Unsealing Core Set 2019

One of my favourite decks of all time in any Standard is a pet deck which I piloted to victory on one of my first Game Days. The deck revolved around Temur Ascendancy and exploiting both the haste and card draw it provides when slotted into a shell with a bunch of large, stompy creatures. Browsing the M19 spoilers one specific card brought a nostalgic tear to my eye – Sarkhan’s Unsealing. The comparison between Temur Ascendancy and this new enchantment is a worthwhile one, and while Unsealing doesn’t provide haste, it sort-of provides a pseudo-haste by allowing your creatures to deal 4 damage to the opponent’s face if that’s where you wanna aim it. Alternatively, it allows you to deal damage to creatures, removing your opponent’s best threats and clearing way for creature attacks. The second clause on Unsealing is clearly absurd and doesn’t really require much discussion. I’m definitely not one to complain if all my 7 power creatures become one sided-boardwipes too. Below is my old, beloved brew…

Temur Monsters

Creatures (24)
Rattleclaw Mystic
Elvish Mystic
Savage Knuckleblade
Thunderbreak Regent
Dragonlord Atarka
Icefall Regent
Woodland Wanderer

Enchantment (3)
Temur Ascendancy

Instant (7)
Stubborn Denial
Draconic Roar

Sorcery (2)
Crater’s Claws

Land (25)
Frontier Bivouac
Wooded Foothills
Cinder Glade
Yavimaya Coast
Shivan Reef
Lumbering Falls
Haven of the Spirit Dragon

Of course, the Standard environment is far different nowadays than it was when my little ol’ Temur deck was strong. For the most part creatures are less powerful, with planeswalkers taking the limelight (I’m looking at you Karn, Ajani, and Teferi). Back in Khans Standard, we had creatures like Savage Knuckleblade, Thunderbreak Regent, and Dragonlord Atarka to play around with, and we’re also lacking a key piece which held up the Temur deck – Stubborn Denial. Whilst Blossoming Defence provides a convincing imitation, its inability to deal with non-targeted noncreature spells like board wipes and planeswalkers poses a problem in our attempt to reconstruct the Ascendancy deck’s strategy.

So, it looks like we require new tactics. Planeswalkers are strong, Sarkhan’s Unsealing provides a nice answer. While we can attempt to throw a bunch of cards which seem like they’d work well together into a 60 card list, this always seems doomed for failure (at least in my experience). First, lets outline our gameplan. 

  1. Play Sarkhan’s Unsealing as quickly as possible. To achieve this, the obvious answer is to use mana acceleration. This makes us want to include green in our deck for cards like Llanowar Elves and Servant of the Conduit. Coincidentally, our gameplan also relies on running big stompy creatures, which is something Green is typically pretty good at.
  2. Gain value from Unsealing. To do this, we need a selection of 4+ power creatures to provide triggers. If we’re set on Green/Red, cards like Glorybringer, Ripjaw Raptor, Verix Bladewing, Rekindling Phoenix, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma, and others come to mind. To take advantage of the second clause of Unsealing, we might also want to include some 7+ power creatures in our deck. Our candidates for this category include Pelakka Wurm, Carnage Tyrant, Gigantosaurus, and, oddly enough, a card I‘ve been considering is Aggressive Mammoth from the M19 planeswalker deck. Pelakka Wurm and Carnage Tyrant really stand out here, with Gigantosaurus’ GGGGG cost being somewhat steep in a G/R deck, and the lifegain provided by the Wurm letting us stabilise after taking a turn off in the mid-game to get out our Unsealing. Whilst ideally we’d like to use solely Unsealing for our removal, games rarely turn out that nicely. Faster decks won’t give us the chance to take a turn off to play Unsealing, and for that we require some early removal. Magma Spray and Abrade offer nice 1-for-1s early, and we should also consider cards like Sweltering Suns to take control of the board against threat-heavy decks like mono-black zombies and the plethora of Goblin Chainwhirler decks.
  3. Finishing our opponent. This should be the easy part. Our late-game power is very real, and only gets better when we can deploy multiple Unsealings at once. In a top-deck war, the high threat density of our deck coupled with Unsealing make our draws very powerful, and even when we fall behind, casting a 7+ power creature can often rescue a game by clearing away the opponent’s board. One card I’ve been testing to keep our fuel going in the later stages of the game is Vivien Reid. The new planeswalker doesn’t look too overwhelming on paper, but she can find us lands to help us curve out, as well as grabbing threats to trigger our Unsealing. Fulfilling a similar role is Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The powerhouse planeswalker fits right into this deck, and can steal games by herself when played both early and late in the game.

Taking all this into consideration, what does our list look like? The current version I’ve been working with looks something like this:

Green/Red Unsealing

Creatures (20)
Llanowar Elves
Pelakka Wurm
Prowling Serpopard
Ripjaw Raptor
Servant of the Conduit
Carnage Tyrant

Instants (6)
Magma Spray

Sorceries (2)
Sweltering Suns

Planeswalkers (2)
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Vivien Reid

Enchantments (4)
Sarkhan’s Unsealing
Lands (26)
Field of Ruin
Hashep Oasis
Rootbound Crag
Scavenger Grounds
Sheltered Thicket

Sideboard (15)
Prowling Serpopard
Shapers’ Sanctuary
Reclamation Sage
Sweltering Suns
Chandra’s Defeat
Vivien Reid
Struggle // Survive
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Arborback Stomper
Heroic Intervention
Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
Magma Spray

I’m still in the process of testing and refining but the maindeck feels solid. I’m wary testing with Carnage Tyrant due to its pricetag, but I feel that having a 7-power creature to provide a boardwipe at 6cmc is relatively vital to the deck. While Pelakka Wurm can work, that extra 1 mana can sometimes mean the boardwipe comes down a turn too late to save you. Hopefully I can get a hold of some Tyrants soon to see how they improve the deck’s play.

The sideboard shores up some rough matchups for us. The deck is relatively strong vs slower aggro decks like Mono Black Zombies but can struggle to stabilise against faster decks. An extra Sweltering Suns and Magma Spray, as well as one copy of Arborback Stomper and 2 copies of Chandra’s Defeat help stem the bleeding against these faster decks. Reclamation Sage helps in a variety of matchups, removing white enchantment removal as well as pesky Vehicles and Bomat Courier. The other cards help shore up the control matchup, which by virtue of the “cast” clause on Sarkhan’s Unsealing, have felt pretty good so far.

Hopefully this trek through my thought processes has made you consider looking into building this deck for yourself, or perhaps has helped you in formulating your own ideas when trying to build around a specific game plan or card. If you can’t get enough of Sarkhan’s Unsealing, check out Hareruya’s take on the deck here. Thanks for reading and please comment if you have any feedback on the deck!

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