Building the Duplicate Sealed Card Pool

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Allied Strategies The letter I! was excited when I heard the Invitational was going to use the Duplicate Sealed format again, as it was always one of the most interesting formats to puzzle through as a spectator. Sure, it wouldn't be the same on Magic Online because Mark Rosewater couldn't invent or tweak cards to throw the players for loops, but I figured he'd come up with something from the thousands of cards available online.

As excited as I was by the return of the format, I was even more excited when I heard Mark explaining to someone on the phone that he probably wouldn't have time to make the card pool seeing as he is constantly on three design teams at once. Armed with this bit of eavesdropped knowledge, I was determined to create my own card pool and wow Mark with my ambition. As you can see, it worked.

My main goal was to find a very strong theme and bury the players under it. It didn't take me long to come up with card drawing—we've made tons of cards that draw other cards, and card advantage is a part of the game that pros just love. Initially I wanted every card in the pool to draw another card—everyone would have a full hand in this environment and cards would have to be weighed on their own merit as opposed to the ability to get two-for-ones—but I quickly realized that red and white would be hopelessly outclassed by blue, green, and black under those circumstances.

From there I took a page from the popular "Owling Mine" decks and gave red several powerful cards that punished opponents for having full hands. Underworld Dreams soon followed, as did the Black Vise-inspired Ebony Owl Netsuke and Misers' Cage. White's power was provided from a variety of sources, the most notable of which are the paragons of cycling cards—Akroma's Vengeance and Decree of Justice.

Suddenly the format had some real tension to it. If you want to draw cards, have a field day. You also have the tools to punish your opponents for drawing cards, which they most likely will do. But if you are afraid of such retaliatory measures yourself, there are several ways to build your deck to minimize your own card drawing. But then what happens when you run into another play that isn't very interested in drawing cards? How good are your hosers then? Even worse, what happens when you hit someone that wants to draw just a few more cards than you?

A couple exciting playtests in R&D helped get the colors evened out and shore up a few important subthemes. Now every card says "draw" or "hand" on it somewhere. There are Maros galore—a tip of the hat to the format's creator—and one very important Invitational winner's card—Solemn Simulacrum—mixed in with all the cantrips and cycling cards you could ever want. The final pool is 105 cards—a bit bigger than most other duplicate sealed pools, but I wanted to give players the opportunity to play two colors if they wanted because the mana fixing is a bit sparse.

What will go 3-0? I'd like to say I have an idea, but our testing showed so many different ways to build that I couldn't realistically say. It should be an exciting ride!

Duplicate Sealed Pool

White

NAME

COST

SET

Akroma's Vengeance

4 Mana White Mana White Mana

ONS

Aura Blast

1 Mana White Mana

PS

Benalish Heralds

3 Mana White Mana

IN

Decree of Justice

X Mana X Mana 2 Mana White Mana White Mana

SCG

Gempalm Avenger

5 Mana White Mana

LEG

Gerrard Capashen

3 Mana White Mana White Mana

AP

Gilded Light

1 Mana White Mana

SCG

Hobble

2 Mana White Mana

PS

Kitsune Loreweaver

1 Mana White Mana

SOK

Kiyomaro, First to Stand

3 Mana White Mana White Mana

SOK

Oblation

2 Mana White Mana

ONS

Renewed Faith

2 Mana White Mana

ONS

Second Thoughts

4 Mana White Mana

ODY

Shelter

1 Mana White Mana

ODY

Sunscape Battlemage

2 Mana White Mana

PS

Unquestioned Authority

2 Mana White Mana

JUD

Surprising Superstar: Gilded Light. You need to defend against devastating Sudden Impacts and Spiraling Embers and this is one of a few ways to do it.

Last Card In: Hobble. The fact that it wasn't in the first draft was an oversight.

Last Card Out: Cowed by Wisdom. Hobble fits the theme much better.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Abeyance. White doesn't have a ton of exciting cantrips historically, but this is one of the best.

Blue

NAME

COST

SET

Allied Strategies

4 Mana Blue Mana

PS

Arcanis the Omnipotent

3 Mana Blue Mana Blue Mana Blue Mana

ONS

Aven Fisher

3 Mana Blue Mana

9ED

Bringer of the Blue Dawn

7 Mana Blue Mana Blue Mana

5DN

Cephalid Scout

1 Mana Blue Mana

ODY

Compulsive Research

2 Mana Blue Mana

RAV

Confound

1 Mana Blue Mana

PS

Ninja of the Deep Hours

3 Mana Blue Mana

BOK

Plagiarize

3 Mana Blue Mana

9ED

Remand

1 Mana Blue Mana

RAV

Repeal

X Mana Blue Mana

GPT

Repulse

2 Mana Blue Mana

IN

Riptide Survivor

2 Mana Blue Mana

SCG

Sire of the Storm

4 Mana Blue Mana Blue Mana

CHK

Thieving Magpie

2 Mana Blue Mana Blue Mana

9ED

Words of Wisdom

1 Mana Blue Mana

ODY

Surprising Superstar: Cephalid Scout. Anything in blue that you can get out of your hand quickly is useful.

