So you’re new to Magic and you wanted to get a head start on your friends by getting some new cards early, but have no idea what a sealed tournament is. You’ve checked out the spoilers online, and are super hyped to open your favorite new planeswalker (and maybe make a pretty penny off it), but you know if you want to do well in the tournament, you have to make a good deck. I’m here to show you how to do that, quickly.

Sealed is very different than your kitchen table. You build your deck with 6 booster packs and some basic lands. Here are the key concepts you want to stick to:


Play one or two colors ONLY.

You don’t usually want to strain your mana too much. Drawing two Swamps when you have Blue and Red cards in hand is awful.

Play 40 cards.

23 spells and 17 lands. People make arguments to play 16 lands or 18 land, but just stay with 17. It isn’t going to change a ton if you play more or less, but it’s your first time. Be “by the numbers.”

Play your best cards.

This would seem obvious, but often people confuse “awesome” for “good.” A 5 mana 10/10 for GGGGG seems cool, but most games end before you have the 5 green mana needed to play it (unless you play like 17 green lands). Even the best players at your local game store make this mistake.

Play to win the game.

It might seem fun to crush your opponent, winning the game with 5 cards in hand, more creatures in play, and a higher life total, but it is often easier to simply end the game quickly. You don’t want to make “bad” plays, but often times it is easier to attack with a 2/2 flier for 10 turns than try to block their 3/3 for 20.

Play for fun.

This is the most important rule. At the end of the day, you are sleeving up pieces of cardboard, which doesn’t really have all that much value. If you’re having a bad time, drop. If you’re beating your opponent thoroughly, talk to them afterwards about something fun. These people are all playing Magic because they like the strategy, the fantasy, and so on.


For the rest of this week, I’ll be putting up a more detailed primer on specific strategy for each color when playing in the M19 prerelease. We’ll be looking at how to build decks with each color, and which cards play well in specific (or all) strategies. Be sure to preregister for the M19 prerelease at Gameology, either in store or online – .

-Cassady O’Reilly-Hahn