I suppose I’d better write an introduction…
Okay, how about this:
I like Magic
It’s dead good.
I love eating
I like rolling
In the mud
And I like drinking
Yeah, that’ll do.
Welcome again, oh Men of Magic! You all know what to do.
Here’s a list of cards. Take your boots, and fill them.
Cage of Hands
Call to Glory
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Kami of the Painted Road
Heart of Light
Patron of the Kitsune
Aura of Dominion
Eye of Nowhere
Field of Reality
Honden of Seeing Winds
Kami of Twisted Reflection
Stream of Consciousness
Veil of Secrecy
Walker of Secret Ways
Kiku, Night’s Flower
Blessing of Leeches
Stir the Grave
Soul of Magma
Flames of the Blood Hand
Fumiko the Lowblood
Ire of Kaminari
Order of the Sacred Bell
Time of Need
Harbringer of Spring
2 Petalmane Baku
2 Roar of Jukai
Hall of the Bandit Lord
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Well, one thing’s for sure… We’re certainly going out with a bang.
Three- count ’em!- three playable legends!
Each of which requires double-duty color commitment…
Semi-decent mana fixing, and a legend tutor in Green…
Double Honden action available…
Where the bouncing blue bejeesus do we begin?!
As usual, I’ll begin with the glorious, glorious White cards…
As with all the best stories, we’ll begin at the beginning… this tale starts with a collection of White monsters…
- We’ll begin with the obvious goodie-two-shoes… the six-mana Patron of the Kitsune. This black-handed bastard has a fat ass, protecting it from a goodly number of removal spells. The lifegain is a sideline ability that can pull you back from the brink, and at six mana, without figuring the funky Fox Offering, he’s a mutt with nuts.
- Sliding down the manapole, we have the two-drop Split-Tail Miko. He’s a decent and well-costed healer, something that White has been lacking of late… but if he’s such a good healer, why is his tail split? Why he simply heal the split and become a Fixed-Tail Miko? Because he likes being difficult, that’s why!
- Two mana also pays for Konda’s Hatamoto, one of the angriest-looking gentlemen to grace a Magic card to date. And why is he angry? Because he’s largely crap. A 23rd card, I think, as he does have blocking potential. Of course, if you have Nagao or some other degenerate Samurai Legend, then his value rises somewhat. He still needs to get laid, though… he looks so tense.
- Three mana, Waxy Bob! One of the holy trifecta of White three-drop guys, the Waxmane Baku is a combat trick with legs. He stops your opponent, allows blockers, and lights your cigarette! It’s all good with this padfooted ponce.
- Kami of the Painted Road weighs in at a majestic five mana. As I’ve previously mooted, a five-mana 3/3 should fly. As he doesn’t, he’s nothing special. His ability is powerful, however… clucky, but effective. Borderline, but probably a goer should the need dictate.
- Pious Kitsune is bilge in a basket. I don’t care if you’ve got eight and a half Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, this guy should stay at home.
- Finally for the White guys, we have the one-drop Empty-Shrine Kannushi. This origami-mad hatter is pretty poor, except in a mirror match when he does the business. I suppose he can be a decent blocker at times, but he’ll never feel the benefit of Blessed Breath or Hundred-Talon Strike. Nothing special, other than his hairdo.
The guys, the guys… they’re pretty weak. We’ve Waxy Bob, and Split-Tail Mike, and the fantasmic Patron of the Kitsune… but then it all goes tits-up. Moth, Blademaster… where the hell are you when I need you?
Happily, the support spells are a little more pleasing to the eye.
- One mana, Blessed Breath. A fine, splicable combat trick, and removal insurance. Sure, it looks like a strange owl-man vomiting sparks, but some people like that sort of thing.
- Ku-ku-ku-ku-Cage of Haaaaaands! The three-mana stop-a-guy spell, reusable and abusable. If you need to stop something in its tracks, then talk to the hands.
- Terashi’s Verdict has a Smother-like feel to it. And Smother was a fine spell. The Verdict, two mana and instant arcane, is a fine addition to the removal pool. Scouseboy’s Verdict: Guilty of being funky!
- The Honden of Cleansing Fire makes an appearance in this pool, and I’m a happy man to see it. I think there are three truly playable Honden… the White, the Blue and the Red. While not as explosive as the other two, the White still has an excellent effect. And as we have the Blue Honden lurking in the wings… so much the better.
- Sadly, things now begin to shrivel up like a salted slug. Two mana gives us Call to Glory… but it hardly calls to me and it’s never glorious. I’d need many more Samurai before I ran with this one.
