invasion sealed tourney (in depth analysis of construction)

Beyond Dominia: The Limited Magic Mill: invasion sealed tourney (in depth analysis of construction)

By JoeTzu on Thursday, November 30, 2000 - 07:08 am:

I warn you that this is a long report about my building a sealed deck for a tournament, a lot longer than I planned when I started writing. If you just want to see what I played scan down a ways for the cards and then to almost the very bottom for the decklist I used.

Along with many other college students across the land, I went home for Thanksgiving. A good time was had by all I'm sure. I used a small portion of my vacation to attend my hometown (Redlands, CA) store's weekly tournament. I was hoping for type 1 but it was sealed this week. I'm going to talk a little about the tournament. Mostly, I will just discuss my card choices and invite anyone to counter with their own opinions. I should note that this is my first limited play since the summer, and the first time I have seen in person the Invasion set. My knowledge consisted entirely of looking at the set on the encyclopedia and trying to fit it into my type one decks.

here is what I opened
6 each basic
2 geothermal crevice
1 shivan oasis
1 sulfer vent

creatures-ardent soldier, obsidian acolyte, 2x prison barricade(1 foil), rampart elephant, razorfoot griffin, sunscape apprentice
other-holy day, orim's touch, samite ministration, protective sphere, shackles

creatures-blind seer, dream thrush, metathran zombie, shoreline raider, stormscape apprentice, tidal visionary, tower drake, vodalian hypnotist
other-barrin's unmaking, fact or fiction, opt, prohibit, probe, traveler's cloak

creatures-bog initiate, ravenous rats, urborg skeleton
other-defiling tears, cursed flesh, tainted well, hypnotic cloud, recover, soul burn

creatures-kavu aggressor, kavu scout, pouncing kavu, rogue kavu, 2x shivan emissary, thunderscape master
other-chaotic strike, scorching lava, obliterate, savage offensive, searing rays, tribal flames

creatures-llanowar cavalry, llanowar vanguard, pincer spider, quirion sentinel, quirion trailblazer, serpentine kavu, thornscape apprentice, verdoloth the ancient
other-vigorous charge, whip silk, canopy surge, tranquility

creatures-llanowar knight, shivan zombie, vicious kavu
other-sterling grove, coalition victory, frenzied tilling, 2x plague spores

creatures-crosis's attendant, dromar's attendant, treva's attendant
other-power armor

It benefits you to at least think about what you would have done with this before you read about what I did.

The first thing I did was seperate the colors into piles. Even though I had read about it, I couldn't believe how much gold there was. The other thing was the lack of black cards. I was worried about the time limit since I had to read every card more than once because I kept putting it in a pile and then was unable to recognize the picture.
I checked for mana manipulation to see if I could play a lot of colors. I had several one use sources, and three consistent ones- the dual land, the guy that fetches a land out of your deck, and the dream thrush. Some neat five color deck was definitely out. I could pull off three without trouble I figured. Especially since this format was supposedly slow.
Next I checked for evasion creatures as I usually try to fit as many as I can into limited decks. Yikes! I only had three. After playing with this set more I will know if that is normal or unlucky, but for now I saw it as being bad. At least all three of them look pretty useful.
I realized that I had three ways to tap creatures with the apprentices and shackles so I looked into abusing that first. The white and blue creatures didn't look like they were going to frighten anybody although green had some major power with verdoloth and the serpentine kavu. As a side note, I looked at every creature as if I would be paying the kicker as part of the main casting cost. I could cast them cheap if need be but I wasn't planning on it.
W/B/G seemed weak even though I could bring in the attendants and power armor. I remembered reading about the MBC blastoderm deck. I rarely faced it in tourneys which ticked me off because I designed my deck to beat it and rebel green. Anyway, some article had mentioned how every card in the deck could either deal damage or remove something in the way. There wasn't any disruption or enhancement. That sounded like an even better strategy in sealed where a lot of decks would be filled with things to waste time on until they got their threats out.
I decided that I wasn't going to waste any time. My deck was going to come after you with everything in it. I started focusing on the colors with damage dealers and pushed white blue and black away.
Glancing at my now much smaller card pool I noticed an exciting trend. REMOVAL! I should have noticed right away. I think if I had played more recently or with these cards I would have seen it sooner. It is almost inevitable to gravitate towards the red black removal I had. It was the shivan emissary that clued me in. Then the plague spores. Wow. I also had several minor burn spells and soul burn. I quickly moved the black back into the good section of my area.
And almost through it right back out again. Two 1/1's and a 1/2. At this point I saw the bog initiate/soul burn synergy. I didn't count the initiate in my assessment of mana manipulation because I didn't have a black spell in my deck that required two black to play. Still, he didn't fit into my no dinking around strategy.
Time to get back on track with removal. I figured out that I had four sure kills of non-black creatures and three minor burns, including the soul burn, to kill off anything I chose or my opponent. Then I had two more black spells that gave /-1 so I could really wipe out a lot of stuff.
At this point I am definitely playing black/red but the creatures are weak. My offense would consist of four 3/3 guys, one of whom had first strike. I didn't count the vicious kavu because he could get killed too easily. Not good enough. I needed to add the green for two more big boys. So my colors were decided.
Okay still with me. This has turned out to be a lot more detailed than I was planning. Onward.
I always play as few cards as I can manage. In this case I wanted to go 18 land and 22 others. Normally I would go with less land but I though might end up sacrificing my lands for the boost early on. Also, I had realized that I might have some powerful stuff but none of it was cheap.
Now I had to trim out the crap and hopefully be left with a deck of overwhelming domination, which is always my goal. Any non creature cards that did not remove a creature from my path were cut. Black got cut to the ground at this point, which I decided was okay since it would have to be the minor color anyway. It was left with only soul burn. Recover seemed like a fantastic card and I put it back in even though it went against the focus because it replaced itself. Obliterate was dropped since I didn't think I would ever need it, simple as that.
I also cut the creatures which might not help too much which included the kavu agressor since he was worthless with that /2 unless I paid seven for him.
at this point my deck sans land looked like this:
recover soul burn

