Sour Grapes and Sweet
Potatoes: a PTQ and Teams Summary
I really could almost love sealed deck as a format. It’s so tempting and sweet; it’s like looking through the window of a restaurant and seeing a dish and going, “Wow, that’s absolutely beautiful, I absolutely must have one of those.”
Then you go in, and you sit and place your order emphatically. Your waiter whisks it out from the back, and it’s just beautiful to the eyes. You take your first bite…
…and wonder, “WHAT THE #&!} IS THIS?”
Welcome to my PTQ experience on Saturday.
I won’t go into any real further detail; I’ll just give the shell of the deck. Essentially, mediocre removal with practically no equipment made up the spells in the deck; the only highlight was a Grab the Reins. The creatures left a lot to be desired, though I did have four haste creatures. Basically, the only way I had to win was through tempo, or by casting One Dozen Eyes and Talon of Pain (most fun combo ever, heh).
The biggest issue I had was the absolute hopelessness that I felt once I received the deck and started to build it. I was fairly convinced right away that I didn’t have a hope of making the top eight; the deck was too inflexible, it only did one or two things to win games. It seems like flexibility is the key to having a worthwhile deck in this environment; without being able to change up your plan, you don’t have a great chance for success. I managed to nudge the deck up to 4-1 before getting crushed by David Williams and knocked out of contention. Such is life in the bittersweet world of sealed deck.
More interesting was the team event that happened on Sunday. People have generally expressed a great deal of discomfort regarding the upcoming team season; Mirrodin-block sealed leaves a lot to be desired as far as distinct archetypes in sealed decks. The available pool of cards seems to dictate much more stridently what you are able to play, in normal sealed deck. The problem is alleviated somewhat in the amount of product you receive in teams, but you still operate within a pretty narrow set of guidelines for what you end up building.
So, where do you start? One thing to notice is that your team sealed decks are going to end up better than a lot of the draft decks that you might be used to playing with, simply because there are so many cards available to you. You can split the cards of a color and still have plenty of playables to fit into two decks. The power-level of your deck should be very high; you’ll probably see some pretty ridiculous decks come out of these events.
Another thing to work on is (and I’ve said this repeatedly already) taking time to make sure that you take as much time as you can to build your decks. Everyone on your team needs to have a chance to consider all three of the decks that are being built to see if they spot any apparent flaws in each deck; if someone doesn’t like the way a deck looks for some reason, it needs to be discussed between all of the teammates. The final say on the matter should belong to the person playing on the deck, but everyone needs to be open to the ideas of the others at the table.
On that note, let’s discuss the two biggest flaws that exist in teams: stubbornness and greed. The former leads to someone forcing mediocre cards into a deck against the wishes of their teammates, the latter involves one teammate insisting that he receive a lion’s share of the cardpool for no reason other than his own desire to win. The result of both will more likely than not lead to conditions that are not conducive to winning, whether it’s by gutting your teammate’s decks or making your own poor because you wouldn’t listen to those same teammates. If you aren’t going to trust your teammates, why are they on your team?
When you’re dealing with deck construction here, you need to start off by cutting the chaff from each color in your cardpool. Get the unplayables out of the way and set aside; then get to work on seeing what you have to build decks with. Don’t be afraid to split certain kinds of cards up; if you have two Fireballs, you don’t have to give them both to one player. Feel free to share that wealth; remember, two people have to win each round, not just you.
From what I’ve seen, one deck is going to be set in each group: the Affinity deck. While the quality of this deck depends on how many of the quality commons you open (like Myr Enforcer), you’ll probably end up with a version of this deck that looks like either B/U or B/R, working in either bounce or burn/artifact removal spells with the black spot removal to clear a path for the very quick creatures this deck will play given a reasonable draw. All the Myr Enforcers and Frogmites will go hear with your Terrors and Echoing Decay, most likely.
The other two decks can look like a mishmash of different things. The R/W aggressive deck seems to be the most likely candidate to take another spot at the table. Your equipment will probably end up in here with your Glaivemasters, Den-Guard, and Cubs. If you’re lucky enough to have a couple of Blinding Beam in here, you’re in good shape. Burn and haste creatures will fill this deck out nicely with the slew of white fliers you will hopefully acquire.
The third deck seems to be a bit of a dilemma; it’s green, but can be a great number of many things, depending on what direction you want to take it. G/R is a solid deck, giving you access to all of the artifact removal in the world; however, this doesn’t seem wise, as you don’t want to bunch all of that removal in a single deck. I am not a big fan of G/B under any circumstances; it seems to lack any sort of synergy, though you’re in decent shape if the only black cards in this deck are spot removal. Blue at least gives you access to bounce spells, and fliers are another option in this. Finally, white gives you those Blinding Beams, which are absolutely ridiculous when combined with very large green men. The deciding factor will simply be which color you decide you want to split.
My teammates on Sunday were Jason Krysak, a fine player and a good friend from Austin, and Pojo’s own DeQuan Watson. Being on a team with these two is something that I treat pretty much as a privilege; I not only want to qualify for the Seattle event for myself, but I really want to make the trip with these guys just for the good time to be had there. We expect to perform pretty well, so hopefully we’ll make our way up to the Northwest right about that time.
We received what felt like a very unusual pool of cards to work with. An extremely large number of green cards forced us to split the green between two decks; I ended up driving a G/W deck with some real aggression while Q (that’s DeQuan) ended up with a G/R deck. Jason received a pretty mediocre Affinity deck that didn’t really have the tools it needed, but there just wasn’t too much to do about it. The G/R deck was something I know that I’d warned against a moment ago, but an abundance of artifact removal let us split it between the two green decks. The huge creatures ended up getting split between our decks, and we used the thin red and white to shore up the low end of the mana curve; to give an idea of what kind of work we did building the decks, our final builds were approximately the fourth iterations of the decks, with us having gone over each one multiple times, sometimes moving cards or even whole colors back and forth between decks. We finished construction just as pairings were going up.
The final result on the day: 2-1, with our loss coming at the hands of a ridiculous pool of cards that we couldn’t have overcome under any circumstances. Jason’s deck wasn’t able to pull its weight, but that seems to be the role that he takes regularly on this team (no shot at him; frankly, we give him the bad decks because I hope he can finagle more wins out of them than either of us, heh). We learned a lot about the format, but we’re still hoping to put together some more practice sessions in the near future.
I hope that maybe this helps you out a bit at upcoming team events or PTQ’s. Next week…well, maybe we’ll be ready to jump back in with Magic: Online. We’ll see then, I guess.
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