Back for Seconds: Gatecrash Pre-release day 2

This last weekend I went to a total of 3 pre-releases: a 48 person event on Saturday for 2500 yen, a 18 person event on Sunday for 2000 yen, and another 8 person event on Sunday for 2000 yen. I ended up getting 24 packs for about 6500 yen (270 yen a pack!), plus collected all of the boxes so I’m pretty happy with that deal. If any of you follow the Magic Grand Prix schedule closely, you’d  know that there is a Grand Prix coming up in Yokohama on March 2nd and March 3rd. The format is first day Gatecrash Sealed/ 2nd day draft I’m planning on taking a bus up there with my friends to participate in the event.

At the pre-release this last weekend I chose 3 different guilds: Simic, Orzhov, and Dimir. I did this because I want to get a feel for various decks and learn how to build them effectively. During a Grand Prix those 6 packs will be totally random. If it’s anything like a PTQ, you’ll open 6 packs, put them in a bag with a checklist of those cards, then switch them with people around you and end up with somebody else’s cards. They do this to discourage cheating, which is totally understandable. This also means that you’ll have to be read to build ANY kind of deck. your colors might be in Orzhov, or Gruul, or whatever, and the more comfortable you are with drafting or playing sealed events the better your chances are of making day 2 (I’m hoping to better my win % last time and get at least 5 wins).

Let me share the Dimir and Orzhov decks I made on Sunday, January 28th, and explain my reasonings behind my choices and strategies.


My Orzhov deck

My Orzhov deck

Building a deck at the pre-release almost seemed to do itself. While some people got crap cards and used totally different colors than what they had first chose, I was lucky enough to get some decent cards and made a viable Orzhov deck that I went 2-1 with.

Orzhov Sealed deck

  • 2 Smite
  • 1 Dutiful Thrull
  • 1 Boros Reckoner
  • 1 Assault Griffin
  • 3 Kingpin’s Pet
  • 1 Holy Mantle
  • 1 Urbis Protector
  • 1 Luminate Primordial
  • 1 Grisly Spectacle
  • 1 Killing Glare
  • 1 Shadow Alley Denizen
  • 3 Syndicate Enforcer
  • 1 Basilica Guards
  • 1 Orzhov Charm
  • 1 Orzhov Keyrune
  • 1 Cartel Aristocrat
  • 1 Treasury Thrull
  • 1 Angelic Edict
  • 1 Beckon Apparition
  • 1 Orzhov Guildgate
  • 8 Plains
  • 7 Swamp

This was a very good deck. If we go by the numbers, there were 8 Extort Triggers,  15 creatures (17 possible), and 6 removal spells (7 if you count the Luminate Primordial’s enter the battlefield ability). I won against another Orzhov Player and somebody who was playing BUG, but lost to an incredibly fast Boros player who had me at a disadvantage because I mulliganed down to 5 cards one game. If the tournament had gone longer, I think I would have done very well with this deck. It had everything an Orzhov deck needs. I usually had removal, an extort trigger, and a few creatures in my opening hand.

While playing Orzhov, defense is the best offense. Set up big blockers to keep your opponent’s attackers from dealing any damage to you, then cast spell after spell with Extort triggers to slowly drain their life away. Life gain can be pretty power against an opponent, especially if their only win condition is with creatures. Naya decks have big enough creatures to counteract that life gain when they attack, and Dimir can just mill you to death, but many of the other decks were shut out against Orzhov.

The deck also had evasion in the form of the Kingpin’s Pet. I would often have 2 of them on the battlefield and would just fly over and hit my opponent for 2 or 4 while keeping everybody else on defense. Smite was also an amazing removal spell for Orzhov because it’s easy to cast which means you can pay the mana for extort triggers when you use it. The Luminate Primordial was also a great bomb. Playing him on a static field where nobody is doing anything totally breaks the game open. The life they gain is moot – you’ll take them down to zero soon enough.

Tips for Orzhov: If you’re going to play WB, make sure you have enough creatures, a decent amount of removal spells, at least a few extort triggers, and some evasion because flying creatures from Simic and Dimir can end you.


