Casually Infinite – Bad Pool

Sometimes you just don’t get a very good set of cards in your Sealed pool. Is it possible to salvage these events? How much of Sealed is luck versus skill? Today I go through the worst Sealed event I’ve played in years. It was a Magic 2014 Sealed daily event.

Black

[Deck title=Black Cards]
1 Altar’s Reap
2 Blightcaster
1 Corpse Hauler
1 Corrupt
1 Dark Favor
1 Doom Blade
1 Festering Newt
1 Liliana’s Reaver
2 Liturgy of Blood
1 Mind Rot
1 Nightwing Shade
1 Quag Sickness
1 Sengir Vampire
1 Shrivel
1 Tenacious Dead
2 Undead Minotaur
1 Vile Rebirth
[/deck]

In most Sealed pools, I’d be very happy to see this pile available to me. [card]Sengir Vampire[/card] and [card]Liliana’s Reaver[/card] are both solid cards. There’s also five removal spells with [card]Quag Sickness[/card], [card]Doom Blade[/card], double [card]Liturgy of Blood[/card] and [card]Corrupt[/card]. This is seven solid black cards with some other solid options in double [card]Blightcaster[/card] and [card]Nightwing Shade[/card]. I’m perfectly happy with this color, so I’m obviously running black. Ideally I wouldn’t have to play the [card]Undead Minotaur[/card] or [card]Festering Newt[/card], but I feel great about nine or ten of these cards, and fine filling out the curve with some of the lesser ones.

White

[deck title=White Cards]
1 Congregate
1 Charging Griffin
2 Hive Stirrings
2 Fortify
1 Show of Valor
1 Divine Favor
1 Capashen Knight
1 Sentinel Sliver
2 Pacifism
2 Suntail Hawk
[/deck]

Unfortunately, white is one of my better colors. [card]Capashen Knight[/card] is a win condition in long games. Two [card]Pacifism[/card]s will go well with [card]Blightcaster[/card]s and [card]Fortify[/card] can be a decent sweeper at the right times. White ups my removal count with black to something absurd, but out of the whole color, I only get one or two creatures. Pretty sad overall. This definitely doesn’t provide the support I need to keep my black stable, especially on the bottom end of the curve, and I could really use another bomb. In one matchup, I ended up switching into white simply because I needed more removal to deal with all the bombs in my opponent’s deck, but I still didn’t have a good finisher.

Blue

[deck title=Blue Cards]
2 Coral Merfolk
1 Disperse
3 Divination
1 Negate
1 Seacoast Drake
2 Scroll Thief
1 Tidebinder Mage
3 Zephyr Charge
[/deck]

Triple [card]Divination[/card] is pretty sweet, but there’s nothing in blue I want to draw into. [card]Scroll Thief[/card] is alright, but generally needs something to go with it. Maybe I’d be able to pull it off to where I just keep hitting removal and then can play my [card]Scroll Thief[/card] to draw into my [card]Sengir Vampire[/card] and more removal. Card advantage is a possibility out of blue, but I’m not thrilled with it.

Red

[deck title=Red Cards]
2 Academy Raider
1 Blur Sliver
1 Chandra’s Phoenix
1 Cyclops Tyrant
1 Dragon Egg
1 Flames of the Firebrand
1 Fleshpulper Giant
2 Goblin Shortcutter
1 Mindsparker
1 Molten Birth
1 Pitchburn Devils
1 Seismic Stomp
[/deck]

Red is almost decent, but I don’t really like jumping into red without some of the staples that it can bring. Cards like [card]Volcanic Geyser[/card] and [card]Chandra’s Outrage[/card], or creatures like [card]Marauding Maulhorn[/card] or even [card]Canyon Minotaur[/card] at this point. [card]Chandra’s Phoenix[/card] has only one card that can bring it back, but I’m happy to play [card]Flames of the Firebrand[/card]. I’m also okay with main decking [card]Molten Birth[/card] and [card]Mindsparker[/card] along with [card]Pitchburn Devils[/card]. But that only gives me five cards I want to play. Maybe an [card]Academy Raider[/card] on top of that, but I’m looking for solid creatures and red just isn’t providing.

