Sealed Revealed: Card Pool Twelve
So here we are.
After three weeks of bluff and bluster, we've reached card pool twelve.
When I started this wild ride, I never expected much. Sure, I wanted to improve, I wanted people reading my stuff, I wanted people to laugh at my jokes... but it was all for fun. Hell, I didn't expect to progress past card pool two. I never thought I'd pull it off.
But I have. At least, I think I have,
We're three weeks wiser, and I'm still plugging away. Twelve card pools have passed before my tired eyes and stuttering fingers. I've typed up nine hundred cards in the preliminary lists alone. Add in the decklists, the card-by-card analysis, the juvenile attempts at humor... I've typed close to fifty thousand words.
And boy, am I tired.
I'm so drained, I could gladly slumber on a bed of broken glass.
The reaction to these articles has been wonderful. I've enjoyed every minute of the writing process, and I've enjoyed the kind praise received.
Most of all, I've enjoyed the forum feedback.
I open the cards. I write the articles. I build the decks.
But it's you who make it worthwhile.
Through the interaction in the forums, you've improved my game. You've raised my spirits, picking me up when I was ready to quit. You've made me think, made me laugh, made me feel part of a greater community.
You've made me love Magic.
I thank you all, from deep inside.
It's been a long and bumpy ride, folks. Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.
But enough of my yack. Let's play.
[cockney geezer voice]
Come get yer luverly boiled onions!
Fifty pee a pound!
[/cockney geezer voice]
Hikari, Twilight Guardian
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
2 Kabuto Moth
2 Kami of Ancient Law
Kami of Painted Road
Counsel of the Soratami
Field of Reality
Kami of Twisted Reflection
Peer Through Depths
Reach Through Mists
Teller of Tales
Honden of Infinite Rage
Initiate of Blood
Kami of Fire's Roar
Myojin of Infinite Rage
Soul of Magma
Commune With Nature
Kami of the Hunt
Order of the Sacred Bell
2 Orochi Leafcaller
Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
Did you enjoy that list? Did you like the fact that it's the last list of Sealed Revealed for a very long time? Did you weep silently into your cappuccino as you attempted to build?
I bet you did. You big girl's blouse.
Feel the beat of the Rhythm of the White, dance until the morning light, forget about the worries on your mind, you can leave them all behind...
I suppose I'd better start with the obvious bomb-rare. He's alphabetically first in the list, so he's already stamped his authority on the game.
- Hikara, Twilight Guardian is a 4/4 flyer for five mana. Couple that with his cheeky 'slide out' ability, and you can see why this card is being touted by everyone and everything. He works well in a heavy arcane deck, able to avoid removal at instant speed. To be honest, he works well in any deck, as a 4/4 flyer has a tendency to smash many faces.
- Our second White legendary creature comes right back at me. Isamaru is a beating on turn one, but largely irrelevant thereafter. He's a yapping dog with a bark much worse than his bite. I think I'd prefer it if legends were a little more impressive. I mean, not even the winner of Crufts can be heralded a legend, and that's the most prestigious dog-shows in the World. The only truly legendary canine is Pickles the Dog. Ten points to Griffindor if you know who he is.
- Now the rare cards have hit the showers, we can pick the meat off the White All-Stars. To begin, let's have a big hand for the double Kami of Ancient Law! He beats for two a turn, and he can smash up a Honden or a Cage without pausing for breath! He's a spirit to boot, excellent for soulshifting. This guy is going places!
- Up next, in the three mana slot, we have some tremendous creatures. The fancy fox Kistune Blademaster fills a vital beatdown roll, but the shout-outs and shiz-nits go to those funky flappy flyers... double Kabuto Moth! I was tempted to do another silly poem for these guys, but as it's my last card pool I'll spare you that indignity. The Moth is a powerhouse in Kamigawa, as he takes most guys out of range of G-Ray and Y-Flame.
- Four mana gives us the Kitsune Healer. He's a little slow, and his ability is as old as the game itself, but he serves a purpose. Rumor has it that he once served a porpoise, but that's mere speculation.
