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By: xger, Xger
Aug 03 2017 12:00pm
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It's been a while for the sealed leagues for me, and writing in general has taken a backseat while I studied for the bar. Luckily, I finished that up last week, so I can jump back in in. I guess it's time to walk like an Egyptian...

Click here to jump past the intro.

Introduction to Article Series

This series takes a look at one of the lesser written about formats - Friendly Sealed. For those unaware, it is the format closest to the old MTGO leagues, where you get to add packs over the course of the league. For the series, I will always add a pack and do a discussion of the additionally packs. For the initial pool, I'll try to do a decent overview of the pool and options, and then how much discussion there is for each pack will depend on how the pack changes the pool - it might completely change the deck or change just a single card.

I'll also include a value of the pool and pack, and might do some EV calculations (i.e. how much is the add-a-pack league worth). While it won't be true EV, it will be a real world application, which should highlight some of the variance you'll expect to see. Starting with the 7th league (the first Amonkhet league), I will include the record needed to break even or do better, which will vary based on the value of the set at the time. Generally, I will lock the prices I use for calculations at the first article, so unpredictable changes don't skew the results.

I am likely to do a mix of write-ups and videos depending on the article. As always, let me know if you have any thoughts on how to improve the series!

Friendly League 7

Here's my opening pool:

Friendly Sealed 8 Pool
You have to run Nicol-Bolas, right? - 83 Cards Total
White
1 Winged Shepherd
1 Tah-Crop Elite
1 Sacred Cat
1 Impeccable Timing
1 Seraph of the Suns
1 Dutiful Servants
2 God-Pharaoh's Faithful
1 Solitary Camel
1 Dauntless Aven
1 Disposal Mummy
2 Act of Heroism
1 Aven of Enduring Hope
1 Mummy Paramount
1 Unconventional Tactics
16 cards

Black
1 Torment of Hailfire
1 Scrounger of Souls
1 Torment of Venom
1 Hour of Glory
1 Gravedigger
1 Bone Picker
1 Doomfall
1 Ruin Rat
1 Splendid Agony
1 Wander in Death
2 Liliana's Defeat
1 Lurching Rotbeast
1 Dune Beetle
1 Khenra Eternal
15 cards
Red
1 Magma Spray
1 Cartouche of Zeal
1 Thorned Moloch
1 Nimble-Blade Khenra
2 Defiant Khenra
1 Wildfire Eternal
1 Firebrand Archer
1 Fervent Paincaster
1 Blur of Blades
1 Granitic Titan
11 cards

Green
1 Sifter Wurm
1 Quarry Beetle
1 Tenacious Hunter
1 Ambuscade
1 Oasis Ritualist
1 Hooded Brawler
2 Harrier Naga
1 Naga Vitalist
1 Feral Prowler
1 Exemplar of Strength
1 Sandwurm Convergence
1 Initiate's Companion
1 Gift of Strength
1 Feral Prowler
1 Nissa's Defeat
1 Rhonas the Indomitable
17 cards
Gold
1 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
1 Start/Finish
1 Struggle/Survive
3 cards

Blue
1 Seeker of Insight
1 Hekma Sentinels
1 Illusory Wrappings
1 Decision Paralysis
1 Slither Blade
1 Unquenchable Thirst
4 Unsummon
1 Seer of the Last Tomorrow
1 Tragic Lesson
1 Eternal of Harsh Truths
13 cards

Colorless
1 Graven Abomination
1 Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs
1 Luxa River Shrine
1 Bontu's Monument
4 cards

Land
1 Crypt of the Eternals
1 Desert of the Fervent
1 Sunscorched Desert
1 Dunes of the Dead
4 cards
 

 

Here is the value for what I sold and current value, as of 7/30/17 (I sold the Nicol Bolas and Rhonas almost immediately after the league since this was a day or so after release, hence the inflated numbers):

Category Value
Pool Value  $22.59
Costs $1.71*2 +$3.96*4 + 4 = $23.26 or 24 tix/240 PP
Outcome - $0.67

This is one of the reasons that playing right at release is quite good. You can open a card like Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh which received a fair amount of hype and sell early when supply is low and the price is high. With the Pro Tour wrapping up last night, Nick here was down to $7.57, and I sold for $16.12. Generally, Friendly Sealed has a decent EV, as going 6-3 is most often at least a break even, and anything better is just gravy. Doing it at release time is even better, as I almost could not lose value on this pool (granted I opened the most valuable card, but most sets have better value spread).

