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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Apr 05 2018 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  While I told myself I would not draft Masters 25 again after the initial weekend, I found myself last week drafting it for FNM and I finally opened something of substantial value: a foil Prossh, Skyraider of Kher.  This happened towards the end of the draft so I didn't get to play with it, instead I played a sweet W/U value deck that had a bunch of ETB effects and some bounce spells to do them all over again.  Highlights included exiling a creature permanently with the Fiend Hunter trigger on the stack and making a lethal amount of 4/4 Angels off one Urbis Protector.  All of that said, my disdain for Masters 25 is still there and I'll be happy once people no longer want to draft it and I can start drafting Dominaria.  We do have our Store Championship draft coming up soon and hopefully I'll do one spot better than I did last time and actually take it all down.  Rivals of Ixalan hasn't been as good to me as Ixalan was, but I know I can take it down with a bit of luck on my side.  Speaking of Rivals of Ixalan, let's take a look at the upcoming schedule before we get into the games:

  •  Today - 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
  • 4/19 - Dominaria Sealed Set Review
  • 4/26 - Dominaria Draft League #1*, Dominaria Sealed League #1, Dominaria Sealed League #2

Our first Dominaria Draft League has an asterisk because I'm only showing the draft when the article goes live, the following week will have the draft games plus the entirety of the second draft.

Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #10

While some of you may realize that Huatli, Radiant Champion is not a first pick card, I personally had never played with it and the best way to evaluate cards you haven't played with is to actually play with them.  Now, for most cards you'll be able to know if they're good or not, but there are those you won't be able to right off the bat.  Even weeks into the format I had never played with a Huatli, so this was a good a time as ever to try her out.  Given that's she's a W/G Planeswalker I was committing to a 2-3 color deck depending on which of her two colors were open.   I tried to remain W/G for as long as possible but I ended up having more red cards than green cards, so in the end I was a R/W/g deck with Huatli and Thundering Spineback as my main reason to be green.

It was surprising that I was able to eek out a 2-1 record with this deck, especially since I didn't have high hopes for it after the first match.  I didn't do much of anything those first two games but I did learn things about the deck that were helpful for the last two matches.  The Ixalli's Keeper and Silverclad Ferocidons should never have made the deck to begin with, and I'm glad I replaced them with better cards after the first match.  Because I don't have a good manabase it makes no sense to have a green 2 mana creature when I can play a better defensive one mana white creature instead.  The "upside" of Ixalli's Keeper is nice, but it has no place in this deck.  As for the Silverclad Ferocidons, it's about as useful as Storm Fleet Arsonist, and that was nothing more than a 5 mana 4/4.  Since I have no way to enrage my creatures on the spot, it's really just a big 8/5 creature with no evasion, so it was easy to cut it for a different card.  If I had to do it again I would not draft this type of three color deck because the payoff wasn't very high and the risk I took easily cost me a match, and could have cost me another as well.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5

Oddly enough whenever it comes down to the third match of the competitive leagues I find myself either getting completely wrecked or my opponent getting wrecked as well.  They tend to not be as interesting as I would hope.  In this case I lost the match in the third game when I got stuck on two lands and didn't have any good plays or blocks for several turns, and that's with me having to discard to hand size more than once.  It wasn't an interesting game three and it kind of soured the match as I had played a good game 2 from my side, having to maneuver my way to a victory while under a low life total.  I'm currently 1-2 in the league and will hope to finish out with a 3-2 record next week.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6

Going into the second stage of the league I decided I would play the B/G deck over the W/G deck because it had better removal and I had a better chance at winning games when I played that deck.  I did make a few changes given the pack of Rivals that I opened but for the most part I played the same deck that I had played during the first stage.

The first match was a bit unfortunate since I felt I had a great chance to win the first game if my draw had lined up a bit better in the last few turns against the Form of the Dinosaur that my opponent played.  Perhaps I could have played it a bit better by waiting to play a creature and then Ghalta if I had the right amount of mana, but I got quite unlucky in not drawing enough creatures to deal the last two points of damage.  The last game I would have played differently if I knew they had access to Vona, Butcher of Magan but hindsight is 20/20 and I didn't have that information at the time.  There is debate whether I should have played around Divine Verdict or not, but I feel that wasting my opponent's mana while developing my board and keeping power in play for Ghalta made passing during that turn defensible.

Second match went much more in my favor as even though I got destroyed in the first game, my opponent had slow starts in the remaining two games and my deck is better suited to fight that battle.  Even though I didn't have to play against a quick start after the first game, I did have options and cards that could have been good against that.  My best card would have been Golden Demise and I had a more defensive mindset going into those last two games.

The last match stings because I could have played differently in game 2 and then in game 3 I was stuck on white mana for the entire game and had green spells I couldn't cast at all.  It's possible that I should have used my Impale much earlier than I did and make my opponent draw something that would make me stop attacking them.  On turn 7 I could have used Impale on the Exultant Skymarcher and shoved with both creatures, likely making my opponent double block the Vineshaper Mystic leaving them with Martyr of Dusk while I have Orazca Frillback and Giltgrove Stalker.  Given what I know would happen after that I'm in a good position to close out the game quickly and not lose to Profane Procession followed by Radiant Destiny.  My reasoning for playing more slowly is that I can wait to make Ghalta cheap and I have the Jungle Creeper I can rebuy and play should I want to.  Not being under pressure and having Impale and being up a game led me to believe a more defensive position was desirable at the moment.  Whether that position was correct, that's up to you to decide.

Conclusion

A 3-4 overall record isn't very good, bringing my draft record up to 19-11 and a likely sub 50% win rate for my sealed leagues.  I'll calculate the final records after next week when we say goodbye to the plane of Ixalan and head towards Dominaria.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  You can find all my videos up early at my YouTube channel here, along with any special content I may put on the channel.  

Thanks for reading/watching!