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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Guildpact Pre-release: Sealed Deck

Date: 21st January

Location: Royal National Hotel

Event: Guildpact Pre-release

Type: Sealed Deck

Attending: [3] Me, Mike, Keith

We got to the Hotel around 10am, and we were not the only ones to comment on the fact that it did not seem very packed for this release compared to Ravnica, but admitidly it had a) only been open for 2hrs, and b) we were in Flight 4, and 4 flights = 128 people, so there were at least 150 people (with organizers etc) here so far.

Once the seating plan was put on the board, we sat down at our table, where we were given our little doggie bags with 1 Ravnica Tournament Deck and 3 Guildpact boosters, and then told we could begin. The 45 minutes you get to create your deck passes far too quickly when you have to check all the cards in your card pool (the cards you have in total) from a list, let alone when you haven't seen half of them and keep stopping to read the words under the 'purdy pictures'.

My method was to open them all up, lay the colours out for the Ravnica Tournament pack, then check the cards against the list, then doing the same for the Guildpact. Then you add all the colours together and see what you have. Obviously, as you skim them, you see some nice ones (particually the rares being the ones looked at more than just a quick glance), but you do need to see a colour as a whole rather than taking it because of a pretty rare. So, leaving a Green/White Tolsmir Wolfblood (jolly nice card indeed in this format,) I decided on Blue / Red / Green, which looked stong, had a good overall selection, and was bolstered by some nice guild cards from the new set.

Once my deck was assembled, I went through the cards again - then realising that I had not much evasion, no removal, and only a few little tricks that I needed to be lucky with - including retrieving instants and socerys from my graveyard.

It seems that I failed to take heed to my own advice, and had fallen for the mass of 'purdy' red/blue cards I had (Including Stich in Time which allows you to flip and take an extra turn if you win), without really looking at my cards as a whole. To use a metaphor, this would be the point when Yoda would look at my happy face, thinking that I had done something right as I stand among the lightsabre burnt remains of the Ewok population, when he would look sadly upon me, knowing now that I was lost to the dark side for good.

Remember what I said earlier about little time, and how it quickly goes? Well its even quicker when with 10 minutes to go, you scrap your deck and change it for different colours altogether. Coming back to my senses, I see some fliers and removal in the other colours, chuck together one very hastily constructed Green, Black and White deck, and when my concious is not looking, put Tolsmir in the deck where he belongs.

- the design

With zero time for playtesting, I lumped 17 land in with the 2 guild Signets, (appriopriate ones as well, which was handy) and with a quick shuffle was off to my first match - I think I was at around 45 cards at this point.

The 2 Pillories where excellent, and should have been in my deck from the start, but I didnt think at the time that I had enough of everything else to back them up, until I took a step back to see the big picture.... I really am running out of metaphors at the moment, so I will stop now. I screwed up, but thankfully managed to change my mind with seconds to spare.

The rest of my cards comprised of black removal (Disembowel and Last Gasp), and a Guildmark (one of the new enchantments that act very much like slivers I thought) of each colour to boost my creatures. The aura's had the added effect of making my Skynight Trainee fly, and also give the Bramble Elemental the ability to generate tokens. To top it off, the Tolsmir Wolfblood that I added again boosted my creatures, and I had a good tempo of cards costing from 1 to 5 mana. I even had some discard (2 of each of the following) in the form of Cry of Contrition, (single card discard but has Haunt allowing a possible second discard) and Shrieking Grotesque (White flier that forces discard if black was in the casting cost).

- the deck
Land - 16 Creatures - 12

  • 5 x Forests
    6 x Swamp
    5 x Plains
  • [Green / White]
  • Tolsimer Wolfblood
  • [White]
    Ghost Warden
    Lionheat Maverick
    Veteran Armourer
    Skyrider Trainee
    Shrieking Grotesque x 2
    [Green]
  • Bramble Elemental
    Ivy Dancer
  • Silhana Starfletcher
    [Red or Green]
  • Gruul Guildmage
    Wild Cantor
Spells - 15
  • [Black /White]
  • Pillory x 2
    [Artifact]
  • Golgari Signet
    Selesnya Signet
    [Black]
  • Cry of Contrition x 2
    Ribbons of the Night
  • Brainspoil
    Disembowel
    Necro Magemark
    [Black or Green]
  • Gaze of the Gorgon
    [White]
  • Guardians Magemark
    Bathe in light
    [Green]
  • Gather courage
    Beastmaster Magemark
Deck Stats: 43 cards
Colours: Black/White/Green (Golgari/Selysna)
- the games

Match One - Simon [Black/White/xxxx]

In the first game, I was badly hampered by Mana problems, but managed to Pillory a creature of his straight away, by sacrificing the Wild Cantor to get the black mana I needed, which he quickly removed after only 2 damage. He had quite a few nice Orzhvo Black/White guild cards, and I slowly lost my life as he gained it, drawing a swamp far too late in the game to help.

For the second game, I added black mana and a Bathe in light (he had Pillories of his own) and removed the Orzhvo Haunt bloke who could destroy creatures, as it was a tad confusing as to when he could and could not be of use.

