12/8/2009 SF: "Sealed for Full Flavor"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Serious Fun, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.

Pro:  It's like starting over, every time!
Con:  It's like starting over, every time!
The following are not formats: Two-Headed Giant, Free-for-All multiplayer, and even Planar Magic.

They're variants.
Please, please, please, find a new 'Serious Fun' writer.  This guy lacks any entertainment in his writing, and doesn't really give us any food for thought.  Also...really?  A sealed league is the most interesting thing you came up with?  Someone needs to get TheFerret back.  Even if all he did was focus on multiplayer, it was fun to read and think about.  Isn't that the point?
Decent article.  Hey maybe they should have sealed leagues on MTGO!

Maybe a longer explanation of how to build differently for Emperor rather than regular sealed play.

Also it would be nice if the editors would catch things like "Bladetusk Board" and Murasa Pyromancer actually being red, not black.  Editors on this site continue to be sloppy, with many mistakes in articles as well as dates and times of MTGO events.
When I started a club back in the mid 90's we ran a sealed deck league with Revised cards.  Back then everyone still played for ante.  Games were free for all - anybody could play anyone at anytime but only during a club night.  The only requirement was that someone witnessed and recorded the starting card pool for each player.  Each player would keep a record of each game they played (including what was won/lost) and then update their master card list. 

At the end of one month the player with the most cards (thereby winning the most games) won a prize.  A sealed league is still an amazing way to play magic with a group of people while having fun on a limited budget. 

Now only if people would relax a bit and play for ante again...
I have no sense of smell, so THANKS.

And a previous poster pointed this out as well, but in the sealed pool you have a card called 'Bladetusk Board'.
When I started a club back in the mid 90's we ran a sealed deck league with Revised cards.  Back then everyone still played for ante.  Games were free for all - anybody could play anyone at anytime but only during a club night.  The only requirement was that someone witnessed and recorded the starting card pool for each player.  Each player would keep a record of each game they played (including what was won/lost) and then update their master card list. 

At the end of one month the player with the most cards (thereby winning the most games) won a prize.  A sealed league is still an amazing way to play magic with a group of people while having fun on a limited budget. 

Now only if people would relax a bit and play for ante again...

I once played in a sealed ante league, and Hell did I hate it. Playing for ante in Sealed only makes the guy who was lucky enough to open the most broken pool getting even more cards for his deck, until the point he's got a constructed-like deck and he's practically unbeatable. I only opened so-so pools, and I always managed to lose the only cards that made it OK.

There was of course the adding of a new booster each week, but the guys who opened broken pools also had it, so it didn't make it more fair. A way to mitigate that unfairness would be to only allow new boosters to those who lost a certain number of cards in the ante, but even then, I just can't come to like this variant. It just seems to push the already annoying luck factor of Sealed on several levels, and over an extended time period to boot. Yuck.
Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A
Please, please, please, find a new 'Serious Fun' writer.  This guy lacks any entertainment in his writing, and doesn't really give us any food for thought.  Also...really?  A sealed league is the most interesting thing you came up with?  Someone needs to get TheFerret back.  Even if all he did was focus on multiplayer, it was fun to read and think about.  Isn't that the point?

I'll mostly agree.  I'd be happy to read about multiplayer all day (it's the main format I play), and he made a real effort to analyze it.  I'd rather see a small number of formats analyzed in depth, than a large number simply tossed out and introduced, then moving on to the next one.  Solving puzzles according to rules... does that make me a Melvin/Spike casual player?
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These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...
One smell that virtually every Magic player knows is the smell of a freshly cracked pack—that unique blend of paper, ink, and coating carrying a distinguished scent that seems to have stayed consistent through the years. It's a sweet and spicy scent that evokes feelings of both comforting familiarity and excitement of the unknown. Each pack is a unique bundle all its own.



i hear this "love the new pack smell" thing a lot. i love opening packs (a lot) but maybe i haven't played long enough or something because i think it's pretty unpleasant. smells like industrial chemicals. i love the smell of both an old and a used book, so it's not like i have anything against non-food product-related smells.




Your opinion is definitely fair.  I guess one person could get a better pool of cards than anyone else.  That can happen in any limited format.  As the league ran for a month and our club met once a week it wasn't too much of a problem (4 or 5 nights worth of time).  We also allowed limited trading with the lowest place players to help things a bit. 

I would think with today's sets a truly broken deck would be less likely than what we had to work with in revised.  Whoa to the person who cracked two "laces" as their ultrapowerful rares.  The important part was everyone had fun (or so it seemed).  Even if the weaker decks were losing cards due to ante... I guess it was the "novelty" factor everyone still had with Magic in general in those early days.

Perhaps it was the thrill of ante in general for me.  I don't mind gambling to a limited degree.  Players with better cards in their deck had more to lose than a player with 5 plague rats.

I am sure most of us could come up with some solutions to the problems you stated for limited ante league play.
Whoa to the person who cracked two "laces" as their ultrapowerful rares. 



whoa to the person who cracked black lotus. woe to the person who cracked purelace.
For sure - but not in revised...!  Unlimited definitely.
Today's Serious Fun was written in the style of MaRo.  (It contains lots of parenthetical statements.)

I like Adam's Serious Fun articles.  I'm looking forward to hearing more about his league results.

Given that you've said that deckbuilding is open on your league, would you object to a few thoughts on your various builds?

On a general note, from what experience I've had of Zendikar limited, 18 lands is typically fine, as there are so many good uses for lands in the format. I understand that in multiplayer you might have more opportunity to draw out of shaky starts, but this is a format that seems to welcome land on the top of your deck like no other.

For your red/black deck, I would suggest that the mana base looks a little wonky. While you definitely have more red cards than black ones, I would strongly suggest running more Swamps in your deck. Most of your best black cards require double black at least (Specter, Hideous End, Marsh Casualties,  Crypt Ripper) while your red requirements are pretty slim (only Ruinblaster's kicker and Ruinous Minoutar being greedy on red mana. Additionally, Adventuring Gear feels more at home in this deck than Spidersilk Net. This is an aggressive deck, and while your team does have low toughness, it also has the ability to get stuck in quickly. Adventuring Gear can let you finish things off in decisive fashion. 

The blue/white deck intrigues me. As the deck designed to be played by an Emperor, I can see how cutting back on early creatures, and loading up on spells makes sense, but Adventuring Gear feels a little out of place to me. While you are doing a little more landfall with this deck, making the most of Roil Elemental, I think that you have better options. If you are looking to get into a very long game, where casting Day of Judgment and creatures with fat behinds happens, I feel like Quest for Ancient Secrets might be a fine choice, letting you reload in the late game. Alternatively, Cliff Threader's landwalking is likely to be very good in multiplayer as your chances of having a mountain to walk over go way up. If nothing else, I think that Roil Elemental's landfall is better supported by another land than by Adventuring Gear.

Your multiplayer deck concerns me a little. While I applaud your efforts to play all the colours across your 3 decks, I think that you might want to wait on a few more weeks and extra packs to start really making green work for you. The fatties that you profess to enjoy aren't really there yet, and the mana base on the deck seems set up to make what green cards you are running (Timbermaw Larva and Primal Bellow, I'm looking at you) a little sad.

Of course, all these comments are just suggestions - league play is fun, and part of that comes from getting a feel for what works best for you. From what play with Zendikar I've had though, those are my thoughts.

