Building Team Sealed Decks

I have never had a chance to do this, but I find it intriguing, and since I had plenty of boosters to open, I decided I would open a dozen and make a few decks.

How did that Arena Athlete manage to hang out with a bunch of gods and planeswalkers?

How did that Arena Athlete manage to hang out with a bunch of gods and planeswalkers?

Obviously, this exercise would have been better with a couple of other people to help, but this was a bit unplanned. This is actually more about me logging my thoughts on the process than actual guide, as I don’t have any specific insight into the subject.

So, after opening the packs, I sorted the pool by color to get a handle on what I have.

Preparations

The whole pool

The whole pool

The classic way of looking at a sealed pool is to look at the rares.

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Obviously, the rares are not the only important thing about the pool, especially since there are plenty of bad cards in rare, such as Mindreaver, although we have nothing that bad, but on the other hand, rares (and mythics) also have the most powerful things in the pool, so they can give us immediate direction, like the did here.

Double Dictate of Heliod is probably good. There’s plenty of cheap white creatures in the pool, although none of either Wingsteed Rider or Akroan Skyguard.

Blue has no rares.

Black has two pretty good cards for a control deck: Fate Unraveler and Gild.

Red came out well. Double Forgestoker Dragon is great, Ember Swallower is probably better and Prophetic Flamespeaker is nothing to sneeze at, although its utility will be pretty dependent on other cards in the pool.

Green has Dictate of Karametra, which probably isn’t going to be usable, unless we have plenty of monstrous creatures, Scourge of Skola Vale, which I think is a bit worse in team sealed than its otherwise in limited, because there’s more removal around, and Boon Satyr, which is great.

On top of that, we have Psychic Intrusion and Temple of Triumph.

In Theros limited, you generally want either white, black or green as your base color. This is because white is the best aggressive color, black is the best control color, and green is the best midrange color, and there’s plenty of ramp, so it might even work as a ramp deck. Generally blue and red play the part of helping out. Red is often the weakest color.

So, the cluttering of rares in red might be a bad sign for us.

The next step is to lay out each color in a curve to get a feel for it. Also, we’re taking out cards, which we won’t play under any circumstances, and some which we won’t be glad to play. We’ll return to these later, if we need to, or there might be some synergy with one of them.

White

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White is very deep in this block. Although I took out several cards I wouldn’t play here, there’s still 27 cards. I’m thinking monowhite. I could probably even afford to take out Revoke Existence and Divine Verdict, which are pretty borderline anyway, and one other card and just play 16 plains. I do have a Temple of Triumph and Akroan Hoplite. Also, Sentry of the Underworld and Underworld Coinsmith sort of draw me into white-black, but right now I’m not staying away from monowhite. Those two Dictate of Heliods are just too strong. Also, if I have this white deck with a great curve, that leaves a lot more room for the other two decks.

Setessan Battlepriest might not be exactly what you want, but its still a two-drop and 3/5 if you get a Dictate on the table. Also, they are humans and can thus be jumped by the Cavalry Pegasus.

Blue

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Not much to take out here. Countermand is too slow and we don’t have enough effects to trigger Thassa’s Devourer. However, in a right situation, either could be pretty good.

There are some cards that would be good in a control deck and some that would be good in an aggressive deck. There’s also the combo of Floodtide Serpent and Fate Foretold or Stratus Walk. One could probably build something out of those and Meletis Astronomer.

Since we already designated the white as the aggro deck and we don’t really want to have two aggressive decks, there’s some cards that don’t fit in a deck here. Vaporkin is probably out, as is Cloaked Siren, although the latter is a pretty good draw/go card and might work as a win condition in a control deck. What I could see with these cards is a very synergy heavy fun deck.

Black

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Black just doesn’t speak to me. There’s plenty of removal, but its not the best kind. Sure, three unconditional removal spells is good, but as two of them cost six, it isn’t really what you want to do. On the other hand, we might be in a situation where one player might have to take a subpar deck and hope the other two players have strong enough decks to beat their opponents consistently. Since we have a couple of good white-black cards in Sentry of the Underworld and Underworld Coinsmith, as well as Odunos River Trawler, we might have to revisit our decision to play monowhite, make a Boros deck with a very low curve and a black white deck. Or just leave black out, which I wouldn’t like.

Red

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So, red has a couple of bombs, but as usual, the overall card quality is pretty low. As I said before, red isn’t usually a primary color in this block, but since black probably isn’t up to it, I think we should build a red deck. I think red is going to have to be the “control” color here. Its not very good at that job, but it will have to do, although there’s no real need to have an actual control deck. Since red can’t really ramp (although we do have a Burnished Hart in the pool), I feel its best to get to either of our [card]Forgestoker Dragon[/cards]s and the required mana quickly by scrying. Gladly we do have the tools for that. The objective is not to miss a land drop until we can get to six.