My mana this time went much better, and I soon had him on the defensive, until a Faiths Fetters tied up a flier, and he gained life. I took the chance to remove his life gain/ loss wall (meaning an 8 point life total swing in his favour, but at least his wall was gone and I had a 4/4 creature to attack with). Things started to go badly, as his life went up to 17, and he kept dredging his Stinky (3 times!) to block my creatures. Finally, while I was on 5 I managed to clear a path, and in two goes I lost 2 life to his pillory, while he lost 17 life to my winged army.

The last game mirrored the first. No black mana at all, and when I got the Starfletcher out to give me black, I made a stupid mistake and blocked with it, despite him having a Ghost Warden to pump his creature to kill mine. I would love to be able to jazz this up, claim I was distracted etc, but Keith watched me do it, and it really was a stupid play so I have no excuses. The Blind Hunter bats (2 life 2 life loss) both turned up for him, and pretty soon that was game over for me.

Lost 2-1

Match Two - Will (Red/Blue)

I started the first game quickly, and my flying arsenal started to clear cards from his hand (plus he had muliganned and I could tell he was'nt happy with his 6 cards) and got him down to 6 life very quickly. He then stalled things massively as he had a red creature that could do its power in damage to my creatures, and so started to kill them off one by one. I quickly laid more, noticing he killed creatures in his go (rather than at the end of my turn) so disemboweled his only non tapped creature and swung with my last 3 little creatures to do 6 damage and win.

Game two was equally painful for him. A few little creatures, and then he got stuck on mana, and my enchanted Skyrider hit him for 5 a swing until he was dead. I had not been hit at all.

Won 2-0

I had more time to check through my cards now I had a quick win under my belt, and so went through my cards again. I trimmed things down more where able, and talking with Keith, showed him two cards and explained which one I thought was better and why I was adding it, and he agreed. Ribbons of the Night was added.

Match Three - Keith - Black/White/Red

And once again I play one of the people I come with, this time its Keith. Worse was the fact that Keith had some very nice Orzhvo guild cards indeed, including the enchantent that allows you to steal other people's dead creatures for his own use. We start off, he gains life through a Mourning Thrull, and then I manage to get rid of it as I start to attack with my own fliers. He then slaps down the 0/4 life gain/loss wall, and I draw none other than a Ribbons of the Night, which I have great delight in removing his wall with. I go back up in life, and over the next few turns, he drops from 18 to 14 to 6 to dead.

Game two goes very badly for me, and Keith shows what his deck does best as he nearly hits 30 life. I hit him hard twice to bring him back to 18, but its not enough, and his creatures take me from 13 to 6, and then I concede as I draw a land on my turn.

Game three went more evenly to start with, but I just wittled him down with enchanted fliers and a double Pillory, while he did not draw one of his life gaining creatures.

Won 2-1

Match Four - Adrain -Black/White/xxxxx

Dont have any notes for this, but as I sat down and we chatted, he asked how I was doing, and when he found that I had 6 ponts, said regardless of outcome, you have won. Which was nice. He also mentioned that this deck was completely different to the one he started on, as his mate changed it all around for him.

The first game went quickly, as we Pilloried each other (his came in the last two rounds though), and my enchanted sky army took him down. I ended up with 18 life to his 0.

The second game was very very close, as we hammered away at each other, both down to around 7 life each, and it then stalled as we where playing the draw game, waiting for a card to break the stalemate. This went on for 6 or 7 turns, and while I drew nothing of use, he got to his game breaker card first - a Wrath of weenie God, killing all creatures with a casting cost of 3 or below. I lose a 4/4 wolf token, a 5/5 Horror token from a Lasmaru that I had disemboweled earlier, and he swings once to drop me to 4. I draw a land and concede.

Game three was abysmal. He stayed at 20 life, I had a hand full of black cards and no swamps, and in 8 painful swings I was dead. Bollocks, would have liked to have won properly, and he may have gone a lot further if he had had that deck from the start..

Lost 2-1

- the final

None Played, and I came 10th out of 32, with 9/12 points, getting 6 boosters as winnings, two of which I gave to the bloke in Match Four for letting me take the win.

- hindsight

My deck that I played was so much better than the red/blue/green I originally had - this is obviously a wild guess as I didnt actually play the first attempt. The Pillories where excellent, Disembowel and Last Gasp helped a good few times and the Magemarks all helped - I think there was only one game where the Skyrider was not flying due to being enchanted. Curiously, the Bramble Elemental appeared not once in any of the games I played.

There was plenty of deck sideboarding, my mana base changed a few times and some spells where removed for others. Another thing that surprised me was the fact that I had no Black/White guild creatures or spells other than the Pillories, compared to Keith's Deck that was full of them. If you look at the cards above, I had 1 true Golgari card (Gaze), 2 Orzhvo in the form of the Pillories, and 2 Gruul cards (Guildmage and the Wild Cantor) - hardly a good example of the two guilds I was representing. Plus it seemed that everone I played had Orzhvo cards, and they all (except Keith) had Pillories.

I should have dropped to 40 cards, although not sure what I would have dropped - maybe the Ivy Dancer as I never gave a creature Forest walk, and maybe the 2 Cry's, but each time I cast it I managed to rob my opponent of 2 cards (once normally, once with Haunt), and it worked nicely with the discard from the Griffens as well.

Oh, and by around 4pm, it was absolutely mobbed in there - nearly all the seats where full from booster drafts, team events, main events, dealer tables, people waiting...a jolly good turnout indeed.

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