TW

I liked the Star Wars reference.
Fear Of The Dark, Fear Of The Dark, I Have A Constant Fear That Something's Always Near; Fear Of The Dark, Fear Of The Dark, I Have A Phobia That Someone's Always There- Iron Maiden Fear of the Dark shall be feared no longer! Let him be praised instead! (Many, many thanks for all your hard work!) - darkwarlock I am Red/Green
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Please, please, please, find a new 'Serious Fun' writer.  This guy lacks any entertainment in his writing, and doesn't really give us any food for thought.  Also...really?  A sealed league is the most interesting thing you came up with?  Someone needs to get TheFerret back.  Even if all he did was focus on multiplayer, it was fun to read and think about.  Isn't that the point?

I'll mostly agree.  I'd be happy to read about multiplayer all day (it's the main format I play), and he made a real effort to analyze it.  I'd rather see a small number of formats analyzed in depth, than a large number simply tossed out and introduced, then moving on to the next one.  Solving puzzles according to rules... does that make me a Melvin/Spike casual player?



I like the idea of a smaller pool of the more interesting formats given real analytical treatment instead of a large pool where the writer essentially promotes the newest set.  Serious Fun used to be a very interesting, entertaining metagame information pool.  It is now, essentially, promotion for the latest block, which I find aggravating.  We are Magic players, we are coming to the website, which most likely means...we are buying your product.  Get on with the fun, stop with the silly editorials that boil down to advertisements and promotions.
Pack cracking is for dealers and drafters. Singles pwn packs every time.
This is probably the first time I've ever heard anyone describe sealed deck as "like Pack Wars", but with more packs.  Weird.

If you really wanted to mix up your sealed deck experience, Type P (Perpetual Magic) seems like it would be right up this column's alley.  Player negotiations, constantly changing deck contents and sizes, and a rubber band effect to handicap stronger vs weaker decks.  It does involve ante, though.
mtoggweiler.tripod.com/P_Magic0509.pdf
Pack cracking is for dealers and drafters. Singles pwn packs every time.


"every" time?

So the time I bought a pack and got a Baneslayer... buying a Baneslayer as a single would "pwn" that, despite costing six to eight times as much?
(the pack in question was actually free, but that was just an example)

Besides, buying Singles then shuffling them out as randomised packs for Packwars would be a lot of hassle... (and no-where near as much of a suprise)

Now, I agree that if you want a particular card you are probably better off just buying it as a single rather than cracking packs hoping to find it - but that isnt what you said...

~ Tim
I am Blue/White Reached DCI Rating 1800 on 28/10/11. :D
Sig
56287226 wrote:
190106923 wrote:
Not bad. But what happens flavor wise when one kamahl kills the other one?
Zis iz a sign uf deep psychological troma, buried in zer subconscious mind. By keelink himzelf, Kamahl iz physically expressink hiz feelinks uf self-disgust ova hiz desire for hiz muzzer. [/GermanPsychologistVoice]
56957928 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
That makes no sense to me. If they spelled the ability out on the card in full then it would not be allowed in a mono-black Commander deck, but because they used a keyword to save space it is allowed? ~ Tim
Yup, just like you can have Birds of paradise in a mono green deck but not Noble Hierarch. YAY COLOR IDENTITY
56287226 wrote:
56888618 wrote:
Is algebra really that difficult?
Survey says yes.
56883218 wrote:
57799958 wrote:
You want to make a milky drink. You squeeze a cow.
I love this description. Like the cows are sponges filled with milk. I can see it all Nick Parks claymation-style with the cow's eyes bugging out momentarily as a giant farmer squeezes it like a squeaky dog toy, and milk shoots out of it.
56287226 wrote:
56735468 wrote:
And no judge will ever give you a game loss for playing snow covered lands.
I now have a new goal in life. ;)
Pack cracking is for dealers and drafters. Singles pwn packs every time.



good call, dude. everyone is the same and your experiences and preferences are the only ones that matter.
The only limited format I've played is sealed at prerelease and release events.  I like it because it reminds me of playing in the 90's when we didn't have access to all the cards or the money to buy them.

