It is currently Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:45 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 10:38 am 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 25, 2013
Posts: 2283
Hey folks! Yarium here. I was going to post a giant deck-building guide for new players for Sealed, but it was ginormous. Here's the trimmed down post!

#1 - What is Sealed?

Magic is a really interesting game because of all the ways you can play it. Sealed is a format that is played at every Prerelease and Release of a new set, and it's a great way to start jumping in. You'll receive 6 packs of cards, plus a foil rare (and in some formats, a unique pack of on-colour cards), and you build a minimum 40 card deck using those contents, plus using any basic lands you want. Your goal is to create a deck that will go through 4 or more rounds of play to win it all!

#2 - What makes a good Sealed Deck?

A good Sealed deck will consist of between 22-24 of your best cards, plus 16-18 lands. For your first games, stick to this, and don't go over 40 cards. You want your BEST cards all the time, and if you put in more cards, you actually reduce the chances of seeing them. Ideally, you want to be in 2 colours, but there's times when you'll go into three. Finally, you want your deck to have a an overall strategy for winning.

#3 - What Strategies Win?

There are 3 main kinds of strategy; Aggro, Mid-Range, and Control. Aggro is when you put all the mana-cheap cards in your deck and try to win before your opponent even plays anything of consequence. You must win fast, because it won't take long for your opponent's cards to start dealing with multiples of your cards. Your best cards are cheap creatures with high power, and damage spells that hurt or cause life loss to your opponent (Example: Ahn-Crop Crasher). You'll need some way of getting the last few points of damage in.

Control is when you put more mana-costly cards in your deck so that your cards will be very hard to deal with (requiring multiples of your opponent's cards), while having lots of removal spells and creatures with high defence so that you don't die too early. Control decks are some of the hardest to build in Sealed, because they require a specific mix of the right costly cards, and the right removal. Your best cards are hard-to-answer bombs that can win the game on their own late into the game (Example: Scaled Behemoth). You'll probably need some card draw to make sure you have enough "gas" to survive to the end where these cards can shine.

Mid-Range is between these two, and is often built by having a mix of cheap cards to come down early and put pressure on your opponent, and some big stuff late to close out the game. Most Sealed decks will be this. You switch between offence and defence as necessary, often dealing big "chunks" of damage at a time before switching gears again. Evasion is great for this, as it helps to put a "clock" on your opponent. Your best cards are ones that are strong by themselves, but reinforce all of your earlier plays (Example: Decimator Beetle).

#4 - What are my Best Cards?

Your Best Cards are the ones that have the highest impact for the least cost. 1 damage for 10 mana would be too little impact for too much cost, and 10 damage for 1 mana would be an insanely high impact for very little cost. The impact that a card has can be guessed in "floors" and "ceilings". The "floor" is the worst-case scenario for a card, and the "ceiling" is the best case. Cards that have high floors and low ceilings are often way better than cards with high ceilings and low floors. For example, Haze of Pollen is fantastic when it works, but most of the time it's a dead card in your hand. Ornery Kudu is never fantastic when it works, but it works all the time, no matter what. As such, Ornery Kudu tends to be a way better card than Haze of Pollen.

Outside of that, your Best Cards are the ones that match your strategy most. Haze of Pollen might work better in a green Aggro deck, where you can make that "ceiling" happen more often against other Aggro decks when in a race, but is a terrible card for Control, where it'll almost always end up as "3 mana, draw 1".

#5 - How do I put this all together?

Take all your cards, and sort them into piles based on their color. Put aside any cards that are low impact, or that have low floors, into a junk pile. Only touch this junk pile at the end if you're struggling for a few more cards. Then take the two biggest piles and look through them together to see if there's an apparent strategy to them. If there isn't, switch one color for another and look again. If there is, take out cards that don't fit this strategy. Remember that some colorless cards work great in different strategies.

If you have more than 24 cards at this point, cut again, removing the cards with the lowest "floor". If you're under 22 cards (which often is the case), start looking at the junk pile to see if any of them match your strategy. Once you have between 22-24 cards, sort these cards by their "expected mana cost". Some cards cost more or less in different situations, and some have alternate costs, like cycling. Aggro decks should have most of its cards in the 1-3 mana range, with only a few 4 or 5 cost cards. Control should have most of its cards in the 3-5 mana range, with only a few 1 or 2 cost cards. Mid-range should have most of its cards in the 2-4 mana range, with only one 1 cost card, and a few 5-7 cost cards.

