Posted in GRAND PRIX ORLANDO 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 4, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Limited is something of a specialty for Melissa Detora. With Top 8 appearances at Grand Prix Santiago 2011 – a Limited Grand Prix – and Pro Tour Gatecrash, DeTora is one of the game's longtime competitors and a self-professed Limited player.

Melissa DeTora: Pro Tour Top 8 competitor; Grand Prix player; Limited lover.


With several drafts and Sealed decks under her belt already, DeTora decided she couldn't turn down a Limited Grand Prix before Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir next weekend: Her Top 25 finish from Pro Tour Magic 2015 is just one of the many excellent finishes she's earned that's kept her qualified for the Pro Tour over the years.


So how does she handle our sample Khans of Tarkir Sealed pool? Like so many others it starts with separating "playable" cards from the rest. One feature that impacts answering "What's playable?" beyond efficient creatures and cards that kill them is morph.

"It's easier to get a solid pool. Here, all the morphs – especially the on-color ones – are fine. Even if you're a couple playables short you can round out the deck with a couple moprhs," DeTora said. "All the morphs are pretty good."

DeTora was meticulous in looking over every card and classifying it one way or another.


What did she find notable? "Two cards that stood out at first were these," DeTora said, pointing to Duneblast and Kin-Tree Invocation. "Duneblast is petty much a bomb. This one's much better than a Wrath," like End Hostilities, "since you keep your best guy. Kin-Tree Invocation is another. It's almost like copying your biggest guy. Green and black seem pretty deep, so we're going to see if that works."


DeTora first build a deck that leaned heavily on green and black.


"This is pretty bomb-light, so Duneblast may not work," DeTora said. Without any over-the-top amazing creatures to keep after Duneblast, it would be easier for opponents to catch up after the clear. Black is kind of shallow so we'll look at white-green."


With different cards building the same color deck doesn't mean it works out the same way.


DeTora wasn't happier with the second take. "I like all the outlast creatures, but after looking at the white it isn't very good either. Temur may be the way to go," she said. "Bear's Companion is good and I like Icefeather Aven, and blue looked pretty good so I'm going to try what Temur looks like."


DeTora looked at both color requirements and the curve it created when laying out decks.


After laying it out, DeTora changed her mind. "I think the blue is pretty bad," she said. "The creatures are underwhelming. I think Mystic of the Hidden Way is very good, but Whirlwind Adept gets blocked by everything and Glacial Stalkers are really slow. There's some good cards but the curve is very awkward – all morphs. So we'll try Abzan again."


Rebuilding one of her previous white-black-green setups, Detora shared some of her thoughts on other cards in the pool. "I think Delibitating Injury is one of the best commons. It kills all the morphs," she said. "I like to splash but only with the lands to support it. There's only two lands for Abzan here. There's no tri-lands in this pool. Those are really good. Villainous Wealth is very tempting to play but you need like nine mana for it."

After narrowing in on Abzan she moved several white cards in and out repeatedly: Venerable Lammasu, Salt Road Patrol, and War Behemoth. "This is actually pretty tough to build I think. I'd probably go to time with this pool, but I'd settle on black-green splashing white," DeTora said. "You don't have to play as much white so you're mana is better. In this format mana is really important. In Shards of Alara block," the last block to feature a focus on three-color cards and strategies, "I'd always check the lands to see what deck I could build and I think it's similar here.

"The question is so I play Salt Road Patrol or some morph," DeTora continued. "Death Frenzy might be okay in this deck. It could be Venerable Lammasu since it's late game, but we already have so much for the end. It's probably War Behemoth. It makes our mana better – it's too bad there isn't one more [nonbasic] land here. I'd probably go to time but this is what I think I'd end up with."

Melissa DeTora's Sample Sealed Build

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