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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Mar 22 2018 12:00pm
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Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  This past weekend saw the release of Masters 25 and while my record was a very good 8-2 across three drafts, I did not come away excited to keep drafting over and over.  The cost notwithstanding, it felt more like a Core Set draft than a Masters draft.  Instead of having predictable archetypes across the ten 2 color pairs, it felt more fluid in that you could draft either an aggro, midrange, or control deck in the colors you chose.  That's not usually the norm for these types of drafts, so it was a bit weird the first time drafting as I tried to find the synergies without having looked much at the spoiler heading into the first draft.  Given the nature of some of the cards in the set and the restriction of having at least one card from every Magic set printed in Masters 25, it did feel like there wasn't as much room for synergy than in prior iterations of Masters sets.  There were some two card combos that I found annoying because they often won you the game if you had them in play, such as Flash and Protean Hulk, or anything with Horseshoe Crab.  Overall if this was priced at Core Set draft I'd be much more inclined to play given my enjoyment of Core Set Limited, but as it stands I am going to never touch Masters 25 again.   

Oddly enough, the one thing that did excite me over the weekend was winning a local qualifier tournament with a Pauper deck.  Winning a qualifier feeds you into a top 8 playoff for a Masters 25 box (which admittedly sounds more exciting a few weeks ago than now), and while I didn't have plans on actually winning one I thought it best to help support and play Pauper.  My first go at it was an incomplete Mystical Teachings deck that went 0-3 due to lack of answers/win conditions, so I did some research and came across a 100 card version of the deck that had gone 5-0 in a league.  I have to credit mikeyr00r00 for the inspiration for the list and I took my version to the event with the intent of having fun by not letting people have fun.   I wanted to do a whole lot of nothing and win by decking people out, which sadly happened only once as every other game my opponents realized they were Capsize locked and conceded instead of toughing it out.  After the win I built the deck on Magic Online to test for the top 8 playoff and I realized that it is very click intensive, so doing content on it is out of the question.  Instead, let's take a look at what I can do before jumping into the games:

  • Today - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #8, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6
  • 3/29 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #9, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos
  • 4/5 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #10, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 video, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos
  • 4/12 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #11, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos

Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #8

I know I've been saying that I won't draft Ascend, and yet here I am again with another Ascend deck.  To be fair I think this version is the best I've gotten so far since I have multiple cards with Ascend and Arch of Orazca is a good way to make up the cards you've already put onto the battlefield quickly.  The start of the draft was interesting since I could start with Champion of Dusk and have make a push for Vampires, but it's not the best way to start that deck in my opinion.  My other opinions were to take Impale or Baffling End and I chose to take Baffling End because it was cheaper, black had more cards in the pack, and it can make the Ascend deck work while being removal as well.  The next few picks didn't have a strong pull into a color but I decided to stick with white since Baffling End is good removal and I don't want to ditch that for random creatures.   The tail end of pack 1 had me in blue and with Arch of Orazca and Baffling End in pack 2 I was committed to making yet another Ascend deck work.

After getting destroyed by a very aggressive Merfolk deck in round 1 I was able to win the next two matches to end the league at 2-1, which I believe is my best record with any type of Ascend deck.  So what went right here that didn't work in the previous builds?  I suppose I had better matchups here than I did before, but what sticks out was that I was able to race better than I did before.  Squire's Devotion and Snubhorn Sentry allow me to protect my life total early and make my own attacks better at the same time.  Ascending wasn't an issue and I would have better board states once I actually got the City's Blessing.  Perhaps Sailor of Means.dek isn't the way to make the archetype work, since at the end of the day you're still playing a lot of 1/4 for 3 mana that isnt' going to help you win the game on its own.  While I'd like to promise I won't draft Ascend again, sometimes it's open and you can't avoid it.  

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5

This pool turned out to be simpler than I thought it would be since we were able to eliminate two colors right off the bat and keep our best rares in the three colors we had to choose from.  Let's talk about the pros and cons of each color before breaking down why I'm likely to start the league with the R/G deck.

  • Black - The biggest pull to black is that I opened a Tetzimoc, Primal Death.  The card is very good at winning games because it stops your opponent from committing too many creatures to the board while at the same time dealing with all the creatures already in play.  It's hard to beat a resolved Tetzimoc and that alone warrants consideration.  The downside is that after Kitesail Freebooter and Golden Demise the rest of black is very bad.  Canal Monitor is not a card I'm happy to play with, and if I'm playing black I sadly have to play it.
  • Green - While there is no bomb creature here, I do have a good top end with Colossal Dreadmaw and Crested Herdcaller with double Thrashing Brontodon giving me a strong play at 3 mana.  The downside is that I don't have early plays outside of Hardy Veteran, so I'd have to pair with a color that has one or two mana plays.
  • Red - Rekindling Phoenix is the pull here since it's harder to deal with in Limited as opposed to Constructed.  Often it'll brick your opponent's attacks, allowing you time to play bigger creatures or clear the way for you to start attacking.  The power level of the cards in red drops a bit after starting the the Phoenix, so it does need some help from another color.

Red and green complement each other well since they can fill the gaps that the other possesses and present a deck with good options along the curve and some removal as well.  It's hard to pass up on Tetzimoc but I don't have the pool for it and black isn't deep enough for me to play with subpar cards in order to hopefully draw the one good one.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6

My biggest issue with this pool is curve and power level when it comes to deciding what deck I want to play with.  If I choose the RG option then I have very little plays on turn 2 and am likely to start most games on turn 3 and that is very suspect, especially on the draw.  The upside is that I have good options at 3-4 mana and have Ghalta as a way to win via combat.  However, if I try to fix that issue by going WG, then I trade my curve issue with power level issues.  I'm having to play some mediocre green creatures that have no synergy just to make playables and enable Ghalta to be cast for less mana.  My biggest draw to green is the Ghalta because that card is very good at winning the game via combat damage, but the rest of green is underwhelming when you pair it with white.  I can try to play WR but then I'm throwing away my best card and chance to win games in Ghalta for average red creatures.  There's not really a perfect solution here and the mana would be highly suspect if I wanted to play a straight three color deck.  Perhaps I just need to suck it up and play WG since that appears to be the most reasonable of the options.  What do you think?  What would you play?

Conclusion

I got back to my winning ways in draft and I'm hoping that trend will continue once more next week. As I said in the videos, I will not be doing any Masters 25 drafts because of the price and lack of enthusiasm for the draft environment.  I'd rather stick to Rivals of Ixalan until Dominaria comes out in a month.  The sealed pools seem to be about what I'd expect for me to open, but the competitive one seems to be a bit stronger than what I usually get in those leagues.  Next week I'll be back with another Rivals of Ixalan draft and I'll start playing my two sealed leagues.

Thanks for reading/watching!