This coming weekend, at Grand Prix Rotterdam which will be Team Limited. Team Sealed will also be featured as rounds 1 to 3 at the World Magic Cup on the 18 to 20 of November. Team Limited is always a fun format and Kaladesh is an exciting set.
I’m going to give some pointers on team tournaments and then talk more in depth about Kaladesh Team Sealed. I hope this tips can help you this weekend. Most players don’t often spend much time on preparing this kind of event, mostly due to the low frequency of Team Sealed events.
- CHOOSING A TEAM
When choosing a team, there are two factors to consider. First, you really want to team with someone you personally know and like. The other factor is that you should have at least a semblance of matched incentives. If one of the players is super casual and just wants to have fun, and the other is a spike trying to get into professional Magic, that arrangement is unlikely to work, because they care about different things. You want to team with people who have roughly the same incentives as you do, and the same desire to do well or have fun.
- UNDERSTAND THAT TEAM SEALED IS NOT INDIVIDUAL SEALED
In a Team tournament you win or lose as a team. Your individual record does not matter at all! There are so many factors that go into it, maybe you had a better deck, maybe your opponents’ had worse decks, maybe you got lucky, maybe you’re the better player,but ultimately it does not matter, as your individual wins count for nothing. As for deckbuilding, instinctively, you will try to build 3 good Sealed decks, looking for powerful cards rather than fast decks. Because you’re opening a lot more boosters, the probably of all the commons being opened is pretty high. Because of that, you should think of Team Sealed decks as not as regular Limited decks, but as “Preconstructed” decks instead. Most players don’t recognise this and dismiss good decks or throw away certain cards that they don’t usually use in regular Limited. There are certain things that are excellent in Team Limited but a terrible idea in regular Limited.
Each team does things differently, but the general idea is similar. During registration, you should have one player writing down the cards and the other two players sorting out each color alphabetically. Once you’re done sorting out, one of those players can read the card list to the player writing the deck list. There is usually plenty of time in this step, so you don’t have to worry much about it. The first step of deckbuilding for me is to look at mana fixing and multicolored cards. If we have four land or artifact fixers and a couple of dual lands, I’ll be more likely to think about splashing when I go through the colors. If I see a bomb rare that is of a certain color combination, then I’ll be more likely to consider how those colors go with each other. Since this is a lens that will affect how I look at every single thing in the pool, it makes sense for me to acquire this information first.
After that, you should have everyone sort out the cards by color and then have each player pick a color and go through that and take out the unplayables. Here I like using a very strict definition of unplayable—just remove the cards that you know are never going to see play and are just a waste of space. Ideally, those cards will only be looked at once again, before you finalize your decks. Once the team has done that, they should sort out the color by mana curve, and try to form a general idea of the capabilities of the color and what it’s missing. Whoever is done first can start with the remaining colors, but it’s also relevant to know which colors pair well with what. Now it’s time for your Team to ask yourself an important question.
What is the best deck for a particular archetype?
Once you’re done with this, you get all the information together and brainstorm ideas of possible color combinations. For example, if your teammate says blue is missing 2 drops and you know white has a ton of good ones, suggest pairing white with blue. Your team should then think of what is going to happen with the other colors, and start building possible decks. The best way to visualize if a deck is good is to just build it, over half of the times it’ll become obvious that a dedk doesn’t work for one reason or another and then you can just scrap it in one minute and move on. So, if you are too far off from your expectations, drop that archetype and form another archetype. By doing this you’ll soon realise that you have to play all your best cards instead of fillers if you wish to reach the level you desires. Most of the time, you will finish building two powerful and one with good manafixing and the leftover bombs.
- SPLIT YOUR SIDEBOARD CARDS WISELY
Obviously, you will split cards according to the colors you play. However, the problem arises when two decks are sharing the same color. An important thing is to split artifact and enchantment removal accordingly, as well as other narrower and more situational cards that can give you an advantage in a match. As a general rule, the better your mana is and the slower your deck is, the more cards you should get. Slow decks will often have suboptimal cards that they want to take out, and they will have uses for random durdles such as a 6/6 for 6 or grindy cards like Mind Rot. Aggro decks are much more streamlined, and are less likely to want to board in a grindy card. Plus the games are decided more quickly, so the impact of a sideboard card is diminished (since you’re less likely to draw it over the course of the game).
One of my main concerns when selecting sideboards is to make sure my control decks can beat other control decks post-board. I’m a fan of discard spells, counterspells, big creatures, and draw spells. If I do not have a lot of bombs, that’s even more important. This sometimes includes getting a sideboard card that’s not even in your colors but that you might splash in some situations. In particular, talking about multicolored cards, if nobody can play a card , give it to the deck with the highest potentail for manafixing, or the player who can easily change his deck after sideboarding.
- HOW SHOULD YOU BUILD THE DECKS AND WHO SHOULD PLAY EACH DECK
You should build evenly-powered decks, as long as that doesn’t diminish the overall power level too much. In my opinion, it’s better to give everyone on your team a fighting chance than to try to have two people murder their opponent when one is scrambling with unplayables.
Assigning a deck to each member of the Team is not that easy, I would rank the following things as relevant factors, in order:
Deck preference/capabilities. If someone prefers to play a style of deck, they should just play that style of deck because they will be better with it. We all have preferences, and it’s important to communicate those. If I’m the best player on my team, it’s likely that I’ll just play the most complicated deck.
