The release of Amonkhet brings with it a new PPTQ season and a new sealed format just waiting to be solved. Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege of competing in a few sealed PPTQs, and my motley crew of fellow competitive grinders and I have begun to develop a base understanding of the format that I’m excited to share.

As we dive in, there a couple of general observations that shape our view of the format. The power level seems very flat for cards in the mid-game, and most games (with some exceptions) curve out in such a way where the game is separated into two distinct categories: the tempo-oriented first few turns where each player is establishing a board, and the mid- to late-game where the board has become sufficiently gummed up and each player becomes very top-deck and haymaker-dependent.


The sealed format (like many sealed formats) is slower than its draft counterpart. Although in this particular sealed formats case, it’s particularly slow. Glacially slow. In our testing we agreed that it was probably a draw format, unless you opened the rare, perfectly hyper-aggressive red-white or red-black deck.

Because of the slow pace and cycling mechanic, we found that only 16 (and sometimes 17) lands were needed (again, unless your playing a great hyper-aggressive strategy, where you could easily cut down to 15 lands).


A three-color splash is quite common, especially with the inclusion of Evolving Wilds and the plethora of green mana fixing. Another common option was to forgo the third color in favour of playing deserts, with Cradle of the Accursed and Grasping Dunes being the favored colorless mana-sinks.

We found green to be one of the deepest colors, with the best top-end in a slow format where, if you can sufficiently gum up the ground, you’re virtually guaranteed to cast your late game haymakers. Black in turn had the most two-for- ones and the most unconditional removal, while blue and white had the best evasive threats.


Both this Sealed and Draft format are very bomb-dependent. Aside from the well-known rare bombs (I’m looking at you, Glorybringer and Angel of Sanctions), every multi-colored uncommon is a powerhouse (with Shadowstorm Vizier and Honored Crop-Captain being the least impressive). Other uncommons that we’ve found to put in work are Trial of Zeal—even without cartouches—Open Into Wonder, and the entire cartouche cycle, with Cartouche of Strength being a hands-down favorite, and Cartouche of Ambition a close second.

Other Notes

In this format with heavy-lifting artifacts such as Edifice of Authority and Rhonas’s Monument, as well as role players like Oketra’s Monument and Honed Khopesh, main-decking one to two pieces of artifact removal is not unreasonable. On average we’d expect two to four artifacts from any opponent. Artifact removal in this set might also come with cycling, pure upside in situations where the removal is irrelevant.

It’s also important to note that there are a fair number of back-breaking enchantments. Drake Haven, Sandwurm Convergence, Bounty of the Luxa, and Cast Out, in addition to Cartouches and Trials, can easily swing the game in an opponent’s favor. The only enchantment removal coming in white in the form of Forsake the Worldly can make winning through these bombs increasingly difficult.

The odd stats of many three- and four-drops (1/4s, 2/4s, 3/2s, 3/1s, etcetera) make for unusual combat math. Personally, I look to play more 3/2s than 1/4s, hoping to trade up and make my creatures into more aggressive threats. Having evasion can also be all you need against ground-heavy decks. An unanswered Cartouche of Knowledge can easily swing a game in your favor when the ground is too full to attack through.

In a format chock-full of grindy midrange, it seems that the best late-game bombs or the deck that can go underneath—winning while other decks are still establishing their board—will often come out on top. But for the PPTQ grinder that just needs to survive to the top eight draft, many sealed pools can help you navigate your way to victory. Hopefully these tips can help you navigate your next Amonkhet Sealed event.

Disagree with any assessments? I always love to talk over opinions and strategies. Until next time, good luck and have fun!

Chantelle Campbell hails from Edmonton, Alberta. She writes about the competitive Magic life.

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