Lastly, add your land. Usually it's a good idea to have the same percentage of lands as you have colors; so if your deck is about 50/50 on colors, it should be about 50/50 on those lands too. If all your cheap stuff is one color, give that color a higher percentage of lands.

#6 - Wrapping it all up

Q: When do I splash?
A: You don't. You're new to the game right now. However, if you really need to, you only "splash" for one or two cards in another color that are just PERFECT for your deck, and they should be good later in the game since you likely won't have both that card and its associated land early on. Aggro decks should avoid splashing like the plague. You want at least 3 sources of mana for that colour, even if that source is a land that "filters" mana for it.

Q: Should I go first or second?
A: Go first. There honestly are good time to go second, but like splashing, you're not ready for that yet. However, Control decks like going second some of the time because the advantage of the "extra draw" is best for them. But you don't know how to best use that advantage yet, so really, don't do it.

Q: What do I sideboard?
A: Your sideboard is all the cards that you didn't use when building your deck. You might realize that there was a better card for your deck after your first game, so bring it in by taking another card from your deck out. Always look at the sideboard! Sometimes your opponent's strategy will make one of those cards much better.

Q: Should I run more than 40 cards?
A: No. No no no. Definitely not. Even the pros debate whether it ever is good for one of their decks to be 41 cards rather than 40, and they get the most mileage out of that. Doesn't matter how good some other card is, it's either in your 40, or it isn't. You put in more, and you make it less likely to ever draw the cards you really need. So don't. And while we're on that topic, don't go below 16 lands either to squeeze something in. Even the most aggressive decks shouldn't do this, even in the hands of a pro, and a pro you ain't (yet). Your deck really should be 17 lands and 23 other cards. Control tends to be a bit higher, some of the time (18 lands, 22 other, so they more often get to the land counts they need for their higher cost stuff), and Aggro decks tend to be less (16 lands, 24 other, because they don't need lands too much after the 3rd or 4th one). You'll almost definitely be Mid-Range, which just loves that 17-23 split, so just go with that for now.

Q: How do I play?
A: Too big. Research more articles online. However, never be afraid to ask for advice after a game! Your win-loss ratio and prizes are based not just on how well you did, but on how well the opponents you faced did. Win or lose, you want your opponents to do really well in all their subsequent games! So ask away.

_________________
Quote:
"If you refuse to use rock, you will never beat scissors." — Galef, Dakka Dakka Forums


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 1:15 pm 
Offline
Member

Joined: Apr 01, 2017
Posts: 274
Identity: male
Preferred Pronoun Set: he
This is great! Sealed is often regarded as inferior to draft, but I've been enjoying online sealed leagues since they came back. Yes, they are expensive; on the other hand, you get three times as much gameplay as in a draft, and it evens out if you can get to six wins in a three-stage leaue.

Just two things I would add: sealed pools can force you into playing more than two colors. Except in a full-on agro deck, I would always splash for unconditional removal (say Final Reward). Which brings me to the second point: your best cards are just these. Unconditional removal. Forget the splashy blue rare (Drake Haven), play Magma Spray.

And if nothing else is available, just build a solid curve of creatures and hope for the best. It often works.

_________________
I used to be nasty, but then I had a change of heart.


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 3:05 pm 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 25, 2013
Posts: 2283
Yeah, I very frequently find myself splashing unless I got a nut deck on two colours. But I figured that I'm not a good enough player to really give pro tips, so I kept this to the basics, and I wouldn't recommend someone who is new to the experience to try for a third colour. Hence it's in the Wrapping It All Up section.

Agreed that outside of Full-On Aggro, unconditional removal is king in sealed. My original article had a HUGE section talking about the different kinds of cards, and spent two paragraphs on the differences between removals. It got cut for brevity's sake. However, if it's too unwieldy for your deck, you gotta be willing to cut these cards too. Assassin's Strike wasn't something I was keen to splash for in Return to Ravnica, after all.

_________________
Quote:
"If you refuse to use rock, you will never beat scissors." — Galef, Dakka Dakka Forums


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 1:52 am 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 23, 2013
Posts: 6886
Identity: Spambot
Preferred Pronoun Set: 0, 1
You know if you want to play sealed instead of draft on mtgo you can just go afk until deckbuilding so you random every pick.

