Written by Andrew Grandstaff
What kind of deck does it take to make it to day 2 of a sealed Vault Tour? This is the questions a lot of players will be asking for the next few weeks for the upcoming Vault Tours season. In sealed Vault Tours, players are given three decks and ten minutes to choose one of them to play in six rounds of best of one Swiss. In this format one of the biggest decisions participants will have to make happens in the first 10 minutes with their deck selection. Today I would like to go over some metrics and observations I have about the top 16 from the Seattle Vault Tour, the first Sealed Vault Tour.
Winner: B. Celerinius, the City Archbishop – Logos Sanctum Untamed
Second: Quantumeo, Spawn of Bomblobe – Dis Logos Shadows
Top 4: Warlord Yoweasel Tsong – Dis Shadows Untamed
Top 4: Yassafrass the Exquisitely Affluent – Mars Sanctum Shadows
Top 8: Artscourge, the Wretched Ruins Innkeeper – Brobnar Shadows Untamed
Top 8: Willfist Lollius, the Acceptable and Golden – Dis Sanctum Shadows
Top 8: Fairtrade of Newberg – Dis Mars Untamed
Top 8: Ribfighter Pointel-Tasker, Critic – Dis Mars Shadows
Top 16: Arrowskull, the Deadly Cliff Soothsayer – Dis Shadows Untamed
Top 16: Berger, the Smuggler of The Bramble – Logos Shadows Untamed
Top 16: Bronson “The Wealthy” Pinktse – Sanctum Shadows Untamed
Top 16: Brothchild of Workingwich Locus – Mars Sanctum Shadows
Top 16: Madam R. Pelitino – Logos Shadows Untamed
Top 16: Magdalena, Icenville Brigand – Brobnar Dis Shadows
Top 16: Messenger Gunner Glowwhig – Dis Sanctum Shadows
Top 16: The Spirit who Dances with Fireflies – Logos Sanctum Untamed
*Big thank you to team Reapout for collecting all the top 16 of each vault tour. This article wouldn’t be possible without it. All of these decks come from here, and I’m using my best judgment based on wins to differentiate between top 8 and top 16.
I made this spreadsheet with the top 16 decks and their AERC and ADHD. The first thing that jumped out at me was the average value for the top 16 for each stat was higher than the average of all decks except in board control. After that 13 of the decks have higher than average aember generation. Oddly only 5 or 6 of the top 16 had better than average aember control (depending on your aember control metric) and the average of the top 16 isn’t significantly higher than the world average. To me this signifies that expected aember is more important that aember control. I think if your deck is fast enough you probably only need a couple major key aember control cards to buy you the turns you need to win. As you start to filter to just the top 8 or top 4 you don’t see much much of a correlation in any of the stats. Only the average AERC aember control and the average ADHD efficiency that constantly moves in a direction, lower, as you move up the bracket.
That is a bit anecdotal, but the winning deck has about the worst all-around metrics of the top 16. It has the worst aember control, the worst total AERC, and the second-worst total ADHD. So what made this deck so good? I think B. Celerinius, the City Archbishop had a lot higher expected aember than both systems predicted with the double Dust Pixie, Hunting Witch, Regrowth, Full Moon and Nature’s Call. The deck also has two Foggifies, a Skippy Timehog and a Nocturnal Maneuver to reduce the usefulness of enemy creatures. If things get out of hand there is both The Spirit’s Way and the Cooperative Hunting Save the Pack combo. With all of the board control provided by Sanctum, this deck looks capable of protecting its utility creatures like Witch of the Eye or Commander Remiel long enough to get one or two activations. This deck looks like it is hyper-efficient where every house is working towards its game plan. The individual cards of B. Celerinius, the City Archbishop are a little underwhelming compared to what I would expect to find in a Vault Tour winning deck. In Logos it is missing the marque common of Library Access and has a lot of low impact cards Library of Babble and Dr. Escotera. Untamed is the most standout with its crazy burst aember potential, but still has some lackluster cards like one of the two copies of Save the Pack to make the top 16.
Here is what the top 16 looked like on the individual card and house level. There were two Brobnar, four Mars, five Logos, seven Sanctum, eight Dis, nine Untamed, and of course Shadows sits at the top with 13 decks.
Most Common Cards in each house
|House||Card name||Total copies||Decks appearances||% of decks that house||% of all decks|
notably low appearance and other observations:
Coward’s End (0), Punch (0), Krump (0)
I think Brobnar is suffering from an identity issue. It wants to control the board and reward you for that with things like Loot the Bodies, but the issue is it takes too long to get that setup. The cards that are suppose to slow your opponent down like Screechbomb are too slow.