pouncing kavu 2xshivan emissary
thunderscape master
scorching lava tribal flames

pincer spinder
quirion sentinel quirion trailblazer
serpentine kavu
verdoloth the ancient

shivan zombie vicious kavu
2xplague spores

3x attendants

The mana guys made the cut because I figured I couldn't play three colors without them. The plan with the attendants was to never sacrifice them unless I could pull off a game winning soul burn or unless I was casting verdoloth.
Obviously this is not enough cards for a whole deck and I would get crushed by and early rush. That's okay. I planned on having to add other things in. The power armor was a tough call but I thought my guys would be bigger anyway and I was not out to "win more" as some writer put it, but to just get control and not let it go. I would rather draw a guy or removal. That may be a lousy thought plan though because the armor could essentially remove several guys by making creature trades come out in my favor. However I had another way to do that and it was a creature. The thunder apprentice was back in. He also game me a one drop. Hoorah!
Llanowar cavalry came in to block as did the skeletons. Two one drops, since the kicker on the skeleton is absurd. Not that I would play it unless it had something to block though. Ravenous rats actually made it into the deck also. The reasoning here was that even mid-game I might be able to color screw someone with the plague spores and then I could pull something useful out of their hand. Playing him early didnt't seem too bad either.
The final change turned out to be the recover which went back out. I know it is a great card but I wanted to go with 40 and I thought I would always have creature advantage anyway. Maybe a little overconfident since I hadn't ever played this format before.

My final deck listing was...

6x forest
4x mountain
4x swamp
2x geothermal crevice
1x sulfer vent
1x shivan oasis

I counted the sac lands as whatever their main color was and counted to the dual as both so in my mind it was 7/7/5.

ravenous rats
urborg skeleton
soul burn

pouncing kavu
2x shivan emissary
scorching lava
tribal flames

llanowar cavalry
pincer spider
quirion sentinel
quirion trailblazer
serpentine kavu
thunderscape apprentice

shivan zombie
vicious kavu
2x plague spores

3x attendants

Sorry that took so long. If you read down to here, you may as well read a few more notes. The soul burn wasn't going to gain me much life without more swamps so I basically thought of it as a lava burst. Also, in an emergency I had two attendants that could be sacrificed to use the tapping ability of my apprentice.

Let the games begin. As I said this would be a brief tournament report. It was four rounds. I never even came close to losing a game. Several times I didn't get touched. I played very cautiously throughout. My toughest match (if you can call any of them that) was the semis. He tsabo's decreed my only creature and was attacking my with a knight and something else. He played armadillo cloak on the other one and brought them both. He knew my hand was plague spores, verdoloth, and emissary. I knew he had an emissary because he had recovered it earlier. I took the hits a couple times since I didn't want verdoloth to just get smoked right after coming into play. Finally I drew a creature to block with so I cast it. He used his emissary and then I used mine on his. I killed the cloak guy by block and then burn. Now I was drawing creatures that would make a difference and started to overpower him. The knight stayed to block and I knew the game was mine. My hand was still the same as it was when he saw it but he didn't know that. I had drawn my other emissary. Teehee. The next game I emissaried his first creature and attacked for one a bunch of times. When he played a guy I cast plague spores and went right along. He played another and I burned it down. I had the other emissary in my hand again and so did he but we didn't know that. He was determined to get something better with his so he just held it. I wasn't going to waste mine just to speed his death along. Stuff eventually got played out but that little guy came through for a lot of damage. The finals were a joke. I crushed the other guy inside of five minutes total. Actually, the whole tournament was silly. I only had one game the whole time and that was because I was saving verdoloth until it got really ugly.
If I were going to build the deck again I would take out a land and play either recover or power armor. I never sacced a land or attendant. I also never cast verdoloth although I could have several times with a decent kicker. I never needed to and was satisfied to win with him as my ace in the hole. Never touched my sideboard either. I would have brought in both my green anti-flight cards but it was never necessary. I didn't see any black flying guys and the other colors were taken care of.

I hope you got some benefit out of reading this and I would love to hear what you thought about it.

By Outsider on Sunday, December 03, 2000 - 08:44 am:

Wow. I built a deck from the list at the top without reading your report, and ended up with a similar R/G/b! Here's my list:
Thunderscape Master; 2 x Shivan Emissary; Verdeloth the Ancient; Serpentine Kavu;
Pincer Spider; Quirion Trailblazer; Pouncing Kavu; Vicious Kavu; Shivan Zombie;
Kavu Scout; Kavu Aggressor (or maybe Thornscape Apprentice instead); Crosis's and Treva's Attendants; Obliterate;
2 x Plague Spores; Power Armor; Canopy Surge; Tribal Flames;
Scorching Lava; Recover; Hypnotic Cloud; seventeen lands.
The land split depends on which colors the Geothermal Crevices and Sulfur Vent produce; I need to see the cards to remember.

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