Getting Ready for Grand Prix Vegas

Written by Corey Worden on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited, Modern

Getting Ready for Grand Prix Vegas

Corey Worden

I started playing Magic in 1998 in high school. I took a large break from about 2000 until 2013 and I am now a PPTQ and GP grinder. I live in Wyoming and rely on MTGO as my main means of practice and I travel to Utah and Colorado for many premier level events. I am a college instructor and a lab associate for our local hospital. I am married with 2 children who I hope will one day be better at Magic than I am. Follow me on Twitter @coreyworden and https://www.twitch.tv/starrbuk​

Hello everyone, I am sorry for the long absence from my In Search of a Legacy series, the cards I need are starting to fall into the category of multiple weeks of saving before I can purchase them, so my progress has been rather slow as of late. I am planning on buying my Force of Will playset in the next few weeks, so this will bring with it a large update to my deck as I playtest in preparations for some upcoming tournaments. This week I wanted to talk to you about my sealed preparations for GP Vegas coming up this week. I am planning on playing in the Modern and Sealed GPs. I hope to see some of you there!

Sealed Prep:
Amhonket’s draft and sealed are one of the most frustrating and also fun formats I have ever had the pleasure of playing. The draft archetypes are so fast that I’ve found in many cases if you do not have a turn 2 play, you are just ran over with little hope of stabilizing. On top of this the format is a very bomb driven format, if you open something like a Glorybringer or an Angel of Sanctions your win percentage just shoots through the roof compared to a deck missing one of those cards. When I first read the previews I was convinced this draft format was a very grindy one that would go long and you would be rewarded for drafting something capable of a long drawn out game. I was quickly proven wrong in this regard as the format turned out to be amazingly fast! If you watched any of the limited portion of the Pro Tour you may have seen people prioritizing aggressive cards like Bloodlust Inciter, Slither Blade, and Pathmaker Initiate. A format that rewards you for, and more importantly doesn’t punish you for taking 1 drops is a very sure sign of a format that isn’t kind to someone whose first spell is on turns 3-4.

I have drafted the set about 20 times now and I feel like I have a solid grasp on the format and wanted to go over my thoughts on the format and how my practice has driven my intentions for GP Vegas’ sealed tournament coming up this weekend.

Red White Aggro is super good if built right:
I have played both against and as the RW aggro deck the most in my practice. The deck is really great and capable of blisteringly fast opening hands that your opponent can’t catch up to. Cards like Fan Bearer, Gust Walker, Cartouche of Zeal and Bloodlust Brawler are the cards I like for in my first few picks before I am willing to jump into the deck. A deck with 15 creatures, a few Cartouches and a red or white Trial along with a few things like Magma Spray or Electrify feels like exactly where you want to be with this deck. I want no less than a combined 8 one and two drops before I feel like this deck is capable. The biggest problem this deck faces is if you are unable to close the game out by turn 5 your start running into cards like Decimator Beetle, Glorybringer, Cartouche of Strength/Ambition, etc. Once this happens you are a huge underdog in the game to push through damage. If you want to be in this deck make sure you have a critical mass of early threats, if not look for 1-2 late game ways to push through damage.

Green Black Midrange is the best archetype in my opinion:
The G/B midrange deck is by far the most fun and most powerful deck you can draft in Amonkhet. You are given access to the best common and uncommon creatures in the format in Hooded Brawler, Decimator Beetle, Baleful Ammit, Defiant Greatmaw, and Wasteland Scorpion. You also get the best cartouches in Cartouche of Strength, and Cartouche of Ambition. On top of this you are given the best late game bomb cards!! Sandwurm Convergence, Rhonas, the Indomitable, Archfiend of Ifnir, Scaled Behemoth. The reasons to draft this deck certainly shine if you are able to find the right seat in the draft or the right pool in your sealed packs. The worse thing about this deck is that you need to make sure you have a solid early and midrange strategy before you set up your late game. If you intent to just durdle around with a Duned beetle or 2 you will get run over before you get to your game closing 5 mana costing suite. Build this deck if you can! It’s so fun, I can’t talk enough about how fun a Scaled Behemoth wearing a Cartouche of Ambition is.

Blue White is shallow at best:
I actively do not like blue in this format. The cards are not as powerful as they would be in a different set and the usual B/W Flyers deck isn’t as much of a thing in this set as you would imagine. Cartouche of Knowledge is actively bad in draft but really shines in sealed where everything is a bit slower. A lot of people like Slither Blade and using pump spells and Cartouches to buff it, but in my experience when I see my opponent play a Slither Blade on turn 1 I am usually relieved because the power level of their deck is inherently going to be of a lower quality when they are prioritizing 1 mana 1/1 unblockables. The difference between this in blue and red is very drastic. The red 1 mana cards go in a deck that is fast, the 1 mana blue cards go in a deck that is much slower and therefore lose a lot of their appeal. If you draft this deck make sure you load up on flyers, Angler Drakes, Fan Bearers and hope that you open a Lay Claim or a Vizier of Many Faces.

Black Red is Aggressive, but slower than you’d like:
I am mostly indifferent to the B/R aggro deck, it is fast enough, but slower than the R/W decks. It is powerful, but less so than the G/B decks. If you can draft something with Cursed Minotaur, Cartouche of Ambition, Final Reward, Baleful Ammit and a slew of early 2-3 cost creatures you can make a really cohesive and powerful deck. I just find that it gets ran over by more aggressive decks and outplayed in the later game by other green based decks.

Black White is a capable control deck:

Start//Finish is a great Magic card and really something I look for if I am trying to get into this deck archetype. When drafting a black white deck you are given access to most of the zombies but it really wants to be a control deck. Take Final Reward, Fan Bearer, and really look for zombie synergy. I have found that these games rely on me building a large board presence with zombies and trying to finish the game with 1 large swing using Lord of the Accursed or In Oketra’s Name. This deck is great fun and if you open an Archfiend of Ifnir or a Liliana, Death’s Mastery you can really punish decks looking to put you on a fast clock. Be wary of large exerted creatures in your matchups and try to pick up a way to gain life to help offset those early Hooded Brawlers.

There is a Green Red beat down deck in the format:

This deck is average from what I have seen. It leverages early aggressive starts with late game green reach to finish the match. This works really well in some games but I have found myself needing to splash black for more removal or lifelink as the decks are weak to aggressive red strategies and are less powerful than the G/B deck. Electrify shines in this deck as do Hooded Brawler and Heart Piercer Manticore. If you build this deck make sure you have some early game but not too much as you really rely on your late game cards to finish these games out.

The other 3 decks in the format are Blue Black cycling and a Blue Red deck that wants to make large Enigma Drakes and a Blue Green ramp deck that puts out green fatties very quickly. All of these decks rely on blue cards which are weak and shallow. I do not think these decks are very good but if you choose to build these decks or are forced into them due to your position or your pool I think you will find that you are rewarded for leaning heavily on their respective nuances. U/B take lots of cycling cards and their respective beneficiary cards
G/R take lots of instants and removal and make a large Enigma Drake late game that wins in 1-2 turns.

B/G Ramp, open a Scaled Behemoth and a Cartouche of Strength, a Sandwurm Convergence, or a Greater Sandwurm. If this isn’t an option then just hope you get there with your other large green creatures.

I am very excited to see my pool for GP Vegas. I am excited to see lots of friends and have a great weekend of Magic. Thanks to LegitMtg for hosting my articles and a huge thanks to you all for reading. I hope you find this GP prep article informative.

Until next time, may your Behemoths always be scaled and wearing Cartouches.

Follow me on twitch, twitter, and my MTGO username is Starrbuk.

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