There are three SNC Sealed Qualifiers on Magic Online this weekend itself, and I’m here to tell you that almost everything you know about the format is wrong. There’s been a good deal of work done on SNC as a format, and there are a lot of articles on how the format works or what you should be playing. However, most of these approaches are derived from the draft format, and it turns out that the sealed format actually plays vastly differently.
The fact that color rankings don’t apply as rigidly to sealed as they do to draft is pretty well known. Part of why you bias yourself to a color in draft is an expectation of future playables in those colors, and in sealed what you see is what you get. That said, the lack of Brokers supremacy in sealed goes considerably beyond just that.
Fundamentally, the sealed format, like most, is carried primarily by raw power level rather than synergy, making the fundamentally strong commons black has (like Murder and Girder Goons) much stronger than they are in draft. When talking about the sealed format with Haiyue Yu (who taught me most of what I know about it), she claimed that black was the best color in sealed, and while specific color evaluations are hard to do and not particularly useful for sealed, I find this claim completely believable, since many of the cards I most want to open and play are black, across all rarities.
In contrast to this, Brokers decks lose a lot of what makes them particularly scary in draft. By and large, these decks are reliant on being cohesive, having a curve and in general play toward a fairly streamlined game plan. In sealed, every aspect of this falls apart. You won’t necessarily be able to put together a curve, you won’t always have mana that supports a deck of that sort and you likely won’t have enough playables that all contribute towards a single cohesive game plan. This leads to the next big difference in formats…