How to build a Sealed Deck
After a bit of pushing and me finally getting the bug to
write, here I am writing the first of who knows how many
columns. What's my focus? Well, we're gonna try to make
better players out of everyone out there. No matter who
you are (well, maybe not Kai, but I doubt he reads us
anyway) you could probably use a little help with your
game. Lord knows I sure could at times. Well, my job is
simply to impart any knowledge I have obtained and pass
it along to you.
#1 - Find a win condition(s)
This might seem self-explanatory, but you have no idea how many people will leave this step out. Almost every sealed deck has a bomb - somewhere. Granted, some bombs are bigger than others, but most sealed card pools will have something that can win you games. This could be multiple things. It could be a large creature. It could be a big removal spell. Usually, it will be something that will generate some form of positive card advantage for your opponent to stop it, or immediate card advantage upon it's casting. It can also be something that your opponent will more than likely have no answer for. Let's look at the Odyssey block for a few examples. One of the most obvious ones that pops into mind was my primary win condition from this weekend, Iridescent Angel. Provided it resolves, she usually will end games for you. There are many others. Amugaba and Vampiric Dragon are a couple of huge fliers that can dim your opponent's lights in a hurry. Kirtar's Wrath, when played right, is nothing short of a bombshell. Some non-rare ones could include Rabid Elephant and Gorilla Titan. Wonder from Judgment is another great one, as it's ability gives your army a chance to win the whole game in a single shot. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Start by finding cards that can just straight up win you the game.
#2 - Analyze Your Colors
You need to look over what you have and figure out what you have. Start by dividing cards into 3 piles - yes, no, and maybe/sideboard. Once you have broken all the cards down like this, you can see how the cards will fall. Most Sealed Decks will be 3 colors. This is just a fact. Sometimes, especially at pre-releases because of the extra pack, you can go 2 colors. Sometimes, you have to go as many as 4. What to look for in colors is interesting. If you want to go two color, the sky is the limit as far as casting cost. You could have triple-colors of each if you had to. If you build a three-color deck, you have 2 options for the good build. You have the even distribution and the splash build. In the even distribution build, all three colors will have about the same number of spells in each color, about 7-8 per color. Almost all these cards will be single-color casting cost, with no more than 2 colors having a single double, or 1 color having 2 doubles. Any more doubles than this and this build is not optimal for you. The splash build gives you more options. In this case, you will play with two colors comprising most of the deck, and the third color comprising only about 1-5 spells. All of these spells should be single-color casting cost, and all should be pretty exceptional for the color. The most common build I have seen here involves splashing red or black for some random good removal spells. This is not the only route, but it's a common one. Past this, you have the 4 and 5 color splash builds. In this case, you should have 1-2 main colors, and the rest being splashes with 1-4 cards per color. This is a risky strategy to go. If you choose this route, you need to either have good green cards that let you go search out land, or a lot of card drawing mechanisms to make sure you can see all the land you need. Also, in these builds, you mana ratio will probably be a little higher than it normally would due to the color diversity. These builds are very common when you have a bomb in a color that otherwise sucks. A very common example of something like this might be splashing black for a Vampiric Dragon. You need very few mana sources so you don't see them early, but enough so you'll see the mana when you see the spell they need to be cast with. Keeping the 4th color splash low, to no more than 3 cards, is highly suggested.
#3 - Pick your mana base
No matter how good the
cards are in your deck, if your mana base sucks, you're
gonna lose somewhere because of it. Now in a standard
deck, you will run 23 spells and 17 lands. This is
merely a guideline, though, and can easily change
dependant on your sealed deck.
If you have less than 22 spells, you need to find some filler cards to get it to at least 22.
If you have 22 spells, if your mean casting cost is at least 4, with 2 or more spells being greater than 6 casting, run 18 lands. If not, find a filler card to go to 23 spells.
If you have 23 spells and your mean casting cost is less than 3.5 and you have no more than 1 spell with a casting cost no greater than 6, then run 17 lands. If you are running 4 or more colors, add 1 land.
If you have 23 spells and your mean casting cost is greater than 3.5 or you have 2 spells greater than 5 or 1 spell greater than 6, run 18 lands. If you are running 4 or more colors, add 1 land.
If you have 24 spells and your mean casting cost is 2.5 or less and you have no more than 1 spell with a casting cost of at most 5, then run 16 lands. If you are running 4 or more colors, add 1 land.
If you have 24 spells and your mean casting cost is 2.5 to 3.5 and you have no more than 1 spell with a casting cost of at most 6, then run 17 lands. If you are running 4 or more colors, add 1 land.
If you have 24 spells and your mean casting cost is 3.5 to 4.5 and you have no more than 2 spells with a casting cost of at most 6, and no more than 1 spell with a casting cost of at most 7, then run 18 lands. If you are running 4 or more colors, then add 1 land.
If you have 24 spells and your mean casting cost is over 4.5, or you have 3 or more cards with a casting cost of 6 or greater, or 2 or more cards with a casting cost of 7 or greater, then run 19 lands.
If you have 25 spells and your mean casting cost is 3 or less with no more than 1 card with a casting cost no greater than 6, then run 17 lands. Add 1 land for 4 or more colors.
If you have 25 spells and your mean casting cost is 3 to 4 and you have no more than 2 cards with casting cost no greater than 6, or 1 card with casting cost no greater than 7, then run 18 lands. Add 1 land for 4 or more colors.
If you have 25 spells with a mean casting cost of 4 to 5 and no more than 3 cards with casting cost no greater than 7 and no more than 1 cards with casting cost greater than 8, then run 19 lands. Add 1 land for 4 or more colors.
If you have 25 spells and do not qualify for one of the above categories, or your deck has 26 or more spells, you should consider trimming the size of your deck down until it does fit an above category.
After that, now we pick colors of mana. Take your piles and separate them in to color, making sure to take into account that multicolored spells count in multiple piles. The number of mana you have will depends on a couple of factors: number of cards per color, and frequency of double, triple, and even quadruple casting costs within those colors.
Your primary color should have no less than 6 lands of that color, and dependant on your build, 7 to 8. If you're going with a triple split primary, you're probably looking at about 6 lands per color. If you're looking at a 3 color splash, probably something along the lines of 7,7,4. In a 4 color deck, your 3rd and 4th colors should not have more lands combined than your primary, and should usually be about 1-2 lands less.
Follow the above guidelines and you should be fine.
I was going to give examples, but I think I will hold off on that for now. For my next article, I will take a couple sealed decks and actually build them. If you have a Sealed that you're looking to figure out the right build to, send it to me at . The next article will discuss the correct choices for cards in your sealed as well as the examples. Some examples of good cards and bad cards, and what makes them both good and bad.
Thanks for listening and
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