_________________
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2017 1:28 am 
Offline
Member

Joined: Apr 01, 2017
Posts: 274
Identity: male
Preferred Pronoun Set: he
Cato wrote:
You know if you want to play sealed instead of draft on mtgo you can just go afk until deckbuilding so you random every pick.


Draft is so boring. You need to play stupid streamlined all-value aggro decks to have a chance. You can get three Enigma Drake, build a super sweet RU cycling deck, and go 0-3 to boring durdlers that never let you block. I heard that a well-known pro second-picked Bloodlust Inciter. Not my cup of tea.

If you want to try for at least a bit of sweetness, your best bet are the sealed leagues. Aggro is hard to build there, so are synergies, but you can at least get a bit of play in from your sweet blue rares.

_________________
I used to be nasty, but then I had a change of heart.


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:15 am 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 28, 2016
Posts: 1809
Preferred Pronoun Set: he/him/his/his/himself
This guide is ok to answer questions like "what's happening", but not "what do I do ?"

I think it would be better to just give a list of clear strategy tips with short explanations.
So, instead of dancing around questions "when do I go second" or "when do I splash", you could answer them, at least approximately.
Also, it would (IMHO) help for guides like this to be more positive. I mean, instead of saying "don't do X", it's better to say "Doing X is usually inefficient and very risky. However, it could work if you have Y and Z, or as an undesirable alternative to N."

_________________
nice quotes from this forum


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:32 am 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 25, 2013
Posts: 2283
I'll try to do an updated to this after this weekend. But I really wanted to stay firm on a couple of those "no, don't do this" things because every time I see someone bring up one of these items and explain why you might sometimes do it, it just leads to people using that as weak justification when it likely was still the wrong idea. The 40-card deck part is a great example of this. There ARE times when it's correct; but those times are few and far between, and even then the professional Magic players are at odds of how to do it. So, for your average player, this should just be a "no" automatically. The reasons for "yes" would take up a whole other article.

_________________
Quote:
"If you refuse to use rock, you will never beat scissors." — Galef, Dakka Dakka Forums


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:01 am 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 28, 2016
Posts: 1809
Preferred Pronoun Set: he/him/his/his/himself
I repeat: make a "strategy tips" section, with a lot of good advices. It would be very helpful to audience.

_________________
nice quotes from this forum


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:51 am 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 25, 2013
Posts: 2283
Okay, got a chance to put in some of this to practice! Here's my HOU pool and how I went about it:

Total Card Pool


So I first organized everything into colours as I was opening the packs, with multi-colour and colourless being its own pile. Unless I know there's one colour-pair in this pile that just dominates the pile, I won't even look at this again until near the end of deck-building. As I'm opening these packs, some cards immediately stand out to me; the Ambuscade and the Trial of Zeal combo with the fantastic Cartouche of Strength, plus Open Fire and Abrade, AND the two Torment of Venoms plus Cast Out means I have a ton of removal, with most of it in Red, some great ones in Green, and a few in white and black. The Majestic Myriarch is something that looks weird and wonderful, but Glyph Keeper is likely the strongest single card in my pool, followed closely by Hour of Revelation. But these are just mental ear-marks right now, I need to see how things stack up.

Cards Sorted By Colour


After having everything in their own piles, I go quickly through each pile and start making the junk pile - a single pile of all cards that are cards I want to avoid playing if possible. This doesn't mean that the cards are bad, just that they have very low floors (they are very situational, or even when they do work they don't do much). These are cards like Swarm Intelligence, Refuse // Cooperate, Razaketh's Rite, Dutiful Servants, and Crash Through. Swarm Intelligence is a great example because when it works it becomes SUPER powerful, but it costs so much that by the time I get this card down I might be already close to dead, meaning that casting this instead of something else could cause my death, and when I cast this I'll likely be out of cards in my hand - which is pretty much required to get any use out of the card. So yeah, amazing when it works, but most of the time it won't work. Still, because it IS so powerful when it works, I did try to quickly look at whether or not there could be a deck that utilizes it, but I ultimately decided against it.

