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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Oct 12 2018 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  It was Draft Weekend out in paper Magic and I had my fair share of drafting going on this past weekend.  In my first draft I first picked a Vraska, Golgari Queen and then proceeded to force Boros immediately afterwards.  I believe my second pick was a Sunhome Stalwart and I told myself before the draft started I would force Boros even if it wasn't open.  My idea was that if I wanted to see how Boros worked in draft I should just draft it and see what happens.  Forcing a guild isn't ideal, especially if it isn't open since your deck will be even less powerful than in other formats, but it is a good way to actually play the deck without hoping it naturally happens in a draft.  If Boros is the best deck to draft and it's still good if you force it, then that information is very valuable to have going into future drafts.

I was bailed out a bit from a bad Boros deck by opening Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice in the third pack to give my average Boros deck a bomb card it sorely needed.  As it turned out the pod had 3 Boros drafters with one of those drafters sitting to my right so this wasn't the best time to force Boros and had it not been for Aurelia I would have done worse than the 2-1 record I got.  The second draft I did was interesting since I knew a lot of information going into my first pick that I normally wouldn't have.  It was a pod of 7 and the person to my left showed me a Niv-Mizzet, Parun they opened as they were wearing an Izzet shirt while the person to their left opened a regular and foil Etrata, the Silencer.  The person two seats from my right made a joke about opening Knight of Autumn after someone had been asking to trade for one a few moments ago.  This left me with a conundrum as I could use the information I knew to not first pick the Nightveil Predator I wanted to take and instead take a card that could lead me to either Golgari or Boros to avoid fighting for Dimir/Izzet/Selesnya cards.

I took Nightveil Predator because I wanted to draft as though I didn't know this information because it's very unlikely this would happen at any other draft I would do.  It ended up being a bit of a train wreck as the person to my left and right were both in Izzet, the people two sets to my left and right were in Dimir and Selesnya with the other two drafters splitting Boros and Golgari between them.  I unfortunately held onto Nightveil Predator and started going down the Dimir train and ended up getting cut from cards all the way around.  Not the best positioning in a draft but cross pod pairings and lots of tight play gave me a 3-0-1 record.  The Dimir mirror in round 3 against the person who opened Etrata was a tough one as we played three long games that came down to who could use Devious Cover-Up more effectively after surveiling a bunch of lands out of the deck.

Guilds of Ravnica is proving to be quite fun and the way the packs are constructed it's quite easy to play 3+ colors and splash powerful split/hybrid cards and have a really strong deck.  The main thing is to have a game plan for Boros but once you figure it out you should have the most powerful deck out of any given pod.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and then play some games.

  • Today - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #1 & 2, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed Guilded League, 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
  • 10/25 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #4, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1 video, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2 videos
  • 11/1 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #5, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #1 videos, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2 videos

Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #1

Sadly there really isn't much to say about how the matches went in this league.  Round 1 I lost to a deck with numerous ways to gain card advantage and present threats while I floundered about the entire match trying to get an offense going.  Round 2 I lost to Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice in the first game and in the second I lost to my inability to draw lands and defend myself against a Skyknight Legionnaire.  There are a lot of things in Magic you have control over but at the same times there's a lot you don't have control over and you have to take it in stride when the elements outside your control happen.  If I get hit by mana flood or screw it doesn't help to get angry or upset about it, it's best to keep moving forward and embrace the variance in the game.  It's a good life lesson too, there will always be factors that you're not able to control no matter how badly you want to.  Worrying about the things you cannot change is a waste of energy, instead focus on what you can change and hope for the best.

Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #2

A bit of an odd draft as I felt I had good set up early on with my first few picks but then it all started to get a little more difficult.  I started out with the idea of being Dimir and I saw some Golgari/green cards come by as the blue cards dried up but they weren't so much better than Thief of Sanity to force me to abandon blue altogether.  Instead I made speculative picks all while seeing mostly average cards come my way in the colors I could be in (Golgari and/or Dimir).  Starting pack 2 I had the choice of being either Dimir or Golgari and I luckily didn't have to decide right away as I picked Status/Statue, then took Assure/Assemble out of a pretty weak pack before getting Capture Sphere and Watcher in the Mist in back to back packs.  From here I'm going to be base Dimir with a green splash for Status/Statue.  In pack 3 Selesnya Guildgate and Temple Garden allow me to splash Assure/Assemble and I find myself in a 4 color deck with a lot of removal but few ways to win the game.  

I end up going 2-1 with a very real chance of getting a 3-0 with the deck after me feeling as though it wouldn't even get a match win.  With the removal and defensive creatures I have early on I can stymie my opponent's game plan and then follow up with either Watcher in the Mist or random creatures to attack my opponent to death.  This is the type of deck where you need to play tight and know when to deploy creatures, when to use removal, and what cards to counter and which to let slide.  Any mistake you make can cost you a game, and it's likely the reason I lost my second match is because I took Siege Wurm and not Righteous Blow with my Never Happened.

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed Guilded League

I had intended on playing all nine rounds live by splitting up the rounds on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, but those plans were for naught as I found out the league ended 6 p.m. Monday night.  Since I knew I not only had limited time (pun intended) to play the rounds, my best option was to play the rounds in advance and then record using replay footage Monday afternoon.  This meant I played 7 rounds of Magic in about 3-4 hours and then spent two hours or so recording the replays before the league ended Monday.  

