Sealed Deck Building With Martin Jůza

Posted in GRAND PRIX LYON 2015 on October 31, 2015

By Frank Karsten

This Gold-level pro already had a staggering 23 Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, but he was here in Lyon in the hope of adding the 24th to his resúmé. As one of the eleven players in the room with three byes, I sat down to observe his process for building a Battle for Zendikar Sealed Deck.

Martin Jůza

To start, here is the complete pool that Jůza received. It's formatted as a single deck to allow you to load up the list on Magic Online and try to build it yourself; a more easily digestible color-by-color overview will be provided afterward.

Martin Jůza's Sealed Pool – Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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Let's go over his colors one by one.

Martin Jůza's Gold and Colorless – Sealed Pool at Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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Jůza's pool contained two Evolving Wilds which would make splashing easier, but the main thing to note here is the pair of Resolute Blademasters. That card is an awesome curve-topper for any Allies deck, and Jůza had to keep Allies in mind when scanning through his white and red cards.

Martin Jůza's White – Sealed Pool at Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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The white offered a premium double-white removal spell in Stasis Snare and several Allies in Cliffside Lookout, Expedition Envoy, and Kor Bladewhirl. White also featured a bunch of fliers, which are always good in any Limited format.

Martin Jůza's Red – Sealed Pool at Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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Red offered a similar collection of cards as white: There were a number of early drops, a premium double-red removal spell in Rolling Thunder, and a few Allies in Ondu Champion and Shatterskull Recruit. The only thing that red didn't have was a bunch of fliers.

Martin Jůza's Red – Sealed Pool at Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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Blue offered a few fliers, two Tightening Coils for removal, and an Exert Influence that could do a lot of work in a 3+ color deck. "Tightening Coils is a great removal card in this format because it's mana efficient, good early, and good late. I like it better than most aggressive 2-drop creatures. I like Boiling Earth for the same reasons," Jůza told me.

Martin Jůza's Black – Sealed Pool at Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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The two rares were looking nice, but Smothering Abomination requires sacrifice fodder like Eyeless Watcher to work, and the creatures were unimpressive. "I'm not a huge fan of aggro strategies in this format, " Jůza said. "In Battle for Zendikar Sealed, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the ultimate card. It's perfect to ramp into. I don't like to play decks with early drops like Culling Drone."

Martin Jůza's Green – Sealed Pool at Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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Given that Jůza was no fan of 2/2s for 2, green didn't offer much to him except for the pair of Tajuru Beastmasters, which could go well with his Resolute Blademasters.

The first deck that Jůza laid out was Red/White Allies with a low mana curve and a small green splash. All Eldrazis were moved to the side, and it looked like a decent deck. But with more than enough time left on the clock, Jůza wanted to explore his other options, and he laid out a focused White/Blue Fliers deck with a small red splash.

Unsure what the best build was, he sleeved up both decks, drew opening hands, and played a few sample games. Ultimately, Jůza decided to go for Red/White Allies.

Martin Jůza's Build – Grand Prix Lyon 2015

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"I think I had exactly enough Allies to make it work," Jůza told me after he finished registering his deck. "Although I'm not a huge fan of cards like Expedition Envoy, the fact that it all worked together with my uncommon Allies was good enough for me. White/Blue Fliers looked nice at first, but lacked ways to win and would face problems closing out a game."

"I think I will have a hard time winning games without them," Jůza said but that, if he drew a Resolute Blademaster, his deck would be very powerful. During the byes, I watched Jůza play several practice games where he managed to curve out perfectly with early creatures into Ondu Champion and Resolute Blademaster, and he crushed his opponents with them.

"I considered playing red-white without the green," Jůza explained. But he decided against it because the green cards offered him additional ways to break through a board stall and to trigger his Resolute Blademasters. His list had two Forests, which along with the two Evolving Wilds gave him four sources of green mana. "That's enough for a 4-drop and two 6-drops." Given that he had a double-white card in Stasis Snare and a double-red card in Rolling Thunder, he didn't want to risk drawing multiple Forests. His heavy color requirements were also the reason why Blighted Gorge and Exert Influence didn't make his main deck.

"Akoum Stonewalker and Tandem Tactics were among the last cards that I cut from my deck," Jůza said. "There is a limit on how many early creatures and aggressive cards you can play, and my other early drops were better."

After seven rounds, Jůza had managed a 6-1 record, which meant that he would only would have to win one out of his next two matches to make it to the second day of competition. "My deck is pretty good and in the first three rounds my opponents didn't put up much resistance. But I just lost to an opponent who used Oblivion Sower to ramp into a Quarantine Field that exiled my whole board," Jůza said. "The only thing I might change about my deck, in hindsight, is to possibly play Akoum Stonewaker over Courier Griffin. But overall my deck is fine."