Tag: sealed

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Avatar Gregoire Thibault - June 3, 2016

Upcoming Events at Three Kings Loot

Optimum Jank- Upcoming Events at Three Kings Loot

 

IMAGE - SCRYING - Christine Choi - Sylvan Scrying

 

Come One, Come All

If you’re in the Montreal area this summer, Three Kings Loot (3KL) will be hosting a variety of Magic events for the casual and competitive alike. There are a number of upcoming tournaments in various formats that merit mentioning here and I figured I’d do an article to cover those events. If these events sound interesting to you, you should definitely come down to check them out.

 

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Juvenile Diabetes Research Fundraiser

On Saturday, 4th June and Sunday, 5th June, 3KL will host a fund raising tournament for the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Founded in 1970, the JDRF is a major charitable organization dedicated to funding research toward ending Type 1 diabetes (T1D) as well as trying to improve the lives of those that suffer from T1D.

Each event costs $40 CAD, of which $12 CAD will go directly to the JDRF. Both events will be Shadows Over Innistrad Sealed events, meaning you’ll be getting 6 boosters of SOI to crack open and build a deck with. If you’ve never played a Sealed tournament before – or even if you have – this will be an excellent opportunity to practice all the deck construction strategies covered in my recent three part series on Sealed deck construction.

Two SOI booster packs will be added to the prize pool per player. Sounds fine, but that sort of seems par for the course, doesn’t it? That’s why 3KL is adding an Oath of the Gatewatch booster box, a 2015 Commander deck and an Intro deck to the prize pool as well. That’s what we in the Magic community call “value”. This is a great opportunity to play some Sealed Magic while helping a fantastic cause and possibly walking home with a booster box of a recent Standard set! Seems like a win-win all around for everyone.

 

Eternal Masters Banner

 

Eternal Masters Drafts

Eternal Masters (EMA) drops next weekend on Friday, 10th June and 3KL will be hosting a draft of the hotly anticipated new format that same night!

The draft environment looks to be quite challenging and exciting and is something you won’t want to miss. If you’d like to know more about Eternal Masters, you can check out our article highlighting the set here and preview the entire set of cards here.

There are a lot of amazing cards to be opened and Friday’s draft is a perfect opportunity to do so. If you’re unavailable on Friday, have no fear! 3KL will be hosting a second Eternal Masters draft the following week on Thursday 16th June.

Remember! Eternal Masters is a limited release product, meaning there will be very low quantities of product available. This means that unfortunately there won’t be many opportunities to draft this set, so be sure to take advantage of these drafts while you can! The price to draft EMA will be $50 CAD for three booster packs or $5 CAD to participate if you bring your own EMA packs.

 

FNM Banner

Friday Night Magic

The best night of the week is getting even better. Three Kings Loot announced a complete overhaul of their Friday Night Magic events for the summer months and will be offering something for almost every type of Magic player!

The kick off to 3KL’s revamped Friday Night Magic will be absolutely free Standard events starting at 6PM. Standard is quite diverse at the moment and many players are looking to get extra practice time for upcoming GP events or the upcoming World Magic Cup Qualifier in Montreal on 18th June. This is now the perfect time to bring your Standard decks to FNM to challenge fellow competitors.

If Standard isn’t your cup of tea, 3KL is hosting Modern events starting at 7PM. Modern is the fastest rising Constructed format in Magic with more and more players in Canada (and North America in general) favouring the deeper complexity and challenging intricacies found in Modern. FaceToFace Games’ Tournament Series have been increasing in popularity across the country and the large majority of those tournaments are Modern. For $5 CAD – with all entry fees added to the prize pool – you can practice piloting your Modern decks at 3KL!

Last but not least, there’s the 8PM Draft. For $15 CAD, players can draft the newest Standard set at FNM. If you’re late to one of the events or if you’ve 0-2 scrubbed out of the Standard event or if not enough players show up to fire one of the earlier events or if you simply prefer Draft over all the other offerings, you can still play Magic by joining the 8PM Draft.

I don’t know what would happen if you tried to play all three events at the same time, though. Most likely the universe will divide itself by zero, so let’s not try that, okay?

Best of all, each event gives you a chance to win a shiny, new Friday Night Magic promo card, which happens to be Sylvan Scrying this month, featuring fantastic new art by Christine Choi.

There truly is something for every type of Magic player at Three Kings Loot’s new FNM, so be sure to check it out! Bring your friends!

 

IMAGE - FIREBOLT - Chris Rallis - Firebolt

The Multiverse is Your Oyster

These are just a few of the fun events and excellent opportunities to play Magic this summer. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t we all much rather be slinging spells in a nice air conditioned store than be stuck outside in the blistering summer heat? Did you find this article helpful and informative? Leave a comment in the Comments section below! And hopefully I’ll be seeing you at one of these events!

JP

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Avatar Gregoire Thibault - May 13, 2016

Practicing Sealed Deck Construction Part 2

Optimum Jank – Practicing Sealed Deck Construction Part 2

 

IMAGE - SORIN - Eric Deschamps - Sorin Grim Nemesis

 

Last Time on Optimum Jank

Two weeks ago, we took a look at Magic‘s Sealed Deck format and went over some basic techniques when constructing a Sealed deck. Last week, we opened six packs of Shadows Over Innistrad and applied some of the initial techniques we learned in the first article to begin building a Sealed deck from the pool of cards we opened.

This week, we’ll continue to use the guidelines presented in the first article to see if we can finalize a solid deck from this challenging pool.

IMAGE - SOULS - Marco Nelor - Soul Swallower

Bombs Away

Now that we’ve organized our cards by colours and types, let’s review our bombs and our removal in each colour. This will give us a stronger idea of where our deck should be heading.

 

WHITE

BOMBS

None

 

REMOVAL

There’s really not a lot to work with here. I like Pious Evangel and think of it as a strong card but it’s not enough on its own to merit playing White. Our only hard removal here is Puncturing Light and it’s conditional at that: It won’t be helping us at all in the late game. Our strength in White, as mentioned in the previous article, lie in our combat tricks and enchantments: Expose Evil, Survive the Night and Tenacity as well as Gryff’s Boon and Hope Against Hope can be great cards in the right decks. That being said, this pool of White cards doesn’t have an end game nor a way to strongly interact with our opponent’s board. I feel we should set White aside as suboptimal.

 

BLUE

BOMBS

None

 

REMOVAL

None

 

Ouch. On paper, Blue looks even worse than White does. None of these cards are game winning bombs. None of these cards act as hard removal. We should probably just set Blue aside as suboptimal and move on, right?