My Dimir deck

My Dimir deck

NOBODY wanted to use Dimir, but I was brave and wanted to see if mill in sealed format is viable, and after a 1-2 record you’d think I say no but I wholeheartedly say YES. In my first match I milled my opponent down to 1 card each game (and he was playing a very aggressive Naya deck), but I lost because I was one mana short and he Bloodrushed a guy to 10/10 and gave him double strike. In the second game my Esper opponent was shut down and couldn’t do anything either game. I either countered or destroyed any threats he put on the table. In my last match I fell to another Naya deck, but this time my nemesis was Mr. Mulligan, which took me down to 4 cards one time then mana screw me at 1 mana the next time. Even with 3 mana, I managed to do a heck of a lot against my opponent.

Dimir Sealed Deck 

  • 2 Cloudfin Raptor
  • 1 Death’s Approach
  • 1 Shadow Alley Denizen
  • 2 Spell Rupture
  • 1 Wight of Precinct Six
  • 1 Frilled Oculus
  • 1 Zameck Guildmage
  • 1 Paranoid Delusions
  • 3 Mortus Strider
  • 1 Undercity Informer
  • 1 Mind Grind
  • 1 Master Biomancer
  • 1 Consuming Aberration
  • 1 Bane Ally Broker
  • 2 Sage’s Row Denizen
  • 2 Keymaster Rogue
  • 1 Psychic Strike
  • 1 Grisly Spectacle
  • 1 Watery Grave
  • 1 Dimir Guildgate
  • 1 Simic Guildgate
  • 2 Forest
  • 6 Island
  • 5 Swamp

I got really lucky because this deck was amazingly efficient. Even with a splash of green for two Simic creatures, I had no problem playing my counter spells (3) or removal (2). You’d think that is a little low, but this deck puts cards in an opponent’s graveyard very quickly. Cloudfin Raptor and Keymaster Rogue were great targets for a ciphered Paranoid Delusions, which put 3 cards in their graveyard each attack phase, and with 3 Mortus Striders I could block all day without worrying about running out of creatures. Speaking of which, I had 17 of. You’d think control decks would be monster light, but in an aggressive sealed environment you need to have this many for blockers and what not.

I really lucked out with the Mortus Striders and Undercity Informer. This was an amazing combo to get out on turn 4. I could block with the Mortus Striders each turn and then sacrifice them to the Informer before they died to mill my opponent while their creature remained blocked. I won a few games that way. At one point I had 2 Sage’s Row Denizen, Undercity Informer, and 2 Mortus Striders in play which absolutely obliterated my opponent’s library. Splashing in the Zameck Guildmage was also a good idea because he allowed me to draw cards from any of my creatures with counters on them. These spells had amazing synergy with each other overall. My counter spells milled, my removal spells milled, my creatures milled, and Mind Grind was an absolute game ender late in the game.

 Tips for Dimir: If you’re not milling in a Dimir deck you’re doing it wrong. Whenever playing a Dimir deck you need to have a lot of ways to mill your opponent, and you need to do it quickly and consitently. It IS possible to race a fast opponent running aggro if you hit your land drops and get the cards you need. Removal is also important, so be careful playing one of these decks without access to a kill spell or something that counters spells. Creatures, as always, are very important and you’re going to need enough and at various spots on your mana curve so you can stop the onslaught from your opponent. Card draw is also important. If you can keep drawing cards you’ll be able to mill your opponent that much faster, especially with something like Consuming Aberration in play.

Wrap up

I think playing outside of your colors at a pre-release is a very good idea if you plan on drafting a lot during a set. Working with different strategies and learning how cards have synergy with one another will make you much more effective at splashing colors into a deck and leave you with less dead cards doing nothing in certain match ups. You’re not always going to get the colors you want, so having a few back up ideas for decks is a good idea. I’ve been reading up on Wizards of the Coast’s website about drafting and playing sealed, and if you’re interested in playing more sealed in the future, I totally recommend checking out the resources they have their.