MtgMagicalHack

Gatecrash Team Sealed Challenge

I got money to burn and I'm going to burn it with you. I opened 12 Gatecrash boosters in order to practice team sealed deck building for the upcoming Grand Prix Utrecht.

Hello there: This time I'd love to get some feedback from you. If you are up to the task, please download the sealed pool and start building your own decks. Once you are done, I need three 40-card decks, preferably in .dec notation, but plain text is also fine. If you want to, you can also add reasoning to your submission. With your permission I'd like to publish and discuss them in the near future. Please mail to mtgmagicalhack [AT] gmail [DOT] com. Happy Brewing!
  1. The pool
  2. Uplayables
  3. Rares
  4. Mana fixing
  5. Table View
  6. Deck Construction
  7. Sideboarding and Seating
  8. Conclusion

The pool

Here is the pool in all its glory. Unfortunately we have a lot of triplets and even quadruplets in our pool, which might be related to double print runs. However, I can assure you that I opened real boosters for this task, as I wasn't satisfied with any online generators, which ironically suffered the same problem of insufficient randomization.

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Download this deck You should receive your pool already sorted by color and alphabet. In the first step I usually remove all the cards, that I consider unplayable or sideboard material and set them aside. This reduces complexity and should speed up all following steps. We can revisit the leftovers once we have a grasp at what decks we are going to build.

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In the second step, let's take a look at the rares, so we can quickly see if we opened something sweet that pushes us towards playing a specific color or guild.

We didn't do too well in the rare department. Biovisionary, Whispering Madness, 2 x _Watery Grave and 2 x Thespian Stage are basically blanks, which leaves us with only six playable rares our pool.

Overall our rares are disappointing. Only Aurelia stands out and pushed us towards Boros. For the rest it's going to be more relevant what kind of decks we can support from our pool.

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In the third step, let's filter out all relevant mana fixing from our pool and quickly get a grasp for the potential combinations and splashes we can support. It's noteworthy, that we probably want to end up in one or two of the following friend-guild combinations, which enable playing or splashing our gold cards, as they are in general more powerful than our mono-colored cards:

By looking at our fixing we can make some observations:

Table View

This is going to be the most important and most time-consuming part. Basically you split all your colors in creatures and spells. You then lay them out in way could be described as a table. On the x-axis you order your cards by converted mana cost and on the y-axis you order them by color. Also it's noteworthy that I don't use the normal color cycle (WUBRG), but rather the Gatecrash guild cycle (WRGUB, with the appropriate gold cards in between).

The main goal of this process is giving you an overview of your pool. It might be obvious, but the main difference of building a single player sealed and team sealed is that you have to build multiple decks. If you put a card into one deck you are effectively denying it to the other two decks. For now I'm going to assume that we want to build three decks of roughly equal power level. By looking at your pool in grid view you can hopefully accomplish that better.