- At five mana, the Hundred-Talon Kami makes his familiar appearance. As a 2/3 flyer for five, he's functional if not attractive. If he were a 3/3, I'd introduce him to my mum. The other five-drop in the pool, Kami of the Painted Road, is slow and situational. If the situation involves ninjas kicking the sh** out of me, ninjas who'll only quit the beatings if I present them with a substandard White common from the latest M:tG set... then yeah, he's useful.
- White, the home of the Weenie, has a six-mana Bushido 2 Samurai. He must be the biggest Weenie in the playground. I bet he picks on all the other Samurai and steals their lunch-money.
The White men seem nice. But that's no surprise, as White has always been the color of the goodie-goodies.
Spells are what we need now. Go Go Gadget-Legs! *boing*
- We always get the same bloody White spells. Terashi's Cry and bloody Vigilance. These spells are bad. The Cry may steal you a win from nowhere, but if you've a decent deck then you'll not need it. As for the Vigilance... the less said, the better.
I think White is a bit of alright. Fast beats, utility guys, ground stallers and a bomb. I'll be playing these spells in some capacity. There's no avoiding double Moth.
Teller of Tales?
Ah well, it looks like I'll be squaring up to the Blue cards after all.
- At the top, we have the best five-mana Limited flyer for some time. Teller of Tales has evasion of his own, and with canny play he can help his friend evade capture too! Simply put, 3/3 flyers win games. The ability is mere gravy. As an aside, I wonder what tales this Teller of Tales actually tells? Judging by the extremely blitzed artwork, I'd wager that his most popular tale starts with the line "I remember the Great Fish-Farm Explosion of '57..."
- Sadly for our tale-telling chum, Blue only supplies us with four more creatures in this pool. We have the top brass, but there's a distinct lack of foot-soldiers. Sure, there's a Floating-Dream Zubera, returning a card in a Jens-like fashion when he's given the chop. He's a twenty-turn clock, and as such he won't win you the game. Unless he nets you the all-important "burn off the top."
- Two mana also sees the return of Hisoka's Guard. If this guard spent more time actually guarding, instead of conjuring weird blue sparks to impress his girlfriend, then Hisoka would be a very safe man indeed. If you play this card, I will take it as an affront to my good name and have you struck off the Wizards Roll of Honor.
- Three mana sees the Horned Turtle in spirit form. River Kaijin is easily overlooked, but he shores up defenses by keeping the Blademasters firmly camped in their own territory.
- The only other creature we have is the Kami of Twisted Reflection. Yes, he's a combat trick... but he's not a particularly impressive one. It's that bloody "creature you control" clause. Without that, he'd be a no-brainer. Of course, he's still decent enough as a virtual removal magnet, but you wouldn't take him home to meet your folks. Especially since he's the ugliest thing in creation.
After the knockout White, I suppose it was a little too much to ask for similar depth in Blue beef. We need Soratami, and lots of them, or the Blue pool is drowning.
Never mind, as least we keep our pride.
I've flicked through the Blue support cards, and they're frankly poor. The only possibles are the two-cards-for-three-mana Counsel of the Soratami, and the splicey-dicey boingboing spell that is Consuming Vortex. Here's a brief run-down of the bit-part players:
- Eerie Procession: An arcane tutor. Probably a bomb in Five-Color.
- Field of Reality: "Enchanted creature can't be blocked by Spirits." Jesus Christ. I'm losing the will to live.
- Peer Through Depths, Reach Through Mists: I hate the "Things Through Other-Things" cards. If the Unspeakable is involved, then fill your boots. Otherwise, get out of my kitchen.
- Hisoka's Defiance: Situational countermagic. Maybe playable, if you want your liver kicked out.
- Psychic Puppetry: There's no place for crap Jedi Mind Tricks in this game, thanks.
The Blue is unplayable, overall. I like the Teller of Tales, and I'm fond of some of the smaller guys... but there's just nothing here. The land is barren.
Okay, before I carry on... I must celebrate.
No more writing about Blue cards!
(As you can surmise, Blue will play no part in my final deck).
As usual, we start with removal. Previous pools have been kind to us. How will the final pool pan out?
- Well, there's a Rend Spirit. It's a nice card, and it's especially good at rending things. Notably spirits.
