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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Oct 12 2017 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  The World Championships were this past weekend and while I was aware that the event was happening, I had no real desire to watch even knowing Ixalan Limited was part of the tournament.  It just didn't feel like the right time for the World Championships given how it used to be an event that capped off the year.  I understand why they moved it to where it's at now, but part of me wishes it was still at the end of the year.  I've been doing paper drafts with more frequency since maybe people like to draft Ixalan, and so I've had more practice with it now than I did Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation.  My results have been mixed, but learning is part of the process and I'm glad I can have this opportunity I did not have before.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule:

  • Today - 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
  • 11/2 - Ixalan Draft League #5, Ixalan Sealed League #3 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #4 videos

We're very close to wrapping up our first two sealed leagues and moving on to new ones.  Hopefully everything we've learned so far will help us when we have new pools and matches to play.  For now, let's get on with the draft and the continuation of our sealed leagues.

Ixalan Draft League #2

For this draft I wanted to draft a low curve and make sure I was the aggressor as that's what I've been seeing do well in my drafts.  While it's sweet to draft the big expensive dinosaurs, you have to be able to live long enough in order to cast them.  Perhaps aggro dinosaurs is better than trying to cast Ancient Brontodon and cards of the like.  I started off with a cheap blue cards and followed up with two cheap explore creatures, but those happened to be in green and black.  G/B doesn't have a gold uncommon in the set, but it does have Vraska, Relic Seeker as a mythic gold card.  Given that Vraska herself has no real synergy with the set, you have to dig deep in order to find what those two colors do well.  You can play a typical midrange deck or you can try to draft G/B Explore, which centers around Lurking Chupacabra as a means to generate card advantage and kill creatures at the same time.  Once I saw that I could be in this deck, I went all in with the Chupacabras, at the expense of real actual removal.   I definitely made some suspect picks, such as taking Shapers of Nature over Vanquish the Weak and Kumena's Speaker over Seekers' Squire.  I tried to be cute by adding a Merfolk sub-theme to the deck when I should have been more focused on what I was already doing.  

The sub-theme hurt more than it helped as I had to play more land to make the blue cards work and make a deck that wasn't fast to begin with a bit more slower than it needed to be.  I ended up going 0-2 again with some unfortunate percentages not going my way.  Playing and drafting better I could have done for sure, but I don't think I was wrong in taking the chances that I did.  Having a 70% hit rate on the gamble I took is high enough for me to justify the decision.  We often keep 2 lands on the draw when if we look at each individual draw step, we're looking ~50% to hit land every turn, with a cumulative 70% to hit after turn 3.  The number may not always work in our favor, but we shouldn't be results oriented in thinking that we made a mistake by making an educated decision.  I don't think my deck was inherently bad, but it needed hard removal and a good threat to make it competitive.

Ixalan Sealed League #1

If we push aside the lag I do believe I would have had a good chance to win this match, some incredible plays from my opponent notwithstanding.  Losing my board state to double Fiery Cannonade was certainly a surprise and a big punishment for me having made my earlier attack.  I don't think it was a mistake to do what I did, given that the odds of me knowing my opponent had those two cards in hand was very unlikely.  I certainly saw myself as a favorite to win that game until that happened and left me with very little to muster an offense.  Given time constraints I conceded the game even though I wasn't technically dead yet.  The second game I also saw myself as a favorite to win, but then I got hit with a Settle the Wreckage that definitely wrecked me (pun intended).  I lost a lot of my offense with that play and I couldn't win from that point.  I'm happy that I fought a competitive match even though I came out on the losing side of it.  Hopefully we right the ship in the next two matches.

Ixalan Sealed League #2

After the 0-3 debacle that was Grixis Pirates, I decided that I needed to make a change if I was going to have a chance at winning any matches in the next two stages.  I knew that the best chance I had at winning when I was playing Grixis was when I curved out and used my 5 mana plays to keep pressuring my opponent.  I wanted my new deck to be able to get on the board early and attack my opponent as often as possible.  I made updates to the drafts of WR and WB I had and saw that WB had a good shot at being aggressive if I was willing to play Skyblade of the Legion and Pirate's Cutlass to make a 3/4 flier.  I was indeed willing to do that and knew I had removal to back it up in Pious Interdiction and Contract Killing.  Winning a late game wasn't going to be something the deck could do, so the plan was to avoid getting in those situations by always putting pressure on my opponent.

I was happy to win my first two matches and even though I could reverse my fortune and go 3-0 but it was not meant to be.  My opponent overpowered me in game 1 and I could not draw enough lands to make relevant plays in game 2 and lost the match rather quickly.  It never felt like I was in a spot where I could compete as I was behind in both games and looking for answers that weren't in my deck.  At 2-4 I have to win out in order to get above a 50% win rate, but given how the first stage went I would be okay with a 4-5 finish.  I definitely misbuilt my pool in the first stage, not realizing that the deck was too slow to compete and would have awkward draws given the glut of 5 mana plays in the deck.  The last pack we opened gave us some minor upgrades at best, but I'll be looking over all the decks to see if any of them stand out more than WB did just now.

Conclusion

2-4 in matches played is not ideal, but it certainly is better than I did last week with just the one win.  I do need to draft better, perhaps I need to try a more streamlined aggro deck so that I have initiative and present threats as opposed to trying to answer them.  Draft generally favors the aggressor, so I should keep that in mind as I go into my next Ixalan draft.  I've found that UW can be viable if you draft it as a tempo deck, not necessarily as a UW Skies deck.  I've been winning with River's Rebuke in my U/x decks, so it might be possible that blue wants to be a tempo deck no matter what you do.  What do you think?  Is blue best drafted as a tempo deck?

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where I post all the videos in this article series early along with content exclusive to the channel.  Next week I'll be back to finish my sealed leagues and do another draft league.

Thanks for reading/watching!