HIP TO BE SQUARE:
By Tom Fowler
By Tom Fowler
Recently, the Cube forum here has started doing a weekly sealed cardpool. Props to Usman, Silent Edge, and DerBK for putting it all together. Each week, one cubist posts the cards contained in six packs made from his cube, and everyone says how they would build a sealed deck from that. I did a four-person cube sealed event about a month or so ago. My hope was that I still had the decklists (I wanted to use them to write this article two weeks ago), but unfortunately they must have been tossed out during a (rare) cleaning binge. It's a shame, too; my deck was strong. I had both Ajani Goldmane and Elspeth, Knight-Errant in the U/W control deck I made. My only match loss resulted from a game where I couldn't stop Ajani Vengeant from going ultimate on me. These things happen. I did smash everyone else, though, leaving them broken beneath mounds of planeswalker goodness.
With Plan A down, I've decided to go with Plan B: make a sealed cardpool with my cube and leave it to you, my loyal readers, to submit the decks you would build. I will create six packs from my cube, post the pool, talk about it, and build the deck. Then I'll let you all have at it in the forums, telling me how bad my build was and how you would have done it instead.
Cube sealed is a good way to put your cube to use when you're short on players for a draft. If you can only rustle up four players, that uses half (or less) of your cube. If you have a cube made for eight players, though, doing sealed with four means you're using all your cards. Six packs from a cube are going to be better than six packs from any normal Magic set or block, but this is Cube. We're used to powerful cards and splashy effects. However, you could use five packs per player (which is how non-Prerelease sealed deck events used to be done) if you have more players than you thought. Try for six packs each, but if cutting it to five allows another person to play, I think it's worth making the change.
Without further ado, here is the cardpool:
Let's look at the colors and see what we have...
White has two good fliers, a Wrath effect, a couple pieces of removal, and a nice trick in Harm's Way. Hand of Honor and Calciderm are also good creatures; Griffin Guide is a solid aura, and Empyrial Armor can be in the right deck. What I notice about my white is that it's not very splashable. If you want the creatures, you'll have to play it as a principal color.
Blue has the fewest cards to work with. Despite that, the depth of quality is very good. Cryptic Command is great, and you have very good creatures in the form of Tradewind Rider, Vesuvan Shapeshifter, and Melouku. Withdraw (which more people should run in their cubes, IMO) and Repeal give you some bounce. (Aside: I didn't make all the colors even because you're not guaranteed to get even colors in a regular sealed pool. What I did was pull enough cards to make eight packs with even colors, then shuffled them all up and made six packs. So while the pool I started with had an even color distribution, there's no guarantee the packs will. I think this better reflects a real sealed environment. End aside.)
Black has a good pseudo-Tutor in the form of Tainted Pact, a very good reanimation spell, but only one piece of removal. The creatures are unspectacular. It doesn't look like black is going to make the cut.
Red looks very good. You have a robust burn and removal suite, though the creature suite, while effective, is pretty thin. Hell, we even have two Armageddon effects if we want to use them. Red looks like a good support color.
Green has the men we need to pair with red. Cudgel Troll, Genesis, Thornling, and Silvos all pack good punches. Sakura-Tribe Elder does its usual good work, and we could even incorporate Yavimaya Elder; while it's not a very aggressive creature, it does find us a couple lands, enabling us to splash a third color easily. Berserk can end the game outright, while Plow Under punishes our opponent for a slow draw, or for tapping out. Overall, green looks very good.
The artifacts give us solid equipment, a good beater in Juggernaut, and some control cards. I think this pool is pushing us toward a more aggressive build, but control aficionados out there will like the Oblivion Stone and Icy Manipulator. Sol Ring helps power out expensive spells—like Rout, perhaps.
The lands give us enough flexibility to play the colors we want. Splashing a third color, if we want to, should be easy based on this configuration.
The gold cards are really saucy. R/G has two good cards in Rumbling Slum and Sarkhan Vol. R/W did even better, getting three good cards in Ajani Vengeant, Goblin Legionnaire, and Goblin Trenches. Then we have three solid removal spells, a good bounce spell, and Teferi's Moat to shut down the other team. The multicolored cards are more narrow than our nonbasic lands, so we don't have as many color combinations to choose from here, but the cards themselves are solid.
With all of that in mind, here's how I would build a sealed deck from this pool. For those of you unfamiliar with sealed deck, you have to build a deck that is a minimum of 40 cards from the cardpool you're provided. In a regular sealed event, basic lands (which count toward your 40-card minimum) are provided by the store; in a Cube sealed event, the cubist who provided the cards will also provide the basic lands.
As with most decks you build from a cube, the cuts were really tough. I love Pyroclasm since a lot of my creatures survive it, but I had to relegate it to the sideboard. I think I have enough removal anyway, and Devastating Dreams will sweep the board of small creatures anyway. Earthquake and Banefire are great X spells that can just steal the game. Berserk goes well with any creature wearing Grafted Wargear. Putting the Wargear on Silvos and swinging, then following that up with Berserk, is a saucy play that's made of 100% win. The miser's Savannah helps Wild Nacatl reach his full potential, while it combines with Boros Garrison and Grand Coliseum to enable the kicker on Thornscape Battlemage. This deck has enough expensive spells in it that I'm okay with two lands that enter the battlefield tapped.
Let's draw up a couple of sample hands and see what we get:
This is a great hand. You're swinging for 5 on the second turn, and potentially again on the third.
Eh. They can't all be great, I guess. We do have an early removal spell, and the mana to play the Troll on turn three. Swinging with a Wargear-equipped troll on turn 4 is the kind of play that makes me love this game. The problem is, we currently have no action past that. I don't think this is a great hand—certainly not like the first one—but it's keepable. (For the record, I mulligan aggressively, and often ship back hands other players might keep.)
This is much sketchier than the last one. Mountain plus Boros Garrison isn't getting us very far. We need other lands, especially Forests, to be able to do much here. To me, this is a pretty easy mulligan. It's more keepable on the draw, but that's still really loose; I would ship it back there, too.
So, what do we get for our six-card hand?
Much better. A third land is obviously necessary, but this is quite preferable to the initial seven we saw.
So, loyal readers, how would you build it? Am I a moron for playing a certain color, or ignoring a different one? Sound off in the forums.
In two weeks, I'll go over the recent changes to my cube, post an updated list, and talk about something else cool and interesting. As always, if you have a cube-related topic you'd like me to cover, leave a reply in the discussion thread.
Thanks for reading.