Last week, I talked about the deckbuilding portion of the Super Sealed tournament at Grand Prix Denver. It isn’t often you end up playing a four-color deck and still be strapped for playables to end up playing [card]Cobblebrute[/card], [card]Batterhorn[/card], and [card]Vassal Soul[/card], but that’s where I found myself.
Round one, I played against an opponent with tons of defensive cards in his deck. In the early turns, as we were both drawing and saying go, he slowly revealed himself to be playing cards like [card]Giant Growth[/card], [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], two [card]Hussar Patrol[/card]s, [card]Trostani’s Judgment[/card], [card]Armory Guard[/card], two [card]Dramatic Rescue[/card]s, and [card]Common Bond[/card].
I unleashed a [card]Splatter Thug[/card] early, which was completely blanked by his many 2/x vigilance creatures. The game ended on a pretty funny note when he activated [card]Grove of the Guardian[/card], and instead of just using a sleeve or something as a token he opened up his trade binder and pulled out TWO 8/8 vigilance tokens!
I laughed to myself as I knew what he was up to, and when he untapped and populated it I conceded. I sideboarded in [card]Survey the Wreckage[/card], because while both of our decks were so slow and multicolored I could possibly mana-screw him, it was mainly because if I can use it to destroy [card]Grove of the Guardian[/card] and effectively kill an 8/8 creature with it, then it’s a pretty amazing spell.
Game three was close, I spent the early game desperately trying to get a free win by using [card]Survey the Wreckage[/card] on his Guildgate, [card]Batterhorn[/card] on his [card]Azorius Keyrune[/card], and I even unleashed a [card]Splatter Thug[/card] on turn three against my better judgement only to see it locked down by a [card]Hussar Patrol[/card]. The final turns of the game involved losing a tight race but trying to make it close with a [card]Hypersonic Dragon[/card]. On the final turn, at a pretty low life total with him at 8, I send in with the Hypersonic and he panics and stops it with a [card]Dramatic Rescue[/card]. I pick up the Dragon and cast the other card in my hand: [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. He gets slayed by the Dragon in short order.
Round two, my opponent starts with a [card]Slitherhead[/card], [card]Golgari Keyrune[/card], and a [card]Golgari Decoy[/card]. He eventually plays out a [card]Necropolis Regent[/card], and I am forced to cast [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]. He scavenges all his counters to make a 5/5 [card]Golgari Keyrune[/card] which I kill with [card]Batterhorn[/card]. On his next turn, he casts [card]Tenement Crasher[/card] to bash into my [card]Batterhorn[/card] which I snap-block to untap on an empty board and domination position.
The game was much closer than it sounds, as many of the early turns I had to spend using [card]Izzet Charm[/card] to try to draw into lands and [card]Seller of Songbirds[/card] to double chump block. This round I sideboarded in [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] and a Forest alongside [card]Chromatic Lantern[/card] and [card]Transguild Promenade[/card]. Since he showed me [card]Necropolis Regent[/card]—which I basically cannot remove outside [card]Voidwielder[/card] and [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]—[card]Tenement Crasher[/card], and many scavenge creatures, [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] was basically [card]Doom Blade[/card]. The second game was another close one where I pretty much knew my opponent had [card]Aerial Predation[/card] in his hand but couldn’t possibly win unless I played out my [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] to “bounce” his board. It came down to the wire but I was able to pull it out.
Fast forward to round six, past the [card]Pack Rat[/card] round I explained in detail in my last article, I’m paired against a nice guy who just beat a friend of mine. They said the guy was UW with [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] and many [card]Dramatic Rescue[/card]s.
I play cautiously in game one, but it doesn’t end up mattering as I win with my best card in hand because my opponent is mana-flooded. Against this guy, I am very happy about the fact that I have [card]Syncopate[/card] in my main deck, and I even sideboard in [card]Fall of the Gavel[/card], [card]Inspiration[/card], and [card]Selesnya Charm[/card].
Our sideboarded game plays out better than I could have ever hoped. We both sit there and do nothing for a while waiting for the other person to blink, I eventually realize he also has [card]Fall of the Gavel[/card] in his hand. After a while he overcommits to the board, which allows me to play [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] with [card]Fall of the Gavel[/card] up for any potential threat he could have. I decide that I will never use my Fall on any card except [card]Angel of Serenity[/card], since nothing could be that powerful. Given the strength of my hand, I could afford to wait.
Eventually, I could play [card]Hypersonic Dragon[/card], but I decide to just wait and end of turn [card]Inspiration[/card]. I slowly build up a land base that allows me to cast [card hypersonic dragon]Hypersonic[/card] with Fall open, he uses his [card]Fall of the Gavel[/card]. Next turn I play [card]Carnival Hellsteed[/card] with my counter up, and he removes it somehow. I play some mediocre creatures, and eventually snipe his [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] with my counter.
The most impressive play was on the final turn. He was tapped out, so I cast [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] removing three multicolored creatures from my graveyard and I followed it up with a [card]Voidwielder[/card] of my own returning my [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] and all my own creatures. This was extra satisfying because I had [card]Lobber Crew[/card] in play.
