Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success! Thanksgiving is over, and the first of four Standard Showdown events have taken place. I like the concept of Standard Showdown, and oddly enough even though the packs have the same feel as Treasure Chests, they're more well received than Treasure Chests have been. I think this is because these packs are all upside if they're "extra" prize support for a standard tournament. If you do a five dollar event with Standard boosters as prize support and have these packs thrown in on top of it, well that sounds sweet.
The event I went to fired with 8 people and everybody was given a pack with the undefeated player getting a little more for finishing first. Even though my pack was just bulk, it was free bulk and I lost nothing by playing in the event. Hopefully Magic Online can do something like that to not only drive player interest, but boost morale and confidence in the program.
Last week I talked about some of the overrated cards in Kaladesh and this week I'd like to look at some of the underrated cards. Now, these are cards that I personally either thought were good and are now bad, or bad and now are good/better than they were. Card evaluations are tricky and never an exact science, but you can try to limit your mistakes by holding yourself accountable and learning from those mistakes.
Underrated Kaladesh Cards
I did not rate this card highly during my set review and after some time I've come to give this card more respect than I gave it credit for. It's quite easy to make the Ninth Bridge Patrol large, especially if you play it on turn 2. Some amount of trades will have to occur, and that'll make this card bigger and bigger as the game goes on. It's still not that great in stalled board states since no creatures leave your side of the battlefield, and it's even worse when you're behind, but otherwise it's an acceptable card to play.
The fact that you have to return something as an additional cost made me not like this card and while I've come around on it, it does have its restrictions. The card is playable, you can definitely put it in your deck and it'll do what you need it to do. This card works best when you have a lot of enter the battlefield effects that you want to use again. Prophetic Prism, various Puzzleknots, cards with Fabricate, etc. It's the same as Aviary Mechanic, expect that Aviary Mechanic is still a 2/2 no matter what.
I know this card is good, and I'm not saying that I didn't think that before. It's more so that it has done a lot more than I thought it would do. Gearseeker Serpent is the win condition/top end in a lot of base blue decks and you need it for your deck to function. Blue isn't aggressive in this format on its own, so you need to slow the game down in order to utilize your expensive cards. Gearseeker Serpent allows you to have a plan once you have a lot of mana and control of the board. The activated ability makes it so your opponent doesn't have a lot to time to find an answer because otherwise they'll die.
I underestimated these cards because their effects felt small to me. I wasn't sure how often Subtle Strike would be worth using, and while Rush of Vitality can protect a creature from dying, the +1 I felt was negligible at best. Turns out Subtle Strike can make for very favorable combats if creatures line up the right way and Rush of Vitality can be a huge blowout/life swing. It seems a lot of the time creatures are equal in stats (2/2 against 2/2, 3/3 against 3/3) so adding power or taking it away from either side is possible, while the dream is to have two similar combats that get blown wide open by the Subtle Strike. If two 2/2s and two 3/3s are fighting each other, Subtle Strike gives you a 4/4 and a 2/2 while your opponent loses everything. In your black aggro decks the game comes down to a race and if you have a Rush of Vitality then that game is in your favor because not only do you save your creature and kill theirs, you get around 4-5 points of life that can turn the race in your favor.
Kaladesh Draft League
Once again I find myself drafting a deck that has a very clear open color while the other color is a bit of a mystery. I'm not sure why I have difficulty finding a good second color for my decks. Am I forcing the first color too much, or am I just committing to the second color based on a card or two and not changing directions even though that's what I should be doing? I'm not sure what the deal is, but we'll look to fix that in the coming weeks. The deck I drafted was fine but that's about it. I shouldn't have played Shrewd Negotiation because I don't have that many ways to turn it on. I'm basically hoping to draw Whirler Virtuoso and then give away the token that I make in exchange for something else. In reality you need multiple ways to make "useless" artifacts to make the card worth playing.
Kaladesh Sealed League
Just one match this week; I had planned on doing two matches but after the way this one ended I didn't feel like playing another match with the deck for a few days. If I could take it back I would make better decisions, but I'm not sure if the outcome changes at all. I should have mulliganed that first hand. If I don't hit any land then I'm very much in trouble and I can't afford to be a turn behind with that type of hand. Yes, the upside is high if I draw two lands, but I don't think the odds are in my favor to do so. I'm close to 50 percent to hit, and I need 70 percent ideally to make that sort of call. Being 1-2 is a little disappointing, but I feel I can bounce back and end the league at 3-2.
Kaladesh Practice Sealed
I'm going to playlist my practice sealed pools every week I do them, but you only need to watch the first video to see the newest content. This pool was relatively simple once you start to break down the colors. White, Blue, and Red just don't have enough depth to make those colors worth playing at all. Once you get to that spot and see that Green and Black have enough playables in those colors, the rest sorts itself out pretty easily. The only point of contention is whether you want to splash white or not, which is likely fairly inconsequential when it's all said and done.
Going 2-1 again in a draft league is a little annoying, but given how that deck was constructed I'm happy with the 2-1. Looking back on it, you realize how bad your deck is when timing someone out is the best chance you have at winning that match. It also says something about your opponent not being able to close the game out, but you get hit with that criticism yourself. I don't like winning by timing someone out, but it is part of the game and is a legitimate strategy to employ, even if you feel less than stellar about it.
Return to Ravnica is the current flashback format and this is a format I'm very much interested in playing. I had a lot of fun drafting RTR back when it was in Standard and so hopefully I can relive some of that fun this week instead of doing another Kaladesh draft. I'll be back with RTR draft, I'll finish up the Kaladesh Sealed and I may have something new thrown in as well. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.