Hold on a second. I’ll admit, Blue may initially look bad. If we look closer at the cards, however, there’s a bit of a control game hidden in our pool. I particularly like our two copies of Stitched Mangler and our two copies of Uninvited Geist. The Manglers are stronger than they look and can stall our opponent while the Geists can become very aggressive if they manage to transform into Unimpeded Tresspassers. Another thing we can’t overlook is our fliers: Niblis of Dusk, Stitchwing Skaab and Stormrider Spirit all provide solid air support, both offensively and defensively.

As with White, we have no hard removal here. What we do have, though, is plenty of ways to draw cards. Ongoing Investigation is incredibly strong by turning damage into card advantage. Vessel of Paramnesia replaces itself. Jace’s Scrutiny is a fine combat trick that also replaces itself. Catalog draws us cards and enables Madness. Pieces of the Puzzle can look for removal and fuel our graveyard. Even though I previously mentioned I’m not crazy about Gone Missing, it can still remove a permanent from our opponent’s board temporarily, slowing them down and allowing us to Investigate. As I mentioned last time, I like to play my bombs, draw into my bombs and win the game, in that order. Blue can allow us to do all that. It may not be ideal but I’m not giving up on Blue just yet.

 

BLACK

 

BOMBS

 

REMOVAL

Fantastic. I’ve added Tooth Collector to our removal because there’s a surprising number of X/1s in the format. Furthermore, a Delirious Tooth Collector will warp combat math. He’s strong enough to be listed there.

Markov Dreadknight is the very definition of a bomb. He’s a big flying creature that can get bigger and enable Madness, one of the set’s main mechanics. Cards like Dreadknight are exactly what we’re looking for when we talk about bombs.

Last week, we also saw that our Black creatures were strong and our two Merciless Resolves can help us draw into our bombs and removal. Black is still at the top of my list of colours to play.

 

RED

 

BOMBS

 

REMOVAL

Devils’ Playground is very strong but as far as bombs go, it’s certainly on the weaker side. I’m happy running it, but I’m not happy that this is one of our strongest cards. I would have much rather opened something like Flameblade Angel. In all honesty, I feel the strongest cards in our Red pool are the two Breakneck Riders. 3/3 for 3 with massive upside? We absolutely want to run those.

Our removal is very good, if very conditional. Dual Shot is fantastic in the early game, not so much late game. Inner Struggle sometimes ends up being a dead card when you face down creatures with unfavourable non-square stats (creatures where the power and toughness aren’t equal). The rest of our Red pool isn’t fantastic either, so I’m apprehensive about it but I think we’ll keep it as a possible final colour.

 

GREEN

BOMBS

 

REMOVAL

None

 

Soul Swallower can be very difficult for our opponents to deal with… if we can enable Delirium. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like a strong strategy in our Green pool on its own. Green’s complete lack of removal here is another strike against it. We really wanted a Rabid Bite or at the very least a Moonlight Hunt, especially since we have a few Wolves and Werewolves in Red and Green.

As I mentioned last week, Green’s early aggression looks great, but I’m not sure it’s enough for us to want to run it, especially since our finishing bomb is conditionally dependent on us filling our yard. I think I’m comfortable setting Green aside as suboptimal.

 

MULTICOLOURED – ARTIFACTS – LANDS

 

Multicoloured

 

Artifacts

None

 

Lands

None

 

Oh yeah. Forgot we have that Sorin guy. Hopefully all this fixing we’ve got can help us run him.

So we’re down to Black being strong, Red being okay, Blue being okay and White and Green are out. Let see what each of these decks would look like.

 

IMAGE - SINISTER - Zack Stella - Sinister Concoction

 

Deck Deconstruction

BLACK – RED

 

I feel like this would be our strongest build for Black-Red and it’s pretty good. Six pieces of removal plus Tooth Collector. Merciless Resolve draws us into our bombs and Breakneck Rider makes our aggressive starts that much stronger.

What I don’t like are those two Hulking Devils. I guess they’re okay if we’re on the offensive, but they trade down too easily with their horrible 2 toughness. The other thing I don’t like is that four of five of our 1 and 2 drop creatures have 1 power. If we’re trying to be aggressive, we sure can get stonewalled by creatures with big butts pretty quickly. We also fold to fliers and control decks. If they have any way of preventing us from attacking, our Neck Breakers end up doing nothing.

The reasons to play Black-Red are our removal and our late game. Markov Dreadknight and Devils’ Playground coupled with 6 pieces of removal seems really good.

 

BLUE – RED

 

I don’t know if I’m sold with this build either. We only have three pieces of hard removal and two pieces of tempo removal with Gone Missing. The card draw is nice, but it’s not great.

The obvious problem here is our creatures. We’ve got a tower instead of a curve. A 1 drop, two 2 drops, 2 four drops, one 5 and one 6 drop… EIGHT 3 drops. This means our games won’t really start until turn 3 and we’ve got to hope we don’t get stuck on mana. I’m sure an argument could be made to cut one of the 3 drops and add the Lamplighter of Selhoff. Lamplighter is a solid card that works nicely with our Stitched Manglers and Stitchwing Skaab, but I wasn’t convinced it was enough to warrant running it in the main deck. I would definitely bring it in if I felt I needed stronger defence.

I do feel our Unimpeded Trespassers combo very well with our Neck Breakers, but that requires a lot of set up to get there. Overall, another okay build.

 

BLUE – BLACK ( splashing white)

Now this is a deck! First off, let’s address the obvious questions: How can we run Sorin, Grim Nemesis and why in this deck and not the others? The answer is the same reason we’re running Ongoing Investigation here and not in the Blue-Red build: Our land fixing. Port Town taps for White or Blue meaning I’m comfortable running Sorin with Port Town and an additional Plains for the splash. Likewise, Ongoing Investigation is great on it’s own, but it’s better when we can run Foul Orchard to splash Green for the activation cost. The key with these two splashes are a matter of timing: Ongoing Investigation is fine in the early game and once we draw our Foul Orchard for the Green, it gets better for the late game. Likewise, we’re okay running Sorin on the 1 Port Town, 1 Plains splash because he’s a 6 drop. We don’t need Sorin in our early game and with the amount of card draw we have, the chances of us finding our W lands in the late game are very good.

This deck isn’t running as much removal as the Black-Red version, but I feel the removal here was the most impactful half of the Black-Red build. With the addition of Sorin’s -X ability which removes a creature and gains us life, I’m pretty confident with our ways of interacting with our opponent’s board.

