(You can find part 1 here.)
So on Wednesday I showed y’all this Sealed pool.
I stated that this pool gave me a really hard time during the deckbuilding period, to which a lot of you in the comments replied: „Wait, what? Isn’t it obviously Sultai?“ Well, those two sentiments are not mutually exclusive. 🙂
The thing is: This pool actually has a trap color in White. Blue is obviously good, but Red, Green and to a lesser extent Black are lacking in a lot of aspects, especially creatures. White, on the other hand, is not only deep, but has some good guys (Sandsteppe Outcast, Mardu Hordechief, Dragons) plus quality removal.
So my first instinct actually was to try to incorporate White somehow. Good white cards + good blue cards = great deck, or something like that. Ah well, if only Magic was that simple. The problem with that approach obviously is that I can’t utilize any multicolor cards in it, which not only lets me miss out on some powerful stuff, it also makes it very hard to cobble together 22 playables. So I’d definitely need to splash with the UW deck, but for that I simply do not have the manafixing.
Now, I definitely do understand that pools in this Sealed format are oftentimes dictated by what lands you open, and that a base UWx deck that has only one potential manafixer (Dismal Backwater) at its disposal is not exactly a recipe for success. That got increasingly clear to me as well during deckbuilding, but I had a really hard time resisting White’s siren’s call, causing me to waste precious time in experimenting with various White configurations instead of fine-tuning the Sultai deck. That’s why I found the pool pretty interesting – your manafixing clearly points you in one direction, but the color distribution actually pulls you somewhere else entirely. A lot of people I showed the pool to laid out a white deck at first as well, only to realize later on that White won’t actually work out at all.
I only gave up on White and settled on Sultai when there were like seven minutes on the clock, which almost assuredly led to the deck being not as well-built as it could’ve been:
Abomination of Gudul
Mystic of the Hidden Way
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Douse in Gloom
2 Whisk Away
Once you zoom in on Sultai, most of the card choices get pretty self-explanatory. For my manabase’s sake, I tried to play not too many black cards, which is why there is a Smoke Teller over a Sultai Emissary in the deck. My manafixing is not that great, so trying to avoid playing straight three colors seemed important to me. That also makes it probably wrong to play cards like Rakshasa’s Secret, but as I said, I ran out of time.
Of course, I kinda had to run the three-color gamble anyway, because if you splash like eight cards of a color, you’re not really splashing anymore. That’s why I also didn’t think the deck was that great – I mean, it obviously has some strong cards, but with only three dual-lands, it lies firmly on the „YOLO“ end of the consistency spectrum. That probably means I should’ve included the Sultai Banner I had, but I just loathe the banners. They’re just so miserable in most of the games, and in a lot of cases, a simple basic land would’ve actually been better. But it still might have been correct to run it.
What I’m pretty sure of, though, is that splashing the additional fourth color wouldn’t have been worth it. Arc Lightning is great, but only if you can cast it somewhat consistently in the early game, which you can’t do if you run it as a splash card. And Bear’s Companion is good, but doesn’t really add anything to my deck. I did sideboard into the red version a couple of times, though, when I could be reasonably sure that my Arc Lightning would deliver me a two-for-one (aggressive Mardu decks, for example). But I didn’t really want to have the splash against Abzan or in the Sultai mirror or something, so I felt comfortable leaving it in the sideboard.
All in all, I felt that the deck was the definition of average in this format, and my record of 4-3 (6-3 with two byes) reflects that pretty well. Although I did feel pretty invincible after my first round, having overcome Sage-Eye Avengers plus Warden of the Inward Eye in game one and actually beating a turn 4 Citadel Siege game two.
That second game originally started out great for me, as my opponent sent his morph into my Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest, obviously assuming I wouldn’t block. Guy doesn’t know me! He had to bin his morphed Thousand Winds two seconds later, with a real disgusted look on his face. Little did he know that Shu Yun actually wasn’t that great in my deck. And I mean come on, why wouldn’t I block there? Blocking is awesome.