- The other three mana enchant creature in this pool is the substandard Heart of Light. Its advantage is also its downfall, and it usually creates more problems than it solves. Only for the Dampen Thought players amongst you.
- Down in the dregs of the mana-dungeon, we find Mending Hands. At one mana, this effect can have some swing in combat, thus proving not too shabby… but Blessed Breath is far superior. This card suffers from its non-arcane status.
- Lastly, we have the old Fog clone Ethereal Haze. Now, in the UK, Haze is a brand of air freshener. It comes in many fragrances, such as vanilla and “forest glade”, but I have yet to see one scented ‘ethereal.’ Until I see a can of this on the shelves, I’ll be leaving the store without it.
Substandard men, some decent removal… for some bizarre reason, White has become Black in this pool. It will be hard to play White, but it’ll also be hard not to.
Does Blue fare better?
Blue, Blue, Blue, coo-coo-cachoo…
No Teller of Tales, no Meloku, no broken degenerate filth… It looks like this will be a splash at best. Ah well, we must show willing.
No, no, I said willing. Please zip yourself up.
- We’ll start with the Honden, I think. Five mana, but one hell of a bonus. This is the best of the shrines, breaking a fundamental rule of the game each and every turn. And splashable? You betcha!
- Consuming Vortex. Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy, Oingy Boingy! Yes.
- Veil of Secrecy is a card with utility. It can save a guy from removal, help you swing for the win, or even bounce your guy at a pinch. I like it, but some folk disagree. That’s what the forums are for, fellas. Come and have a mass debate!
- Phantom Wings is a card I’m never shy to play. After all, it provides evasion and bounce when needed, and also acts as removal. However, it is not as powerful as my friend Lee’s Phantom Farts, that have been know to enter play in silence yet clear whole buildings.
- The remaining playable is scraping the barrel somewhat. Then again, Hisoka is used to such things: have you seen the state of the guards in his employ? This spell will almost always have a decent target… but it is still a little too situational for me. In the picture, Hisoka is about to take some sort of white liquid in his face. I’m sure I’ve seen such scenes in the movies.
The rest of the Blue support spells are pure pipe. I’ll not dally over their descriptions, as there’s footy to watch… instead, five words on each will suffice.
- Field of Reality: Not in this lifetime, matey.
- Eye of Nowhere: Brown Eye of No Chance.
- Aura of Dominion: Tap untap tap untap blaaaaaaaaaaah…
- Squelch: Counter cantrip Blue-based wank.
- Stream of Consciousness: Stream of steaming yellow piss.
*throws scarf over shoulder*
And that’s the end o’ that chapter!
Having a few nice Blue support cards, we now turn our attention to the Blue men. We have a fair few of them, which is nice… but they’re almost all bum-fodder.
- Even a bad bunch has a “best of”, and this pool is no exception. Here, the title goes to River Kaijin, a card named after Kai Budde… floating down a river… drinking gin. Hehehehehehehehe! Frankly, if our poster-boy is a Horned Turtle, then we’re gonna get battered.
- We may as well stick with the Spirits, ad talk about the fleshy teabag Kami of Twisted Reflection. This may actually be playable, if it didn’t require double Blue. As it is, it just doesn’t do enough, which is fair play because it obviously spends all its energy on looking weird.
- Our final spirit costs one mana. It’s the Twiddle-on-Legs, Teardrop Kami! Frankly, I can think of more desirable cards to play… a Mountain, for example.
- Three mana, or one mana, gives us the Ninja of Oingy Boingy, the terrifying Mistblade Shinobi! He’s a tempo card that costs you valuable tempo, so I think he’s a little sub-par. And he’ll never do any high-quality flipping out and killing if his blade is made of mist. These young upstarts… they should stick to the old ways, and use swords made of steel.
- Another Ninja makes an appearance in this pool. Of course, making an appearance is frowned upon in the stealthy circles of Ninja society, as their mystique relies on their fabled ability of “not being seen”. Three or two mana, one-two, weak ability… give it up and join the circus, Frankie.
- Hisoka’s Guard? He ain’t hard! Give him his cards and send him to the yard. Don’t play him, he’s very poor.
- This particular Blue man group is completed by two Soratami. Both are playable, but both miss the support of decent companions. The first, the three-drop 2/1 Soratami Rainshaper, has a desirable ability with a decent cost. The second, the Soratami Mirror-Mage, costs an extra mana with no increase in power, and has a strong-yet-expensive ability. I’d play them both in a heavy Blue deck, but they’re not worth bombing Baghdad for.
