The Sealed Format and YCS San Diego

hobanHey everyone! YCS San Diego is the day after tomorrow and I’m sure it’s going to be huge. As I’m sure most of you know, it’s not a normal YCS. Day 1 is sealed and day 2 is constructed. This is North America’s first premier sealed event. If the one that the UK had back in September is any indication, it’s a very skillful format. Peter Gross got his second YCS win at the event and Rodrigo Togores came in second. Virtually every player in top cut was a known one with multiple tops in constructed. Since there is virtually no material on how to play the sealed format, I’ve decided to make that the focus of my article this week.

The Deckout Myth

In the sealed format, the minimum amount of cards you can use in your deck is 30 instead of the normal 40. This makes people afraid of being decked out and a lot of people want to play 31 cards instead of 30 in order to give themselves an edge over the opponent who is presumably playing 30 cards if the situation were to ever come up. While playing the extra card certainly would give you an edge, if it were to happen, it’s certainly never happened to me and I don’t think you have too much to be concerned with in terms of decking out.

While it is a slower format and OTKs don’t really exist, most games don’t go that long. Most of the games that I’ve played end with both players having between 10 and 15 cards still in deck. Because of this, I don’t think the lessened consistency (I have other articles you can check out on playing above the minimum amount of cards) is worth fighting a problem that won’t happen.

King Tiger WanghuThe Monsters ATK/DEF

If you’ll notice, there’s a very common trend in Battle Pack where most monsters have either 1900 defense or 1900 attack. 1900 is certainly the magic number in this pack. You don’t really want to play cards that don’t meet this requirement unless they have a really strong effect. Realistically, cards like [ccProd]King Tiger Wanghu[/ccProd] do very little when most monsters in the format can just run it over for a +1.

Tribute Monsters

Tribute monsters have had a lot less effect on the constructed format lately. Battle Pack is another chance for these outdated monsters to shine. While 2400 is good in a format where 1900 is the mark, a lot of the time you’re not going to have that much to tribute. You want roughly two tribute monsters in your deck as trump cards, but when you start adding more than that you start messing with consistency.

To add on to that, a lot of the tribute monsters are subpar. The Monarchs and [ccProd]Jinzo[/ccProd] are definitely the best ones. Stuff like [ccProd]Dark Ruler Ha Des[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Dark Dust Spirit[/ccProd] are alright, but I’d probably stay away from them unless I had no other options. Stuff like Obelisk would be one of the first cards I get rid of.

forbidden lanceAttack Modifiers

Just about every attack modifier like [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Blast with Chain[/ccProd] is absolutely insane in this format and you’re going to want to play any that you pull. They give your 1900 monsters an advantage over your opponent’s 1900 monsters. If you pull enough, you can play lower attack monsters with good effects like [ccProd]Pitch Black Werewolf[/ccProd] or Blue T Thunder.

The exception to this is [ccProd]Horn of the Unicorn[/ccProd]. Avoid this card like the plague. It will lock you down pretty much every time.


All forms of removal are very good in this format. Anything from [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd], to [ccProd]Fissure[/ccProd], to[ccProd]Greenkappa[/ccProd]. They are all very powerful. The trick to removal is to save it until you absolutely need it. You don’t need to [ccProd]Fissure[/ccProd] their 1900 so you can attack directly with your 1900. You need to save it for when [ccProd]Jinzo[/ccProd] hits the board.

Tour Guide

Remember, Tour Guide has other targets other than just itself. If you pull 1 Tour Guide and a [ccProd]Genosaurus[/ccProd], you’re not out of luck. You might also have [ccProd]Night Assailant[/ccProd], [ccProd]Gravity Orb[/ccProd], [ccProd]Dark Resonator[/ccProd], [ccProd]Poison Cloud[/ccProd], or [ccProd]Possessed Dark Soul[/ccProd].

treeborn frogGood Cards

There are a few cards that I have found to be pretty good through testing that may not seem obvious because they are not mainstream cards in competitive play, but they certainly shine in draft. These cards include [ccProd]Burden of the Mighty[/ccProd],[ccProd]Yaksha[/ccProd], [ccProd]Darkworld Shackles[/ccProd], [ccProd]Slate Warrior[/ccProd], [ccProd]Card Guard[/ccProd], [ccProd]Power Giant[/ccProd], [ccProd]The Tricky[/ccProd], [ccProd]Treeborn Frog[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Dark Valkyria[/ccProd]. Once you read any cards you don’t know what do, I’m sure it’ll become apparent why they are good in sealed.

Bad Cards

On the other hand, there are certain cards that seemed good, but through playtesting I found them to be rather subpar. These cards include [ccProd]Liberty at Last[/ccProd], [ccProd]Shield Crush[/ccProd], [ccProd]Magic Drain[/ccProd], [ccProd]Dark Bribe[/ccProd], [ccProd]Dark Ruler Ha Des[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Dark Magician of Chaos[/ccProd].


The last thing I want to talk about is the most important. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out you should play 2 [ccProd]Pot of Greed[/ccProd]s if you pull them. This is one thing I’m sure a lot of people will mess up and lose plenty of games because they have 6 monsters in hand. You have to keep in mind that the ratios in your deck will need to be reduced. If in a regular 40 card deck you play 18 monsters, 14 spells, and 8 traps, in a 30 card deck you should play 14 monsters, 11 spells, and 5 traps.

The number of spells and traps you play are not as important as the number of monsters you play. For instance, in my last draft I had 8 spells and 7 traps with no problem at all. Sometimes you don’t get the cards to make the perfect 14, 11, 5 ratio that you would ideally like to shoot for. What is important is that you get right at those 14 monsters. Dropping 1 to 13 might get somewhat sketchy, and going up to 15 might be kind of a lot, but that’s really it. If you drop lower than that you’re going to see no monsters or all monsters too many times for a 9 round tournament. Keeping it in this 13-15 range is going to be the most important thing about building your deck.

That about wraps it up for my advice heading into this weekend. The only thing I can really tell you other than this is to be familiar with all the cards. Read them all before you enter the tournament. You don’t want the first time you’re ever seeing a card to be when your opponent round 5 plays it on you. I’m super excited for this weekend and hope to see you all there! Until next time, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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