Running Niblis of Dusk, Crow of Dark Tiding, Stitchwing Skaab, and Markov Dreadknight as our air support in the main deck, I’m perfectly content moving Stormrider Spirit to the sideboard and running Lamplighter of Selhoff main to combo with our Stitched Manglers, Crow of Dark Tiding, Stitchwing Skaab and even the zombie created by Ghoulcaller’s Accomplice when he finds himself in the graveyard.

I also like Magnifying Glass here. It helps us ramp to our late game cards quicker, helps us with our mana sinks in the late game and allows us to draw more cards if we end up stalling in the mid-late game.

Overall, I like the balance of card draw, bombs and air support and that Blue-Black gives us our deepest sideboard when compared to the other combinations. Had I opened this pool at a Sealed event, this is most likely the deck I would have run.

IMAGE - LAMP - Clint Cearley - Lamplighter of Selhoff

Our Fate is Sealed

That wraps up our three part look at Sealed deck construction! I hope you had as much fun with it as I had. It was certainly more challenging to write then I originally anticipated, but I’m glad I was able to share these tips with all of you. I would love to hear your thoughts on the series and what your feelings may be on the final deck choice. Would you have also run the Blue-Black version? Would you have opted for the Black-Red or Blue-Red? Perhaps something else entirely? Leave a comment in the Comments section below!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank

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Avatar Gregoire Thibault - May 6, 2016

Practicing Sealed Deck Construction Part 1

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!

IMAGE - 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.

WHITE

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…

BLUE

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.

 

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.

 

RED

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!

 

GREEN

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.

 

MULTICOLOURED – ARTIFACTS – LANDS

Multicoloured

Artifacts

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

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Avatar Gregoire Thibault - April 28, 2016

A Look at Sealed Deck Construction

Optimum Jank – A Look at Sealed Deck Construction

IMAGE - SURGERY - Steven Belledin - Invasive Surgery

Vexing Variables

Draft may be Magic‘s most popular Limited format, but it is by no means the only one. Sealed is a Limited format which is played at Pre-releases, Launch events, PPTQs and Grands Prix. If you’ve ever contemplated playing Magic competitively, chances are, you’ll eventually find yourself staring down at a Sealed pool.

There are a lot of people that dislike Sealed tremendously because of its higher variance. The “luck factor” of opening a strong pool versus a weak one as well as the constraints of building a deck from a more haphazard pool of cards frustrates some. For others, that higher variance is exactly what excites them when playing the format. Making sense of the randomness presented to you in a Sealed pool can be a challenging and enjoyable puzzle to solve. Let’s take a look at the basics of Sealed Deck construction and go over a few strategies I’ve developed playing the format.

IMAGE - CLUES - Jaime Jones - Uncovered Clues

Precarious Possibilities

Sealed is a Limited format, which means you must build and play with a deck constructed from a limited supply of cards. Sealed is played by opening six booster packs and building an at minimum 40 card deck from the 90 cards you opened. You may only use the cards found in those six boosters (your Sealed pool) with the exception of Basic lands, of which you can have any number in your deck.

Typically, you’re looking to run a deck with 23 spells and 17 lands. If your deck happens to curve lower and be more aggressive, you might consider running 24 spells and 16 lands. Likewise, if your deck is more geared towards control with a number of cards on the higher end of your curve, it’s common to run 22 spells with 18 lands.

When building your Sealed deck, you’ll want to pay attention to your mana curve (or curve for short). Make sure that you have a good number of cards to play at each turn of the game. In most Sealed formats, the 2 converted mana cost (CMC) and 3CMC cards are typically the most important to consider when fine-tuning your deck. You want to have strong cards in those slots because those will allow you to respond to early game challenges while at the same time help you develop toward your late game. A common mistake for beginners is focusing on high mana cost bombs and stuffing as many as they can into their decks while ignoring or playing filler for their 2-3 drops.

The struggle players face when building a Sealed deck is narrowing down their 90 card pools to an optimal 22-24 cards. There is no “set method” or “definitive formula” for how to approach building a Sealed deck and knowing how to parse the information overload of a Sealed pool is a practiced skill. Each player may approach any one Sealed pool in completely different manners. That being said, there are a few steps you can take which can make things easier for you when constructing a deck.

IMAGE - SANCTUM - Adam Paquette - Jaces Sanctum

Overwhelming Options

Please note: The following are techniques that work for me when building my Sealed deck. They are by no means a definitive “How To” guide. If something I do works for you, feel free to use it. If it doesn’t, keep trying other methods, as it’s important to find what works for you!

1) SORT YOUR CARDS BY COLOUR

The first thing to do when opening your packs is to sort you cards into their correct colours. Typically, I’ll have 8 piles: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green, Multicoloured, Artifacts/Colourless, and Lands. Getting your cards into piles will give you a quick visualization of how many cards you have to play with in each colour.

 

2) FOR EACH COLOUR, SEPARATE YOUR CREATURE SPELLS AND CREATURE PRODUCERS FROM YOUR NON-CREATURE SPELLS

I’ll typically separate my creature spells and creature producers from my non-creature spells and lay them out on a curve – from 1CMC to 6+CMC.

What do I mean by creature producers? Some cards aren’t creature spells but they make creature tokens. Dance with Devils and Devil’s Playground from Shadows Over Innistrad are great examples of what I mean by creature producers. Dance with Devils is an Instant and Devil’s Playground is a Sorcery, but they make creature tokens. Spells such as those are added to my creature count.

I typically try to run 15 creatures and 8 non-creature spells plus or minus one or two depending on the deck I’m playing. If I notice I have a colour with a smaller pool of creatures, that might sway me away from playing the colour. For example, if I’ve got a small number of White or Green creatures – the two colours I tend to associate with having the strongest creatures overall – I might opt to set those colours aside unless the creatures in my pool are amazing. On the flip side, I would consider running Blue even if I have fewer Blue creatures because I tend to value Blue’s non-creature spells higher.

 

3) CONSIDER YOUR BOMBS

The strongest cards in your pool are what we call “Bombs”. After sorting by colour and type, take a look at what you feel are your biggest bombs. The trick here is not to force a colour just because you’ve got a powerful card in that colour. If you have the means of splashing an off-colour bomb, however, that’s an important factor to consider when deck building.

 

4) FIGURE OUT HOW YOU’LL GET TO THE CARDS YOU WANT TO DRAW

Also known as “having a game plan”. A lot of players will vaguely define this without actually explaining what this means.

You need to figure out what your deck is doing (i.e. does it have some sort of synergy, some sort of method of winning the game) and you need to figure out how you can get to the cards you want to draw. Bombs are amazing to have, but they’re useless if they’re stuck in your deck. When building your deck, you need to think about what you want to be doing until you have a way to draw into your bomb. Do you have enough early creatures to gum up the ground battles? Do you have a way to interact with fliers who try to go over the top? How can you break up a board stall? Can I draw cards to find my bombs? Can I filter cards? Search for cards? These are the questions you need to ask yourself.

