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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Dec 21 2017 1:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  The year is wrapping up and so too is our time with Ixalan only as a Limited format.  By mid January we will have Rivals of Ixalan out on Magic Online and we'll be moving forward towards new things rather quickly.  While I don't want to get too introspective, especially after the 200th article where I gave myself free license to do so, it only feels natural to do so.  Part of that is what I see is going to be happening the next couple of weeks in regards to this article series. 

  • Today - Ixalan Draft League #11, Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos
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  • 1/11 - Rivals of Ixalan Sealed Set Review

As far as I'm concerned I'm through with Ixalan with the time being, even though I did consider taking part in one of the two Ixalan PTQs that will happen on Magic Online between now and the release of Rivals.  I know I could draft decently well if I was able to get into the top 8, but actually being in contention for a top 8 finish is something I'm dubious about given my record in Ixalan sealed.  I did consider doing drafts for the next two weeks but as Christmas and New Year's come up it get harder to pin down a precise recording schedule, so I'd rather not hold myself accountable to something that is not set in stone.  

Because of all this, there isn't really a time for me to ruminate on the past year unless I do so now.  In terms of my YouTube channel and my brand I've done more than in recent years but nothing to the point where I would consider myself a known quantity in any capacity.  My videos have always been made with the intent to teach and explain not just my point of view but why others make the plays/choices they make and how to learn from that.  I believe that even "bad" content has lessons that can be learned from it and that someone making play mistakes/errors is better than you making them yourself.  

I've done more content than I have before, an effect seen in the increase of views/subscribers/revenue earned in comparison to past years.  While I still have a healthy sense of self and won't bite off more than I can chew, I have expanded into other formats as a way to grow and provide other forms of entertainment to not just others but myself as well.  While Sealed Success won't be back until Rivals of Ixalan, you can expect an article out of me about either Modern or Commander before we hit the set review.  With all that said, let's take one last look at Ixalan only Limited!

Ixalan Draft League #11

I like how I ended up drafting this week since it showed the patience of not committing to a second color and knowing how deep your potential second color is relative to taking a card of a different color.  I was very firmly in white coming out of pack one with a preference to red given the few red cards I did have/my success with RW Dinosaurs.  I opened a very lackluster first pick in pack 2 but decided that the best option for me was to take a speculative Deathless Ancient because the other choice in Pterodon Knight would table, so I had nothing to lose by taking a different card.  I give myself a slight edge in switching to black if I need to by making this pick, whereas if I take Pterodon Knight and see black is open I don't have a Deathless Ancient to make that switch much more attractive.  This allows me to be in a better to take Dark Nourishment and Contract Killing when they show up later in the pack and allow the switch to BW Vampires to actually take place.    It's possible that I still go into black no matter what I do in the first pick, but there's a chance I don't take Dark Nourishment but note that black might be open and start with black on Contract Killing.  In that case my deck would be weaker because I'm missing both Deathless Ancient and Dark Nourishment.

In the end I'm paid off by the choices I made and settle into an average BW Vampires deck that did not get an Anointed Deacon but we have the best next thing in Bishop of the BloodstainedAnointed Deacon lets you leverage your random 1/1 Vampire tokens into actual threats, forcing your opponent to trade off their one card for less value.  The +2 power in general is quite good in this format which is why Pirate's Cutlass gets played in non pirate decks that are looking to upgrade their creatures.  I was very close to making it four drafts won in a row but I was very unfortunate to not draw lands in game 3 of match 3 for several turns in a row.  I showed the odds at the end of me having four lands by the time the game ended and I was 90% on that last turn despite only have two lands in play.  Variance is part of the game and we must accept that it can benefit or hurt us.

Ixalan Sealed League #5

I said last week if I lost the fourth round I would drop and not play out the last round, and that's what ended up happening.  During deckbuilding I thought the deck was decent and could earn a 3-2 record at worst, but ending at 1-3 feels a bit disappointing.  We had games that we needed to curve out from the start to win, but we kept hands that were average not knowing that having to curve out was extremely important.  I suppose the Rampaging Ferocidon deck is very interested in curving out every game, but sometimes you don't get hands that let you do that.  In the end our games ended up being a little longer than this deck was able to handle and we ran out of gas very quickly relative to what our opponent was doing.  It wasn't a bad deck at all, it just got bad matchups and things didn't go our way.

Ixalan Sealed League #6

After getting destroyed the first match by a RG Dinosaurs deck that had two very good hands I was able to right the ship and end the stage at 2-1, with a 6-3 record overall for the entire league.  I said in the beginning that Captivating Crew was my best card and that my best chance at winning was to leverage the card as best I could, and it consistently was that UR was the deck that was able to do that.  Past that, in the games where I didn't draw Captivating Crew I was able to win by playing a tempo game with various bounce spells and Watertrap Weaver to keep my opponent off balance and let me get in damage that I wouldn't be able to get in otherwise.  The deck can't play a long game well so it's best to try and end the game as soon as possible, so every point of damage matters.  I do like how I played despite some losses, but those losses came to better decks so it's not too much to be disappointed about.


  • Ixalan Draft Record: 22-9, 4 draft trophies  70% win rate
  • Ixalan Competitive Sealed Record: 7-8, no trophies 46% win rate
  • Ixalan Friendly Sealed Record: 12-9, one 3-0 trophy 57% win rate

After a rocky start in Ixalan draft where I went 11-8 I was able to end it with a 11-1 run and end with a 70% win rate in the format overall.  Looking at the numbers Ixalan is actually my best draft format since I've been doing this article series with triple Khans of Tarkir being the second best draft format I've done well in.  Of course those numbers and these numbers can't really be compared since during Khans I was doing 8-4 drafts and now I'm doing league drafts, so there is definitely a difference in the quality of opponents I'm facing now.  Having said that 70% over 30 matches is still impressive and I'm happy with that result.  Ixalan Sealed has been about 50/50 for me and that doesn't surprise me.  I do better in the friendly leagues than I do in the competitive leagues, so if I wanted to grind leagues I'm better off doing friendly leagues.

Like I said in the opening I'll be back next year with this article series in time for the Rivals of Ixalan Sealed Set Review, so don't fret if you don't see me for a week or two.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where I'll still be making content, so if you want to check out my adventures in Commander or Modern you can do so there.  I may even do a Vintage Cube draft while it's up, so make sure to check it out!  I'll be back for Rivals of Ixalan but until then, Happy Holidays!

Thank you for reading/watching!