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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Nov 08 2018 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  On Monday we got news of a new Masters set coming out soon: Ultimate Masters.  I highly doubt it'll top the actual ultimate masters (Modern Masters 2017) but nonetheless I will try out a least one draft of the format to see if it's worth playing or not.  The set will release on Magic Online December 7th and if there are drafts on Magic Online I will draft it at least once even with the hefty price tag I assume it will be (20+ tix).  For me, I haven't really enjoyed drafting Masters sets all that much, save for Modern Masters 2017, and the reason being most of it them it's not any more rewarding than a normal set draft.  Modern Masters 2017 had the distinction of feeling like a Cube Draft and Cube is very fun and enjoyable no matter the archetype you're playing, not to mention multicolored sets tend to be more enjoyable than normal sets.  In fact, I would much prefer drafting Dominaria over any other Masters set so far and Dominaria is a "normal" set for all intents and purposes.  It may be price is taking away from me enjoying Masters sets, but if I'm being honest and price was not an issue, I would still prefer Dominaria draft over Masters sets.

Of course, we still have a month of Guilds of Ravnica to get through before we talk about Ultimate Masters Limited.  I won't be doing any set reviews for it as per my usual with Masters sets.  There's less filler in terms of unplayable cards so it's much easier to identity the good cards from the marginal ones, and with no sealed events the only thing left would be a draft overview, which I don't do at all.  Draft overviews are a bit difficult for me to do since I draft with a fair amount of bias and I'm not sure if my bias would go away in the overview.  Generally speaking I like to learn a draft format by drafting it and forming my perceptions of cards as the draft and games unfold, so even for personal gain I don't do any draft overviews.  My primary concern has and will always be Sealed Deck, a format with very little content due to its lack of use and unpopularity compared to Draft.  A lot of people like to be in control of their success and Draft encourages that much more than Sealed Deck ever does, but there's value in embracing variance.  Variance is a natural part of life and if you accept and embrace it while working with the cards you're dealt, you'll enjoy life much more so than you would otherwise.  

With that said, let's embrace variance and open some packs.

  •  Today - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #6, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #3, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #4
  • 11/15 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #7, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #3 videos, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #4 videos
  • 11/22 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #8, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #3 video, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #4 videos
  • 11/29 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #9, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #3 videos, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #4 videos

Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #6

The first pack in this draft gave me the impression Dimir was open but even so I still gave myself opportunities to switch to Golgari if I needed to make the move.  The thing with Dimir is you can build a typical U/B control deck but you need finishers to make it work in this format.  Watcher in the Mist and Citywatch Sphinx are cards you need to close games and if you don't see them early then you don't have much of a chance unless you're Dimir tempo (which I was not.)  Nightveil Sprite and Dimir Spybug are the cards you need to make Dimir tempo work and there were none to be found until I had already made my switch to Golgari.   The neat thing about this format is because of the Guildgates and Lockets you're able to speculate a little more freely on a color and still play it even if it's not your main color.  Had Dimir been more open I could have seen myself playing Underrealm Lich and Affectionate Indrik off a few Golgari Guildgates and possibly a basic Forest.  

Sadly Dimir was not open and so I took it upon myself to shift to Golgari to give myself a better foundation to build a deck with.  Dimir isn't going to excel if I'm playing random creatures with no synergy and it's likely Golgari will have the same issue but it's less pronounced there.  Random green creatures and black removal is slightly better than random blue creatures and black removal in terms of overall strategy, and our deck was better than that.  Adding Dawn of Hope on the hard splash gives my deck a way to grind my opponent out and go wide in situations where I normally wouldn't be able to, not to mention it has a nice synergy with Swarm Guildmage.

A 1-2 record doesn't surprise me given I had to switch guilds and had some picks wasted because of said switch.  My Golgari deck didn't feel very Golgari, it felt more like a B/G deck with gold cards in it.  The deck didn't have a robust gameplan and it was very clunky when facing off against immediate pressure.  In a set with gold cards and guilds you can't play random cards and hope it works out, you need to have a plan and play to the strengths of the guild you picked, which I was not able to do.