Overlooking one of these factors can be detrimental when trying to build a solid deck. I once opened an incredibly strong pool, only to build a deck that didn’t have any answers to flying creatures. It was only after losing my first two rounds to stereotypical WU Skies decks that I realized I hadn’t factored in a strategy to deal with fliers when building the deck.

Most importantly, I firmly believe that getting to your bombs quicker in Sealed is far more important than having a synergistic deck. Removal is sparse and building a deck with strong synergies is more difficult to accomplish in Sealed. This means that building a deck that finds a way to get to bombs quicker is probably a better idea than focusing on building a deck with cute interactions that might not win you the game. My goal when playing Sealed is: Get to my bomb. Stall out until I can get to my bomb. Win the game. In that order.



5) KEEP THE BOARD CLEAR

Because synergistic strategies are more erratic in Sealed, if someone has built a deck with strong synergy or a strong interaction, it actually becomes exponentially more powerful. This means that if I see my opponent putting together pieces toward a strong interaction, my game plan shifts to disrupting it by any means necessary.

As with any format in Magic, removal is key. Try to pack in as much removal as possible into your deck. If you don’t have removal, throw in extra creatures or extra disruption. When building your deck, consider that your opponent will be building toward their plan and look at what cards you have that can be used to disrupt that plan.

 

6) K.I.S.S. – KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID

The biggest obstacle I see most players struggle with is over-complicating their decks. They run four colours when they would be fine with two. They run cards they know are great in Draft but aren’t as great in Sealed because they don’t have the synergy to go with it. They run a weaker colour over a stronger colour that they should have been playing because the stronger colour meant running one or two weak cards.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Do you have a solid creature count? Do you have bombs? Do you have removal? Can you get to them? That’s what you should be focusing on. Just because you may have to run a weak card in a strong colour doesn’t mean you have a bad deck. It just means you have a weaker card in a stronger deck. Here’s the secret: Everyone has weaker cards in their decks. It’s the nature of the format.

 

IMAGE - RESEARCH - Michael Sutfin - Compulsive Research

 

Careful Conclusion

Next week we’ll take a look at a Shadows Over Innistrad Sealed pool together. We’ll see if we can apply some of these strategies to that pool. If you have any question or comments, leave a comment in the Comments section below!

JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank

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Samuel Carrier Samuel Carrier - June 8, 2015

Modern Masters 2015 draft archetypes

Niv Mizzet the Firemind - Modern Masters 2015 draft archetypes

Modern Masters 2015 draft archetypes

By Samuel Carrier 

As a breath of fresh spring air, modern master 2015 has arrived! I couldn’t wait so long after a great drafting experience with the first set, Modern Masters. An awesome set including great cards and value at the same time! Since the spoiler was available a week before I had a look at articles and archetypes available in the 249 cards Wizards got up for us! So as soon as the set was available and playable at my LGS (local gaming store) I would look forward enjoying a well balanced set and have fun with the new archetypes.

 

U/G Graft

This archetype goal is to put counters when our creatures comes into play to gain advantage with abilities requiring to have counters on your creatures to be targeted.

Aquastrand Spider: a 2/2 bear that gives reach! sign me up!

Cytoplast Root-Kin: a 4/4 for 4 mana that give another +1/+1 counter to those who already have on except himself. Also, the fact you can graft multiple times on bigger creatures is nuts.

Helium Squirter:even if its a 3/3 for  5 mana  but the fact it gives flying to another creature can be useful.

Plaxcaster frogling: a 3/3 for 3 mana graft that

and…

as many Thrummingbird as possible… because don’t forget Sphere of the suns, your graft creatures and Tumble Magnet (great to tap creatures) can be proliferated!

 

Metalcraft Affinity U/W

Your goal is to dump as many Artifacts onto the battlefield to gain advantage by having three Artifacts or more to activate metalcraft and to reduce the cost of your spells as well.

You have living weapons such as; Flayer husk and Sickleslicer

You do have tons of equipment to be more effective and plenty of good little guys.

 

Here are the core cards you will look to get:

Etched champion: Quick beater and hard to manage if your enemy is low on artifacts.

Indomitable archangel: A 4/4 flyer for 4 mana that protects all your artifact. So good!

Blinding souleater: A phyrexian tap creature that’s a 1/3 for 3 mana.

Cranial Plating: No explanations needed for this card, it’s a stapple of Modern Affinity deck.

 

B/R Beatdown

Your goal is to burn and agressively attack your opponent with bloodthirsted guys and cost effictive guys.

 

Here are the core cards you will look to get:

Ashenmoor Gouger: A big 4/4 for 3 mana that cant block.

Stormblood Berserker: A 1/1 bloodthirst 2  for 2 mana with evasion.

Vampire outcast: A 2/2 bloodthirst 2 lifelink for 4 mana

 

G/W Tokens

Your goal is to cast multiple spells that does 1/1 tokens and boost them to kill your opponent:

 

Here are the core cards you will look to get:

Scatter the seeds: A 5 mana convoke spell that does 3 tokens.

Scion of the wild: aA 3 mana power and toughness of numbers of creatures you ontrol. (I made him 7/7 or 8/8 sometimes)

Kavu primarch:  a 3/3 for 4 mana that can be kicked to be 7/7 and can be paid convoke!

And the MVP here

Overwhelm: a +3/+3 all your guys instant and convoke. Really great to finish off.

 

B/W Spirit

This archetype  use the soulshift ability for redundancy of spells and creature. They also have good comes into play abilities.

 

Here are the core cards you will look to get;

Thief of Hope; a 2/2 for 3 mana soulshift 2  that if you play a spirit or arcane drain 1 life.

Nameless inversion: A 2 mana +3/-3 removal as an instant that can be recurred with soulshift and can be used as a kill condition later if you play big thoughness guys.

Hikari, Twilight Guardian: A 4/4 flyer for 5 mana that can blink until end of turn when you play a spirit or arcane.

 

My draft deck

Grixis (U/R/B) good ol’times by Samuel Carrier

 

I went 2-0-1 with the deck.

So my deck goal was to gain time to drop big bombs and win. Having 3 bounce lands and Evolving Wilds plus 2 Sphere of the suns and Expedition Map made the mana base smooth and perfect to run so many multiple colorful costs( i.e. Gorehorn minotaurs, Vampire outcastsCryptic command, Niv Mizzet, etc) This deck also shows that even if you want to follow an archetype, you still need to check for signals. Sphere and Expedition maps are 3rd to 6th pick easily as it stabilize color splashing for removals or bombs if necessary.

