The next round of RPTQs is almost here, and this time around it’s SOI Sealed for a shot at qualifying for PT Eldritch Moon in beautiful Sydney. As a result I’ve been playing a ton of Sealed lately, thanks again in part to the easily accessible and fast-paced Leagues available on Magic Online. After playing many Sealed games, I started noticing a very obvious trend across my games. I was playing GW mirror matches over and over—in Limited! The truth is that unless you have a very good reason not to, you should be playing GW in your SOI Limited pools. The last time I remember this extreme of an example was way back in original Zendikar where the rule was to just build RB and start playing your games.

The reason is that green and white require way less work from your pool to be good as opposed to the more synergy-driven Grixis colors. I’ll get into more of that below.

When Should I Not Play GW?

There are always exceptions, and those who have read my thoughts on Sealed before should be well aware of my main exception to playing GW. That’s of course when you have bombs in other colors you want to support. But those bombs have to be plentiful enough and their colors deep enough to warrant deviation from a strong baseline strategy. If you have Welcome to the Fold and Jace, Unraveler of Secrets with solid playable blue cards, by all means play your blue, but I haven’t seen this be a consistently successful road to travel down.

The second reason to play different colors is that they are exceptionally deep, which also results in fewer green and white playables (since this is zero sum). If I expect a normal distribution, the depth of playables across green and white will be higher than the Grixis colors, but of course there are always exceptions to this. Maybe you open up a ton of madness cards with strong enablers. Congrats, you have a great deck that is very hard to open.

What’s Wrong with Blue, Black, and Red?

I love a good UR spells deck to the point that it was the first archetype I wanted to write a draft guide on for SOI. But in Sealed you can’t work towards an end product by drafting synergistic cards that are weaker individually. You work with what you open and try to find the best synergies present. The main problem is that blue, black, and red are all far more synergy driven than either white or green.

Below I’ll go through each color and divide the commons and uncommons into synergy cards and power cards. For my purposes, a synergy card is one that needs other good contextual pieces to work and a power card is something that does what it says at face value and can be put in any old deck. On some borderline cards I had to consider where to place the card based on when it’s normally played. Thus I consider Moorland Drifter a power card because delirium is a nice bonus whereas Moldgraf Scavenger is labeled a synergy card because it is very bad in a deck that can’t reliably reach delirium.

Note: For this exercise, I’m not listing any cards generally considered unplayable, sideboard only, or cards with multicolor activations.

White

Synergy

Power

Green

Synergy

Power

Blue

Synergy

Power

Black

Synergy

Power

Red

Synergy

Power

Analysis

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers for each color:

White

Synergy: 6 Power: 25 Total: 31

Green

Synergy: 11 Power: 23 Total: 34

Blue

Synergy: 11 Power: 21 Total: 33

Black

Synergy: 12 Power: 17 Total: 29

Red

Synergy: 12 Power: 19 Total: 31

The numbers here were surprising to me because my impressions were far more skewed than the numbers show, but there are some explanations as to why green and white perform so much better under the synergy/power setup even with these numbers. First, you can see that white is very clearly the best color to play in a world where you’re trying to minimize synergy dependent cards. It has the most power cards and is still middle of the pack for total playables. This means that white will usually be very deep and can be an easy main color in most pools. Secondly, you can see right away that black is lacking overall. It’s tied on most synergy cards but has by far the fewest playables—Vessel of Malignity and Merciless Resolve just aren’t going to cut it. This means a lot needs to go right at the common and uncommon slots for you to want to play black cards in your deck.

The Temur colors are where the lines blur the most and if you looked at these numbers you’d be confused as to why I’m advocating for green/white specifically. First, green still has the most power cards among the Temur colors and holds the place for most playables overall, but blue is right on its heels. But if you dig into the actual blue “power” cards, you’ll see they’re quite weak. Blue has Deny Existence, Furtive Homunculus, Seagraf Skaab and a ton of card drawing that leads nowhere in a format where every color can draw cards via Clues and is pressured to make meaningful plays on board every turn of the game. Meanwhile green is full to the brim of solid giant creatures at every point of the curve: Lambholt Pacifist, Byway Courier, Solitary Hunter, Thornhide Wolves, and Kessig Dire Swine, to name a few.

Finally, red passes the number of playables test, but many of them are tied up in being synergy specific. More than that, a lot of them ask you to play a certain way—aggressively. The problem though is that many of the synergy payoffs that pair best with red are in blue and black. But the numbers just aren’t present for that to work. You aren’t going to open up a functioning UR spells deck very often, and BR needs very specific aggressive cards to be opened in conjunction across the 2 colors with the fewest power cards.

All of this means that your Sealed pool will be a sprinkling of various synergies across a ton of different archetypes. You’ll see Call the Bloodline and get excited but open 0 madness cards for it, or Rise from the Tides and have 7 total playable instants and sorceries. Yet, in green and white, you have a bunch of creatures and combat tricks that you can throw together and attack your opponent with. So next time you sit down to build your SOI Sealed pool, start by looking at GW. Then, with your leftover time, build all the wacky crazy decks you can. Maybe you’ll find something powerful and synergistic enough to run, but chances are you won’t. At that point, grab your creatures and combat tricks, and save the exciting synergies for draft.