Sealed Deck Construction with Neil Rigby

Posted in Event Coverage on October 8, 2016

By Craig Jones

For Grand Prix in Britain I usually like to give some local names some coverage. For limited events this poses a bit of a problem, but thankfully I was able to find someone who's made multiple Top 8s at both PTs and GPs over the past year.

Um, okay, so he might not have actually been playing those Top 8s per se...

If you've been following video coverage over the last few years you might have noticed the presence of a strange individual regularly sitting in the feature match area. That person is Neil Rigby and their job is to make sure the life totals and other pertinent information is updated on the video coverage overlays.


Neil Rigby in thought

But I'm not here to talk about Rigby's coverage duties. Ask around for who qualifies as one of Britain's Limited experts and Neil Rigby's name will invariably crop up. He's been playing a long time, has two previous Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, and is usually the first person I go to if I want to get insight on a new Limited format. I also knew for this tournament that Rigby had spent the five days prior to the Grand Prix involved in a fairly intensive draft camp and would likely have plenty of insight on the new Kaladesh Limited format.

I asked him about the draft camp. A former British player with PT experience, Tom Harle, had originally suggested they rent out an apartment in London for the week before the tournament and cram in as much testing as possible. That had proved too expensive and instead they'd met up in Nottingham. Also present were former and future English World Magic Cup team members David Inglis and Graeme Mcintyre, as well as recent PT Eldritch Moon competitor Matt Light. Gold level pro and member of the 2016 Italian World Magic Cup team Mattia Rizzi brought some additional power to the group.

Looking at his card pool Rigby mentioned Rizzi rated Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter as one of the strongest rares, almost comparable to Pack Rat. It is also one of the few mana sinks in the Kaladesh Sealed format. The legendary rare gave Rigby a strong pull towards green.

He was also pleased to see two Renegade Freighter in his card pool.

"Renegade Freighter has been amazing in testing." He thought it might be the best common in the set. This was a viewpoint shared by a lot of the players I talked to this weekend. The hype train in this case is a literal train.

He pointed out some of his other cards and mentioned how they'd performed in testing.

On Eddytail Hawk: "It went up in everyone's estimation when played."

This was because:

"Flying is the most important it's been since Core set drafts."

After all:

"Nobody plans for the flying train."

Well, quite.

For this reason he was happy to have a hasty Snare Thopter available to him.

On some of the other cards:

Inventor's Goggles: "Really strong in the right deck – but not this one."

Hunt the Weak: "Been surprisingly poor all week."

Captured by the Consulate: "People overvalue Captured by the Consulate. The creature can still block, which is very relevant." He mentioned its power depends on the type of deck. It is obviously very strong if you're planning on attacking through the air. Not so good for strategies based on attacking on the ground."

Looking through blue revealed an Aethersquall Ancient. Rigby showed he had a mini combo here—the Ancient in combination with energy generators such as Hightide Hermit and Aether Theorist. All three together would result in a board state where the opponent would not be able to keep a creature on the table.

"Aether Theorist is probably the most powerful blue common."

The reason for this is scry. As Kaladesh has very few mana sinks, flooding out with unneeded land is a real problem. Because of this Rigby said they'd been radically dropping the land count in their draft decks, sometimes going as low as 14 or 15.

Rigby's sealed pool proved interesting with green, red, white and blue all seeming of comparable strength.

"Much harder to build than I thought it was going to be."

After more shuffling around.

"I'd rather this [Skywhaler's Shot] was a Welding Sparks. It would make things easier."

As it was, Rigby had some tough decisions. Each color pair offered different strengths and weaknesses. The one constant was the lean to green. I asked him what made that color stand out from the others and he pushed out Oviya and Appetite for the Unnatural.

"Is Appetite that good," I asked.

He mentioned the importance of killing artifacts and one artifact in particular.

"Renegade Freighter just ends games. You need to be able to deal with it."


Neil Rigby with shiny Cataclysmic Gearhulk

As for the other colors, White offered Cataclysmic Gearhulk ("Not that good"), Captured by the Consulate and the excellent Skywhaler's Shot. Blue had the Aethersquall Ancient with the potential of locking the opponent out with the perfect draw of other energy creating creatures.

It was red-green that Rigby finally decided on.

"Because I have those two Freighters I want to be aggressive."

With Lathnu Hellion and Voltaic Brawler, the deck definitely qualified as aggressive.

One of the last decisions was to decide whether to go for 16 or 17 land. 16 lands won out. "This deck doesn't want to flood."

Rigby then surprised me by adding Larger Than Life to his deck, a card I'd thought unplayable. I asked him about it.

"It's been better than expected in testing. Because it gives trample this makes up for the fact it's a sorcery. Often you'll make your guy huge and they'll have no good blocks."

And if everything doesn't pan out, I should mention that the Cataclysmic Gearhulk Rigby opened is of the nice shiny Masterpiece versions.

Neil Rigby's Sealed Pool (WHITE)

Neil Rigby's Sealed Pool (BLUE)

Neil Rigby's Sealed Pool (BLACK)

Neil Rigby's Sealed Pool (RED)

Neil Rigby's Sealed Pool (GREEN)

Neil Rigby's Sealed Pool (ARTIFACTS, LANDS and MULTI-COLORED)

Now take a pause to think about what you'd build with this pool.

And Neil Rigby's build is…


Neil Rigby's Sealed Deck at GP London 2016

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