Sealed Deck Building Exercise – Chris Fennell’s Build

Posted in Event Coverage on February 15, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

I was admittedly a bit surprised when I walked into the event site last night and saw Chris Fennell keeping rk Post company on the far side of the room. With a Pro Tour on the horizon, I imagined that he would be sitting in Paris with the rest of Team TCGPlayer to prepare. Instead, it turned out that he and a small contingent of teammates felt that this Grand Prix represented the perfect chance for them to get some practice with this brand new Limited format before they have to do it for the big bucks in Valencia.

"This may be the worst Sealed Deck I've ever had," Fennell said as he wandered by after building his own deck for the Grand Prix.

When I jokingly offered him the Sealed Deck that I had opened for this exercise, he just laughed.

"I would trade for that deck in the dark in a heartbeat," he said with a shake of the head. "It has to be better than mine."

I just shrugged and told him we'd see about that before letting him meander past me to go play some decidedly miserable practice games against teammates Seth Manfield, Craig Wescoe, and Marc Lalague. A few rounds later, Fennell hadn't lost a match and found himself without about thirty minutes left in the round after a blazingly fast win. I offered him the deck that he said he would "snap take" earlier and told him to give it a whirl.

Team TCGPlayer's Chris Fennell takes a crack at a difficult Sealed Deck pool

"Yeah, this deck is way better," he said, thumbing through the first couple of cards, including the Chained to the Rocks. As he began to get a little deeper, the thumbing slowed down significantly.

"Hmm...well," he began, "maybe it's not that great." Near the back of the pile, he found himself shuffling around cards from the front. "Yeah, this is actually really hard."

With that established, he began to set the cards out on the table, removing the unplayables as he did so. Holding the Theros green cards in his hand, he joked, "I hope the rest of the green is just as bad so I can just throw this all away and make things easier." It only took a few seconds of looking through the Born of the Gods green before that whole slice of the color pie hit the sideboard. This prompted him to laugh a little as he thumbed through the gold cards.

"Oh," he laughed. "So that's where they good green cards are."

After hunting through for his best cards, he quickly began to lay out a skeleton for a white-based deck. Brimaz, King of Oreskos, draws the eye, to say the least, especially when he's flanked by Chained to the Rocks and pair of Hopeful Eidolons. He also quickly took note of the trio of Pharika's Cures in his pool, and the relative lack of red removal.

"I'm pretty sure that you have to go red/white with this pool," he said after glancing through everything as he laid it out before him. "The green is abysmal outside of those gold cards. You don't have enough blue cards to play blue/white, and the mana is miserable for the black/white deck. It does have removal, though, so...I don't know. Maybe I should give it a look."

Time to give the blue/black a look

He proceeded to lay out the black cards on top of the white cards, realizing that his black cards were actually much better with the blue cards that he had. Asking to be able to reliably cast Brimaz and Pharika's Cure was a little too much, and having the Returned Phalanxes without more blue mana than a lone Temple of Enlightnment was a waste of cards. He then took the white cards away and thumbed through the blue cards he had, adding them to the piles of black cards. The Born of the Gods cards were actually pretty reasonable. It was just the Theros cards that were holding him back. He mentioned a few sleepers that would prove to be far more powerful than I would have given them credit for.

"This card is actually pretty good in this deck," he said indicating Claim of Erebos. "You've got so many defenders to stick this guy on, and you've got the Aerie Worshippers, too. It's definitely going to be a key card in this deck."

This is especially true considering he mused aloud, "how am I going to win with this deck," as he was first laying it out.

"This deck isn't better than the white/red deck," he admitted, "but there are going to be decks out there that just simply can't beat it. The same goes for the red/white deck. It'll be worse against the decks that this one is going to be good against, but if I play against a deck with a really good late game, I want to be able to kill them before they get to play Magic."

He thought for a minute more about which of the decks he liked the best before finally coming to a decision.

The final decision

"You definitely want to play your best cards," he said, putting the black/blue deck away. "The red/white deck is better in Game 1 against a random deck, so I'm going to go with it. There are going to be a lot of decks that just can't beat a Brimaz. If I need to, I can switch to the blue/black deck for the next game. These decks are a little better than I gave them credit for, but they're still not great."

When I asked him if he'd still be willing to trade his deck for these, he laughed.

"In a heartbeat."

Here's his list:

Chris Fennell – Sealed Deck Building Exercise

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