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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jun 14 2018 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Battlebond has released and I did a couple more sealed events and the format has not stopped being fun, at least in my opinion.  There's a lot of decisions to make during deckbuilding and as the games are being played.  Having two opponents not only makes it harder for you to attack normally, it also means your opponents have access to more resources than you do if they're taking the draw.  While you have more mana to work with early, they'll have more cards at their disposal, which makes me inclined to take the draw when playing Battlebond since if the games go long, having two extra cards is better than the mana.  As far as draft is concerned I haven't drafted it at all so I'm not sure if taking the draw there is something you should be doing.  I have a feeling that you'd want to take the play as everyone is more likely to curve out and be looking to end the game quickly.

Core 2019 spoilers have started coming out and I'm very excited for the return of Core Set Limited.  With core sets there's no splashy new mechanics to worry about, this is all about basic fundamentals and being able to play the games well.  When all the creatures are pretty generic and have a base power level, the person who is more skilled is likely to win the game.  Core Set Limited levels out the playing field and shows off who can assess a game better and know when to attack/block/trade/etc.  I know that doesn't sound very exciting to a lot of people but I enjoy it a lot. 

Core 2019 doesn't come out for a month or so, not leaving me with enough time to start new sealed leagues.  In past weeks I had made mention of starting sealed leagues #5/6, but that was before I checked the date of the Core 2019 prerelease.   Given that I don't have enough time to start and finish those leagues, I'm deciding to take those weeks off until it's time for the set review.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and then open some packs:

  • Today - Dominaria Draft League #8, Dominaria Sealed League #3 videos, Dominaria Sealed League #4 videos, Battle of the Planes videos
  • 6/21 - off
  • 6/28 - off
  • 7/5 - Core Set 2019 Sealed Set Review

Battle of the Planes Sealed League

My strategy going into the league was to pick the plane with the most recent sets since the power level of most cards are much better now then they were 10+ years ago.  I have to imagine that a lot of cards back then were "skill testing" cards in that they were bad cards but only good players at that time would avoid playing them.  These type of cards are more likely to come up in older sets than they do now.  The bad cards are really bad and every other card is at the very least serviceable in the right situation.  Removal and rares are much stronger now than they were in the past, making it more likely that one of your rares is going to be a windmill slam against other planes.  Can you imagine casting Bonfire of the Damned or Entreat the Angels against someone who is playing Coretapper in their sealed deck?  

With these thoughts in mind I chose to pick Innistrad as my plane of choice and hoped to open a good pool to which build a deck out of.  To be honest I've done very little original Innistrad sealed, so the only cards I was very familiar with were the cards from Shadows over Innistrad block.  I'm not familiar with the speed of original Innistrad or the other planes, but I thought it would be ideal to be more aggressive than I normally would be.  When going against an unknown opponent and there being a high chance that you don't know many of the cards they'll be playing, it's preferable to play the short game than the long game.  As many people say: "There are no wrong questions, only wrong answers."  Even if I feel I have decent removal, I can't know if what I have is good enough for every single opponent I have.  Too many things can go wrong and it's much easier to press an advantage if you build your deck optimally as opposed to coming back from behind with the possibility of not having the right answers to draw into.  

Being aggressive tends to go against my thought process for sealed deck but I felt this was the optimal strategy to employ against an unknown environment.  This is why I chose to play the W/U deck in every single match when I had the possibility of playing a midrange R/G/b deck that is more my play style.  It ended up serving me well as I was able to take all three matches and end up with trophy after it was all said and done.  I don't know if the strategy I employed is the best, but it certainly worked out for me.  When I was able to take the play and play more creatures than my opponents were ready for, it felt like they didn't have the right answers to keep up with me.  Tandem Lookout was very good and Skaab Goliath was a game winner if left uncontested.  Stitched Drake and Skaab Goliath are above the curve for what you pay for and it wasn't too hard to cast them even with their restrictions.   What plane would you have chosen?  Do you think I chose the right deck?

Dominaria Draft League #8

This draft did not go too well at all for me.  Taking Rona, Disciple of Gix pick one and then following up with Cast Down seemed like a great start to me and then I ignored the red signal with all those Ghitu Journeymages in pack 1 while I took Baloth Gorger and Feral Abomination.  Those weren't bad picks at all they just didn't pan out the way I thought they might.  I thought a third pick Gorger was sending a green signal and I like pairing green and black together so as long as green was open I could have black be a little weaker and still be fine.  That ended up not being the case as green was pretty weak but I had enough cards in it that I couldn't move out of it into a different color.  I ended up with a red splash for removal and Garna, the Bloodflame when the draft was over and the deck looked okay.

