Optimum Jank – Practicing Sealed Deck Construction Part 1


IMAGE - DREAD - Darek Zabrocki - Markov Dreadknight


Last Time on Optimum Jank

Last week, we took a look at Magic‘s Sealed Deck format and went over some basic techniques when constructing a Sealed deck. If you haven’t read last week’s article, a lot of what we’ll be talking about here has already been covered there in greater detail.

This week, as promised, we’ll be opening six Shadows Over Innistrad packs and constructing a Sealed deck using the techniques we learned last week. Without further ado, let’s crack these packs!


Diving Into Our Pool

Let us start by skipping right to our Rares and Mythics, because I know that’s what all of you are really interested in. Here’s a look at our loot:

Well, in terms of monetary value, opening three intro pack rares is financially underwhelming, but I believe Sorin, Grim Nemesis balances a lot of it out. Port Town is nice because real estate in Magic will always be worth something, and Brain in a Jar has been ticking upwards since SaffronOlive posted his Mono Blue Brain in a Jar Standard deck. We’re not looking at crazy value, but I’m not going to complain. In terms of running them in our deck, I’m a little nervous that four of these cards have double-coloured costs. This means splashing any of them might prove too difficult, so we better hope that we either find ourselves strongly in one particular colour or that our mana-fixing turns out to be fantastic.

It’s time to look at the meat and potatoes of what we’ve opened. Last week, I mentioned that the first thing you should do when tackling a Sealed pool is to separate your cards into their respective colours. Your next step should be to break down each colour into two different piles: your creatures and creature-producers into one pile and non-creature spells into another pile. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to immediately combine those two steps for this article.


Creatures and Creature-Producers


Non-Creature Spells

Not fantastic. We only have six creatures or creature-producers here and an overabundance of combat tricks. Puncturing Light is a solid removal spell but unfortunately it is also our only removal spell. I absolutely love Gryff’s Boon and Tenacity but I don’t think either of those cards are strong enough to pull us into playing White. Pious Evangel is another personal favourite, but in no way would I consider him a bomb, nor a card that would pull me into White. In fact, I think our strongest White card is Sorin, Grim Nemesis, which is more accurately multicoloured. Hopefully our Black will be stronger to balance out this weak White pool if we decide to go WB. Alternatively, perhaps we can get away with simply splashing for Sorin? White may be very strong overall in SOI, but this pool of cards isn’t strong nor deep enough for us to commit to at this point.

Hopefully Blue will save us from catastrophe…


Creatures and Creature-Producers

Non-Creature Spells


Hmm. Not particularly exciting, but not bad either. I feel like our Blue is going in two different directions: On one side, we have a bit of a control mill strategy buried in there. On the other side we have the foundation of an evasive aggro strategy through our creatures with Flying or Skulk. We have card draw with Catalog as well as a few ways to Investigate using cards such as Jace’s Scrutiny and Gone Missing. As I mentioned last week, prioritizing card draw helps us draw into our bombs. Unfortunately, our Blue is a little lacking in that department: Nothing here screams “game finishing bomb”. Perhaps we can use Blue in conjunction with another colour that has more powerful bombs? Gone Missing is another strike against Blue for me. While it nets us a Clue token, I’ve never been thrilled by this 5 mana sorcery Time Walk effect. It has underperformed for me whenever I’ve played it, so I’m not thrilled with the idea of running one, let alone running two. Overall, Blue has problems but it’s not terrible, so it’s definitely in contention.

Let’s move onto our Black.



Creatures and Creature-Producers

Non-Creature Spells



HOLY COW. I’m in love with these Black cards. It has everything we want. It has creature recursion with Sanitarium Skeleton and Ghoulcaller’s Accomplice. Skeleton also works well with Markov Dreadknight, Sinister Concoction and Merciless Resolve, allowing us to either discard it or sacrifice it then bring it back to our hand to use it again later. Concoction and Murderous Compulsion provide fantastic removal and as a bonus even work well with each other! Furthermore, we’ve got a genuine bomb with Markov Dreadknight: An evasive creature that just gets bigger and synergizes with all of our Madness cards. Playing Black also gets us half way to playing Sorin, Grim Nemesis. Unsurprisingly, Sorin is extremely powerful in Limited and is absolutely what we’d like to be running if we can. This pool of Black cards may not be very deep – what we’ve got is most likely what we’re going to run in our deck – but what we’ve got packs a hell of a punch.