We know the drill on this one… Blue is a splash at best. On reflection, this is a Good ThingÂ™, as we’ve too many playables in the other colors to waste time with the color of pure evil.
Black needs removal to compete in today’s Limited arena. Does this pool deliver, or it does it Return to Sender? Probably due to insufficient postage, or a mangled address, or something. Once, I received a letter from a friend that had been mangled by snails… it was covered in slime and full of little holes.
Where was I?
Sorry about that.
Black support spells a-go-go!
- We’ve one removal spell. Sure, it’s a fine one: Swallowing Plague will help you when you’re losing the damage race, and can bring down anything given enough mana. Even so, We need more than this to call the removal pool a success. This pool sucks. The plague swallows.
- Compounding our distress is… erm… Distress. I’m coming to embrace discard in Limited, but I prefer discard that nets card advantage, rather than one-for-one spot effects. I admit, it’s usually a gain in card quality… but isn’t that just a roundabout way of admitting that Distress isn’t very good? I’d play it, but I’d run Waking Nightmare over it without a backward glance.
- Devouring Greed… now that’s more like it. Unless, of course, you have a pool that, y’know, contains about three feckin’ spirits. Like this pool, in fact. I’d still run it in a heavy Black deck, but this pool doesn’t seem to point toward Black being a maindeck option.
- The remaining two spells in Black have received a panning in the forums. Still, I quite like ’em. Blessing of Leeches grants a guy unlimited regenerative power! Surely that’s worth the ticket-price alone. I can see the drawback, but regen is a kicking in this format.
- Stir the Grave is also a card with uses. I know it’s not a Soulless Revival, but who cares? Yamabushi’s Flame is not Glacial Ray, but I’d still be happy with either.
Of course, my opinion on the last two cards is probably wrong. Come to the forums if you want to know the real truth about these.
Across the crowded market-place arose a mighty cry…
What of the Black guys? Are they a force for good, or eeeeevil?
Well, there’ one thing that’s for sure… they’ll likely cost ya two mana to cast.
- Six men, four playables… and each costs two mana. Happily, they’re all decent in their own right. We’ll begin with the bomb-rare: Kiku, Night’s Flower. This lovely lady, though fragile, is repeat removal on a stick. Unchecked, she’ll dominate the board like no other card. However, there is a price: her ability is fir yet expensive, and your important early development is stunted on removing opposing threats. To be honest, I’m not her biggest fan. Her biggest fan is the one in the picture.
- Two-drop two: Nezumi Cutthroat. The 2/1 fear-rat, scourge of Green/White players the world over. If he comes down early, he should make a mark. However, beware their opposing Ashen-Shin Zubera, as it’s the perfect foil to the ball-swinging rodent.
- Two-drop three: Wicked Akuba. He shakes my nerves and he rattles my brain. Too much Black mana makes this guy insane. When he’s the kill it’s such a thrill. And the artwork contains great balls of fire. Boom!
- Two-drop four: Skullsnatcher, a.k.a. Pointless Ninja. He’s a 2-drop 2/1. Nothing else to report. Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Unplayable one: Rag Dealer. What’s the deal with this guy? The Odyssey Train left the station Unplayable one: Rag Dealer. What’s the deal with this guy? The Odyssey Train left the station years ago, Bucko.
- Unplayable two: Skullmane Baku, a.k.a. Skully Bob. This cycle is a silly one, to be sure. Not for playability: as usual, some are obscene while some are obsolete. The thing is, the artwork isn’t of creatures with manes made of “thing x”… it’s of creatures with entire bodies made of the stuff! Anyway, don’t bother with this guy. Too fragile to linger, and too costly to impact.
As with White, the Black cards give us a Legendary bomb, a small supporting cast… and little else. Things are looking decidedly weird.
Let’s hope the Red cards even things out a little. Nothing flashy, nothing stupid… just a bit of strength in depth.
Well, so much for that.
Same old, same old.
- I hope and pray that Fumiko the Lowblood proves her worth in the Constructed environment. Why? Because in six Sealed pools, I’ve pulled three of the bloody things. Oh no, not three Jittes, or three Shining Shoals… three Lowblood bitches. Ah well, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. She’s still hot, and she’s still a bomb.
- But look at the other guys… For f**k’s sake! They’re all a bit rubbish. Okay, so we’ve got a Frostling, but he’s hardly Sean Connery. He’s got a licence to ping, if not kill. He makes the Red team, of course… but he’s a solid team player rather than a star striker.
