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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Nov 16 2017 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success! I know I mentioned last week that even though I was 1-5 I would continue to play out the final matches of Ixalan Sealed League #4, but upon further evaluation and a slight hiccup in health I decided it was best to leave it be and not play any more matches. With such a poor record there isn't much to be gained by playing out the last few matches since I don't need three more matches to tell me what I already know about the pool: it's poor. Sadly, our last pack did add enough power to make a decent W/B Vampires deck, but even then it's not at the power level it should be for eight packs of Ixalan, it looks like what it should be with about six packs instead. We could for the sake of it try it out and see what would happen, but I don't predict it would do well given so little two mana plays: Skyblade of the Legion, Dire Fleet Hoarder, and Fathom Fleet Captain. Overall the pool I got didn't' have the ingredients to be competitive in Ixalan Sealed and even with tight play that was too much to overcome. I did try various configurations to see what worked and what didn't, and in the end it all didn't work out the way I wanted it to. They can't all be winners.

Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule before we dive into Ixalan Limited:

  • Today - Ixalan Draft League #7, Ixalan Sealed League #3 videos
  • 11/23 - Ixalan Draft League #8, Ixalan Sealed League #5 video, Ixalan Sealed League #6 video
  • 11/30 - Ixalan Draft League #9, Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos
  • 12/7 - Ixalan Draft League #10, Ixalan Sealed League #5 video, Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos

As far as I know I will not be doing any Iconic Masters drafts when it releases on Magic Online.  I simply don't have the desire to draft it, even for the 200th Sealed Success coming up at the end of the month.  I might get a draft in for paper play to try and spike some high end cards, but I don't foresee myself doing anything online.  If I could draft 5 color good stuff then I'd be more inclined to do it, but with only bouncelands at uncommon it's just not going to happen.   With all that said, let's begin!

Ixalan Draft League #7

Pick 1 of pack 1 presented a couple different options in Rampaging Ferocidon, Dire Fleet Captain, and Wanted Scoundrels.  It's a tough pairing of cards to choose from as Dire Fleet Captain goes well in the Wanted Scoundrels deck and vice-versa, while the Ferocidon is a good card but would signal a shift away from red if I pass that and the Dire Fleet Captain.  For me personally the choice was between the two pirates, but since I didn't want to commit to two colors right away I decided to take the less committing Wanted Scoundrels.  It's more effective in draft than in sealed and if you back it up with threats/tricks it can run away with the game for you.  I tried my best to be open while staying in black if at all possible, even though black dried up a bit after the first few picks.  I figured this was the packs being dry as opposed to being cut, but the problem here was I had no good option towards a second color.  This made my first pick in pack two quite difficult for me.  I could take the on color Contract Killing, the powerful Charging Monstrosaur, or Settle the Wreckage.

Taking the Settle would be a powerful play for sure, but I had no idea if white would be open coming from my left because I wasn't paying attention to what white cards I passed.  I knew I didn't pass good black, and with two red cards in my pool I was 50/50 on having passed good red outside of my first pick.  Charging Monstrosaur has the highest upside in my opinion since it allows me to be aggressive in a deck that already has Wanted Scoundrels, so I took it and hoped for the best.  Red and black both dried up after a few picks but getting Dire Fleet Captain 8th pick meant that at the very least B/R was open even if the two colors were somewhat dry.  I didn't have high hopes for my deck but I was already too far in the deep end to try and make anything different.

The idea in the end was to be an aggressive deck that attacked early and often, and given my lack of noncreature spells that was the only thing I could be doing.  I knew from previous drafts how strong March of the Drowned could be and so I thought if I could make trades early it wouldn't be so bad for me if I was getting two pirates back and replaying them.  In this way I could be making my own form of card advantage while continuing with the main theme of attacking early and often.  I was surprised to end up at 2-1 after it was all said and done, and for that I'm quite happy!  It did take me a few minutes to recover from the ending of the first match, so go ahead and watch it if you haven't already.  It was certainly something I didn't expect to happen.  I believe I've done 2-1 and better my last couple of drafts, a far cry from my first two drafts that ended 0-2 each.  It just goes to show that I understand this format much better than I did Amonkhet block.

Ixalan Sealed League #3

We end up splitting the last two matches of the league to end up at 3-2 overall with this deck.  That's about what I expected given what the deck could and could not do.  Our deck is great at generating value and can deal with singular threats with removal spells, but it struggles to close games and deal with opponents who can go wide or have multiple threats in play.  Our creatures are pretty average so we have no creature that can go over the top and simply win, so we're forced to play a fair game and hope our opponent's threats are smaller than ours.  Sometimes it will happen (3 wins) and sometimes it won't (2 losses).  I do feel at times our removal was wasted because we weren't using it proactively enough, instead we had to hold onto it because if they played a good creature we'd probably lose, whereas if my creatures were a bit more sturdier I'd be able to use my first piece of removal as a tempo spell and then be able to wait for the second one if I needed it.  Overall it's not a bad deck and a positive record is to be expected, but nothing better than a 3-2 (excluding insane draws from us and poor draws from my opponent).

Conclusion

I end my sealed leagues at 3-2 and 1-5 respectively and get another 2-1 in draft.  I haven't looked at the numbers but I'm sure if you combine both draft and sealed I should be getting close to a 50% win percentage, and that's saying something given where I started and where I'm at now.  The key to me getting better records has been realizing that the format is aggressive enough to the point where 16 lands has been the norm in all my decks, and that's a departure from where I was when I first started this article series.  Back then I liked taking the draw in sealed and playing 17-18 lands, but formats change and so must I along with the times.  Ixalan is not a 17-18 land format and it would be foolish to try and do so.

Next week I'll be back with two new sealed league and a draft league.  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 for this article series posted early along with content exclusive to the channel.  I recently finished up a  4-1 Friendly Modern League with Abzan, so go check it out if you're into Modern.  I also beat U/R Storm and give insight into how to beat the deck as someone who has spent the last two years playing Storm.

Thanks for reading/watching!