I don’t know what makes a Sealed deck good. One round I’ll be handed Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and an assortment of sick creatures on a silver platter and go 0-3. And then I’ll build three-color Minotaur tribal and 3-0. I don’t know how that works.

I figure there’s a lot more variance involved in Sealed. I generally have a good idea of a draft deck’s relative power, ranging from “I hope you like my playset of Gray Merchants” to “please 0-2 me as painlessly as possible.” But a lot of times in Sealed, I feel like I’m playing war, flipping the top card of my deck over and hoping I draw my bomb before my opponent.

This phenomenon might be compounded by the quirks of Theros Limited, although I probably don’t have the experience to make that kind of statement. Heroic creatures, Monstrosity, and a lack of fast removal makes bad situations even worse. One minute your staring down a Centaur Battlemaster and praying you topdeck a Lightning Strike. Look away for a second, and get ran down by a rampaging creature that taps down your only blocker and hits like a freight train. Sometimes I wish I could play blue cards every game for its reasonably effective bounce. I wonder if this is how control players are born.

Consider the two decklists below. One went 1-2, and the other managed to scrape a 3-0 (with a bye).

GB Fatties & Deathtouchsr148

UB Ashiok & Bird Things With Scrysr155

The GB deck had a reasonable curve, good amount of ramp, and some targeted removal. Its blue cousin featured Ashiok, which I had to build around because I fetishize Planeswalkers. Both were, to my appraisal, pretty strong decks. No game-winning bombs, but I was pretty happy with milling out my opponents or smashing them in the face with a big, trampling fox.

Of course, the deck that had Gray Merchant of Asphodel went 3-0. I don’t even think the card had an impact on any of my games. But he was moral support, and this data supports my hypothesis that Gary never loses. Naturally, the Planeswalker deck barely managed to scrape a 1-2 record, losing to BW Heroic and GW Heroic decks and beating a GU Prophet of Krpuhix brew (using Artisan of Forms targeting Prophet was the coolest thing ever). In the process, I learned a few lessons about deck-building and cards in Theros:

  • Bident of Thassa doesn’t do anything. Sure, it helps me cement games when I’m ahead. And forcing my opponent to attack into my Baleful Eidolon with his Arbor Collossus was pretty cool. But in the end, this was a dead draw too many times. It didn’t help me break through stalemates on the board. If I was behind, a Bident on top-deck made me seriously reconsider my life decisions. Boarded out for another Boon of Erebos.
  •  I really wanted Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver to win me games. But playing him is like bringing a low-power death ray to a gunfight. Sure, if you set up all the pieces, protect it, and calibrate the damn thing you’ll kill someone eventually. In the meantime, someone packing a Wingsteed Rider and Ordeal is going to cut through your life points, and one-shot Ashy just to rub it in. Kept in main deck, but I wasn’t happy about it

Ashiok online! I actually manage to durdle and mill my opponent out this time. But I lose the next two games to early aggression.

  • Wavecrash Triton is a beast. That card is the reason why I managed to win a few games. Both Boon of Erebos and Triton Tactics helped me hose an aggressive Heroic deck. Slap on a Bestow creature, and suddenly Mr. Wingsteed is on the back foot. He secures your early game, disrupts opposing threats, and transitions into a threat. I would play four of these guys if I could.

On weekends, MTGO offers Premier Theros Sealed events, featuring bigger prize pools and a higher level of competition. I might be grossly under-qualified for this kind of event, but getting manhandled by stronger players is a way to pick up some new strategies. I just need to resist the urge to play every Planeswalker I see. Although I don’t think that’s going to happen.

The Hipsters’ resident scrub, Tony enjoys making bad plays and writing about them. He studies at the University of Pennsylvania and calls Philadelphia home. Find him at @holophr.

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