- This pool contains two Akki, and they’re both pox in a box. Akki Blizzard-Herder does pointless things with land, while Akki Rockspeaker does pointless things with mana. Wizards, I know that Onslaught Block gave us goblin goodness by the gallon, but the Akki are appalling. What did you do, design some goblins and add a mana to each of their casting costs? Ah well, the Red will rise again…
From two mana, we leap to a majestic five. And we have five guys at five mana to chose from. Some of them are good, some are bad. As five seems to be the magic number for these guys, I’ll give you five words on each of them.
- Frost Ogre: Poor man’s Skizzik. He’ll do.
- Ronin Cliffrider: Swings, pings… semi playable, maybe.
- Sokenzan Bruiser: Quickly, Watson! To the Sideboard!
- Soul of Magma: Godfather of Soul of Magma.
- Ore Gorger: Ore Gorger? Bloody Poor Gorger!
The Red Men are like all the men before… passable at best, with a sperb general commanding them. But with Red, at least, we can forgive this foible if we can sling some of the hot stuff.
So we have burn, baby, burn?
- Yeah yeah yeah, Yamabushi’s Flame… big frickin’ deal. We want Ray, We want Torrent, we want Hanabi Blast… I suppose the Flame is a standard we should be happy to see. In fact, I said so earlier on in this article, so I’d best shut up.
- Flames of the Blood Hand… four damage to target player. And nothing else. *sigh* If it hit creatures too, Then this would be stellar. As it is, it can be a nice finisher, but Lava Spike is only borderline and so is this.
- Heh, speak of the Devil… Lava Spike, on yer bike! This card has gained a little momentum of late, but without a Ray to splice onto it, I’d leave it in the nursing home drinking soup through a straw.
- The final removal spell is Ire of Kaminari. For reasons politic, my comments on this removal spell have been removed.
- So what else do we have? Well, there’s a Devouring Rage, I suppose. Then again, the Devouring Greed suffered through lack of spirits, and this card is strictly worse. I’m not exactly devoured by rage over the depth of quality in this pool, but I’m certainly being nibbled by irritation.
- To round things off, there’s Unnatural Speed. Haste until end-of-turn? Where do I sign! No, not the form to count this a good card… the petition to ban this filth from ever appearing in a deck.
Each color (except Blue) thus far has given us flaky men coupled with hideous bomb-bloke. And each color (except Blue) has supplied the bare minimum of support options.
This pool is getting on my wick.
Give me some depth, that’s all I ask!
Some cards with a curve, and a little strength down through the ranks. There’s nothing bad an broken… but we’ve the other colors to supply them onions.
Little Green men about four foot one,
Maybe they want to have some fun.
Little Green men about four foot two,
Maybe they want to mate with you
Little Green men about four foot three
Maybe they want to be set free.
Little Green men about four foot.
Maybe they want to kick some butt.
- We’ll start with the flowery mana-fixers: Petalmane Baku, a.k.a. Flowery Bob. Animals made of flowers… what will Wizards think of next?! As mana producers they’re a little clunky, but they get the job done. On the subject of jobs, do you think that the Baku have trouble pooing? I bet the roses don’t smell so sweet after getting feces matted in the leaves.
- Still at two mana, there’s the Humble Budoka. To be honest, he’s not great… but he’s a two-drop with two power. Therefore, his art is particularly apt: he’s little more than a musclebound idiot.
- Orochi Ranger rounds out the two-slot with a little style, even if most of that style is wasted on the orange clothing and henna hair-dye. Again, she’s a two-drop with two power with an uninspiring ability. An other creatures, such as the Matsu-Tribe Sniper or Decoy, the “doesn’t untap” ability is golden. On this hot-to-trot hisser? Workaday.
- Ah, this is more like it! Three mana, 3/3, Gnarled Mass. Trained Armadon with a little spirit. Sure, he’s vanilla, but “vanilla” is the watchword of Green. He beats down, and that’s what matters.
- Speaking of vanilla, here’s another guy who’s cool as ice: the 4/3 Order of the Sacred Bell. As a beatdown machine, the funky monks are without peer. Indeed, the Order of the Sacred Bell end many a game. *snigger*
- We’re not done yet! Three mana, Matsu-Tribe Decoy. This guy is a sure-fire way to ensure the big guys hit home. And the untap clause is golden when taking out their annoying 1/2 blockers.
- The final contender in the playable category is the fine Rootrunner. At first, I thought the Uproot ability of this guy was little more than useless. However, one bright spark in the forums pointed out the achingly obvious: this guy is godly against Genjus. An obvious inclusion.
- All but one of the Green goliaths is playable! I almost feel embarrassed to mention Harbinger of Spring. So I won’t.
