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M11 Sealed pool exercise, part 2

August 7, 2010

Okay, time to wrap this Sealed pool up.

To get a better grasp of what my pool really looks like I like to make a couple of mental notation to make it easier to keep every factor worth of consideration in order, so I don’t accidentally miss out of something. It’s sounds a little dumb when your building a Sealed deck like this from a pool on the interwebz with unlimited time at tour disposal but that is absolutely not the same compare to sitting down with 84 cards in front of you with an actual clock running. So I find that helping when I do Sealed decks in paper form. When I’m building Sealed decks in general (and particular M11 or any core sets really where fundamentals of Magic limited really stands out) the things I start looking for are sources of card advantage, “ways to win the game” and “ways to avoid losing games”.

When I say “ways to win the game”, I mean bombs and/or other routes to victory. In M11 it means I’m looking for flashy rares, guys with evasion or are simply big, cards like Stampeeding Rampage, Sleep or Whispersilk Cloak that gives you opportunity to punch through and so on. I think you catch my drift. A bear like Silvercoat Lion doesn’t off course cut it as “a way to win”, unless I’m blessed with a critical mass of two and three drops which enables an aggressive route as a path to victory. Then we have “ways to avoid losing games” which off course primary is removal spells in different forms, but also counters or cute tricks as Safe Passage fits in here. Ideally, your Sealed deck have a good mix of all these three components and that is what I’m looking for when assessing the card pool.

So let’s go on to the actual card pool. This pool is quite limited when it comes down to pure game ending plays.We have 4 rares that are good, but yet again just good, not amazing. Some of you might praise Micotic Slime highly. To me Mitotic Slimes powerlevel varies quite drasticly depending on what colors your facing. Am I playing versus a black-red deck for example, then Mitotic Slime is fantastic and I would classify the card and game ending. However, if I’m playing versus a blue-white deck the card is worse than Spined Wurm most of the time. So going back to the pool, the only really unfair card is the one Fireball. If we lower the bar a little, we see that we have some green fatties and a Prized Unicorn, there are a couple of nice fliers in white (mainly Serra Angel) along with tricks like Mighty Leap and Excommunicate. Black has a Rise from the Grave and a Nightwing Shade, an Act of Treason in Red and a Harbor Serpent in blue but that is about it.

Moving on to sources of card advantage I count 2 Gravedigger, 1 Jace’s ingenuity, papa Jace himself along with the spicyness of the presence of Crystal Ball. Crystal Ball isn’t directly a card advantage play but the recurring filtering through cards is really strong. I haven’t had it in draft yet, but the card is stupidly good in Sealed deck. I personally have only lost 1 game in Sealed when I had a Crystal Ball on the board and that was when my opponent also had a Crystal Ball. Figures…

Then we have “ways to avoid losing”. In blue we have quite the few tricks, Cancels, Negates aswell as tricks like Diminish and Unsummon. Red does have a Lightning Bolt and Chandra’s Outrage aswell as the Fireball. Even Ember Hauler is countable as a removal spell. In white we find a Condemn along with a Safe Passage and then there is black which have an abundance of removal. 2x Doom Blade, 2x Assasinate, a Quag Sickness and a Stabbing Pain (which truthfully is more of a combat trick than removal in this format) along with a Duress. Finally we have green which we find…exactly squat.

With these notation in mind I start to build some actual decks. I decided to don’t even bother with Blue, mainly because of the lack of ways to win in blue. The creature (besides Harbor Serpent which is a bit conditional) are just abysmal and there aren’t enough creatures in any other color to make up for that. Then I decided that I couldn’t play black. All the elements I look for when I’m playing Sealed is there, which no other color in my pool card brag with. So black would be my backbone of the deck, then I had to decide which color(s) would fill out my deck. My first reaction was trying GB or GBr because the green fatties was the most obvious way (besides the Fireball) that my pool was going to win games with. So I came up with something like this:
2x Llanowar Elves
1x Reassembling Skeleton
1x Bog Raiders
1x Juggernaught
1x Nether Horror
2x Gravedigger
1x Garruk’s Packleader
1x Mitotic Slime
1x Nightwing Shade
2x Yavimaya Wurm
1x Duskdale Wurm

1x Duress
1x Quag Sickness/Lightning Bolt
2x Doom Blade
2x Assassinate
1x Crystal Ball
1x Rise from the Grave
1x Fireball

1x Dragonskull Summit
1x Mountain
8x Swamp
7x Forest

This list I think plays most of the powerful cards in our pool and sure does have a lot of potential. This deck does however have a big problem, the curve or more precisely early game board play. If you miss playing an early Llanowar Elves the first real board presence spell you have is the single Juggernaught. Fine, Nether Horror might come down a force an acceptable trade, but it’s no real board presence. That is kinda loose. I’m fine with have a low number of 2 and 3 drops in this format, but when if the 4-slot is also weak I start to panic. And that is why I didn’t end up running this build.

The next take I had was BWr:

1x Silvercoat Lion
1x Reassembling Skeleton
1x Wild Griffin
2x Palace Guard
1x Bog Raiders
1x Cloud Crusader
1x Juggernaught
2x Gravedigger
1x Nightwing Shade
1x Serra Angel
1x Siege Mastodon

1x Duress
1x Condemn
2x Doom Blade
1x Assassinate
1x Quag Sickness
1x Safe Passage
1x Crystal Ball
1x Rise from the Grave
1x Fireball

1x Dragonskull Summit
1x Mountain
8x Plains
7x Swamp

I like this build more, because it feels more like it’s an actual deck and not just a pile of good cards. I thought about playing this list, but then I compared it with this list:

1x Reassembling Skeleton
1x Ember Hauler
1x Bog Raider
1x Chandra’s Spitfire
1x Fiery Hellhound
2x Gravedigger
1x Juggernaught
2x Nether Horror
1x Nightwing Shade
1x Fire Servant
1x Earth Servant

1x Duress
1x Lightning Bolt
2x Doom Blade
1x Quag Sickness
1x Assassinate
1x Crystal Ball
1x Chandra’s Outrage
1x Rise from the Grave
1x Fireball

1x Dragonskull Summit
8x Swamp
8x Mountain

The big difference between this deck and the one with white is you lose Serra Angel but gain better mana aswell as Gravediggers and Rise from the Grave is at it’s best in the red version. So I liked this version over the one with white. Then I pitted this version versus the green, which was much more tight. I ended up with the straight red/black one because it’s more consistent and it allows me to playing the games more controlling which should favour me at a GPT like this were the overall player quality isn’t as high. If I got this pool at the GP, I probably would run the version with green thought. It’s got a little more potential and you need to get a little lucky to get there, which you needs anyways at a Sealed GP.

I ended up going 3-2 netting a 10th place, which was okay I guess considering the quality of the pool. Both guys I lost to ended up in the Top8 and one of those losses were really close. So not too shabby.

This was all for this time, smell you later!

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