Posted in NEWS on June 28, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

One of the players in the hunt for Pro Points this weekend is David Ochoa. With Pro Tour Return to Ravnica Top 8 and attendance at the last two World Championship events as the highlights of his Pro Tour career, Ochoa is looking to ensure qualification and benefits for all of next year's Pro Tours by battling Sealed in D.C.

David Ochoa was on a mission to find Pro Points. Sorin would approve of such domination.

Only Grand Prix Boston-Worcester and Pro Tour Magic 2015 stand in his way after this weekend, and I knew he'd be prepared for the booster pack-filled weekend.

"I look for the bombs," Ochoa explained about looking at a Sealed pool. Most approaches to Sealed begin the same way, and Ochoa's plan of attack is one that's by the books. "I look at the curve of each of the colors. I look for removal that fits into the cards you want to play. When I have all the cards I actively want to play I look at the curve for each of those colors."

Ochoa pulled out different combinations of powerful cards, like this cluster of powerful white options:

Why was Ochoa considering curves in colors so highly? "Having a curve that is pile of awkward spells isn't as good as a curve that lets me cast multiple spells a turn," Ochoa explain, "Taking advantage when an opponent stumbles is important. It's always true with a lot of formats, but it's generally more accurate than not." He continued to consider what the different colors could bring.

"There isn't a lot of blue – basically just Phenax and Voyage's End. I'm not really happy here."

"I'm not actually sure if Godsend is that good. It's a little on the slow side but it's still seems good. Right now white is the color I want to play the most."

"Red is generally the color the sees the least play in Theros Sealed. There's no creature that really draws me to red. There's removal in Magma Jet, but the curve isn't particularly low so you'll be playing against decks with bigger creatures: You're not going to be able to attack very well. Red's pretty much off the table."

"Green's curve is a little on the high side. You only have Golden Hind and Satyr Hedonist as early drops. You're not going to be able to take advantage of things like Ordeal of Nylea."

It wasn't long until Ochoa begane to line up white cards. "It's down to what to play with white, but I'd really like to play one of these multicolor cards," Ochoa said, waving over Daxos of Meletis and Chronicler of Heroes. "You could splash for it with Opaline Unicorn or Springleaf Drum, but I generally don't like splashing in this format." What's different about Theros Block Sealed Deck that makes him shy away from splashing? "There are a lot of cards that require double of a color: Pharka's Cure, Bile Blight, Swordwise Centaur. You end up in this position where you're splashing for this really flashy card but it decreases the stability of your deck and that isn't worth the splash in the first place. In some percentage of games you won't be able to cast your spells on curve, especially when you're the three-color deck is on the draw."

So what color would Ochoa pair with white? He tried blue first but it didn't make him happy. "This deck can't deal damage very easily," Ochoa explained. "You don't have a lot of offensive power and will stall out. It'll run the risk of giving an opponent a lot of time to play their good spells because you can't kill them fast enough."

He set aside the blue cards and picked up the stack of black instead. "This looks a lot better. This deck's going to be white-black."

Why was Ochoa happier here? "The black cards you want to run – Feast of Dreams and Erebos's Emissary – are good. I don't like Shrike Harpy that much. It's not that good on defense and it's hard to make an Air Elemental, but out of all these spells Necrobite is the one I want to run the least. It does help push through damage with Bloodcrazed Hoplite. You also don't want to play your Eidolon on turn 2, but it keeps your option to go aggro open. There are four creatures to return with the Odunos River Trawler, which is fine. Basically black has a few good cards but it makes your curve really good."

David Ochoa, Sealed Deck Exercise

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Do you think it's missing some cards? What about removal like Oppressive Rays? "Oppressive Rays basically goes into a really, really fast deck," Ochoa explained. "If your opponent never pays {o3} it's really bad. Removal like that wants a deck that can close games out fast."

Is there another deck hidden in here? "Maybe some people with want to play the green," Ochoa said "but it's going to be really hard to get away from the white."

"This deck's creatures are bigger but its curve is not the best," Ochoa explained. "If you're playing against a deck with a lot of enchantments I could see boarding into the green, provided the deck isn't very fast. You get access to Consign to Dust and Artisan's Sorrow, but you're going to be on the clunky side compared to the black deck. A lot of five drops and cards that want you to attack. If you're on the defensive these cards – Noble Quarry and Ordeal of Nylea – aren't very good. Ordeals are going to win games by themselves; not being able to play it is punishing."

Isn't Mistcutter Hydra a splashy rare? Why isn't Ochoa excited about it? "I like all the fives more than Mistcutter Hydra. You don't have much defense against fliers so I like the Cavalry – if you're cold to flying you're in trouble," Ochoa explained. "Mistcutter isn't going to help you there. You could play it over Thunderhoof if you wanted though."