BUILDING SEALED POOL #2: ALEXANDER HAYNE

Posted in GRAND PRIX SALT LAKE CITY 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on September 6, 2014

By Marc Calderaro

Stuffed with lands in the rare slots, our taxing second Sealed pool created lots of variability among the pros. Three pros built decks, yielding three different color pairs in the final 40 cards. If you haven't built the deck yourself yet, I highly suggest giving it a shot. Again, here's the pool:

1 Yavimaya Coast
1 Cave of Kolios
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Bronze Sable
1 Grindclock
1 Hot Soup
1 Meteorite
1 Sacred Armory
1 Will-Forged Golem
1 Battle Mastery
1 Boonweaver Giant
1 Ephemeral Shields
2 Heliod's Pilgrim
1 Marked by Honor
1 Oreskos Swiftclaw
1 Pillar of Light
1 Raise the Alarm
1 Selfless Cathar
1 Seraph of the Masses
1 Soul of Theros
1 Sungrace Pegasus
1 Tireless Missionaries
1 Triplicate Spirits
1 Wall of Essence
1 Aeronaut Tinkerer
1 Amphin Pathmage
2 Coral Barrier
1 Divination
1 Frost Lynx
1 Hydrosurge
1 Glacial Crasher
1 Into the Void
1 Jorubai Murk Lurker
1 Military Intelligence
1 Negate
1 Nimbus of the Isles
1 Peel from Reality
1 Research Assistant
1 Statute of Denial
1 Accursed Spirit
1 Black Cat
1 Caustic Tar
2 Covenant of Blood
1 Crippling Blight
1 Eternal Thirst
1 Feast on the Fallen
1 Festergloom
1 Leeching Sliver
2 Necromancer's Assistant
1 Unmake the Graves
1 Witch's Familiar
1 Aggressive Mining
1 Cone of Flame
1 Crowd's Favor
1 Forge Devil
1 Frenzied Goblin
1 Generator Servant
1 Krenko's Enforcer
1 Lava Axe
2 Scrapyard Mongrel
2 Thundering Giant
1 Wall of Fire
1 Ancient Silverback
1 Charging Rhino
2 Hunt the Weak
2 Hunter's Ambush
1 Kalonian Twingrove
1 Living Totem
1 Netcaster Spider
1 Paragon of Eternal Wilds
2 Restock
1 Runeclaw Bear
2 Shaman of Spring
1 Titanic Growth

First to take a stab was Pro Tour champion and No. 18–ranked Alex Hayne. He was quick to point out that overall in Magic 2015 Sealed, power is more important that synergy. Cards can play well together, but it's much better to jam in the bombs where you can.

After dispatching the cards he considered unplayable (Grindclock, Glacial Crusher, Leeching Sliver, etc.), Hayne immediately pulled out the white. Noting the Seraph of the Masses, Triplicate Spirits, and the gigantic beast Soul of Theros, Hayne made it clear from the get-go that he would be playing some version of a white deck. Sungrace Pegasus and Pillar of Light were happy additions. Though Hayne lamented that he only had Marked by Honor to go with his two Heliod's Pilgrims (though he did consider the Battle Mastery repeatedly), he was happy to put all the white in, save for Tireless Missionaries, Boonweaver Giant, Battle Mastery, and the Wall of Essence. "If the Mastery is required by context, I'll play it. Siege Wurm with a Battle Mastery is 'big game'." Now all he needed was a second color.

 

"The blue could be good," he mused, looking at the Military Intelligence and the multiple token makers, Coral Barrier. Military Intelligence can create massive advantage if you've got the creature base. He laid out the cards—Frost Lynx, Nimbus of the Isles and others—and remarked, "Eh, it's all right." He quickly glanced over the other colors while the Blue was still in front of him, noting red's Scrapyard Mongrels and the big Cone of Flame, then dismissed black. "The only good cards are the two Covenant of Blood and the Accursed Spirit." (As a preview, David Ochoa would decide otherwise.)

 

His first full build was red and white. Throwing basically all the red cards into the mix, and added Will-Forged Golem, Bronze Sable and Hot Soup for the Scrapyard Mongrels and to fill the curve. "Hot Soup is real good." He continued, "Its funny because of how bad Prowler's Helm was in the last format. But here, evasion is so impactful; forcing through damage is key, especially in Sealed." He said Black-Green in particular makes good use of Hot Soup. "And the Thundering Giants are underrated. I like them a lot." Though in other formats three toughness can be an issue, Alex said "1" is the magic number for toughness here. If it's bigger than one, it can be useful. The Red-White had some holes, but the curve was good and the aggression was basically there.

Though Red-White would be his final build, but Hayne had to work his way to it. He laid out potential builds in each of the other colors. Black-White was "too reactive." In a format so defined by the bombs, Hayne said you need a positive plan against them if you can't go bigger than they can. Blue-White enticed Hayne for a bit, and he liked the usually overlooked Statute of Denials. "It's better in Sealed than people give it credit for. It's worse than Dissipate because of the extra mana, and because of the Souls [going to the graveyard], but it does a lot of work." But overall he decided it was too lackluster. Nothing really stood out and the Red build was just better. And lastly, Green-White looked all right, "but all it gives you is more top end." As example he said, "This deck doesn't need the [Ancient] Silverback."

 

After dismissing the other three colors to go with the definitely-being-played White, Hayne returned to his initial Red-White build and refined it. He added in Sacred Armory. "This thing's underrated too. It makes all your creatures more threatening." He pointed to the token makers, adding that when your trading tokens for Invasive Species, you're doing pretty well. "It also works with the Scrapyard Mongrels."

 

The last few cuts were pretty easy, although he wasn't sure on the Crowd's Favor, but made a semi-final deck that looked something like this:

Sealed Pool #2, Alex Hayne Rough Build (Unfinished)

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There was still a cut or two to be made, and Crowd's Favor was still moving around, but Hayne was happy with the deck. It was aggressive enough and it had bulges in the right places. The only decks Hayne was worried about were the ones with tons of flyers or tons of bombs. "We have some flyers with the Pegasus, Spirit tokens, and the Seraph. I'm only really scared of the slower decks with lots of bombs and cheap removal—but you're always scared of those decks."

Alex Hayne surveyed his creation and nodded his head. It looked pretty good to him. But this is far from the only build. In the next installments we'll look at two completely different colors to pair with the white. And we'll

What do you think? Is this the best color-pair? What final changes would you make here?