Anywho, time to go over the options:

Two mythics, and two powerful mythics is a great start to a pool. However, having those mythics span 4 colors is less than ideal. At the time I originally built, I wanted to try out Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. I also know that Rhonas the Indomitable is quite the beating in limited. My initial leanings are to try and play both. At least Nicky is a late card, so you don't need to worry about having Grixis by turn 3 or 4. Torment of Hailfire is another strong card. While punishers generally aren't great, if you can cast it for 4 or 5, you don't even really care what the opponent chooses, you are just getting so much value. Hour of Glory is also a strong card, as unconditional exile removal is great in this format. Sandwurm Convergence is a game ender of its own, though I haven't played with it much myself. If it's feasible in my deck, I'll try to run it. Finally, Wildfire Eternal is an intriguing card. Opponents can be scared of it, but if you fail to cast once, the magic is gone. I also don't have great spells to cast for free with it.

And now, the colors:

White: White would be an okay support color, but it does present some interesting Zombie options. Unconventional Tactics is a card that has impressed me in the right deck, and Mummy Paramount is great in a good Zombie deck. The problem is, after those two, there is not much that is super exciting for that deck. Otherwise, there are some good fliers, but the real problem is the lack of removal, with only Impeccable Timing. Unlikely I would want to play white.

Blue: There are 7 blue cards I would be happy to play, and 4 of them are Unsummon. Of course, unless you are in the Red/Blue spells deck, it would be insane to play 4 Unsummon. There just isn't enough, though I would consider splashing Eternal of Harsh Truths.

Black: Black is just amazing. Two premium removal in Hour of Glory and Torment of Venom, then acceptable removal in Splendid Agony and Doomfall. Gravedigger is a classic 2 for 1, and will rarely sit on the sidelines. Ruin Rat has over performed for me each time I have played it, even the times I play 3 or 4 copies. Players just hate losing something like Bitterbow Sharpshooters to a 2 drop, and this one has the upside of being able to exile a card. It can kill and exile one of the Hour of Devastation Gods on its own. I still haven't gotten to Bone Picker, Wander in Death, Torment of Hailfire, or Liliana's Defeat. I am clearly playing black.

Red: There are some intriguing cards in Red, particularly Wildfire Eternal. It plays its own mind games and can put the opponent into awkward positions, fearing a free spell. Other than that, Magma Spray and Fervent Paincaster are strong, and Blur of Blades is okay. Again, there simply doesn't seem to be enough, though there are certainly some splashable cards.

Green: There's a decent range of cards here. There is more removal with Ambuscade, and some of the higher cost creatures area promising. Sifter Wurm is strong if you can great to it, particularly since you can send lands to the bottom at that point. Then, Oasis Ritualist helps push out the Wurm and others earlier. Sandwurm Convergence is a bomb that I will heavily consider playing. Oh, also, there is Rhonas the Indomitable, seems pretty good. There is more than enough going on that I will likely play green as there is just a solid base with some great cards mixed in.

Gold: Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh is backbreaking, sometimes. I had played against it a few times, some where it completely changed the game against me, but others where it was too little too late. There are simply some starts that the Pharaoh cannot beat. But, there are also numerous games where he will single handedly win the game. Struggle/Survive is fantastic, and I don't ever remember what the second half does. When I do, I realize it can be quite great. Start/Finish is one of the aftermath cards that suffers from requiring both halves. While the backside is playable on its own, you have to play the front half or discard. So, an auto-include if you can play both halves.

Artifacts: Bontu's Monument is okay, though not necessarily an auto-include. The Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs has grown on me, but I think it needs the right decks to shine.

In the end, I went Green/Black. Oh, yeah, I splashed Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. In hindsight, a poor choice, but it was the new release, and I had the face walker of the set. So, I had to go for it. Here is the deck:

Friendly Sealed 7, Stage 1 - Hour/Amonkhet
Green/Black splashing Grixis… - 40 Cards Total
Creature
1 Scrounger of Souls
1 Gravedigger
1 Bone Picker
1 Ruin Rat
1 Rhonas the Indomitable
1 Sifter Wurm
1 Quarry Beetle
1 Tenacious Hunter
1 Oasis Ritualist
1 Hooded Brawler
2 Harrier Naga
1 Naga Vitalist
1 Feral Prowler
1 Exemplar of Strength
15 cards

Instant
1 Torment of Venom
1 Hour of Glory
1 Magma Spray
1 Ambuscade
1 Splendid Agony
5 cards
Sorcery
1 Torment of Hailfire
1 Doomfall
2 cards

Planeswalker
1 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh
1 cards
Land
1 Crypt of the Eternals
1 Desert of the Fervent
7 Swamp
1 Island
7 Forest
17 cards
 

 

A bit messy, but potentially strong. I cut Sandwurm Convergence because I thought 2 7 drops and an 8 drop was too much. Of course, in hindsight, I should have found a way to get it in.