Playables Sorted By Colour


With the colour piles now sorted so that I can see how many playables are in each colour, I quickly see that Green is going to be a for-sure colour. It's got a good mix of powerful spells and powerful creatures; nothing over the moon, but a solid mid-range mix. The problem is the colour that goes with it. Every other colour's playable pile is pretty small, so anything I put with it will leave me about 3 short on playables (except blue, but it doesn't have a good amount of creatures, which I really want). This means I'm going to have to delve into 3 colours - something that I don't like doing and have even told you that you shouldn't do yet. A quick look at my multi-colour and colourless pile tells me I can do this though if one of my second colours is black for the Obelisk Spider, because I have a colourless creature in Graven Abomination and lots of colour fixing in the two Evolving Wilds, Traveler's Amulet, and Survivors' Encampment, so I should easily be able to support a third colour (colourless creatures help here because they give you a playable card even if you get mana-screwed, and Survivors' Encampment is pretty bad colour-fixing but sometimes is worth it, especially because it's a Desert and it combos well with Naga Vitalist, though I don't have any in this pool).

When going three colours, your deck starts slowing down, meaning you gravitate more towards control or the high end of mid-range. Problem — while I have a very strong removal sweet and a tiny amount of card draw (vitally important for Control), I don't have anything worth building towards. Here's where you want something like Sandwurm Convergence that can win a game on its own once it's down. It's at this point that I look closely again at Swarm Intelligence. It's my biggest costing card that can have the most impact; but can I have enough impact with it to win a game? How about Hour of Revelation? No to both; the best thing for me to copy is Torment of Venom, and even then.... meh.... and Hour of Revelation doesn't combo with Swarm Intelligence (and is, in fact, a non-bo; it would destroy my Swarm Intelligence, which is pretty vital for the plan here).

So that means I have to go mid-range or aggro. I do have a great mid-range card in Overcome, giving a big team of creatures +2/+2 and trample has led to a lot of victories over the history of Magic, and "have lots of creatures" is also pretty much the same strategy as what I want to do with Majestic Myriarch. Only issue here is that green and black together means I'm still too short on playable creatures, and this strategy needs lots of creatures! I quickly look again at red, white, and blue, and it seems like Red and Black have the greatest number of good creatures. This makes it really hard for me to decide which of the two colours I want as my main, and which I want as my splash.

My instinct is to go green/black with red splash, as this is very common to get access to red's burn spells. However, black's creatures, while there's more of them, aren't of the same quality in my opinion as red's creatures. A 5/4 with afflict 3 is pretty beastly, and the 2/3 with menace and exert for +2/+0 can steal some wins. But Black's got Lifegain to make the game go longer, a 1/1 with deathtouch, and a camel that can force a discard. At this point, I think back to my goal - I'm not a control deck. Black's creatures are good, but they're best in a control deck, and that's really not what I am. I would rather some creatures that are aggressive, and that's red's creatures. So Red becomes my secondary colour, and I splash black for two more low-to-the-ground creatures that shore up some weaknesses (Dread Wanderer can help me apply some constant pressure in case someone's removal heavy, and Obelisk Spider gives me some flyer defense, which I'm very light on). I'm not sure on this combination, but at this point it's coming up on time. So here's the list I ended up with.

Creatures
1 x Defiant Khenra
1 x Desert Cerodon
1 x Dread Wanderer
1 x Frilled Sandwalla
1 x Frontline Devastator
1 x Graven Abomination
1 x Greater Sandwurm
2 x Harrier Naga
1 x Khenra Scrapper
1 x Majestic Myriarch
1 x Manticore Eternal
1 x Manticore of the Gauntlet
1 x Obelisk Spider
1 x Pouncing Cheetah
1 x Quarry Hauler

Non-Creatures
1 x Abrade
1 x Ambuscade
1 x Blur of Blades
1 x Cartouche of Strength
1 x Open Fire
1 x Overcome
1 x Trial of Zeal
1 x Wander in Death

Land
2 x Evolving Wilds
1 x Desert of the Indomitable
5 x Forest
6 x Mountains
1 x Swamp
1 x Survivors' Encampment


Generally, the deck wants to hit early and kill off defenders to close the game before they can stabilize, at the mid-range of the game I'm hoping to Overcome all resistance, and if it comes down to it I can have two bigger creatures in the Ceradon and the Greater Sandwurm that might Wander in Death (which would also allow me to cycle they early without so much risk if necessary).


