Sealed Deck Construction with Pascal Maynard

Posted in Event Coverage on October 8, 2016

By Craig Jones

One of the names I didn't expect to see amongst the three-bye players here in London this weekend was Pascal Maynard. Maynard is a Canadian Platinum-Level Pro and him being here rather than at GP Atlanta or even in Honolulu for the upcoming Pro Tour Kaladesh was a surprise. Intrigued, I tracked him down during deck construction.

It turns out the reason the Canadian was playing in a European Grand Prix was because he was not currently based in Canada. Maynard's girlfriend recently moved to France for a teaching contract and he came with her. However, this had put a dent in his testing preparations for the upcoming PT. His new home in France was a fairly small town about an hour and a half south of Paris. The local Magic scene was a little quieter than he had hoped for and most of the established teams in the area had no open draft seats for him to join.

“I was really excited to see the new set come out on MTGO a couple of days earlier,” he said as this allowed him to get some additional draft practice on top of two Sealed deck prereleases played in Paris.

The online testing had not been without problems. The opposition had been a little random and Maynard had found a lot of his practice games had gone long, sometimes to Turn 20, despite his team telling him it was an aggressive format.

In the end he decided to “trust what my team tells me.” He didn't think playing defensively was a good strategy as there was no real payoff.

I watched him lay out his playables in all five colors. My initial thought was that it looked solid, with two copies each of Welding Sparks and Revoke Privileges, likely the best commons in their respective colors, but overall was lacking in bombs.

There were also other problems.

“It's supertight on creatures in every color,” Maynard said.

As he moved the piles around to try out various color combinations black seemed to be the one in favor simply by having enough depth.

“There is huge tension between wanting artifacts or energy,” Maynard said, explaining that both Prophetic Prism and Metalspinner's Puzzleknot were both below the normal power curve, but needed if he wanted to make best use of cards like Dhund Operative.

He moved the piles around again and finally settled on black-green with a red splash for Unlicensed Disintegration and two copies of Welding Sparks. After he finished registering the deck I asked him for his thought processes on how he arrived at this list.

At first he'd looked at an aggressive red-x deck. He didn't really have enough quality cards to pull it off. Green wasn't very deep at all, blue wasn't very good, and white didn't really offer anything other than the Revoke Privileges.

“The only attraction [for white] was the removal, but I already have that in the other colors.”

He opted to run Jund colors as he felt that gave him the right balance.

“I hope to draw Key to the City every game,” Maynard said. “I'm really happy to see it as it fills a unique role in the format of being a mana sink.”

He went over various other cards in his pool and how they were more for sideboard options. He mentioned he would board in Quicksmith Genius for matchups that threatened to go long. Hazardous Conditions was also a card his friends had told him was good and would likely be highly impactful from the board.

One of the things Maynard liked about the pool was the presence of 11 cards in the sideboard that could be brought into the deck to fulfill specific roles.

“It's a really good sealed deck. I'm going to be able to adapt a lot after boarding.”

Sideboarding to tweak his deck was something he liked to do a lot for Sealed Deck, “maybe a little too much,” he added with a smile.

“Overall, I'm pretty happy with this pool,” he said.

Watching much better players build their decks is one of the reasons I love doing Grand Prix coverage. I'm fairly sure if I'd have opened this pool I would have spent the rest of the day bitching about how unlucky I am at opening good cards, again, and inevitably lost my win-and-in in Round 9. Maynard found himself with a pool minus the obvious power mythics and managed to find a combination that looked solid enough to give him a shot of making it through to the draft rounds tomorrow.

Now we're at the beginning of a new season I asked Maynard what his goals were for the coming year. That was simple.

“To make Worlds. And to make Platinum. But if I make Worlds I'll likely need to be Platinum anyway.”

Maynard came close in previous years. He was runner-up in a tight race for Grand Prix Master in 2014 and was in 5th place on that metric for 2015. Moving to France has not dented his enthusiasm for travelling and competing in Grand Prix. He'd already made a schedule to identify which Grand Prix he could play in over the next year and reckoned he could make 16 or 17 of them without pushing it that hard.

“I need to do well at least two PTs as well,” he said.

Last year he had one good finish, a Top 8 at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, but the other finishes had been lacking.

I talked to him a little about his team East West Bowl. In many ways that had been the breakout team of last year. They'd started the year as largely a bunch of unknown players and the year had ended with them all at Gold or higher, aside from three who had to merely content themselves with making Silver.

He told me about how he'd got involved with the team. It had started out as a group of friends and PTQ winners sort of coming together in an informal team. The prototype was a TOGIT team at PT Magic Origins. Maynard had been asked to join in as the 8th player for drafting and had hung around long enough to do some Constructed testing as well. They did extremely well in the Limited portions of PT Battle for Zendikar in Milwaukee, but the Constructed results were a bit more variable.

A similar thing happened for the following PT in Atlanta. This was where the Eldrazi menace first made itself known and Team East West Bowl put three people into the Top 8, including Maynard's first Sunday appearance at the Pro Tour. He was on Affinity for that tournament, but both Andrew Brown and eventual winner Jiachen Tao were running the breakout blue-red Eldrazi variant with Drowner of Hope. After that the team realized they could do Constructed as well as Limited.

Currently Maynard is a full-time Magic player. He also writes content for ChannelFireball and a new app to help with Booster Draft practice – Decked Drafter. Now he's based in France I'm sure we'll see more of him on European Grand Prix circuit.

Pascal Maynard's Sealed Pool (WHITE)

Pascal Maynard's Sealed Pool (BLUE)

Pascal Maynard's Sealed Pool (BLACK)

Pascal Maynard's Sealed Pool (RED)

Pascal Maynard's Sealed Pool (GREEN)

Pascal Maynard's Sealed Pool (ARTIFACTS, LAND and MULTI-COLORED)

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

And Pascal Maynard's build is…

Pascal Maynard's Sealed Deck at GP London 2016

 

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