We’re still in the early days of Throne of Eldraine limited and I’m just as enamored with this set as I’ve ever been. But as people prepare for limited GPs and qualifying tournaments on Magic Online, it’s not only prowess in drafting that these players will need but a mastery of sealed as well. So this week I’ve done nothing but Sealed deck leagues to help people prepare for whatever competitive tournaments they may find themselves in. Today’s exercise is going to be a walkthrough of me opening a sealed pool and building my deck(s).
If you want to play along at home, here’s a picture of the pool.
I’ll start where I always do which is to right-click and sort by rarity. It doesn’t really matter, but it’s fun just the same to see what powerful rares you might get to work with.
This is a fairly lackluster collection of rares. A spread of colors and a couple CCC cards in
Ayara, First of Locthwain and
Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig. Those are almost certainly not getting played.
Fae of Wishes // Granted in sealed is definitely sweet though, especially if you have any fixing to main deck, so I’ll be on the lookout for that.
Rankle, Master of Pranks is certainly the most powerful of the bunch here, but honestly, none of these are pulling me in any direction. I’ll be more interested in letting the colors themselves dictate what is possible. Since there isn’t any mana fixing in terms of lands in this format, I’m going to jump straight to the artifacts to check out the cards that can make my deck no matter what colors I end up in.
This is a pretty good haul in terms of Artifacts.
Golden Egg, and
Spinning Wheel are basically auto-includes.
Signpost Scarecrow also gives me some fixing and
Jousting Dummy and
Prophet of the Peak are fine filler cards if I need a two-drop or a curve topper. As with all of the images to follow, the pile on the right side comprises all the cards in this category that I’m not super interested in playing.
Lucky Clover is an exception as sometimes you can get enough adventures to make this work, so I’ll keep that in mind as we move on to the colors.
In most sealed formats, your multicolered cards are going to dictate your decks a lot of the time. This is where most of the power lies and if you have a few that line up with one color pair, you’re incentivized to try to make that deck work. That’s not really the case in Eldraine. Since half of the gold uncommons are the quadruple hybrid cards, you generally either can cast them or you can’t. If you end up in that color pair or nearly mono colored (which can happen in this format) then great, but it’s not anything that should skew your deckbuilding. Here, however, we do have three hybrids in blue, so I’m immediately curious if our blue can support such a deep commitment.
And it looks like it can. Somewhat. Here we’ve got 10 cards that I’d be generally happy to play in any blue deck. Some early board presence (and perhaps win conditions) in 2x
Merfolk Secretkeeper // Venture Deeper. Some interaction in
Run Away Together, and
Charmed Sleep and card draw with
Unexplained Vision. On the right are some cards I’m less thrilled about. The most contentious being
Steelgaze Griffin. This card has underwhelmed me in powerful “draw 2 cards” themed draft decks. In Sealed, I’ve only found it to be a good sideboard card against flyers.
Moving along in WUBRG order we have black. There’s some power here with Rankle,
Syr Konrad, the Grim, and
Epic Downfall. But not a lot of depth. Only 7 cards I’d be really happy playing, though
Festive Funeral is totally fine if you’re light on removal. I wouldn't load up on them though.
Unfortunately, Red is just too darn shallow. Our Red cards want to be hyper aggressive but we have no removal to back up its aggressive gameplan. Only 8 cards here that I’d be happy playing and that’s probably being generous
Green offers a fair bit that I’m interested in. Double
Outmuscle is nothing to sneeze at,
Lovestruck Beast // Heart's Desire,
Keeper of Fables and
Tuinvale Treefolk // Oaken Boon provide card advantage and beef. And
Beanstalk Giant // Fertile Footsteps and
Rosethorn Acolyte // Seasonal Ritual give us a lot of fixing to go along with the artifacts we saw earlier. Not a great curve, but perhaps another color can help in that department.
Another shallow color. And a good example of the problem with White in sealed. It always wants to lean aggressive, but almost none of the other colors do. So you have to hope to have a lot of white playables AND you need to have another color that is on the beatdown plan as well. I don’t know if we’ve quite go that here.
Now that we’ve taken a look at all the colors individually, let’s look at some potential builds.
Deck 1: Uwb
Using the two
Covetous Urges and
Arcanist's Owl as an impetus to go near mono colored, I started off with this deck. It’s playing all of the blue cards we like and splashing a bit of removal in
Trapped in the Tower and
Epic Downfall (which are on color with our hybrid cards.) We’ve got six of our artifacts to fill out the deck and a bunch of fixing for Granted to be able to grab anything from our sideboard.
Deck 2: UGbw
It felt like whatever deck we ended up with, blue was going to be a part of it. Looking at the green pairing gave us a ton of mana fixing to still splash the same two removal spells and utilize Fae of Wishes. The deck is a bit awkward though.
Outmuscle doesn’t really do great work in a deck that doesn’t have a ton of creatures and where most of the ones that will fight well cost more than four mana. Ultimately, I felt that this deck was all over the place and moved on.
Deck 3: UB
Once I put this deck together it seemed like a clear frontrunner as the best of the bunch. Getting to play Syr Konrad and Rankle, two of the most powerful cards in our entire pool, was pretty big game. This deck checked all of my boxes.
- Early board presence
- Removal and Interaction
- Powerful spells
- Card advantage
- Late-game win conditions
So, I hopped in a queue for my first match to see how it would fare. In my very first game my opponent cast the following cards:
Well, shoot. I think I have a good late game, but my deck cannot hope to beat either of those two cards if they’re resolved. Sure would be nice to nab one with a
Covetous Urge, but once they hit the battlefield, I’m toast. With just over two minutes to sideboard, I scrambled to find an aggressive deck to try to get under my opponent. And came up with this:
Deck 4: WG
Honestly, this doesn’t look too bad. And I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it in my initial pass. There’s adventure synergy, early aggression with removal to back it up, and even some good flexible top end thanks to the adventures. I did not end up getting there in Match 1 against the double mythics, but this solidified a sealed deckbuilding takeaway for me: always make sure you have a deck with an opposite gameplan as your primary deck. Throughout this league I swapped a lot between the 1st and 4th decks listed above to get my 3-2 record. Almost all of my pools have offered me multiple builds and depending on the matchup or whether I’m on the play or the draw, I’ve been very happy to have a number of options to choose from. What have your experiences been? Let me know on twitter! And, as always, happy drafting! Er...I mean, happy sealed!
And, for reference, here’s what my first two 5-0 decks were: