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Day Two at GP Atlanta

Written by John Cuvelier on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited

I’ve had a strange magic history in Atlanta. This is the place where I won my first PTQ (Kyoto) during a day 2 of a Grand Prix. (Back when they did such things) This is also the same place where my 6 month ban originated from. A lot of history here hopefully meant it was time for some more good to come. Heck I’d settle for average too.

I had a decent bit of sealed practice leading up to the Grand Prix. I bought a case of Kaladesh and did some sealed decks with some friends. Besides getting some masterpieces I did learn a good deal about the format. For starters board states get clustered pretty quickly and often in sealed. This probably has a lot to do with Vehicles and players wanting to play enough creatures to crew them. Since Vehicles themselves are basically creatures you end up with 16-18 creature count decks. This makes it hard to accomplish much besides smashing your creatures into one another with only 5 or 6 non-creature spells. The best solution I found to breaking board states is to lean hard on evasive creatures. Try to avoid playing decks that are just big idiots on the ground. If you have no other choices try to play 18 lands and an extra one or two high costing creature like Accomplished Automaton for example. You can also utilize combat tricks and removal spells to get through but oftentimes that simply isn’t enough.

Let’s take a look at my pool and see if you can figure out what you’d build. This pool is far from an easy build and I wasn’t particularly thrilled when I got it.

sealed-pool

The first step I do when receiving a sealed pool is skim over the colors and see where the playable count is in each color. I make a playable and unplayable pile to save myself time in deckbuilding. Not having to go through those extra cards over and over again saves you time. I’ll check out that unplayable stack once more before I finish building to make sure I didn’t miss anything or if maybe I really need a 2 drop that I’m willing to play a bad one I will. The following is basically what went through my mind in each color.

White: I had high hopes after seeing double Wispweaver Angel. I was immediately saddened to see I barely had more white cards than booster packs opened and knew that white was out.

Red: There’s a lot of red here. Unfortunately there are not many playable cards and nothing costing more than 3 that are really worth considering. Red is out too.

Green: Oviya immediately stuck out as the allure to playing green. My green packed a wallop too with a lot of beefy dudes. It definitely caught my attention and was something to consider. I did notice the lack of evasion, removal and disenchant effects however.

Black: Marionette Master is a powerful magic card. I’m looking over black and it’s got some middle of the road creatures and middle of the road removal. This ends up being a very average playable color with a bomb to help make it a solid choice. I really wish I had a Tidy Conclusion or even an Essence Extraction to put it over the top.

Blue: There’s no rares here. What is lacks in rares however it makes up with exactly what I want in a sealed pool – Evasion. Double Gearseeker Servant, Double Weldfast Wingsmith and Wind Drake give me what I’m looking for. I’m pretty high on blue in this pool and will have to see how the decks look when I lay them out.

Gold: The Veteran Motorist is obviously out. Contraband Kingpin and Hazardous Conditions are both solid options assuming I end up in those colors.

Artifact: The highlight of double Renegade Freighter along with a solid number of filler cards is going to help out my shallow colors to get enough playable cards.

Let’s take a look at some of the builds I came up with after all that is said.

sealed-deck-option-b

With a virtual 19 creatures this gives me the beef of green and the evasion of blue. The curve doesn’t look bad and I get to play Oviya. The bad news here is I don’t have much interaction. Also the Gearseeker Serpents aren’t being utilized to the best of their potential.

sealed-deck-option-c

Doing my due diligence I wanted to check out Black Green. This lets me use all of my playable rares and gives me a small amount of removal and those big fatties. My biggest gripe about this deck though is there are no evasion cards and very little ways to stop evasion either. If I need to hulk smash this is what I want though.

sealed-deck

This is the build I ended up playing. I get to use the few removal spells I have to work with and utilize the evasive cards I know I will need to win games. This deck is unique in that it can play a defensive roll or aggressive roll depending on what your opponent is doing. I find that to be very useful in sealed as you can punish your opponent for expecting one and not the other.

My day 1 didn’t exactly go as planned. Thanks to my banning earlier this year instead of having my usual 2 byes I only had enough PWP for a single bye. Round two I ended up getting a draw. It was a frustrating one to get because my opponent was dead on board but I needed the “6th” turn to do it. Unfortunately you only get 5 turns after time is called and my opponent simply wouldn’t concede. I won’t go into much detail about that but I think if you can clearly tell who will win a game if it was to naturally conclude a player should concede to another based on that alone. This is especially true when a draw is pretty much equal to a loss at an event as large as a Grand Prix. I rattled off some wins and ended up at 6-1-1 with a round to go and locked for day 2. I didn’t have much hope as I sat down across my last opponent of the day. It was apparent to me he wasn’t familiar with the tournament scene and competitive magic as a whole. This usually means doom when you have a good record and someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. My gut feeling was correct as he played multiple Verdurous Gearhulk and rolled over me with relative ease. This was a tough pill to swallow as with a record of 6-2-1 I was already dead for top 8. But I’m here to have some fun and get some wins so I continue on to the draft portion.

draft-1

My first draft pod only had a couple names I recognized. Minh Nguyen – a Florida player and prodigy of PT Champ Charles Gindy. His first Pro Tour he started 7-1 before the wheels coming off. He’s still someone I have to keep my eye on. The second player was THE Tannon Grace. My teammate and friend – He’s a veteran of the Pro Tour scene and Hearthstone caster.

My deck is pretty interesting. I ended up taking Servant of the Conduit over Tidy Conclusion pack 1 pick 1 only to see Tidy Conclusion wheel and not a single green card came my way. Finding Black and Blue open I got some pretty late pick Fairgrounds Warden’s and ended up finding myself splashing for some powerful white cards. It worked out well as I got some nice mana fixing along with Prophetic Prism. I had a keen eye out for the Prophetic Prism and took every one I saw. It was too bad I only saw one as I would have really liked to get a second one not only for the fixing but to make my Gearseeker Serpents cheaper to cast.

I ended up going 2-0-1 in this draft. That’s right, another draw. This one wasn’t a heartbreaker but just a normal well-paced match that we simply ran out of time. It didn’t help we both had control decks and my opponent had two planeswalkers.

draft-2

This was a much harder draft to navigate. Sitting to my right was SCG commentator and pro Cedric Phillips. There was also pro Pat Cox in my pod as well. Both of these guys have Pro Tour top 8’s to their name so I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

The draft started off pretty well as I opened Demon of Dark Schemes. I immediately tried to put a chokehold on Black and noticed Red was pretty open. The rough part came when no black was really coming in either direction and I realized this pretty early in pack 2. I felt that the Demon was worth forcing through and I ended up with a pretty mediocre deck because of it. I think had I got a few more artifacts the deck would have been very powerful with all of the synergies the deck had to offer.

I ended up going 2-1 in this draft. I was the unfortunate soul that played against Sword of Light and Shadow, Smuggler’s Copter and Skysoverign, Consul Flagship deck. That match was surprisingly close though and only a draw step away from me winning it 2-0. It turns out Sword of Light and Shadow is a really good card, in case you’re wondering.

I finished the event going 10-3-2. Not the best, not the worst. 117th place and good for 1 pro point. I got to play with a lot of the new cards for the first time and learned more than I expected I would.

Gearseeker Serpent – This card is insane and an easy first pick that I wouldn’t have guessed without playing with the card so much at this event. Granted blue still is the weakest color in this format, but it gives me hope.
Bomat Courier – I wasn’t expecting much but this card blew me away. I had to first pick it out of a weak pack but I’m glad I did. Three separate occasions this drew me at least four cards. A+ would play again.
Fateful Showdown – Another card I didn’t expect much from but wanted to try out. I was pretty impressed. The cost of discarding your hand is real – but if you can’t kill something with what you have then it’s not that big of a cost. Refilling your hand is clearly useful and makes it important to hold access lands for such scenarios. It also gives you a direct damage spell to the face if you need those last few points of damage.

Well that’s all I have to share with you this week. SCG Regionals is this weekend and I’m happy to report I will be attending. I’ve got a deck in mind that will hopefully bring me another victory. Till’ next time.

John Cuvelier
@JCuvelier on Twitter
Gosu. on MTGO

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