Building the Duplicate Sealed Card Pool

Posted in Event Coverage on May 10, 2006

By Aaron Forsythe

Allied Strategies I was excited when I heard the Invitational was going to use the Duplicate Sealed format again, as it was always one of the most interesting formats to puzzle through as a spectator. Sure, it wouldn't be the same on Magic Online because Mark Rosewater couldn't invent or tweak cards to throw the players for loops, but I figured he'd come up with something from the thousands of cards available online.

As excited as I was by the return of the format, I was even more excited when I heard Mark explaining to someone on the phone that he probably wouldn't have time to make the card pool seeing as he is constantly on three design teams at once. Armed with this bit of eavesdropped knowledge, I was determined to create my own card pool and wow Mark with my ambition. As you can see, it worked.

My main goal was to find a very strong theme and bury the players under it. It didn't take me long to come up with card drawing—we've made tons of cards that draw other cards, and card advantage is a part of the game that pros just love. Initially I wanted every card in the pool to draw another card—everyone would have a full hand in this environment and cards would have to be weighed on their own merit as opposed to the ability to get two-for-ones—but I quickly realized that red and white would be hopelessly outclassed by blue, green, and black under those circumstances.

From there I took a page from the popular "Owling Mine" decks and gave red several powerful cards that punished opponents for having full hands. Underworld Dreams soon followed, as did the Black Vise-inspired Ebony Owl Netsuke and Misers' Cage. White's power was provided from a variety of sources, the most notable of which are the paragons of cycling cards—Akroma's Vengeance and Decree of Justice.

Suddenly the format had some real tension to it. If you want to draw cards, have a field day. You also have the tools to punish your opponents for drawing cards, which they most likely will do. But if you are afraid of such retaliatory measures yourself, there are several ways to build your deck to minimize your own card drawing. But then what happens when you run into another play that isn't very interested in drawing cards? How good are your hosers then? Even worse, what happens when you hit someone that wants to draw just a few more cards than you?

A couple exciting playtests in R&D helped get the colors evened out and shore up a few important subthemes. Now every card says "draw" or "hand" on it somewhere. There are Maros galore—a tip of the hat to the format's creator—and one very important Invitational winner's card—Solemn Simulacrum—mixed in with all the cantrips and cycling cards you could ever want. The final pool is 105 cards—a bit bigger than most other duplicate sealed pools, but I wanted to give players the opportunity to play two colors if they wanted because the mana fixing is a bit sparse.

What will go 3-0? I'd like to say I have an idea, but our testing showed so many different ways to build that I couldn't realistically say. It should be an exciting ride!

Duplicate Sealed Pool

White

NAME COST SET

Akroma's Vengeance

ONS

Aura Blast

PS

Benalish Heralds

IN

Decree of Justice

SCG

Gempalm Avenger

LEG

Gerrard Capashen

AP

Gilded Light

SCG

Hobble

PS

Kitsune Loreweaver

SOK

Kiyomaro, First to Stand

SOK

Oblation

ONS

Renewed Faith

ONS

Second Thoughts

ODY

Shelter

ODY

Sunscape Battlemage

PS

Unquestioned Authority

JUD

Surprising Superstar: Gilded Light. You need to defend against devastating Sudden Impacts and Spiraling Embers and this is one of a few ways to do it.

Last Card In: Hobble. The fact that it wasn't in the first draft was an oversight.

Last Card Out: Cowed by Wisdom. Hobble fits the theme much better.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Abeyance. White doesn't have a ton of exciting cantrips historically, but this is one of the best.

Blue

NAME COST SET

Allied Strategies

PS

Arcanis the Omnipotent

ONS

Aven Fisher

9ED

Bringer of the Blue Dawn

5DN

Cephalid Scout

ODY

Compulsive Research

RAV

Confound

PS

Ninja of the Deep Hours

BOK

Plagiarize

9ED

Remand

RAV

Repeal

GPT

Repulse

IN

Riptide Survivor

SCG

Sire of the Storm

CHK

Thieving Magpie

9ED

Words of Wisdom

ODY

Surprising Superstar: Cephalid Scout. Anything in blue that you can get out of your hand quickly is useful.

Last Card In: Words of Wisdom.

Last Card Out: Merfolk Seer. Rarely was his ability being used. Kinda lame.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Psychic Possession. What a backbreaker that would be!

