mogg Fanatic, the mighty Frostling twins! While not quite as strong as their Moggy chums, they still get a job done. And they can be wielded by Frostwielders, apparently.
- Three mana gives us a couple of opportunities. Firstly, we have the very playable Cunning Bandit, a.k.a. Baldrick. When he flips, he makes combat an absolute nightmare. Definitely playable.
- The other three drop is the Shinka Gatekeeper, a.k.a. the grown-up Jackal Pup. Is he worth playing? I’m unsure. He has decent power to mana-cost ratio, but is his drawback too restrictive? Come speak in the forums.
- Moving on up, we have the poor man’s Skizzik that is Frost Ogre. For the color of fire, Red has gotten decidedly Arctic of late. A 5/3 for five mana… playable when backed with good removal. And he trades with a Moss Kami, which is a bonus.
- Finally, we have the uninspiring Akki Blizzard-Herder. Frankly, I’d be happier if he were lost in the blizzard, thank you very much.
Creatures in Red have supplied us with a feast of playables. But do the support cards follow suit?
- Well, they start well. A big round of applause, ladies and gents, for the marvellous Glacial Ray! Ray, it’s wonderful too see you again. What have you been up to since we last spoke? Erm… yeah. Play this. It kills things.
Other than that, we’ve little to write home about from Champions, so, a quick run-down of the cards is in order:
- Stone Rain: unworthy in Limited, evil in Constructed.
- Mana Seism? Not if I sees ‘im first.
- Unnatural Speed: Unnatural in Limited. Reckless Charge it ain’t.
- Devouring Rage: Maybe. Probably not, but maybe. If you run it, fear the instant speed removal.
- Kumano’s Blessing? Kumano’s Curse.
- Finally, we have Twist Allegiance. A friend of mine feels that this is a limited bomb, a la Insurrection. Me, I think it’s puke-awful. What do you reckon? Who is right?
Red, in the end, provides us with a healthy amount of options. Removal, creatures, tricks… I can see me running with Red a long long way.
But those of you who’re familiar with this series know full well that the Green always turns up to piss on my chips and rain on my parade…
The measure of the Green Machine lies, as always, in its creatures. So how goes it?
- For starters, we have the very desirable Kami of the Hunt. Is it me, or do the majority of Kami suffer a severe lack of eyes? I mean, how the hell does the Kami of the Hunt expect to hunt if it can’t see its prey? Friggin’ sonar? Still, he does the job, and well. He makes the team.
- Also at three, we have the cross-gartered buffoon in the Matsu-Tribe Decoy. I was unsure at first, but this little fella proved useful time and time again. I just hope that no-one tells him that snakes don’t have arms. The theological fallout would be massive.
- As we climb the mana mountain, we have the big fat Kami kids, the Moss Kami and the Vine Kami. Oh, what a difference a mana makes! The Moss Kami, a trampling 5/5 at six mana, is a fine investment and a bugger to kill. On the other hand, the soulshifting 4/4 that is Vine Kami is unworthy of the seven mana price-tag no matter how many creatures it takes to block him.
- Betrayers brings this pool a number of decent Green creatures. For a start, there’s the reincarnated Trained Armadon that is the Gnarled Mass. The last Gnarled Mass I saw was on a particularly hirsute lapdancer… but I digress. Three mana for a 3/3? It’s not exactly Call of the Herd, but it’s playable nonetheless.
- One mana gives us the spirit-styled Goblin Sledder that is Child of Thorns. Me, I like the little fella. He’s a poor man’s Raymond Burr Grafter, and he works well with ninjas. With 2 Frostling in the pool, however, he probably wouldn’t make the cut.
- Two mana can buy us a walking florists. Yes, it’s another Baku, this time of the Petalmane variety. I think, on reflection, I’m being a little harsh to the artists in question here. I think the real culprit is the art director who obviously supplied a diabolical brief for these cards. As for playability… as a mana source, it could work. But I think it’s a little clunky and slow to show true value.
