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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
May 31 2018 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  The Pro Tour is this weekend and while I'm excited that it's here, I will not be watching it live nor doing any analysis as I used to in the past.  I believe it's been at least two Pro Tours since I've done any sort of analysis and I'm happy with that decision as it's not my place to make any sort of critique about players who are much better than I am.  I am willing to draw conclusions but that's as far as I'll go.  I'm likely going to watch the replays instead of watching live since it's much easier for me to do that and not have to commit certain parts of my day that would normally be spent doing other things.  At this point the format should be pretty much solved so I doubt we'll see much innovation in terms of drafting strategy.  It doesn't help that Dominaria is very popular and there are more drafts being done and much more content about Dominaria Limited than there normally would be.  I see tweets from pro players that they're drafting the set more than they normally would because they like it and want to actually enjoy Dominaria, not just test it for events.  While I am no pro player I do enjoy Dominaria immensely and will be sad when it is replaced by Core 2019 drafts.  Until then, let's enjoy Dominaria while we can!  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and play some games:

  • Today - Dominaria Draft League #6, Dominaria Sealed League #3 video, Dominaria Sealed League #4 videos
  • 6/7 - Dominaria Draft League #7, Dominaria Sealed League #3 videos, Dominaria Sealed League #4 videos
  • 6/14 - Dominaria Draft League #8, Dominaria Sealed League #3 videos, Dominaria Sealed League #4 videos
  • 6/21 - Dominaria Draft League #9, Dominaria Sealed League #5, Dominaria Sealed League #6

Dominaria Draft League #6

I've found in this format that I'm very willing to be open in terms of colors and not commit to anything until I have a strong motivation to do so.  Pick 1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty was very easy in my opinion as not only is it easily splashed, it's quite the potent threat that your opponent must deal with right away.  Second pick was between Slimefoot, the Stowaway and Blessed Light with me not being able to pass up Slimefoot.  Not only could I splash either Shalai or Slimefoot if I'm in a G/X deck, Slimefoot, the Stowaway is a very powerful card that can win games if not dealt with at all.  These early picks are me trying to position myself into open colors while having powerful options if I need to pivot back to a different color.  This strategy might leave you with less sideboard cards than normal but I feel it gives you a better chance at being in the right colors/archetype and not missing out on it.  

I find myself in G/X as I had hoped and with white having more options than black I was able to turn my deck into a G/W deck that splashed a few black cards.  Feral Abomination seems odd to splash but it's a good ground creature that will always trade with a card whether your opponent likes it or not.  Either it trades with their best creature and they don't attack, or it eats a removal spell and you're mostly even on that exchange.  Deathtouch is always a good keyword to have on creatures and adding a 5/5 body means you're actually okay with it being in your deck.  The Chainer's Torment can be good or bad depending if you're ahead or not but the upside if enough that you would play it even if you're not really built to take advantage of it.  I like it more as an aggressive card since it's not optimal when playing defensively as your life total will be in more peril then it normally would be.  Even so, this deck can have the right start and make Chainer's Torment good, and it's also a good way to start racing if you're in that type of situation.

I was very surprised to go 3-0, 6-0 with this deck as I didn't expect that to happen but anything is possible with the right matchups and good play.  You always have to take records in these leagues with a grain of salt because you're not playing in your own pod so there's a lot more variance when it comes to what your opponents might have in their deck.  Sometimes you feel don't need some sideboard cards and you skimp on Pierce the Sky or Invoke the Divine and you end up playing someone who has fliers or enchantments in their deck.  There's not much you can control but what you can control will contribute a large part to how often you win or lose.  I played fairly tight in all the games and made decisions during sideboarding that certainly impacted how well I did in the postboard games.  I used my removal optimally and used my life total as a resource to take some damage while I tried to stabilize the board without throwing away cards.  I could have made a bigger effort to kill the Llanowar Scouts in the final match or used Blessed Light on a Time of Ice, but if I had done those things I would have been at a disadvantage later on in those games.  

Even without dropping a game I felt each game was close and it could have easily have been a 0-3, 0-6 if I make different decisions or my opponent gets a little bit luckier.  There's a lot of edges to be gained in a game and the slightest mistake could tilt a game that should have been yours toward your opponents favor.  No matter the deck or format of choice, you'll always have a better chance at success if you make optimal decisions every time you're able to do so.

