On October 7th Wizards announced a playtest version of a league system in stores around the world featuring:

  • A 30-card deck made from 3 booster packs to start with
  • A new booster pack every week, offering players to rebuild their decks as often as they’d like
  • A new booster pack after three losses
  • Matches that consist of a single game

This article will address how to build a 30-card deck using cards from 3 booster packs. Here are the basics:

Your minimum deck size is going to be 30 cards. No matter how many additional packs you add to your pool, keep your deck size at 30 cards.  You want your deck to be lean and mean to have the highest chances of drawing what you need when you need it!

You’ll want your deck to contain 12-13 lands and 17-18 spells, curving out at 5 mana. Based on the speed of 6-pack Kaladesh Sealed, I’ll be looking to build my first deck with 12 lands and 18 spells, of which 12-14 will be creatures.

This format is going to be fast. With the prevalence of awesome common creatures that are good by themselves at 2-3 mana, I’m expecting most decks to contain an abundance of creatures in the thriving cycle – these creatures are fantastic in regular sealed and I predict they’ll be even better in 3-pack.  I’m going to look at my green creatures first as green is home to the best creature value, followed by creatures with evasion.  Remember – each match consists of a single game.  Your deck will need plenty of cheap creatures at 2- and 3-mana to apply pressure or defend yourself from your opponent’s early aggression.  Evasive creatures (flying, trample, menace) will win games!

Your bombs will be the cards at the top of your curve that cost 4 & 5 mana, like Peema Outrider, Skyswirl Harrier, Propeller Pioneer, Riparian Tiger, and Wayward Giant. These common creatures have evasive abilities attached to big bodies that are great for attacking and defending. Even a vanilla 3/4 vanilla creature like Prakhata Club Security presents a great rate for attacking and blocking.

This is what I’d like my curve to look like at the first stage before any booster packs are added:

CMC 1 0-1 creatures
CMC 2 4-5+ creatures*
CMC 3 3-4+ creatures*
CMC 4 2-3 creatures
CMC 5 1-2 creatures

*I would play more in these categories if I was fortunate to open a pool loaded with thriving creatures or Kujar Seedsculptors

The only 1-drop creatures I would consider playing are Thriving Turtle or Inventor’s Apprentice if I’m playing a bunch of artifact creatures. Maybe this is a format made for Wily Bandar, but I’m going to assume that it’s not.

I’ll be looking to play 1-2 vehicles with a crew cost of 3 or less. Ideally, Sky Skiffs and Renegade Freighters for their evasive abilities and low crew costs.

It’s difficult to predict if vehicles with higher crew costs are going to be good, but I’m anticipating that they won’t be. With so much trading happening in the early stages of the game, the likeliness of having a vehicle with no creatures to crew it is a significant downside to consider.

In addition to larger vehicles having high crew costs, they cost quite a bit more mana to play in a format that will punish you for taking a turn off to play it, and they are terrible top-decks. Bomat Bazaar Barge seems reasonable as it can draw you a creature that can crew it the next turn and swing. Ballista Charger is borderline, and I would consider playing it if a) I have at least 13 creatures and b) my pool was low on 4 and 5 drops.

I’m expecting most decks to be 2 colors with an abundance of artifact creatures to fill in the curve, or 3 colors with common mana-fixing spells like Prophetic Prism and Attune with Aether. I would be eager to splash for premium removal (Welding Sparks, Malfunction, Revoke Privileges) or a bomb in a shallow color.  I wouldn’t splash more than 2 cards, and I would be wary of splashing if other cards in my primary colors have double mana requirements.  The mana base for a 3-color deck is 6 basics of the primary color, 5 basics of the secondary color, and 2 basics of the splash color.

It’s likely that most decks will contain 1-2 removal spells, plus a Fragmentize or Appetite for the Unnatural to deal with vehicles. Combat tricks can be very useful to close the gap, especially Built to Last on a crewed vehicle or artifact creature, or Rush of Vitality on anything!

Lastly, take advantage of rebuilding your deck when you add packs. Look for cards in new packs that are “strictly better” than the cards in your main deck and replace them.  A couple new packs may supply cards that open up new strategies for your deck, so take advantage of the opportunity to explore new builds!  It’s unclear at this point if players will pay for all of the packs upfront, or if adding packs will be optional.  If it’s the latter, I’d stay at four packs unless I felt my pool really needed it (i.e., adding a booster pack after 3 losses).  Based on my experiencing playing friendly sealed leagues on MTGO, there’s no need to spend additional money on packs if you can win without them.

Hope you found this article useful, and thanks for reading!