Also, having 2 fireslingers and  2 two-drops with burst lightning made the bloodthirst trigger easily. Given I had big cheap guys, I had a race versus Eldrazi decks. The Graft archetype was the hardest one I faced as I had to draw with my opponent for lack of time game 3 on my second match.

 

Sealed hints

After I attended two sealed events, I can tell that Green Red is really the best duo as they’re so many mana accelations in the format to ramp to eldrazis sometimes plus the best cheap burns as Lightning bolt and Burst lightning. They can also run boardsweeper as  Savage twister or Wildfire. Affinity metalcraft has to be really really strong to win in the format.

Most of the time, you will use a few artifacts to fill in except in the case of an extremely good Affinity picks. Given of that, Smash to smithereens is a good card to play to create advantage.  I wish I could’ve attended GP Las Vegas or GP Utrecht as they both are amazing events to attend to. I wish the best to all of you readers and you can be sure I will be at the next Modern masters GP!!

 

See you around,

By Samuel Carrier

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Roy Anderson Roy Anderson - February 7, 2015

GP San Jose: The Sockymans’ Story (Day Two)

Soulfire Grand Master - Limited Sealed

GP San Jose: The Sockymans’ Story (Day Two)

By Roy Anderson – Sockymans

Hello fellow Looters, its Sockymans here with part two of my experience at Grand Prix San Jose (GPSJ.) If you want to read my account of day one, you can find it here. If you have already read day one or just like to skip ahead, well then you are in the right place and we can begin.

First off, Spoiler Alert! My team and I, The Ainok Bond-Kins, did not make day two of GPSJ. We made it to round seven before losing eligibility to move on. In addition to that, I have a fun side note that was omitted from my day one story. We forgot to drop from round eight and we ended up being paired in the next round. We decided to go to our opponents and let them know they had a free win. Turns out, they were a no show. This technically means that our record was 5-3 and not 4-3. See, you are already being rewarded with an extra story for reading the first article then coming here. Anyway, it is time to move onto day two, after all, that is the reason why you are here.

So, there was no day two of the Grand Prix (GP) to play, what was I to do? The answer: Trading, vendors, and most of all side events. They had drafts, chaos drafts, sealed, as well as many other things I could do. I had a specific event in mind though, I wanted to play in the Super Sunday Series (SSS.) This was a limited sealed event with three packs of Khans of Tarkir (KTK) and three packs of Fate Reforged (FRF.) It was an eight round tournament which would take the whole day, however, the winner gets an invite to Wizards of the Coast for the SSS Championships. I had gotten a recommendation from someone that it was a fun and rewarding tournament so I figured I would try it out.

So we get a pool, register it, pass it, etc… Finally I get my pool. First off, the tournament had a 30 dollar entry fee which was understandable for the high-prize support. No matter what record or prizes I got that tournament, I had one of those rare pools that pay for themselves. Two fetch-lands, Brutal Hordechief, and a Soulfire Grand Master. At the time of the tournament, those cards totaled to about 32 dollars cash trade in. That is when you take a reduced value from the cards.

After analyzing my pool and trying to make a deck with the obviously powerful cards, I settled on a nice Jeskai list. The deck I ran is listed below:

 

Jeskai – Limited Sealed [3x Fate Reforged + 3x Khans of Tarkir]

 

Deck breakdown

I was very happy overall with this deck. The only problem is I was missing some key prowess creatures that make up a good Jeskai prowess deck. Cards like Jeskai Windscout would have been a good addition to my deck. Instead of functioning like a standard prowess deck, my deck was slightly more “explosive.” I was able to swing games and deal massive amounts of damage in just one turn. Goblin Heelcutter, Jeering Instigator, and Crippling Chill really helped me punch through massive amounts of damage while removing opponent’s blockers when they thought they were safe. The Canyon Lurkers, Weaponmaster Efreet, and Bloodfire Enforcers helped deal massive amounts of damage in one turn. That coupled with some of the game swinging cards I had helped me win a good number of games I would have lost. Even the games I did lose, I only lost by one turn. I had a good sideboard for every match up as well. I had two Treasure Cruises in my pool which really helped against the control matches. Extra removal was also helpful against creatures and aggressive decks. Finally, the midrange matchup can be helped with additional ways to punch through such as Will of the Naga.

My deck did suffer in one major way however. Since it was not traditional, it could not beat certain creature match ups that would curve out with a really nice creature curve. It would always lose by a turn or flood out slightly in land. I feel that I should have run 17 lands instead of the 18. However, I was able to mitigate some of the flood by boarding in Tormenting Voice in some games. This was a good replacement for Treasure Cruise in the faster aggressive match up.

 

Tournament

Now if you have read my articles before, I tend to detail my experiences round by round. In the interest of time, and since I already wrote an article this week about day one, I will shorten it a little bit.

I started the tournament with a 1-0 record which left me very hopeful. In order to make top eight in this tournament you pretty much needed a record of X-1 or better and I felt good after my first match. I quickly lost out of top eight contention and was just playing for prizes. What was even worse was my eventual record of 5-3. This put me in 68th place which was just out of prize support. Well isn’t that a fun way to spend an entire day? The decks that I lost to the most were usually an Abzan or Mardu list. Mardu would beat me with superior speed. Abzan would win through well bodied fliers and efficient creatures. These were strategies that my deck was little equipped to deal with. Even against those decks, I still managed to take each one to game three.

Going into the last round, I was sitting exactly in 64th place. This left me with nine packs if I won so I was determined then. If I won, my prize support may have been upgraded as well. Either way, my opponent had the Abzan strategy that I outlined earlier. It was a rather intense set of games. It went to game three and both of us were in top deck mode. I happened to draw just a few too many lands and ended up flooding out. My opponent was a nice guy so I wasn’t too sad about the loss. Also, as I said, my pool paid for itself so I essentially paid for itself.

This event did last slightly shorter than the main event did which gave me a little bit of time to shop at the vendors. At this point is was 7pm on the last day of the GP. Most of the vendors were cleaning up and starting to leave. I didn’t manage to get everything I was hoping for. However, I did get some nice pickups. Azusa, Lost but Seeking was a good last minute pick up. A foil Ajani Goldmane as well as a foil promo Liliana Vess joined my foil planeswalker collection as well. Although I got these the day before, it is also worth noting something I really like seeing at GP vendor’s tables. I love it when they have the 5 foils for a dollar boxes. You can find some great things in those boxes. If you are a fan of foils, you should definitely check them out. Some of the notable things I picked up were: War Priest of Thune, Lumithread Field, and a few foil lands.