Please note, that the table view shown here is actually worse compared to its physical representation in terms of usability. I hope you can still get a grasp of all relevant cards. With our cards placed like this we can make the following observations:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
White 1 Dutiful Thrull
3 Shielded Passage
3 Smite
1 Syndic of Tithes
1 Daring Skyjek
1 Blind Obedience
2 Aerial Maneuver
1 Assault Griffin
1 Zarichi Tiger
1 Guardian of the Gateless
1 Knight Watch
1 Angelic Edict
1 Debtor's Pulpit
Boros 1 Truefire Paladin
1 Sunhome Guildmage
3 Wojek Halberdiers
3 Martial Glory
1 Ordruun Veteran 1 Aurelia, the Warleader
Red 1 Mugging
3 Furious Resistance
1 Skinbrand Goblin
1 Bomber Corps
2 Warmind Infantry
1 Act of Treason
2 Viashino Shanktail
1 Mark for Death
1 Homing Lightning
1 Towering Thunderfist 1 Ripscale Predator
1 Hellkite Tyrant
Gruul 1 Ground Assault 1 Zhur-Taa Swine 2 Ruination Wurm
Green 1 Spire Tracer
2 Burst of Strength
1 Forced Adaptation
1 Greenside Watcher 1 Miming Slime
1 Slaughterhorn
2 Crocanura
1 Scab-Clan Charger
1 Crowned Ceratok
1 Adaptive Snapjaw
1 Rust Scarab
1 Sylvan Primordial
Simic 2 Shambleshark
1 Simic Charm
1 Biovisionary
Blue 1 Cloudfin Raptor 1 Metropolis Sprite
2 Hands of Binding
1 Spell Rupture
1 Keymaster Rogue
4 Clinging Anemones
3 Last Thoughts
2 Scatter Arc
2 Way of the Thief
1 Leyline Phantom
1 Totally Lost
1 Sapphire Drake
Dimir 2 Mortus Strider
2 Psychic Strike
1 Whispering Madness
Black 1 Basilica Screecher
2 Devour Flesh
1 Slate Street Ruffian
1 Gateway Shade
2 Corpse Blockade
2 Midnight Recovery
2 Mental Vapors
1 Grisly Spectacle
2 Horror of the Dim 1 Shadow Slice 1 Sepulchral Primordial
Orzhov 1 Vizkopa Guildmage 1 Kingpin's Pet 1 One Thousand Lashes 1 Vizkopa Confessor
Hybrid 1 Burning-Tree Emissary
1 Biomass Mutation
1 Arrows of Justice
1 Deathcult Rogue
1 Gift of Orzhova
Artefacts 2 Prophetic Prism
3 Riot Gear
1 Dimir Keyrune
1 Gruul Keyrune
1 Boros Keyrune
1 Orzhov Keyrune
1 Millennial Gargoyle

Deck Construction

Spoiler alert: In case you want to send me your own build, I strongly suggest to stop reading here and come back later once you finished building!

Let's push things one step further and show only creatures from our pool (in the physical world simply ignore them). In general you want roughly 15 creatures in your sealed deck, but depending on your desired strategy you will either need more (when building an aggro deck) or can get away with less (when building a control deck).

Primarily, I like to build my sealed deck with a good creature curve in mind, as casting your creatures on-curve is generally more important than casting your other spells.

The power/toughness ratio of creatures heavily depends on their casting cost and casting a two-drop on turn two is lot more desirable than casting it on turn five. With non-creature spells (removal, tricks, …) it's generally not as important to curve out as their value decreases less over time.

In team sealed we are faced with the challenge of building three decks out of 5 colors. With the guild structure of Gatecrash it seems likely, that you build two two-color decks that don't overlap color-wise, while sharing one color among two decks. Here are the possible configurations:

CMB 1 CMB 2 CMB 3 Single Shared
R W U G B W B W
R W U G B U B U
G R U B B W W B
G R U B R W W R
U G B W R G R G

Let's try to build three decks. I think the most obvious split looks like Boros – Simic – Orzhov, where we share white among Boros and Orzhov. From my experience and from what others told me the benefit of white is, that you have cards, that are either highly defensive (i.e. Smite) or aggressive (i.e. Foundry Street Denizen), which leads to quite natural split among two decks. With that in mind I'm going to mark the creatures from our pool using the following legend:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
White 1 Dutiful Thrull 1 Syndic of Tithes
1 Daring Skyjek
1 Assault Griffin
1 Zarichi Tiger
1 Guardian of the Gateless
1 Knight Watch
Boros 1 Truefire Paladin
1 Sunhome Guildmage
3 Wojek Halberdiers
1 Ordruun Veteran 1 Aurelia, the Warleader
Red 1 Skinbrand Goblin
1 Bomber Corps
2 Warmind Infantry 2 Viashino Shanktail 1 Towering Thunderfist 1 Ripscale Predator
1 Hellkite Tyrant
Gruul 1 Zhur-Taa Swine 2 Ruination Wurm
Green 1 Spire Tracer 1 Greenside Watcher 1 Miming Slime
1 Slaughterhorn
2 Crocanura
1 Scab-Clan Charger
1 Crowned Ceratok
1 Adaptive Snapjaw
1 Rust Scarab
1 Sylvan Primordial
Simic 2 Shambleshark 1 Biovisionary
Blue 1 Cloudfin Raptor 1 Metropolis Sprite 1 Keymaster Rogue
4 Clinging Anemones
1 Leyline Phantom 1 Sapphire Drake
Dimir 2 Mortus Strider
Black 1 Basilica Screecher 1 Slate Street Ruffian
1 Gateway Shade
2 Corpse Blockade
2 Horror of the Dim 1 Sepulchral Primordial
Orzhov 1 Vizkopa Guildmage 1 Kingpin's Pet 1 Vizkopa Confessor
Hybrid 1 Burning-Tree Emissary 1 Deathcult Rogue
Artefacts 1 Dimir Keyrune
1 Gruul Keyrune
1 Boros Keyrune
1 Orzhov Keyrune
1 Millennial Gargoyle

