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The Basics of Team Limited

Going to the Team Limited GP this weekend? Yeah, me too.

Super excited about how much fun it is going to be? Yep, ditto.
Got two of your best buds on hand and ready to crush all challengers? Duh, obv.
Best format in all of Magic? 100% with you on that.
Looking for an edge? Always.

I love Team Sealed. It is my favorite format in all of Magic. There is something absurdly cool about turning Magic, an individual sport, into a team game. The only thing more fun than competing and winning is getting to do it with a team of your friends. Many of my favorite MTG moments have been team events, so I’m delighted that they are bringing back Team Constructed this season.

But, enough lip service for team tournaments. If you are reading this, you are probably already super stoked about getting to team up and go to battle.

Today’s article is going to focus on some of the specifics of this particular Team Limited format. I’ve played several Team Limited events in the past and have actually gotten to build quite a few Team Sealed pools with my teammates for this specific event, and today I’ll be sharing some of the best info I have.

Let’s start with the easy stuff…

1. Put Your Strongest Player in Seat B

It may be tough to keep those egos in check among friends, but if you want the best shot at winning, try to put your strongest player in the center. At the very least, put the player who doesn’t mind being bothered with questions in the middle! In Team Sealed, players are allowed and encouraged to ask teammates for help with difficult decisions so be sure to put the player most likely to give good advice in seat B.

There is also a common belief that it is often best to give the middle player the most straightforward-to-play deck so that he or she can also keep an active eye on the other games and give advice. No matter what happens, the player in the middle is going to get the most questions because they are the only player that seats A or C can easily ask for help, so make sure seat B is your most helpful player.

As an example, I am a terrible seat B player. I like to play the crazy control deck and don’t want to have my train of thought disrupted with a lot of questions. Put me on a side and let me do my thing! So, make sure you put a player in the middle who is willing and capable of helping out!

2. Have a Plan for What Decks You Will Build

Obviously, your team must build decks based around the cards you open in your Sealed pool. Often, the most difficult part about the build is figuring out which colors to pair with one another. It is often pretty automatic to know what the “above average” playable cards are, but tricky to know which colors are best paired with one another.

My strategy for any Limited format is always to identify what the major mechanics are and how best to build decks that make strengths of them.

For the most part, the major archetypes in Shadows over Innistrad Team Sealed are mechanic based, which is good because it makes finding your best decks straightforward assuming you know where to look:

Emerge and Emerge Enablers

Chances are that most Sealed pools will have exactly one deck built with emerge as the centerpiece. Many of the objectively most powerful cards are the emerge Eldrazi so you’ll want to build accordingly to showcase these powerful creatures.

One of the easiest places to start your Sealed build is to figure out which two colors will combine to build the best emerge deck. Blue will often be the frontrunner because it has the best common emerge creature, Wretched Gryff, as well as a depth of good enabler creatures that can be sacrificed for value.

I strongly advocate starting your build by taking a tally of how many cards in each color support a major mechanic archetype. Here are the ones to pay attention to:

  • Emerge
  • Emerge Enablers
  • Madness
  • Madness Outlets
  • Delirium

You can take a quick tally of how many cards of each color fall into each category, which can help you quickly establish which colors best build an emerge, madness, or delirium-based deck in your card pool. Remember that you only have an hour to completely build and register all 3 decks, so it is in your best interest to not waste a bunch of time trying to figure out the basics on the spot!

For instance, if you find that blue and green have the most emerge and emerge enablers, there is a good chance that you’ll want to make sure to build a U/G emerge deck with your Sealed pool. While U/G tends to be the most commonly built emerge deck, I’ve also seen effective B/G and U/B emerge decks.

Lashweed Lurker is another reason to be pushed into U/G emerge, since it requires both colors to cast and is very worthwhile in an emerge deck. Yet another big payoff for being a Simic deck built around emerge.

Madness

Can you take advantage of any madness synergies? Red and black tend to have the best madness spells (with blue being a distant third in the race). Chances are, if you have a lot of good madness synergies and outlets, you’ll want to build an R/B deck.

Yet, keep in mind that you’ll have to identify if the madness synergies are good enough to warrant building an R/B deck. Figuring out what to do with your red cards is an important part of your Sealed build. Chances are that in most pools you’ll want to build R/B madness, U/R spells, R/W aggro, or even G/R Werewolves.

Red tends to be best in an aggressive deck but there are certainly exceptions.

There are some red cards that lend themselves nicely to midrange or control. Some of my best R/B decks are actually much more controlling than you might expect! Lots of removal, and win with whatever is left over.

I don’t always build a madness deck but when I do, it is typically R/B.

Delirium

People may assume that delirium is typically a B/G deck (because that is what it is in Standard) but there are a surprising amount of white “delirium matters” cards in Team Sealed as well. It is often good to figure out which color has the most delirium cards so that you can try to build a deck for that color that can consistently achieve delirium.

White tends to go best in aggressive decks in this Sealed format. It is also good to keep in mind that most pools will field one emerge deck and so defensive Auras are best held for later in the game against decks that feel “emerge-y.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that defensive Auras need to be left in the sideboard, but be aware that if you pacify a creature that they can still emerge it away for value. Best-case scenario is to try and save the Aura for an actual creature that has emerge if they are playing a color combination likely to have emerge creatures.

Make sure that you spread your artifacts out so that the delirium deck has the lion’s share.

3. Sideboard Cards Matter

You have to register every single card in your pool to a deck, which means that every single card will either be assigned to a main deck or a sideboard. You’ll want to make sure that you put the correct cards into the sideboards where they will be most likely to have the biggest effect.

One common mistake people make is to put extra 2-mana 2/1 creatures into the sideboard of aggressive decks. A lot of times these cheap creatures are better served in the sideboards of the more controlling decks instead. Cheap creatures can be one of the best ways of trading with other cheap creatures.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have two similar cards in the same color that you might want to split them across two sideboards. For instance, make sure that both of your green decks have a way to destroy an artifact or enchantment in the sideboard instead of one deck having two ways and the other having zero!

There is a lot to learn about Team Sealed but hopefully some of these tips and tricks will come in useful when you and your friends sit down to actually build and register your Sealed pools this weekend! Building a Sealed pool correctly with so many packs is quite the challenge, even for an experienced player like myself, but the challenge is part of what makes it so fun. I’m really looking forward to the event and hope to see many of you there!

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