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #3

I have this feeling in multicolored formats you're more likely to play the colors you have the most cards in because the other colors will be so narrow you can't play them at all.  In this pool I have a good concentration of Green, White, Red, Boros, and Selesnya cards while the rest of the colors/guilds get shafted very hard.  Even if the colors with the most quantity of cards are bad, they're more likely than not to be better than the alternative.  This is because in multicolored formats you want more gold cards in your decks and you want the identity of those colors to be reflected in the deck.  Your barely 23 Red/Blue/Izzet cards without analyzing them is more likely to be weaker and have less of an identity than your 35 Green/White/Selesnya average cards.

So what ends up happening here is I can't play Izzet, Dimir, or Golgari so the decks I can make are base Boros and base Selesnya,  Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice is a great card to have in either deck but excels more in Boros where the +2 power makes your small creatures a threat and allows you to have a way past board stalls should they happen.  The effect is less pronounced in Selesnya where you can go wider than your opponent and circumvent board stalls that way.  Light of the Legion is a Boros card I like more in Selesnya since the death trigger generates more power overall in Selesnya than it would in Boros, but still a fantastic card in either deck.  

My options come down to Boros or Selesnya and I tend to favor straight Boros since any iteration of Selesnya is a little weak in terms of going wide and doesn't have the Convoke payoffs one is looking for. Aurelia and Light of the Legion give me a way to attack in the air while I can always steal games with Cosmotronic Wave giving me a free attack.  What do you think?  What would you build?

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #4

Over a third of my pool can be considered Selesnya (12 white, 9 green, 12 gold) making it an obvious deck to build right from the start.  When you add the fact 4 of my rares are also in Selesnya: Temple Garden, Trostani Discordant, Knight of Autumn, Emmara, Soul of the Accord, it feels as though the odds are heavily stacked in favor of Selesnya.  One of the tenets of Sealed Deck is you need to play all your good cards because your opponent will be doing the same thing.  This generally means rares/mythics but there are situations where you can find decks where a bomb uncommon or synergies can take priority over rares (see multiple Gray Merchant of Asphodel and/or Wingsteed Rider).  My best bombs and removal are in Selesnya and I'm easily able to splash Lava Coil and Justice Strike if I'm willing to do so.

This pool is fairly simple to analyze at first glance but it's so much more than play all the Selesnya cards because that's the most cards I have.  I have removal I can play and I have ways to win as well, and because of Guildgates/Lockets I can be more creative with the mana and the spells I can play.  Splashing red gives me more removal if I want to be a little slower and am willing to play multiple tapped lands to have more power in the deck.  Once I'm playing gates is it worth it to play Garrison Sergeant, especially if it can be a 4/4 with double-strike if I have Trostani out in play?  Is Healer's Hawk and multiple gates a good combination?  Is Healer's Hawk worth it if I don't have many Mentor creatures and my Convoke payoffs aren't so extreme I need to go wide quickly?  There is always nuance in Magic and nothing is ever as simple as it appears.

Conclusion 

My sealed pools look fairly powerful and seem to be better than my previous ones so hopefully I get more wins than I did last time.  Given my experiences playing with and against Golgari I don't think it's a very good guild, or at the very least is less straightforward than the other guilds.  Dimir, Izzet, and Boros seem to be better than the green guilds of Selesnya and Golgari, so perhaps its green being weak overall in this format that gives me the impression Golgari isn't good?  Selesnya I know can be good if you're aggressively slanted or have good Convoke payoffs, but Golgari is a mystery to me.  Do I need to be playing more Erstwhile Trooper and play aggressive versions of the deck?  The midrange Golgari decks I've seen haven't impressed me so it may be they're being drafted incorrectly.  What do you think?  Have you had success with Golgari?

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'll find all my videos in this article series uploaded early.

Thanks for reading/watching!