Green

[deck title=Green cards]
1 Advocate of the Beast
1 Briarpack Alpha
1 Deadly Recluse
2 Elvish Mystic
1 Fog
1 Groundshaker Sliver
1 Naturalize
2 Plummet
1 Predatory Sliver
1 Trollhide
1 Voracious Wurm
1 Witchstalker
[/deck]

Green has a couple of decent cards but nothing really fits the bill of what I need at this point. [card]Briarpack Alpha[/card] is basically a removal and a creature card all rolled up into one. [card]Deadly Recluse[/card] can handle any big threat, and if I can land something like [card]Trollhide[/card] on him, he could be a serious problem for anyone. [card]Witchstalker[/card] gives me a place to stick some positive auras that won’t just get destroyed. I could run the [card]Elvish Mystic[/card]s, but the biggest creature I have to play is the Sengir and racing to [card]Liturgy of Blood[/card] doesn’t feel like it will get me anywhere. Playing green will give me access to [card]Naturalize[/card] and [card]Plummet[/card] in case I want to side them in. I ended up running just four green cards in my main deck.

Artifacts

[deck title=Artifacts]
1 Accorder’s Shield
1 Ratchet Bomb
1 Sliver Construct
1 Staff of the Wild Magus
1 Staff of the Sun Magus
1 Staff of the Mind Magus
1 Staff of the Flame Magus
1 Staff of the Death Magus
[/deck]

If there’s a place where my Sealed pool went bad, it starts and ends right under the artifact section. I’m happy with [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card] to go with my suite of removal. But with five of my uncommons stuck in the form of life gain staves, there’s a lot of good cards that I’m not seeing. I expect to see one or two staves in every Sealed pool, but five is a bit much. My pool would have looked significantly different if three of these were something else. About half of the uncommons in M14 are decently playable, and a good chunk of the others are marginally playable.

The Decision

Here’s the deck I ended up playing:

[deck title=Marc DeArmond M14 Black-Green]
[Creatures]
*2 Blight Caster
*1 Briarpack Alpha
*1 Corpse Hauler
*1 Deadly Recluse
*1 Festering Newt
*1 Liliana’s Reaver
*1 Nightwing Shade
*1 Sengir Vampire
*1 Tenacious Dead
*2 Undead Minotaur
*1 Witchstalker
[/creatures]
[Spells]
*1 Accorder’s Shield
*1 Altar’s Reap
*1 Corrupt
*1 Dark Favor
*1 Doom Blade
*2 Liturgy of Blood
*1 Quag Sickness
*1 Ratchet Bomb
*1 Trollhide
[/spells]
[Lands]
*6 Forest
*11 Swamp
[/lands]
[/deck]

I ended up on black with a green splash. I figured I could go heavy black for [card]Corrupt[/card], [card]Quag Sickness[/card], and [card]Nightwing Shade[/card], and have even more removal to back it up. Red looked like an option, but there wasn’t anything big enough I wanted to play. No, I’m not playing [card]Fleshpulper Giant[/card]. Maybe I should have put in the [card]Groundpounder Sliver[/card] just to have a big creature.

Even though my pool wasn’t good, it didn’t help that I made a few mistakes mulliganing. I kept a hand with all black cards and all green land. Sure, I’d have been fine if I had drawn a Swamp, but it didn’t happen until turn six. By that point I’d virtually lost the game and was dead by turn nine.

My deck wasn’t terrible, and I didn’t expect to do as bad as I did. I was thinking that 3-1 was an option. Unfortunately, I had no plan for winning the game besides killing all my opponents’ creatures and attacking with my own marginal army. Unfortunately, in practice, my opponents killed most of my marginal creatures just as fast as I killed their good creatures, leaving them with marginal creatures that were still better than mine.

I don’t want to feel like I’m blaming the cards, but one thing with Sealed is you can’t control the packs you open. All you can do is play your best with it. I know I didn’t play my best. But the question is, how could I have built the deck better? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author
@Masticon     -     Email     -     Articles Marc DeArmond is a currently a Middle School Math Teacher and the host of the Casually Infinite podcast. He started playing Magic back in Unlimited during 1993. His interests are trading up in value and playing limited on MTGO. He is the author of Casually Infinite, which discusses how to continue to play Magic Online without spending money. He is currently a Level 2 Magic Judge.

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