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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Nov 23 2017 11:00am
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Welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Iconic Masters released this past weekend and I did manage to get in two drafts in before realizing it wasn't for me.  35 to draft a set that is very hit or miss on the value that you open to get an experience I could get for far less elsewhere was something I wasn't into doing repeatedly.  I don't mind doing regular drafts at 15 and even if I don't open anything of value I can still win prize packs to help even that out.  I paid 70 total to get about 30 dollars of value back, and that number can dip even further if Mishra's Bauble doesn't end up holding around 7 dollars in the future.  As for the drafts themselves I went 2-1 and 2-1 with UB Aggro and UW Control.  The UW deck had Supreme Verdict, some removal, and Doorkeeper to win via the mill plan.  UB Aggro was a bunch of Thrill-Kill Assassin, Reave Soul, and evasive creatures to make it hard for the opponent to make profitable blocks.  Distortion Strike and Jhessian Thief was a combo I employed to great effect, allowing me to apply pressure while drawing cards at the same time.  The format seems fun, but it's not the masterpiece that was Modern Masters 2017, so it got old for me real fast.  As far as drafting it online is concerned, I see no need to do so since not only is it not a good move financially, the interest I had in it has gone away rather quickly.  I thought for a moment to draft it for fun for the 200th article coming up next week, but I thought better of it.  Here's the upcoming schedule:

  • Today - 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
  • 12/14 - Ixalan Draft League #11, Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos

Whether or not something special is planned for the 200th is up in the air right now.  I'd want to get what I planned first out of the way and if there's anything left I want to do then I'll throw that in, but otherwise expect the usual for next week.  For now, let's take a look at our new sealed leagues and take another shot at Ixalan Draft.

Ixalan Draft League #8

I've drafted my fair share of River's Rebuke and that isn't going to stop anytime soon.  I consider it one of the better rares in the set and lets you have a good top end to a U/x tempo deck if you decide to draft that.  I didn't force blue though, I wanted to make sure that blue tempo deck was open as opposed to blue cards being open.  That deck needs Wind Strider and Siren Lookout along with cheap creatures that can attack, which means you want very little of cards like Sailor of Means.  By no means (pun intended) is Sailor of Means bad, it's just that it doesn't fit the River's Rebuke strategy at all so you need a certain type of blue cards to be open, not blue in general.

The general idea once I picked River's Rebuke was that I wanted to be an aggressive deck that can use River's Rebuke as a game winning play, so picking cards that wanted me to attack was what I was looking for.  I started taking red cards as that seemed to fit the strategy best, but blue cards weren't coming my way.  Instead I chose to pivot into W/R Dinosaurs, a deck I know how to draft and play and is more of a Tilonalli's Knight deck than anything else.  You do have payoffs in Pterodon Knight and Thrash of Raptors but I consider being able to curve Tilonalli's Knight into a Dinosaur to be the key to making that deck work.  It's not a flashy deck but it's simple and effective.  

In the end I was gifted a Burning Sun's Avatar and managed to draft a decent W/R deck that while sporting two Lightning-Rig Crew could still attack and apply pressure very quickly with the right draw.  Having Thaumatic Compass in the deck meant we would never flood and if we did, our Rummaging Goblin would be there to make sure of those extra lands.  I didn't expect the 3-0, but I'll take what I can get.  I though this was a 2-1 deck because it was missing a little more removal and sturdier creatures, but being able to curve out and attack will still win you games even if you feel your deck is a little sub-par.  I still contend that my round 3 opponent had me dead to rights in game 1 but elected to not put themselves in a winning position.  My opponent had multiple profitable attacks and even if they were afraid of a removal spell, not attacking for the win only gave me the chance to get back into the game with said removal.

Ixalan Sealed League #5

For the sake of thoroughness I do like to make as many decks as possible with the pool I'm given, but once I made the R/B deck it seemed that nothing else would come close to give myself another option as to what deck to play.  U/R did come close as that is playable and can play a bit of a tempo game, but it's bad if it's playing from behind, something that R/B with double Contract Killing can actually do.  White and green were lacking in depth to begin with, leaving me with only three colors from the start to build with.  It would have to take two amazing colors to pass up black with a decent curve and Contract Killing, and that's something U/R did not deliver on.  Generally speaking you want to play your best removal in sealed because your opponent will play their best threats, so you need a counter to their plays.  Playing black allows me that option, not to mention Deadeye Tormentor is a great play on the play while you're the aggressive deck.  All in all I felt R/B was pretty good and nothing else came close to changing my mind.  Any thoughts?  Am I missing something?

Ixalan Sealed League #6 

Even though this pool has two Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle it doesn't have enough good white cards to make them worth playing, so that eliminates white off the bat.  The green is pretty poor as well, with very little depth and only the two Tishana's Wayfinder to make green worth looking at, so that's another color gone.  It seems to me that I've been opening pools where it's very easy to eliminate a color or two right off the bat, which while giving you less options does make the deckbuilding portion of the game go a bit faster.  Red has my best card in Captivating Crew, so after I make a few decks it feels like my red decks are the best options because of the power level of that card.  If you take it out it makes U/B much more attractive, but that doesn't mean U/B was any good to begin with.  It's an okay deck at best, simply another option to consider for the sake of being thorough.

The real question is if R/B is better than U/R, and I don't think it is.  R/B has the upside of Ruin Raider, but that's a card that can swing from good to bad depending on what your opponent does, and can actually prevent you from taking winning lines of play if you get a bad flip or two.  Blue gives me triple Watertrap Weaver, a nice play if I'm pressing an early advantage and a way to make sure I get good raid triggers for my (Marauding Looters).  The Prosperous Pirates aren't good here since the body is a little weak, but the tokens do make Captivating Crew better.  What do you think?  Which deck would you play?

Conclusion

Another 3-0 puts me at 14-8 overall in Ixalan Draft, for about a 66% win rate in the format.  I'm happy with that as it makes my 2-1 decks the norm, giving me a baseline as to gauge if I have a good/bad deck and whether or not I played well.  Safe to say I've done a lot better than I did in Amonkhet block with two draft trophies to my name with a couple more weeks to go before Rivals of Ixalan changes up the format.  The sealed decks look a bit promising, or at least a bit better than the last two pools I had.  I at least have the option to play the aggro role, which is something that I've done with in draft.  Next week will be the 200th Sealed Success and that's a bit of a milestone to cross.  

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 content exclusive to the channel.  I'm still playing Modern Abzan and am starting up another league, so go check it out if you're interested in Modern content.  I break down the matchups as best I can all while taking notes of my winrates and sideboard strategies.

Thanks for reading/watching!