I got destroyed fairly quickly in my first two matches and dropped out of the league to end with a functional 0-3 record again for the second week in a row.  I think this week I was in two colors that I thought might be open but ended up with weak cards so while they might have been open, they didn't have enough depth to warrant playing those colors.  I did pass a high number of Ghitu Journeymage but I wasn't in a position to take them, nor do I have a tendency to want to draft/force U/R Wizards.  I do think I made good picks early on, they just didn't pan out and I suffered because of it.

Dominaria Sealed League #3

After being gifted a match win in round 4 I found myself 2-2 with the final match to go.    It didn't look great after game one where I had difficulty dealing with the fliers my opponent presented and I thought I was destined for a 2-3 finish with the deck.  I rallied back to take the second game with an aggressive start and lots of value plays with my Whisper, Blood Liturgist allowing me to rebuy my big creatures that I knew my opponent would have trouble with.  The last game was strange as both me and my opponent made changes to our decks, me adding red for two Fiery Interventions and my opponent opting to add black in their deck.  It's unclear if they added black in addition to their W/R deck or became a W/B deck altogether.  Their draw was not very impressive and I drew better than average with an aggressive start and was able to take the game and end the league with a 3-2 record. 

I'm happy with the end result given what I had to work with and how it could have played out.  My deck plays out like a midrange deck but it doesn't have all the tools it needs to take that type of stance.  I don't have copious amounts of removal nor do I have an adequate amount of finishers I can rely upon to win games.  Thorn Elemental is good but it's not going to be the card you need every single time.  The deck has a fair shot against decks that only have one big threat and aren't able to grind better than I can.  If my opponent can grind better or has more threats than I do answers then I'm not in a good position.  

Dominaria Sealed League #4

When I ended the last stage with only one win overall I knew I had to focus on the pool and look at it without any preconceptions in mind about what had happened in the prior two stages of the league.  I came to the conclusion that green was only being played because I had Shalai, Voice of Plenty and I know had a Gilded Lotus in case I wanted to activate her ability.  With me no longer needing basic Forest in my deck I did away with green completely on focused on the other colors instead.  I came up with three decks that I felt were viable at this point in the league: B/R Valduk, U/R Wizards, and U/B/w Midrange.  The B/R deck is really a Valduk, Keeper of the Flame deck that I only really wanted to use if using a glass cannon strategy was the only way I could win.  U/R was a strategy I wanted to try out as I thought at this point I had enough wizards to make it work, and the sample hands I was drawing seemed great.  

The first round of this stage I could have won but I threw away the second game and a slight misplay put me in dire straits in the first game.  I was on the defense the entire time during game 1 but I had a chance to turn it around after Haphazard Bombardment put me in a good position.  My opponent still had good attacks and during a block I made the mistake of saving Diligent Excavator instead of my Vodalian Arcanist.  This meant my Firefist Adept in hand could not kill Skittering Surveyor and made it less likely that Haphazard Bombardment could finish off the Baloth Gorger and leave my opponent with an empty field.  Of course there's always the chance Haphazard Bombardment hits the land instead and I'm screwed no matter what, but at least I'd give myself a better chance than I actually did.  In the second game I let my opponent keep an Elfhame Druid and that let them cast Blessed Light one turn early on my Valduk.  If instead I Eviscerate the Elfhame Druid I have another turn of attacking with Valduk and that likely wins the game for me.

The next two matches go better for me as I'm able to fight and claw my way into two match wins to send the stage at 2-1 and the league overall at a dismal 3-6 record.  While I did improve with each stage (0-3, 1-2, 2-1) the record overall is pretty poor and is indicative of one of two things: the pool was poor and/or I misbuilt my decks.  It's possible that a U/B deck would have fared better at every stage of the league from the very start, or that I should have played a hard three color deck with Shalai as a threat in the U/B deck.  The Weatherlight I had was a hard to use 4/5 and was better off in my sideboard than my maindeck.  What do you think?  What would you have done differently?

Conclusion

It's a little funny that my best performance came in the league that was only available for a week in a format I've never played at all.  I ended up 3-0 in the Battle of the Planes league, 0-3 (14-10 overall) in the Dominaria draft, 3-2 (6-4) in the competitive sealed league and 3-6 (10-8) in the friendly league.  Overall I'm above 50% in Dominaria Limited which makes it better than what you'd expect your average win percentage to be in any given format.  I didn't end my run of Dominaria in a good way but there's not much I could do about that now.  Dominaria was very fun while it lasted and it'll definitely be a set that is very fondly remembered years from now.  

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 my videos to this article series posted early along with content exclusive to the channel.  I did an Aether Revolt Quick Draft on Magic Arena, go check it out!

Thanks for reading/watching!