Last week I played in the World Magic Cup as the captain of the Italian team and I want to share my experience in this great competition.
We playtested Team Sealed a lot against Team Canada the week prior to the WMC, and we found that the usual configuration in our testing pool was an aggro deck, usually Mardu or Jeskai; a more controlling one based on the BG wedges Sultai or Abzan; and a mostly UG Temur tempo deck featuring cards like Mystic of the Hidden Way, Secret Plans, and the green tricks. We ended up in this configuration 4 times out of 5 Team Sealed played, and we were pretty satisfied with the result.
I was usually playing the delve control deck or the morph deck, being very impressed by how few good cards you need in order to end up with a decent deck. The aggro decks instead always needed powerful cards to be impressive and most of the time we ended up with a Mardu token deck with Trumpet Blasts. In my experience it is pretty rare for the aggro deck to finish 3-0.
After cracking packs, the first thing to do in a Khans Sealed is to look at the lands you have to understand better which wedges are viable and how to arrange your decks. This is even more important in a Team Sealed event because you are also sharing the lands with your other two teammates.
We ended up with a decent number of lands, 14 duals and 2 trilands. Fixing is really important and having a solid mana base is the starting point for a powerful tri-color deck. Also, lands which are not used might find a place in two-color decks to provide a free splash.
The second thing you should do is to divide the cards of the single colors into playable and unplayable to keep track of the depth of each color in you pool.
Apart for a good rare in the form of Herald of Anafenza and a couple of good cards the white is pretty unimpressive.
Finally green, the color that is usually the deepest and to me the best in terms of power level. We were also lucky enough to get Sultai Flayer, Pine Walker, and Incremental Growth which are premium uncommons. I can’t say we have the best rares here but Meandering Towershell and See the Unwritten are still good cards in the right deck.
In the end it was pretty clear that green might be a base for two decks looking at the number of cards that we had.
Dividing the multicolor into different wedges is important to understand better which combinations are the deepest. As we see here Abzan is clearly the best guild for multicolor cards, with Ivorytusk Fortress, Anafenza, and Armament Corps, Jeskai has Mantis Rider and Warden of the Eye and also three good Boros uncommons in Ride Down and Highspire Mantis.
The artifacts in this set are usually very bad, here is what we opened:
Like I said.
One thing was certain: one deck will be Abzan, with all the best gold cards and 5 dual lands. Since the shell of the deck was BG we weren’t able to play Chief of the Scale.
Here’s the final Abzan deck list:
The deck is very good, full of removal, threats, and good synergies. Since a lot of green cards were left out we had to debate which cards were more suited to the plan of the deck.
With the rest of the green cards we instantly thought about building a Temur deck, but once we put down the cards we saw that UG was good enough on its own, and Crater’s Claws, Mardu Heart-Piercer, and the three Swiftwater Cliffs might go to the third deck increasing its power level.
In the end we settled for a little red splash thanks to the 2 Rugged Highlands for Bear’s Companion and Snowhorn Rider. The deck was solid, with good evasive creatures ( 2 Mystic of the Hidden Way and 2 Jeskai Windscout), and good blockers (2 Highland Game, Monastery Flock, and the Meandering Towershell). This deck was the perfect home for See the Unwritten with a lot of creature to enable ferocious.
There was a bit of discussion about Woolly Loxodon though, in the end we decided that the Abzan Deck needed more ways to win the game, while this one was already full of them. Here we go:
The third deck in our test configuration was always an aggro deck and I can say this time was no exception.We still had good Boros and Jeskai cards, so with the blue drained by the second deck the only combination left was a Boros deck with a splash for some Jeskai gold cards. Here is the deck list:
The blue splash wasn’t free like in the UG build, since we had to add 1 Island and since there are spells that couldn’t be cast without an Island in play ( Mantis Rider, Warden of the Eye), but the deck was too weak in power level to be straight red/white.
The last thing to do in a Team Sealed is decide which player will pilot which deck. We always choose the same archetype in all our tests: I was always played Temur/UG, Alessandro Portaro played Abzan/Sultai/4cc, and Matteo Venturi played BW/RW/Jeskai/Mardu. This helped us to understand the game plan of each archetype and focus on them better.
I was piloting UG and I won 2 matches, losing to Flying Crane Technique against Lithuania, Alessandro with Abzan went 3-0, and Matteo with Jeskai went 1-2.
Overall the matches went as expected, the pool was not insane so we were happy with our 2-1. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make Day 2 because of a bad performance in Standard, but the WMC was a great experience that I hope to repeat next year.