- A much better proposition is the two-mana Matsu-Tribe Sniper. For a little fella, he packs a decent punch. Probably because he has four arms. The arrow-firing serpent can hold back almost any flyer, indefinitely. And he can even bring down a fair few, especially those pesky moon-folk that Blue seems so enamoured with.
- Finally, we have the Body of Jukai. This big bad bastard weighs in at an incredible nine mana. I’m sorry, but for that I want a card that wins me the game, the match, then pops to the food court and fetches me a Pepsi.
So we’ve met the guys. What of the support spells?
Well, we’ve the grand total of one Green non-creature spell. I’m going to give it its own bullet-point, just to make it feel special.
- Two mana gives us Wear Away, the arcane, splicable Naturalize. Before betrayers, this was strictly a sideboard option. Now, with both Honden and Genjus in the mix… maybe maindeck-worthy? Come discuss this in the forums.
We’ve tackled the important stuff, and we should have a pretty good idea of our deck. The rest is just gravy…
- Firstly… that’s not a Shuriken! Surely, a Shuriken is traditionally star-shaped. Oh, I’m sure all you Japanese purists will point out that real shurikens are actually shaped like chopsticks or some other such guff… but I’ve seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so I know what I’m talking about. As for running with it… in a Ninja-heavy deck, then maybe. In this pool, then no thank you.
- Imi Statue? Not a hope. Sorry, you’ve missed the block that mattered.
- Long Forgotten Gohei? Count me in! Suddenly, Kokusho is a 6/6! And my arcane spells are cheaper! This is a no-brainer.
This pool gives us the Waterveil Cavern, the Black/Blue land of doom.
As I’ve stated that Blue is a no-no here, then this land stays strictly across the border.
So there you have it! My misguided, ill-conceived first crack at rating the new Betrayers cards.
But what did I build, I hear you gasp.
It was a tricky pool, to be sure. There were many different opti-
Ah, who am I kidding? Ko-KUUUUUUUUUUUUU-shO!
After a minimal period of humming and hawing, I plumped for B/R/w.
Long Forgotten Gohei
1cc = 2
2cc = 2
3cc = 5
4cc = 2
5cc = 4
6cc = 2
7cc = 0
8cc = 0
It was an obvious build… wasn’t it?
Surely the Black and the Red cards are too good to ignore. And the White, while nice in places, doesn’t quite cut the main-color mustard.
Here are some of the things I like about the deck:
- The deck has a pair of bona-fide bombs, in Kokusho and Fumiko, and a host of low-level powerhouse cards, such as Hideous Laughter and Nezumi Graverobber.
- While the curve seems a little “top-heavy”, two of the five-mana guys are ninjas that come down for three and four mana apiece. And they work very well with the double Frostling, and no-one wants to trade a 1cc 1/1 for a decent 2/2 spod.
- Removal, efficient creatures, evasion, tricks n flicks… it’s all good.
And here are some of the things I didn’t:
- The land mix seems suspect. I don’t like running a simple three plains to fuel my mid-range guys.
- And on that subject, I’m sure I’ll be approached in the forums by the usual crowd who insist I overrate the Wite in CoK block. I’m splashing for creatures as bloody usual, and I’ve been blinded by the Blademaster once again. Go to it, come to the forums and tell me why I stink.
- I miss some of the White cards, especially Blessed Breath, but I feel that the Red and Black pools are too deep to ignore. And a bigger splash seems crazy. Maybe I should run the Breath above the Shinka Gatekeeper?
- And maybe I should run something like the Waking Nightmare. Gah! I hate the discard dilemma. Personally, I dislike ‘spot’ discard in Limited, but I know that others admire the strategy. What is the general feeling toward discard?
One down, five more to go.
So whaddaya think? Was my build correct? Did you value the White cards higher? Maybe even the Green?
Come to the forums and vent your spleen.
After all, we’re all here to improve our game, right?
Until next time,
Thanks for listening.
Scouseboy on MTGO