Five Quick Tips for the Sealed Deck Arena Open


The Arena Open is coming up this weekend, and it features Strixhaven Sealed! Getting a head start of what to expect from your opponents with a few thoughts on what does and what doesn't work should give you a meaningful advantage. Let's look at the "metagame" and the speed of the format—and more.

Let's jump right into the classic question for every Arena Open, the one regarding which queue to enter.

Best of One or Best of Three on Day 1

Arena Open STX

On Day 1 you get to choose between best of one and best of three. This has been discussed in more detail elsewhere, but I'll list the key takeaways here so that you can make an informed decision on which option to pick.

You're slightly more likely to qualify for the second day via best of one, pretty much regardless of win percentage, but the amount of gems you can expect to lose is also bigger.

Best of three is better training for Day 2, where you get a new pool of cards and will have to compete in complete matches. Playing best-of-three Sealed in the Arena client is not the most enjoyable experience though. If you want to sideboard into a secondary build you need to have it memorized and/or screenshotted, and then you need to be able to rebuild it within the few minutes you get for sideboarding.

Best of one is more convenient for other reasons too, although this might not hold true for everyone. I myself will play best of one on Day1 because I also want to play a Qualifier on Magic Online and it's much easier to play single games in between rounds than full matches. If you do not have special circumstances like another tournament going on or other commitments, you might consider best of three because you need to get used to it anyway, and the better training may outweigh the slight increase in probability to advance to Day 2.

The Metagame

golden ratio

You will be playing Sealed, meaning everyone gets six packs of Strixhaven with which to build their 40-card deck. But due to the difference in power level between the five colleges, you will not face 20% of each.

While the following percentages are just very rough estimates, they also might help you evaluate your build, as you should likely lean toward the Temur colors more often than not. I think about 10–15% of your decks should be Silverquill, 0–5% Lorehold, ~15% Witherbloom, ~15% Prismari, 30% Quandrix, and 20–25% multicolor or non-college color pairs. This should at least give you a basic grasp at what kind of decks to expect and might help you evaluate your cards accordingly.

Aggro Strategies Often Don't Come Together

spined karok

While you should certainly look at your pool and see if you have any aggressive strategy available, those will be present much less than in draft. These decks' absence means that you should refrain from including cards in your deck that are nothing more than defensive bodies, the prime example being Spined Karok. However, if you're playing best of three, Spined Karok as well as Tangletrap will often be exactly what you want to look for when sideboarding against Silverquill decks, as Karok blocks most two-drops well and Tangletrap answers Combat Professor and other pesky fliers.

The aggressive strategies are mostly limited to those Silverquill decks, which also changes the dynamic of where you need to interact with them a little. If you yourself have a reasonable curve and access to cards that learn and Expanded Anatomy, there's a chance your Silverquill deck is okay.

Tempo in the Midgame Matters

decisive denial

What I mean by this is that while aggressive strategies don't come together often, there are a lot of spots in the midgame where the player that doublespells more often during a turn cycle will acquire an advantage. Especially the counterspells Negate, Test of Talents, and Whirlwind Denial are amazing, but even Reject is quite passable, because it is also a reasonable substitute for a two-drop.

Because so many cards provide card advantage through learning and other means, mana efficiency becomes more important.

Allied Colors and Multicolor Nonsense

environmental sciences

Just to make sure this is mentioned: Don't dismiss options that present themselves just because you wouldn't pick them on your own. This is not a draft, which usually directs you into, well, a direction of your own choosing. You don't want to discount the possibility of playing an allied color pair if both colors are deep and you have few gold cards you miss out on.

One of the most important cards for multicolor decks is Environmental Sciences. It provides the backbone of fixing for your splashes. If you don't have it, think twice about running more than two colors with a splash. Letter of Acceptance is great fixing as well, as is Cultivate if your deck is base green.

Not every removal spell is worth splashing for, but if your deck has a weakness and a splash makes up for that or gives you access to a very powerful card, you should likely not shy away from it. That said, splashing Swords to Plowshares when your deck already has five serviceable removal spells is not advisable, so be careful not to have your splash put more holes in your deck than it plugs.

Good luck in your runs this weekend! Until next time,

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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