As Scars of Mirrodin is being released on Magic Online, it seems to Antoine and I that now is a pretty good time to go through the different steps of a SoM sealed deck build. As two opinions are better than one, which applies even more when we don’t know the format that well yet, Antoine and I have decided to compare a few sealed decks in order to discuss the builds. Today we’ll discuss about the first deck I’ve been playing in the format, and tomorrow in Antoine’s column we’ll talk about his modo SoM sealed experiment.
But before getting into the core into the article, I have to say a word about the way Scars of Mirrodin was released on MTGO.
I understand WotC is a company, and has to make money. I understand as well that they are making people pay as much for digital cards as for real ones. I still think it’s quite unreal, but as people keep on playing, and I came to accept it. And, as the program has been getting better over the last two years, at least we started lately seeing what we were investing so much money into.
However, choosing the moment when the program is working the worst* to make people pay 20 dollars for a 4-3-2-2 draft, almost twice more as it would be in real life, can no longer be called a marketing strategy; it is simple robbery. I understand a situation of monopoly necessarily causes abuses, but when it goes to that extent it shows an incredible lack of respect to players. At least they don’t pretend they care at all about such a thing. I have been playing a couple of sealed decks events for the sake of the article you’re about to read, but for now I won’t play until the buy-ins are back to normal and I can only recommend people who are as confused by the situation as I am to do the same.
Oh, and did I fail to mention that you couldn’t register with the packs you had won but actually had to pay another 20 tix each time?
Well well well, let’s now get back to the original point of the article!
Oli: Hi Toutoune!
Antoine:Salut ! I just finished building a sealed deck with your pool and…
Oli:Wait! People didn’t even get to see the sealed deck from themselves!
Here is the detailed list of the card pool. You will notice that I dispatched some of the artifacts in the color they are associated with, but not all of them. When a card would be pretty good despite being played “off color”, I would put it in colorless (Myrs for instance), but when they shine a lot more in that color I would count it as colored. This is how I would count the blue, black and green Trigons as colorless as they are pretty good on their own but the other two as colored as they need to be refilled to be playables.
Oli: And here is the decklist I chose to run:
And how about you?
Antoine: I went with the following:
Oli: Both decks look pretty similar and different at the same time.
Where I wanted to build an aggro deck in order to make the best possible use of my bombs it seems like you wanted to go for an aggro version.
Antoine: Neurok Replica? Seriously?? There are some unexpected things in your build to say the least.
Oli: The deck has lots of bombs, removal and card advantage providers. When I have those I simply try to aim for a control deck. With so few colored cards, running a couple of Forests for the Green Replica (and possibly for the Spellbomb) doesn’t cost much.
Concerning Neurok Replica, the only thing I don’t like about this deck is that its curve is a little high. An early drop, even though it is not so effective, can’t really hurt.
Oli: I considered the 1/5, and added it in once against RG aggro, but I thought the fact it was an artifact would help more than that 1 toughness defense.
Antoine: Yeah, true, the 5 toughness doesn’t matter much in this format. Then the one thing i have that is more aggro than yours is a Trigon of Rage>Trigon of Corruption, which, i think is really good with 3 Myrs.
Oli: I must admit I probably don’t give enough credit to the red Trigon which I haven’t played a single time, how much do you like the card?
Antoine: Well, with 3 Myr + Glint Hawk + Glimmerpoint Stag + Red lands to refill it + 2 Glint Hawk Idol, it has to be good. When the Black one is more expensive, and mostly kills Myrs. But I did not try it yet, how good was it by the way ?
Oli: It’s very good if you’re not black and amazing if you are. The sealed deck format is pretty slow if you except the GB poison archetype, and still, surprisingly most guys are pretty small.
Antoine: Agree on that. But cards such a card as Sunspear Shikari is just bad in my opinion. I mean I would not play it with one equipment in the deck that already wins by itself.
Oli: Well the question is to know if it is better to have a 3/10 or a 4/10 which is good for the curve (Neurok Replica, Sunspear Shikari), or another 5 which are a bit more expensive. I agree those cards are between so-so and mediocre, but the deck has already so many expensive cards:
I can’t really see myself adding another high drop.
Antoine: Which is exactly the reason why i would not play Trigon of Corruption. What a control deck needs is efficient kill conditions, and I think that Flameborn Hellion is one of those. With 3 Myrs in the deck, you need reliable high drops rather than 2/2 or 1/4 which will never have an impact on the board. Also, your opponent can handle any kind of artifact fairly easy, but a big colored spell usually means trouble for him.
Oli: Well globally the main difference between our two lists is not really about cards (besides the Trigons), but about how reliable we consider our winning conditions are.
I can only agree with you when you say the Hellion is a pain to deal with, but in my opinion what I put in my deck is more than enough.
Oli: Yeah maybe… oh no actually, I didn’t consider it but didn’t play it because of the two equipments. And concerning the Foundry, it takes a lot of artifacts to be good (maybe 17), and the more Spellbombs the better, but we are still talking about a card which loses most of his efficiency after if you don’t have it on turn three.
Antoine: The green in your deck is definitely interesting; with that many artifacts and a Myr, it should be easy to splash. And most of the double colored cards are high drops anyway.
Oli: True, and anyway it’s one of the characteristics of the format: with so few colored cards, you can afford running splashes a lot more easily. And that one doesn’t represent that much of a risk.