Stage 1 Matches:

Match 1 vs. JacobChen 0 - 2

Game 1: I keep Hooded Brawler, Doomfall, Ambuscade, 3 Forest and an Island. My opponent leads with Evolving Wilds and Rhonas's Stalwart, and I draw Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. Next, my opponent adds Sidewinder Naga, and then I finally add to the board with Hooded Brawler. My opponent plays a desert, pumping the Naga, and swings me down to 12, and then adds Merciless Eternal. I draw Rhonas the Indomitable and hold it back so I can use Ambuscade. Sadly, my opponent plays Overcome. With that on the stack, I use the Ambuscade to kill the eternal. Watching it now, I have no idea why I didn't kill the naga, since that would have saved me 2 points of damage, assuming my opponent attacked with everything. After the attack and trade, I am down to 4, my opponent still has Rhonas's Stalwart to my empty board. I add Quarry Beetle and pass back, with my opponent adding Horror of the Broken Lands. I use Doomfall, exiling the Stalwart, and then add Rhonas the Indomitable to the board. Unfortunately, my opponent has Blur of Blades to bring the Beetle under 4 power, making Rhonas unable to block. I have to chump to stay alive, and then my opponent adds Frilled Sandwalla and Khenra Eternal. When I draw Ruin Rat, I have no outs and concede.

I bring in Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs in an effort to slow the beats. 

Game 2:  I mull a 1 lander (and Crypt of the Eternals was the land on top of it). I then keep Feral Prowler, Quarry Beetle, Harrier Naga, and lands. Despite sending a Forest to the bottom, I draw a Forest. My opponent repeats last game with a turn 2 Rhonas's Stalwart followed by a turn 3 Sidewinder Naga. We trade snakes on my attack, and I add Tenacious Hunter. Next, my opponent adds Oasis Ritualist and passes back, when I add Harrier Naga. My opponent responds with an exerted attack--I don't block because my opponent has some trick. After blocks though, my opponent plays Greater Sandwurm. I hit Naga Vitalist and pass back. My opponent swings in with the big wurm, and I go to 8. They then add two Khenra Eternals. Luckily, I can add Scrounger of Souls, while stabilizes the board and my opponent, for the moment stops attacking, just adding another Rhonas's Stalwart. I develop my board with Oasis Ritualist, which means I could play a Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh if I drew one. However, I draw Hour of Glory and pass back. My opponent goes to attacking with the Wurm, and I just exile it. They then pass back. We both play some lands and add to the board. After a while, my opponent adds Accursed Horde and I attempt to Ambuscade it. However, my opponent has their own Hour of Glory in response, giving them a two for one. Unfortunately, my opponent can start attacking and making creatures indestructible. After one set of attacks, my opponent uses Supernatural Stamina to kill my Tenacious Hunter and I go to 6. Luckily, I draw Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh and immediately kill the horde. While I think I might be in the game, my opponent attacks with the 2 Khenra Eternals, with the afflict brining me to 4, then uses Blur of Blades on a creature, bringing me to 2. Finally, they kill me with Trial of Zeal. Quite disappointing, as Nicky would have likely allowed me to stabilize and win.

Match 2 vs. MrSwissArmy 2 - 0

Game 1: I lose the die roll, and keep Magma Spray, Ambuscade, Hooded Brawler, Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, and lands. My opponent plays a turn 1 Fan Bearer while I lead with a Desert of the Fervent. After my opponent plays Thorned Moloch, I Magma Spray the bearer as it will be too annoying to let stay around, and then on my turn I follow up with Hooded Brawler. My opponent misses land 4, and just swings. I respond with Exemplar of Strength. Next turn, my opponent hits land 4, adding Steadfast Sentinel to the board. I continue drawing lands, and then use the Ambuscade to clear the block so my exemplar can swing, bringing my opponent to 11. My opponent uses their next turn to just use Splendid Agony to kill my exemplar and attacks. I play Rhonas the Indomitable, and hit for 3. I save mana for the pump so I can block with Rhonas if needed. I don't think my opponent read that interaction, as they attack and I get to eat the Thorned Moloch for free. They follow up with land 5 and Supply Caravan. With my opponent at 8, I double pump the brawler and get ready to exert it to a 9/4 trampler, which guarantees lethal, so my opponent scoops.

