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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Apr 12 2018 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  This past weekend was the Rivals of Ixalan Store Championships and while I was able to top 8 the event, I did not win the mat and first place.  I opened a Radiant Destiny in my first pack and decided to make a move into Vampires, and the cards were there for it but I had none of the payoffs like Anointed Deacon or Legion Lieutenant.  It turns out that further up the table there was another Vampires drafter that had 3 copies of Legion Lieutenant and a much better curve than my deck had.  At this point I wasn't expecting to win at all and despite drawing a copious amount of land almost every game I played, I managed to hit top 8 against a field of 16 players.  The day before I had managed to draft a 3-0 U/B control deck with no rares/mythics, so perhaps I wasted my luck then.  This week is the last week I'll be covering Rivals of Ixalan, after today we'll have the Sealed Set Review and from there we'll dive into Dominaria Limited.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule before I talk about my last thoughts on Rivals of Ixalan:

  • Today - Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #11, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5 videos, Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6 videos
  • 4/19 - Dominaria Sealed Set Review
  • 4/26 - Dominaria Draft League #1, Dominaria Sealed League #1, Dominaria Sealed League #2
  • 5/3 - Dominaria Draft League #1, Dominaria Draft League #2, Dominaria Sealed League #1 videos, Dominaria Sealed League #2 videos

For the first Dominaria draft it'll be split into two weeks, the first week will just have the draft portion while the second week will have the matches and the entirety of the second draft.  This is so that I'm not overburdened on videos right after the prerelease ends.  I do work at a card shop so Friday through Monday is going to be filled with a lot of work and not much time to dedicate to videos.

Rivals of Ixalan Draft League #11

The first pick of the draft was a bit of a tough one since I had the choice of Silvergill Adept or Impale to start off my deck.  Given that the upside is so high if you're in a tribal deck I felt it best to try and position myself in a tribe with a card that is flexible enough that could be reasonable in other decks.  Impale is a good card and worthy of a first pick but I wanted to take the card with the higher upside and that's what led me to take the Silvergill Adept.  It might be safer to take Kitesail Corsair over the Jungleborn Pioneer in the next pack but the Jungleborn Pioneer is not only a decent card in any green deck, it combos with the Silvergill Adept and gives me a good place to be if I find a Merfolk Mistbinder or Forerunner of the Heralds.  Sure enough I get rewarded with fourth pick Merfolk Mistbinder and hold steady through some empty packs to end up with a solid U/G Merfolk deck.  It's not the best build of Merfolk I've had but it is aggressive and can win games very quickly if the opponent stumbles and is vulnerable to our bounce spells.

I end up going 3-0 with this deck and a lot of the games were very easy for me to win.  The combination of a quick start plus the tempo elements in Deadeye Rig-Hauler and Run Aground made it hard for the opponent to stabilize and if they do, I have Entrancing Melody to turn the tides by taking their best creature.  The deck doesn't play the best from behind as evidenced by the game where I had very few creatures to start out the game and was run over very quickly, so I was fortunate to find myself ahead for most of the games.  I wrap up Rivals of Ixalan draft with a 3-0 draft and a 22-11 overall record.  66% percent is pretty close to 70% and I'm happy to be at around that threshold.  The plane of Ixalan has been very good to me in terms of draft, now let's see how we fare in sealed.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #5

I'm not upset that I lost the match because given my play in game 2, I deserved to lose the match.  I made quite a few mistakes that game and my opponent was very unlucky to not be able to punish me for them.  I end up with a 1-3 record in the league and looking at the deck and the curve it has, I'm not surprised that happened.  The curve isn't ideal for the amount of pressure Rekindling Phoenix can put onto the battlefield, and the removal suite is very lackluster.  The games I win are the ones where I curve out or win the board stall with a 4/3 flier, but I don't curve out well and sometimes there's a bigger flier in play already.  Perhaps I should have played the Tetzimoc deck from the beginning, but I didn't expect my curve to be so bad with the R/G deck.  It had a better curve than the B/G even if the B/G deck was more powerful based on Tetzimoc, Primal Death.  What do you think? What deck would have fared better?

Overall I leave the competitive sealed leagues with a 4-9 record which is good for a 30% win rate.  Ouch, that's not very good at all.  Can we make up for it in the friendly leagues?  Let's find out.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed League #6

There are some games where I concede early because I don't think I can win and after I draw a few cards I could have lasted longer in the game, and then there are the ones where I don't concede because I want information and I end up somehow making a comeback.  I had one of those games during the first game of the last match where my opponent had such a huge advantage that Ghalta, Primal Hunger wasn't good enough to win, so I decided to stick it out to help reduce my opponent's time.  The goal wasn't so much to time the opponent out, it was that the game had gone on so long and if the next game was going to be a repeat performance, I wanted more time than they did.  By all accounts I was dead on board and I would lose to decking first, so they could be up a game but I wanted to be up time if that became a factor.

I understand why my opponent made the attack they did because from their perspective, I've had one card in my hand for the last 6+ turns and I've not played it at all, so it's likely a land or some uncastable card.  My opponent attacks in such a way that I have to block mostly everything and I'm going to be left with one or two creatures max, so they leave back their worst attacker to defend.  I also can't go to 1 because then I lose to the Fanatical Firebrand, and it makes it so Dusk Charger can't block a 4 power creature.  The only way they lose is if I somehow don't lose my Dusk Charger and I draw a removal spell.  The only thing that doesn't make sense is if they knew it was a nonlethal attack, then why attack with everything, or why not leave back one more blocker to play around removal?  Perhaps they needed to attack with all the Saprolings in order to not leave me the choice to not block with a creature?  In any case I had the Vanquish the Weak the entire time and won the game and match to end the stage with a 3-0 trophy.  I end the league with a 6-3 record overall and my friendly leagues with a 16-11 record, or 59% win rate.


  • Rivals of Ixalan Draft Record - 22-11, 3 draft trophies, 66% win rate
  • Rivals of Ixalan Competitive Sealed Record - 4-9, 0 trophies, 30% win rate
  • Rivals of Ixalan Friendly Sealed Record - 16-11, 1 3-0 trophy, 59% win rate

Compared to triple Ixalan I did a lot worse here with Rivals added to the mix but I still did better than most formats I played.  Rivals made it so you had a better payoff for being in a tribal deck with the uncommon lords such as Merfolk Mistbinder, Legion Lieutenant, and the four Forerunners that allow you to find a creature of that specific tribe.  The downside was that some of the decks that you had in triple Ixalan were weaker to draft and not as consistent.  The W/R Dinosaur deck that I liked got worse with Rivals in it and in some respects the tempo Merfolk build got worse as the go wide version of the deck got better.  Tetzimoc, Primal Death proved to be a card I couldn't have much success with even though my opponents always beat me with it.  All the Elder Dinosaurs proved to be better than I thought, which the exception of Nezahal, Primal Tide.  Sadly for Nezahal it ended up being a 7/7 for 7 that was more applicable towards constructed play.  

Next week I'll be back with the Dominaria Sealed Set Review!  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  

Thank you for reading/watching!