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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Sep 28 2017 11:00am
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 Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  This past weekend was the Ixalan prerelease and I was only able to play one event as opposed to my usual 2-3, but regardless I did have fun and learn a few things about the format.  A strange thing was not having any Masterpieces to look for once I opened the packs, meaning there was less excitement/disappointment when there was no shiny card looking back at me.  It was cool though to open packs and not worry about missing a Masterpiece card, so that's definitely a good thing.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule before diving into Ixalan.

  • Today - Ixalan Prerelease Pool #1, Ixalan Prerelease Pool #2, Ixalan Sealed League #1, Ixalan Sealed League #2
  • 10/5 - Ixalan Draft League #1, Ixalan Sealed League #1 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #2 videos
  • 10/12 - Ixalan Draft League #2, Ixalan Sealed League #1 video, Ixalan Sealed League #2 videos
  • 10/19 - Ixalan Draft League #3, Ixalan Sealed League #1 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #2 videos

We'll finish our first two leagues before the month ends, but it should settle out to being two leagues per month.  I'm purposefully not doing any Ixalan drafts for this weeks article since it would be too quick a turnaround to properly draft and do the videos on top of my regular schedule.  We'll be drafting Ixalan next week, but until then let's open up some sealed pools.

Ixalan Prerelease Pools

I will admit, when I opened Gishath, Sun's Avatar all I thought about doing was forcing Naya Dinosaurs and didn't look at any other color combination.  If I was able to make it work, I was going to force Gishath and play as many as the dinosaurs as I could.  While it did work and I went 4-1 with the deck, it wasn't as powerful as the record would make it seem.  I played against people who got mana screwed/flooded and more often than not I was winning with Waker of the Wilds and Thundering Spineback as it was easier to leverage those + mana than it was Gishath.  Part of that was Gishath not having a lot of big dinos to put into play for free, so it was less impressive than it looks when it comes into play.  My best hit was getting an Ancient Brontodon and Raptor Hatchling off a hit before Gishath was killed.  I did get the combo of Blossom Dryad and New Horizons a few times and the mana generated by those two cards is pretty big and that's what let me be comfortable with having big dinosaurs in my deck.

The second pool I did not play with nor did I break it down on my own when I opened it, instead I looked to see if I opened money rares and then put it up on Magic Online.  The pool itself ended up just being okay despite the double Sanctum Seekers I opened in the pool.  The problem here is that there isn't a whole lot of depth in the colors, as evidenced by a lot of chaff hitting the uplayable section very quickly.  White/black with a splash of blue is viable, but I'm not too sure how good it actually is.  You'd have to leverage those Sanctum Seekers in order to get damage across, and you're very much locked into an aggressive deck given the lack of quality creatures past 5 mana.  What would you build here?  I'd imagine this would get a 2-3 or a 3-2 if things worked out in your favor.

Ixalan Sealed League #1

I was fairly excited when I saw a Growing Rites of Itlimoc and Verdant Sun's Avatar to potentially set me up for some big green dinosaurs but green on its own wasn't very deep sadly.  That's a concern for the entire pool, but we're aided by a Thaumatic Compass should we have to play 3+ colors to get good cards into the deck.  Having a finisher is key and unless I play green for Colossal Dreadmaw and Verdant Sun's Avatar it's going to be hard to close out a game if the game lasts more than 6 turns.  I have a decent WB deck but there's not enough power in my creatures to count on it to actually win games.  GB is a viable option but I like the idea of splashing white into the deck for some value explore creatures and Bright Reprisal.  It's always good to have removal and it makes my Thaumatic Compass even better than it already is.  Sadly, I don't think I have a deck for Growing Rites of Itlimoc, mainly due to the fact that I have no real payoffs for a Gaea's Cradle effect without mana sinks.  What do you think?  What deck would you build from this pool?  

Ixalan Sealed League #2

Unlike my prerelease pool I did not try and force Gishath once I saw that I opened it as one of my rares.  The prerelease is an environment where you can be more laid back and have fun, here I'm trying to play my best and win with the strongest cards I open.  Even if I did try and force Gishath, I don't have the pool to do that so I'm happy I didn't immediately try and do that.  Instead I have a pool where green and blue have no depth, so I'm price into a combination of white, red, or black as my deck.  I do have rares in black, so I have more incentive to be a base black deck than I do anything else.  I look at WR, WB, and BRu, but the deck I give the most consideration to is BRu.  It has a lot of removal and enough of a pirate theme that Pillar of Origins is a viable mana rock for my Deadeye Plunderers.  The problem here is that it doesn't have much of a curve and is glutted at the 5 CMC slot with 9 spells that I can cast.  It is the best deck I can make from my pool, but I'm a bit concerned how the deck will play out given the lack of curve.  What do you think?  What would you build?

Conclusion

In no particular order these are things I learned at the prerelease:

  • Waker of the Wilds is a must kill.
  • Thundering Spineback is a good mana sink.
  • Blossom Dryad and New Frontiers make a lot of mana.
  • Fliers are a thing in this format.  I lost games to fliers when the ground was cluttered and had no way of defending myself.
  • Removal for big dinos is there, make sure you save it if you face a deck with Forest.
  • Tribal synergies in sealed are a crapshoot, either you get it or you don't.
  • Depending on your pool Pillar of Origins is either a good mana rock or unplayable fodder.
  • You can get under and around the dinosaur deck, just make sure you don't stumble or they'll catch back up.

I'm sure I'll do more learning as the format evolves and I get more experience with it.  Next week I'll do my first Ixalan draft and play my first few games of my sealed leagues.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where you'll find all my videos up early along with exclusive content solely for the channel.  I'll be starting up Ixalan Standard games and more Commander content, so keep an eye out on the channel.

Thanks for reading/watching!