I don’t play Sealed very often. I find it a difficult format not because there isn’t strategy or powerful means to examining building decks but because you don’t have any control over your card pool.
It’s important that I earnestly stress this: strategy and deck building is very important. If these factors weren’t substantial then the greatest players in the game couldn’t consistently reach Day 2 and the top tables of Sealed events. Knowing is vital for success.
But just as knowing is a solid requirement, there is a ring of truth to those who claim “I just open good pools!” During the variety of Prereleases I’ve had the pleasure of gunslinging I’ve seen a disparate difference in general card quality between the decks that arrive early to challenge me (those of the “0-2. Drop.” variety) and those who come after they’ve won their flight (like the triple Arrest and double Galvanic Blast metalcraft deck. Really?!).
The pools I often open come in two varieties:
- No real bombs in any color with removal in colors without depth
- Off-color bombs in colors with no depth but a very deep color pair
It must be my lot of in life to be unlucky in opening Sealed pools. You can see the Sealed deck I put together at a Scars of Mirrodin Prerelease. While this pool wasn’t completely devoid of bombs (Contagion Engine, Volition Reins, and arguably Necrotic Ooze) the “other” cards in the pool (which I didn’t list) included a Mindslaver and Indomitable Archangel. “Nice pool.” you might say but I opened nearly no removal: Instill Infection and Stoic Rebuttal were as good as it got in any color.
My point in all this isn’t anything to deep beyond why I appreciate cube Sealed so much more than the regular variety. And I’ve played a blue-black deck in nearly every Sealed event I’ve played in over the past year. Really.
This means when I look at blue-black cards my evaluation is skewed towards “What can I use to attack, defend, and close a game out efficiently.” That is to say an early defender with potential offensive value jumps out at me, like Dimir Infiltrator.
Dimir Infiltrator is one of the “alternates” suggested by Usman for cutting from my blue-black section instead of Probe. The main stab of his reasoning was two-fold:
- “It seems pretty weak compared to the other options”
- “[Blue-black] isn’t really the color that values unblockability”
Usman is sharp. I’ll advocate this repeatedly. Here, however, I feel he missed some important details.
- Infiltrator has transmute and in blue, black, and artifacts there are almost 50 options available: 13.8% of the total cube
- Three toughness can be very valuable, especially on turn two
Blue-black has even greater control potential than monoblue due in part to tutor cards like Infiltrator and Mystical Teachings, as well as “hard” removal (like Rend Flesh and Ashes to Ashes). Infiltrator can play both the role of early defender, pin-pricking attacker, or a tutor that can be recurred through Gravedigger effects.
I enjoy the decision tree that Infiltrator presents: seeking out removal or countermagic, finding a more offensive body (for example, Dauthi Slayer), or being a cheap defensive dude that still carries offensive potential. Every option is relevant for different points at the game and the choice to follow one can make a huge difference.
I’m not so quick to dismiss Infiltrator as Usman. What do you think?