Team Sealed is harder to prepare for than most. It usually only takes place a few times a year at special Grand Prix and presents a dizzying number of options to choose from during deckbuilding. Those overwhelming options will often lead to flawed deckbuilding, and if you aren’t prepared, you’ll quickly run out of time during deck building. To practice, I built a pool at GP San Diego with the help of my friends Tristan Killeen and Eric Severson, with additional brief advice from CFB’s own Paul Cheon and PVDDR. I’ll show you the contents of the pool and guide you through the thought process to maximize the cards and build the best possible 3 decks!
After a quick look at your rares, the first step is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of your colors. You’ll notice that I cost sorted within each color, and that’s to help comprehend which parts of the curve are crowded or lacking in each color, and to get a sense of how many spells and creatures you have to work with across the colors. At this point, feel free to remove unplayable cards like Nivix Barrier and sideboard cards such as Smash to Smithereens. You’ll still need these cards later since you must register each card to an individual player’s sideboard, but they clearly won’t influence any maindeck decisions.
Once you have the colors sorted, you want to see how the colors can pair with one another, or if you can have a mono-colored deck, since that will free up the other colors to pair in the other 2 decks. Let’s look at each of our colors:
The main draw here is the 2 Consul’s Lieutenants as well as the Kytheon’s Irregulars. However, white is lacking a bit on 2-drops since there is only 1 Cleric of the Forward Order to help supplement the Lieutenants. Awkwardly, the white deck will be heavy-white due to tough mana requirements, yet will need to use another color to help curve out. One solution for this problem though is the presence of Evolving Wilds which can help the white deck have extra sources and yet play enough for a 2nd color if needed (you could potentially play mono-white and be short on 2-drops).
Blue is pretty deep, though some of the playables like Aspiring Aeronaut are merely passable. The glut at 4 isn’t too bad though, since Tower Geist, the Voidmages, and Whirler Rogue all pack a punch. Blue even has a decent curve of 2s and 3s and a pair of Stratus Walk if it wants to stay aggressive. The one thing it does lack is removal, and is a little light on tempo outside of the 2 Voidmages. The blue in this pool will provide a solid base color if any others are less deep, and will work best when paired with another color to provide interactive spells.
Black is pretty shallow but does have some good quality including the awesome Gilt-Leaf Winnower. There are good 2s and 3s in black, but the 4 slot is entirely lacking. Consecrated by Blood is a reasonable spell, but outside of that the color is effectively empty. Undead Servant can be playable but I really want 3-4 and only in grindy matchups.
Here we have a very deep color that offers a lot of options. There are plenty of ways to push the Mage-Ring Bully trio, but the color also goes much bigger with expensive spells like Prickleboar. The 3-drops are all high quality, and Avaricious Dragon can close games by itself. The suite of burn is exceedingly strong, and red makes for a very powerful base color and could even be divided into multiple decks if necessary.
While unexciting, the green does have solid filler alongside Valeron Wardens. Also, Might of the Masses will pull extra weight in this pool since white, blue, and black are all light on interaction, and thus any pairing including these colors will just naturally want a bunch of creatures. With that in mind the 2 Joraga Invocation get a lot more interesting, and Elvish Visionary is the perfect support card.
With those summaries, how do we piece together the decks themselves? I’d start at the limiting points, and in this case that’s the white and black cards. I discussed the Consul’s Lieutenant dilemma earlier, and black’s lack of 4-drops needs to be addressed by another color. Green and blue pair best with black, but when curved out together, the powerful 4-drops in blue match better than green. The black cards are just a bunch of reasonable creatures, and blue manages to support that theme with solid creatures like Watercourser, while also advancing the plan with new avenues like the bounce from Separatist Voidmage or the evasion granted by Whirler Rogue. Green on the other hand just offers more ground attackers, which creates a deck hard pressed to deal with fliers, while at the same time lacking enough early pressure to race.
Now that we have a UB deck, we can consider both red and green to pair with white, or just try to play mono-white. Unfortunately, the mono-white deck is short about 4-5 cards, and that’s including Bonded Constructs just to fill out the curve. Red pairs decently well, but needs a lot of red mana which clashes with all the double-white cards, and would leave green needing to also pair with red (since a mono-green deck would be very bad in this pool). Green happens to pair excellently with white though. Green adds much needed 2-drops as well as the Might of the Masses to help push through an early Lieutenant. The curve of Lieutenant into Valeron Wardens is also unbelievably good, not to mention that a GW deck gets to take advantage of the Citadel Castellan in the pool.
That leaves us with just red, but the good news is that this card pool is deep enough to play mono-red. The obvious option is to play a hyper-aggressive deck with Bonded Constructs and build in a way to maximize Mage-Ring Bully. The other is to play a slower deck with Prickleboars as curve-toppers. After thinking through these options, the all-in strategy looks a bit better for game 1. The deck can steal games out of nowhere, and then when the opponent boards defensively, the red deck can go bigger post-board to win a slower game.
With all that out of the way here are the final builds of each of the three decks:
The final deckbuilding decisions were to cut Gaea’s Revenge in the GW deck and play the 2nd Veteran’s Sidearm in the mono-red deck. Gaea’s Revenge is a good card, but the GW deck is losing games it stalls out, and Gaea’s Revenge isn’t helping that situation much. It just gets double- or triple-blocked and trades, and doesn’t do anything to help stabilize if you’re too far behind. The Veteran’s Sidearms were included mostly as a combo with Mage-Ring Bully. They help to push through extra damage, make Dragon Fodder tokens into real cards, and provide a small mana sink in a deck without a ton of extra late game.
I’m quite happy with the way all three decks turned out. Each has a powerful game plan and has a reasonable chance to actually execute it. I wish you the best of luck if you go to GP Detroit and if you see me stop by and say hi!