Deckbuilding with Saito/Tsumura/Takahashi

Posted in GRAND PRIX BEIJING 2015 on October 25, 2015

By Chapman Sim

Topping the Swiss standings yesterday, the Hareruya Pros couldn't have found themselves in a better position to make the Top 4. Clearly very happy and spirits high, Tomoharu Saito, Kenji Tsumura and Yuta Takahashi eagerly awaited their next Sealed Pool.


Yuta Takahashi, Tomoharu Saito and Kenji Tsumura carefully review their card pool.

Once received, Saito "did his thing" and proceeded to lay out his team's entire card pool in neat rows. It's a little creepy, how he manages to align all the cards with unparalleled perpendicularity. In his words, "it's my superpower".

Much like aliens creating crop circles.

This method provides a bird's eye view and it is important for the team to review the entire pool quickly, and Saito Wayfinder's method is akin to the way he presents his decklists on social media. Clean and crisp.

The First Deck Falls Into Place

Takahashi wasted no time gathering the cards he needed for the Red-Green Landfall deck, a staple archetype of the format. It was the deck he piloted yesterday and clearly has adequate knowledge in identifying what the makes it tick. Featuring triple Snapping Gnarlid and triple Grove Rumbler, it didn't take too long before the glaringly obvious framework materialized. Grabbing a pair of Natural Connections for additional Landfall triggers, he suggested a blue splash for double Clutch of Currents in the removal-light deck.

Saito obliged, handing him the two Blue commons. It's not like his Blue-Black Devoid deck sorely needed it. At this point, Fathom Feeder, Wasteland Strangler and Ulamog's Nullifier nudged them towards their second deck, but Saito wasn't quite sure yet.

Somehow, it didn't seem right. The Blue-Black Devoid deck wasn't powerful enough.

The Second Deck, Red or Black?

Toggling between his options, Saito decided it was better to pair Red with Black and quickly swapped out the Blue cards. The resulting product looked very brutal indeed. With double Sludge Crawler, triple Kozilek's Sentinel, double Nettle Drone, double Dominator Drone and the supremely powerful pair of Vile Aggregates, it looked like this was the second finalized deck.


The diamond in the rough.

Takahashi fine-tuned his product, which led to the discussion of how to split the three copies of Stonefury and who should get custody of the coveted Rolling Thunder.

"I think it needs to go in my deck, Saito. Your deck has sufficient reach and burn. Also, pass me one Stonefury for my sideboard, you don't need three of that five mana spell!"

Saito approved of these proposals and obliged. The final touches for Takahashi's Landfall deck was the addition of Pilgrim's Eye to better ensure his land drops, as well as to support the pair of Islands for the pair of Clutch of Currents and Infuse with the Elements.

Struggling with the Third Deck

"Always. The third deck is always the biggest problem," probably the most accurate depiction of Tsumura's current predicament.

All this time, he was facing immense hardship. Even for a Hall of Famer, maximizing the power of the leftovers was no walk in the park. He toggled with the remaining White and Black cards, scraping together a mediocre "life gain" deck with Drana's Emissary, March from the Tomb and triple Stone Haven Medic. But only one Kalastria Healer.

Tough luck.

Also, there weren't sufficient payoff cards such as Serene Stalwart or Bloodbond Vampire and the deck looked really awkward indeed. "Let's try out White-Blue. A slow deck? We have Felidar Sovereign and Emeria Shepherd," Tsumura suggested.

His teammates gave the nod, and in less than a minute, the Awaken/Fliers deck fell into place. While they didn't have the cards they needed for an aggressive deck, they had the "controllish" support cards to play the late game, such as Hedron Archive, Sheer Drop and Coastal Discovery.

What was Tsumura's verdict on his new product? "No way, this deck is not good enough. Can we try the Ally deck please? I feel like we're wasting the three Kor Castigators."

But Saito had other plans.

May Our Powers Combine

Now that Saito was done with his "nearly-perfect", "bordering-insane" Black-Red Devoid deck, he motioned for Tsumura to switch seats as he tried to piece together the scraps. Takahashi added the final flourish to his Red-Green Landfall deck and all three players zoned in on the third deck.


May our powers combine, to find the final deck!

"Ok, I think we should go with White-Blue fliers. I won't get greedy with the Black," Saito said while relegating Fathom Feeder and Drana's Emissary to the side." Clearly the weakest deck of the three, at least it was consistent and had a dedicated game plan with some bombs.

With that, the three archetypes were decided. Red-Green Landfall. Black-Red Devoid. White-Blue Fliers. As to who gets to pilot which deck, we'll keep it a secret for now. After all, we've already said too much!

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