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CardShark Content - Dave Andrews (6/7/2001)

After practicing team sealed and team rochester draft for the past couple of months, I am very excited about the upcoming qualifier season. If you haven’t had the chance to try out this format, you really should make an effort to. Both sealed and rochester are very fun, very skill-testing formats that are a blast to play and that will allow the best teams to shine rather than the luckiest. It’s not too late to form a team and begin practice for this PTQ season, and I encourage every Magic player out there who doesn’t have a team to go and find one. And I, of course, would like to offer a little advice on how to prepare for your first team limited tournament.

Team limited requires a little more preparation than an individual limited event. When playing by yourself, there are no issues of getting organized and working smoothly as a team. With only a limited amount of time to build sealed decks and with the complexity inherent in a team rochester draft, a poorly organized team will find themselves with two additional opponents, Time and Disorder
Disorder
DisorderSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
181
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Disorder deals 2 damage to each white creature and each player who controls a white creature.
. That is why it is important for every member of a team to know The Plan. I’m not going to tell you exactly what The Plan is for Team Card-Shark, but I will give you an outline of what your version of The Plan should consist of, so you can fill in the details and be organized and running smoothly at tournament time.


The Draft Plan

Starting with The Draft Plan first seems backwards, since you begin a PTQ with team sealed, and only the top two teams compete in a team draft. However, your draft plan can influence your team sealed plan, so it is a good place to start. Of course, you can’t get started without knowing the rules, so if you aren’t familiar with team rochester, you might want to take a look at appropriate section in the Universal Tournament Rules at http://www.wizards.com/dci/main.asp?x=UTR_MTG. Once you are familiar with the rules, you can begin formulating The Draft Plan, which consists of three points: which color combinations to draft in which seats, players’ seating assignments, and communication.

Your first decision is which colors to draft in which seats. It is a good idea to have a plan such as “Seat A (on the right) will draft Yellow and Orange, Seat B (center) will draft Pink, Yellow, and a splash of Brown, and Seat C (on the left) will draft Brown and Purple.” Choosing which colors belong in each seat is done by analyzing which color combinations are strong and which colors are strong in which packs. For example, the Planeshift pack is drafted counter-clockwise (to the right), so if Yellow has more strong commons in Planeshift than in Invasion and Apocalypse
Apocalypse
ApocalypseSet: Tempest
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
L. A. Williams
Text:
Remove all permanents from the game. Discard your hand.
, you probably want your Yellow player towards the right. The plan should not be set in stone, as the cards you open and the colors your opponents draft can influence what you should pick, and it is even possible that your plan could consist of “See what the opponents draft, and pick colors accordingly.”

Once you decide which colors belong in which seats, you should assign each player to a seat based on which deck that player is best at playing. Whenever possible, practice drafting with the players sitting in the correct seats, so that each player can get as much experience as possible drafting and playing the deck archetype she will be responsible for at the actual tournament.

A team should also decide on a simple method of non-verbal communication. It can be very useful during a draft to be able to let your teammates know certain things, such as “leave that card for me”, “I’m switching colors”, “Hate-draft that card”, or “Take that Singe
Singe
SingeSet: Planeshift
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
71
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Singe deals 1 damage to target creature. That creature becomes black until end of turn.
(don’t you remember your opponent drafting that Obsidian Acolyte
Obsidian Acolyte
Obsidian AcolyteSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
22
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Protection from blackW: Target creature gains protection from black until end of turn.
?)” Don’t get overly complicated, as there isn’t much time to sit around chatting in sign language while you’re drafting, but make sure you are able to discern between your teammate pointing to a card because he wants you to pick it or because he wants you to leave it for him. Also, if not everyone on your team has plenty of rochester draft experience where the picks bounce back in a “wheel”, you might want to designate a hand signal for “hey, moron, it’s your pick!”

The Sealed Plan

The team sealed portion takes up the majority of a PTQ, with only the finals consisting of a rochester draft. Therefore, a clear plan and good organization is vital to success in your team limited adventure. You have only a limited amount of time to build decks, so everyone needs to know exactly what she is supposed to be doing during deck construction. The Sealed Plan should consist of: a default deck assignment, who will sort which colors, who has the final call, and the process that you will go through to build the decks. I will describe a possible process to use for building the decks.

Your first real decision during deck construction is what decks to build, and it is very helpful to have a default plan. Determine a set of three deck archetypes that can typically be built strong out of the majority of card pools that Invasion-Planeshift-Apocalypse
Apocalypse
ApocalypseSet: Tempest
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
L. A. Williams
Text:
Remove all permanents from the game. Discard your hand.
team sealed is likely to provide. Each archetype should be assigned to a player on your team, so that your default plan will be something like “Bill will play Yellow-Pink, Sue will play Orange-Purple, and Greg will play 5-color Brown.”

One thing some teams like to try is playing the metagame. Many teams tend to assign sealed decks to players that will be playing similar decks in the draft. For example, if Sue is the A player, and she is planning to draft Orange-Purple, it is likely that she will play Orange-Purple for the sealed portion, as well. If you feel that most teams will try to draft Orange-Purple in the A seat, you can attempt to give the A player for your team a deck that is strong against Orange-Purple. Your team can decide for themselves if that is a worthwhile strategy to pursue.

At any rate, your team should have a default deck assignment. When deck construction begins, your team needs to go through the card pool, sorting out creatures from non-creatures, sorting by casting cost, noting the bombs, weeding out the chaff, or anything else you feel is necessary for construction of a deck. Each player should sort the colors he is most likely to play with according to the default plan. Decide who will sort what before the tournament begins, so that no time is wasted during deck construction getting organized.

Once the cards are sorted, as a team you should review the card pool and make sure that the default plan is the correct plan, based on the card pool you have received. Openly discuss the bombs and the card combinations, and revise the default plan as needed. Nobody should start actually building any deck until the team has agreed on which decks to build. This is where it may become important to have one player designated who has the final call. A team may get into a debate about which decks to build, but time is limited, so you must have a player with the power to say “We will build the decks this way, no more debate.” That’s a tough responsibility to have but someone must bear it to ensure that the clock will not beat your team.

Once the actual plan is decided, each player should begin building her deck. Every member should be actively communicating with all other team members, making construction an interactive process that ensures that each card winds up in the deck in which it belongs. When a player finishes a deck, she should leave it sorted, so that other players may examine it easily. She should not interrupt other players who are making difficult decisions about their decks to ask them to look at hers, but she should feel free to help those other players finish their decks. After each deck is completed, all decks should be passed around the table and verified by other members of the team, so that all final deck decisions are made as a team. Don’t forget to assign the remaining cards to players’ sideboards, making sure as much as possible that each player has a solution to troublesome enchantments, creatures, or artifacts. After that, you’re ready to play.

The Plan

In summary, The Plan consists of the answers to the following questions, which should be decided before the tournament begins:

Who is Player (A, B, C)?
By default, which deck will Player (A, B, C) play for sealed?
During deck construction, which colors will player (A, B, C) sort?
During deck construction, what is Player (A, B, C) supposed to be doing?
By default, which colors will Player (A, B, C) attempt to draft?
How will we communicate during the draft?
Who has the final call on all decisions?

I hope this helps with your team limited adventures. As always, I’d be happy to hear your comments/questions at crazy_monkey1@msn.com.


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