Bob Maher, Jr. has been tearing up Onslaught limited Grand Prix this season. He flew to Copenhagen and won the whole thing, then followed up with a performance at GP Philly that left him outside the Top 8 on tiebreakers. He took time out of his busy schedule to Top 8 at Pro Tour - Houston. He's in rare form that has everyone expecting big things from him.
Before the call to begin construction, Maher took a forbidden peek at the Registration Sheet. He did not like what he saw.
"Oh God, I'm gonna be playing blue."
The flag fell and he tore open his cards. He did a first pass to trim the unplayables. Black was first, and after the chaff was removed, Maher wasted no time in removing the color from consideration entirely. Blue was next, and he hesitated before sending Crafty Pathmage to the bench.
"This guy was so good to me in Philly. Skirk Commando. Goblin Machinist. Face-down Skittish Valesk. In fact, in order to win the game I had to lose the flip so I could do it again. It gets to my upkeep and I'm chanting lose, lose, lose!"
He ended up sending the Pathmage on its way all the same. Looking at what was left of his four colors he was not thrilled. His power was in blue and his removal was in red, so the first order of business was to pair them up and see what he needed. He left his good white and green fanned out for reference.
The red and blue totalled eighteen. He had good removal in Shock, Solar Blast and Slice and Dice, and some Mistforms (but no Wizards) to go with Lavamancer's Skill. Unfortunately, he was looking at double-Seahawk and other winners. He tried adding white, piling in all his playables and then making cuts. Doubtless One and Daunting Defender quickly got benched. Still he had to run both Ironfist Crusher and Grassland Crusader, and was not proud of it.
He tried to splash in the green, splitting off a pair of Elvish Warriors and Elvish Herald, leaving in two Tribal Unities, Spitting Gourna, Snarling Undorak and Leery Fogbeast, but it wasn't nearly enough. Now the deck just looked empty. He put the white back in and just stared at it.
"I will feel fortunate if I make the next day."
The mana wasn't going to be pretty, either.
"If it wasn't for Slice and Dice I'd want to just splash red, but I have to be able to cast it. It's one of my only ways to win."
He tried a more aggressive build that could play enough forests to warrant playing the Elvish Warriors, but immediately dismissed it. "This deck looks like it can beat down, because that's what people are used to seeing from draft, but this deck is no good for sealed."
He went back to the white. He needed to cut a card. He pulled the Searing Flesh, then reconsidered.
"It feels like if my deck can do thirteen, it can do twenty. But I think my only hope is to hit with these stupid guys and then finish with this. If it wasn't for my mana, I'd be running this card."
As it was Maher was forced to run seven plains, five islands and a Lonely Sandbar, and four mountains, crossing his fingers on getting to the double-red for his Slice and Dice.
"The worst part is, is that this is certainly an eighteen land deck. I just feel like I can't afford to get mana flooded."
Saying it out loud made him change his mind. He pulled Renewed Faith for an extra mountain. It was all he could do not to stare knives at Ken Krouner and David Williams who had opened Get Into Day 2 Free. He sighed and finished his registration.
"It's not as bad as it looks, but it's pretty bad."
GP LA Day One Sealed Deck