My records through each stage of the league were 2-1, 1-2, 2-1 to finish with a 5-4 record overall.  The Selesnya deck I built was above average but it wasn't stellar, nor could it really stack up against the better guild decks you'll eventually find with this sort of structure (5 regular packs, 1 seeded pack).  Venerated Loxodon is a good card but the deck I had didn't maximize it well, nor could I leverage it and Might of the Masses to go wide and kill with just one attack.  I needed a better payoff for convoke, and I also needed stronger standalone cards that didn't rely on synergy to win the game.  The Boros deck I sided into was definitely much worse than the Selesnya deck I started my rounds with but it had some upside against slower strategies if I had the right sequence of draws.  It's a shame I couldn't better leverage my Swiftblade Vindicator until the final stage of the league.

Something I had taken note of but didn't really internalize was how good the Lockets are compared to the Cluestones of Dragon's Maze.  Drawing 2 cards is much better than drawing a single card and the format is slow enough at times where you can spend 4 mana to pop your Locket of choice and be okay doing so.  Another thing is to not play a Locket as your 17th mana source in a deck.  I had multiple instances where I was keeping a 2 land hand with a Locket and felt the sting of missing a land drop while having a Locket in my hand.  Initially I was playing Selesnya Locket not as a 17th mana source but as a way to draw cards later on in the game but I would have hands where the Locket was crucial to my gameplan and sometimes I wouldn't be able to cast it.  If you're playing Lockets I would strongly suggest playing 17 lands so you don't run into the issues I did.  

I do want to talk about the manner in which I beat one of my opponents by using the Magic Online clock as an alternative method to winning a match.  Timing out in Magic Online is much different in paper Magic as stalling tactics/slow play affect both players in paper while slow play only affects you in Magic Online.  For example, if you play a slow control deck and it takes you 20 minutes of your clock to complete game 1 while it takes your opponent only 10 minutes of their clock, the onus is on you to finish the second game in the remaining time allowed otherwise you lose the match due to time.  So, it's assumed both players know about clock management and a path to victory or defeat is to be on either end of a player running out of the time they were allotted in the beginning.  

With this in mind, is it fair/moral/ethical to win a game or match because you played out a game in which you knew you couldn't win through the cards in your deck?  I knew without a shadow of a doubt I could not win game 2 of the final match of the league.  My opponent had more than enough answers to any resistance I put up and I would be unable to attack through their defenses to take the game through combat damage.  Should I have conceded the game with about 7 minutes left to try and take a game 3 in a normal manner, or should I put it on my opponent to beat me and see who wins in a game 3 with whatever amount of time is left on our clocks?  While I know it's perfectly legal and not against the rules to not concede a game you know you've lost, it just doesn't feel right.  I personally believe I would rather lose a game or match through gameplay rather than external forces.  Does this mean I can't win games on Magic Online due to my opponents clock running out?  If we're both playing a good match and it comes down to time, is that just how it is?  It may be that proper time management is a part of playing Magic Online and while it should never come down to time, it was my opponent and not me who put themselves in the position to lose to time.  What do you think?

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #2

Analyzing this pool took quite awhile for me as there's not a deck that jumps out of me, but I do know what cards I should be trying to play if at all possible.  Dream Eater and Legion Warboss are my best cards and I have the best odds of winning if I have either of those cards in my deck.  The trick is my Izzet deck doesn't have as many creatures as I would like and the removal is a bit suspect there.  Black gives me the best removal options in Deadly Visit and two Artful Takedowns, but the creatures there are very poor and I would struggle to win games in a straight Dimir deck.  Green has slightly better creatures than black does but it doesn't have win conditions so if I play Golgari I'm forced to splash Dream Eater to have an actual threat to win the game.  It could be that I could play a Grixis deck of some sort to have access to removal spells and both Legion Warboss and Dream Eater, but I'm not sure how viable that is.  What do you think?  What would you play?

Conclusion

I did more winning than losing this week and that's always a good thing to have.  Sealed Deck in this format appears to be slow enough you can take the draw as long as you're prepared to face a Boros deck and can play that matchup accordingly.  You can do a lot of powerful things but you do need the mana for it, which is another reason to take the draw if you're playing so you're more likely to draw the lands you need to cast your spells.  Multicolored formats are generally always fun and this is no exception. 

Next week I'll be back with another draft and I'll finally start playing matches in my "real" sealed leagues.  I'll definitely go back and look at both pools one more time before I start playing the games to see if I can build better decks knowing what I know now.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where you can find all my videos uploaded early.

Thanks for reading/watching!

3 Comments

Clock is a resource by IYankemDDS at Fri, 10/12/2018 - 23:23
IYankemDDS's picture

I think you have to just think of the clock as a resource. I've been on both ends of it multiple times, and I don't necessarily I think it's bad to play defensive on Game 3 if your opponent is running out of time. I've also seen a bunch of times where it looked like that would work, and then Game 3 ended much more quickly than the first two.

clock by laffyFleur at Tue, 10/16/2018 - 15:53
laffyFleur's picture

stalling is against the rules. don't stall. but the clock is a resource. both players know about it ahead of time, and the data is constantly made available to us as we play. just like chess: you have to play fast enough not to run out of time. having both won and lost to the clock, I see it as just as legitimate as other alternative win conditions, such as decking the opponent. Pretty sure this can be found in the rules as well. To be clear, if the point is that you aren't playing to win but instead are playing very defensively just so as to not lose prior to the clock running out, you aren't stalling, and you are perfectly within the rules of the game. Who knows, your opponent might pull out a last-minute win if you do that--it's happened to me more times than I can count.

True, sometimes playing by MarcosPMA at Tue, 10/16/2018 - 17:26
MarcosPMA's picture

True, sometimes playing passively while your opponent plays to win will result in you losing the game/match. I've definitely have been on the wrong side of passive play enough to know it's not a guaranteed way to win against an opponent who has less time than you.

The legality of defensive play is not something I'm concerned with, more so the ethics/morality of it all. A technically correct line can have different meanings to people, and perhaps it all comes down to the individual person in the end.