First build: creatures only

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18 creatures

The first draft of the Boros deck has 10 two drops, things are looking good. The lack of three drops is painful, but there isn't much to be done about it. Its curve on the high-end could be optimized a bit. The overall quality is good.

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13 creatures

The first draft of the Orzhov deck looks bad. We are very low on creatures right now and I would consider Zarchi Tiger and Millenial Gargoyle as filler. It's quite possible that we need to shift some creatures from the Boros deck to this one.

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17 creatures

The simic creature base looks decent. We obviously want to have more evolve one-drops, but they're simply not there. I particularly like 2 x Crocanura as way to stabilize the board and Crowned Ceratok and Sapphire Drake as finishers to grant evasion to our team.

Second build: spells added

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18 creatures, 7 spells

The second build of the Boros still looks decent. We added a couple of removal spells and tricks, exactly what the Boros deck is looking for. I especially like Blind Obedience in here. We are currently at 25 playables, so we have to make some cuts.

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13 creatures, 11 spells

The second build of the Orzhov deck looks much better. We added a plethora of removal spells. I'm not too fond of Gift of Orzhova with a creature count this low. Additionally I think with triple _Smite we want more early creatures in order to enable them in the early game.

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17 creatures, 9 spells

We could have added more of blue's cypher spells (in particular Hands of Binding), but as we don't have that much evasion I'd rather splash red for some removal. I like Mark for Death in here as a Gridlock replacement, that can support a late game alpha strike. We have to make some cuts here and I think of lowering our curve.

Third build: finished main deck

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16 creatures, 7 spells, 17 lands = 40 cards

We actually had to worsen the Boros deck in the final revision. We removed the mono white two drops to free them for the Orzhov deck. Our deck now slightly leans towards red. Without any one-drops I think it's okay to include the guildgate to make a more consistent mana base.

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14 creatures, 9 spells, 17 lands = 40 cards

We moved Gift of Orzhova and Zarchi Tiger to sideboard and added the early drops from the Boros deck. We play triple Orzhov Guildgate in order to get maximum mileage out of our Gateway Shade

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16 creatures, 8 spells, 16 lands = 40 cards

Here we moved Totally Lost and Sylvan Primordial to the board, so we can lower our curve. Although our curve is still a bit high, I think we can get away with playing 16 lands with double Prophetic Prism and Gruul Keyrune.

Sideboarding and Seating

As this article already took way longer than expected, I'm going to touch my last two topics only briefly: sideboarding and seating.

I think I got that tip from a Channel Fireball video featuring Tom Martell: Once you have a maindeck configuration for each deck I think it's a good idea to have each team member look at each deck and quickly write down its strengths (power level, speed, consistency, …), weaknesses (lack of answers, curve, …) and possible matchups (aggro, midrange, control). With that in mind you can make some last minute changes to the maindeck and hopefully you also can construct a good sideboard for each deck.

The second topic is seating. When you register your team, the player who registers second (your team captain) is always going to play in the middle, having the most relevant seat when discussing mulligans and play decisions. I heard that it's a common practice to give him the fastest (read: Boros) deck, so he has more time for supporting the other two players in team. It might pay off to counteract that practice and build a deck for the captain, that can consistently win against Boros. For instance from our build, I might want to place the Orzhov deck in the middle.

Conclusion

Team sealed deck building is a quite complex task. Is my build the optimal one? Probably not. I like the decks we have so far, but I have no idea of the general power level of other decks in team sealed. As of now, I hope you learned something out of this exercise, I certainly did. I'm more than excited about your submissions and will hopefully be able to discuss them in the near future.

23.02.2013 • #Limited, #Sealed, #GTC