Sealed Building with Soorani, Nelson and Calcano

Posted in Event Coverage on December 10, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

We took a look at the practice Kaladesh Sealed pool earlier. To help with building a deck, I found Grand Prix São Paulo Top 4 finisher Shaheen Soorani, Grand Prix Salt Lake City winner Brandon Nelson, and seven-time Grand Prix Top 8er (and two-time champion) Christian Calcano. They were lounging with coffees, but ready to for Magic.

"I've been here long enough. Give me some cards already," Calcano laughed. The three took a look at the Sealed pool, trying to divine the best way to go. They quickly divided up the colors and dug in.

"Two of the best uncommons in the set!" Was the first exclamation, as they saw Whirler Virtuoso and Unlicensed Disintegration. The crew was especially happy that Spirebluff Canal was right on top to go with it. But they were in for a bit of a surprise, as barely any of those colors were properly supported.

They quickly dissected the other colors. "Black is insane ... –ish," Nelson said, looking at the two Midnight Oils, and some strong spells (if not creatures). Soorani said, "White is 'doo-doo town,'" whatever that means. And Calcano added quickly, "What? Red's unplayable?!" He was frustrated that the color of both Virtuoso and Disintegration offered literally nothing else.

"I mean, I think Midnight Oil's good, right? I've never played it," Nelson asked the group.

"Yeah, neither have I. It must be, yeah?" was Soorani's reply.

"Woah! That card's a bomb!" Calcano exclaimed. The whole group looked at what he was talking about. It was a Cowl Prowler. They were skeptical. Calcano implored, "It's a 6/6; you can't kill it. You just can't!" Begrudging, accommodating nods all around.

With this in mind, they first put together Black and Green—the strong spells in the former, paired with the decent creatures (and Cowl Prowler) in the latter, was the build they thought was right. And with Wild Wanderer and the two Servant of the Conduit, splashing the Unlicensed Disintegration was easy.

Calcano shoved Accomplished Automaton in the pile when looking to fill out the deck. "Now we have two bombs," he said smiling. They sat alone atop the curve.

Nelson tried to mollify Calc's strong position, "Are the [two Servant of the Conduit] making you want to do it?"

"No way!" Calcano demurred. He would not soften his stance. "I want them 'cause they're bombs." And they were in.

After shuffling around cards, trying to figure out what combat tricks to play—Blossoming Defense or Ornamental Courage, etc.—they realized the deck was dreadfully low on artifacts. Underhanded Designs wasn't exactly best in such a deck. "I think we only have five right now," Nelson said. This was after they shoved in all the artifact creatures Calcano suggested—including the third "bomb" Aradara Express, despite the two others lamenting the text "Crew 4".

As they started reconfiguring, Calcano picked back up some discarded piles and said, "Wait, I think White's pretty good." He laid out Propeller Pioneer, two Skyswirl Harrier, Fairgrounds Warden, Glint-Sleeve Artisan, and Fragmentize. Nelson shot Soorani a quick look. It was not in fact "doo-doo town," as suggested earlier.

They quickly laid out the new cards. "I think this is a Green-White deck," Soorani said. They started scuttling among all three colors.

"Ok. Ok. Let's keep it on one deck for now. Over here are a pinch hitters, ok?" Calcano took the also-rans from the last build and kept them visible, but clearly out of the way.

The curve of the new build was cleaner, but as Soorani said, "Now we're running like zero removal, and there's only so much beef we can fit at the top." He looked at Calcano, who smiled and shrugged. Cards were flying around, and combat tricks were replacing removal spells, "bombs" were getting tossed out with the garbage—the build was coming together.

"Wait, why is this still here?" Nelson said, pointing to Wild Wanderer. "We're not even splashing anymore."

"It gets us to the promised land!" Calcano said sternly. He wiggled the Cowl Prowler under his finger. Nelson and Soorani shared a look, then took the Wanderer out. For now.

The team had settled on Green-White. After two Midnight Oil and two of the most powerful uncommons tried to pull them elsewhere, they were undeterred. The team decided the deck was probably a 6.5 out of 10, but both Nelson and Calcano were happy with it.

Soorani wasn't convinced. "In a nine-round tournament, this deck can't do well." He explained, "Look, I like playing my rares." Though the answer was glib, he said further that the deck has a curve, but very few ways to get out of a bad situation. During a long tournament, you'll surely find yourself in those from time to time.

After putting together a speculative 23 cards, they talked a bit about their thoughts on the format overall.

"The vehicles make it aggressive," Nelson said. "and there're so many good combat tricks. You can't fight through them all."

Soorani backed him up, saying "There was a reason the same players used to do well in Limited all the time—because you would only play around one trick, maybe two?" He contrasted this to the modern formats. "Now, it's more about being sneaky. Look at all these cards," he said, pointing to the bevy of one- and two-mana combat tricks. "Before it was Giant Growth—that's what you got."

When the question whether to play or draw in the format came up, they all snapped off "Play." This was for the same reasons they had been talking about; it's an aggressive Sealed format.

In that way, their Green-White deck, though pretty mediocre, is doing exactly what they want to be doing in the format. And without big bombs to compensate, this is probably the best way to go. Even if Calcano's Accomplished Automaton and Aradara Express remained unused.

Soorani, Nelson, Calcano's G/W – GP Mil Practice Sealed

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