Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Building a Sealed DeckJanuary 3, 2019
This is an ongoing series of Magic articles aimed at welcoming people into Magic: The Gathering!
With the upcoming release of the new Magic set Ravnica Allegiance, I want to ensure that newer planeswalkers are prepared for battle at the prerelease event. If you want some reminders about the proper etiquette of playing at in-store tournaments, I recommend checking out this article.
Today I am going to dive deep into the strategies that I use for building a Sealed deck, which is the type of deck you will be using for the prerelease. For an explanation of the Sealed format, check this article out.
Once you are situated and the judge or tournament organizer has given you permission to begin opening your booster packs, open all six packs, setting the wrappers to the side. From here, I recommend sorting cards into color piles, keeping the rare cards separate or on top.
After you have sorted all of your cards, it’s time to decide what the best colors to play will be. This can feel overwhelming, but I recommend focusing on two important factors.
- First of all, what rare cards did you open? Are there any that are particularly great, such as a Planeswalker or Mythic rare? Or are there any rare cards that you are excited to play because they are in your favorite color or fit into your play style well? For example, maybe your favorite deck is full of elves that gain a lot of +1/+1 counters and you open Pelt Collector (see below). You can decide if any of the rares look like a strategy you want to pursue. Note: Cards that destroy creatures should always be considered for your deck.
- Next, how many cards of each color do you have? This includes looking at any multi-colored cards that you opened. You need to ensure that you have many cards in the colors you want to play and that these cards support whatever strategy you chose to build around. You are also looking for good synergy between the cards, meaning that the abilities on many of your cards work well together.
From here, you should have a decent idea of what cards you’d like to play and what colors your pool supports. Now, it’s completely up to you what to build! Make sure it’s a deck you understand and feel comfortable playing.
I recommend playing 2 colors, but 3 can work if you have ways to search for land cards or you have non-basic land cards that produce multiple colors that you need (see above). Once you have determined which colors you are playing, eliminate any cards that are not in those colors. You can also cut any cards that you consider bad, cards you don’t want to play or cards that don’t work well with your deck’s strategy.
Lay out the rest of the cards in order of mana cost, from 1 cost to however high your cards cost. Have one row for creatures and one row for other spells. If anything cost more than 6, make sure that your deck will be able to survive to play cards beyond that. Also, it’s good to have ways to search for land and play multiple lands per turn if you have high-cost cards (see below). Now, count how many potential cards you have for your deck.
From here, you want roughly 14-18 creatures and enough other spells to reach a total of 23 cards. You will need to eliminate cards beyond this number. In order to prioritize cuts, you want some amount of spells for each turn (looking at each mana cost pile), with many options to play between 2-4 mana cost. This is called having a good curve, because you want each end to have fewer cards than the middle, in a curved shape when laid out.
After your deck is at 23 cards in a decent curve shape, you’ll need to determine what 17 lands you are using. If you have any non-basic lands, they will count toward the 17, so you will need that many less basic lands. I determine how many lands of each color I’m going to play based on how many cards of each color are in my deck and what color I’ll need for the first couple of turns. For example, above is a deck I played at the last prerelease. I had 2 Selesnya Guildgates, so I only needed to add 15 basic land cards. I was playing 13 green cards and 10 white cards and could use green to cast 3 of my 4 turn two creatures, so I added 8 forests and 7 plains.
Now, sleeve your cards, shuffle up, and get ready to play!