MagicFest New Jersey 2020 Theros Beyond Death Limited (Sealed and Draft) Decklists and Analysis
MagicFest / Grand Prix New Jersey 2020 just wrapped up, and 1436 players participated in the main event. The format was Theros Beyond Death limited for their share of the $50,300 prize pool. The first day consisted of 9 rounds of Sealed deck, and players advancing to the second day played six rounds of 8-man pod Draft with another in the top 8 playoff. All images here are courtesy of the ChannelFireball Coverage team, and you can find more information on the tournament here.
The talk of the format is currently on the unparalleled power level of Dream Trawler and Kiora Bests the Sea God, but other than that the format as a whole has been very positively recieved. Although in MTG Arena the dynamics are slightly different to tabletop Magic, the principles will remain much the same and this will be an excellent learning resource for those that want to further improve their limited game. The key differences between tabletop Magic and MTG Arena limited are:
- In MTG Arena, games of Sealed are in best-of-one mode whereas in paper (like in prereleases) it is usually played best-of-three, and your entire pool of unused cards can be used as a sideboard. Quite often players will change their entire deck after game one, though in MTG Arena you can freely adjust your deck between matches.
- In MTG Arena, players draft with bots whereas in paper players draft in a 8-man pod with three best-of-three rounds each. The bots seem to be well balanced in Theros Beyond Death, which is a good sign so far!
Before we begin, do remember that we have our own guides and reviews of Theros Beyond Death limited if you haven’t checked them out already:
- Theros Beyond Death Limited Overview and Sealed Guide – start here for an overview on all the different archetypes and how they work.
- Theros Beyond Death Limited Tier List
- Theros Beyond Death Limited Set Reviews
- We also have an active Discord where you can participate in discussions and ask for help!
This is a well-rounded three color Sealed deck that leans more heavily on Green and Black, but splashing White for some powerful Aura synergies. The deck runs 4 white mana sources and 4 white cards, and Omen of the Hunt to help search for Plains as well. The pool also ended up working well with 4 rares making it to the deck; Setessan Champion, Nightmare Shepherd, The First Iroan Games and Mantle of the Wolf. There is a total of 11 enchantments. Collin also mentioned that he ended up sideboarding out the Enemy of Enlightenment every match.
This Sealed deck does not make use of the Black and Red Sacrifice archetype that is offered by the set, has only 13 medium creatures but the power lies in its removal spells. 7 of the 10 spells are direct removal or a board wipe (Storm’s Wrath), which should be able to deal with most threats (bar Dream Trawler and Kiora Bests the Sea God).
Here is another Black and Green base Sealed deck also featuring Setessan Champion with 8 enchantments (also including The First Iroan Games). David splashed Red for the two rares with Omen of the Hunt and 2 Mountain, and plays a lower curved 16 land deck. The removal suite is quite decent, and Nessian Hornbeetle would have worked very well with the trio of Voracious Typhoon.
Here’s another Black Green deck, and Brian chose to play 18 lands prioritizing curving out efficiently and making way for his big creatures with Warbriar Blessing, Entrancing Lyre and Elspeth’s Nightmare. Nessian Boar would have been a deadly threat, especially in combination with Nyx Herald or Nyleas Forerunner.
Here’s one of those Sealed deck that had two valid pools, and both decks had a Titan in it! Tommy said he sideboarded in the green blue (splash black) deck in each of his games, which would have caught enemies by surprise. He wanted access to the counterspells especially if faced with unanswerable threats like Dream Trawler and Kiora Bests the Sea God.
Here’s a deck from the eventual winner, Isaak Kruut. The deck features the notorious Dream Trawler and three copies of Thirst for Meaning to search for it more quickly. Cards like Riptide Turtle, Stern Dismissal, Deny the Divine and Ichthyomorphosis stall the game until you can get the ultimate win condition out.
Here’s a green blue deck splashing white for Dream Trawler. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, Nessian Wanderer and Traveler’s Amulet helps find the white sources required. The dual copies of Shimmering Chimera and recall cards like Setessan Training and Warbriar Blessing to keep using them as needed. Note that the deck runs 19 lands, but can filter them nicely with the Wanderer and extra lands can be kept in hand to use as discard outlets for Dream Trawler.
Here is an aggressive, 16 land blue red deck, and although it is probably not the strongest archetype (if not the weakest) in Theros Beyond Death limited, it is still surprising to see one person drafting six copies of a card – an uncommon one at that! Even two copies of Mischievous Chimera in play can be very threatening since it is an evasive creature itself, although there are only six Instant/Flash cards to support its extra ability. The rares – Nadir Kraken, Phoenix of Ash – also fit quite good in the deck.
Here is another aggressive 16 land Gruul deck, that managed to draft four copies of Setessan Training and two copies of Iroas’s Blessing, the premium common removal spells in their colors. This deck showcases the “Heroic” archetype, with two copies of Heroes of the Revel with up to 9 ways to target your creatures with most of them aiming to remove blockers out of the way. Storm Herald works great here as intended, since the Auras have enter the battlefield effects. Phoenix of Ash and Ox of Agonas are its other rares which are just generically good cards that fit well in the deck.
We now move on to the Draft deck of the finalists, who were both competing for green. Christian managed to snag a Setessan Champion, though with only 6 enchantments but 3 of them being Omen of the Forge. He managed to draft three copies of Voracious Typhon and even managed to assemble Labyrinth of Skophos and Skophos Maze-Warden. He went for a 16 land aggressive build since the top of the curve ends with the lone five drop.
This is the winning deck of the MagicFest, and as you can see here this is your run of the mill 15 creature, 8 spell, 17 land draft deck with no huge bombs to rely on. One of the strengths of the deck lies in the four Flying creatures, and they are difficult to deal with in this set. They can hold Auras well, and Renata, Called to the Hunt can potentially further buff them up without much fear of being blocked. Overall, this is a very balanced deck that makes use of the green / white Aura archetype offered quite well and it paid off in the end!
We hope you enjoyed our first limited tournament summary – if you did and want to see more i the future, let us know the comments below! This was personally a great exercise for me to review how the pros and Magic veterans players created their sealed pools and drafted the set so far, as we still have the Sealed Event, Traditional Draft and the Ranked Draft coming soon on January 31 to MTG Arena. There’s even more deck examples on Twitter if you’re interested, under #MTGNewJersey.
In a few days, Compulsion will be coming out with his Draft Guide on Theros Beyond Death before the Ranked Draft begins, with his insight to the format after two weeks of experience and reviews to the Limited Tier List to come after. Until then, enjoy this great limited format!