Yesterday when I was home from work sick, I spent the afternoon playing around with sealed pools of Zendikar.  I had bought and opened a lot of packs when it was released, but since I hadn't built any decks or sorted the cards into binders, all the cards were still in the original booster order.  I went with six packs per pool, which is what they did at all the release events I've been to. 

It was a lot of fun to build decks from each pool and play them against each other.  Now I want to do the same thing with my M10 and Alara cards, but I need a way to get them into booster pack order.  I've noticed the print runs are more random lately.  It looks like each pack contains 5 commons from two different print runs, and 3 uncommons from one of several runs.  The effect is that you don't get two of the same card in a single pack, and you get a pretty even distribution of colors within each rarity, though it's possible for your one rare, one (or two?) of your uncommons, and two or more of your commons to be of the same color in a single pack.  Similarly you could be entirely missing a color among the rare and uncommons of a pack, and have that color underrepresented in the commons.

So I was thinking a way to make "booster packs" out of my collection of cards.  Separate cards by rarity and, for commons, color (or Shard for Alara), and remove any that are overrepresented (I have four Ajani V's but they're not all going into the rare pile).  Break the uncommon set and each color of the common  set into subsets with at most one of each card in each.  Then randomize each pile.

To make a pack, pull a rare from the rare pile and three uncommons the same pile of uncommons, so you don't get two of the same uncommon in a pack.  Then pull two commons from the same pile for each of the five colors.  Colorless artifacts and nonbasic lands will need to be mixed evenly into the colored piles, randomly but so that there isn't more than one of a single card in any one pile.  It's possible to draw the same artifact from two different colored piles, so you might want to scan each draw of 10 commons to make sure there aren't any duplicates. 

Or you can pre-assign each colorless card an appropriate color so it only goes into piles of a single color.  This is easy with the Zendikar nonbasics, as well as the tri-lands and panoramas from Alara.  Colorless artifacts could just be assigned arbitrarily or by flavor.  They're just commons, so it doesn't really matter as long as you don't get duplicates in a single booster.

I haven't tried it yet, but I think once I get the cards separated making boosters should go pretty fast.  Then I can have my friends over to play limited for free!
Can't believe he put Murasa Pyromaner under black in his draft pool.
So I was thinking a way to make "booster packs" out of my collection of cards.  etc



perhaps you're not familiar with the concept of the cube, but the basic idea is you assemble a collection of cards for the purpose of making packs out of them and playing limited with those packs, which seems to be what you're interested in doing.

what i've found to be most satisfying is separating the cards by color (artifacts, multicolored, and lands are each considered a "color"), shuffling them, and putting a balanced amount of each group into each pack randomly. your preferences will determine the balance (usually i do 2 of each color, 1 artifact, 2 land, and 2 multicolored).

you have the added wrinkle of rarity, which i think is unnecessary for quality of play, but if you're only using cards from certain sets and want a specific power level it might be a good choice. the way i'd do that is probably 1 of each color in the commons, then 5 from a pile of shuffled randomized commons, and rares and uncommons each from a pile of balanced but shuffled cards of the appropriate rarity. i understand that's kind of confusing but it's how i'd do it to start. if you're worried about color balance you could make sure there is a balance of colors among the total amount of cards being used in the event and then randomize for each pack (but you'd know the whole draft would have enough of each color).

there is plenty of info about making packs from an artificial limited cardpool on various cube sites and forums as well.
@ everyone that pointed out Bladetusk Board: Typos exist, it isn't a big deal.

@Adam
Nice article. Wish I could come join the sealed league!
I am in this league. Yay!!!!
Cool idea for an article.  I tend to think of sealed purely in terms of tournies (the very first tourney I ever played in was an Ice Age sealed at a friend's house, long, long ago).  Playing multiplayer or emperor games does force you to think differently about the cards in the pool, which is ... maybe not tremendously useful, but I could see how it could be fun.  Will have to try it some time. 

- Patch
Decent article.  Hey maybe they should have sealed leagues on MTGO!

Ooh, the pain...