A First Look at M13 Sealed

Hello, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the Magic 2013 prerelease as much as I did. I’ve always enjoyed core set Limited. Ever since Magic 2010, Wizards of the Coast has been designing each core set with Limited in mind, making for a fun experience for players in both Draft and Sealed. When it comes to Magic, it’s always good to do something new and fresh, and after my experience with Avacyn Restored Limited, I was ready to step right into Magic 2013.

Core set Limited is a bit simpler than other sets. It focuses heavily on creature combat, so removal and combat tricks are the best cards you can have. Also, the creatures and abilities are more basic than expert-level sets. That makes things like planeswalkers extremely powerful because they give you an effect that provides card advantage every single turn. Also, planeswalkers are often easy to protect because you usually have creatures in play for defense, making them easily the best cards in core set Limited.

I’ve cracked a few Sealed decks at the prerelease and today, I’m going to discuss one of the better pools I’ve opened. It was very tough to build because the pool was extremely deep and every color was excellent! Here’s the pool:

White

Blue

Black

Red

Green

Artifacts and Lands

"Artifacts and Lands"

After looking over the pool, my first thought is that it’s pretty awesome! There are bomb rares in almost every color, including two planeswalkers, an Odric, Master Tactician, and a Thragtusk. This pool is going to be complicated, so let’s begin by taking a look at each color individually.

Serra Angel
Our white gives us some of the best creatures in the format. Serra Angel is among the best uncommons in the entire set, so it‘s definitely worth looking at. Intrepid Hero is a great utility creature that can kill all of your opponent’s big threats, and Odric, Master Tactician can end the game once you start attacking with many creatures. The rest of the white cards are very solid. It has a good curve and a lot of cheap, efficient creatures to help apply early pressure to your opponent. It only has one utility spell, Safe Passage, which can either kill a lot of your opponent’s creatures in combat, save your guys from burn, or act as a Fog effect.

The blue is by far weaker than the white, but it does provide us with some solid creatures and a Jace, Memory Adept. Jace can just win the game on his own. Milling a quarter of your opponent’s deck is very powerful, and if you do that twice in a game and have support spells such as Vedalken Entrancer to back it up, that’s enough to make short work of your opponent’s library. There is only one removal spell in this color, Encrust, but there’s also a lot of chaff cards such as Index and Merfolk of the Pearl Trident. Mind Sculpt, while great with Jace, is pretty bad on its own, so I would not consider playing it here.

Next up is black. This pool’s black is excellent. There is removal, card-draw, discard, great creatures, and a planeswalker. It looks like we’re going to play black no matter what—just because of the simple fact that it has the most removal in the pool. Removal is the key to winning in Sealed, so we should always try to play the color that has the most of it.

Rummaging Goblin
Our red is by far the weakest color in the pool. The creatures are very mediocre, and there is little removal in this color. I do really like Rummaging Goblin, though. Being able to filter your draws is very good in core set Limited. His 1 toughness makes him vulnerable to removal, but if you are able to activate him at least a few times, you will have a huge advantage. Even drawing one more spell than your opponent can give you the upper hand in a game.

Last, we have green. The green is definitely above average in this pool. The creatures are very good, the mana curve is nearly perfect, there is a removal spell, Prey Upon, and there is a combat trick, Titanic Growth. What really draws me to this color, though, is Rancor. If you’ve never drafted Urza’s block, let me be the first to tell you that Rancor is nuts. It turns every single one of your creatures into a huge threat. If your opponent is able to deal with that threat, you will get your Rancor back and have a brand new threat. Rancor makes blocking miserable for your opponent. Even if you trade in combat, your opponent will probably be taking some trample damage. Taking a few points of damage here and there will really add up over a few turns.

After analyzing our colors, it appears that our best color is black, and our white, blue, and green are very strong, too. Red is the worst color, so I’m going to dismiss it outright.

First, I’m going to try to build a U/B control deck because if I open a pool with two planeswalkers, I’m going to do my best to try to play them. Here’s the deck I built:

This deck looks incredibly solid. The mana curve is excellent, there are plenty of instants and sorceries for the Augur of Bolas to find, and there is enough removal to deal with anything that your opponent throws your way.

Jace's Phantasm
Jace's Phantasm is an interesting card. Early on, it’s a Cloud Sprite, which is borderline playable. It will probably get in for some early beats before your opponent can deal with it. However, in the late game, the card can be as good as a rare Dragon. In core set Limited, a 5/5 flyer is considered a bomb. Burn can’t kill it, and it will usually take multiple creatures to kill it in combat. Since this deck has a Jace, Memory Adept, Jace's Phantasm is way more likely to become a 5/5.