Well, thank you for reading my story about GPSJ. I wish anyone who read this could have been there and I highly suggest everyone go to any GP that happens to appear in their neck of the woods. Next week, my article will take a slightly more analytical turn and we will look at the current limited meta-game. Until next week, this is me signing out.

Happy Planeswalking!

 

By Roy Anderson

@Sockymans on Twitter

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Avatar Bruce Gray - January 21, 2015

Fate Reforged Prerelease – Casual Encounters

Pilgrim of the Fires

Fate Reforged Prerelease

 By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Well, I hope everyone’s had a blast at their prerelease events over the weekend.  I have to admit, it was kind of weird format because we all opened so many Fate Reforged packs and very few Khans packs.  That was a weird choice by Wizards, but it seemed to work ok.  At one point I turned to someone else and said “hey…could you imagine doing this with 4 packs of Dragon’s Maze…that would have been unplayable.” By comparison, Fate Reforged prerelease worked, but there wasn’t the sort of variance that I would truly expect from the sealed format starting next weekend…but it was fun.  It wasn’t as grinding as Khans was and that increased explosiveness meant winners and losers were easier to pick…and you could tell if you were on the right path or not.

 

Two-Headed Giant

I played the Two-Headed Giant event on the Sunday evening with my brother.  The last time we played at the Khans prerelease we got thoroughly embarrassed and were pretty unimpressed with our results.  However, this time we held our own and were in the running until the very last match.  I’ll get to how that one got away on us in a bit, but we finished 3-2 and were relatively pleased with our results.

 

I opted to play Temur for this event and my brother decided he would play Mardu meaning we could bank on having some pretty solid creatures and a pair of aggressive decks…or so we thought.  I opened up my pool and I was legitimately shocked.  My Temur pool hardly had ANY playable 2 drops…and a very limited number of Morphs.  The three drops I had weren’t even in my Clan! What gives?  It wasn’t until I hit 4 on my curve that I started getting creatures that felt and played Temur-esque and that was a bad sign.  So, my curve was…how do you say…TERRIBLE with very few plays in the opening turns.  I was not impressed.  The only good news was that my brother had a much more aggressive build and could put some early pressure down to help bridge us to turn 5+ when my deck could roar to life. It wasn’t a great game plan, but it was the best we had with the pools we opened.

 

Round 1

In our first game we started off ok and I was holding up my end of the deal with some pretty reasonable removal to try and stave off the threats from our opponents.  I Burn Away Dromoka, cast Bathe in Dragonfire on another dragon and felt pretty good about things.  But then I drew three straight lands and completely flooded out and our opponents cast Shifting Loyalties on our Brutal Hordechief…which they then followed up with one of their own.  You can imagine things took a decidedly downward turn and we were dead shortly after.  We felt a little bummed.

 

Round 2

Game 2 our opponents had us on the ropes and pretty much dead on board until they misplayed. They had a Daghatar the Adamant on the board with his 4 counters and they cast Hunt the Weak on it to fight something of mine. Then they cast a second Hunt the Weak on Daghatar, but forgot that Daghatar had already been dealt some damage and this second round was going to be lethal.  Oops! With Daghatar dead because they goofed we went to town and my trio of Dragons (two Mindscour and one Destructor) went to work.  They shortly conceded and we evened our record at 1 and 1.

 

Round 3

The next game we came out much more quickly out of the gates, but the game turned when I had 7 mana and Temur Sabretooth on the board. The Sabretooth just stymied our opponents who just could not sequence a profitable attack by the potentially indestructible kitty.  To make matters worse, my ultra greedy deck was PACKED with value creatures to abuse with the Sabretooth.  When you are bouncing Aven Surveyor in order to give the Sabretooth indestructibility, eating their attacker, and then recasting the Surveyor to out tempo them, the opponents get sad…fast.  Oh, the Surveyor isn’t your style?  How about Bear’s Companion?  Hell yeah! It was undoubtedly our best game and the one where I was able to hold off and to play conservatively and eke out advantage with the cards in play and not rush to dump my hand on the table.  Suddenly we were 2-1 and feeling pretty good about ourselves.

 

Round 4

Then we had a bye because a team dropped leaving a weird number of teams and we just had a turn to sit.  Ok…3-1 it is…and in striking distance of a prize.

 

Final Round

The last game we were moving along ok…until we got caught with Tasigur’s Cruelty and it forced us to pitch two cards apiece.  Normally, this sort of card would be unplayable, but in Multiplayer it was devastating.  I also opted to discard a land and to hold on to some pricey spells.  Figures.  Next thing I know I’m stranded on 4 mana, can’t hit Burn Away, Aven Surveyor, or ANYTHING…and we die to some pumped up creatures.  Grrrr.  Oh well.  We had a shot and we blew it.

 

Here’s my decklist

 

Temur Frontier – Fate Reforged Sealed  prerelease

 

Hits

Some of the cards that shone in our matches were not the ones I was expecting.

 

Pilgrim of the Fires: The 7 mana golem was about our best friend all day.  Sure, he’s 7 mana and you don’t run him out there any too quickly, but the truth is, he likely wins just about any combat he ends up in.  And by 7 mana, your opponents have already fired off just about all their best removal that can handle this guy…so the NEED to rely on combat.  Well, with this guy being just a house we made short work of a number of opponents and were very impressed with him.

 

Temur Sabretooth:  This kitty can do some work.  The ability to be indestructible is very potent and can make combat a real nightmare.  What’s more, it is super fun to bounce value creatures and then reap the rewards all over again.  This one looks like the real deal and likely a real player in Limited.

 

Wild Slash: Premium Red removal…yeah…it’s good.  It did work all day long.

 

Aven Surveyor:  I know the guys on LR were pretty stoked for this card, and I like it too because it did do work…but I’m not convinced it is as super as people think it is.  5 mana is a big investment for a bounce effect, particularly when there are lots of powerful things to do at 5 mana.  It was a big tool in my deck as I was packing loads of bounce effects, but users must be wary because he’s expensive.

 

Bathe in Dragonfire:  Relatively inexpensive and useful removal to take out those nagging creatures.  This likely over performed a little for me because it took out all sorts of things including a number of Dragons of varying sizes and descriptions as well as pesky Morphs.  A good utility card.

 

Whisperer of the Wilds:  This guy was a star for me all day.  He’ll be good in Limited for sure, but could also be good in Constructed…once Caryatid rotates out.

