So itís sealed deck time again! I was planning on attending the PTQ this last weekend; unfortunately, I had some complications arise (parents came into town) which resulted in my dropping everything and spending time with them. That slight conflict settled, I had a really good weekend.
At this point, my road map to San Diego looks rather bleak. With only a couple more events coming up that I have a reasonable chance to attend, I donít believe Iím going to be putting in a very strenuous effort to qualify; Iím going to have to make my chances count.
That aside, Iím going to share a little bit of information here. When youíre playing limited, rares are what people complain about the most; inevitably, thereís always the story going around at a tournament to the effect of the following: ďOh man, I lost to the dude with the brokenest deck ever! He had Rorix, Akroma, AND Exalted Angel, whattamaye supposed to do about that?!?Ē
Now, it is possibly that I piloted a sealed deck bearing those very cards through a PTQ, but I digress. The point is, that deck happens about once an event, and it *still* takes some measure of skill to get to the top eight. Most of the time, itís not the rares that make a deck something to be excited aboutÖitís that narrow little part between the rares and that big stack of (ho-hum) commons.
That would be your uncommons.
Letís go over, specifically, the Darksteel uncommons to look for when you bust those two packs. These are the cards that, hopefully, youíll see staring back at you at your next PTQ; I certainly am. This isnít going to be a full review, just the highlights; these are what you WANT to open.
I hope that this is clear for you all at this point, but if not, let me continue to do so: THIS IS THE BEST CARD YOU CAN OPEN IN THIS SET. The power of this card to run you through your deck at near-light-speed is fantastic. Oh, yeah, you can kill people faster.
Much like Sun Droplet, this gives you a couple of additional ways to get ahead in the race. Iím pretty happy to see these; Iíve heard a few people talking about how powerful this card can be, simply because it is very flexible. Iím being fairly liberal giving this card a high rating, but both of its effects are very powerful, and having access to the both of them in a single card is fantastic.
Normally, red gets a solid Wrath-effect in the uncommon slot about once a block; Slice and Dice, Breath of Darigaaz, and Pyroclasm are just a few of the examples of the power that normally fills this slot. BUTÖyou normally canít go directly to your opponentís dome with these spells. And along comes Fireball, an absolutely ridiculous card that pretty much just doesnít belong in limited due to its power. Oh, and you can smash multiple of your opponentís creatures, if it comes down to that. If youíre not red, splash this without a second thought.
The second spell costing black and five in this set, this has equal potential to garner some serious card and board position every single time itís cast. Perhaps not as capable as Betrayal of Flesh in immediately winning the game, it will do a number on a creature, and if youíre lucky youíll steal a worthwhile piece of equipment with it. If you steal a Bonesplitter or Morningstar with it, good times. If you steal a Skullclamp, Mask of Memory, or Loxodon Warhammer with it, the swing in momentum should be catastrophic.
Vulshok War Boar
Dragons that walk on the ground are still dragons. This guy is dragon-sized, and comes out as early as turn three with the help of a Myr or Talisman (which conveniently gets eaten). This guy can win a game all by himself if you play him early, simply due to the fact that heís so freakiní big. The only color that can come close to matching this guy in efficiency is green, and the only creature that does it is the Fangren Hunter. In a world of small men, this guy is a real monster, and you should be pretty happy to bust him in your booster (especially in the color youíll be most wanting to be very well stocked).
Emissaries (of Despair and of Hope)
While perhaps not having the raw power initially as the first few cards listed here, they can have some subtle effects on games that give them real additional worth. Opponents will not always want to play out semi-useful artifacts (like, say, Myrs) when you play either of these two. If your opponent doesnít answer these, they can effectively end a game in a few turns due to the volume of potential damage they can do. They are so fast, in an environment (sealed) where speed is a killer and evasion a commodity, they are possibly the best 3-drop you could ask for out of your deck.
Now hereís a subtle card that can do some very strange things to a game. Blue is such a difficult color to make work in sealed that I almost didnít mention this, but I wanted to take the chance to talk about it. In short, this guy makes all of your artifact removal into Terrorís, allowing you to kill of creatures like Fangren Hunter and whatnot with Shatter or Deconstruct. At the same time, it has the ability to prevent your opponent from using artifact removal on your own artifact creatures. Additionally, this guy makes cards like Nim Lasher/Shreiker much better. The mere presence of this card, just like the Emissaries, is going to disrupt your opponent significantly as long as you have a mana or two open.
Even though this is rather expensive, this just seems like it can create absolute havoc when itís cast. If you played during Saga block, youíll be very familiar with Symbiosis, and how you constantly worried about getting smashed in the face by it. Well, start worrying again, and continue worrying for the rest of the game; dropping counters on an evasion creature and a mid-sized ground-pounder should create a dominating board position, and can bring a game to a close in a turn or two.
Why are these cards all so important? Really, they are the glue that puts together a sealed deck, giving that extra boost of power to a deck that pushes it over the edge. I skipped a few cards that can cause a solid impact on a game (such as Test of Faith), but you get the idea here. The uncommon slots in your sealed deck provide a higher level of power that you canít get out of commons; basically, they are the supports for your deck to lean on. Iíll take a whole stack of good uncommons over a good rare or two any day of the week; those uncommons will win more games than your rares, or at the very least theyíll just deal with your rares one way or another.
With that, Iím off to sleep (finally!) and school. Next week, I think weíll take a look at the League system on Magic: Online and see what we can make of it. ĎTil then, bust good packs.
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