Aside from the World Magic Cup, this is the first time that the common of mortals can participate in a Constructed Team Trio Grand Prix. I’ve never played a WMC, so practicing for this event is new to me.
I have played Team Trio before, a few Limited GPs and non-Grand-Prix Constructed events, but they were mixed formats rather than Modern, so the dynamic is different and the level of competition stronger.
I’ve gathered one important rule from these past experiences: You must absolutely respect and trust your teammates. Otherwise, it defeats all purposes of the whole Team Trio aspect. If two teammates keep clashing and disagreeing without being able to prove their arguments and someone bowing to it, then communication will be useless and you’ll get run over by teams of the same caliber because they can combine their knowledge and you can’t.
Depending on the amount of time and dedication you want to bring to an event like that, there are a few ways you can prepare and I narrowed them down to easy mode, hard mode, and expert mode.
Not everyone has access to every single deck and not everyone has the time to test enough to be comfortable with every deck, either.
The easy mode is for those who want to play the event, have a great time, and have a shot at doing well.
You find two friends who are about as skilled as you are, and then hopefully you have deck knowledge that does not overlap. This is Team Unified Modern, meaning nonbasic land cards can’t appear in more than one player’s deck.
I’m calling this the easy mode because there won’t be much effort to make other than playing the decks you already know, with a slight difference in being able to communicate during the matches.
Apply what I said above, potentially extending your network of friends to people you’ve met at a competitive event. They are not necessarily close friends, but you know they’re great Magic players and so are you, so why not ask them?
Be willing to put some effort into this. You want them to see that you’re a valuable member of the team.
Share thoughts with your teammates about deck lists and remain open-minded. Don’t force anyone to play something they are not comfortable with just because you think it’s a better deck than whatever they would play.
On the other hand, if you’re committing time to preparation and you see that your usual deck cuts off too many options for other decks, be willing to learn something else. Use that suggestion wisely, though. If you know there’s no way you can learn this completely new archetype in 3 days, share that with your teammates.
Apply the above, with a touch of crazy dedication.
I will be teaming again with Brian Braun-Duin and Shaheen Soorani, as we get along very well and we made Top 4 in our first and only time teaming together at a Team Limited Grand Prix. We are also collaborating with other pro teams that had similar thoughts on which 3 decks to pair together.
Part of our preparation was to try to figure out what possible trios exist and metagame accordingly. That requires a group of players who can pilot anything, or at least learn any deck with short notice.
Having the knowledge of exactly what deck beats what is a lot more work than you’d think. Especially in a format that just underwent so many changes.
Death’s Shadow specifically is the consensus best strategy, and that led the format to warp around it.
It should be the starting line for every team. Whether you agree that it is the best deck or not, the world agrees that it is. You’ll have to either play decks that can beat it or have a teammate that plays it.
If we agree that a huge portion of the teams will have it as one of their 3 choices, then you can start eliminating anything that overlaps with Death’s Shadow. Mainly Fatal Push, Thoughtseize, Tarmogoyf, and the mana base.
Enter every single variant of the deck, which lets you use a different mana base and potentially move Tarmogoyf to another one of your decks—Esper or Grixis Death’s Shadow, for example.
Fatal Push, Street Wraith, and Thoughtseize will likely be in all of these builds, so you can eliminate Abzan, Jund, Living End, and Grixis from your opponents’ possible options. But keep in mind that some people might still run those decks since they have a reasonable matchup against Death’s Shadow.
I won’t be going too deep on the Death’s Shadow spectrum because I was not the member of my team tasked with learning it, but as you’ve figured it out, whether we play it or not, all of our deck choices will be affected by that one deck’s existence.
Distributing roles to each teammate and relying on the information they report back is the most important component of expert mode. I gave you a few examples based on this particular format, but in a year or two when Death’s Shadow is banned, the same logic should hold true.