Platinum pro Patrick Dickmann is no stranger to the feature match area. Usually, though, when he first enters here on a Grand Prix weekend, he already has his deck ready, whereas this time, he needed to build it from scratch.
Before opening his Fate Reforged and Khans of Tarkir packs, he discussed the general makings of this Sealed Deck format: not too fast, with decks typically having two main colors and two splashes. His pool on this day, however, would not be processed as easily and didn't allow to be build on autopilot.
After a cursory glance, Dickmann grumbled. "Nothing seems to fit," he complained. "However, I do have this!" he said and revealed a total of ten nonbasic lands.
Dickmann called this number of dual lands, trilands, and fetchlands absurd and suggested that five people would probably come up with seven different decks here. "I'm really scared I'm going to mess up," he admitted. Still it was time to get to work. At first, Dickmann went through all the colors and decided that red was really bad, at least almost all of the single-color cards. White didn't fare much better. "I have two playables in white," said Dickmann and glowered at all the white-producing lands in his pool.
The verdict on green turned out positive, however, with Whisperer of the Wilds and Archer's Parapet providing early drops and Map the Wastes providing additional mana fixing. It was soon decided the deck would have a green base and then splash everything else.
But, as always, the devil was in the details. In particular, there were a lot of cards which needed to be re-evaluated in the context of this deck. For example, Dickmann decided that Cunning Strike was only really good with a more aggressive early game leading into it. Same with Dragonscale Boon. Likewise, Savage Punch was relegated to the sidelines because he could only really use it in or after turn six. Dickmann also pointed out Tormenting Voice: "I love the card, but not in this deck, which has so many high-impact cards and can make good use of all its lands." Even Sultai Scavenger left the deck rather quickly, as Dickmann already had other delve cards and bigger fliers in Noxious Dragon, Destructor Dragon, and Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury.
After all of these cuts, Dickmann was down to 22 spells, looking for a 23rd. With both Whisperer of the Wilds and Map the Wastes he wasn't going to run 18 lands. He was interested in either Reach of Shadows or Disdainful Stroke and decided to postpone that decision, instead working on his mana first …
"You need a Ph.D. in mathematics to figure out this mana base!" he soon complained and asked for a piece of paper to take some notes. "Paging Dr. Görtzen," he joked as, just at this time, fellow coverage reporter Simon Görtzen walked past and peered critically at Dickmann's calculations.
All of that was slightly exaggerated of course. The process wasn't quite as difficult but still led to a couple of surprising conclusions. For one thing, Flooded Strand and the Plains to go along with it simply didn't fit into 40 cards and luckily weren't really needed either. And secondly, Noxious Dragon ended up being unplayable after all because, while Polluted Delta, Map the Wastes, and Swamp made for three ways to get one black mana, the combination didn't really count when it came to black mana number two. At least he didn't need to pick now and could just run Disdainful Stroke and Reach of Shadows both.
The end result, which Dickmann called "'interesting,'" carefully inserting the quotation marks, looked like this: