Sealed Deck Exercise

Posted in Feature on March 19, 2013

By Sam Black

Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013.

I've been looking for an opportunity to write a Limited decklist, and when I started researching this column, I found the Sealed Deck exercise posted on Thursday, March 14. I figure this is a good pool to write about, since many of you have probably already given it some thought.

Gatecrash Sealed is not a balanced format. It takes an exceptional pool to want to play a deck that doesn't include white, and this pool does not look like one of the exceptions to me.

Looking at the first few replies in the forums, it looks like most people came to the same conclusion I did, that the main colors should be white-black, although a few people were led astray by the large number of nonbasic lands and Keyrunes. I'm pretty sure there aren't enough good reasons to play green to bother with this approach.

To me, the biggest questions were whether to splash red or blue (I went with blue because of the two Guildgates), then, if splashing blue, whether to play enough to support Stolen Identity (I've never had this card in my hand, but it's always seemed awesome when played against me and I think the mana barely works for it, but it's definitely a stretch), and how many Ætherizes to play, particularly given how many other four-mana spells the deck wants (I went with just one, which might not be enough).

On the forums, Shadow Alley Denizen and Contaminated Ground were overplayed, and I think Shadow Slice was underplayed, but I'm less confident about that.

Shadow Alley Denizen is a bad card in Sealed. It just doesn't do enough. It does nothing for you defensively; offensively, it might push a little damage, but with all the extort, you shouldn't need that to win. Shadow Slice also only pushes damage, but I think it does a lot more damage a lot more explosively than Shadow Alley Denizen and, more importantly, it isn't a horrible draw after the first turn. Shadow Alley Denizen can still be used to extort later, but I'd much rather use something like Shielded Passage if I'm just looking for a cheap spell to extort off.

Contaminated Ground is just bad.

The other card I wasn't sure about was Court Street Denizen. I don't like it very much in this deck, since I don't have a lot of ways to trigger it and I'm not really aggressive enough for it, but I decided I wanted another cheap creature and there weren't any alternatives. I wouldn't hate Leyline Phantom, since I've been meaning to try using it with extort, but I think I have enough to spend mana on with Keyrunes and extort, and I'm more worried about having enough earlier creatures to support Shadow Slice, which I think I'd rather cast for five mana.

The mana is a little stretched, which means Stolen Identity is a little hard to cast, and Crypt Ghast isn't quite as bomby as he'd otherwise be, but I think he's still going to be very good when he lives if you have one or two swamps, and I think it will still be possible to cast most spells because of the Guildgates and Keyrunes. It's possible that Thespian's Stage could be played main as a mana fixer because you can trust most people to be the same colors as you (it would be over a Plains, because almost everyone will have that), but I think it's a little too slow to bother with. It's also possible there should be one fewer Plains and one more Island or Swamp.

Sam Black's Orzhov Sealed

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