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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Oct 19 2017 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  I've been playing a single game Draft League on Magic Online and let me tell you, mulligans are quite brutal when you only have one game to play.  On the play one game I mulliganed down to five cards and the card disparity really caught up to me and I lost the game quite handily and dropped me from a 3-1 record to a 3-2 record.  When you have only one game to play every decision is important, and it can easily be over before it begins if your hands don't cooperate with you.  It may be that mulliganing is too dangerous to consider once you've taken the first one, which I imagine can lead to some feel bad decisions.  I suppose that means decks have to be constructed differently, possibly being more aggressive as to work on mulligans to two lands and three spells.  It's quite an interesting experience for sure, although not one I would consider making a regular part of my drafting routine.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule, full of things I would like to make a routine:

  • Today - 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
  • 11/9 - Ixalan Draft League #6, Ixalan Sealed League #3 video, Ixalan Sealed League #4 videos

We end two sealed leagues today and start up two more next week along with another draft.  It would appear that the entire month of November will be dedicated to our next two sealed leagues, with us starting up new ones going into December.  Of course, to get there we first have to finish the ones we have now, so let's get to it!

Ixalan Draft League #3

I felt this draft was relatively straightforward as I had a good reason to be in red with a Charging Monstrosaur and it flowed enough that I was able to keep taking red cards and be rewarded for my first pick. I had to decide whether or not I wanted to be in blue or in black, and while it's possible I could have taken blue cards and had a deck of similar power level, I thought Fathom Fleet Captain was a strong enough card to take and make black a priority.  Given the way I wanted to play out my cards, going into black for Fathom Fleet Captain allows me to make my opponent have difficult choices when approaching combat and I liked the idea of having that play out.  I was happy with the deck I drafted because it let me be the aggressor and keep putting on pressure even single turn.  What I didn't like was that I didn't draft sideboard cards, but in theory I shouldn't need any as I want to be more proactive than reactive.

Going 2-1 and not having to drop was definitely a good feeling!  It's a little sad that my first victories in draft have come a few weeks after the set has been released, but I'm having enough success in paper that I'm not as concerned as the situation warrants.  I will admit that I do struggle in formats that don't allow flexibility in picks/strategies, meaning that a deck with black and white cards is less optimal than a black/white Vampire deck.  I'm more likely to want to draft a deck with just black/white cards as opposed to the black/white Vampire deck because that's what I'm used to doing.   The way to fix this is to learn how and when to draft each tribe/color pair, but that takes more time and money than I'm currently afforded.  This is one of the major reasons I like sets with less synergy (e.g. core sets).  In a format like this I'm more likely to learn one deck and force that deck every single time as a way to save on time (but not necessarily money).  I will make a concerted effort to draft more freely in paper in order to learn the different tribes and how they work.

Ixalan Sealed League #1

Well, I wasn't expecting to get hit by a bug in my fourth match, but given the result I got I'm happy I was allowed to redo that match result and put myself in a position to go 3-2 overall.  Hopefully I won't get hit by that bug again since the workaround they gave me was something that I tried to do in the video and it didn't work.  After the match I wondered if I also needed to assign 0 damage to my opponent to fix the issue, but looking at the video I saw that when I made the -217 into 0 damage, my opponent was also taking 0 trample damage.  In short, the game bugged out and it ended up working to my benefit as I was able to win my last two matches and end with a 3-2 record in the league.  Outside my explore creatures and Lurking Chupacabra my deck didn't have much synergy, nor was it playing any one major tribe from the set.  It was a mish-mash of cards that hoped to work together well enough to win games based on power level alone.  In theory if you have powerful plays and enough removal you can take a pile of cards with no synergy to victory and that happened more often than not thankfully.

The strangest thing to come out of all this was me playing a three color deck with very little fixing and electing to be on the play every single match.  I would normally choose to draw if I was playing this sort of deck, but not in this format.  It's much more important to have initiative than not, so even if I couldn't take advantage by curving out each game, I wasn't doing myself any favors by being on the draw.  To my credit, I had a curve that, mana issues aside, wanted to play more often than it wanted to draw.  It certainly helps that explore creatures can help draw you into the colors you need, so that also helped me be more liberal about choosing to be on the play.  I wouldn't recommend trying to play three colors the hard way again, but if your pool presents you with a deck that has to be more than two colors in order to win, don't be afraid to make that choice.

Ixalan Sealed League #2

I have to say, I was not at all expecting to go 3-0 in the final stretch of the league and end up at 5-4 overall given how I started the first stage.  The main difference between the deck I presented in the last two stages for a 5-1 record and the first deck which had a 0-3 record was the curve.  My curve was much smoother in the B/W deck I played and even though it had individually weaker cards, it was able to use its mana more efficiently and keep pace with whatever my opponent was doing.  I was particularly glad that I included Pirate's Cutlass and Skyblade of the Legion as that combination of cards let me have a legitimate route to victory by attacking in the air for more than one point of damage a turn.  I'm not sure if I would have played either had I not had the other, but the combination of both allowed me to play them because of the "combo" I could have.

Ixalan has proven to be more of an aggressive format than I initially thought, and that line of thinking is reflected in the 5-1 record I had after switching decks.  This isn't to say that board stalls can't happen or that it's impossible to play big dinosaurs, it simply means that the speed of the format is a bit faster than I had anticipated.  This means decks are more likely to have a lower curve as it's harder to play on defense than it is on offense, so attacking seems to be the better option over blocking.   This is no doubt helped by raid being a mechanic in the set, giving players a bonus when attacking is going to help players attack more often than they normally would.  I've definitely learned a lot from this league and look forward to applying those lessons in the upcoming sealed leagues.

Conclusion

We went an impressive 7-1 in matches played this week, and that's even more impressive given our lowly records the past few weeks.  A lot of things went right today and I'm grateful that it played out the way it did.  We ended our first two leagues at 3-2 and 5-4, giving me an 8-6 mark in Ixalan sealed and a combined 2-5 record in Ixalan draft.  The draft numbers look pretty poor but here's hoping they fix themselves in the coming weeks.  Next week I'll be introducing two new sealed leagues to dissect and play, and the hope is to improve on a combined 8-6 mark with the upcoming 14 matches I'll end up playing.  I finally did well in draft and if the strategy of turning creatures sideways is a good one I'll be sure to try and recreate it for the draft next week.

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 see all the videos in this article series posted early alongside content exclusive to the channel.  I'm looking to start posting Legacy content, so be on the lookout for that.  I will admit I've not played much Legacy, but I'll do my best to learn the format and make good plays.  Two new sealed leagues along with a draft is on tap for next week, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading/watching!