Despite many Pros now avoiding MagicFests, my love for the game would never allow me to miss the next European GP, especially since it’s in a city as cool as Prague! This doesn’t mean I’ll skip other GPs in 2019 either—I’m more determined than ever to Top 8 a GP.
GP Prague is Ultimate Masters Limited, which in theory is a hard tournament to prepare for, but thanks to Magic Online—the program some people think is dying is actually still great, functioning well, and full of players—I’ve managed to put in roughly 20 Sealed games and I’ve got a few conclusions to share.
I tried to go back through the various pools I had, and the records I achieved with each. I managed to find only eight, but they are good enough to explain my testing results that I’ll explain in two simple sentences:
- Black is the best color.
- Blue is the worst color.
All right, with that out of the way, let me show you how badly I did with blue decks versus how well I did with black decks.
B/G Splashing Red
In this deck you find the key cards for both green and black. The power level is through the roof and topped by one of the top 3 cards of the set: Balefire Dragon.
The combo between Fauna Shaman and Grave Scrabbler is so good that you win any late game, and Kodama’s Reach allows you to splash for Balefire Dragon.
On top of that, double Shriekmaw with Death Denied lets you deal with any aggressive draws from white and red decks.
This is another very strong deck. It has all the key commons and an insane amount of removal. Now that I’m looking at this deck more closely, I shouldn’t have played Slum Reaper because of how bad it is with the three copies of Faith’s Fetters. I should have played the third copy of Safehold Elite, a card I underrated but proved its worth.
Removal is very good in this format, and this deck delivers.
I’ve won every single game with Karn Liberated. I’ve never played Karn in Limited and it is truly one of the best card I’ve ever played.
This was one of my first Sealed pools, and if I had it today I would have certainly built it B/G/u. Kodama’s Reach, Satyr Wayfinder, Safehold Elite, and Pulse of Murasa are good cards, and good enablers for a deck with this strong of a late-game.
I would probably splash for the Aethersnipe because of how good it is in this format due to the many totem armor Auras around, but blue doesn’t offer much otherwise, and the Flight of Fancy are just not as good as I initially thought, as they are too weak to opposing removal or bounce.
Long story short: Deck was poorly built but Karn is broken.
Let’s now get to the 2-1 decks.
This is the one and only aggressive deck I registered, and it took me a long time to decide not to go red-green with Eternal Witness and three Wild Mongrel in the pool. I have to admit that I boarded into R/G in at least two games, and I won both of them.
Going aggressive in Sealed takes a lot, in my opinion. Even though there are a ton of cards to support the archetype, it’s still much easier to accomplish in Draft than in Sealed. Removal is much more plentiful and it’s harder to get the heroic synergies up and running. Generally you want to stay away from aggressive decks, but when they show up you need to recognize them and build accordingly, very similar to Guilds of Ravnica Sealed.
Another bread-and-butter B/G deck with all of the most solid cards. I’m not entirely sold on Boar Umbra. I didn’t draw it during the three rounds, though I boarded it out for Fume Spitter and Offalsnout a bunch.
This is the ideal deck I would love to have at the GP. Some Satyr Wayfinders to smooth your draws, some key removal, and a good top end.
Let’s finally close with the worst decks, the ones that went 1-2 and 0-3. They all happened to be blue decks.
This deck, at first glance, seems insane—you have all the synergies in the world!
It has Sultai Skullkeeper, Deranged Assistant, Dreamscape Artist, Stitcher’s Apprentice, and Forbidden Alchemy as cheap ways to get things in the graveyard. It has Marang River Prowler, Stitched Drake, and Death Denied to get value out of them.
What could possibly go wrong?
Two scenarios: you’re doing all of your fancy stuff and gain your micro advantages when your opponent plays a Wingsteed Rider and enchants it, or you get beat by Scuzzback Marouder and some green dudes while you play your 2/1s that can’t block.
This deck was a failure, especially because green looked so great. Fauna Shaman is a bomb rare, and Eternal Witness and Artisan of Kozilek are bomb uncommons. A black-green deck would have been insane, but I was tricked into playing some sweet blue cards that were just too underpowered for the format. So the lesson here is to ignore your itch to brew and just stick to raw power level (a lesson that can be applied to modern Magic in 2019).
This was my very last pool, and despite already knowing how bad blue was, I still got into it because I had like 20,000 blue cards. Too bad they were all medium and I got a quick 0-3, 0-6 in games. Going 0-6 in games with two Moan of the Unhallowed, two Unholy Hunger, and one Gurmag Angler is a tragedy, but there just weren’t many ways to avoid this. Maybe a B/W deck would have been better, but I tried to give blue one last shot and it failed me again.
The last pool I’m showing you is another blue deck. This time it is paired with white because I had tons of great white cards.
Sublime Archangel is one of the best cards in the set, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to draw it a single time during the three rounds. Maybe if I had I would have actually put something together.
I didn’t use blue much, and if you take a close look at the blue cards you’ll notice that they were all bad (other than the Aethersnipe). I would have been better off if I had cut them all entirely and played black for Last Gasp, Chainer’s Edict, Murderous Redcap, Ghoulsteed, and more.
I think you get the point. Avoid blue, and look carefully at your Abzan cards, because those three colors are the best in Ultimate Masters Sealed. Play your removal spells and don’t get too cute with weird combos.
See you all in Prague! And may you all open great and valuables mythic rares!