Posted in GRAND PRIX SALT LAKE CITY 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on September 7, 2014

By Marc Calderaro

In Part Deux of our Sealed Pool #2 adventure, we turn to perennial Grand Prix–mainstay, Christian Calcano. In Part I, we saw (18) Alex Hayne pair White, the clear strongest color, with Red—using the aggressive Thundering Giants, Scrapyard Mongrels, and Hot Soup to get in under the decks with more powerful bombs. However, Calcano took a different tack.

The New York native, like Hayne, took a quick look and saw that white was clearly the first color, but also wasn't deep enough to stand alone. After that, Calcano reached straight for the green cards. "Green is definitely the best color in this set." This was a fairly audacious statement, seeing tournament after tournament decrying Triplicate Spirits & Company ruling the roost. Calcano qualified, "White has the strongest cards, but it's not as deep and consistent as Green."

As he flipped though the green cards, he noted cards along the way. "Oh man, I love me some Green Paragon [Paragon of Eternal Wilds]"; "Two Shaman [Shaman of Spring]? Nice." The Shaman has come under some fire as not that good—four mana 2/2s just don't do enough. Christian clearly disagreed, "No way. I love it." It was apparent where his color preference was. "Mono Green is the best deck you can build—in either Draft of Sealed. There's just so much value."

After staving off his green fever, he looked at the other colors, if only giving them cursory glances. Black got a little bit of a look, but after seeing the lack of depth behind the two Covenant of Blood, Christian put the cards away, just adding that Eternal Thirst has utterly destroyed him before.

"Blue . . ." Calcano began while flipping through the blue cards in the stack, "just sucks, man." And that was it for blue. "Yeah, I've completely dismissed the Blue and Black at this point. They're just not worth it." Those piles were pushed to the side.

When he got to Hayne's eventual deck color, Red, Calcano had to do a more thorough assessment. Cone of Flame tends stops people in their tracks. He laid out the cards, but was soon unimpressed. He paused at the Cone of Flame, saying, "I really want to play this card." But he thought the rest looked lackluster—"The end game isn't there."

He rebuilt the Green and White and was ready to tune. "Man, I love Restock. And I love Titanic Growth." Usually in Sealed, pump spells are worse than in Draft. But Calcano believes that because most of Black's removal is expensive ("Well, you can't play around Ulcerate anyway; it's one mana"), and there's very little bounce because Blue's not worth it ("Except for Peel from Reality, but that's not even that good"), Titanic Growth constantly gets in for the damage and blows people out.

He cut one Pilgrim and put back in Oreskos Swiftclaw, and stepped back again. Then made a cut that I could see pained him a little—the two Restocks hit the bin (one of which was foil, for the extra rub-ins). "It's usually such a blow out, but there's just nothing really worth returning. What are you spending a turn returning in this deck?" After ditching them, he never looked back. Kill your darlings, kids. Or, in the parlance of Sesame Street: Put down the duckie if you want to play the saxophone.

After vacillating on the 23rd card (Meteorite, maybe?), Calcano had his deck:

Sealed Pool #2, Christian Calcano Rough Build

Download Arena Decklist

Around this time, bow-tie-aficionado, Roberto Gonzales, walked by and snuck a peak at Calcano's deck. He nodded his head in agreement, until he started flipping through the cut cards. Gonzales immediately switched sides.

"No Restock? What are you doing? Cut that Cathar!"

"There aren't enough spells. You convoke, homey."

Gonzales argued his case. "You're only going to draw that Cathar in your opening hand in, what, 5% of your games? Drawing Restock on turn five will win you the game more often than drawing Selfless Cathar on turn five."

Calcano thought about it, but then diverted the conversation by asking about Gonzales' Sealed deck in the Grand Prix. Smart play. The interloper and Calcano began discussing build variations on the other deck, and my job there was done.

So that's two pros with two completely different builds. (18) Alex Hayne paired White with Red, and Christian Calcano paired it with Green. What will ChannelFireball extraordinaire, David Ochoa ("The Ocho") build? Find out, in the final, exciting installment of "Building the Sealed Pool #2"!