This past Thursday, I played in a MtGO Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier, and I managed to clinch a finals token after turning my 0-1 into a 4-1. Along the way, and through past leagues and tournaments, I have learned a few essential tips about the format that you will need to succeed.
Amonkhet Sealed is an extremely grindy format, and games often come to a board stall, with each player trading haymakers until one comes out on top. What this means is that you cannot afford to play a mediocre beats deck that simply has a good curve. There are two way to prepare for your opponent’s deck that is sure to be chock full of great cards.
1. Play to your rares
While this tip is the narrowest of the ones that I am about to give about beating your opponent in a grindy game, it can sometimes give you the best shot of winning. In this format, having a good curve just will not cut it oftentimes. If you find yourself with a weak overall pool, try to build your deck around your rares, as many of the rares in Amonkhet are very powerful comparatively.
For example, you may have a decent G/B deck with removal and efficient creatures and be hesitant to play your Glyph Keeper. However, it may be worth it to double splash if your deck is not that good, because you will win most games where you are able to play that card, even though you might lose some games to having it dead in your hand. This applies the most to cards that are good at many stages of the game, allowing you more time to find the appropriate mana. For example, Regal Caracal being splashed will almost always be better than a Soul-Scar Mage being splashed, as Caracal is great on turn 5 as well as turn 10, while Mage is only good in the early game.
2. Make sure you have a top end
Because the games often go long, having a top end is extremely relevant to your win percentage. At Grand Prix Richmond, I splashed for Greater Sandwurm in my Blue-White deck, and beat many opponents by casting my seven drop when they curved out at 5 or 6. Splashing for big creatures or spells is much easier in this format because of the slow nature as previously stated, but also because of the flexibility that cycling offers.
For this reason, splashing Greater Sandwurm, Lay Claim, or even Shimmerscale Drake is very reasonable(which gains value because of flying even though it is only a 5 drop). These cards are great because they can be cycled if you cannot find the right mana to cast them, and cast for extreme value if you do happen to have the right mana. Even a card such as Colossapede is great because it outclasses everything below it, and most creatures at its same mana cost.
3. Make sure you have embalm creatures
While Unwavering Initiate may sometimes seem worse than the uncommon Vizier of Deferment, it is actually much better in Sealed. This is because of the ability of Embalm. This is super relevant in this format because Embalm creatures trade profitably and can help lock down a board, which is necessary for you to get to the late game and deploy your bombs. In the long run it’s a 2-for-1, which is fantastic in slow formats.
4. Make sure to play evasion creatures
This point goes hand in hand with playing a good top end. Just like you need a top end to overcome your opponent, you need evasion creatures to get through board stalls. Shimmerscale Drake and Aven Initiate are great because of this. Initiate is even better because it has embalm! Another great creature to get over your opponent is draft all-star Gust Walker. This lil’ guy isn’t only good in an aggro deck, as 1.5 damage a turn is definitely a clock if you have managed to get a decent amount of damage in beforehand. With a few removal spells to clear the way, flyers should oftentimes get you the win, as your opponent durdles with their big ground blockers.
5. Play aggro
This tip is for those who find themselves looking down at a pool with virtually no top end and bad or low-costed rares. Thankfully, not all is lost, and the best solution is to just play the best aggressive deck your pool can offer. Cards such as Bloodlust Inciter which are often overlooked in the building of midrange deck can be a huge boon to aggressive decks, as it they allow you to get a ton of damage in early and then dig for a finisher or maneuver the game in a way where you can find an opening and push through the last points of damage. Something that is very important and must be taken into account when building your aggro deck is that it must have reach. There are a few ways to do this including but not limited to:
- Brute Strength
- Mighty Leap
- In Oketra’s Name
- Pathmaker Innitiate
- Limits of Solidarity
- Gust Walker
- Synchronized Strike
- Fling (Oh yeah)
All of these cards can help you when you need to get through those last points of damage, or get past those pesky blockers. Not to mention that this is why the red rares Insult // Injury and Heart-Piercer Manticore, both of which should already be in your deck, are so good in this format.
As always, thank you so much for reading! This weekend I am playing in what is most likely the most important tournament of my life so far, the RPTQ. I am planning on playing loads of leagues beforehand, and using the knowledge that I have already gained to crush the event and qualify for the Pro Tour. Hopefully though I don’t have to wrack my brain with how to make the best play, and just open a pool with two copies of Glorybringer and more great rares. Good luck in whatever your next trial is, and I hope you have learned something new from this article. See ya next week,
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