Stuart's MTG Page, or more accurately entitled, "Why am I so bad at sealed deck tournaments?" - Read on to see the painful mistakes or just plain bad luck I have....

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April UK Pro Tour

Date: April 05

Location: The Games Club

Event: Pro Tour London Qualifier 2005

Type: Sealed Kamigawa Deck (One Champions Deck and 2x Betrayer's Boosters)

Attending: Me, Rob, Chris, Keith and Mike


Leading upto the event, I had read up on a lot of guides and articles from the Wizards site on playing sealed deck, including mana suggestions, tempo, and the power of direct damage in a limited format. We had all meet a few days before to go through a sealed deck scenario, just with cards I had rather than buying any and doing it properly - this was my first sealed deck tournament in ages, since Tempest back in 97 in fact, and possibly only my third or fourth time.

After arriving on site, looking through the various dealer cards, we all registered - there were five of us that went in total. All of us are casual players, I have been playing since Revised, while the rest of them have been playing since 4th Edition bar Rob, who started around the Onslaught Block.

Soon, the list was posted on the wall, and we went to find our tables, where I took a seat sitting opposite what I initially thought was my first opponent. Opened decks where placed in front of us, and after a bit of a wait, we where told that we could start. My opponent and I already rolled dice to see who would take what box, and I won, saying he could choose boosters when they arrived.

When everyone started opening decks around us, I asked a nearby judge, and found that the boxes where opened for a reason – all the cards (one deck and 2 boosters worth, minus the land) had been open and put inside, along with a checklist of what each pack contained.

I had no clue on what to actually do – and got even more confused when my opponent started sorting his cards out in front of me face up. I started to sort them face down, and started looking at the sheet again. I then realized that I had to mark all the cards that where in my deck on the sheet, as the cards I had where already entered - this was obviously to prevent cheating.

This all had to be done within 30 minutes. I am used to looking through cards quickly, but the time flew by – in addition the paperwork, and the initial confusion at what was happening wasted precious minutes. I literally used all of my time, finishing less than a minute before time was called, and I could see Mike and Chris still working away at their decks.

Then off out of the room we went – collecting land that we needed to make the deck from a 'land station'

- the deck

Luckily, everyone had come to me a few nights before, and we went through stuff that I had been reading from the Wizards site, and that I had left with Rob. We went through what cards where better than others, the strengths and weaknesses of all the colours and had a go at making a deck out of the cards present that I had randomly selected within a short space of time.

This all vanished as I looked at my cards. I just really like black, its creatures and mechanics (discard, fear, creature destruction) and was disappointed when I had not enough cards to make it a primary colour, and even a very poor choice for a second or third colour. So – just because you like a colour, don't bank on getting what you want…

Blue had a few nice cards, and could have been a third colour for its fliers. Trouble was, white, green and red where all very nice – White for the white dragon and a Kabuto moth, Red for its direct damage an multitude of creatures, and green for its multiple creatures.

I quickly binned black and blue. Then held on to white for as long as I could, but realized that 3 colours was not good in sealed deck – nearly everything I read said play 2 colors with a splash of another if you had to, unless you managed to score an excellent booster selection. I decided to go with what I knew and played direct damage and multiple green creatures.

Land - 17

Creatures - 16


My Card of the day

7 x Forest
10 x Mountains

Myoydin of Infinate Rage
Brutal Deciever
Child of Thorns
Orchi Leafcaller
Batle Mad Ronin
Venerable Kumo
Akki Rockspeaker
Ronin Houndmaster
Goka The Unjust
Matsu Tribe Sniper
Kami of the Hunt
Dripping Tounge Zubera
Feral Deciever
Brothers Yamakazi
Vine Kami
Ronin Cliffrider

Spells - 7

Sosukes Summons
Roar of Jukai
Crack the Earth
Torrent of Stone
Serpent Skin
Yamabashis Flame
Stone Rain

Deck Stats: 40 cards
Colours: Red/Green
Breakdown: Information to follow shortly

- the games

Game One

I won my very first game comfortably, finishing with 18 life, as my opponent muliganed twice and I dont think recovered, but lost the next two after that, losing the match 2-1. The second game was close as we traded life evenly, but he managed to clear a few creatures and won through. The third game I didnt really get started, and he still had 19 life at the end of it.