Control the Weak (0), Dominator Bauble (2), Guardian Demon, Library of the Damned (0) , Drumble (1)
6 Gateways to Dis in 5 decks, 5 Lifewards in 4 decks, and 3 decks had both. Only a third of the Dis decks had this combo but the majority had Gateway be prepared for a board wipe against Dis. In FFG’s only article covering the Vault Tours they mentioned that the percentage of decks with Gateway increased while those with an aember control creatures decrease when moving from day 1 to day 2. The lack of Control the Weaks might be due to the less mature player base back in March, but it could also be weaker when decks are more board focused making it harder to get the extra turns that it can create in Archon.
Library Access (1), Dextre (1), Batdrone (1), Ganymede Archivist (1), Scrambler Storm (0),
Second place deck is the only deck with Library Access and it was the only deck with Timetraveler. Library Access probably needs some support for it to be worth a slot. There were just as many Effervescent Principles as there were Dimension Doors and Interdimensional Grafts. It’s likely that there are more Logos creatures around so it’s more efficient to sometimes steal than it is to always reduce aember. I also think Scrambler Storm was being undervalued like Control the Weak.
Megamouth (0), “John Smyth” (2), Mindwarper (1), Ulix the Zookeeper (0), Deep Probe (0), Crystal Hive (0), Battle Fleet (0)
There were 3 or more copies of Tunks, Yxilx Dominators, and Grabber Jammer in the four Mars decks. These were 3 of the top 5 most common Mars cards. These are also common creatures with the highest power in Mars. I think the staying power of these creatures were a real boon to the Mars decks allowing the cards that check for ready Mars creatures to have more value. There were zero Orbital Bombardments while there was one Mothership Support.
Sequis (2), Bulwark (2), Blinding Light (2/1), Grey Monk (0), Doorstep to Heaven (1), Virtuous Works (1)
Top 5 most common cards are creatures, Sargent Zakeil, Protectrix, Raiding Knight, Staunch Knight, and Champion Anaphiel. Again big powerful creatures are putting up good numbers in the top 16. Staunch Knight is strange in this list as it is the only creature that is only a bucket of stats. 6 power and 2 armor might be too much for most decks to handle efficiently in sealed. Also, all the armor granting cards are in on the low end of appearances. The flexibility of power to be board stickiness and removal seems to be more effective than making your creatures tougher.
Ghostly Hand (5), Miasma (5), Bait and Switch (6), Relentless Whispers (6/5), Booby Trap (1), Mooncurser (1), Macis Asp (1), Special Delivery (1)
Less than half the shadows decks had Bait and Switch and only four decks had Too Much To Protect. No deck in the top 16 had both so of the 13 Shadows decks, 10 had one of the two. Nexus also had a huge presence in the top 16 with 15 copies. It’s a strong utility creature that is hard to remove and most decks will have an artifact that it can take advantage of. Another big surprise in shadows was Nerve Blast (11). It had almost double the number of copies compared to Relentless Whispers (6). This might be due to aember control being harder to come by and the higher average creature power making it harder to trigger the steal one off of Relentless Whispers. That said most of the Urchins (11) came with a Faygin. The two decks that had a Faygin also had three Urchins. All the other decks with an Urchin only had one. Maybe the two damage is relevant and the Urchins by themselves just aren’t enough to make a big showing.
Lost in the woods (3), Regrowth (4), Key Charge (4), Nepenthe Seed (1), Mimicry (1)
Both Snufflegator (8), and Murmook (6) are in the top 5 most popular Untamed cards and the two common witches Hunting Witch (5) and Witch of the Eye (5) at just about average. The most popular action is a tie between Nocturnal Maneuver and Vigor at 6 copies each. Key Charge and Chota Hazri showed up in a big way in Seattle compared to Eindhoven. With the weaker aember control maybe it was easier to setup these cards. I can’t help but feel Lost in the Woods was undervalued especially considering how large some of the popular creatures were in the other houses.
I’m really interested to report the Atlanta Vault Tour results later this week. I’m hopeful that the underrepresentation of Brobnar was just due to the early bias against the house. It seems to have all the same tools as Sanctum. It fits right into the big body mold that Sanctum and Mars seemed to have going for them. It has a reasonable board wipe almost on par with Gateway to Dis. Aside from that, I expect to see a lot of decks with high expected aember. This seems the be the most important stat. Most decks should also have a board wipe, hard removal seems hard to come by unlike large creatures. In a more macro sense, I expect to see a lot of decks where each house focuses on what its good at. Untamed list will burst aember, Sanctum will be a bunch of big dudes protecting the little guys, Shadows will control and steal aember. The best decks will always have a game plan that the majority of its cards are working towards. Good luck to everyone that is attending a Sealed Vault Tour this season