Because I went to South Africa for three weeks after the Prerelease and also because of Battle Royale, I didn’t get the chance to write for StarCityGames.com for a little while. Before I left, I suggested a series of articles.
—You submit a Sealed Deck pool that you think is interesting; I’ll set up an email address you’ll be able to send them to or find a way to get them on the forum. It might be a Sealed deck you opened during an event on MODO (Magic Online) or in any live event (Prerelease, PTQ, Day 1 of a GP). Usually, pools are listed in .txt and aren’t very user-friendly when it comes to building a deck with it. The idea is to put together the pool in .dek, so it’s a lot more convenient for everyone to work on it. It takes approximately four minutes to put a Sealed Deck pool together on MODO. Open the Deck Editor, use the “Scars of Mirrodin” filter (or whatever set we’re working on), and drag the cards in the sideboard. Save it in .dek; it shouldn’t be bigger than 8 MB.
[Tip from the Editor: You can also open and save decklists and Sealed pools as .txt in MODO. In the Deck Editor, when you click Load or Save As, you’ll notice a dropdown menu at the top. You’ll see the options “Local Deck” and “Local Text Deck.” Local Deck shows you all the .dek files. By clicking
Local Text Deck, you can view all the decklists that were saved as .txt files. Here’s
of a decklist as a text file. Sealed pool lists should list all the cards
the Sideboard marker. You can save files in MODO as .txt if you name your deck as “Something.txt” – everything else gets saved as a .dek.]
—Sometime before the article is up, I’ll submit to you the pool I’m examining and writing about, either on the forum or somewhere else on the site, so you can do your homework before reading the article. Download it, and build the deck. Once the article is up, you’re free to discuss your choices and my choices and maybe agree on the best build.
There’s just so much you can learn by reading articles. Building Sealed decks and seeing what others would’ve done is by far the most efficient way to improve. Building a Sealed deck takes around twenty minutes, so building decks once in a while doesn’t hurt, especially when you don’t have to pay for it.
I’ve talked about the idea to people around me; most of them approve. Sealed Deck isn’t Draft. Most of the Limited reviews you see online talk about Draft. How high do you pick this card? Etc. When you read about how good a card is “in Limited,” you often read it as how good this card is “in Draft.”
When trying to make it to the top, practicing Draft is only good if you make it to the Top 8 of your Limited qualifier, qualify for a Pro Tour, or survive grueling Day 1s of a GP. You will
to improve your Sealed Deck skills in order to get there.
Since it’s the first article of the series, I wasn’t able to give you the list before the article was up (we’ll do that next time). However, feel free to download the file, build the deck, and get back to the article in twenty minutes – or whenever you’re done with it!
Saturday, November 30th
GP Day 1
1800+ players attended this Scars of Mirrodin Limited GP. For the second time in Germany, prize money had been replaced by… stuff of the same value. It was announced during registration in Hanover. It was announced three days before this time, which is a bit of an improvement. People came from all over Europe to play anyway. I never thought Magic would become that popular, but I guess it’s a good thing for the game.
GP Bochum had nine rounds of Sealed Deck (7-2 to make Day 2) followed by an extra 10th round with the same deck then six rounds of Draft on Day 2, followed by a single-elimination draft to crown a winner. In a nutshell, there was very little room to make mistakes. Two losses and a draw would most certainly not be enough to play in the Top 8.
For those not able to open the file, I’ll list the pool I opened (not very convenient, but next time you’ll be prepared!):
- 1 Trinket Mage
- 1 Leaden Myr
- 1 Iron Myr
- 1 Copper Myr
- 1 Bloodshot Trainee
- 1 Kemba's Skyguard
- 1 Goblin Gaveleer
- 1 Plague Stinger
- 1 Platinum Emperion
- 1 Grand Architect
- 1 Myr Battlesphere
- 1 Darksteel Myr
- 1 Oxidda Scrapmelter
- 1 Spikeshot Elder
- 1 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
- 1 Necrogen Scudder
- 1 Razorfield Thresher
- 1 Vedalken Certarch
- 1 Auriok Sunchaser
- 1 Scrapdiver Serpent
- 1 Screeching Silcaw
- 1 Sky-Eel School
- 1 Contagious Nim
- 1 Corrupted Harvester
- 2 Dross Hopper
- 1 Fume Spitter
- 1 Blade-Tribe Berserkers
- 1 Flameborn Hellion
- 1 Ogre Geargrabber
- 1 Vulshok Heartstoker
- 1 Alpha Tyrranax
- 2 Ezuri's Archers
- 1 Molder Beast
- 1 Tangle Angler
- 1 Tel-Jilad Fallen
- 2 Auriok Replica
- 1 Corpse Cur
- 1 Moriok Replica
- 1 Neurok Replica
- 1 Soliton
- 1 Vector Asp
- 2 Vulshok Replica
- 1 Disperse
- 1 Steady Progress
- 2 Tumble Magnet
- 1 Rusted Relic
- 1 Throne of Geth
- 2 Golem's Heart
- 1 Withstand Death
- 1 Flight Spellbomb
- 1 Necrogen Censer
- 1 Fulgent Distraction
- 1 Soul Parry
- 1 Vigil for the Lost
- 1 Whitesun's Passage
- 2 Bonds of Quicksilver
- 1 Turn Aside
- 1 Vault Skyward
- 1 Grasp of Darkness
- 1 Instill Infection
- 2 Psychic Miasma
- 1 Furnace Celebration
- 1 Melt Terrain
- 1 Turn to Slag
- 1 Carrion Call
- 1 Tel-Jilad Defiance
- 1 Untamed Might
- 1 Viridian Revel
- 1 Infiltration Lens
- 1 Nihil Spellbomb
- 1 Panic Spellbomb
- 1 Strider Harness
- 1 Trigon of Mending
Sort the cards by color
Spot the bombs
It’s just a click on MODO (sort by color); it takes thirty seconds in live tournaments, and it’s one of the most exciting moments of the tournament: when you discover your pool. When sorting your cards by color, you spot the cards you’d like to play with, if the pool allows it.