 

Bust

Jesaki Infiltrator:  This guy was a bust. A  2/1 unblockable creature SOUNDED good, but then he immediately Manifests a buddy…and loses the Unblockability.  That’s kind of junk.  Tested this guy out once and was immediately underwhelmed.  Out he came and in went more burn.

 

Enhanced Awareness:  What I would have given for a Weave Fate…or Treasure Cruise…or just about ANYTHING.  This one is 5 mana…and it is an awkward one to jam.  I got it off once, but wasn’t hugely impressed.  Most of the time it was a 5 mana brick in my hand.  It feels far more situational than Jace’s Ingenuity or even Opportunity and in a format where there are likely to be lots of other things to do with your mana that isn’t good news.  As much as this COULD be good, it wasn’t. We’ll have to see if that trend continues.

 

Dragons:  The 6 mana 4/4 dragons are playable, but hardly scary.  I found the Mindscour Dragon cute because the Mill effect was handy.  The only catch is having to watch that you don’t mill someone with Delve cards because you’re fueling their Treasure Cruise.   I ran three of these just to see what they can do and while they are kind of neat, I wouldn’t hold my breath for them.

 

Runemarks: These are as awful as I feared they would be.  Most of them seemed totally unplayable and not at all what I was interested in doing…so they all got left behind in favour of actual cards that did stuff.

 

Well, guys…I feel like we’re coming to an end of my Fate Reforged prerelease experience. I’d love to hear about what you experienced and how you fared.  Let me know by leaving a comment or finding me on Twitter.

 

Thanks for reading…and until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
 @bgray8791 on Twitter
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Roy Anderson Roy Anderson - January 20, 2015

Tales From the Prerelease: Fate Reforged sealed

Abzan Beastmaster - Fate Reforged sealed

Tales From the Prerelease: Fate Reforged sealed

By Roy Anderson

Hello, fellow looters and welcome to my first ever article written for The Bag of Loot and hopefully there will be many more to follow. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to write about for my very first article. Should I start a column? Should I talk about Magic Online? Or maybe I should write an article about which removal spells would best work to finally dispose of Justin Bieber? Either way, I decided that since this is the first of my content for The Bag of Loot, I would write about another recent first. This first being my initial experience with Magic’s new set: Fate Reforged.

Who doesn’t love a good prerelease? Maybe people who like to be in bed by eight o’ clock on a Friday night, however, I don’t think anyone by that description is reading this article. Khan’s was such an amazing set and Wizards have been doing better and better with the events in general that I was extra juiced for this event. Looking back on the night, it did not let down my expectations at all.

Anyway, let’s begin our story around ten o’ clock Friday night. I always tend to show up early to make friends and participate in the only thing comparable to casting Magic Cards: Trading Magic Cards. Prereleases are some of the best times to trade for cards as few events bring such a big crowd to your Local Game Store (LGS), and more people means more cards. I am not going to spend too much time on trading, (as that is not why you are here) but some notable additions to my collection were: A foil Artifact Mutation, Rite of Replication, and plenty of sweet sweet foils. ( I have a problem ok.)

Finally, the clock strikes midnight. Magic time! Sultai Time! Sultime? Forgive me for the pun but, Sultai was the actual clan I decided to go with. I had no predisposition of the specific deck I wanted to play, however, I did get a card pool that was very well positioned for a leap into my favorite archetype. My favorite deck in Khans of Tarkir Limited is the four to five color control deck with a Sultai base. I always felt like it is a very strong deck and the new cards from Fate Reforged only gave the deck more tools. I will go over the specific new cards that I found to be helpful in this deck in a little bit. (At least the ones that I got to play with.) So without further ado, here was the deck list I ended up with and a little explanation of why I ran each card:

 

Five Color Death – Limited Fate Reforged sealed

 

Breaking it down

Abomination of Gudul x1- This is just a solid value morph that is also in the right colors. The deck I ran, due to having five colors, was 18 lands. This creature would help me filter through my deck during my land heavier draws which greatly helped out my decks consistency. It is also worth noting that it’s 3/4 body is very strong against a majority of Fate Reforged cards. I got more value out of blocking and flipping it than I thought I would. This flier also beats a lot of the smaller body fliers that got brought into the format by Fate Reforged.

Abzan Beastmaster x2 – This was a card that I really wanted to try and use because I am a big fan of low setup cost card draw engines. I had many occasions where this card would draw cards off himself as I was the control deck. I was very happy with this card even at the bottom end where I had to snap block him to trade with a morph. At the worst, in my deck it was still a one for one trade that stalls the game which is exactly what a control deck wants.

Atarka, World Render x1 – I only got to attack with this card once as it always acted as a lightning rod and immediately ate a kill spell every time I played it. The one time I attacked with it, I won the game by a landslide. Twelve flying damage a turn is no joke. Even if they manage to have a blocker, trample and double strike are a good combo.

Aven Surveyor x1 – This did not initially make the cut into my deck, however, it was about midway through the event that I re-read this card and kind of had a moment where I asked myself, “Why am I not playing this card?” It is an easy, slow-going, late game clock attached to a powerful tempo swing. I like it especially due to the fact that counters, heavy mana investment, and the rune mark cycle are very easy ways to get additional value out of using this card. Did I ever play this with a +1/+1 counter? No

Bathe in Dragonfire x2 – This kind of fell in the same boat where I had two in my pool and I wasn’t playing them. Boy was I stupid for not main decking these sooner in a control deck. Not much else to say about this card other than it kills a lot and is cheap.

Channel Harm x1 – Now this is an expensive but very effective trick that I can easily say fit the bill in my heavy control deck. In fact, this was my only white card. A majority of the time, it was only a one for one and a tempo swing, however, that ended up working out for my deck a majority of the time.

Debilitating Injury x1 – Cheap, efficient, solid removal in Khan’s limited, not much to really say about it.

Douse in Gloom x1 – This was one of the New Fate Reforged cards I happen to really like. Not only did this kill morphs, but there are a lot of new and existing two toughness cards that this made short work of. The additional effect of gain two life was also surprisingly relevant in a majority of my games. As the control deck, any amount of life gain helps carry you to the late game that much easier.

Enhanced Awareness x1 –  I was very happy with this card being in my deck. It filters through the top three cards in order to grab two or even all three if you have a land in your hand you want to pitch. This card does occupy a crowded slot mana wise, however, at instant speed, it offers flexibility.

Master the way x1 – Solid removal that replaces itself. Not much to say here. It is a little disappointing that it is a sorcery though as that reduces flexibility.

Monastery Flock x2 – This card served a few purposes in my deck. First, it is just a very flexible creature that could be an effective wall or a 2/2 beat down creature. Second, and most importantly, it almost always triggers Abzan Beastmaster which I was playing two of. This two card combo drew me more cards than I can count over the five rounds.

