Posted in GRAND PRIX PORTLAND 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 9, 2014

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

The Magic 2015 Limited format has been well developed in the last two weeks, with last weekend's Pro Tour spotlighting the set in Booster Draft.

Team Sealed, however, is a different beast. While double the packs are available to the three players on a team assist in building more coherent and consistent decks, it does not necessarily allow for decks to mimic those seen in Booster Draft. On top of that, card evaluations don't necessarily change from regular Sealed to Team Sealed, but how you approach each match-up when you sit down in front of an opponent does.

So here's a question: what is the most important piece of advice the pros here this weekend can give to someone who is new to Team Sealed?

Take, for example, opening a Sealed pool as an individual that contains three powerful rare cards in colors that can't support a stable mana curve of plays early in a game. It's a very real element of the game to tackle, according to No. 23 Ranked Player Eric Froehlich. "The problem in Sealed deck is that when you open your packs, your three best cards would be in three different colors," he explained. "In Team Sealed, you're going to be able to get all your best cards into all of your decks. You need to be able to deal with bombs."

No. 23 Ranked Player Eric Froehlich


It's very true. With twelve packs and three players, it is very likely that your team will be able to make access to any powerful rares opened. They certainly won't go to waste in this format. But this also changes how you have to play in Team Sealed. You need to assume your opponent is going to have access to at least one powerful card. It also means you need to value removal for powerful threats even higher than normal.


Hall of Famer Luis Scott-Vargas reiterated these points. "Your decks are gonna have to be a lot better than they would be in an individual Sealed format," he explained. "Even the good looking Team Sealed decks aren't as good as they look, and the aggressive decks end up being a little worse than they look. Everyone has a lot of removal, and you can expect everyone to have at least a couple of game-ending curves, not to mention everyone's going to have a super-good curve."

He then mentioned another key point, which may go against a new player's mentality on assuming decks are better. "I think a common deck is to build some aggressive decks that would be good in draft but not that good in Team Sealed," he said.

Let's elaborate on that a bit more. Decks are more powerful. That's true. Decks are more consistent. Also true.

So how are aggressive decks a potential trap for players new to Team Sealed?

Everyone's going to be focusing on their mana curve so you're not going to be able to punish clunkier decks," said Paul Cheon, the third of the ChannelFireball team. "Even if you try to draft a really aggressive decks, it doesn't really pan out. Torch Fiend beatdown isn't going to work."

The true strength to an aggressive deck isn't its power, but rather its ability to punish an opponent who keeps a slow hand. This happens a lot less in Team Sealed, as everyone has access to a very reasonable curve of spells for all colors when twelve packs are part of the pool instead of six.

Well-balanced, powerful decks are the name of the game in Team Sealed. Not hyper-aggressive. Not removal-light. But well-balanced. As emphasized by No. 2 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald: ""It's good to just build a well-rounded deck that has answers to everything."