Modern Horizons Sealed is one of the most complex and skill testing sealed formats we've had on our hands for quite some time. And it's being played on some of the most competitive stages throughout the entire summer. With GP DC and Copenhagen behind us and Seattle and Vegas before us with numerous other MCQs and MTGO events in between, you'll want to be as sharp as possible when you crack your packs and dive into deckbuilding if you're looking to have a fighting chance. That's why this week I've decided to walk you through my process in Modern Horizons Sealed from start to finish.
For those interested in playing along at home, here's the entire pool. I think it's a good exercise to take a glance and see what things stick out at you and what you might come up with before we move forward. Okay, got an idea in your head? Let's move on.
Sort by Rarity
The first thing I do with any sealed pool online is right-click and sort by rarity. What do we have here?
This is about what I've come to expect after about a dozen sealed leagues of MH1. The rares just aren't all that exciting. If I end up with two that are powerful and end up making my deck, I'm pretty happy. It's one of the reasons I've enjoyed this format so much. It seems way less about opening and playing bombs than it does finding out what works synergistically to make a cohesive, consistent deck.
Force of Rage and
Astral Drift are incredibly unlikely to make my deck as the former is fairly weak and the latter is too difficult to build around in draft let alone sealed.
Kaya's Guile will almost certainly make a deck that has plains and swamps in it, but it by no means pushes me in to those colors. Similarly,
Cordial Vampire is powerful, but only if my deck is heavy black.
Altar of Dementia has impressed me quite a bit in sealed. If the board stalls, as it often can, Altar does a fantastic job of being a one turn kill (OTK as the kids say) with its best home being in base green decks. This seems below average for quality of rares, even for Modern Horizons, but I'm not discouraged.
After my (albeit dissapointing) rares, the next place I look is at my colorless cards. First, the lands.
This is a pretty nice assortment. Three different cycling lands and a Horizon land if played will allow me to play 18 lands which is something I'm actively looking to do in this format. Stumbling on mana is a sure way to fall behind and these lands that can be cashed in for new cards late in the game can mitigate the times that you might flood out. I also notice that I have a Blue and Green Snow Land, which will be auto includes if I happen to have any snow payoffs. And depending on my mana fixing options, the Red and White lands may make their ways in for splashing additional spells. And speaking of splashing, do we have any
Dang! No Astrolabe to be found. We do have the
Fountain of Ichor which can be used to splash in a pinch of we're dipping in to four or five color decks.
Birthing Boughs can be a great mana sink and provides tribal synergies (possibly with the
Cordial Vampire), and
Lesser Masticore is a rock-solid card in any deck, provided your opponent doesn't have multiple
Beyond the Rares and Mythics in your pool, the gold uncommons are often where you will find your more powerful options. Unfortunately, we don't really have a lot to work with here.
Rotwidow Pack is increidbly strong and I'd hope to play it in either a base Black/Green deck or on the splash if either of those are my main color. Otherwise, the two
Nature's Chants are nice to have access to, but I don't consider them maindeck material.
To get a full sense of what my possiblities are, I'll look at all the colors by themselves next, but I'll start with Green as that's the home for the color-based mana fixing in the set.
I'll pull out all the cards that I'd even be remotely happy to play from the main pool of cards in each color. And Green is stacked. Anything stand out to you here?
Jackpot! Not only does green look incredibly deep here, but the three copies of
Springbloom Druid means we have the options for a base green "let's just play all of our good cards" deck. And on top of that, the Druid can search for Snow Lands, so any of our Snow-matters cards can be turned on. Going further, three copies of
Rime Tender, and
Saddled Rimestag allows us to affect the board early in a meaningful way, and double
Webweaver Changeling gives us protection against flyers and a way to recoup lifeloss late in the game. I'm very excited about the prospects of Green.
White is unexciting to say the least. Most of these cards I would consider to be marginal at best and no copies of
Settle Beyond Reality to even think about splashing. I am often unimpressed by White in my sealed pools in this format, but this looks particularly poor. Next!
Another deep roster of cards.
