Sealed Deck with a Morphed Pro

Posted in GRAND PRIX LIVERPOOL 2015 on March 7, 2015

By Craig Jones

Despite the end of the Khans (or I suppose the never-have-been) approaching, I must confess the Fate Reforged/Khans of Tarkir limited is as mysterious to me as a facedown morph. To help shed some light on the intricacies of sealed deck I decided to sit on the shoulder of one of the pros as they built their deck for GP Liverpool. And who better to watch than [Redacted]. Oh yes, it wouldn't be fair to reveal all their tricks to their opponents, so for the moment we'll turn them facedown and keep their identity a secret until later in the day.

First off, let's take a look at the pool.

1 Bloodfell Caves
2 Blossoming Sands
1 Jungle Hollow
1 Thornwood Falls
1 Swiftwater Cliffs
1 Altar of the Brood
1 Heart-Piercer Bow
1 Sultai Banner
1 Abzan Battle Priest
1 Alabaster Kirin
1 Feat of Resistance
1 Kill Shot
2 Siegecraft
1 Suspension Field
1 Abzan Runemark
1 Arashin Cleric
1 Dragon Bell Monk
2 Great-Horn Krushok
1 Honor's Reward
1 Sage's Reverie
1 Jeskai Windscout
1 Mystic of the Hidden Way
1 Singing Bell Strike
1 Weave Fate
1 Wetland Sambar
1 Jeskai Runemark
1 Jeskai Sage
1 Refocus
1 Supplant Form
1 Temporal Trespass
1 Will of the Naga
1 Bloodsoaked Champion
1 Debilitating Injury
1 Krumar Bond-Kin
1 Molting Snakeskin
1 Raiders' Spoils
1 Rakshasa's Secret
1 Ruthless Ripper
1 Dark Deal
1 Grave Strength
1 Gurmag Angler
1 Hooded Assassin
1 Reach of Shadows
1 Sibsig Host
1 Sibsig Muckdraggers
1 Arrow Storm
1 Barrage of Boulders
1 Burn Away
1 Canyon Lurkers
1 Hordeling Outburst
1 Leaping Master
2 Summit Prowler
1 Arcbond
2 Bathe in Dragonfire
1 Bloodfire Enforcers
1 Defiant Ogre
1 Fierce Invocation
1 Goblin Heelcutter
1 Lightning Shrieker
1 Pyrotechnics
1 Feed the Clan
1 Highland Game
1 Kin-Tree Warden
1 Naturalize
1 Windstorm
1 Abzan Beastmaster
1 Ainok Guide
1 Formless Nurturing
1 Fruit of the First Tree
1 Hunt the Weak
1 Map the Wastes
1 Ruthless Instincts
1 Whisperer of the Wilds
1 Abzan Guide
1 Icefeather Aven
1 Sultai Charm
1 Villainous Wealth
1 Cunning Strike
2 Ethereal Ambush
2 War Flare

It's not much of a mystery to reveal our morphed pro wasn't best chuffed with this. I stayed out of the way and watched while they put a skeleton of a deck together, added cards of one color, shunted them out, tried cards of another color, rebuilt the skeleton. It can be daunting building a deck from a sealed pool in the narrow time allotted at a GP. It's always useful to arrange the cards on the table in a way that presents information clearly and efficiently. In this case our morphed devoted most of their table space to the twenty-or-so cards they wanted for their deck and quickly switched in and out different colors. It's an obvious thing, but with a clock ticking in the background it is easy to panic, especially with more complex sets with lots of multi-colored cards, and end up with a forty-card mess of five colors and be wondering which to chuck with only a minute left on the clock.

After they put their deck together, I pulled our morphed pro aside and picked their brains on their thought processes while building the deck. First thing I was curious about—is this a bomb format where you try and stretch your mana base to include all the juicy power cards, or one where you go lean and mean and try to cut down your greedier opponent's before they find the various colors they need for their bombs?

Our pro thought it was more of bomb format, which is unfortunate as this pool is a little light on the boom.

White was discarded fairly quickly while red—with copious removal and more importantly, removal capable of taking down high toughness creatures—looked a solid base to start from. This pool does have a lot of quality red removal. Unfortunately the creatures aren't quite as exciting. The Summit Prowlers hit hard, but they're hardly in the same power class as dragons.

Other options are determined by what color fixers a pool has access to. Sometimes you get the lands to match the power cards you want to splash, other times—like this—you get lands in the colors you have no intention of using.

In the end our morphed pro went for the consistency of two colors:

GRAND PRIX LIVERPOOL 2015 - Sealed Deck with a Morphed Pro

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They did consider going with black over blue to get access to a bit more beef in the shape of Gurmag Angler. Overall they though the blue was better. It has access to card drawing, creatures with evasion and Supplant Form, the highlight of the pool. The lack of right-colored lands limited opportunities to splash (Icefeather Aven is going to be a Gray Ogre most of the time). A glut of spells at five mana also meant no room for trying to pack in the two Ethereal Ambush.

It's not the most powerful list. The deck is light on two drops and the ones it has are unexciting vanilla 2/1s, which makes an aggressive beatdown strategy hard to implement. However, it does have a lot of removal and the two color mana base should be very consistent.

Overall our pro thought they were lacking in power. We'll unmorph them later and reveal how the day worked out.