Hey everyone! My name is Kevin Bopp, and I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming you to Moonbase Market with the very first article written for this site. When Iggy and Jason approached me to write the inaugural article for Moonbase Market, the first thing that popped into my mind was “Why should people care to read my ramblings?” In an effort to convince you to care, allow me to present you with a little bit of background information on my journey through Magic: the Gathering:
-I have been playing Magic since Urza’s Saga
-I have been playing competitively since Odyssey block
-My skills are legit thanks to barning the loosest ringers back in the days of $100 six-man money drafts at pre-releases.
Top Urza's Saga. On bottom starting from left, Judgement, Odyssey and Torment set symbols
Quick aside: For those not in the know (a.k.a. those who weren’t voraciously consuming Tim Aten’s articles circa 2003), “barn” is short for “barnacle,” or, someone who attaches themselves to good players in a way that can be construed as borderline-infatuation. I guess nowadays the acceptable term is “d***-rider,” but there’s a distinct sentimentality to the term “barn” that I wish to see make a return to prominence within our community.
Basically, I love this game just as much as anyone else. One of the ways that my love grows for this game is by adapting to it and learning how to get better at it, then performing well as a result. So yeah, I’m a Spike, but I also know that playing your best is as important as playing the best cards, and I think that will translate into some helpful insights that will make you a better Magic player. One of the most important things to do if you want to win an event whether it’s an FNM or a PPTQ is to make sure that you are prepared.
Was I prepared for this PPTQ?
I had 4-1’d and 5-0’d five or six competitive sealed events on MTGO leading up to this PPTQ. Some decks had insane bombs that made my pool easy to build around, sometimes I got lucky when I needed to, and I felt like I had an idea of what was going on as far as what worked and what didn’t, but I’d be lying if I told you that I had a firm grasp on the sealed format. For the time being, I was lost in the blissful uncertainty of a new format. Obviously, the way we play Magic now is far different than it was ten years ago for a wide variety of reasons. There’s no question that the main difference is that now we are able to consume much more valuable information as Magic players ourselves from the articles and videos that other players provide in an effort to become better. That being said, I still think it’s best to get lost a little bit along the way and come to your own ultimate conclusions about what cards and archetypes are worth playing. What conclusions did I come to, you ask? Supply Camel? Insane. Moving on.
Much of my success online came from playing aggressive decks with 16+ creatures featuring low curves, a few tricks, and on-color bombs, of course. These hyper-aggressive archetypes (what I affectionately refer to as “kid’s decks”) did well mainly because I stuck to some old tenets of sealed deckbuilding:
1) Play a minimum of 16 creatures: You’ll need to draw creatures to be able to keep yourself in the game, especially in limited formats that have the potential to be more grindy such as triple-Amonkhet.
2) Don’t stretch your mana: By all means, get sick with it, but only if your pool allows you to do it consistently for high impact spells and creatures.
3) Mind your curve: Playing a bunch of high-cost haymakers won’t be so sweet if you’re dead before you can cast them.
Amonkhet sealed is a cruel mistress, indeed. Sometimes you get ground to a pulp by embalmed creatures and cycling/discard synergy, and other times your opponent goes one-drop, two-drop, three-drop, four-drop, you’re dead. While there is a distinct allure to the simplicity of just attacking on every possible turn, I think sealed decks should only be built in such a way if the creatures are of a consistently higher quality. I would Think Twice about building an aggressive deck featuring more Binding Mummies than Gust Walkers when you have perfectly good Soulstingers lying around. Enough jibber-jabber. Let’s get on with how the PPTQ went (spoiler: horribly).
While Amonkhet’s inherent synergies can lend themselves to complex deckbuilding situations, my pool was fairly straightforward.
…I went 1-3 and dropped…
And that concludes my mini-report! Here are some of the more in-depth lessons that I can specifically recall:
-I won every game that I cast Kefnet on turn three except for game one of round one. It probably happened four times out of four rounds, so ride that blue god to victory because it’s a faster clock than the low-cost exert guys that your opponents might play.
- Open into Wonder should make the cut every single time if you’re playing blue. I would even go so far as to say that I would try to splash for it if the time was right. It was great when my deck could slow the game down enough to win with fliers, but when that couldn’t happen I was playing for the win with Open into Wonder. The best part about this card is its flexibility and utility. It doesn’t matter if your deck is aggressive or not, because this card can win you the game in a couple of different ways. I even had the distinct pleasure of beating a resolved Sandwurm Convergence that stayed on the board for 6 turns thanks to this sweet, sweet X spell.
-Insult//Injury is just insane. I knew this ahead of time thanks to my MTGO exploits, but it was reinforced into my psyche that this is objective fact once one of my opponents curved 3 guys into only the Insult half and won the game. I might take this over Trial of Zeal in draft. Might.
-I wish I could say that I should have played a deck that had more two-drops, but it just wasn’t the case with my pool. In any archetype, I recommend taking a good, hard look at the colors that provide you with at least four two-drop creatures so you don’t get run over. A common theme on the day was being unable to play a creature until turn three, only for it to eat a Magma Spray or a Cast Out and then taking big beats from my opponent’s pain train.
Well, that’s all I've got for now. Time to steer my focus away from sealed for a bit and onto the next PPTQ format which is standard. I’ll be back next time to let you know how lucky I got on my way to punching a ticket to the RPTQ that I have to pay for now. Thanks for reading!