Last Card In: Words of Wisdom.

Last Card Out: Merfolk Seer. Rarely was his ability being used. Kinda lame.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Psychic Possession. What a backbreaker that would be!

Black

NAME

COST

SET

Annihilate

3 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

IN

Bone Harvest

2 Mana Black Mana

MI

Death Pulse

2 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

ONS

Graveborn Muse

2 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

LEG

Mindslicer

2 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

9ED

Night's Whisper

1 Mana Black Mana

5DN

One with Nothing

Black Mana

SOK

Phyrexian Arena

1 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

9ED

Phyrexian Gargantua

4 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

9ED

Phyrexian Rager

2 Mana Black Mana

AP

Promise of Power

2 Mana Black Mana Black Mana Black Mana

MRD

Ribbons of Night

4 Mana Black Mana

RAV

Seizan, Perverter of Truth

3 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

CHK

Soul Rend

1 Mana Black Mana

MI

Undead Gladiator

1 Mana Black Mana Black Mana

ONS

Underworld Dreams

Black Mana Black Mana Black Mana

9ED

Surprising Superstar: Underworld Dreams. I think it's actually good here.

Last Card In: Mindslicer. A real curveball. It can undo a lot of hard work.

Last Card Out: Cremate. Didn't do anything.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Chains of Mephistopheles. Would probably dominate the format.

Red

NAME

COST

SET

Adamaro, First to Desire

1 Mana Red Mana Red Mana

SOK

Browbeat

2 Mana Red Mana

JUD

Dragon Mage

5 Mana Red Mana Red Mana

SCG

Ember Shot

6 Mana Red Mana

JUD

Gaze of Adamaro

2 Mana Red Mana Red Mana

SOK

Implode

4 Mana Red Mana

PS

Macetail Hystrodon

6 Mana Red Mana

LEG

Obstinate Familiar

Red Mana

ODY

Smash

2 Mana Red Mana

RAV

Sokenzan Spellblade

4 Mana Red Mana

SOK

Solfatara

2 Mana Red Mana

VI

Spiraling Embers

3 Mana Red Mana

SOK

Starstorm

X Mana Red Mana Red Mana

ONS

Stun

1 Mana Red Mana

IN

Sudden Impact

3 Mana Red Mana

9ED

Zap

2 Mana Red Mana

IN

Surprising Superstar: Obstinate Familiar. I bet you think I'm kidding.

Last Card In: Solfatara. I felt bad that there were no Visions cards in the pool. It's probably quite good, too, if you cast it on turn three on the play.

Last Card Out: Mindmoil. Even though it's a pet card of the pros, I doubt they'd fit it into their decks.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Wheel of Fortune. The essence of this card pool distilled.

Green

NAME

COST

SET

Aggressive Urge

1 Mana Green Mana

IN

Carven Caryatid

1 Mana Green Mana Green Mana

RAV

Claws of Wirewood

3 Mana Green Mana

SCG

Dosan's Oldest Chant

4 Mana Green Mana

SOK

Haru-Onna

3 Mana Green Mana

SOK

Hystrodon

4 Mana Green Mana

ONS

Kavu Climber

3 Mana Green Mana Green Mana

9ED

Krosan Tusker

5 Mana Green Mana Green Mana

ONS

Maro

2 Mana Green Mana Green Mana

9ED

Nantuko Cultivator

3 Mana Green Mana

TOR

Primordial Sage

4 Mana Green Mana Green Mana

RAV

Rending Vines

1 Mana Green Mana Green Mana

SOK

Wall of Mulch

1 Mana Green Mana

ONS

Wildsize

2 Mana Green Mana

GPT

Wirewood Savage

2 Mana Green Mana

ONS

Words of Wilding

2 Mana Green Mana

ONS

Surprising Superstar: Words of Wilding. Lets you "cast" all those extra cards as 2/2's for 1.

Last Card In: Wirewood Savage. If you look closely, you might find a Beast or three in there.

Last Card Out: Rowen. It was completely outclassed by all the other card advantage.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Sylvan Library. I know this card is coded, but it hasn't been given out as a promo yet. So it is out-of-bounds.