At this point, I’m highly favouring Black. Let’s see if Red rocks me.



Creatures and Creature-Producers


Non-Creature Spells

Let’s get the negative out of the way first: we don’t have a lot of cards here to play with. The positive is that most of the cards that we do have are great. The removal in particular is fantastic. Dual Shot for early threats, Inner Struggle for late threats, Lightning Axe for whenever. Combined with our Black removal, we can remove all the things all the time. That being said, if we decide not to play Black, we’ve only got three non-creature spells here, which doesn’t give us much wiggle room. Devil’s Playground is always incredibly annoying to play against so running it here is a definite yes. As far as bombs go, though, it’s definitely on the lower end of the bomb curve. The two Breakneck Riders will be fantastic in any aggro strategy and Howlpack Wolf has over-performed every time I’ve played it. That being said, Insolent Neonate, our lackluster 2 drops and our three vanilla Hulking Devils as the only 4 drop creatures we have are all incredibly meh. Red feels like it simply can’t make up its mind if it wants to be awesome or awful.

One last colour to go. Drumroll, please!



Creatures and Creature-Producers



Non-Creature Spells

Two drops for days. And good ones at that. The Veteran Cathar is backbreaking if we can find more Humans. Unfortunately, it requires us to be running White to activate its ability and our White pool wasn’t incredibly strong to begin with. We still might be able to pull it off if we can use Loam Dryad to splash. As far as bombs go, Soul Swallower is pretty solid and becomes an “absolutely must be dealt with creature” if we can activate Delirium… which might be a problem. Within Green, our only way to fuel Delirium looks like Vessel of Nascency. With three cards reliant on Delirium, we’ll have to pair Green with a colour that could help fuel our graveyard, which would most likely mean pairing it with either Blue or Black… or both. The most interesting thing to note here is our abundance of creatures with higher toughness at each point of the curve, including our 3-of vanilla five drops. Apparently, our pool loves vanilla creature (a term used for creatures with no additional abilities). Unlike the Hulking Devils, I’m much more positive on running the Thornhide Wolves. They’re perfectly fine top end cards that easily stonewall most other creatures when played on the defence. Once again, like Red, the biggest drawback to running Green is its lack of non-creature spells and especially its complete lack of interaction and/or removal.

Let’s wrap this up with our multicoloured cards, artifacts and lands.







We’ve got three Rares/Mythics in this group, but it’s only Sorin that’s standing out as something we should absolutely try to run. Since our Black looked particularly strong, Sorin is tempting me toward running him no matter what, even if we have to splash the off colour White just for him. With our weaker number of non-creature spells throughout our pool, Brain in a Jar doesn’t really look fantastic here. What I do like, however, are the Magnifying Glasses. They’re not overtly powerful but I have seen them run away with games in a number of control decks. If we end up in a more control, less aggro type of deck, I definitely think we should try running at least one.

Our lands might help us ever so slightly with fixing. We’ll end up knowing more once we start finalizing our deck, but for now, I’m going to remain optimistic that Port Town will come in handy. If we end up in UB, Port Town will definitely help us with our Sorin splash.

IMAGE - NECK - Victor Adame Minguez -Neck Breaker


Tune In Next Week…

It looks like we’ve opened quite a challenging pool to navigate! Next week, we’ll take a look at the different colour combinations and see which ones look strongest. Until then, I’m very curious to hear from you: Which colours would you go into? What do you think you would build from this pool? Did you see something that I might have missed in my card evaluations? Let me know in the Comments section below! Don’t forget to be here next week to see what we end up building in our final installment!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank