Practicing Sealed Deck with Core Set 2019

Since Pro Tour Core Set 2019 will feature exclusively Constructed, I’ve decided that I will not practice Draft, but I still wanted to have an idea of the format because next week I’ll play GP Turin, and every GP matters—I don’t want to throw away another chance to Top 8 my first!

In my last two individual Sealed GPs I ended up going 8-1 and 9-0 on Day 1, and I would say that a big part of the reason was my 10+ Sealed decks played on Magic Online prior the event. Most people, in preparation for an individual Limited GP, practice a lot of Booster Draft, but I believe that Sealed deck is more useful in that regard, whereas if you have to practice for Team Limited, Booster Draft is more helpful.

Hence, I decided to join some Competitive Leagues on Magic Online and after three of them I found myself 14-1! With two trophies and a 4-1, I had a very hot run that led me to write this article.

First League: U/G/w 4-1

Omenspeaker is one of my favorite cards. It helped me to snag my first PT Top 8 back in Journey into Nyx, and for that I’ll always be grateful. Rhox Oracle is another card that fits both of my criteria for great card: big body and card advantage.

Last spring, while I had to study for university and practice for Competitive events, Modern Masters 25 came out and I spent a lot of time drafting U/G Sift + Cultivate decks, which this deck reminded me of: it has good 2-drops, removal, card advantage, and fixing.

I decided not to play the third Luminous Bonds because I didn’t want to play a fourth white source, and with only three white source I think you can only afford to play two white cards.

I should maybe have played Anticipate since it’s very good in combination with Aven Wind Mage.

I liked Marauder’s Axe to make my Omenspeaker a real threat, or just to get in for more damage with my flyers.

One of the best qualities of this Sealed was its sideboard—two Naturalize and two Plummet were really all-stars against various decks. I encountered many flyers and enchantments, and was always happy to board in up to three of those effects.

The deck performed well, and it gave me an idea of my favorite archetype for this format.

Second League: U/G 5-0

My second Sealed wasn’t much different from my first. It’s better, in fact, because I got to open the broken rare Patient Rebuilding, which is an insane card that is hard to beat if unanswered. This pool had insanely deep blue with three Omenspeaker, which once again shined, and had three Rabid Bite. Rabid Bite, to me, is the top common, especially when paired with Aven Wind Mage or Daggerback Basilisk.

Skyrider Patrol and Pelakka Wurm are, of course, icing on top of a cake that’s already very good.

I want to spend a couple of words on Colossal Dreadmaw and how much I like him in any Sealed build.

I had this card in both my 8-1 and 9-0 pool at GP Phoenix and GP London, in both Ixalan and Rivals of Ixalan. I love this card and consider it a strong signal to go one color. I really wouldn’t know how to win in any given Sealed format if it weren’t for this 6-mana 6/6 trample.

My pool was deep and I chose to not play Sleep and Surge Mare, which are two awesome cards in Draft, but I felt they were out of place here. Sleep especially, since it is at its best in a tempo deck, not in one with Giant Spider and OmenspeakerSurge Mare, while a great sideboard card versus green decks, doesn’t belong to the main deck here. The double blue is concerning, as well as the fact that I already have four 2-drops I consider better, and I don’t want to overload on those in Sealed.

Speaking of 2-drops, I really find Child of Night, Cavalry Drillmaster, Viashino Pyromancer unplayable in Sealed deck. It might have been the fact that I had five Omenspeaker in two pools, but those cards always underperformed, and I think you would be much happier to miss the second-turn play and move on.

3rd League: Grixis Dragons 5-0

I got super lucky, opening Nicol Bolas, the Ravager, Demanding Dragon, and Lathliss, Dragon Queen, and I immediately thought that this would be an easy Grixis Dragons deck. It turned out that red was extremely bad and black was very short.

Two Regal Bloodlords with Vampire Neonate and some lifelink effects were also very tempting. White had some pretty great cards such as Star-Crowned Stag, Angel of the Dawn, and Herald of Faith, but after laying B/W out I noticed how many 5-drops were in the deck and that kind of threw me off.

This is what I finally submitted and unsurprisingly I went 5-0, losing just one game. The power level of my cards was just incredible, with not only the three Dragons and the Demon, but also Arcane Encyclopedia and Chaos Wand for an endless stream of card advantage.

I hadn’t tried Chaos Wand before, but it really overperformed. I would assume that it is much better in Sealed than it is in Draft, but for me it did everything. Versus blue decks I was countering my opponent’s creature with Essence Scatter, and versus white decks I was killing creatures in combat with their Take Vengeance. Maybe I got lucky with it, but I feel that using it at the right time was the key to its success.

I learned how to play the deck deeper in the League. At first I was just jamming Dragons on curve, but after seeing them fall one at a time I slowrolled them, especially if I had a Lathliss, Dragon Queen to get value.

I might have opened three overpowered Sealed decks, but I learned some things about this format:

  • Always build decks that have a good card advantage engine. Cards like Sift, Dryad Greenseeker, and Arcane Encyclopedia really shine because you get to the late game often. It’s important not to flood since there is no way to use your extra mana. Omenspeaker is great there.
  • If you have those card advantage engines, don’t choose to draw. These are slow effects that guarantee you advantage later in the game, but you don’t want to fall behind in tempo.
  • The sideboard Naturalize or Invoke the Divine is very important—there are very many artifacts and enchantments that need to be killed.
  • Cheap removal isn’t as good as it is in Draft. And as a result, even cheap ground creatures aren’t great. A card like Gallant Cavalry might be good in Draft but it is definitely underwhelming in Sealed. The same is true for ground 2-drops, like I mentioned earlier.
  • Flyers are good, and as a result so are Giant Spider or Gargoyle Sentinel.

With all this said, good luck opening your pool. May Omenspeaker be with you!


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