We are celebrating four years making Magic content here at Hipsters of the Coast. I encourage you to check out our Top 25 article series this week. We highlight some great pieces for you to enjoy again. For mer personally, this is also the third anniversary of None Shall Pass Bombs. I have loved writing every week, mostly about Limited, but with some other surprises mixed in.

Before jumping into this week’s topic, I’d like to share a few of my favorite columns. “I Won a PTQ” chronicles the highlight of my competitive career so far, and it embodies a lot of my insight into building a competitive sealed deck. “Scapeshift” Begins my journey away from New York and into competitive Constructed Magic. And for something completely different, check out “Walking Away from Planes“.


We have reached the end of Shadows over Innistrad. Soon Kaladesh will debut and we’ll be deep into mastering the new Limited environment. Grand Prix Lousiville was a nice closing chapter to a great block. I teamed up with Hunter Slaton and Sean Morse. We had high hopes, but our pool was mediocre and we struggled to win consecutive matches. We dropped at 4-4 after losing round eight to Neal Oliver’s excellent team. It was a long and challenging day. We were happy to see it end, and we headed off for margaritas and queso.

I love building sealed decks, especially with Shadows and Eldritch Moon cards, so I was disappointed that our pool didn’t offer much to work with. I got to play a solid blue-green emerge deck, but [casthaven]Elder Deep-Fiend[/casthaven] mostly slept at the bottom of my deck. Sean was totally correct to put [casthaven]Mockery of Nature[/casthaven] in the main deck, though. In game ones, I blew up [casthaven]Always Watching[/casthaven], [casthaven]Choking Restraints[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Tamiyo’s Journal[/casthaven]. Feels good, that does.


I wasn’t ready to hang up my spurs in this format, though. On Sunday I ventured into the side draft tables for one last dance. I may play some draft leagues before rotation, but I doubt I’ll draft Shadows block in paper again for a while. Lucky for me, I got to go out with a bang.

Rare Steak

Creatures (16)
Thraben Inspector
Town Gossipmonger
Ghoulcaller’s Accomplice
Selfless Spirit
Sigardian Priest
Guardian of Pilgrims
Bygone Bishop
Drogskol Shieldmate
Crow of Dark Tidings
Elusive Tormentor
Gavony Unhallowed
Fiend Binder
Thalia’s Lancers
Morkrut Necropod

Spells (7)
Spectral Reserves
Puncturing Light
Borrowed Grace
Borrowed Malevolence
Rise from the Grave
Lands (17)

Sideboard (19)
Ironclad Slayer
Faithbearer Paladin
Expose Evil
Lunarch Mantle
Humble the Brute
Ironwright’s Cleansing
Borrowed Malevolence
Wailing Ghoul
Vessel of Malignity
Gisa and Geralf
Wharf Infiltrator
Tattered Haunter
Drag Under
Fortune’s Favor
Contingency Plan
Warped Landscape
Slayer’s Cleaver
Fork in the Road
Waxing Moon

I’m not a fan of white-black in this draft format, but you can tell from the rare density that these were open colors for me. I startedwith [casthaven]Thalia’s Lancers[/casthaven] and was almost mono-white after pack one. [casthaven]Cryptbreaker[/casthaven] greeted me in pack two, and while I experimented with blue when I got passed [casthaven]Gisa and Geralf[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Wharf Infiltrator[/casthaven], white and black were open enough to fill out a powerful deck without trying to use the lancers to fetch up Dimir legends.

I played two intense matches before splitting the finals. The third game of round two was an epic capstone. I played some of my best Magic ever, threaded an almost impossible needle, and closed the format with a hard-earned win. My opponent was playing a sweet [casthaven]Grim Flayer[/casthaven] delirium deck. In game one he showed me he had [casthaven]Emrakul, the Promised End[/casthaven] in hand. So when we got into a board stall in game three, I had to find a way to win before he could cast Emrakul.

Early on, I had a turn where [casthaven]Rise from the Grave[/casthaven] was the best use of my mana. The only real target was my opponent’s [casthaven]Thraben Foulbloods[/casthaven], but that was pretty good. It was his only creature, so I took him off delirium, I had delirium myself, and with [casthaven]Cryptbreaker[/casthaven], extra zombies are good to have on board. Indeed, a few turns later I drew [casthaven]Cryptbreaker[/casthaven] and was able to immediately draw a card, tapping it, the foulbloods, and [casthaven]Gavony Unhallowed[/casthaven].


As the game progressed, I could tell my opponent had Emrakul in hand. He had seven lands and four card types in the graveyard, but no creatures. I decided I could not afford to let any of his creatures die or else I would lose to land plus Emrakul. This kept me from attacking until I could line up an alpha strike (he was at fourteen) and I couldn’t block his [casthaven]Haunted Dead[/casthaven] that attacked each turn. He probably should have attacked with more creatures, but I had [casthaven]Borrowed Grace[/casthaven] (which helped win game one) that required he hold back on defense.

Eventually, I drew [casthaven]Sigardian Priest[/casthaven] and the sideboarded [casthaven]Expose Evil[/casthaven], to go with the [casthaven]Borrowed Grace[/casthaven] I held for many turns. They were just in time, as I now faced down an [casthaven]Heir of the Night[/casthaven] attacking beside the [casthaven]Haunted Dead[/casthaven]. I was at eight life. I had two spirit tokens, and eventually chose to chump block the 3/2 flier with one. This preserved enough creatures to get through for lethal after I tapped most of his blockers, while protecting me from [casthaven]Woodcutter’s Grit[/casthaven]. I hadn’t seen that trick, but I had a sense he had something like it. Sure enough, he used it to protect one of his blocked from being tapped. Fortunately, with the extra pump, I still finished with the win. And sure enough, Emrakul was stuck in his hand again.

I felt great. My perception was spot on, my strategy was just right, and my deck came through with the cards. It turns out when you have [casthaven]Cryptbreaker[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Bygone Bishop[/casthaven] going on a long board stall, you will find what you need to win. Shadows block Limited has been an all-time favorite format for me. Ending the format with a brilliant win was just what I needed.

And now, the shadows pass. Bring on the energy of invention!

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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