Born of the Gods / Theros sealed deck is all about going big. Whether that means piling up counters on heroic creatures, or stacking up bestowed auras on a single attacker, or making monsters monstrous, almost every deck will be capable of presenting a staggering threat to the opponent. The successful sealed deck is one that can present such a threat and answer the opponent's. Here, Hopeful Eidolon is a big trump. It makes sure that yours is the threat that wins the race.
Surprisingly, blue ended up being the most-played color amongst the 7-2 or better Sealed Decks, and one of the common links between many of them was the present of the Retraction Helix on the lists. Fueling the many blue/white and blue/green heroic decks, Helix is able to serve double duty as an enabler and a removal spell. Perhaps the sickest things seen during the Sealed portion of the tournament were when players combined Lord Helix with Kiora's Follower, Wavecrash Triton, or, heaven forbid, [i]both[/i]. It only takes one Retraction Helix in a position like that to create an insurmountable situation.
When you're in the market for a big green monster, Nessian Asp is the man for the job. However, life is not all first picks and steak dinners. Sometimes you need to go further down the list. Again and again this weekend, green mages were hiring the Big Fox to do their dirty work. Trample was the difference-maker, ensuring that aggressive decks with small creatures couldn't chump-block their way to victory.
It is no secret that the Ordeal cycle from Theros is an excellent set of five cards. Inexpensive, able to trigger heroic, and one of the many ways to turn a mortal into a monster in the format, the Ordeals have been cards worth first-picking since they first saw the outside of a booster pack. Here in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Nagoya, we were privy to a front-row seat as Takashi Boku just demolished opponents with his inexpensive creatures and two copies of Ordeal of Erebos. Creatures like Fleshmad Steed and Asphodel Wanderer are most commonly found occupying space in a deck, mostly because a player needs to shore up their early game. In Boku's deck, however, they were key to his early game, as one Ordeal could turn them into utter destruction. [i]Two[/i] Ordeals would just seal the game.
Twice in the Top 8, Boku managed to land an early pair of Ordeals, and both games he managed to use them to empty an opponent's hand and leave a monstrosity in their wake. While his deck had plenty of other scary cards in it, like Mistcutter Hydra and Herald of Torment, it was the pair of Ordeals that struck true fear into his opponents.
Champion Ryousuke Kasuga made the most of this powerhouse rare, showing off its two sides in his Top 8 matches. Permanent haste meant his opponents could never be sure where they stood in the race, especially with sneaky Cavern Lampads at the ready. In longer games, the ability to muster an army of golems was invaluable. The deciding game was a battle of the God Weapons, with Kasuga and his Hammer against Boku and the Whip of Erebos. After committing most of his resources to preventing the Whip from running away with the game and keeping things close, it was Kasuga's Hammer that put the final nail in the coffin.