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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Feb 15 2018 1:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  This past Monday brought about the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf and while Modern isn't a topic that is relevant to Rivals of Ixalan, I thought I'd talk about it since it'll be one of the more talked about topics for the foreseeable future.

Taken as a whole I think the unbannings are badly timed given the success of the Modern Pro Tour even if you make the argument that the unbannings are not going to ruin Modern as a whole.  Modern is in a stable place at the moment and there's no need to give the format a chance to collaspe by adding new cards into the card pool.  Adding Jace and Bloodbraid into the fold is going to change how the format looks from a macro perspective, even if individual decks don't care about those cards if their main strategy doesn't line up with what those two cards do.  Decks like Hollow One, Dredge, Burn, Tron, and Ad Nauseam are generally going to ignore those cards and beat you the way they always do.  Fair decks take a huge hit since those decks have a hard time beating Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf, and you find yourself playing Jund for your B/G/x deck of choice.

By itself I think Bloodbraid Elf is a fine unban since Jund is on the decline and it wouldn't run rampant without Deathrite Shaman around.  It would push Jund over Abzan and the premier B/G deck given its better Humans and Lantern matchup, but overall Jund wouldn't be as popular as it was in the RTR era.  Jace, on the other hand, does warp how you build your deck if you're not trying to end the game quickly or have a big mana engine that is hard to interact with.  A Jace, the Mind Sculptor left unchecked will end the game quickly so you have to have game plan for it otherwise you just lose.

Lastly, I think Modern will be somewhat less diverse than it was last week, but only slightly less diverse.  You might have more blue decks that technically have different names but can all be categorized as Jace decks, and some fringe decks that have a terrible Jace matchup could simply just disappear.  That said, Modern does have a steep barrier to entry compared to Standard and even if Jace is busted it's not going to be prevalent in local metas due to price tag and scarcity.  Local metagmes will remain the same generally speaking and for most players that's all that matters.  In the end it's probably not a good unbanning with regards to timing but there's a chance Modern will survive it.  With that said, let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and get into the games:

  • Today - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #3, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #1 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #2 videos
  • 2/22 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #4, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #3, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #4
  • 3/1 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #5, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #3 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #4 videos
  • 3/8 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #6, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #3 video, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #4 videos

Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #3

I was a little all over the place in this draft trying to find my second color with either blue or black being options coming out of pack 1.  I took a Siegehorn Ceratops early give myself the option of a W/G Dinosaur deck but the green cards were very lacking in terms of quality so I slammed the door shut quickly on that idea.  I did get some good blue cards a bit late so I thought I'd be in W/U for the draft but it got cut in the second pack so I started to take black cards and settled into W/B by the time pack 3 rolled around.  I wasn't in the best spot for W/B since I missed out on a Squire's Devotion early in pack 1 but I was able to get an Anointed Deacon to give me a powerful tool for the Vampire cards I had.  You really want synergy once you're in a tribe and Anointed Deacon gave me that synergy that made all my Vampires much more formidable in combat.  Incidentally I could have managed the same effect with a Pirate's Cutlass but I was unable to get one in the last pack.

I managed to get the 3-0 in this draft and it's because of the Anointed Deacon that I was able to get in the last pack.  There were board states where if I didn't have that effect I give my opponent a lot more time to draw into threats and/or my clock is simply too slow to not allow them to race back effectively.  I didn't have the best Vampire deck out there, but I did have enough creatures plus removal to put pressure on my opponent and be the one attacking as opposed to blocking.  This isn't the best format for you to be blocking in, so if you're not good at blocking you have to be attacking otherwise you won't win.  The more likely you are to play a 15/16 land deck the better off you are at making sure you're the one attacking so that you can't get overrun by more powerful plays that require more lands to cast.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #1

At 1-2 I had a feeling I'd somehow get a win to go 2-2 and then lose after getting a glimmer of hope and finish with a 2-3 record.  When i won the fourth round rather quickly I knew I would end up losing the last match and that's what ended up happening.  Overall I lost to decks that were better than mine and beat decks that had worse draws than me, but that still doesn't tell me if my deck was good or not.  I suspect it's more often good than not, I just ran into decks that were better than mine and had better draws.  It's very hard to call a deck with Tetzimoc in it bad, although I suppose you could have a deck that is bad if it never draws and casts Tetzimoc.  2-3 overall is not the record I wanted but at least I won some games and tried to be competitive in the ones I didn't.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #2

After adding the last pack of Ixalan I thought that I was going to be playing B/G for the last three matches but after looking over W/U I decided to give it a try to see if it would be any good.  I won my first match, almost won my second match, and won the final match to give myself a positive record overall of 5-4 and a 2-1 record with the W/U deck.  While I think both decks are on about equal power level the fact that the W/U deck gives me a much better chance at impacting the board early on is what made me want to try it over the B/G deck I had.  I found that the reasons I was losing games in the two prior stages was that I was getting overrun by not having an early presence on the battlefield, so my W/U deck was an attempt to shore up that weakness and use The Immortal Sun and Azor, the Lawbringer as my topend finishers.

Conclusion

I finish my first two leagues with a 2-3 and 5-4 record, giving me a 7-7 record in the sealed matches I've played thus far and a 3-0 in the draft I did.  That brings my draft record to 7-2 overall, continuing my success from triple Ixalan in the previous format.  I have to imagine that I'm at best a 50/50 player in the sealed leagues but have a good shot at getting 2-1s and 3-0s in the drafts I'll be doing.  Perhaps I just need to build either the most powerful deck I can in sealed or the fastest deck possible and ignore most of my sealed deck conventions and just go with it.  We'll see what happens next week when I open two new pools and get to dissecting them with the knowledge I've gained from the two leagues I've just done.

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 can find all the videos in this article series early along with content exclusive to the channel.  I've been taking a break from doing extra videos but I'll get back to doing Modern Abzan/Jund videos once the new unbans are in effect on Magic Online.

Thanks for reading/watching!