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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Mar 08 2018 1:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  The Masters 25 set is now out and I do not see myself drafting the set at all, at least not online anyway.  I may play the Jace lottery in paper once but that's about it.  I don't really see the appeal of a "great Limited environment" when it costs way too much to draft it over and over again.  Modern Masters 2017 was great and I did draft it more than I normally would have on Magic Online, but I don't see Masters 25 being as good (for me) as Modern Masters 2017.  It's hard to top draft decks that can play both Cruel Ultimatum and Obzedat, Ghost Council in the same turn.  If it turns out to be an exceptional draft format I may do a phantom draft in place of a Rivals of Ixalan draft, but for the time being I would not expect Masters 25 drafts here.  What can you expect though?  Let's take a look!

  • Today - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #6, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #3 video, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #4 videos
  • 3/15 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #7, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #3 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #4 videos
  • 3/22 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #8, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 video, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 video
  • 3/29 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #9, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos

All of the remaining of March will be Rivals and half of April will be wrapping up the last Rivals leagues before heading to the Dominaria Sealed Set Review.  Again, I wouldn't expect any Masters 25 content on this article series but stranger things have happened.  With all that said let's get into the games!

Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #6

I stand by my decision to first pick Merfolk Mistbinder even if it didn't pan out.  Having a tribal payoff is huge in Rivals of Ixalan and I don't have to commit to drafting blue/green right off the bat.  Given how flexible blue is I can take blue cards and if the Merfolk are swimming to me then I can pick them up, otherwise I can try a U/x deck if I focus on taking blue cards first.  This explains why I took Resplendent Griffin as well, blue has ways to generate Treasure tokens easily so splashing it in U/G/x or U/X/x is not hard to do at all, and gives me the Ascend theme if I'm not in a tribe.  I do end up going with an Ascend deck as I pick up both Mausoleum Harpy and Dusk Charger.

While I hadn't drafted a full on Ascend deck I knew one of the pieces I wanted for it was Sailor of Means, especially since it opens up the Resplendent Griffin splash.  Sailor of Means also blocks well when it comes down on turn 3 so if I'm looking to maximize the four mana and five mana plays in my deck then Sailor of Means helps get me there.  I will admit I made a mistake in not taking a Skittering Heartstopper in pack 3 to help shore up my lack of removal.  With only Waterknot and Impale as ways to interact with my opponent's threats, the Skittering Heartstopper was sorely needed not only because of deathtouch, it also makes my opponent have awkward attacks early on.

I went 1-2 with the deck and most of it I feel is because of the lack of removal I had.  It wasn't hard for me to achieve Ascend whenever I wanted it, but I didn't have removal to back up multiple copies of Sailor of Means, nor did I have over the top plays to go over something like a Colossal Dreadmaw.  I could be a bit of an aggro deck with my Pirate's Cutlass but I wasn't always going to get that draw, nor do I have good aggressive creatures early on.  This means the games will go long and it's not hard to beat a 5/5 Dusk Charger if you're playing any deck with Dinosaurs.   With one or two more removal spells I feel the deck would be better, or if it had better five mana plays than Canal Monitor.  It just needed more power to compete with other decks and that wasn't there during the draft.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #3

This match loss I can only blame on myself since in the last game I could have won easily if I ignored my Conqueror's Galleon once it flipped and focused on beating down with Waker of the Wilds.  My thoughts were that I had a lot of time given the value I was able to accrue and I just needed to have the mana for Zetalpa, Primal Dawn and I can win the game very quickly.  What I didn't do is keep in mind that my opponent can overpower Zetalpa by drawing Forerunner of the Empire and making too many Polyraptors for me to deal with.  Hindsight being 20/20 I don't believe I would have won with Waker of the Wilds but it is the right line to take so I give my opponent the least amount of draws to hit either Forerunner of the Empire or Polyraptor.  At 1-2 I need to play tightly if I want to finish the league with a 3-2 record.  I do believe the deck can finish with a winning record, but I might have to do it in spite of myself.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #4

A viewer on my YouTube channel suggested adding Reckless Rage into the deck over a Swashbuckling, and not only did I agree, I also took out the second Swashbuckling to make room for Fathom Fleet Boarder.  I didn't think very highly of the Swashbucklings after the first three matches and felt another creature that could survive Reckless Rage would be a worthwhile inclusion in the deck.  In all honesty my rating of Swashbuckling is still caught in triple Ixalan where it was much more powerful in the R/W Dinosaur deck you could draft.  Here it's less powerful than before so I need to reevaluate it accordingly.

I don't believe I made any changes with the pack I opened (unless Fathom Fleet Boarder was in it) and I did better in this stage going 2-1 in matches played to give myself an overall record of 3-3.  Considering all my losses have been pretty close we just as easily could be 5-1 or 1-5 heading into the last three matches.  I do believe the deck is good, it has removal spells and card advantage in March of the Drowned and Ruin Raider.  It's not the best at being aggressive unless I have Captain's Hook, and even then I feel I always don't have enough mana to do all the things I'd like to do in a turn.  The draws where I start playing threats on turn 3 and have multiple three mana plays makes it a little hard to proceed correctly, making it more likely that I choose the wrong path.  A good example of this is game three of round 5 where I have multiple options on turn 4 but it's not clear what is the correct one.  I can choose to play Captain's Hook on offense, Captain's Hook on defense, play Deadeye Tormentor as a blocker, or use Bombard and attack with my Forerunner of the Coalition.  Using Bombard let's me attack and deal with the immediate threat, but I know they have bigger creatures that I might want to use Bombard on.  Deadeye Tormentor is safe if I'm willing to ignore combat tricks, and the Captain's Hook is a high risk low reward play that could easily lose me the game.  The problem is that I'd like to make either a big four mana play or make two two mana plays to use all my mana efficiently.

All in all I do believe there's a good chance to end the league with a positive record, although I doubt it'll be the 6-3 I'm hoping for.  I have to account for the variance we've seen in the first two stages and assume I'll end up with a 5-4 record overall.  As long as I don't face off against green decks I'll be okay.  The green decks have a lot of power and toughness that's hard to deal with, whereas the other colors are okay to deal with my X/2s and X/3s.  

Conclusion

3-4 overall in matches played isn't ideal but I don't believe I played so poorly to just give four matches wins away.  Instead I lost to some combination of variance and playing against more powerful decks than my own.  It's part of Magic and that's not something you can avoid at all.  You can't win them all sadly.  Next week I'll be back with another Rivals of Ixalan draft and I'll wrap up the two sealed leagues I have going.  My prediction is that I'll end up with a 5-4 record in the friendly league and a 2-3 record in the competitive league.  I tend to do worse in the competitive leagues so even though I feel I have an above average deck there, I'm going by past leagues and not giving me the benefit of the doubt.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  I'd love to chat with you and have a conversation about plays, picks, or any critiques you may have.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where you'll find all the videos in this article series posted early along with content exclusive to the channel.  I haven't been the best at posting every day like I used to but I'll try and get that sorted out.

Thanks for reading/watching!