- There's also a Devouring Greed, which is fantastic. Except that you can't target guys with it. Still, it's worth mentioning here, and we can segue straight into the other support cards without anyone noticing... *whistles innocently*
- The only other non-creature spell in the Black department is the hideous Ragged Veins. I'd be tempted to play this if I had a deck full of small guys ready to gang-block a slightly bigger guy. Throw five or six 2/2s in front of an attacking 5/5, then slap the Veins on him before damage... now that's comedy.
Where are the Befouls?
Where are the Swallowing Plagues?
Where are the Rend Fleshes?
I feel let down.
Happily, the monsters in the Black cupboards are the nicest fantasy creatures I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Let's give them a warm welcome.
- Two mana sees us shaking hands with two creatures. The first is the median zebra, third strongest and third weakest of them all. The Ashen-Skin Zubera isn't shabby. After all, he's a little Ravenous Rat clone. And he blocks the Cutthroat. Our other two-drop is the Nezumi Bone-Reader. Is he any good? I think he'll be alright. He's an excellent combo with Orochi Eggwatcher, or the Green shrine.
- Three mana, and we have the virtual 4/2 Nezumi Ronin. I know he's not virtually a 4/2, but there's a bloke in the forums who wasn't happy about my calling the Ronin such. Thus, I do it every time I see the card. That'll teach him to keep his mouth shut.
- At four mana, things get interesting. Three Gibbering Kami? 2/2 flyers for four are staples, and the soulshift mechanic will lap them up. Also at four mana, we have the Blood Speaker. A 3/2 for four is playable- just- but his ability is make-or-break. Sadly, as he has no synergy with the rest of my cards, this Blood Speaker is now broken. In the bad sense, of course.
- Five mana sees the vital "soulshift 4" of the chain, the playable Scuttling Death. His sacrifice does not go unnoticed, as often he'll be a strict two-for-one, even a three-for-one if the soulshift chain allows it.
- At a whopping six mana, we have two copies of the 4/1 flyer Kami of Lunacy. These are the top-end of the soulshift chain, and thus they are important. Sure, they are weak in toughness... but they trade with any other flyer on the block aside from Dragons. And if they go unchecked, a 4/1 flyer can end the game in style. Oh, and they're tasty toasty with Kabuto Moths. Do I have any of those, I wonder...?
- Finally, fatally, we have the six-mana Deathcurse Ogre. He's a poor, blighted card.... But curses are meant to be broken. Just ask the Red Sox.
The Black removal is shallow in this pool, but the guys are nice enough. The flyers in particular are doubly useful. I can see Black being either a heavyish splash, or a brave main-color option. Either way, the deck will have strong cards and colors.
So Black's "got back."
Has Red got cred?
So Black's "got back."
Has Red got cred?
Let's meet the players:
- Akki Avalanchers, Akki Rockspeaker... No No No. Goblins are supposed to be cool, damnit! Whenever you play one of these spikey travesties, a kitten dies.
- Battle-Mad Ronin is strictly filler. And I don't want to play something that can't block as my 23rd card, thanks. I'd rather draw a pair of boobs on an old bus-ticket and sleeve that up instead. Then again, who wouldn't?
- At three mana, the Brutal Deceiver is a three-drop guy in with a chance of clashing swords with the Blademaster. First strike is immense in this block.
- Frostwielder! She wields frost! Woo! Now, call me old-fashioned, but isn't Red the color of fire? Surely Blue is the color of Winter spells. And yes, I know that you can get "frost-bite", or that excessive cold can burn. Here, dial 32748746354. It's the number of someone who gives a sh**. Oh, and play Frostwielder. She's as cold as ice!
- Also at four mana, we have the Initiate of Blood. He is a situational guy, as are most of the flip-fellas. That said, if he flips then he's rock hard. But nothing ever flips. Nothing at all. Everything just gets killed. Everybody dies. Alone and in pain......... Sleep well.
- Rounding out the four-slot, we have the 2/3 Kami of Fire's Roar. This guy is a reusable Falter, which is fantastic in the correct spirit-laden deck. If the build warrants it, he's in like Flynn.
