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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Oct 05 2017 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Ixalan has just released and I've done a few drafts of the format on my own in paper, with a 3-1 and 1-2 to my name as a result.  I did well with a UR Pirate deck that had Entrancing Melody, Fleet Swallower and River's Rebuke as its rares, but did poorly with a UW deck that didn't have any many powerful plays to make.  It doesn't help that UW isn't a "real" color combination since it has no gold card and isn't part of any tribe so it's just a mash of blue and white cards that go well together.  In a synergy driven format I don't believe that's the correct thing to do unless you have a specific payoff: Favorable Winds.  We'll talk more Ixalan in a moment but first let's take a look at the upcoming schedule:

  • Today - 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
  • 10/26 - Ixalan Draft League #4, Ixalan Sealed League #3 video, Ixalan Sealed League #4 video

All of October will be Ixalan with us starting new Ixalan Sealed Leagues going into the month of November.  Worlds is this weekend and I might take a gander at Ixalan Draft if it's format at Worlds and give my thoughts on it overall.  For now, let's dive into Ixalan!

Ixalan Draft League #1

Ixalan Draft feels like a format where you want to pick up on the synergies of each color pair/tribe and not venture too far out from what the set is trying to tell you to do.  Formats like that have always been difficult for me because you can be in open colors and still have a bad deck because you're not doing the thing that pair is supposed to be doing.  Ixalan has 4 tribes/color pairs: Grixis Pirates, Naya Dinosaurs, UG Merfolk, WB Vampires.  Beyond that, you can break up the three color pairs into three 2 color pairs within that tribe: UR/UB/BR Pirates and RG/WR/GW Dinosaurs.  If you include WB and UG, you have eight 2 color pairs that have an identity, with UW and GB not having a clear focus on what they want to do.  No gold uncommon means UW and GB have to play up other synergies to make those decks work (GB Explore and UW Skies).

Going into my first draft I didn't look at the set in depth to see what each color pair wanted to do, I thought I could draft as I normally do and be just fine.  Of course, I don't think that's the case at all after the draft happened.  I started out with a first pick Shipwreck Looter where that was not the best blue card I could have taken.  Spell Swindle and River Sneak are better and should have been taken before I took the Looter.  After that I took a couple of Dinosaurs, with me perhaps overrating Ranging Raptors by taking it highly.  In practice the card is just fine and you really need a good payoff if/when you get the extra land when you enrage it.  A "free" Rampant Growth seems like good value, but is there any value to it if the extra land you get doesn't pay dividends by helping you cast a bigger spell than you normally would be able to?

Getting a Belligerent Brontodon late in pack 1 gave me incentive to splash white, and opening Ixalan's Binding in pack 2 made me commit to a white splash.  While I drafted a playable deck, it didn't have an identity and was lacking in the top end of the curve.  I drafted too many three drops and not enough fours and fives to give me bigger creatures/plays to make, so it would turn out that I had early plays to make but my opponent could easily answer them and leave me with very few relevant plays to make after turn 5+.  If I were to do the draft again I'd emphasize bigger mana plays in this type of deck or commit to having a small curve and trying to aggro my opponent with small creatures and combat tricks.

Going 0-2 wasn't a surprise, the deck didn't have an identity and I lost to two WB Vampire decks that had more synergy than me.  I would have liked one or two mana sinks in the deck, so that my Growing Rites of Itlimoc would have been quite useful if/when I flip it.  Not only that, I felt like even though I had a Rummaging Goblin to draw me into action, I didn't have any action cards to actually draw into.  My first few drafts of a format are generally losing efforts, so we'll see how next week's draft goes.

Ixalan Sealed League #1

I decided to go with my Abzan build since I didn't think I had anything else going for me that would make me switch to another deck.  I like the Explore subtheme of the deck with Lurking Chupacabra giving me an incidental way to kill small creatures or make them small enough to die to Vanquish the Weak.  It's a good stuff deck but it doesn't have a haymaker, instead it tries to leverage the card advantage from Explore creatures and Thaumatic Compass to grind the opponent down and take a match win.  Our first match we were able to win due to our opponent timing out and making a lot of Dinosaur tokens, but the second match saw me get decked in game 1 and lose game 2 fairly quickly.  If I had seen the outcome of game 1 a little bit earlier I could have made it so I wouldn't have gotten decked, but at least I saw how the game would end and did everything I could to try and make it so I had a chance at victory.

Ixalan Sealed League #2

I decided to try Grixis Pirates since it had the best cards for me in the pool, but there's a glaring problem that I knew would be an issue and that's my glut of 5 mana cards in the deck.  In the games I lost, I wasn't able to deploy my hand out quickly because I was stuck on one spell a turn due to all the expensive cards I had in my deck.  I have more 5 mana cards than any other spot on the curve, so odds are I'm going to draw my 5 mana cards more often than not.  The deck can be powerful, but the lack of curve is really hurting it and is the biggest reason I ended stage 1 at 0-3.  I have to rework my pool in order to make a better deck, or at the very least tweak the curve so that I have more substantial plays in the early turns of the game.  What do you think?  How should the deck be built and what would be a better choice for me?

Conclusion

I did a lot of losing today but with losing you're able to learn from your mistakes and see why they happened.  You don't learn nearly as much from your victories as you do your defeats, so there is comfort in knowing that I'm growing as I take these losses.  The idea is to hopefully turn those losses into future wins by using the knowledge I gained to maximize my win percentage.  It always sucks to lose but there is value in it, so long as you look for it and are able to push past the negative feeling of losing.

Next week I'll be back with more Ixalan Limited, and hopefully more winning!  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in comments section below.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here, where you can find all the videos in this article series posted early along with videos exclusive to the channel.  I've been a little inconsistent in how often I post to my channel, but hopefully I can fix that soon and get back to a more regular schedule.

Thanks for reading/watching!