Building Dragons of Tarkir Sealed

I recently played a 9-round Sealed Deck side event at a Grand Prix and I got a rather interesting card pool. Today I want to talk about some of the decisions I made when constructing it.

For a little context, let’s take a look at the cards I didn’t play:

I try to avoid Dragon Fodder at all costs. It’s nice to have a good cheap play, but the problem with Dragon Fodder is that it’s horrible at attacking. If they play a 2/2 your card is basically rendered useless. Sure you could try to block their 2/2 but they have to allow that trade to happen, and the vast majority of 2/2 creatures in the format are morphs that won’t trade early and will flip later so your opponent won’t trade ever. Dragon Fodder is low power and only good against 2/1 and 3/1 creatures. I gave no consideration to playing it despite the fact that I planned on playing Collateral Damage.

I think Collateral Damage is an easy choice in a deck with two Jeskai Sages and it’s also good value in a deck with a somewhat low spell count and two Monestary Loremaster. It’s also a fine card to have in the right set of circumstances, which are not uncommon in Sealed Deck. If an opponent has a card like Pacifism or Reduce in Stature, or if they just try to kill one of your creatures, you can now fabricate a Lightning Bolt.

The white splash seemed automatic with Wind-Scarred Crag and Ojutai, Soul of Winter.

What wasn’t obvious was to play Valorous Stance over Sandblast. This was a close decision but I didn’t want too many splash cards in my deck clunking up my opening hands, and I also felt that Valorous Stance was just a much better card. It kills creatures in a much more flexible way while also being capable of protecting your own creatures from removal. When used in this way, it’s not some super powerful card that’s worth splashing but it’s good to have options.

Den Protector is a pretty legitimate bomb rare for any Sealed pool but I pretty quickly determined I wanted to be blue­/red so I wouldn’t be able to flip it often enough. My bombs in blue and red were also just much better than Den Protector, so it wasn’t likely I could play green as a base color or splash color. Luckily, I had a Rugged Highlands, so I decided to play it anyway off one source of green. I feel this is clearly correct to do and it makes it so you have a three-mana 2/2 off-color morph—unimpressive but acceptable, and when games go super long, which is pretty natural for Sealed, you have a card with a huge upside and high ceiling. The cost is low and the upside is high.

Qal Sisma Behemoth was the final card on the chopping block and I decided to play him since I felt he was simply too strong a card to cut despite the fact that he didn’t fit the theme of my deck very well. I wouldn’t cut him again if I had this pool in the future—he performed extremely well for me.

Owen Turtenwald

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