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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Oct 04 2018 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  This past weekend was the Guilds of Ravnica Prerelease and I had a lot of fun playing this new Limited format.  Multicolored formats tend to be much more beloved and fun to play because the cards are much more powerful and the possibilities are much higher than a normal format.  Take Modern Masters 2017 for example and how much fun it was to play because of the abundance of both powerful cards and mana fixing in that format.  I played decks with both Obzedat, Ghost Council and Cruel Ultimatum in them, a feat impossible in a normal Magic set.  The mana isn't there and the multicolored cards aren't there either, so it's much more special when it does happen.

Ravnica of course is a fun place to because of the guild system and how personable the guilds are and how they connect with the average player.  The ideas and philosophies of the ten two color combinations are given form and people connect to things which are given substance.  It's easy to say a red/white deck is aggressive and goes wide, but when you look and read the Boros cards you feel as though you are part of the Boros Legion.  You understand to the core what the color pairing wants to do without having to be told it explicitly.  

My overall record in 4 events wasn't much higher than 50% overall but those decks weren't very powerful and I didn't expect them to do much coming out of deckbuilding.  My Golgari decks didn't have very many Undergrowth cards and while I opened Hatchery Spider twice as a promo, it itself is very narrow and requires a certain kind of deck to make it better than a 7 mana 5/7 creature.  I played Izzet in one flight since I took pity on it for not getting chosen very much and it did okay.  I tried at first to play an Izzet midrange/control deck with a few Dimir cards but ultimately it didn't work out, and I ended up finding more success as an Izzet Tempo deck with multiple Sonic Assault and cheap creatures.  It's likely Izzet is a tempo deck and should be built close to what a Boros deck would look like, which is what I felt Izzet did best in Return to Ravnica.  

I did learn a lot even if I didn't do as much winning as I hoped, which is the most important thing you can get from losing.  Ideally I'll be able to take those lessons and apply them to future events.  Speaking of which, let's take a look at the upcoming schedule:

  • Today - Guilds of Ravnica Draft #1, Guilded Sealed League, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1
  • 10/11 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #1, Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #2, Guilded Sealed League videos, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2
  • 10/18 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #3, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1 video, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2 videos
  • 10/25 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #4, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1 videos, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2 videos

Today I'm going to show the draft/deckbuilding portions for the three leagues I'll be doing this week.  Next week I'll do both draft and gameplay videos for my first two Guilds of Ravnica Draft Leagues, do all 9 rounds of the Guilded Sealed League, and introduce the friendly Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League.  The following week I'll be back to normal scheduling with the same pattern I've been doing for quite some time so there won't be anything crazy happening after these two weeks are over with.  It's a shame they couldn't run the guilded league for any longer than less than 2 weeks, but I suppose it's better than not having it at all.  With the schedule out of the way, let's open some packs featuring Guilds of Ravnica.

Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #1

Multicolored draft formats are always interesting to start out with because it takes a little getting used to seeing all the good multicolored cards clustered together.  From there you have to decide with color combinations are better than others and/or which multicolored cards are high picks and shouldn't be passed.  Do you first pick any of the guildmages if the rare is mediocre or do you pass on the guildmages and take a different card?  Do you commit yourself to a guild from pick 1 or do you take monocolored cards before you decide what color combination is open?  There's a lot of questions you need to ask yourself and it's very easy to get those questions wrong much more often than you do right.

In the past I used to look at other draft guides and reviews to prepare myself for the draft environment but now I prefer to go in blindly and learn the format the hard way.  Guides and overviews are good and they can serve as a good starting off point for any format, but draft is a format you learn best by doing and making mistakes.  If you learn from your mistakes you can avoid them in the future and have a better foundation to start any draft with.  As such, I went into this draft blind and it was definitely touch and go for a bit.  First picking District Guide is a way for me to remain open to three potential archetypes: Selesnya, Golgari, 3+ color green.  Following up with Nightveil Predator seems a bit odd given my first pick but it's a really good Dimir card that is solid no matter what.  (Artful Takedown is a good removal spell) and Watcher in the Mist is a great threat with Surveil so I felt I was getting a good signal with Dimir until I get back-to-back Conclave Guildmage.