Antoine: The main question would be: do you really want to risk mana problems for a Sylvok Replica? Furthermore, [card]Horizon Spellbomb[/card] does not seem needed with 3 Myr and 17 lands.
Oli: Well, Horizon Spellbomb is only to be played if you want to run the Replica. And having it in the deck almost compensates for the Plains and the Mountain which were taken out of the deck, as the red and white cards are mostly midgame/lategame drops.
Antoine: I thought about both when building, but with that much mana already in the deck, I opted for cards that would have a bit more impact on the game. The green addition does not seem really needed as you already have 3 cards that handle artifacts. Then, if I was playing against a blue deck, i would probably sideboard it in as the only reason I have seen so far to play U is the control magic.
Oli: And in the opposite way I’d probably take it out against a GB mage, as it usually is the association running the least artifacts.
Antoine:Yep I hated most of the green black decks i faced so far. A lot of players actually have decks that try to kill you either with poison or normal damage and both plans are not compatible in my opinion.
Oli: I totally agree with that point. When I played in prereleases a few weeks ago nothing would make me happier than seeing a Forest and a Swamp on my opponent’s board. However, I think it was the result of those players inexperience in the format more than the failure of an archetype. As you have said, you can’t really afford to play a few poison guys, while the rest of the deck tries to kill with regular damage. If you want to go poison, you have to be convinced you’ll be able to win with the Infect/Proliferate combination.
Antoine: Which seems extemly tough…
Oli: The deck is still hard to play if you don’t have the +X/+X pump spell, but it can be pretty good otherwise. The single combo of this card and either the 3/1 pro artifact or the 1/1 flyer can be lethal, but indeed it does take a few cards to make this archetype actually work.
Antoine: So, how did you go at the sealed deck, and was green good?
Oli: In the end, I went 2-2 with that deck.
Antoine: Have you lost to any brutal card/combo/mulligans?
Oli: There’s the one match in which I couldn’t do a thing, including a game when I started with 4 lands in opening hand and died with 6 on turn 8 without having missed a single land drop (yeah Spellbomb + Razor Hippogriff), but that just happens. And then out of the normal games, the mana didn’t really hurt. Three times in four rounds did I have a green mana to sac my spellbomb and the one time I drew Forest and was a Mountain short it wasn’t very relevant as it was a late drop which lessened the impact as I already had expensive spells to play.
It wasn’t much of a surprise but the Hellkite was extremely brutal, and quite a cute way to deal with Wurmcoil Engine. My main problem was to try and stop my opponents’ early beatings. My low curve helped a bit, but against a true good aggro draw those cards are still pretty light. On the other hand, anytime the game was close when I reached turn 6 I ended up winning.
Antoine: Considering your pool, that is normal.
Oli: And finally, I was extremely disappointed byt the Armor, which I thought was absolutely necessary, but which I wouldn’t even run in that deck anymore.
Antoine: I’m pretty sure you will still have to. I think that a card that wins games by itself has to be played.
Oli: I drew it countless times, and not only did I never equip it, I didn’t even find time to cast it. Not once. The card would be pretty great in a deck with a very low curve and not much to do in the late game, but it was a systematic handicap here.
Antoine: So what would you play over it? Flameborn Hellion as a replacement in the “kill slots”?
Oli: I’m not sure, it would be either the 1/5 or the Hellion. And if I cut the Armor I may take in the Wall over the blue Replica as well.
Antoine: Seems better this way even though I stand that I probably would not cut the Argentum Armor.
Oli:This deck was a pretty tough one to build. Red is clearly the best color, and even though white is not fantastic it is pretty tempting. The problem lies in the lack of synergy of the cards. You can’t make a good use of the [card glint hawk]Hawks[/card], [card glint hawk idol]either[/card] of them. They give you what you could call a “fake curve”. You have a cheap curve which works when you’re on the move but not if you’re trying to defend from your opponent’s beatdown. Therefore, even though I think our builds were globally correct, we would be in extremely hard situation against a true aggro deck. And that’s how I lost 1 of the 3 matches I’ve really played.
Antoine: It’s important indeed not to pay attention only to the mana cost of the spells, but on how much it takes them to be efficient. It doesn’t mean the two Idols for instance were not necessary in the WR build, but we should clearly have ran the 0/6 wall.
Oli: Thanks a lot for your time bro, and see you tomorrow for a double sealed deck analysis!
Antoine: My pleasure, thanks everyone for reading, and see you tomorrow!
Oli: Thank you!
*: a couple of interesting examples Antoine and I have faced in a few hours time:
-such terrible lag as a deck submitted 1 minute before the end of time wouldn’t be accepted but turned into a 120 cards pile.
-15 minutes to trade a couple of Voltaic Key to Gab Nassif as the program shut down twice, told us several times we were in trade when we were not etc.
-a whole color missing from the deck builder which would only show up during the sideboarding window
If you’re not familiar with Magic: Online, you may know that the compensation policies say you can’t get a rebuy if you make prize at a tournament, meaning if you go 2/2 and make 1 pack from a 30 tix registration fee, no matter what can happen to you you can’t get a refund. Antoine is still waiting for an answer, but the only two answers I got from this situation were A-none and B-you won product, you’re screwed. So I’d rather recommend dropping in order to get the refund before you do actually win a pair of matches when facing a bug.