- At five mana, we have a 3/1 Ore Gorger and a 2/2 Soul of Magma. If I had my way, I'd have them fight to the death for my perverse amusement. Sadly, I'll have to settle for tearing the cards to pieces, feeding the pieces to dogs, and then burning the dog-poo.
- And waaaay waaaaay up the Mana-Mountain, we find a ten-casting-cost monster ready to blow up the world- literally. The Myojin are mostly unplayable, and this is no exception.
The Red guys are smelly. The Red spells?
- Glacial Ray. Oooooooooooooooh Yes! He's a beauty! Burn is so deliciously hurtful. Our first piece of Red removal.
- What's better that a burn spell off the top? The answer is: a burn spell off the top each and every turn. Say hello to the Honden of Infinite Rage! Already, the splash color seems to be taking shape.
- Mana Seism? Need you ask?
- It's raining stones! Hallelujah, it's raining stones! Amen! Sideboard stuff.
- Mindblaze, a strict eight to the dome. This is only playable in the sideboard, and it will win you games. As long as you're careful. There's nothing worse than spending six mana and doing nothing with it. Actually, there are a lot of things worse than that. Being eaten by sharks, for example. Forget I said anything.
All things considered, I think I'd splash the Red. It's certainly not strong enough to be a central color to my final build.
It doesn't matter either way, of course. The Green stuff always throws a spanner in the works.
Alright, my loves?
Nice to see you, to see you... nice!
Green has "good game, good game."
And none of the above three lines will make any sense to my American readers. Ah well, to late to change it now.
- We start small, with a pair of Orochi Leafcaller. In the last pool, I played one of these guys to smooth my mana. It was soon pointed out that this guy is, in fact, a complete figgy pudding. The forums have spoken, so mote it be.
- Ramping up, we have the Dripping-Tongue Zubera and the Sakura-Tribe Elder. The Elder is wonderful, of course. You don't need me to tell you that. The Green zebra, however, is regarded as one of the weakest. Even so, the Zebra Bus is coming, and many people are jumping aboard. Don't get left behind.
- Three mana sees us with the only two guys that matter: Kami of the Hunt and Matsu-Tribe Decoy. While the Kami gets pumped by spirits and arcane, the Decoy can clear the way of pesky blockers. Sadly, the Decoy needs pump effects or regeneration to be truly effective.
- Talking of pump effects, here comes Raymond! Four mana sees us slap down the 2/2 Burr Grafter. He chumps, he pumps, he plays Top Trumps... and he soulshifts back for more. His four-cost chum, the Order of the Sacred Bell, is probably the most boring card on the planet. But as a 4/3 for four, it'll get the job done.
- When we spend four mana on a Green creature, we want a beatdown machine that'll inflict the heat. What we do not want is a snake with boobs that turns shamans into mana-monkeys. Goodnight, Sachi. We hardly knew ye.
- Where the Hell did Rootrunner come from? I've played a little Kamigawa Limited. I've just build twelve sealed decks, and I've never even heard of this guy. A 3/3 for four? Passable. Soulshift too, nice. Bizarre ability? Erm... ok. Thoughts?
- Five mana sees the Granddaddy Spider, the Venerable Kumo. He's terrible. Three toughness for a spider? He dies to almost everything, including shame.
- And completing the mana-mountain, we have the Thousand-Legged Kami and the Vine Kami. Both are terrible, terrible cards, capable of great atrocities against nature if left unchecked. If you see these cards, do not approach them. They may be armed, and they will be pissed off.
The Green fellas are pretty special, but how do the Spells measure up?
- Kodama's Reach: discussed nine ways 'til Tuesday. Play it.
- Serpent Skin: discussed twelve ways 'til Christmas. Consider it.
- Commune with Nature: discussed fifty ways to leave your lover. Wiggle it. Just a little bit.
All three spells are playable. Most of the creatures are too. Bring on the love!
That Godo is a clumsy fella. He's left his maul lying around for any old Tom, Dick or Akki to run off with. Personally, unless I had some nifty Legends or Red monkeys, I'd leave the maul on the floor. Three mana for a Leonin Scimitar is hardly a sound investment. Even Enron will tell you that.