Green

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As usual, green is about going big. We did miss on quite a few big creatures and our only actual large creature (power + toughness > 8) is Nemesis of Mortals and the very marginal Pheres-Band Centaurs. No Nessiann Asps or Vulpine Goliaths here. What we do have is double Ravenous Leucrocota and triple Raised by Wolves. Some ramp and we’re good. Our curve isn’t going to look good, but since we do have pretty good ramp, it doesn’t really matter if we start putting out threats at four.

There’s a small chance for a graveyard theme here, but its not very good. There’s the Nemesis and a Strength of the Fallen and there’s two Satyr Wayfinders and a Returned Reveler. All in all, not enough.

The Decks

Although I do have an inclination to make this white-red, and use Akroan Hoplite, as well as Akroan Crusaders from red. However, since I do have to use red as the primary color in one of the decks, and it isn’t very deep, I’ll go with monowhte. This does leave us with a few pretty weak cards, such as Eidolon of Rhetoric and Setessan Battlepriest, and I’m not really excited about Lagonna-Band Trailblazer either. However, this does feel better to me than trying to force red into the deck.

The rest of the white goes into the sideboard of this one, as well as Armory of Iroas.

The second deck is the base-red one. I’m not at all sure this is the right approach, but I did manage some removal, some defensive cards low on the curve and a couple of real bombs. I’m not sure Prophetic Flamespeaker is very good here, but one has to try these things out. All in all, I do believe he’s very strong. Also, we can help him with all the scrying we get from pairing red with blue.

Actually, cards that scry in this deck: Sigiled Starfish, two Omenspeakers, Sigiled Skink, Stormcaller of Keranos, Aqueous Form, Titan’s Strength, Magma Jet, Portent of Betrayal, and Temple of Victory.

So, some of you may be wondering why I don’t put the Temple into the white deck and make it Boros (or Iroas, in this context)? I just feel this deck needs it more. Sculpting what you get is much more important in this deck. The white deck is all creatures, this deck is some creatures, some removal, some tricks, and so forth. The curve is like that too. You will want to draw your cards in the right order.

The mana here is a bit problematic. You want blue early, because of the scrying, but you have so much more red needed in the deck. I put 8 Mountains and 8 Islands, plus the red/white temple, but that might be wrong. Very wrong.

I put only two cards down as the “meaningful” sideboard, but there’s plenty of room to make differences with all the blue available. You could go much more straighforward with this deck and put in plenty more creatures, losing all the tricks. Just wouldn’t be as much fun then.

And the third one will be green with a small splash of black. I’m going to put all of the upper end of my green cards into this one. That does mean triple Raised by Wolves, which should be fun.

The black will be removal oriented. Its what black does best. Only two creatures, one of which is Baleful Eidolon while the other is Fate Unraveler to win possible board stalls eventually. The other three cards are Necrobite, Gild and Spiteful Blow. The last one is a bit problematic since it requires double black, but with our ramp and possible Gold, I think we can make it work even with a very low number of swamps in the deck.

The sideboard will have plenty of good stuff for different situations. Plenty more removal and one Defend the Hearth. Sure that might seem weak, but its actually not. It is sometimes a big blowout, because you can get your opponent to alpha strike and then use it. They don’t usually expect it, because its used so seldomly, but it has won me a number of games since Theros was released, because so many games come down to the wire. The triple Drown in Sorrow is just pure evil against certain decks. Mogis’s Marauder can sometimes break stalls, so you could put that in, if you think the game will end up that way.

All in all, I do have a tendency to go for the fun over the strictly best. I also have a tendency to try to find ways to help me make the process easier, such as identifying a color that can work as mono. That’s important if you have a limited amount of time to get these decks together.

The pool largely guides you. Sure I could have gone another direction and I bet many of you would have, but here I’m trying to maximize the value of the best cards in the pool. Gladly, both the monowhite and the Izzet deck had two of the same bomb, so that helps, since we don’t have to go into a direction and then never draw the card we went into the direction for.

I think I got the base colors right. The real question is whether the right choices would have been blue-green and red-black. Based on the number of threats in red, I think I went the right way.

On the other hand, with limited time, you are never going to find the optimal setup. If you can go more than 90% of the way, that’s very good. How far did I get here? Don’t really know. I’m planning on doing this again sometime, maybe with a special guest of some sort.

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