KEYS TO THE FORMAT
Core 2020 is upon us! Combine your sealed pool with a friend’s and build the best two decks. With more cards to use, Two-Headed Giant decks will generally be stronger than their single-pool counterparts, so craft yours accordingly. Here are a few tips to help guide you toward this format’s HIDDEN GEMS.
- Evasion: With more creatures in play, board stalls can happen very quickly. Evasive creatures are critical! Flying is especially relevant both on offense and defense and there are several cards that bolster the flying strategy like Empyrean Eagle. Consider a copy of Frilled Sea Serpent that can’t be blocked or cards that grant the ability like Goblin Smuggler or Manifold Key.
- Countermagic: With stronger decks there are more must-answer bombs overall and the risk of devoting a turn to counter an enemy spell (say, with Convolute) is less problematic when your teammate helps advance the board. Your situational counterspells like Bone to Ash and Negate will find their targets more often too.
- Situational Answers: Cards that only interact with specific card types are normally relegated to the sideboard but with two opponents they’re more likely to have a target. Remember that matches are only one game – you won’t have a chance to grab a silver bullet after seeing what you’re facing! Look for versatile cards that answer multiple threat types like Meteor Golem or Reckless Air Strike. Also, there is a cycle of cards that have protection from an enemy color and a cycle that specifically effects cards of a specific color. With two opponents, the likelihood that you’ll encounter viable targets is much higher.
- Quick Tips
- Play or draw: In 2HG sealed it’s often correct to choose to draw if your decks aren’t incredibly aggressive. Drawing two cards on your first turn can be a significant advantage if you’re planning for a longer game.
- Mulligan: Each player gets to mulligan once to seven cards. Mulligan aggressively! If you have a sub-par hand, pitch it back and try again. It’s not worth risking a mediocre opening seven, especially now that we’re using the London Mulligan rule.
As we mentioned earlier, 2HG matches are best of one. You want as many of your cards as possible to be efficient and flexible. That means looking for cards that answer varied threats or that can benefit you and your teammate.
- Utility: Some cards gain additional benefits from being versatile, starting with more life, or from having a teammate. Here are a few notable examples.
- Angel of Vitality – With 30 starting life, this is likely to be a 4/4 flyer for three mana! It’s a great addition to any deck that can play it.
- Fathom Fleet Cutthroat & Ogre Siegebreaker – With twice as many creatures on board, these creatures are far more likely to have targets to take down.
- Goblin Smuggler – Not only can this help a partner’s creature tunnel under defending creatures, it has haste so it can be used without a full turn of foreshadowing.
- Herald of the Sun – This large flyer can help build up the rest of your team’s flying force.
- Loyal Pegasus – This can attack with your teammate’s creatures to satisfy its restriction.
- Wolfkin Bond – Buff up your teammate’s creature and pick up a 2/2 yourself.
- Wolfrider’s Saddle – “Can’t be blocked by more than one creature” is a great line of text in this format. Your threat can take on opposing creatures one at a time rather than face the full might of the enemy board.
- Zephyr Charge – Granting flying to the right creature at the right time can be critical.
- Combat Tricks: Instant-speed spells that don’t specify creatures “you control” can be great at fouling up combat math for the opponent. Watch for (and watch out for) serviceable common and uncommon tricks like Bladebrand, Growth Cycle, Infuriate, Might of the Masses (remember that this only counts your creatures!), Moment of Heroism or Uncaged Fury.
- Match Game: Each color features a common card that benefits from you having multiple copies. Of these, Growth Cycle and possibly Faerie Miscreant may be the only ones worth pursuing, but be aware that your pool is more likely to contain multiples of these cards.
The word “each” gains a great deal of power in multiplayer formats. Here are some of the cards that impact each opponent, often doubling their effectiveness:
- Ajani, Strength of the Pride – Ajani’s ultimate requires a lot of setup but it’s almost impossible to lose if you manage to pull it off. If you can get to 45 life, wiping out all of your opponents’ artifacts and creatures is amazing.
- Cavalier of Flame – This will be a bit contingent on your ability to get land cards in your graveyard, but when this dies it will do that much damage to each opponent.
- Chandra, Awakened Inferno – +2 to give each opponent a damaging emblem? This is bonkers! Every turn this sticks around, the damage gets more intense and will likely close out the game in short order.
- Chandra’s Spitfire – Though it doesn’t say “each,” this will trigger whenever either opposing head is dealt damage. This makes for a great combo with Glint-Horn Buccaneer.
- Corpse Knight – Turning each creature that enters the battlefield under your control into 2 life lost for your opponents is great value.
- Dragon Mage – This card will almost always impact the game in a huge way. A 5/5 flyer can be difficult to deal with, but causing each player to discard their hand and draw seven cards can definitely backfire. Your team will get to benefit from the effect first but your opponents will untap with a full grip of cards too. The huge threat and potential to refill your hands is great but use it at your own risk!
- Epicure of Blood – This vampire will cause each opponent to lose 1 life for a net loss of 2, but only if you’re the one who gains life.*
- Glint-Horn Buccaneer – Converting discarding into damage can be quite potent! 2 net damage per card discarded is a good rate if you can find another outlet to discard cards (maybe Dragon Mage?).
- Yarok’s Fenlurker – Card advantage is especially important in 2HG since it’s so often a battle of attrition. Clearing out two cards with a creature is great value.
These are the cards that suffer the most in this format. Since card quality has generally improved in recent sets, these cards may not be unplayable in all circumstances. However, in most cases they won’t function ideally or they’ll do more harm than good.
- Grafdigger’s Cage – This is clearly a constructed plant. You may be tempted to play this on the off chance an opponent has Mystic Forge, Chandra, Acolyte of Flame or Kethis, the Hidden Hand. Don’t. These matches are best of one. Don’t waste the slot.
- Rule of Law – Unless you have a very specific purpose for playing this card, it will hamper your team just as much as your opponents… and you will have devoted a card and mana to play it!
- Vengeful Warchief – Since life loss happens to only the impacted player your opponents can be selective about who they attack and keep you from getting any advantage from this card.**
These are the cards I feel get the biggest boost from being in a multiplayer environment, not necessarily my top picks overall. You should still prioritize solid removal and efficient creatures but I personally value these cards and others like them highly.
Top 5 Common/Uncommon picks:
Top 5 Rare/Mythic Rare picks:
- Scheming Symmetry
- Chandra, Awakened Inferno
- Flood of Tears
- Glint-Horn Buccaneer
- Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
We’ve made it to the end of another primer! Was this helpful? Did I miss any cards you thought should be mentioned? Did you take down your own 2HG prerelease? Let me know in the comments and may good fortune follow you until we meet next spoiler season!
Kade Goforth is a Level 2 Judge from Oklahoma.
* CR 810.9 – Damage, loss of life, and gaining life happen to each player individually. The result is applied to the team’s shared life total.
** CR 802.3 – As the attacking player declares each attacking creature, he or she chooses a defending player or a planeswalker controlled by a defending player for it to attack.