Sealed Deck Building with Kamiel Cornelissen

Posted in Event Coverage on April 16, 2016

By Frank Karsten

We don't see Hall of Famer Kamiel Cornelissen very often these days, but when he shows up, he usually crushes the tournament. Even without any preparation! For example, he won Grand Prix Brussels in 2008 although that tournament was his Shadowmoor "Prerelease." And at Pro Tour Theros, he managed to make it all the way to the Top 8 (the sixth of his career) although the very first Theros draft he did was at the Pro Tour itself.

A player with as much raw talent as Kamiel is always a good person to watch at the start of a brand new format. This time, he had actually played a Prerelease and a draft beforehand. That's an incredible amount of preparation when you're Kamiel Cornelissen, so he would have a good shot at another victory here in Spain.

Since Pro Tour Theros, Kamiel had been busy at the University of Twente with his Ph.D. project (which, for those of you interested, is on the mathematical topic of "smoothed analysis of belief propagation and minimum-cost flow algorithms") but he came out of the woodworks for this Grand Prix.

"It's on the way to the Pro Tour, and I always like to play a European Pro Tour if it fits my schedule," he told me. "Currently, I don't have a lot of obligations because I just handed in my Ph.D. thesis, so the tournaments fit well. Also, Barcelona and Madrid seemed like nice cities to visit."

But first he had a sealed deck to build. The complete pool that he received is shown below; load it up on Magic Online if you want to try yourself!

Kamiel Cornelissen's Sealed Pool – Grand Prix Barcelona 2016

Download Arena Decklist
83 Cards


Kamiel started by going through the colors one-by-one, removed the unplayables, and laid out one pile per color with bombs separately at the top. The cards he was most attracted to were the following.

Blue: Nephalia Moondrakes

Black: Dead Weight, Murderous Compulsion

Red: Fiery Temper, Flameblade Angel

Green: Duskwatch Recruiter

White: Nothing

Gold: Altered Ego

After silently looking over his entire card pool for about ten minutes or so, he eventually picked up the best red and blue cards, laid them out in terms of a mana curve, and put the rest to the side. "White and black didn't have enough good cards, and I had good early drops, late-game power, and card draw spells in red and blue," he explained afterward.

Where most players would put down all 30 or so playables and then cut it down to a deck of 22-23 cards, Kamiel went in the opposite direction: He laid out the sixteen cards that he wanted to play for sure, and then started adding cards one by one. "This process gives me a better overview of the cards that are in my deck for sure, from which I can consider which cards have synergy or fit holes in my deck," he explained. "If I had started by laying out all my playable red and blue cards, including Howlpack Wolf for example, then I could have misled myself by believing that my eventual deck would be more aggressive than it in fact would be."

The core of his deck was comprised of defensive cards (such as Thing in the Ice or Silent Observer) for the early game and big fliers (most notably Flameblade Angel and Nephalia Moondrakes) for the late game. Geistblast could provide additional value in the mid-game, and card draw spells like Tormenting Voice could find the cards he needed.

After considering his options, he eventually filled out his deck with reasonable red and blue cards in addition to a green splash of Duskwatch Recruiter, Solitary Hunter, and Altered Ego. Since he had Woodland Stream for fixing, 18 lands for his mana-intensive late-game cards, and several card draw spells, he felt that his deck could afford a small sacrifice in mana consistency in exchange for extra card power. The werewolves also worked well with his instants and flash cards, as he could transform his creatures without missing a beat.

Kamiel considered the alterative of a red-green-splash-blue deck as well, but he felt that such a deck would have trouble with fliers in the late-game and would be unable to exploit Thing in the Ice or Nephalia Moondrakes in a timely fashion.

Another option was to splash white because he had two white mana-fixing lands, but there was not a single white card that he really wanted to splash. "I had two Invocation of Saint Traft, which could be good in an aggressive deck, but it's risky versus removal and it doesn't fit my deck very well."

Kamiel eventually registered the following 40 cards:

Kamiel Cornelissen's Sealed Deck – Grand Prix Barcelona 2016

Download Arena Decklist

"I don't know if it's good or not," he modestly said after he handed in his list to a judge. He also mentioned that he was unsure about some of his final inclusions, such as Insolent Neonate. Although he had several madness cards, there were also plenty of other reasonable cards in his sideboard (Falkenrath Gorger, Press for Answers, et cetera) for that slot.

When asked about his chances, he tentatively answered, "Maybe I can make Day 2." Unfortunately, Kamiel didn't get off to a good start and by round seven he already had two losses.



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