The guildmage cycle in Return to Ravnica block was pretty powerful, especially Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage and so given my experiences there I thought these guildmages would be the same was well.  Sadly, I don't think the signal I received paid off as it felt I was getting cut from both sides after I positioned myself to draft Selesnya.  It may be that the mono white and green convoke cards are good on their own and were being taken so all I saw were G/W cards, not green, white, and G/W cards.  I had to pair myself up with Golgari to make a 3 color deck with an Undergrowth subtheme and removal spells.  It's a playable deck but I don't think it's where I want to be.  What do you think?  

Guilds of Ravnica Guilded Sealed League

Since I had picked Golgari was my guild for 3 out of my 4 events I decided I would try something different and settled on two guilds: Selesyna and Dimir.  I left it up to chance and chance had me decide to pick Selesnya for the league.  Since the sealed pool was going to be the same as the prerelease kits I knew I had a high likelihood of building a G/W deck because of the seeded pack.  The seeded pack really does push you into the guild you chose and you'd have to get bad pulls from your other packs to play any other color combination.  My strategy going into the deckbuilding portion was to see if G/W was playable or not, then from there decide if I needed to explore other possibilities.  In the process of building G/W I'm going to have a cursory glace at the rest of my pool and have an idea what other possibilities might be possible should I need to look elsewhere.

The G/W deck I build was okay and since I wasn't pressed for time I took a look at other options.  Card quality/quantity led me to believe I was able to make an Izzet, Golgari, or Dimir deck, so I stuck myself with either Selesnya or Boros as my potential options.  The Boros deck looks playable but it's on the low end of playable if I'm not able to curve out and hit the right Mentor cards on appropriate turns.  It's a deck that requires very specific sequencing and I don't believe I'll be able to hit it more often than not.  I tried to make a Grixis pile work but it didn't take long for me to scrap that plan.  I'm left with three options: Selesnya, Boros, or Selesnya with a hint of black.  My inclination is to be Selesnya since I don't autolose by drawing multiple (Healer's Hawk) late in the game.  What do you think?

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1

One of the tenets of deckbuilding in multicolored formats is to look at your mana and see what you're able to get away with without stretching the limits of a good manabase.  For example if in the next set you open a pool with 4 Orzhov Guildgates you can easily be Orzhov with a blue or red splash, or splash Orzhov cards in a Rakdos deck.  If however you wanted to splash Azorius cards in an Orzhov deck with neither guildgate in your pool, a hard 3 color splash is going to be much more difficult to pull off.   Because of this you should look to your nonbasic lands/fixing to see what you're able to do first, then from there start looking at deck.  This doesn't mean you can't play Izzet if you don't have Izzet Guildgate or Izzet Locket, it's just a little harder to do so.

I have multiple Selesnya Guildgates, so if a Selesnya deck is playable then I'm afforded the opportunity to look at a black or red splash depending on the cards I want to play.  If Selesnya is not playable I can look to other color combinations with the knowledge in advance that I'm less likely to be able to splash colors because my mana will be less reliable.  Better fixing allows a deck to be better than it normally would be, and less fixing means a deck can only be as good as the two colors you picked.  In a nutshell, the more options you have the more likely it is you'll be able to win.

Of course, sometimes you open a pool with very low card quality/quantity in some colors and you're forced into a color combination by default.  Blue and black have very little depth so they're immediately tossed to the side, meaning I'm not able to play Dimir or Izzet in my deck.  At a glance a potential Boros deck looks quite awful and doesn't even have enough Mentor cards to make running cheap creatures worth it.  Selesnya ends up being my first and only option as I see the other guilds don't have enough to make them worth playing.  I afford myself a small black splash with Circuitous Route and Golgari Guildgate/Gateway Plaza.  The three Selesnya Guildgates in my deck allow me to play a basic Swamp and not hurt myself at all, making the black splash easier to manage.  What do you think?  What would you have built?

Conclusion 

Selesnya is one of my favorite color combinations, so maybe it's fate that put me in those colors to start off Guilds of Ravnica on Magic Online.  I'm not sure how good my decks are but I'll play them to the best of my ability and see how far that takes me.  Guilds is fresh and I can't wait to start drafting it in paper and on Magic Online.  I imagine there's going to be a lot of buzz for this format and so far it all seems very fun and balanced even if it would appear Boros has the advantage if people aren't ready for it.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  You can find all my videos up early on my YouTube channel here.  I'm currently playing Abzan Knights in Standard which is basically W/B Knights with Knight of Autumn and a single Trostani Discordant in the maindeck.  It seems like a fun deck and I enjoy it, although I don't believe it'll be competitive once the metagame takes hold.

Thanks for reading/watching!