This past Sunday I hit up a Gatecrash release sealed event at Twenty Sided Store. I’m going to Grand Prix Charlotte in two weeks, so I wanted to start getting some real practice—aka, without guild packs—in this new sealed format.

As such, I really wanted to play a different color combo than black/white-splash-red, as I had at the prerelease. But when I cracked my six packs, although straight Boros initially looked good, I laid out a rough build and the curve just wasn’t there—besides a few strong RW two-drops, the three- and four-drop slot would have been thin, and I would have had to fill out my creature count with five-drops, which is not where I want my Boros curve to be weighted. Also, a couple of the rares I had pulled were Orzhov, and I had another two Boros Guildgates, same as in the prerelease, so, yet again, black/white-splash-red was the way to go. Here’s the deck I sleeved up (creatures in bold, spells in italics, uncommons in silver, rares in gold, mythics in red):

2X Dutiful Thrull

2X Basilica Screecher
Daring Skyjek
Sunhome Guildmage
Truefire Paladin
High Priest of Penance
Boros Charm
Executioner’s Swing
Devour Flesh
Prophetic Prism

Deathcult Rogue
Kingpin’s Pet
Skynight Legionnaire

2X Balustrade Spy
Alms Beast
Assault Griffin
Knight of Obligation

Assemble the Legion
Shadow Slice

Lord of the Void

8X Swamps
6X Plains
2X Boros Guildgate

I had a bunch of great sideboard options—so many, in fact, that I was wondering if I had made the correct maindeck choices. On-color cards in my ‘board included: Death’s Approach, another Executioner’s Swing, 3X Nav Squad Commandos, Beckon Apparition, Urbis Protector, Millennial Gargoyle, Purge the Profane, Corpse Blockade, and Pit Fight. At times, I boarded in the extra Swing, a Commandos, Corpse Blockade, and Pit Fight, in addition to another Mountain. For the first couple rounds, I actually left Boros Charm in the ‘board, thinking, “This is usually just going to be four to the dome—so why am I wasting a spot on this card?” At some point, though, I realized this was 100% wrong, and got the Charm in there (to great effect, as you’ll see in a minute).

Round 1

My opponent Tony was on Boros, and I took game one. Here was the key turn in G2: I was at 11 life, with Assemble the Legion on the table—I think on two muster counters.

On his turn, Tony had out an impressive board of Boros Keyrune, Legion Loyalist (the 1/1 haste goblin that grants trample, first strike, and no-token-blocks), Assault Griffin, and Skynight Legionnaire. Meanwhile, on my side of the table I had (untapped and ready to block) Basilica Screecher, Knight of Obligation, and High Priest of Penance.

I was gambling that Tony hadn’t realized the interaction between Legion Loyalist’s first-strike-granting battalion ability and High Priest of Penance, which rubs out a nonland permanent when it’s dealt damage (pro tip: It doesn’t work out well for the Loyalist pilot). So when he swung in with his time, I even—ahem—helpfully reminded him about his battalion trigger, which he’d neglected to immediately mention. (New trigger rules, anyone?)

I decided on my blocks: Penance in front of Keyrune, with Knight in front of Loyalist and Screecher taking the day off. Then, Tony flashes me Righteous Charge, which grants his team +2/+2, thinking that it’s GGs. Unfortunately, though, in a karmic payback for my misplay last week, when I thought that Angelic Edict was an instant (and died as a result), Righteous Charge actually also is a sorcery, which Tony didn’t realize until then.

Suffice it to say, combat did not work out well for Tony—I offed his Griffin when Penance got first-struck, and took just three points of combat damage. Even if he had played Righteous Charge pre-combat, I’m pretty sure I could have survived the turn. That kind of effect is much less impressive as a sorcery.

2-0 in games, 1-0 in matches.

Round 2

This one went pretty quickly. My opponent was a nice guy named Seth, who is recently back to the game after taking a break since he was a kid, with Odyssey block. I dismantled him pretty quickly—and saw after the match was over that he was maindecking 2X Naturalize, plus the pure lifegain spell Predator’s Gambit. I offered some hopefully not pedantic deckbuilding tips. Then fellow HotC writers Li and Zac and I went to Whirlybird for some breakfast tacos, which were pretty much the best things I’ve ever tasted.

4-0 in games, 2-0 in matches.


Zac on the left, Li on the right. Whirlybird breakfast tacos TK.

Round 3

I was paired against Zac Rider, who I think Other Zac lost to in R1. Zac Two was on Boros—and in G1, I was, too, keeping a hand of Guildmage, Paladin, Legionnaire, I think Assemble the Legion, and the Boros lands to cast ‘em. I beat Zac Two really quickly with my RW army—which led to some surprise in G2 when it turned out I was actually Orzhov (and lost). In G3, after Executioner’s Swing-ing his very scary Boros Reckoner, Zac Two promptly followed it up with a Frontline Medic. On the next turn or two I lost to Mark for Death, which faltered my team and let him swing in for the win.

5-2 in games, 2-1 in matches.


My board, not long before snuffing it to Marked for Death.

Round 4

Uh-oh, here comes trouble: The Great Polish Hope, Lirek Kulik. Lirek is a young guy but a gifted player, who day two’d at GP Philly (sealed RTR) and I think GP Chicago (Modern) as well. Lirek was on Naya, and got me down to six life in G1 before my Lord of the Void (absent all day) finally showed up to the party and hit back, hard, dropping Lirek to four life—and stealing his Boros Reckoner, his seventh and last card down.

In G2, Lirek swung in with his Bomber Corps, Daring Skyjek, and Slaughterhorn into my board of High Priest of Penance plus some other dudes—while I had Boros Charm in my hand. Lirek triggered the Corps, and went to ping Penance—still not the greatest play, in my opinion—but I responded with Charm, making my guys indestructible. A couple of Penance triggers later, plus some easy blocks, and I had wiped Lirek’s board in a sweet, sweet three-for-one. Assemble the Legion came down not long afterward and finished the job.

7-2 in games, 3-1 in matches. I won six packs!

Reporting my final match results to Luis, co-owner of Twenty Sided Store, Luis was like, “Man, Hunter, you are just destroying some teenagers, huh?” This reminded me of a highlight from GP Boston, when a friend of mine related in hilarious fashion how his lackluster and disappointing deck had finally managed to eke out a win, against a 13-year-old, with the M13 card Sleep. “Nighty-night, motherfucker!” he growl-shouted as he told us the story, miming jamming his cards forcefully across the table. We all cracked up, and took every chance we got during the rest of the weekend to shout, “Nighty-night, motherfucker!” Try it; you’ll like it.

Some thoughts on the day: Assemble the Legion is the real-deal Holyfield—just don’t forget your muster counters. Kingpin’s pet is the balls, and Balustrade Spies are awesome, too—the extra point of toughness really makes a difference. Shadow Slice only came out to play once, but it did work when it did, doing nine damage total to finish off my opponent. High Priest of Penance is surprisingly frustrating for your opponent, and his interaction with first strike strongly favors the Orzhov player—plus, it’s not something that 100% of opponents might realize, especially early in the format, so be aware of it. Each of the RW “guildmages” are a stone beating. Lord of the Void costs a ton, but if you can get him down, he quickly leads to Scoop City. I was actually pretty happy with my 2X regenerating 1/1 thrulls, who often got in for a few points of early damage before chilling out on blocking duty for the rest of the game—although I did board them out when I felt I needed some more beef. I really feel like having two-drops is very, very important. If your sealed deck doesn’t have them, you might want to look for a different build.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands.

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