This pool offers us:
They call it the “new FTK” (Flametongue Kavu). It provides you a guaranteed 2-for-1, a bonus extremely important in this format where card advantage is usually something you have to fight for. Not many cards offer this kind of bonus, and this guy should be an auto-include in about any deck, even a non-red deck.
When rating the rares of the format, I put Myr Battlesphere in my top ten. Not only does it provide card advantage and instant metalcraft, it offers you direct damage. A pretty big body that has to be dealt with right away. Even when killed in combat, it still probably shot your opponent for four and left 4 1/1s behind. A very good deal for seven mana.
Very far from the top ten, the Emperion has a very big flaw: it doesn’t have any evasion. 8/8 for eight is an okay deal. Its ability can be an auto-win if your opponent has no way to deal with it, maybe… 20% of the time? Chances are that he has, and that it won’t have a big impact on the game. You can use it as an 8/8 and attack, which is again fine but far from being very exciting. It will probably die in combat and lose most of its original value. It might cause you to mess the game up – like when you don’t want to attack because you rely on it to survive when you should’ve attacked, and vice versa.
Both of his abilities have a big impact on the game, virtually pumping all your artifact creatures and enabling you to cast your expensive artifacts. Pumping your Sky-Eel School is just a bonus.
Evaluate the colors
pot the removal spells
When it comes to evaluating a color, take into account the number of playables, removals, and “bombs.”
has eight cards, two of them being Auriok Replicas. Nothing particularly exciting, nothing worth splashing for; let’s move along.
has more playables than white, but the overall quality of the green pool is very bad. A bit of an infest outlet but nothing exciting either. Ezuri usually has very few Elf friends in general, and his Overrun ability mostly works on himself; in any way, Ezuri isn’t a card worth playing green for.
has more potential. Leave aside all the poisonous stuff; you’re left with Instill Infection, Grasp of Darkness, Fume Spitter, Necrogen Scudder, and Moriok Replica. Grasp of Darkness requires BB to cast which makes it hard to play when black isn’t one of the main colors. Instill Infection, Grasp of Darkness, and Fume Spitter are some of the few removal spells of the pool. So let’s keep these cards available.
has much better cards including Oxidda Scrapmelter, which would probably go in about any deck, Spikeshot Elder, which wouldn’t be used at its full potential since there isn’t any way to pump it efficiently, and Turn to Slag, which answers most problems in Limited.
has many playables/good cards in the shape of Sky-Eel School, Trinket Mage (fetches a Spellbomb), Disperse, Bonds of Quicksilver, Scrapdiver Serpent, Neurok Replica, and Vedalken Certarch. Probably a fine base to build a deck around.
First of all, there’s no way you can build a poison deck. There aren’t enough infect creatures; black is okay, but green is very weak.
Furnace Celebration is a card I love; it requires a few sacrifice outlets (about eight should be enough). Same goes for Throne of Geth, which is hardly impressive with few cards that give counters in the pool. It could a good sacrifice outlet to feed the Furnace.
There are three mana Myrs to help reach the seventh and eighth mana to cast your big spells and a dual land – totally useless here, since there are no green cards you’d want to play.
Metalcraft is tough to get. The problem is that most artifacts in the pool don’t stay on the board very long, making Rusted Relic (a very good card in general and one of the only metalcraft cards) quite unreliable. Tumble Magnets and Necrogen Censer do stay on the board and are good in very specific decks, but there aren’t enough metalcraft cards to build a deck around anyway.
The pool is overall quite weak with synergies that don’t really seem to work, colors that are very shallow, and very little creature/artifact removal. It has some rares that can help save the day, but the deck will not be a 10/10.
