Posted in Event Coverage on March 14, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

While this weekend is the swan song for Fate Reforged/Khans of Tarkir Limited, it doesn't make it mean any less for the players fighting here and online for the next couple weeks across both Draft and Sealed. Understanding this specific format is a limited time need, but putting in practice breaking down what sets and Sealed pools tell us is a timeless skill.

So that's what I did.

With a flair of fun in mind, fellow coverage reporter Jacob Van Lunen and I each opened, broke down, and built from separate Sealed pools. You can follow along his approach in another article; this is what I found in my pool, and what it spoke to me.

White – Sample Sealed Pool #1

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In total card count white is fairly shallow, but the cards available are bread and butter choices for Sealed. Abzan Skycaptain and Alabster Kirin in multiples means an air force that fights well on both offense and defense, and while none of these cards are particularly punchy the ability to consistently create flying monsters is one route to Limited victory.

Blue – Sample Sealed Pool #1

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Blue is deeper here, giving us great card drawing (Enhanced Awareness, and Weave Fate is we really want it), ways to undo opponents' work (Waterwhirl, Rite of Undoing), ways to stay ahead on tempo (Cancel, Will of the Naga), unconditional removal (Reality Shift), and a cadre of creatures with flying (Jeskai Windscout, Lotus Path Djinn, Scaldkin, Cloudform).

Many of these cards, however, require two blue mana to cast. We'll need to be heavily invested in the color to get everything out of this offering.

Black – Sample Sealed Pool #1

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Black, like white, suffers from being thin but filled with solid cards. Typhoid Rats, Sultai Emissary, and Douse in Gloom handle any early threats well, while Disowned Ancestor, Krumar Bond-Kin, and Sultai Scavenger are great in slot for any deck running black.

Red – Sample Sealed Pool #1

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This is where the action starts. Our selection of red is filled with potent rares (Siege Outpost, Flamerush Rider, Dragon-Style Twins), powerful removal (Arrow Storm, Burn Away, Pyrotechnics), and reasonable creatures at two and three mana.

The downside here is that all of the removal shares a crowed five mana cost space. If we play red we'll have choices to take in and out, but playing them all would be difficult.

Green – Sample Sealed Pool #1

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More power is packed in green too with Whisperwood Elemental taking the top slot here. Whisperer of the Wilds is one of the few ways to accelerate mana early, combining well is larger creatures and morph alike. Windstorm and Return to the Earth give us ways to handle even armies of opponing flying creatures, but Become Immense and the three copies of Hooting Mandrills will compete to fit in as the delve cards of choice.

Artifact and Multicolor – Sample Sealed Pool #1

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Sorcery (1)
1 Duneblast
Artifact (2)
1 Mardu Banner 1 Sultai Banner
Enchantment (1)
1 Secret Plans
9 Cards

Khans of Tarkir, unlike the upcoming Dragons of Tarkir, has plenty of multicolor cards to encourage us. Here, two rares stand out above the rest in Duneblast and Surrak Dragonclaw. Duneblast is a powerful way to set up an opponent for their doom, both clearing out everything they cast and leaving you with your best creature. Surrak Dragonclaw is a fatty with flash, leaping in the way to block unexpectedly before beginning to trample upon opponents. Efreet Weaponmaster and War Flare fit well in aggressive Jeskai or Mardu decks, and Harsh Sustenance is excellent removal for the right deck with white and black.

Nonbasic Lands – Sample Sealed Pool #1

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The fact of all pools, however, lies in the mana available to cast spells with. Fate Reforged/Khans of Tarkir Limited demands attention to nonbasic lands, and ours cover several clans well.

Swiftwater Cliffs and Rugged Highlands made Temur available, which seems like the best option in abstract given the rares collected in those colors, but the Cliffs with Tranquil Cove puts Jeskai on the map as well. Scoured Barrens, Nomad Outpost, and Bloodfell Caves are a great setup for Mardu, with two of the lands feeling an Abzan concoction as well.

I'll reveal my own build and experience playing it in a follow up article where I find the thoughts of master of the game to see where I went right and, more importantly, where my plans went wrong. In the meantime, what would your Sealed deck look like from these cards?

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