Sealed Deck: Shuhei Nakamura

Posted in GRAND PRIX AUCKLAND 2015 on March 14, 2015

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Shuhei Nakamura is in the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame, which in some ways, is short hand for “I don’t have time to type out his entire Magic resume here.” One thing he’s known for is being particularly good in a Limited Grand Prix environment. You might not have noticed, but he finished 9th last time we played Limited here in Auckland. To me, Nakamura was a natural fit for “player most likely to have me watch them build their sealed deck today”.

Before he was allowed to access his card pool, I asked Nakamura what kind of deck he wanted to open? “Aggro mostly, anything two colour.” I knew where he was coming from there. You set the pace of play and make your opponent figure out how not to lose.

The first thing Nakamura did was cross reference his stack of cards against what was registered on the deck sheet. It may seem like a boring task, but you don’t want to miss someone else’s mistake and be penalised for it. He took the edge off this administrative process by setting aside any cards he considered unplayable.

Unfortunately, once he was done checking his pool, his pile of unplayables was much larger than he would have liked, which meant he was probably not going to be sleeving up a two colour aggro deck. Fortunately, he had opened an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, so he had exactly the kind of card you wanted if a game were to go long.

Nakamura’s pile of nonbasic lands looked promising. If you happen to be looking to play more than two colours, then the nonbasic lands would be the glue that holds your deck together. Wait, you don’t want to glue it together, maybe it’s the rubber-band you wrap around it? No, it’s not 1994 anymore; we have boxes for that these days. OK, analogy abandoned. Anyway, nonbasic lands are important.

Knowing the overall power level of his pool was lacking somewhat, Nakamura’s focused on building around his white cards, as along with Ugin, Mastery of the Unseen would give him the most power in a longer game.


Shuhei Nakamura takes reference pictures as he goes. Or just posts them on twitter, or something.

His black cards were clearly the best, giving him a pair of Reach of Shadows and a Throttle to help deal with his opponent’s bombs, but his pool wasn’t deep enough to allow those to be his only colours. On top of that, only one of his nonbasics tapped for both white and black; a Sandsteppe Citadel. To compound matters, he also didn’t have any that tapped for green and either white or black, the other six tapped for either red or blue.

Nakamura considered a white build with red and blue, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the white, black, and green, even if it did have much better mana. Nakamura decided on the Abzan build in the end, heavy on the white and black, with a big green splash, like a Tusked Colossodon doing a bellyflop at the local swimming pool (not abandoning THAT one!) Would it hold up? Only time would tell. I asked Nakamura how his chances looked with a deck like this, he laughed.

“X and 3 into day two!” he exclaimed excitedly. I believed him, even if he didn’t really believe it himself. At least he was being optimistic.

Shuhei Nakamura – Grand Prix Auckland 2015 Day One

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