Reach of Shadows x1 – Probably one of the best single target removal spells in the format. It also lends itself to a flexible five drop slot which made it even better.

Ruthless Ripper x1  – This card was mainly used as an effective way to deal with threats on board. The two life did not really matter much, however, the deathtouch allowed this creature to trade up quite a few times as well as force my opponents to hold back attacks in fear.

Soulflayer x1  – This was one of the few real bombs in my deck. In my deck, it almost always ended up being a 4/4 flier for two black, due to my Monastery Flocks and other fliers, which as it turns out, is awesome! The best cast scenario in my deck was to have a Ruthless Ripper in my graveyard in order to give it deathtouch as well which allowed it to hold off anything in the air from attacking.

Sudden Reclamation x1 – Instant speed selective draw two, what is not to like? I found it surprisingly relevant at all stages of the game too. Early game, I wanted to fix my land drops and charge my delve engine. Late game, it got back my best creature and usually got back one of my tap lands to gain a life.

Sultai Soothsayer x1 – #Value and delve fodder on a creature with a body who will, nine times out of ten, trigger Abzan Beastmaster? Hop in! In all seriousness, I would play this card any time I am in Sultai colors because this card has a lot of value.

Swarm of Bloodflies x1 – This card was decent. It worked well with all my kill spells which gave my opponents a big clock. I was never supremely happy to cast this card however, it did pull its weight quite well though. WARNING: Manifesting this card will make you a sad panda.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang x1 – I played this card but found myself never caring to activate him. As far as I was concerned, this was a stronger Hooting Mandrills. This card may have some real power in constructed but in limited, this is by no means a super bomb heavy card.

Write into Being x2 – This card was mediocre for me, however, it felt like a necessary card to include. This card served a few purposes for my control deck. First, my deck had 18 land, therefore, most of the time I would manifest a land just to get more value from my deck. Second purpose of this card was draw fixing. What was essentially scry two ended up being very powerful whenever I cast it. Lastly, it was a way to add more creatures to my deck which only ran a limited number as a majority of cards were removal spells.

That was a big exhaustive, but that was my deck and I was very happy with it. In addition to the cards listed above, my sideboard was stacked with additional removal just in case it was needed which made me feel comfortable in every match-up. Speaking of match-up, I think it’s time for round one.

 

Round One

I was ready to play! Let’s do this! My first round opponent sits down and we start talking and he tells me that this is his first ever game of Magic. Oh boy, this means I have some work to do. There was really no challenge in this match-up due to his skill despite the raw power of his deck, however, I made sure he had as much fun and learned as much as he could. I wanted to walk away from that table with a new player among our ranks and that was job number one. Game one was short, and I tried to make it that way. Unknown to me until turn two, he kept a one land hand despite me explaining mulligan’s as I took one. I don’t think he quite understood the importance of them or of mana yet so I tried to end his suffering fast as he didn’t draw a single land. Game two was where he actually played a real game of magic. Despite the first game only lasting five minutes, this game took us to time. This was due to his slow play and need for explanation but I didn’t mind. I won in the end thanks to a well placed Channel Harm, the life gain from my lands and Douse in Gloom. War Flare and Ponyback Brigade did a number on my life total and always took him all the way with some help from me. At the end of it all, mission accomplished, he wasn’t a very vocal person and kind of quiet, however, by the time I left to turn in the match slip, he was smiling and in a good mood.

 

Round Two

My second round was an opponent from my LGS that is quite skilled. I have faced him in many finals so I was stoked for a good match. He was playing a very effective Temur aggro shell which I have seen be very effective in the past. Game one, my seven card hand had no land. Bleh…well, time to ship it. I was on the play so I was fine with it. Down to six cards and….another horrible hand with only one land. Five cards? Still only one land…. Well, four cards might be better? Still one land was all my deck seemed to want to give me so I played it. It went about as well as you expected with me hanging on as long as I did thanks to a Debilitating Injury. Game two I decided to play and I got a much better hand. I was trading removal spells for creatures and generally feeling good about my chances and then…the fire nation attacked. Not really, but he played Shaman of the Great Hunt which immediately allowed him to use that and his 3/3 to crash in for seven and gain a whole lot of upside. At this point in the game he was even able to activate the ferocious ability that turn. This is where I made a crucial mistake. I let it live another turn despite a kill spell residing in my hand. I decided to develop my board a little while longer which allowed another turn of smash for nine this time and draw two more cards. At this point all prior card advantage I had gained had been lost and we were back to being even. To top it off I was now bleeding to death. The game went on and I had actually stabilized through Abomination and Soulflayer which got flying. It got to the point where I had lethal on board and all he had was a 2/2 flier. Abomination was holding him back and I was sure I was going to win and this is where I made the game breaking mistake. I had Master the Way  and I saved it instead of cracking it off to kill the 2/2 while I was at two life. I was killed by a flipped Temur charger giving it trample into a Runemark and Dragon Scale Boon. Ouch.

 

Round Three

Opponent was a no show! Well, bright side was that one other person had a no show as well so we each took the win in our respective matches and played each other. He was piloting one of the most stacked Abzan decks I could have imagined. Two Falconers, two Battle Priests, premium removal and strong on-color rare cards. I ended up beating him two to zero however due to my strong removal suit. Let’s move on to round four!

 

Round Four

Imagine my opponents and my surprise when we both sit down and realize we had been playing each other for the last hour. He was my “third round” opponent. Well at least we both knew each other’s decks in and out because we also shared them with each other. In all honesty I was feeling great because I was the one who won. Game one was very difficult however, remember when I talked about attacking with Atarka once? Well it quickly ended the game. My opponent had so much removal, but had just used his Suspension Field on another mediocre creature. To my credit, I baited it out because I knew he had it. On to game two which technically never ended. We battled back and forth with removal and playing giant threats. Eventually, I was able to take control of the board and forced him to Crux of Fate during turns which caused me to win the match leaving me at 3-1. (Yay!)

 

Round Five

At this point it was five in the morning. My opponent wanted to go home and though the extra packs weren’t worth staying for. I win…technically.

 

In Summary

I do feel that 4-1 was the result I expected given how I was playing and the quality of my card pool. I just wish more matches were actual legitimate wins, but you go to prereleases to have fun right? Well, I had a boat load of fun despite having to wake up for work in the morning. I look forward to seeing Fate Reforged unfold as a format and continue to figure it out.

Thanks for reading guys! Feel free to comment below or message me your own fun prerelease stories or memories. See you next time!

 

By Roy Anderson
@Sockymans on Twitter