Black

NAME COST SET

Annihilate

IN

Bone Harvest

MI

Death Pulse

ONS

Graveborn Muse

LEG

Mindslicer

9ED

Night's Whisper

5DN

One with Nothing

SOK

Phyrexian Arena

9ED

Phyrexian Gargantua

9ED

Phyrexian Rager

AP

Promise of Power

MRD

Ribbons of Night

RAV

Seizan, Perverter of Truth

CHK

Soul Rend

MI

Undead Gladiator

ONS

Underworld Dreams

9ED

Surprising Superstar: Underworld Dreams. I think it's actually good here.

Last Card In: Mindslicer. A real curveball. It can undo a lot of hard work.

Last Card Out: Cremate. Didn't do anything.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Chains of Mephistopheles. Would probably dominate the format.

Red

NAME COST SET

Adamaro, First to Desire

SOK

Browbeat

JUD

Dragon Mage

SCG

Ember Shot

JUD

Gaze of Adamaro

SOK

Implode

PS

Macetail Hystrodon

LEG

Obstinate Familiar

ODY

Smash

RAV

Sokenzan Spellblade

SOK

Solfatara

VI

Spiraling Embers

SOK

Starstorm

ONS

Stun

IN

Sudden Impact

9ED

Zap

IN

Surprising Superstar: Obstinate Familiar. I bet you think I'm kidding.

Last Card In: Solfatara. I felt bad that there were no Visions cards in the pool. It's probably quite good, too, if you cast it on turn three on the play.

Last Card Out: Mindmoil. Even though it's a pet card of the pros, I doubt they'd fit it into their decks.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Wheel of Fortune. The essence of this card pool distilled.

Green

NAME COST SET

Aggressive Urge

IN

Carven Caryatid

RAV

Claws of Wirewood

SCG

Dosan's Oldest Chant

SOK

Haru-Onna

SOK

Hystrodon

ONS

Kavu Climber

9ED

Krosan Tusker

ONS

Maro

9ED

Nantuko Cultivator

TOR

Primordial Sage

RAV

Rending Vines

SOK

Wall of Mulch

ONS

Wildsize

GPT

Wirewood Savage

ONS

Words of Wilding

ONS

Surprising Superstar: Words of Wilding. Lets you "cast" all those extra cards as 2/2's for 1.

Last Card In: Wirewood Savage. If you look closely, you might find a Beast or three in there.

Last Card Out: Rowen. It was completely outclassed by all the other card advantage.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Sylvan Library. I know this card is coded, but it hasn't been given out as a promo yet. So it is out-of-bounds.

Multicolored

NAME COST SET

Cerebral Vortex

GPT

Dimir Cutpurse

RAV

Dimir Guildmage

RAV

Fungal Shambler

AP

Glint-Eye Nephilim

GPT

Grave-Shell Scarab

RAV

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

GPT

Phyrexian Tyranny

PS

Riptide Crab

IN

Surprising Superstar: Cerebral Vortex. Can kill you from out of nowhere.

Last Card In: Dimir Cutpurse. It was almost Shadowmage Infiltrator, but the tension of making your opponent discard was interesting.

Last Card Out: Malignant Growth. Cute, but would never get played.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Xira Arien. Not a lot of choices. All the good gold cards are already online.

Artifact/Land/Split

NAME COST SET

Chromatic Sphere

MRD

Ebony Owl Netsuke

SOK

Etched Oracle

5DN

Howling Mine

9ED

Misers' Cage

MI

Solemn Simulacrum

MRD

Spellbook

9ED

Staff of Domination

5DN

Teferi's Puzzle Box

9ED

Terrarion

RAV

Barren Moor

-

ONS

Forgotten Cave

-

ONS

Lonely Sandbar

-

ONS

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

-

SOK

Secluded Steppe

-

ONS

Tranquil Thicket

-

ONS

Surprising Superstar: I'd say Ebony Owl Netsuke, but that wouldn't surprise anyone. So I'll say Terrarion/Chromatic Sphere. They keep your hand manageable, and can be cashed in for mana and cards later as necessary.

Last Card In: Spellbook. Maybe someone will think this is a good idea.

Last Card Out: All the artifacts and lands I started with are still there, so I'll say Fire/Ice. It was the only split card, but it gave Red/Blue too much flexible power on top of the obvious "Owl" synergies.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Cursed Scroll, just to taunt people.

Download this cardpool as a Magic Online .dec file here and try building a 40-card deck yourself!

Thanks to my super-gamer coworkers for taking time out of their more-important-game-stuff to help me balance and playtest this crazy pile: Frank Gilson, Mark Gottlieb, Paul Sottosanti, Mike Turian, Mons Johnson, Michael "Elf" Feuell, and Alan "One with Nothing" Comer.

Duplicate Sealed Card Pool

Download Arena Decklist
105 Cards

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