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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Mar 14 2018 1:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Masters 25 should have released on Magic Online by now and I'm debating doing a draft or two for future articles, but that will all depend on how fun the format turns out to be.  Currently I have plans to do one draft in paper and I'll watch other players stream/record gameplay to make a decision on whether I'll draft myself or not.  If it's not as good as Modern Masters 2017 was then I see no reason to do online drafts.  At that point if I'm doing Phantom Drafts I'd rather play Cube, which oddly enough is something I've indulged in twice.  The first draft was just for fun and I drafted all three Elspeth Planeswalkers, and that just so happens to be my favorite Planeswalker.  A 2-1 in that draft gave me a rebuy into another draft that sadly only contains two Elspeths.  I didn't record either of them so don't expect any Cube articles soon.  What can you expect though?  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule:

  • Today - 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, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6
  • 3/29 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #9, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos
  • 4/5 - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #10, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 video, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos

I was worried about having to have a week where I played two stages of a sealed league in order to be finished in time for the Dominaria Sealed Set Review, but it turns out there's no need to worry.  We'll have wrapped everything up in my regular order by the time the Dominaria Sealed Set Review comes around.  Speaking of which, I'm very much hyped for the set and can't wait to play with the cards given the spoilers we know so far.  With all that said, let's jump into the games!

Rival of Ixalan Draft League #7

I wasn't trying to draft an Ascend deck again after last week, instead the Wayward Swordtooth was ideally supposed to let me play a Dinosaur beatdown deck that just so happens to have an Ascend card in the deck.  Blue seemed the most open while I was drafting green and the Slippery Scoundrel put me more in a Ascend type deck.  That said, the deck didn't have a clear focus or payoff with various random Merfolk and Dinosaurs all smashed together.  The Azor's Gateway was a good pick in order to filter my draws and set up a potential mana sink, but that didn't end up happening.  I'm not sure if I should have tried to make a Dinosaur deck work and instead tried to build U/G tempo to have a better identity even without tribal synergies.  One possible misstep was me taking Hunt the Weak so highly when I don't have an insane green bomb or creatures to pair it with.  I took both Hunt the Weak because I wanted to be in green, but I was forcing it as opposed to seeing if it was open.  I'm willing to believe that I drafted poorly this time around.

Going 1-2 didn't make me happy but I wasn't surprised with the result at all.  I knew from the paper draft I did that I got lucky to go 3-0 so it would be unwise to expect something similar this time around.  I do consider it odd that I ended up drafting two similar decks with the same lack of strategy and mythic in Azor's Gateway.  It seems to me that shouldn't happen, but if it's better than 0% to happen then theoretically it could happen.  Just because something is improbable does not make it impossible.  I will say this shows the potential downfall of keeping hands that rely on Azor's Gateway to find land when you have a land light hand.  Azor's Gateway costing one mana is not irrelevant and can cost you significant board presence if your opponent is curving out with random creatures and you have nothing to defend yourself with.  As is the case with this format, don't durdle unless you can protect your life total.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #3

Part of the reason I lost this match is me not playing well and I have to accept that.  Looking back on the match I could have sequenced my plays in such a way that I give myself a better chance to beat Golden Demise in the second game if I play the Hadana's Climb in the same turn that I flipped the Galleon as opposed to waiting a turn and looting.  I actually did want to play Hadana's Climb postcombat, but I thought that the flip side of the land would give me one color of any colored mana, not colorless mana.  That was a misunderstanding on my part, but even so I should have left up UG to make sure nothing went wrong.  As for the first game I should have blocked earlier as I buy myself a couple more turns to set up my play of creature and Hunt the Weak if I'm not taking as much damage every turn.  I was greedy and should have just blocked the first chance I got after missing my fourth land drop.

Overall I'm not surprised with the record I got from the league at 1-3 because I didn't have much confidence with the pool to begin with.  While it does have some removal and some evasion, it has awkward draws and isn't doing anything consistent or overpowered.  It's a pile of cards and that's not going to win you a lot of games in any sealed format.  With good variance we could luck into a 3-2, but that's about the best we could do with this pool.  Now, there were other decks I could have played, but I don't think those would have fared any better.  

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #4

I was hoping the run the tables and end the league with a 6-3 record but it wasn't meant to be in the final round.  Hadana's Climb will win games if you have any sort of board presence and Kumena's Awakening in the second game helps my opponent win a game that I likely win if the enchantment doesn't make an appearance.  That isn't to that I should have won the second game, moreso that even with the advantage gained by Kumena's Awakening my opponent still had a chance to lose to my normal draw of creatures and interaction.  I am proud of how I played the first match of the stage where I needed to make sure I could beat a Moment of Craving because the attack I needed to make would not leave me alive on my opponent's turn if it went awry.  I easily lose that game if I forget that my opponent has two Moment of Craving in their deck and had only used one beforehand.  It's one of those things where the effect isn't so strong that you'd remember it as opposed to a Murder or Doom Blade, so remembering it was a strong move on my part.

Overall the deck was strong enough to compete in every match it played in, but there were some flaws that it couldn't overcome.  A lack of a explosive bomb threat meant that I had no easy wins, each win I got had to be earned the hard way.  I did have good removal but not always the right threats to capitalize on it.  Dusk Legion Zealot is a good card in the right card but here it wasn't as effective as it could have been.  I would have preferred more two power creatures that could start an aggressive draw rather than the one power Dusk Legion Zealot.  In the games that are going to go long I prefer the Zealot, but ideally the games don't go so long that a random two power creatures isn't better in the abstract.  It's a better than average deck that requires some amount of skill to win with and likely gives up a match or two to decks that attack from an angle it can't answer effectively (fliers, enchantments, Planeswalkers).  


Not the best records overall this week, so that's something I'll look to improve on for next week.  I've hit a bad run of drafts lately so I'm hoping to turn the corner and get back to where I won multiple drafts in a row.  The last two drafts have been weird Ascend decks so the goal is to not draft an Ascend deck next week and get back to tribal decks, as those have a lot of power if you can make them work.  My work in sealed leagues remains par for the course, I believe the last time I felt confident about a format was during Kaladesh/Aether Revolt as the formats after that have been so-so at best.  I'll keep doing my best with what we open, so be on the lookout for new sealed leagues next week.

Thanks for reading/watching!