Practice Sealed with Matt Severa and Jasper Johnson-Epstein

Posted in Event Coverage on January 30, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

Building Sealed decks has been quite the challenge this morning. Wastes and colorless mana add a new dimension to deckbuilding and it can be difficult to decide whether or not to splash them. Today Matt Severa and Jasper Johnson-Epstein were given that choice in a practice Sealed build.

Matt Severa is a pro player from Madison, Wisconsin and is working with Team Ultra PRO for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. Pro Tour competitor Jasper Johnson-Epstein also hails from Madison but is testing with the Madison-New York Connection. Jasper swears that his team doesn't have an official name but the majority of the team is from either Madison or New York, so the name fits. Both players are here hunting for pro points before heading to Atlanta next week for the Pro Tour.

Here's the pool:

White

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Blue

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Black

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Red

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Green

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Colorless, Multicolored, and Lands

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“Black-white is the most obvious build here,” says Matt. “There's no real reason to play red, and the green isn't good. There's maybe three good green cards.” Matt didn't want to build an aggressive Sealed deck, especially with the presence of Vampire Envoy and Fortified Rampart in the pool. According to Matt, Vampire Envoy is one of the best commons in Oath of the Gatewatch, making black hard to get away from. The black-white build also offers tons of removal. The basic strategy of Matt's deck is to stall the ground with defensive creatures and use removal on what matters.


Matt Severa, Team Ultra PRO

“I can see playing blue-white and only splashing black. The blue is really deep. There are two Ruination Guides, but they don't really do anything in this build. Blue gives you access to Blinding Drone, but there's no reason to play blue besides that.” In the end Matt went with black-white for the final build.

One thing that was questionable for Matt with this pool was whether or not to play the two Kalastria Healers. They turn on cohort and are great if you draw both of them. However they are pretty underwhelming as 1/2 creatures and are not great if you don't draw your allies. In the end he decided to not play them.

[Matt]'s [Build] - GP Vancouver Practice Sealed

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Jasper had a slightly different approach and opted for a blue-white deck splashing colorless mana. “I really like Blinding Drone. This pool is excellent. Can I trade my GP pool for this one?” Jasper was really impressed with the pool. It has lots of great flyers, defensive cards and strong removal. Fortified Rampart buys you enough time to establish a board of strong flyers.


Jasper Johnson-Epstein, Team Madison-New York Connection

“There are enough colorless sources to go around, which makes Blinding Drone so good,” said Jasper. He was excited to play Deepfathom Skulker and Gravity Negator. “The last card is tough. Either Searing Light, Negate, or a land. I don't like splashing… maybe I'd splash for Touch of the Void.” Jasper explained that he was really drawn to Touch of the Void and Oath of Chandra for a splash, but there just wasn't enough mana fixing in the pool.

Jasper ended up playing the Negate as the final card. “There's good four-mana removal now, which makes Negate much stronger than it was previously.”

[Jasper]'s [Build] - GP Vancouver Practice Sealed

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