Fact or Fiction,
String of Disappearances,
Pondering Mage double
Windcaller Aven and double
Twisted Reflection are all cards that jump out at me as pulls into blue. And if I can pair Blue with Green, the two
Chillerpillars are online pretty easily. Blue/Green is definitely a deck I'd like to look at first.
This is fairly easy decision. These aren't just the black cards I'm excited to play. These are all the black cards I have access to PERIOD. With
Cordial Vampire being the best of the bunch but requiring such a heavy black commitment to be good, this is an obvious color to rule out of the equation.
What this pool lacks in rares or multicolored power it makes up for with three colors with deep playables. Triple
Igneous Elemental, and a small Sliver synergy with
Bladeback Sliver and
Hollowhead Sliver are what stand out to me, but I'd be happy with all twelve of the cards shown here.
One last thing I'd like to emphasize before we look at some deck possibilities is the importance of removal and ways to interact with what your opponent is doing. A range of answers from catch all spells like
Settle Beyond Reality and
Mob to conditional spells like
String of Disappearances is important to have in Sealed. If you can't disrupt the synergies that your opponent has assembled you're going to fall behind or be forced to use one of your few removal spells on an innocuous common like
Answered Prayers. Or check back in at the screenshot of your deck and realize you have no way to one-for-one with a
Murasa Behemoth. Looking at the image above, Red offers the best and most abundant removal options, but nothing unconditional, which is a little scary to me. If I can entwine
Twisted Reflection, I think that gives me the best removal options along with
String of Disappearances as a cheap and flexible way to disrupt my opponent's game plan
Deck 1: Blue Green Snow
This is the deck I was most excited to build from this pool and, even though the ability to splash anything is there with the three
Springbloom Druids, I had so many playables from blue and green that I barely needed to splash. I think this deck looks fantastic on all fronts. It has a good curve of creatures with impactful plays from two mana all the way up to the
Windcaller Avens. It enables a splash for not only our two copies of
Twisted Reflection but for the
Rotwidow Pack, which is one of the more powerful cards in our pool. We've got card advantage in
Fact or Fiction and
Pondering Mage as well as a number of cyclers to help mitigate mana flood or screw. The
Chillerpillars are easily activated thanks to double search from the Druids, giving us more flyers to close out games with. And
Altar of Dementia can win if the board ever stalls.
I'm choosing to play 17 lands here thanks in part to the two Avens and have notably omitted
Barren Moor as it's not searchable and I don't want to run more than one black land. All in all, I'd be very happy to run this deck.
Deck 2: Red Green Beats
I started off building this deck as another multi-color good stuff deck, just using Red as the base to take advantage of the
Pyrophobias. But the more I tuned it, the more two things became apparent: 1) With access to the
Twisted Reflections, the UG deck was just going to be a better home for splashing. 2) This deck has no reason to splash, it is a lean, mean fighting machine with ways to punch through in the mid-to-late game.
First of all, the curve is absurd. Seven two-mana creatures and three
Pyrophobias means I'm almost guaranteed to have something to do on my second turn. The
Springbloom Druids not only pull lands out of the deck, but they enable the
Igneous Elementals on turn 4, where they are the most potent.
Quakefoot Cyclops can help close out any game where my opponent may be close to stabilizing. And if I happen to flood out, I have so many place to put mana, or rummage away cards with
Hollowhead Sliver or cash in the
Tranquil Thicket or
Sunbaked Canyon for a fresh draw. The Snow deck is certainly more my style, but this Gruul deck may be too consistent and pack too much of a punch to pass up.
This pool went 4-1 with its only loss going to a fantastic Dimir deck with three copies of
Fallen Shinobi that I could not combat in 3 games. I started with the UG Snow deck, but sided into Gruul beats against Dimir decks and a Boros aggro deck where I felt the Elementals and
Pyrophobias were going to shine. I swapped the Altar for a copy of Thornado in the Snow deck, and brought in the
Webweaver Changelings to the Gruul deck when I was on the draw but still felt it was the correct deck for the matchup.
Hopefully that was helpful for you! How did my process match up against yours? Were there any decks or interactions I missed? Tell me about them on twitter! And, as always, Happy Drafting!