Game 2: I keep a strong hand in Feral Prowler, Rhonas the Indomitable, Oasis Ritualist, Bone Picker, and lands. My opponent leads with Oketra's Avenger and I respond with Feral Prowler. My opponent adds Thorned Moloch, I add Ruin Rat, and they then add Steadfast Sentinel. I add Oasis Ritualist and I then traded the rat for the sentinel, exiling it. The interaction is a bit obscure, but I don't think everyone is aware that the rat can exile the card it kills (they go to the graveyard at the same time, so the rat can see the other creature when the trigger resolves). My opponent adds Supply Caravan and I add Rhonas the Indomitable, with mana up to pump the ritualist to 4 power. My opponent adds Scrounger of Souls, and after no attacks, I use a Magma Spray to kill off the avenger. I trade off my cat for a card, and play Naga Vitalist and Bone Picker, leaving me with Torment of Hailfire--I will have the ability to cast it for 7 the next turn. My opponent plays a Winged Shepherd and a land, emptying their hand. My opponent was at 20, and after I cast Torment for 7, they concede. Between Rhonas and how much they would have to sacrifice, it is extremely unlikely my opponent would be able to come back, but they did have some options.

Match 3 vs. motu_matukata 2 - 0

Game 1: My opener is Doomfall, Ruin Rat, Tenacious Hunter, and lands (though no green source). My opponent makes the first play, with Strategic Planning. They discard Tah-Crop Elite, which seems like a bizarre choice to be, but who knows what they kept. I use Doomfall to get rid of Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs, as that will slow me down a bit. I also add Naga Vitalist. My opponent plays and cracks Cradle of the Accursed, so I am feeling okay with the game. I get down Tenacious Hunter, which immediately gets hit with Unquenchable Thirst with a desert out. I draw lands and my opponent adds Tah-Crop Skirmisher and River Serpent. I then get to cycle a land, to draw another land then another, making 11 lands in the top 16! My opponent cannot attack with the serpent, but adds a Dauntless Aven to start getting in. Nothing really happens for a while, as we both add some irrelevant creatures. I take some damage while holding my Hour of Glory, opting to wait for a few turns before hitting the Aven. Once I do, my opponent plays a second copy. My opponent doesn't attack with the Aven, but instead with an Anointer Priest, which I eat with a 4/4, letting them embalm, I guess? Once they attack with the Aven, I use Splendid Agony to kill it and weaken a Cunning Survivor that hasn't attacked yet. When my opponent plays a third Dauntless Aven, I draw Magma Spray to kill it. I finally draw Rhonas the Indomitable, which lets my Feral Prowler get in for 7 damage--yeah, it was turn 17 and I had 13 mana available. Turned out good that I swung as much as I could, because my opponent had Desert's Hold for my Rhonas. We mostly stare at each other for 6 more turns, with few relevant interactions. Finally, at turn 24, with 4 cards left in my deck (I was hit with the mill desert), I hit Torment of Hailfire. I cast it for 15! My opponent sacs everything, discards their hand, and is at 3 life, to my board of 6 attackers.

Game 2: Despite my better judgement, I keep Exemplar of Strength, Oasis Ritualist, and 5 lands. My opponent leads with Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs and Dauntless Aven. The Aven trades with my exemplar and I add a Harrier Naga. My opponent plays Dauntless Aven number two, but I get to use Splendid Agony after an attack and block to wipe both of my opponent's creatures. Next, my opponent plays Dutiful Servants, which brick walls me pretty well. I add Oasis Ritualist and am theoretically one turn away from Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. My opponent plays nothing and I use Hour of Glory to get rid of his lone creature so I can swing. They flash in Aven Reedstalker to block my ritualist. Then, a Desert's Hold hits my naga, and I use Doomfall to kill the reedstalker, after which I add Bone Picker. I draw Scrounger of Souls, but decide to hold it back as it does little to the board, which is empty on my opponent's side. However, they cast Approach of the Second Sun, and I have to enter race mode. A Strategic Planning finds Tah-Crop Elite for my opponent. I finally draw one of my splash sources, Desert of the Fervent, so I have 1 turn to cast Bolas. My Bone Picker trades for their bird, and they use Unquenchable Thirst on my scrounger. I cast Bolas and then dome my opponent for 7, bringing them to 2, and I also play Feral Prowler. After they draw, they concede.

Stage 2 Pack and Pool:

Alright, here is the Hour of Devastation pack I opened:

Briefly, here is the pack value:

Category Value
Pool Value  $0.67
Winnings                            30PP
Costs $3.96 or $4.00 or 40 PP
Outcome +30 PP - 40 PP + $0.67

For a non-mythic pack, this value isn't actually that terrible. I almost broke even.

Find out what I did next time!

Wrap Up

I hope you enjoyed the first league! It's good to be back and writing, so there should be more coming soon! As always, I appreciate comments and suggestions!

xger

xger21 on MTGO