A noob’s guide to Sealed Deck

Hey G33ks,

So, the Amonkhet pre-release is coming this weekend!
I’ll be attending at a 2HG (Two-Headed Giant) event in Delft on April the 23rd with my girlfriend as my partner.
However, she is a novice when it comes to Deck building, so I decided to share my tips with you guys as well!

Please keep in mind that this is just a guideline and that this guide is mainly aimed at trying to compete.
You will see what I mean with Trying to compete in a moment.
if you are an experience Magic: The Gathering, please leave some feedback in the comments below!
So, without any further ado, let’s dive into it!

Main Deck properties

First of all, some important stuff.
I know how tempting it is to go with a 60-card deck, but seriously, don’t.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have 4 copies of all your important cards, then please don’t.
I’ve made this mistake on my first sealed-deck tournament, which (together with my partner not knowing how to build a deck either, since it was his first time as well) made it that my partner and I lost all games (My partner and me were just teamed together from a small pool of loners).

The basic guidelines, that are recommended by most players I’ve met, are:

  • Decksize: 40
  • Non-land: 22-23
  • Land: 17-18

If you use those general guidelines, your chance of winning are marginally increased as you are more likely to pull the card you need, or can at least use.

Build your deck

Before you start building your deck, it is a good time to sort your card pool.
I generally do this by colour, as it will be easier in the next step of building your deck.

Now here is what I meant by trying to compete:
It will be very tempting to just slap all your nice rares together in a deck, and put some filler cards in there, but this is generally not the way to go.
On my first tournament, I wanted to play an Red-Blue deck (a.k.a Izzet) because my partner drew a Saheeli Rai.
Now, this was the first big mistake I’ve made.
It’s fun to show off that shiny card in play, but I never drew it, and I didn’t have any combos with it either.
If you want to at least try to compete, don’t look at what stand-alone cards you have that are nice, but look for combos, bombs, and have some removal, but I will come back to that in a moment.

The main priority I use is as follows:

  • Removal
  • Bombs
  • Evasion
  • Aggro
  • Dirt

This is basically the Bread strategy most players use in Draft, however, in sealed deck, I think having removals is slightly more important than having bombs.

Once you’ve sorted your pool, look at what colours have the most removal.
This was the second mistake that I made.
I played Izzet, while my Dimir (Black-Blue) or Rakdos (Red-Black) would have been way stronger.
This became very clear in the first match, wherein the 4th or 5th turn, we were defeated by a 36/36 Electrostatic Pummeler with Trample.
I will come back to the Electrostatic Pummeler in a moment!
When I looked into my deck later, I realised my big mistake: I didn’t have a lot of removals.
This meant that I had nothing to deal with the bombs of my opponents.
This meant that basically, we were just sitting ducks.
So, instead of playing that sick planeswalker, just look for other possible colour combinations and strategies first.


Now that we’ve talked about removal, let’s look into bombs.
Bombs are basically cards that if not dealt with by your opponents, can win you a game no problem.
The Electrostatic Pummeler I just mentioned is a good example of this.
Because we couldn’t deal with it, it went off and lost us the game.
This is why removal is slightly as important as having your own bombs.
Please keep in mind that while bombs are amazing, do not rely on a single bomb.
If you, for example, put an Electrostatic Pummeler in your deck, then basically fill up your deck with other stuff, then what would happen if you didn’t draw that Electrostatic Pummeler?
Bombs can’t win you the game on their own.
They need support to do so.
How are you planning on buffing up that Electrostatic Pummeler if you don’t have any energy to do so?

This is why I recommend having multiple bombs in your deck and fill it up with cards that make you able to let those bombs go off.
Again, do not just slap a deck together completely out of bombs, but add about 4 bombs to win you the game, and the rest of the cards to help you get off that bomb.


Next up, we have evasion.
Evasion is things that make it hard for your opponent to kill your creature, or to block your damage.
Evasion includes abilities like Flying, Trample, Hexproof, Indestructible etc.
Remember that Electrostatic Pummeler?
It had Trample.
Even if we managed to block it, 35 damage would still go through.
It wasn’t the 36/36 that formed the big thread, it was the fact that it was 36/36 with Trample that was the problem.
If you can give a creature, a bomb, in particular, something like Hexproof, Indestructible or something else that would make it difficult to block or destroy a creature then do it.
However, Removal and bombs are more important, but a bomb, with evasion, is nearly always better than a bomb with no evasion!


Next up, Aggro.
Aggro is mainly “filler” cards.
These cards are generally used to fill up holes in your mana curve.
Think of them more as soldiers rather than your Generals.
I can’t really explain a lot more about these because they are just… well… fillers.


Last and least, Dirt.
As the name implies, these are cards that you should never ever use.
For example, the new Violent Impact, is just horrible.
Even if you play Red, it’s a horrible card.
It costs 4 mana to destroy a Land or Artifact.
Now while this can be nice, it’s just too expensive.
The cycling also doesn’t really help.
Also never include a card just because it has stuff like cycling.
If the card doesn’t have other valuable effects for a nice mana cost, then just don’t use it.

And with that said, you should now be able to build a better deck than I did on my first sealed deck tournament.
I hope I will be able to play against you someday on a prerelease or other event!
To all experienced MTG players: if you have any feedback, feel free to leave them down in the comments!
But for now…

G33k Out!

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