Hair-Strung Koto is, quite frankly, pants. And not even nice pants with button zippers and double stitching. The Koto is dirty pants, discarded by a feculent hobo.
Both the Lantern-Lit Graveyard and the Cloudcrest Ridge could see play, depending on the final color choices. And depending on whether the person running them is prepared to lose a game or two though sheer tempo.
Actually, I've played a little with these cards. They're not strictly terrible, but they have limitations. I'd be wary, but some folk swear by them. In fact, I've sworn by them a few times. On no, hang on... I've sworn at them a few times... yes, that's it.
So have you completed your build? Did you play the Green spells? Did you run with the White? Did you find enough playable cards in Red?
Questions, questions, questions...
[I'd just like to take a moment here and tell Craig how much I'm hating him for getting both Rhythm of the Night, and It's Rainin' Men going through my head for the course of this article. - Knut, who now returns you to your regularly scheduled Scouser]
Well, here goes nothin'.
For the final time in this series, I present to you...
1 Lantern-Lit Graveyard
1cc = 1
2cc = 2
3cc = 4
4cc = 5
5cc = 3
6cc = 3
7cc = 0
8cc = 0
Now that was a tough one.
I'm glad of it, to be honest. It would've been a shame to end the series with an A-B-C pool of predictable choices.
This build sees me abandon the highly playable Green, a path I've taken a number of times before. When I started building, I only had one absolute: I was playing White.
I tried the Green, and I liked it. But on reflection, the guys seemed a little work-a-day for my tastes, and the splash was hard to finalize. Blue and Red seemed weaker than Green, so they stayed on the sidelines. Black, however, provided a few options. Most noticeably, flying creatures and removal. So after a little heart-searching, W/B/r it was.
Am I right, do you think?
I'm not sure I am. Even now, I see problems in my build. And I've only just finished assembling it.
Other than brown paper packages tied up with strings, here are a few of my favorite things:
- There is a lot of synergy between the good spells in this deck. We have a lot of spirits for the soulshift chain, the Hikari and the Devouring Greed. The Kami of Fire's Roar is also particularly potent. Sadly, there's not much splice-action for our friend Glacial Ray, but he's a moaning swine so he can shut his filthy cake-hole.
- We have flyers. Hundreds of flyers. Thousands of flyers.
- And we have combat tricks! Double Moth is splendid, especially when protecting our 4/1 flying Lunatics.
Sadly, there are also bad things by the dozen:
- We have double Black spells, and double White spells. Thankfully, there are no double Red spells, but there's a definite mana-hotspot nonetheless.
- The deck needs to reliably hit six mana by turn 6. While we have decent early guys, the real work doesn't begin until turn 4.
- The pool is lacking on removal in general. One Glacial Ray and one Rend Spirit... it's hardly the fastest deck in the World.
I should be playing Green, shouldn't I?
Ah well, too late now. I've handed in my decklist.
If I played this pool at a PTQ, I think it would do pretty well. Even though the removal is weak, and the guys are a little slow, it's hard to argue with nine flyers and an impressive soulshift chain. I'd hope to make top eight with these cards, but if I didn't I wouldn't be too surprised.
So that's the end. No more Sealed Revealed from me.
It's been... emotional.
I will return later this week with a final wrap-up article, analyzing the series as a whole and expanding on the archetypes and lessons I have faced. I'll try and throw a few jokes in there too, for the groundlings.
But after the trials and tribulations, the experiment is over.
No more card-lists.
No more deckbuilding.
No more forum debate, save the mauling I'll receive for not playing Green in this pool.
I began with a definite mission: to improve my Limited game. To grab Kamigawa firmly by the Trossocks, and shake the foundations.
I feel I've succeeded. Albeit in a, well, limited sense. I hope my game has improved. My reasoning certainly has. And I hope that you took something from the articles too.
I'll be attending a PTQ on the seventh of November. I'll be sure to write a comprehensive report, hopefully highlighting how my game has progressed through writing Sealed Revealed.
Wish me luck. Though hopefully, I won't need it.
See you at the Pro Tour.
Until the next block...
Thanks for listening.
Scouseboy on MTGO