Multicolored

NAME

COST

SET

Cerebral Vortex

1 Mana Blue Mana Red Mana

GPT

Dimir Cutpurse

1 Mana Black Mana Blue Mana

RAV

Dimir Guildmage

Blue or Black Mana Blue or Black Mana

RAV

Fungal Shambler

4 Mana Green Mana Blue Mana Black Mana

AP

Glint-Eye Nephilim

Blue Mana Black Mana Red Mana Green Mana

GPT

Grave-Shell Scarab

2 Mana Black Mana Green Mana Green Mana

RAV

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

2 Mana Blue Mana Blue Mana Red Mana Red Mana

GPT

Phyrexian Tyranny

Black Mana Blue Mana Red Mana

PS

Riptide Crab

1 Mana White Mana Blue Mana

IN

Surprising Superstar: Cerebral Vortex. Can kill you from out of nowhere.

Last Card In: Dimir Cutpurse. It was almost Shadowmage Infiltrator, but the tension of making your opponent discard was interesting.

Last Card Out: Malignant Growth. Cute, but would never get played.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Xira Arien. Not a lot of choices. All the good gold cards are already online.

Artifact/Land/Split

NAME

COST

SET

Chromatic Sphere

1 Mana

MRD

Ebony Owl Netsuke

2 Mana

SOK

Etched Oracle

4 Mana

5DN

Howling Mine

2 Mana

9ED

Misers' Cage

3 Mana

MI

Solemn Simulacrum

4 Mana

MRD

Spellbook

0 Mana

9ED

Staff of Domination

3 Mana

5DN

Teferi's Puzzle Box

4 Mana

9ED

Terrarion

1 Mana

RAV

Barren Moor

-

ONS

Forgotten Cave

-

ONS

Lonely Sandbar

-

ONS

Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

-

SOK

Secluded Steppe

-

ONS

Tranquil Thicket

-

ONS

Surprising Superstar: I'd say Ebony Owl Netsuke, but that wouldn't surprise anyone. So I'll say Terrarion/Chromatic Sphere. They keep your hand manageable, and can be cashed in for mana and cards later as necessary.

Last Card In: Spellbook. Maybe someone will think this is a good idea.

Last Card Out: All the artifacts and lands I started with are still there, so I'll say Fire/Ice. It was the only split card, but it gave Red/Blue too much flexible power on top of the obvious "Owl" synergies.

Card I'd Put In If I Could: Cursed Scroll, just to taunt people.

Download this cardpool as a Magic Online .dec file here and try building a 40-card deck yourself!

Thanks to my super-gamer coworkers for taking time out of their more-important-game-stuff to help me balance and playtest this crazy pile: Frank Gilson, Mark Gottlieb, Paul Sottosanti, Mike Turian, Mons Johnson, Michael "Elf" Feuell, and Alan "One with Nothing" Comer.

Duplicate Sealed Card Pool
2006 Magic Invitational

Main Deck

105 cards

Barren Moor
Forgotten Cave
Lonely Sandbar
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Secluded Steppe
Tranquil Thicket

6 lands

Adamaro, First to Desire
Arcanis the Omnipotent
Aven Fisher
Benalish Heralds
Bringer of the Blue Dawn
Carven Caryatid
Cephalid Scout
Dimir Cutpurse
Dimir Guildmage
Dragon Mage
Etched Oracle
Fungal Shambler
Gempalm Avenger
Glint-Eye Nephilim
Graveborn Muse
Grave-Shell Scarab
Haru-Onna
Hystrodon
Kavu Climber
Kitsune Loreweaver
Kiyomaro, First to Stand
Krosan Tusker
Macetail Hystrodon
Maro
Mindslicer
Nantuko Cultivator
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Obstinate Familiar
Phyrexian Gargantua
Phyrexian Rager
Primordial Sage
Riptide Crab
Riptide Survivor
Seizan, Perverter of Truth
Sire of the Storm
Sokenzan Spellblade
Solemn Simulacrum
Sunscape Battlemage
Thieving Magpie
Undead Gladiator
Wall of Mulch
Wirewood Savage

43 creatures

Aggressive Urge
Akroma's Vengeance
Allied Strategies
Annihilate
Aura Blast
Bone Harvest
Browbeat
Cerebral Vortex
Chromatic Sphere
Claws of Wirewood
Compulsive Research
Confound
Death Pulse
Decree of Justice
Dosan's Oldest Chant
Ebony Owl Netsuke
Ember Shot
Gaze of Adamaro
Gerrard Capashen
Gilded Light
Hobble
Howling Mine
Implode
Misers' Cage
Night's Whisper
Oblation
One with Nothing
Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian Tyranny
Plagiarize
Promise of Power
Remand
Rending Vines
Renewed Faith
Repeal
Repulse
Ribbons of Night
Second Thoughts
Shelter
Smash
Solfatara
Soul Rend
Spellbook
Spiraling Embers
Staff of Domination
Starstorm
Stun
Sudden Impact
Teferi's Puzzle Box
Terrarion
Underworld Dreams
Unquestioned Authority
Wildsize
Words of Wilding
Words of Wisdom
Zap

56 other spells


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