2 Vulshok Replica
The game plan of the deck is to reach the critical turn where you’re going to cast Myr Battlesphere or Scrapdiver Serpent and finish the game with it. The deck can’t really take advantage of the Tumble Magnets as it’s missing aggressive two-drops to put any kind of pressure in the early game. One Magnet is enough to buy a little time and lock down a creature with Bonds of Quicksilver. I’m not a big fan of the Bonds, but they make good replacements for better removal.
Vulshok Replica works as a blocker and also as a “potential” beater in the way that it will keep your opponent’s creatures at bay if they don’t want to get hit with a three-power creature.
Grand Architect, the best card in the deck, pumps the Myrs and gets you to seven or eight mana to cast the other rares.
Darksteel Myr is also an option, but it doesn’t quite deal with your real problems (fliers/Smiths).
The deck is overall quite weak but has some potential thanks to Grand Architect, Oxidda Scrapmelter, Myr Battlesphere, and Platinum Emperion – basically, all the “good cards.” It has problems dealing with Smiths (Myrsmith/ Embersmith), fast aggression, and any kind of card advantage. Most of the cards either buy you a little time or accelerate into your final game plan.
If your game plan is foiled by removal on your kill cards, the rest of the deck is unlikely to win on its own, but it’s not impossible – mostly thanks to Sky-Eel School and direct damage from the Vulshok Replica.
Blade-Tribe Berserkers is just a 3/3 dork that does its job, blocks on the ground, and sometimes sneaks in some damage. You also have the option to cut it and replace it with the Rusted Relic, add a Tumble Magnet instead of a Bonds. I think it would just decrease the overall potential of the deck, which already isn’t very high. You add a small chance to win by overpowering your opponent… a very small to win indeed, since you don’t have any removal to clear the path, and you won’t be attacking with the Replicas, since you want them to survive to keep the 5/5.
It’s arguable whether or not the U/B version is better than the U/R version. On one hand, it deals with fliers and Smiths a bit better, replacing Spikeshot Elder and Turn to Slag with Fume Spitter, Instill Infection, and Grasp of Darkness. Losing Vulshok Replica annihilates your chances to ever win without your bombs. Two Mountains and an Iron Myr should be enough to support the Oxidda Scrapmelter, which will be a bit harder to cast.
Your creatures are so light that every 2/2 is a threat. Trading/blocking with Replicas and Blade-Tribe Berserkers probably is more efficient on the ground than killing every critter with a removal spell, a strategy that you won’t be able to keep up since you don’t have enough removal spells. And while unimpressive in the U/R deck, Spikeshot Elder is a threat to deal with for decks running lots of one-toughness creatures.
This deck has a different perspective, an aggressive one. The game plan is to play two- and three-power creatures and make them go unblocked, either by clearing the way with removal from both red and black and both Tumble Magnets, and then to finish off with either flying Dross Hoppers, Necrogen Censer, or Myr Battlesphere. The deck takes advantage of both Throne of Geth (to fuel the Magnets and Censer) and Furnace Celebration. A deck based on these two cards would require a lot more sacrifice and counter outlets, but that’s the best you can do here.
Flameborn Hellion is a fast clock when the Magnets are online, and it will make your opponent chump-block at some point.
Platinum Emperion doesn’t really fit the concept of the deck, so it didn’t make the cut.
Like Decks 1 and 2, this deck lacks artifact removal and a backup plan if your draw isn’t fast enough. You can’t win when you open a hand with no aggressive creatures or if you play against a deck that will take care of your early beaters.
Choose your deck
There are probably other ways you can build these three decks by changing two or three cards in each. I don’t think there are any other reliable decks to be built; you’re welcome to prove me wrong though!
So… which deck would you play?
What I did:
I thought and still believe that Deck 1 is the best of the three. I thought it would be actually a bit better that it was. I played to a score of 2-3, losing to Embersmith and Myrsmith, mostly. I won most friendly games I played during the byes, against decks without these.
What I should’ve done:
It’s easy to say now that I had a lot of time to think about my mistakes, that there was a way I could’ve done better in the tournament.
I believe I should’ve played game 1 with Deck 1 and switched to Deck 2 against fast, aggressive decks with Ember/Myrsmiths. I underestimated the power of these guys, and I regretted not having thought of this possibility before.
I don’t think I would’ve given Deck 3 a shot. While looking a lot more fun to play than the two others, it seems a bit too unreliable, and I would’ve needed to try it before submitting it… but it might very well have been the right choice…
With hours to think about it, I believe that this was the solution: Deck 1 in game 1 with a potential switch to Deck 2. Would I have made Day 2 had I thought about it more thoroughly and not overlooked the game-breaking potential of the uncommon Smiths? Who knows? The above decks were overall quite weak and seven rounds is a lot with a weak deck. Would I have had a better chance? Definitely. And that’s what you want when you’re entering any tournament – the best chances to do well on your side…
I hope I was able to give you a new and constructive perspective on Sealed Deck, and that you’re as excited as I am to work on future pools.
I invite you to share your comments and your builds on the forum; I’m always curious how others would’ve built my pools. As for the future installment, I’ll keep you informed on the forum as to where to post your Sealed Deck pools!