My opponent’s disgusted face turned into a face of joy one turn later, when he slammed his obviously topdecked Citadel Siege. Some turns went by with me not really finding an answer to that thing when I drew an Enhanced Awareness on turn 7. I was dead on board and the rest of my hand was completely useless, so I actually debated just conceding there so I don’t have to show him my drawspell. But then I remembered the old mantra: „You can’t win games you just concede.“ Who knows, maybe there is a combination of cards in my deck that can get me out of this and I just forgot about it. Well, among my three draws were: Hooting Mandrills and Tasigur, the Golden Fang.
Oh right, forgot about those two.
This was just perfect. Not only did I draw a 4/4 and a 4/5 for one mana who are able to stall the board; not only did the Enhanced Awareness increase the size of my graveyard to exactly ten so I can cast both guys for one mana; not only did I also draw a Whisk Away that can blow my opponent out on my next turn – I already had a Torrent Elemental in play as well. And now guess at what life total my opponent was. Hint: It’s the sum of 3+4+4.
Yeah, my opponent was not amused.
(He could have probably still won that game had he distributed his Citadel Siege counters in a different way the turn prior, but come on, that would’ve just detrimented from the story.)
I got reminded that I was in fact very vincible the round after, where I lost somewhat needlessly against a Temur deck that seemed considerably worse than mine. I lost game one after mulliganing to four without putting up much of a fight, so I didn’t sideboard much in game 2, which was a very long and drawn-out affair where I simply outcarded him with Tasigur and all my drawspells. Anticipating a similarly grindy game 3, I neglected to sideboard again since my maindeck was already very well set up for that type of game – only to get utterly blown out by his start of two-drop, three-drop, Shaman of the Great Hunt, Goblin Heelcutter. I had seen none of those cards in the first two games, so I don’t know if I sideboarded wrong or just happened to be on the wrong end of one of the few aggressive draws his deck was able to produce. My turn 3 Rakshasa’s Secret didn’t do a whole lot against this start, though, that much was clear.
My win in the next round against an underwhelming GW deck was not very interesting, apart from the fact that I tormented my poor opponent game 2 by tanking for five minutes when he was tapped out and I actually had the on-board kill. He played an Elite Scaleguard which threw my math off considerably and would’ve killed me the turn after that. I drew a Sultai Charm, which combined with my Archer’s Parapet and prowess trigger off Jeskai Windscout, could’ve killed my opponent, if only my mana situation had been better. I needed to produce GUBB to do all that stuff, but my mana actually couldn’t provide that because my lands were something useless like Dismal Backwater, Swamp, Mountain, Rugged Highlands, Forest. So I tanked and tanked about how to use the Sultai Charm to survive next turn –until I realized that I also had a Douse in Gloom in my hand the whole time. You know, which is a non-creature spell, triggering prowess. And which I could actually cast in conjunction with the Parapet’s ability. Whoops.
I decided to enter the next round in „Very Hard“ Mode, treating myself to a gameloss for presenting only 39 cards in game one. My opponent from the previous round took one of my cards and only realized it when he drew it in his match (we used the same sleeves). Well, that’s what I get for slowrolling people. And for not counting your deck before presenting, I guess. At least I made the strategically sound decision to get my gameloss when my opponent’s Brutal Hordechief probably would’ve ranched me anyway.
To make matters even more dramatic, I mulliganed to five in game 2 and managed to actually win that game a billion turns later and at one life. My opponent used his War Flares and Rush of Battles somewhat prematurely, allowing me to stabilize the board but costing me plenty of life, so I had to respect a lot of tricks he could’ve had. After finding my Torrent Elemental in the bottom ten cards, I finally managed to swing for the win, though. At this point, we had something like five minutes left on the clock, so of course I decided that the fun thing to do would be to topdeck the lethal Arc Lightning for his face in my fifth extra turn. Can’t really play it better than that. At that point I officially didn’t care anymore how I’d do in the tournament. Nobody could take those sweet wins away from me.
Awww man, it’s that late again. Guess we need a part three! Expect that one to be published at some point during the weekend. In the third and hopefully final part, I’ll talk about the losses that kicked me out of contention (not very interesting), the Standard event on Sunday that I won (somewhat interesting), and of course the insane food we had on Saturday (extremely interesting). See you then!