Dragons of Tarkir Sealed Deckbuilding

Magic Origins is just on the horizon and Dragons of Tarkir Limited is disappearing into the rear-view mirror, but we’re not quite done with the format yet. GP Montreal is DTK Limited and everyone at RPTQs this past weekend played DTK Limited as well. Today I want to cover the pool I opened at the RPTQ which I lost playing for Top 4 with, and how I decided to construct the pool. Some of my decisions were specific to this format, but others were principles that apply to Sealed in general. Here’s the pool so you can think about how you would build it, then I’ll discuss my final build:









My Build

Immediately I saw that Bant colors gave me absurd bombs and even had reasonable mana fixing, something that often is lacking in this Sealed format. However, red and black also had good removal spells and some solid creatures, not to mention Corpseweft which can easily take over a game. I had to immediately decide between these two paths, but ultimately decided a Bant shell would be better. If you curve out the red and black cards you’ll see that the playables fall pretty short at around 20 or 21 cards. There is reasonable fixing, especially for white, but Monastery Mentor on the splash isn’t exciting and the deck as a whole really felt underpowered.

Once I had narrowed down my decision to Bant colors, I had to consider all the different variations. I built UWg first because if I could have a reasonable UW shell, the light green splash later on the curve would be easier than needing to splash lower-curve cards like Monastery Mentor and Ojutai’s Command. The deck looked decent and was very close to my final build, but I was a bit worried about ways to actually deal with resolved threats.

Next I built a WGu version, but quickly dismissed it. Blue has great 2-drops and is a big part of its strength here, and of the three colors blue was the deepest, limiting my options and building toward an inflexible deck with difficult-to-cast cards. Lastly, I tried UGw, which had the most potential playables of the three Bant decks I looked at. Green even provided some additional fixing, but blue lost a lot of its power when I was trying to play GG 2-drops and blue 2-drops together, and I had difficulty building a deck that had a reasonable curve with good mana. Certainly the cards were good in this version, but I was splashing Monastery Mentor and Ojutai’s Command, and a lot of the streamlined focus of the original deck was lost.

I mentioned before that I did have some concerns for the UWg deck, but it had a lot of strengths that are crucial to a good DTK/FRF Sealed deck. The biggest factor for me was reasonable spells early backed by game-breakers at the top of the curve. This format can open with very aggressive starts, and that consequently pushes players to include more 2- and 3-drops for early interaction. Because of this, the board often stalls, and it’s critical to find a way to go over the top.

Due to my rares and evasion from Elusive Spellfist, I knew I would have plenty of late game, but I needed to make sure I could deal with strong threats throughout the game since so many games are decided by rares. This lead to my inclusion of a splashed Pinion Feast. I was quite happy with the card all day, but didn’t want to start 2 since it would sometimes be clunky or difficult to cast on time. Another card that really overperformed for me was Silumgar’s Scorn. I had 9 blue sources which is really the lowest I would want for this effect, but thought that with 2 Dragons I would have a hard counter in slow games where that effect would be useful. I was a bit concerned about whether it would actually provide that effect consistently enough in practice, but it was a great card 80-85% of the time I drew it, which is quite good for such a situational card.

The last 2 cards I decided to include were Negate and the 2nd Sidisi’s Faithful. Negate is very good at 3 different things: countering tough-to-answer bombs like Sieges, protecting your own threats from opposing removal, and helping to win combat against tricks. My deck was very interested in all three and Negate was quite strong all day as well. Lastly, I decided I didn’t want a pure tempo spell like Will of the Naga since my deck was very midrange, and Sidisi’s Faithful could combo with Ojutai’s Command as a build-your-own Cryptic Command.



DTK Sealed is quite intricate since there are often many builds even within the colors you know you need to play. I’ll leave you with these 3 points to consider next time you build your Sealed pools:

  1. Aim to have a minimum of 3 ways to interact on turn 2 so you don’t fall too far behind.
  2. Build for the late game or have ways to go over the top in aggressive decks with cards like War Flare.
  3. Be sure to have answers for the many bombs of the format and feel free to include more narrow answers like Pinion Feast if you’re missing catchall answers like Reach of Shadows.

We’ll see how these sealed deckbuilding decisions fluctuate with the release of Magic Origins, but until then good luck with your pools!

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