Ivan Floch, currently ranked 2nd in the Top 25, had come all the way from the Slovak Republic to show off his Limited skills. Earlier today, I took a close look at how he built his Sealed deck.
Floch started by removing his unplayables and subsequently laid out all of his cards according to color. He then pondered for several minutes while studying all that his pool had to offer.
Ivan Floch, deep in thought.
His best cards in each of the five colors were:
- White: Master of Pearls, Seeker of the Way, Suspension Field
- Blue: Mystic of the Hidden Way, Thousand Winds, Jeskai Windscout
- Red: Horde Ambusher, Arrow Storm, Mardu Warshrieker
- Green: Woolly Loxodon, Longshot Squad, Incremental Growth
- Black: Debilitating Injury, Ruthless Ripper, Sultai Scavenger
“I like white,” Floch said, not only pointing at his rare white morph card but also at the deep, aggressive creature curve that white offered.
Unfortunately, his gold cards and lands didn’t really go well with his white cards:
|Clan||Mana fixing||Playable gold cards|
|Jeskai||2 extra sources: Swiftwater Cliffs, Frontier Bivouac||Jeskai Charm|
|Mardu||2 extra sources: Bloodfell Caves, Sandsteppe Citadel||Mardu Charm, Ponyback Brigade|
|Abzan||3 extra sources: Sandsteppe Citadel, Blossoming Sands||Abzan Charm, Kin-Tree Invocation, Rakshasa Deathdealer, Death Frenzy|
|Sultai||5 extra sources: Polluted Delta, Thornwood Falls, Dismal Backwater, Sandsteppe Citadel, Frontier Bivouac||2 Abomination of Gudul, Kin-Tree Invocation, Rakshasa Deathdealer, Death Frenzy|
|Temur||4 extra sources: Swiftwater Cliffs, Thornwood Falls, Frontier Bivouac||Surrak Dragonclaw|
In the above table, various cards (such as Swiftwater Cliffs, Sandsteppe Citadel, or Kin-Tree Invocation) appear multiple times, but that is only because they could go into multiple clans. Floch only had a single copy of these cards.
As can be gleaned from the table, Floch’s best clan was Sultai. However, Sultai doesn’t include white, which was his best color. So how did he approach this puzzle?
“Sultai seemed powerful, but I counted the playables and could only get to 18 or 19 in green, black, and blue, before I would have to add rather bad cards,” Floch explained afterwards. “So Sultai didn’t seem better than the white aggro deck. And if I go white, then red would be the best match because Arrow Storm and Horde Ambusher fit my aggressive game plan.”
Floch laid out the red-white deck and was happy with what he saw. To avoid having to play too many filler creatures, he decided to add a small splash for a third color. He considered black for Mardu Charm and Ponyback Brigade, or blue for Mystic of the Hidden Way and Jeskai Charm. In both cases, his lands would allow for an 8-8-3 manabase. That is, 8 sources for both red and white, and 3 sources for the splash color. (That’s 17 lands total, which is lower than usual, but fine for his deck because he was going to play Defiant Strike and Tormenting Voice.) He eventually went with black because he felt that he could use the permanent removal of Mardu Charm and because Mardu Warshrieker gave him a bit of additional fixing.
The final product looked like this:
Ivan Floch’s final R/W/b deck.
“For my 22nd and 23rd card, I had to choose between Canyon Lurkers, Ainok Tracker, Kill Shot, Hordeling Outburst, and Bloodfire Expert,” Floch said. He eventually went with the pair of morphs. Although they are not the strongest morphs, his opponents wouldn’t know that, and the bluffing potential is always there.
At the end of the day, Floch found himself at 7-2, which meant he had managed to lock up Day 2. “I don’t think aggressive decks are generally the way to go in this sealed format because many games take a long time, but I had a good aggressive deck with several ways to break through a board stall, so it was fine,” Floch told me. “However, in hindsight, I should’ve splashed blue instead of black,” he said. “Mystic of the Hidden Way is much better than Ponyback Brigade in my deck, and Jeskai Charm is probably better than Mardu Charm because I have so many creatures that I can pump.”
Even the pros don’t always build their deck perfectly on the first try. Khans of Tarkir Sealed Deck remains a complicated format, and it is poised to become even more interesting once Fate Reforged is added to the mix.