Full-Box Sealed – I repeat, Full-Box Sealed

Posted in Event Coverage on April 17, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Imagine a Limited format where four Fiery Temper and four Lightning Axe are easily possibilities. Imagine a Limited format where you can draft a true four-creature control deck, with like three creatures, and win. Imagine a Limited format where you get to open an entire box of cards. Imagine a format so good, a competitive, seasoned player prematurely dropped from the main event after four rounds solely to sign up again.

Welcome to Full-Box Sealed.

Tournament organizer Cascade Games has been promoting Full-Box Sealed on their road trip from Portland to Grand Prix Albuquerque. They stopped in game stores in each state, singing the praises of the format. Now they are raising a choir here at the Grand Prix.

The format is simple. You're handed a box and you have just over an hour to build a forty-card Sealed deck. Then you bash.

Comparisons to other formats are slim. It has the deck-building time constraints of Team Sealed, but with a better card pool. It has the sixty-card feel of Block Constructed, but you don't bring any of the cards. It has the repetition of Coldsnap, but without the helpless degenerate feeling. In fact, its closest analogue was an old casual format we called “Drawer Sealed.” A friend opened a drawer full of unsorted Magic cards and each person had 15 minutes to build a deck from whatever they found. That's kinda like Full-Box Sealed.

It's a surprisingly interesting, diverse, and fun format. And has already won over some skeptics. Thirty-seven players signed up for the Full-Box Sealed on Friday, and a second one is firing today. The five top-finishing decks are works of art, and the main decks are later in the article.

I sat down with two players Ben Krantz and Jeremiah Jackson—who played Four-Color Madness Control and 14-Land Red, respectively—about this amazing format.

Ben Krantz started off skeptically. “I was hesitant—I don't play anything that isn't practice for a competitive format.” In fact, the only reason he signed up was because a different event didn't happen as quickly as he was hoping. “I will admit, it was intriguing though.”

But by the end, he was hooked. Hard. He loved it so much, he dropped from the main event to play in the one today. “I've been to 25 Grand Prix, and I've never dropped for any reason other than too many losses.” This was his first time.

“This format is no gimmick; it's for real.”

Jeremiah Jackson came at it from a little different tack. “I just wanted to do something different. I wanted to come here a do something I hadn't seen before. And it's cool to get to tell someone, ‘Yeah, I played a Sealed with a whole box.'” Jackson ended with the same positivity about the format as Krantz.

He's not a big netdeck fan: “I'm a brewer.” And for Jackson, this was a way to get the ultimate brewing out there. “It's my deck versus theirs; that's all.” But as they both said, because the decks play like Constructed decks, you get all the benefits of playing Constructed without having to follow an external metagame or worry about getting all the cards beforehand.

Though they both understood the efficacy of time management, they had vastly different approaches to building, which illuminates the vast possibilities of the format. Krantz was focused on how to maximize a veritable karat of rares and uncommons, Jackson was hyper-focused on the synergies among the common cards. Which explains the divergences in their equally successful strategies.

Take a look at Krantz's list:

Ben Krantz's 4C Madness Control – GP ABQ, Side Event

Download Arena Decklist

The deck leans on efficient removal then uses Tormenting Voice to draw into the big boys. The Gitrog Monster; Sorin, Grim Nemesis; Nahiri, the Harbinger; and From Under the Floorboards played clean up, and Krantz did just that—he cleaned up.

During sorting, Krantz took all the rares and put them on the top of his color piles, and basically picked his colors that way—along with all that removal. “I had 10 or 11 removal spells, and that wasn't counting my Planeswalkers—which are removal spells too.”

Though the mana fixing for a deck like this is hard, Krantz reminded me: “Luckily, because it's 40 cards, you need less fixing than you would in a 60-card format.”

But Jackson opened many of those rares too. He pulled Archangel Avacyn; Olivia, Mobilized for War; and Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. But eschewed them when he saw the synergistic red commons. His deck looks downright silly.

Jeremiah Jackson's 14-Land Red – GP ABQ, Side Event

Download Arena Decklist

What exactly is this deck? My lifeblood, that's what. Five Insolate Neonate and four Tormenting Voice allowed Jackson to not only cheat on land drastically, but also trigger only the most efficient madness spells. Three Bloodmad Vampire, two Incorrigible Youth, two Senseless Rage, and four Fiery Tempers make incredible use of all these different discard triggers.

Despite opening up those powerful mythic rares, Jackson had a clear plan. “Madness, madness, blow up your [stuff], madness, madness. Win.”

His approach was the opposite of Krantz's. Jackson said, unlike regular Sealed, “It's really not about the rares at all. It's about the value commons and uncommons that you can synergize together. I saw so many people say ‘Oh, I've got Avacyn I'm playing White,' and that's just wrong.” As Jackson said, though that might work for Six-Pack Sealed, it doesn't work for Full-Box. Even a “bad” box is different that a bad six packs.

Krantz also had some valuable advice. “In most Limited formats, there are strategies that are only good in Limited formats. But this doesn't play like Limited, it plays like Constructed; and you have to remember that.” When Krantz saw players sleeving up Werewolves, he realized that Constructed isn't conducive to werewolves. “Werewolves thrive on opponents stumbling to cast their spells. But in Constructed, that happens so much less. And you're only flipping your werewolves if you are the one to flip them. Otherwise, you're just playing with a bunch of over-costed creatures.”

The format has tons of play, and both Krantz and Jackson were eager to play it again. Krantz was so eager, he already has. And they both considered how they would change strategies next time, and dreamed up various magical Christmas lands that can actually happen in the format. Krantz said, “If I opened two Startled Awake, I would look to just build a deck around both of those.” That is possible here, folks.

If you're the type get a single box when a new set comes out, Full-Boxed Sealed might be the format for you. But why stop there? Krantz finished his praise of the format by saying, 100% earnest: “My dream would be to play a Full-Box Sealed Grand Prix.” You can't get be part of the choir than that.

Below are decklists from the other top-finishing Full-Box Sealed event. Enjoy.

The next time you look at a wrapped box of cards, maybe you'll look at it just a bit differently.

Jeffrey McCoy's Green-White Humans – GP ABQ, Side Event

Download Arena Decklist

Patrick Stein's Mono-White Aggro – GP ABQ, Side Event

Download Arena Decklist

Charles Flores' Red-Green Werewolves – GP ABQ, Side Event

Download Arena Decklist

Latest Event Coverage Articles

December 4, 2021

Innistrad Championship Top 8 Decklists by, Adam Styborski

The Innistrad Championship has its Top 8 players! Congratulations to Christian Hauck, Toru Saito, Yuuki Ichikawa, Zachary Kiihne, Simon Görtzen, Yuta Takahashi, Riku Kumagai, and Yo Akaik...

Learn More

November 29, 2021

Historic at the Innistrad Championship by, Mani Davoudi

Throughout the last competitive season, we watched as Standard and Historic took the spotlight, being featured throughout the League Weekends and Championships. The formats evolved with e...

Learn More



Event Coverage Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All