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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Sep 27 2018 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success! Before I start with Guilds of Ravnica I do want to talk about my win percentages from Magic 2019. Normally I would have done this at the end of last article but I wanted to wait a week and give myself some distance from the format before I look at the numbers. In my competitive sealed leagues I went a combined 2-7 (1-3/1-4) and in my friendly sealed leagues I managed a 11-7 record (6-3/5-4) for an overall sealed record of 13-14. Not great numbers but there were some trying times in those leagues where I had to battle with subpar decks/pools.

My draft record if I did the numbers correctly ended up at 9-9 overall with a 3-0 record in one of the drafts I did, a few 2-1s, and then 1-2s and 0-3s. I hit the highs, the lows, and everything in between in this draft format and I believe it would have been more of the highs had I been drafting more online than I did. I took two weeks off to do Chaos Drafts and some outside factors led to me not doing as many drafts as I would have liked to, so I was a little out of touch with the format online than I wanted to be.  My win percentage in paper I would wager was about 60% since I was drafting weekly and knew what worked and didn't work there, but not so much online.  Paper and online drafting tend to have two different metagames since the online pod is more likely to be better drafters than paper drafts at a LGS.

I'm looking to do better this time around and I have a good few months of Guilds Limited to learn the format and get wins under my belt.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule to see what is going to be happening in the next couple of weeks:

  • Today - Guilds of Ravnica Sealed Set Review
  • 10/4 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #1*, Guilded Sealed League, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1
  • 10/11 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #1, Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #1, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2
  • 10/18 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #3, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1 videos, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2 videos

Because of how the schedule works and when the events open, the first sealed leagues available are the competitive sealed league and a special "Guilded Sealed League" opening on the 27th, which so happens to be today.  The friendly sealed league will open on the 8th, so I'm not able to do both leagues concurrently like I normally do.  My solution to this is for me to do the Guilded Sealed League during the two weeks it's available, introduce the competitive and friendly leagues one at a time, then do both leagues concurrently after the Guilded League ends.  It's a bit of a mess but I'll explain it in more detail as the videos start coming out.  For the moment know I'll have plenty of Guilds content for you all in the coming weeks.  With all that said, let's get started with the Sealed Set Review.

Guilds of Ravnica Keywords

Mentor

(Whenever this creature attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on target attacking creature with lesser power.)

Mentor is the keyword for the Boros Legion and it is quite the aggressive mechanic as it allows you to have better attacks than you normally would without the keyword.  It's a keyword that triggers on attacks, which means a solid Mentor deck is looking to attack fairly often to get as many triggers as possible.  Now, because it targets an attacking creature with lesser power, this means you need to curve out and have creatures already in play when you play your Mentor creature.  The additional +1/+1 counter means you're attacking for far more damage than you would otherwise, so a Boros Mentor deck can be quite explosive and kill very quickly if left uncontested.  I would look to find ways to make sure your Mentor creatures either don't die in battle or have evasion as to allow for even more triggers.  One of the downfalls of defending against Mentor deck is to try and use defenders as ways to stymie their attacks.  In fact, Mentor decks like running into defenders as it gives them time to power up their fellow creatures.  Look to trade early and often with creatures and shy away from defenders if you can.

Convoke

(Your creatures can help cast this spell.  Each creature you tap while casting this spell pays for 1 or one mana of that creature's color.)

Convoke is the keyword for the Selesnya Conclave and it's a cost reduction mechanic which encourages you to have as many creatures in play as possible to cast expensive cards much earlier than intended.  Now, there's also cheap cards with convoke so you can double or triple spell in a turn provided you have the creatures in play to pay for them.  Anthem effects work well in Convoke decks as normally you're using 1/1 or 2/2 token creatures as part of your offense, so an anthem greatly increases the firepower you have.  

Spells with convoke are generally very powerful the earlier you can cast them, but not unplayable if you need to pay full retail.  Against convoke decks you can try and deal with their convoke payoff first as the rest of their creatures should be relatively tame.  Save removal and counters for the big things and let your creatures tussle with their smaller ones.

Undergrowth

The Golgari Swarm don't have a keyword in this set, but instead an ability word.  Undergrowth is an ability word that cards about the number of creature cards in your graveyard and does something unique with each different card.  Undergrowth cards start off small in scale but increase in power level the more creature cards are in your graveyard.  You can fuel your Undergrowth cards by discarding creatures, milling creatures, or trading off creatures in combat.  There are very few Undergrowth cards with no effect if there's no creatures in your graveyard, so play them out of your hand whenever you feel its time to play them. 