How did I do?
2-2

When I won my games, I generally won because my plan came together - I hit them really hard, really fast, and killed them before they could stabilize. I even defeated The Scorpion God this way when it was played only 1 turn later than curve. I lost to a top-decked Sweltering Suns (which I then won game 2 handidly, but lost game 3 to a bad decision to keep my opening hand), and lost to a green/white mid-range deck that pretty much did my late-game plan better than I did, which makes complete sense (if your deck has cards that are just a little more expensive than your opponent's and just a little bit better because of it, you tend to be favoured to win as you quickly stabilize against them and then you can strike back much harder). All in all, I think I built the right deck, though I can't say for sure. I really wanted to have Hour of Devastation, but with a grand total of 3 Deserts in my pool, I just didn't think I could really support it, and just using it for ramp would leave me with still pretty much nothing to ramp into.

My only theory was that there might have been a 5-colour deck in here, since with the really abundant (though marginally good) fixing cards, I might have been able to just play the best cards in each colour and go for a control deck like this, but again, I can't say that for sure, as there still wouldn't have been a huge amount of good stuff.

_________________
Quote:
"If you refuse to use rock, you will never beat scissors." — Galef, Dakka Dakka Forums


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:31 pm 
Offline
Member
User avatar

Joined: Sep 25, 2013
Posts: 2283
I really appreciate the request for some more specific info, Useless Common, but I really don't think I'm a good enough player to accurately state these cases. However, if you like the way I say it, and like what I've said so far, here's a little thing that I think is okay advice:

When To Go More Than 2 Colours
Well, you've sure done it. You looked through everything, cut out your unplayables, and you're just not able to make a 2-colour deck that you feel confident in. Now might be the time to look at doing more than 2 colours. The first thing to remember when looking at this option is that you are making a sacrifice; consistency. Consistency is the ability to have your deck play out mostly the same every time. A deck that's good and consistent is probably better than a deck that's capable of being great, but only does so every now and then. If you had a deck full of basic lands that were every land type, with no cards required to make them do this, then you could play every card in your deck that was the best as if they had no colour, only a mana cost, but that's not the way Magic works. You'll need less-than optimal lands that probably enter tapped, or that need other things to work, or that take up extra space in your deck. Each of these things is a liability, slowing you down, being unreliable, or being this card rather than a different card you need.

So, why go more than 2 colours? There's two possibilities. For one, just as it's better to have a good and consistent deck than a great and inconsistent deck, it's still better to have a great and inconsistent deck than a bad but consistent deck. At those points, you're making a deck and hoping that things work out, but when they work out you win. The second is that your deck is a control deck, and you can stomach a slow start and early inconsistencies anyways because your best plays come later.

The first situation is most easily done by having a true "splash" - you have some fixing and in exchange get access to just 1,2, or at most 3 spells in that colour. With 1 card as splash, you'll need two sources of fixing. The reason for 2 is that it's better to have the splash colour mana available and no specific spell to use it on (you often can still use it to help in other spots), than it is to have the spell in your hand, but the single mana source for it is lost somewhere else in your deck. For each additional spell, you'll need an additional source. You can see how this makes 3 spells in a splash challenging, as you start dedicating a significant portion of your deck to that colour. One of the cool things in Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation is that a number of cycling cards can cycle with only generic mana. That makes these cards less strenuous on your deck as a splash, as you can cycle them away if necessary.

The second situation is more complicated. Here your goal is to use your three colours so you have the mix of removal, card draw, and finishers necessary to make a control deck work. Again, you'll need some fixing, but your requirements here are different. Since you're planning for the game to go longer, you'll have more time to find the fewer pieces of your deck, so you still need a good amount of fixing, but you can go in the more traditional percentage system for the colours (though you will still need some colour fixing that can fix any colour problem you have, this is where Evolving Wilds and Traveler's Amulet are really useful).

But what about more than 3 colours? While this is suicide for a mid-range or aggressive deck, with enough good colour fixing a control deck can do this. At this point you really might as well go with 5 colours (often called "5 colour control"). At this point, you really must be a control deck. If even with 5 colour control your deck is still bad, then it's time to go back to the beginning and settle for a worse 2 or 3 colour deck.

Hope that helps!

_________________
Quote:
"If you refuse to use rock, you will never beat scissors." — Galef, Dakka Dakka Forums


Like this post
Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group