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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Nov 02 2017 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  This past weekend was Dino-Sized Draft Weekend, which all that means is stores could draft with 4 packs of Ixalan instead ot the usual 3 packs.  To be honest, this didn't really feel any more special than a regular draft besides the fact that you could be more liberal with your picks since you had an additional pack to sort it all out if it didn't work out in your favor.  I did one of these drafts and I ended up with one of the stronger decks I've drafted, but I attribute that to the extra pack being added as opposed to better drafting.  River's Rebuke found its way to me yet again (I've drafted this at least 6 times already) and was as good as expected.  Overall I'm not too impressed with the concept of it all, but perhaps I'm not the intended target.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule before jumping into Ixalan:

  • Today - 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
  • 11/16 - Ixalan Draft League #7, Ixalan Sealed League #3 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #4 videos
  • 11/23 - Ixalan Draft League #8, Ixalan Sealed League #5 video, Ixalan Sealed League #6 video

Towards the end of the month we'll start up two new sealed pools, and by the time it's all said and done I think we'll have a shot at two more pools before Rivals of Ixalan comes out.  If we don't have 4 more weeks after we finished leagues 5 and 6 then I won't start them and play it by ear when that time comes.  Before all that happens we do have to get through our current leagues, so let's get started!

Ixalan Draft League #5

I've had a string of success with white/red and so I continued that success here.  The first pick Kinjalli's Sunwing allows me to draft an aggressive white deck that wants my opponent to stumble and be more defensive than normal because of their creatures coming into play tapped when they cast them.  It gives you even more initiative than you already have on the play, and in some cases is too much for your opponent to come back from.  I don't necessarily think Kinjalli's Sunwing is an exceptionally powerful card, but when you build with it in mind it can be quite the strong turn 3 play.  I did allow myself the option of being open on my second color because even though I was committed to white, I didn't have to choose between red or green until I needed to.  Pack 2 Pick 2 Burning Sun's Avatar cemented myself in red as that card is quite powerful if you're curving into it.  The idea here is that if I play Sunwing on 3 and Avatar on 6, I'm more than likely going to take out a blocker and have a strong attack that turn.  If I can set that up I'm almost guaranteed a victory in my opinion.  I've very rarely played a Trumpet Blast effect in the years that I've been drafting, but Dinosaur Stampede is exceptional in the decks that can leverage it.  Trample is a big boon and in a format like this you have tokens that you can attack with and get extra damage through.

I expected at least a 2-1 with this deck and I got just that.  I did have a chance at 3-0 and if I was slightly luckier I could have gotten there.  The fact that I felt I could go 3-0 is not only a departure from my sad state of affairs in Amonkhet block, it's a complete difference from the first two drafts I did for this article series.  While I don't know how to draft every deck perfectly, my understanding of the format at the base level is very much improved and that has allowed me to win more games.  It seems to be that I never fully understood Amonkhet block on a basic level, so it was going to be harder for me to get a 2-1/3-0 record in those drafts.  I'm convinced that I will get a 3-0 draft at least once before Ixalan is over, so all that remains is to actually make it happen.

Ixalan Sealed League #3

I split the first two matches 1-1, and in the match I lost it felt like I didn't have many relevant plays I could make.  While I do have a good amount of removal, I have very few threats so if my opponent has more threats than I do, it's going to be hard to win.  If we get in a board stall, how do I come out of that ahead?  Evasion isn't really a thing, and there really isn't a play that goes over the top to beat my opponent.  I've found that board stalls in this format are very miserable to be in and you need to have a way to break it otherwise you're stuck there indefinitely. At that point the game becomes about who can deck first and that has yet to favor me.  My best ways to win are when my opponent stumbles a bit or I can use my cards to draw more cards and get ahead that way while they're on just one card a turn.  Treasure Map and explore creatures help with this plan, but it's not a perfect one as you still have to draw relevant cards to break a potential board stall.  After these two matches I have a feeling my best record will be a 3-2 from this pool unless I make drastic changes to try and increase the power level.  If I have adequate fixing I'll try and splash a few cards, if not I'll run back the same deck and hope for the best.

Ixalan Sealed League #4

I did not expect to go 0-3 and yet that's exactly what ended up happening here.  I don't want to blame it on something out of my control but I did feel the game 3s I lost I was not able to keep up with my opponent's draw.  I found myself behind the curve in those games and they were punishing enough that it was very difficult to come back from.  Consider a game where my opponent and I both made turn 2 Drover of the Mighty, but they were able to get the first attack with a creature whereas I was having to block and lose a bit of mana advantage.  If I'm able to be the aggressor in those games I have a better shot at winning, and that's likely due to the fact that my deck is better suited to be attacking as opposed to blocking.  I also don't have a big trump card that I can play and win with, unless you want to count Bellowing Aegisaur as that card.  While playing it and using my red burn spells to pump my team was great when I was able to set that up, Bellowing Aegisaur on its own isn't too impressive.

To my credit I did try different combinations of cards to get an advantage in each game I played, but it wasn't enough in the end as I lost all three matches two games to one.  While I largely abandoned my G/W deck for R/G, I don't believe it was a mistake to try G/W first.  It just so happened that the matchups I faced didn't want G/W in them, they were more favorable to R/G.  We do get to add a booster pack to our pool to make it better, but I'm not sure how much help the pack actually gave me.  I'm going to look over the pool again and see if there's anything I missed before playing the next three matches.  What do you think?  What would you play?

Conclusion

3-5 overall today is pretty poor, but I'll take what I can get and continue to try and improve on that.  If there's a way for me to improve my second sealed pool I'll find a way to do it and combined with better play should yield better results.  The Pro Tour is this weekend and I'm going to ignore it for the most part, so don't expect an analysis of the limited rounds this time.  At this point Ixalan is a known quantity and I doubt there will be innovation this weekend, both in Standard and Draft.

Next week I'll be back with another draft league and updates to both sealed pools.  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 the videos in this article series posted early along with some content exclusive to the channel.  After playing a few dozen matches of Legacy I've decided that it's not for me and focus more on Modern/Commander instead.  

Thanks for reading/watching!