Another card I like in this deck is Cower in Fear. Usually, cards like this are not great; however, in the past, these types of cards usually affected all creatures and not just your opponent’s creatures. Also, this card is an instant, making it a sweet combat trick. You can cast it after your opponent attacks, and not only will it kill any 1/1’s on his side, but it will also make his attackers smaller, making you able to block and kill them effectively.

Some cards that I didn’t include are the Tormented Souls and the copies of Duty-Bound Dead. Both of these cards are great in super-aggressive decks, but in this deck, they are very sub-par. Both of these guys want you to have a lot of exalted creatures in play. Duty-Bound Dead is an okay blocker, but its regeneration cost is extremely mana-intensive. Tormented Soul can’t block at all, and a card that just attacks for 1 every turn isn’t good enough. I’d play either of these cards in the right decks, and this isn‘t it.

I still don’t feel right leaving Odric on the sidelines, so let’s take a look at the W/B build of this deck:

This deck also looks very good. Its creatures are super-aggressive. With six 2-drops (seven if you count Sign in Blood), you should always have a play on turn two, and if you follow that up with a creature every turn, your opponent will have a hard time keeping up. The white gives this deck better creatures than the blue, but the problem with the white in this deck is that it’s very mana-intensive. You want to play a Plains on turn one and two so that you can cast your two Ajani's Sunstrikers, but you also want a lot of Swamps in the deck for the Liliana, Veilborn Ghoul, Liliana's Shade, and all of the other double-black spells in the deck.

This type of deck is better for the Duty-Bound Dead and Tormented Souls, but if you cast one of those on the first turn, you’ll never cast Ajani's Sunstriker on turn two, which will cause some awkward situations. This deck has huge mana issues, and the last thing I want is to be land-screwed in Sealed.

Last, here is the B/G deck:

The B/G version of the deck looks awesome! Rancor works very well with some of the black cards in the pool, such as Giant Scorpion and Veilborn Ghoul. Trample plus deathtouch is a nightmare in combat, and the Veilborn Ghoul keeps coming back, providing a nearly never-ending 6/1 trampler. Green also has some great creatures, a few of which provide card advantage, such as Garruk's Packleader and Thragtusk.

Green also gives us some nice support spells such as Titanic Growth and Prey Upon. In addition, Farseek not only provides ramp for our deck, but also makes our mana much less awkward. This deck needs a lot of Swamps in play, and Farseek is great at finding them.

Overall, I think this deck is the best deck of the three because it has the best creatures. In core set Limited, there are usually fewer tricks and removal than in other sets (well, maybe not in Avacyn Restored), so having the best creatures is usually what wins the most games. In addition, Rancor makes every single creature in the deck amazing!

Timberpack Wolf
I really like Timberpack Wolf, which replaced Magic 2012’s Runeclaw Bear in the common 2/2-for-2-mana slot. Runeclaw Bear was always a necessary card that fit well in green’s mana curve, and Timberpack Wolf is strictly better. If I’m green, I’m always going to want as many copies of Timberpack Wolf as I can pick up.

Again, I chose not to play the 1-drop black creatures for the same reasons I’ve said before. They are mediocre in this deck because green has so many powerful creatures already, and it doesn’t make sense to play these black 1-drops.

Another card I chose not to play was the Bond Beetle. I think this card is below average. Bond Beetle is a sorcery-speed Battlegrowth that also provides a 0/1 body, which is not good enough in Sealed. If you choose to put the counter on the Bettle, you’ve just cast a Sanctuary Cat, which is unplayable!

The Flinthoof Boars didn’t make the cut in this deck either because there are already quite a few Grizzly Bears in this deck, and with no Mountains, that’s all Flinthoof Boar is. If you are playing against a very aggressive deck with a lot of early beats, Flinthoof Boars could be sided in, but right now, all of the other 2-drops are better.

If you are more of a control player, the U/B version of this pool might be the deck you would choose to play. I mean, who wouldn’t to play a Limited deck with two planeswalkers! However, I do feel that the green has more raw power than the blue, and if I were to open this pool at a Grand Prix, I’d feel a lot better about playing the B/G deck for nine rounds.

I tried some other builds of this pool without the black, such as W/U and G/W, but I felt that they just didn’t work. The mana curves were bad, and there was very little removal in the other colors. The black in this pool was extremely deep, so there‘s no reason to consider playing a nonblack deck with this card pool.

Wrapping Up

I think Magic 2013 is shaping up to be a fun Limited set so far. I must admit, I did open one of the better pools I’ve seen, and cracking a foil planeswalker wasn’t too shabby either.

How would you build this deck? Do you agree with my card choices?

Thanks for reading!

Melissa DeTora
@AllWeDoIsWinMTG on Twitter