The blokes are atypical working men: they hit the floor early and get the job done. To be perfectly frank, anything else is just gravy.
- Time of Need… So, do we have any targets for this spell? Hmmm, one or two. *wink*. Whatever we do with the other cards, this spell will see action.
- More mana-fixing! We have the always desirable Kodama’s Reach. By itself, this spell’s a winner. With a Petalmane Baku out, this fixes mana like a toreador.
- Presenting, for your Jitte-bumming pleasure, the ever-desirable arcane Naturalize… Wear Away! C’mon folks! Let’s give it a big hand! Maindeck maybe, sideboard for sure.
- Two Roar of Jukai? Bloody hell, isn’t one enough?
So that’s the colors, in all their glory. What have we learnt?
It’s official: the Green in this pool is the only color with balls.
Q: What’s red and invisible?
A: No tomatoes.
Q: What’s silver and invisible?
A: No Artifacts.
Except artifacts are brown, damnit!
Anyway, nothing to report here.
Two rare land… *sigh*
Hall of the Bandit Lord? No. Especially not if you’re three colors.
Minamo, School of Water’s Edge? If I play Blue, especially heavy Blue, then I’d play this. It’s an Island with an ability. Of course, it can’t be fetched by Green mana-fixing, so it does have drawbacks as a splash-color.
Just once, I want to take down a Horobi with one of these targeting lands… Surely that’s not too much to ask?
Well, there’s my thoughts. What do you make of this pool?
Kami of the Painted Road
Patron of the Kitsune
Cage of Hands
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Fumiko the Lowblood
2 Petalmane Baku
Order of the Sacred Bell
Time of Need
I know, I know… splashing for a double-color creature… and a one-drop spod. I must be friggin’ mental.
But hear me out, please. I have my reasons, even if they are largely spurious.
Things I like about this build:
- For a start, Green/White is the only possible way to establish a decent creature-base. The Red guys are mainly filler, the Black guys all cost two mana and the Blue guys are… well… Blue. While there are some important Green and White men missing in action, the colors seem to dovetail nicely into a workable man-based framework.
- We’ve two excellent legends that combo well together (although we’ll probably win if one manages to stay on the table).
- We’ve a pretty playable set of mana fixers. Bizarrely, the Petalmane Baku are pretty effective in this deck. Turn 2 Baku, followed by a spirit/arcane spell (or best of all, Kodama’s Reach), ensures that any color problems disappear.
- We’ve a decent slew of removal, with some pretty decent White spells rocketing up your opponent’s chuff quicker than you can say Gary Glitter.
Of course, we have wasps of badness buzzing around the pure apple of love:
- Double Red splashed off three mountains? What the hell am I doing? After all, it’s not as if a replacement Blue splash of Honden, Veils and Vortex is shabby. In fact, it’s probably the stronger and more consistent choice. However, in a bomb-laden though relatively weak pool as this, I feel you have to take a chance on getting the good stuff. And I think my build gives me the optimal chance to get the aforementioned stuff of goodness.
- I wish I could play Kiku. I wish I could play the Blue Honden. Having a base-Green build both fleshes out the deck and limits the options for strength.
- Even with the three Mountains, the manabase looks a little bruised. I think, instead of 8/7/3 it should be 9/6/3… but I’m too much of a chicken to run with that.
I look back at the cardpool, and I shake my head. So much promise, so much I could’ve done… and I plump for G/W/r.
What do you guys think? Do you agree with my decisions, or do you (more likely) think I’m plucking cards from my arse? As usual, the forums are but a single click away…
After six articles, we’ve reached the end of this instalment of the Sealed Revealed series. I hope everyone has enjoyed it. I certainly have. And if demand warrants, I’m sure I’ll be back for the release of Saviors.
However, if you’re a’feared you’ll miss your sealed deck fix, then be calmed: there’s the little matter of the PTQ season for the upcoming Pro Tour London. As it’s virtually a local tournament, I’ll be doing my level best to qualify. And I’ll be writing a Sealed Revealed article cum Tournament Report on each PTQ I attend. I travelled to my first this past Sunday, and my resultant article should appear early next week. So those of you who attended and know how I fared, please keep it to yourselves in the forums. After all, it’d be rubbish to spoil the surprise.
I’ve learnt a great deal over the course of these six articles, and the thirteen that preceded them. But of course, one can only go so far with mere theory. It’s time for me to put this theory into practice.
Next stop, a PTQ for Pro Tour London.
Wish me luck, forum-folk… I’m going in.
Until the next pile…
Thanks for listening.
Scouseboy on MTGO