Who worked on which deck. Deckbuilding is a team effort, but the person who actually had the deck laid out in front of them for most of the deckbuilding time is just going to know that deck better than anyone else.
Speed. In general, it’s better to have the better player with the deck that is likely to finish the game faster, so they can help their teammates.
I do not think deck strength is an important measure for who should take each deck. Sometimes people think “I’m going to give my best player the best deck to ensure a win” or “I’m going to give the worst player the best deck to compensate,” but I don’t think those are nearly as important as the three factors above.
- DURING THE MATCH, EXCHANGE INFORMATION ON YOUR OPPONENT’S DECK
When you face a certain archetype, probably your teammates don’t. By sharing such information with each other, you’re able to play around less cards and formulate better strategies. Remember, you’re part of a team so you need to use that to your advantage. It is poor practice for each player to sit down and progress in three seperate individual games before know what is happening on the other two tables. However, you’re also an individual player. When you are playing a match, you tend to be more focused on your own match rather than your teammates. Similarly, your teammates are focused on their own. Speak with them only when it is needed, especially when you need to ask for the presence of a particular or specific card in your opponent’s deck. I think it’s important to ask for help when you’re trying to play around a specific card that might not be in your opponent’s deck because there is a better place for it. I generally just look around to see what people are playing, but sometimes it’s just better to ask. Usually, asking your teammates to help on a decision is not optimum, because they don’t have the information which you have and you will also distract them from their own game.
- BE MINDFUL OF GOING TO TIME
Three opponents against three opponents means that a single match in Team Limited can consist of up to nine games. This increases the chance of a match timing out, which ends up in a draw. And as you know, draws are as good as a loss most of the time. To make things worse, you cannot speak to other players during 1 versus 1 games, but there usually is a lot of talking between teammates in Team Limited. This will also contribute the games lasting longer. You need to be very careful of how you spend your time such that you don’t cause your match to time out. You need to factor in the communication time with your friends, so try to play faster than you usually player in individual matches!
Now that we have some basics, let’s go one step further and take a look at some possible configurations of Kaladesh Team Limited.
- White-Black Fabricate
- Blue-Red Artifacts
- Green/X Good Stuff
This is one of my favorite configurations. Each of these archetypes needs specific cards that other archetypes don’t. Furthermore, Green/X allows you to play many leftover bombs and gold cards in your card pool.
The White/Black Fabricate deck should contain the fabricate creatures such as Glint-Sleeve Artisan, Propeller Pioneer, Weaponcraft Enthusiast and Maulfist Squad. Inspired Charge is a great finisher and you should support your strategy with a few tricks such as Rush of Vitality or Subtle Strike.
As for the Blue/Red Energy-Artifact deck, you want a lot of energy producer and low costed artifacts together with Aethertorch Renegade, Whirler Virtuoso and Gearseeker Serpent. Incendiary Sabotage is also good in this deck if you can get some number of artifacts. As you can see, these cards do not overlap with the White-Black Fabricate deck at all and this is what we call great division.
Lastly, the Green/X Good Stuff deck should contain cards like Prophetic Prism, Attune with Aether, Wild Wanderer and the manafixing lands which you gain access to to create a good manabase. Thereafter, you should play the remaining bombs in your deck in order to extract maximum value from your card pool.
- White-Red Vehicles
- Blue-Green Energy
- Blue-Black Artifacts
This is also a strong aggressive trio but with a very different game plan from Configuration number 1.
White/Red Vehicles will be focused on cheap creatures and great combat tricks, together with Vehicles. Most important cards include Renegade Freighter, Eddytrail Hawk and Spireside Infiltrator. To highlight Eddytrail Hawk a little, it is usually underwhelming in regular Limited but if your deck is so much more focused, it will combo nicely with huge Vehicles to end games quickly.
As for the Blue-Green Energy deck, the aim is to continuously pump your “Thriving” creatures to make your opponent unable to make good blocks. Most important cards are Thriving Turtle, Thriving Rhino and Longtusk Cub. Naturally, this energy deck needs cards that no other decks need and it is very linear.
- White-Green Fabricate
- Blue-Green Energy
- Red-Black Vehicles
Again, you can see that we are able to swap the colors around and also arrive at three aggressive decks, just like in Configuration 2.
White/Green Fabricate takes slightly different game approaches than White/Black Fabricate . In addition to Inspired Charge, they are also about play with +1/+1 themes and create bigger creatures than your opponent. This makes White/Green Fabricate more flexible than its counterpart with Black. The key cards are Peema Outrider, Engineered Might, Hunt the Weak.
Blue/Green Energy is the same as above.
Red/Black gets all the leftover Vehicles. You’ll need to focus on dealing damage quickly and include some reach in your deck. Ideally, you’ll want Unlicensed Disintegration of course, but you can also find other ways to win without attacking. Spireside Infiltrator, Reckless Fireweaver and Night Market Lookout combined with Vehicles is a lot synergy because you can attack with these smaller creatures in the early game to sneak in some damage and then tap them to crew Vehicles later on! Note that you can tap all three creatures to crew a single Sky Skiff if you want to get maximum value!
I really hope that these tips will help you out at Grand Prix Rotterdam or at your next Team Limited event. The most important thing about Team Limited, though is to pick awesome teammates and have a lot of fun! That is the real spirit of team events!