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Goldfish Gladiators: GR Unsealing


Welcome to Goldfish Gladiators, a new series with a twist: rather than taking place on Magic Online, Goldfish Gladiator is focused on Magic Arena. This week, we're hopping into a quick constructed queue (the best-of-one, no-sideboard format on Magic Arena) to play one of the Core Set 2019 cards that I've been wanting to play ever since it was previewed: Sarkhan's Unsealing! While Sarkhan's Unsealing looks like the traditional janky, unplayable red enchantment of the set, it can actually be absurdly powerful in a deck with a bunch of powerful, big creatures, shooting down our opponent's creatures against aggro and midrange while also offering us a way to force damage through counterspells against control decks. Just how competitive is Sarkhan's Unsealing in Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Goldfish Gladiators: GR Unsealing

Discussion

  • First off, as for the record, we technically finished 4-3, which is middling but fine. However, the deck felt a lot better than this record suggests. If you look at our three losses, one came because we never found a second red source (while also drawing nearly all of our double-red cards), one came because we had about seven turns to find any creatures to trigger the two Sarkhan's Unsealings we had on the battlefield and managed to whiff, and the last one came because of a Magic Arena error that crashed the program—by the time we got back into the game, we had skipped our turn (against Mono-Red, no less). All this is to say that while we technically finished 4-3, we were a bit of luck and an Arena crash away from being something like 6-1 in our seven games.
  • As for the deck, it's basically GR Monsters with Sarkhan's Unsealing at the center. The enchantment is extremely powerful because it's good in nearly all matchups. Against creature-based decks, it allows us to remove blockers while beating down with our huge creatures. Meanwhile, against control decks, it gives us a way to fight through counterspells, since Sarkhan's Unsealing triggers whenever we cast a high-powered creature—whether the creature actually resolves makes no difference. 
  • As for the deck itself, the biggest differences between our build of GR Unsealing and other builds are Rekindling Phoenix and Glorybringer. The upside of the cards is that they are extremely powerful and great with Sarkhan's Unsealing, with Rekindling Phoenix giving us a resilient flier and Glorybringer potentially taking down two creatures the turn it enters the battlefield, thanks to Sarkhan's Unsealing. The downside is that casting Steel Leaf Champion on Turn 3 into double-red fliers on Turn 4 or 5 puts a lot of pressure on our mana base, and we did lose to ourselves once by not finding a second red source. 
  • Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Gigantosaurus are our two biggest payoffs for Sarkhan's Unsealing, since they don't just take down a single creature but typically wrath our opponent's board of both creatures and planeswalkers, while also throwing four damage at our opponent's face. Oh yeah, and both Dinosaurs are massive, which makes it easy to close out the game in just an attack or two after triggering Sarkhan's Unsealing
  • As far as the price of the deck, it's pretty rare heavy, and there isn't a great way around it. Even if you minimize the red by cutting Rekindling Phoenix and Glorybringer, you'd still likely be replacing those cards with other rares or mythics (although Vine Mare could be a good budget option). On the other hand, the upside of the deck is that it mostly survives rotation. While Glorybringer will rotate, it can be replaced by Demanding Dragon, and Rhonas the Indomitable is replaceable (perhaps by Thrashing Brontodon, especially if the goal is to minimize mythics / rares). Other budget-friendly, non-rotation options include Raging Regisaur and Volcanic Dragon, but these cards represent a huge step down in power. Traxos, Scourge of Kroog offers a non-rotation rare option, and it's big enough to trigger the second mode on Sarkhan's Unsealing, but untapping it would require rebuilding the deck to have more artifacts and legendary creatures. 
  • So, should you play GR Unsealing? I honestly think the deck is better than our record showed and can be pretty competitive, so assuming you have the cards to build it, the answer is yes! If you like playing huge things and throwing massive amounts of damage at your opponent's face, GR Unsealing is a great option and likely to remain at least somewhat competitive after rotation this fall.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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