While this may sound like an easy win with a perfect draw, I think it’s important to note that I quickly assessed that my opponent would not win by beating me down, and that I was able to add slower controlling cards to my deck like Inspiration and [card]Fall of the Gavel[/card] which would normally be horrible. I altered my deck to play for a long game and knew exactly how to play once I hit that long game. This match was a very satisfying one to win and I easily could have lost If I just cast my [card]Fall of the Gavel[/card] when he tried to counter my [card]Hypersonic Dragon[/card], and I think most players would have done that.
I took a loss at 6-0 because I was playing too fast and generally making poor decisions, followed by an intentional draw allowing me to make the Top 4 cut. This tournament was set up such that there was a Sealed deck tournament and a Standard tournament that each cut to Top 4, once both tournaments made that cut the remaining 8 players booster drafted, and it was basically winner take all. The first place prize was so top-heavy that anything else would be a sore disappointment.
There were only two players in the Top 8 I had ever heard of, and I knew that half the players making Top 8 had not played a single game of Return to Ravnica Limited, whereas I had been playing it for almost 10 hours. I have always found that you are at your rustiest to start the day, and when you get into the swing of things you always play your sharpest. It was good that they had already been playing Magic, but I know every round I played I was considering every possible trick like [card]Syncopate[/card], [card]Eyes in the Skies[/card], [card]Giant Growth[/card], and so on, where they had only been thinking about things in the context of Standard.
The Top 8 draft started off pretty well for me with a pack one pick one [card]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/card]. Second pick I took [card]Martial Law[/card] over [card]Skymark Roc[/card]. This decision did not come easily—I know [card]Skymark Roc[/card] is a better card but [card]Martial Law[/card] costs double white, so I knew passing that would be a very strong signal. When I pick a card as color committal as Trostani I would like to follow through with it and stay purely Selesnya, so there is never a chance I am unable to cast her on turn four.
I have also found [card]Martial Law[/card] overrated and not all that great of a card. Early in our Pro Tour testing I saw Sam Black take [card]Arrest[/card] over [card]Martial Law[/card] and I agreed with the pick. Third pick I got a [card]Knightly Valor[/card] followed by a [card]Common Bond[/card], and a sixth pick [card]Call of the Conclave[/card]. [card]Call of the Conclave[/card] is one of the best uncommons in the set, and I was happy to get it so late, It’s a great card, but also a signal that nobody close to me is playing Selesnya. I was relatively happy with the final product:[deck]Main Deck:
Seller of Songbirds
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
Call of the Conclave
Eyes in the Skies
Chorus of Might
2 Coursers’ Accord
2 Selesnya Sentry
With the benefit of hindsight I should have played the second [card]Brushstrider[/card] over [card]Fencing Ace[/card]. I always get a little excited about the opportunity to use [card]Fencing Ace[/card] with [card]Chorus of Might[/card] when its often not worth the dropoff in power. I could have also splashed the [card]Azorius Charm[/card] off [card]Gatecreeper Vine[/card], but I hate the Vine in a deck where I am trying to be aggressive and [card]Azorius Charm[/card] it generally a pretty poor splash.
I was happy to end up with 2 [card]Coursers’ Accord[/card]s. In a heavy populate deck, it can easily put a game away. I cast it when I had [card trostani, selesnya’s voice]Trostani[/card] out multiple times, which was pretty devastating. I didn’t like [card]Coursers’ Accord[/card] much when the set came out, because I wanted to keep a low curve and stay aggressive. I could be seen taking [card]Ethereal Armor[/card] over it in our earliest drafts—boy was I wrong.
The Top 8 played out perfectly for me, as I won a super long match against my first round opponent who was Izzet. I felt like my deck was disadvantaged, but I sideboarded out my weakest cards for more Selesnya Sentries, which were not amazing against his [card]Doorkeeper[/card]s but allowed me to keep up the aggression. I think my opponent made some poor decisions and I had a good draw in the third game, which allowed me to make it out alive.
In the second match, I had Trostani in the first game and he had no way to remove it, so outraced his [card]Korozda Guildmage[/card] which I could not remove. It was looking close for a little in the middle, but the life gain from Trostani was too good. The second game he played roughly one spell due to mana-screw and I just pounded him mercilessly with a [card]Brushstrider[/card].
In the final round I was paired against a nice Rakdos build, but my turn two [card]Precinct Captain[/card] went uncontested, and I made roughly four tokens with a [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] to back it up. The last game was close, and despite him having an [card]Auger Spree[/card] and an [card]Ultimate Price[/card], I was able to grind out a win with many small Selesnya creatures.
In the end, I had an awesome aggressive deck with many of the high quality Selesnya cards that you want. I kept up the pressure and took advantage of my opponents’ poor mana draws and a few mistakes. I did get quite lucky, though, to get passed [card]Call of the Conclave[/card], [card]Martial Law[/card], [card]Wayfaring Temple[/card], and [card]Precinct Captain[/card].
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