Dominaria Sealed League #3

I only played one round as not only did I want to take another look at the pool and see if I could make a better version of the deck I played, I also wanted to change things up a bit.  I've done 2/1/2 video split for months now and it's time to see if a 1/2/2 split works better.  Originally I thought a 2/1/2 split would work best as if I win any of the first three matches the last two videos would still matter, but there's really no difference in the order I do the first three videos.  It may be that a 1/2/2 split lets me reconsider my pool after the first match instead of after the second match, allowing me to catch and fix mistakes sooner than I would otherwise.

As far as this match goes there wasn't much I could do about the way it played out.  Game 1 I was stuck on mana far too long and only kept playing to see more information from my opponent as my opponent would have to show me more cards in order to win the game.  This allows me to have more information going into game 2 even if I had to lose the first game in order to receive that information.  That said, my opponent had quite the good deck and I was under duress by not one, but two Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp.  I was able to deal with the first but the second one had me on the ropes and even if I dealt with it I was going to lose to Helm of the Host plus Baird, Steward of Argive.  Those two cards can make combat impossible since the tax you'll have to pay per attacker will make it so you can't attack for lethal after the 5th or so Baird appears.  I think I need to rework the mana and possibly cut Steel Leaf Champion if I'm playing all three colors.  The cost on that card is quite difficult to pull off and by the time I cast it I may not have enough time to make use out of it.

Dominaria Sealed League #4

As I discussed last week the issue I had with all the decks was my curve and how I'd be on one spell a turn for a majority of games I would play.  If I was destined to be in this play pattern I decided it'd be best to play all the good cards and see if it broke my way.  I started off with the 5 color deck and after playing a match I went down to four colors for the rest of the stage.  The results weren't great as I went 0-3 but I wasn't too surprised about that given my concerns with the way the deck was constructed.  That being said, I did improve upon the deck as I played games and that's a positive thing to take away from the experience.  Cutting red and the Navigator's Compass allowed me to add an 18th land to the deck and add a Seal Away that would be easier to cast then the Fiery Intervention I had from the start.  The mana is a bit smoother and I'm less likely to miss key land drops this way.  

Now, is this deck better than the other decks I could have played?  Would I have had a better chance at succeeding if I played U/B or B/R?  I'm not sure if I could have won with those decks as it's still an uphill climb based on what I know the format to be along with the look of those decks.  If my opponent can't beat a Cold-Water Snapper then U/B could be viable, but I don't much support around it.  It'd be one thing if I was willing to play Arcane Flight plus all my turtles, but I'm not sure if I want to be all in on that strategy.  Red doesn't offer me much in terms of creatures and this isn't the deck for Keldon Overseer so I'm skeptical about its chances.  We did get to add a pack for what it's worth, so we'll see what happens.  I'll look at all the decks and make changes to improve them.

It would be very remiss of me if I didn't mention the conversation I had with my opponent in the last match.  I had a thought of just recording the replay and omitting the chat from the entire match, but that wouldn't be fair to anyone.  The point I was trying to convey and I'll admit that I didn't do it well was that if my opponent doesn't place as much emphasis on the win/loss record then they can take things more in stride.   Even if a deck is good there are numerous factors outside our control that can lead to a poor record and by acknowledging that we can feel more at peace with whatever comes our way.  I didn't articulate myself properly and when the conversation went south I was not the better person.  I should have left it alone when it started not going well because nothing good can come out of continuing with that conversation.  Even if in the abstract I didn't do anything particularly egregious my opponent deserved more respect that I showed them.  I made a mistake and I will own it.

Conclusion

I'm now 14-4 in Dominaria drafts with two draft trophies to my name and I'm quite happy about that.  I wouldn't say I've solved the format but I do know what decks/cards I like drafting and how to make those work even if they're not always the same every single time.  I understand the format in general and I'm able to make decks that work within that confine and play them well against other decks.  My performance in sealed leaves a bit to be desired but I'm working out the kinks in that one.  I understand why I'm losing but I'm not sure if I have the tools to fix that problem.  I need to have better mana and be able to interact early/have a good defensive position late if I know I'm going to be under duress consistently.  If I can fix these issues I should have a better chance at winning, but it's not good if I can't.  What do you think?

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comment section below.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where you can find all the videos in this article series posted early along with content exclusive to the channel.  Currently I'm working on play with my budget (Jodah, Archmage Eternal) deck and it seems pretty fun.  Come check it out if you're interested in a cheap Commander deck that can do a lot of powerful things.

Thanks for reading/watching!