Sealed Deck Building - Trey Van Cleave

Posted in Event Coverage on February 24, 2001

By Mark Wraith

Sealed deck is more important for some players than for others. For the lucky players with three byes, they only have to play five rounds, whereas for people without any byes, they must hope for a really strong Sealed Deck, as they have to play a full eight rounds with it.

Trey is one of the lucky players. He will probably need something like a 3-2 record from three byes to make it into the second day, so his deck doesn't need to be anything great. He is formerly from the United States, although for the last year or so he has been representing Denmark, and played in last years European Championships.

The decks have been pre-registered to save time with deck-logging and swapping, and here is what Trey opened:

  • Gold
    • Armadillo Cloak
    • Backlash
    • Galina's Knight
    • Lobotomy
    • Overabundance
    • Shivan Zombie
    • Cavern Harpy
    • Gerrard's Command
    • Horned Kavu
    • Malicious Advice
    • Sparkcaster
    • Terminate
  • White
    • Ardent Soldier
    • Benalish Trapper
    • Capashen Unicorn
    • Orim's Touch
    • Prison Barricade
    • Shackles
    • Heroic Defiance x 2
    • Hobble x 2
    • March of Souls
    • Samite Pilgrim
    • Sunscape Battlemage
  • Blue
    • Barrin's Unmaking
    • Dream Thrush
    • Exclude
    • Metathran Aerostat
    • Prohibit
    • Shimmering Wings
    • Stormscape Apprentice
    • Tolarian Emissary
    • Confound
    • Rushing River
  • Black
    • Nightscape Apprentice
    • Phyrexian Reaper
    • Soul Burn
    • Trench Wurm
    • Urborg Phantom
    • Urborg Skeleton
    • Maggot Carrier
    • Planeswalker's Scorn
    • Sinister Strength
    • Warped Devotion
  • Red
    • Goblin Spy
    • Maniacal Rage
    • Pouncing Kavu
    • Rogue Kavu
    • Scarred Puma
    • Stun
    • Thunderscape Apprentice
    • Kavu Recluse
    • Mire Kavu
    • Singe
    • Slingshot Goblin
  • Green
    • Aggressive Urge
    • Fertile Ground
    • Quirion Sentinel
    • Rooting Kavu
    • Thornscape Apprentice
    • Vigorous Charge
    • Wallop
    • Falling Timber
    • Gaea's Might
    • Root Greevil
    • Skyshroud Blessing
    • Thornscape Familiar
  • Land
    • Sulfur Vent
    • Crosis's Catacombs
  • Artifact
    • Bloodstone Cameo
    • Stratadon
  • Split Cards
    • Assault / Battery
    • Wax / Wane

First of all, as with most players, Trey sorts his cards out into colors and looks through within each color for playable cards. At first glance his white cards seem to have the best cards, with green obviously being the weakest.

He has a few good gold cards, notably Armadillo Cloak and Terminate. One interesting thing about this card pool is that while his black cards aren't very powerful, he can support an aggressive Red/Black deck with them. In a control or slower black deck, you would not be happy to have to play Urborg Phantom, or Maggot Carrier, but these cards are playable in a fast deck. He could also support this strategy with his Nightscape Apprentice and Sinister Strength. His only real removal spell apart from Terminate is a Soul Burn, and a Planeswalker's Scorn. The Planeswalker's cards are controversial - with some players claiming they are unplayable, and some saying that they are very good. The Scorn is probably the pick of the bunch, as if your opponent has a slow draw, it is easy to remove all his potential blockers with the card.

In Red he has creatures such as Rogue Kavu, Mire Kavu, and Pouncing Kavu. Ideally he would like a Kavu Aggressor (and Vicious Kavu of course) but these are quite good attackers in this sort of deck. He also has Maniacal Rage, which would obviously fit in with this sort of strategy.

In fact, it is almost possible to arrive at the decision to play black/red here by a process of elimination. His best colors in terms of strength may well be White/Blue, but this deck would leave him with no creatures of any size whatsoever. Splashing Green would not help matters any - his green is terrible with none of the usual large creatures like Serpentine Kavu or Kavu Climber.

It is difficult to imagine Van Cleave ever playing green here in fact, so how about White/Blue with another color? White/Blue/Black would again leave him short of good creatures, as cards such as Urborg Phantom and Nightscape Apprentice, while perfectly reasonable in Black/Red are pretty poor when not played in that color combination.

Playing Red in a White/Blue deck would at least give him a playable deck, but almost certainly the way to go is what he eventually settles on, Black/Red. Now he is left with a decision of whether to splash a third color. One factor which could decide this, is the presence of Crosis's Catacombs, which he will play anyway even in a two-color deck.

Also he has Rushing River, and Exclude, which could nicely complement his strategy of playing small early creatures and attacking. He decides to go this way, and also plays Cavern Harpy (although he doesn't really have anything it would be an advantage to bounce) and a Confound as well. One interesting decision is that he does not play Malicious Advice, which could be very useful in allowing him to sneak through a few last points of damage.

Here is the Decklist that he registered:

Trey Van Cleave

Download Arena Decklist
Sorcery (1)
1 Soul Burn
Land (16)
3 Island 7 Mountain 6 Swamp
Other (2)
1 Assault /Battery 1 Crosis' Catacombs
39 Cards

Despite opening what is obviously a sub-par pool of cards, Trey did well to find a deck that was playable. He ignored his white cards despite them having the greatest amount of good spells, and found a deck that while it's cards are not individually powerful, has some good synergy and could quite easily be capable of taking him to the second day.

His deck is a type which is more commonly found in Booster Draft than Sealed Deck, because you need a specific creature set to be able to pull it off. Tricks such as Backlash and Terminate certainly help, though.

It will be interesting to see if he plays against another Black deck whether he sideboards in a few Plains and his two Hobbles, but apart from this he doesn't have many options between games, although he might decide to try out Malicious Advice at some point as well.

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