My deck seemed ok, but it realied on speed – if I didn't get the tempo going, it was hard to win. I realised quickly that I had no real way to win at the end game unless I had superior creature numbers. I wasnt sure about sideboarding still, and should have spent time in working out which colours or cards I could have binned mid games to help out, but there didnt seem to be enough time between matches to do so. For reference, there where 150 people at this event, and with 8 rounds to play, they where turning the around quickly enough so that the top 8 would be playing this side of midnight.

Result: Lost 2-1

Game Two

Was over in a very short time for me. I lost 2-0, and only manage to cause 5 points of damage to my opponents over the course of both games. I forget what he was playing, but he stomped all over me.

Result: Lost 2-0

Game Three

I played Robert, one of the people I came to the tournament with. Prior to this, during one of the times between previous games I had helped him select better cards within his sideboard to make his deck better - only one or two, but included a Blazing Shoal that he had omitted. We went one for one, Robert beating me easily on the first game as I struggled for cards, with me winning the second game, and on the last game he comfortably won again, finishing me off with the Blazing Shoal I advised him to add to his deck. I shouldnt have be honest though, he didnt need it, I was going to lose anyway. Lost 2-1.

By this time I knew I was out. You could only have a chance of being top 8 if you lost 2 games max, and I had lost three, so it didnt matter for me anymore. Chris at this time was our best player, having won 2 of his three matches, meaning he alone had a chance. We continued to play.

Result: Lost 2-1

Game Four

My opponent was playing a 5 colour deck, and was mana screwed from the start, especially as I Stone rained and blasted anything that he could manage to cast. I won 2-0 quickly, he managed 4 points of damage to me in the second game, and none at all in the first. We played a friendly third game, and although he managed to get more different land out, stone rain again hosed him, and he lost while I had 20 life.

Result: Won 2-0

Game Five

My opponent actually conceded four turns into the game for the first match. He had decided that his hand was good enough on only one land, cast nothing as I started getting creatures out, and then when I stone rained his one land and attacked, he conceeded. Double checking, he pointed out that I had already got out a few creatures and he would take too long to recover - when I revealed the hand I had, he knew he had made the right choice. The next game went down to the wire - he was on 3, I on 1 life, and I managed to break though his defenses and win. 2 - 0 to me.

Result: Won 2-0

- hindsight

With hindsight I should have gone red/white. I had no flying creatures, no landwalkers and no fear. Red was good for creature removal and damage, but not anything really game winning. I had some good luck though – I think my one stone rain came up in nearly every single  game, and in more than half of them, in my hand or by turn three or four – enough to destroy a land and do some real damage.  My red direct damage all came up trumps, helping where they could and as often as I would like.

And why the hell had I passed on playing the Kabotu Moth?

Creature wise, the Myojin was a big mistake. Far too expensive, its 10 mana casting cost appeared far too often as a dead card in my hand – it was there at least three times, and my only real time to use it would have been if someone had played the green monk legend (which allows your opponent to play a creature card from their hand) as I dont think I ever got to 10 land in play.

The Decievers, the cards where you pay mana and reveal a card, and if it's a land, then your creature gets x effect were good for me, and I had a few low cost creatures, and a few large ones, but not enough mid powered.

Spellwise, the summon snake spell did very well, I think in the game I played Rob, I used it three times!

The biggest mistake of the day for me was the fact that I waited as I built up my forces, and my opponent did the same, and I waited for his attack, and then I whacked him with a Roar of the Jukai – which gives +2/+2 to each blocked creature until end of turn. Yep – ‘blocked' creatures. I gave my opponent a bonus, and wiped all my own creatures, losing the game shortly afterwards, surprisingly.

I rated my deck one of the lowest of the five – Roberts and Chris's had better card pools and were better constructed – I didn't get a huge chance to look through Keith or Mikes, but I thought from first looking that they had a better selection of cards - Keith had a Jitte for a start. I am not just talking about better cards – I mean the thoughts behind the cards being chosen as well, which hopefully means that I helped. Regardless, I think we all did splendidly.

Even my 'professional' dark blue sleeves did not help me raise myself from my final result of 99th out of 150, with 6 points from a possible 15 (5 games).

Magic the Gathering images used without permission, design by me.