Playing against Undergrowth is a little tricky as you don't always have control over the amount of cards in your opponents graveyard.  The best defense is to be aware of what Undergrowth cards they could have and protect yourself accordingly.

Surveil

Surveil X - (Look at the top X cards of your library, then put any number of them into your graveyard and the rest on top of your library in any order.)

House Dimir's keyword in Guilds of Ravnica is Surveil.  Similar to Scry, but instead of putting cards onto the bottom of your library you're instead putting them into your graveyard.  Functionally, a card you put on the bottom of your deck is almost similar to a card you put in the graveyard.  The bottom card of your deck when it isn't helpful is the same as in your graveyard, you generally don't have access to it and it's not going to impact the game right away.  With Undergrowth and Jump-Start in the set however, putting a card into your graveyard is almost like drawing a card while bettering your current draws.  Furthermore, cards that allow you to get cards from your graveyard get better as you can put a good card in your graveyard, go deeper into your deck to find a specific card, then get the card back when you need it.  Surveil is a mechanic with a lot of play to it and can give you quite the advantage if utilized properly.

Jump-Start

Jump-Start - (You may cast this card from your graveyard by discarding a card in addition to paying its other costs.  Then exile this card.)

The Izzet League is all about innovation and experimentation, so what better keyword for them than Jump-Start.  Jump-Start is found on instant and sorceries and allows you to play them in a way similar to Flashback.  Instead of paying a different mana cost, you must discard a card as fuel in addition to the original mana cost to get the effect of the card once again.  You can Jump-Start cards big and small and with the cost of discarding a card, you can discard a Jump-Start card to jump start your original card.  With the ability to double up on your instants and sorceries you can enable multiple spells in a turn and have a multitude of effects at your disposal as the game goes on.

Guilds of Ravnica Card Rankings

I'm going to be using an A-F scale for the set review. I do explain the ratings in the videos but I'd like to expand on that more in this section. The scale is meant to give a card a letter grade based upon what you would expect an A/B/C/D/F card to look and play like. A's are cards that win the game for you on the spot, they produce an immediate impact and must be dealt with unless your opponent is unable to do so. Cards such as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Chromium, the Mutable are examples of A's. B's are cards that are quite strong but do not win the game outright. They progress the game either by advancing your board position or being powerful pieces of removal. Murder and Slimefoot, the Stowaway are examples of B's. C's are filler cards that go in most Limited decks, or higher rarity cards with a lesser impact on the game. Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is an example of a C. D's are either bad cards that aren't unplayable, or sideboard cards with narrow but strong effects in the right situation. They're less reliable and not always the best answer for any random threat, but the right answer for a very specific problem. Naturalize and Plummet are classic D's. Lastly, F's are unplayable cards and/or cards meant solely for Constructed play. Fog is a classic F, as well as Isolate from Magic 2019.

The purpose of this scale is to see how good a card is on its own, not how good it is with or against other cards in the set. You won't know what cards you're opening, and while context does matter for some cards, being able to analyze them independently of one another is important. Having said that, I do admit my bias while doing sealed set reviews. I like cards with staying power and the ability to do well in the later stages of the game and disliking cards that have more of an aggressive slant. This isn't to say I don't like/won't play cheap/aggressive cards or they are bad, I'm just more inclined to take a controlling stance in sealed deck and grind my opponent out.

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed Set Review

Conclusion

Guilds of Ravnica looks very sweet and I'm as excited as I was when I drafted during Return to Ravnica block.  For the paper prerelease events I'll be rocking out with the Golgari Swarm so I have a better chance at opening Vraska, Golgari Queen to add to my Magali Villeneuve collection.  I collect every edition of her Magic cards (normal, foil, promo) and Vraska will be the hardest to get all three versions of, so why not pick Golgari and better my chances?  If I didn't have an attachment to Magali's cards I would likely pick Selesnya with Dimir being a second option.  Surveil seems pretty fun and I would like to try it at least once.  The set overall looks really fun and I think every guild is viable and plays well with the guilds it shares a color with.  Dimir/Izzet seems like the best duo in terms of synergy with Dimir/Golgari in a close second.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  If you disagree with a card tell me about it and we can have a conversation about it.  We're all here to grow and learn, and the best way to do that is through communication and intelligent discourse.

Thanks for reading/watching!