Posted in NEWS on April 12, 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 know that there are only a couple of rounds in the books here in Nagoya, but I figured it was as good a time as any to see what people are playing and what's winning in this Theros/Born of the Gods Sealed Deck event. The tournament is large enough to have been split into two flights, so I had to do a bit of running to keep my eye on both sides of the tournament.

Blue Top 3

First off, it's very apparent that white is the color to be here at the Grand Prix. At first glance, about three quarters of the top tables featured white, and it is completely understandable. White is easily one of the strongest colors in Theros, and it got bolstered by the addition of some fantastic new cards in Born of the Gods. Living up to its rarity, the new Akroan Skyguard appeared to be one of the most common cards in players' decks, with some managing to open multiple copies of the powerful heroic creature.



Surprising me was the relative lack of Wingsteed Riders near the top tables. Considering how important Wingsteed Rider was to a good white Sealed Deck before the addition of Born of the Gods, it's interesting to see so many players playing white without a copy of the card in their deck. This is especially true in the wake of the last Limited Grand Prix I covered in Mexico City, where red was far and away the most-played color on Day 1's top tables.



As for the pairing, it's a roughly even split between Green and Red as to which color most players have chosen to complement their white cards. In the red versions of the deck, players tended towards the cheaper red creatures to keep their curve low, while relying on red's removal to keep the path clear. Green was strangely similar, with Leafcrown Dryad easily the most-played green card in players' decks. This is a departure from the monsters of days past, when additional packs of Theros led to decks featuring multiple Nessian Asps and other large, end-game threats. Now, it's all Leafcrown Dryads, Akroan Skyguards, and Arena Athletes.

Well, those and bombs. It wouldn't be a Sealed Deck discussion, especially one in Theros block, without a discussion of bombs. Only a couple of the decks around the top tables seemed to be getting things done at this stage on the strength of a powerful core of creatures and tricks. Even those are unlikely to last long as the day drags on and they get paired up against the decks that both have that and bombs. The biggest bombs near the top are, understandably, the white ones. Multiple copies of Fabled Hero, Eidolon of Countless Battles (of Grand Prix Barcelona fame), and Hundred-Handed One could be seen right next to each other on the top tables, in some cases, facing each other down. Even in the many white-based decks, the white bombs seemed to outnumber those of the accompanying color.

The interesting implication of this initial observation is that these early frontrunners don't appear to be afraid to run decks running very little in the way of removal, as long as they get to play their white bombs. Most of the GW decks had a copy of Time to Feed, but very little else for removal. Even the red decks were a little lighter on the removal than I am used to seeing from top Sealed Decks. Also important is the complete decline of black to this point. In Mexico City, one of the most striking things about the field over the course of the day was the relative weakness of the black in the field. Here again, black appears to be one of the least-played colors amongst the winning players. Many pools that I looked through had some acceptable black cards in them, but the only players that chose to commit themselves to the color were driven into it by an abundance of black rares, such as Herald of Torment, Agent of Fates, and Reaper of the Wilds.



It will be interesting to check back in with the top tables here as the day progresses to see if these trends continue, or if they are overturned by a surge of different decks.