Pro-Tour Qualifier for
by: Christine Gerhardt
Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing in a Sealed Deck PTQ for Pro-Tour Yokohama. Sealed is one of my favorite formats. I like the challenge of taking a random group of cards and making the best deck possible with them. Below is a list of the cards I opened from my Onslaught Tournament Pack and 2 Legions Boosters. I have separated them, first by the cards I picked for my main deck, then by the cards I actually used from the sideboard, then by the cards in my sideboard that never made it into my deck. Then, I'll discuss how play went with my choices, the MVPs of the deck, and what I would have done differently, hindsight and all.
Building the Deck:
I liked the deck, but I knew as soon as I checked that there was no way I was going to do well with it, much less Top 8 with it. I had ZERO bombs, and in Onslaught block, it is an absolute MUST to have at least one bomb, and more like 2, if you want any chance at doing well overall in a tournament. So, being unbombalicious, I went with the most solid build I could come up with, and set in to just play and have as much fun as I could.
I really liked the black, and knew that it was my base color immediately. My Zombies had a few tricks, and there were plenty of them. I opened very little removal, but at least what I had was solid, including Cruel Revival and Death Pulse.
Blue was the first color I eliminated. Other than Read the Runes, I felt it was sub-par as a whole.
White was interesting, with a few solid cards that I like playing, but again, as a whole, didn't have enough to make the cut.
Red had a couple cards that I felt could be pivotal, but other than those few cards, it sucked pretty bad. In the end, I barely splashed for red to include Goblin Sharpshooter and Wave of Indifference. I had really good mana smoothers, and felt it wouldn't be a problem at all.
Green, while not fantastic, was the most solid second color, and I ended up going with it. It gave me the acceleration and smoothing I needed (Krosan Tusker, Explosive Vegetation, and Wirewood Elf) as my casting costs were pretty high, and gave me some solid creatures and tricks.
How it Played:
My hope of winning was such: Hold on by my fingernails during the early game, stop the bleeding and achieve board parity, then win late game. I won almost all my games in the following ways: First building my board until neither side could break through. If I could manage to reach that point, then:
a) Use Wave of Indifference or Dirge of Dread to eliminate blockers in a final all out attack, or
b) Eliminating their creatures one by one until I could break through. This was usually achieved with Smokespew Invoker (gives target creature -3/-3), or with the combo of Krosan Vorine (3/2 Beast that provokes) and Snarling Undorak (pumps beasts).
Smokespew Invoker - This card was MUCH more useful than I would have first imagined it could be. The environment was very slow, and creature standoffs were commonplace. At first, I thought I would rarely get to the point that I would see enough mana to activate his ability, but I almost always did. There were actually very few creatures that I couldn't pick off with it, but it turned out that all I needed was to hit enough so I could break through. What was great was I could go and get it with Corpse Harvester, plus the mana to activate it.
Krosan Vorine - Alone, he's okay, but when combo'd with Snarling Undorak and a bunch of mana, he's nasty! I could provoke almost anything, and then pump him big enough to kill and still survive. It was a slow process, but it worked great!
Dirge of Dread - Cycles if necessary in the early game, and if you make it to the late game, it wins. Very few people were playing black for some reason (but then again, my early losses put me in the wacky bracket...maybe the winners were playing black).
Wave of Indifference - Won some games for me. In a creature stalemate, great for breaking through. Kind of sucky to see it early, though.
Zombie Brute - Better than expected, mostly because of mana acceleration. I usually was able to amplify him by 2, so he was a 7/6. That usually elicited a few groans from my opponents. He held the board on many occasions.
Cruel Revival - Oh...So....Good! Especially in my deck, as I was running a lot of Zombies.
Wellwisher - She held on tight for me and could gain me the life I needed to hang on until the board stabilized. Even if she was the only Elf on the board, she was still good, but a lot of opponents were playing Elves too, so she usually gained more than 1.
Corpse Harvester - Since I was playing a lot of Zombies, including one pivotal one, this card was really useful. I could sack a chump blocker or something my opponent targeted to destroy to go get a Zombie and a Swamp. Really nice.
Goblin Sharpshooter - I didn't draw him as much as I would have liked to, but when he hit the board, he either drew a burn spell, or he off'd a few little guys. Kind of like a little red machine gun. =)
Wirewood Savage - A lot of people were playing beasts - they don't just come in green. Drew a good amount of cards with this Elf.
Explosive Vegetation - Great mana smoother and accelerator! Was pretty important in my deck, since I needed a lot of mana to get my big guys out to "stop the bleeding"
Nantuko Husk - This guy is just so good for a common. He held the early board for me many a time.
Krosan Tusker - Extra good in this environment. You know, Krosan Tusker is not really a creature. He's an Instant that reads: "2G - Draw a card and search your library for a land and put it into your hand. Or, pay 5GG and put Krosan Tusker into play as a 6/5 Creature." Normally, in other environments, this guy just cycles because you don't see a late game, but in this environment, you do, and he actually sees play as a creature.
Should Have Beens...
Flamewave Invoker - If I had known it was going to come down to Creature stalemates, I absolutely would have included it main deck. For 8 mana, it can finish off an opponent in 4 turns. It was sided in (along with an extra Mountain) in every match except one.
Less Than Expected
Anurid Murkdiver - Very few of my opponents were playing black. He was almost always sided out for the Flamewave Invoker.
Blood Celebrant - Never used his ability, but it was nice to know it was there. He was usually just a chump.
And there you have it. I liked the deck, and had a lot of fun playing it. Too bad I didn't get a Visara or Phage to go with it, plus a little more removal. But that's what Sealed Deck is about...you just don't know what you're going to get - Sometimes you get the bombs and sometimes you don't. Either way, it's a challenge, and you can have fun with it. I ended up 4-3, and was happy with that, all things considered. Sealed is a great format, and I'll play it every chance I get. Scott and I often play it at home, just for fun.
Until next time...
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