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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Dec 13 2018 1:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Last weekend saw the release of Ultimate Masters and despite my better judgment I did two drafts spending a total of $90 overall.  Not the best financial decision I could have made but certainly not the worst I've had (unfortunately).  Overall I did like the format but felt it overpriced and not any better than Modern Masters 2017 so despite it being "Ultimate Masters" I was not impressed with it at all.  I won one draft with a W/U Heroic deck featuring triple Wingsteed Rider, a Phalanx Leader, and Conviction.  My opponents weren't prepared for the strategy and armed with a timely Gods Willing I was able to avoid the few attempts they had at bringing down my giant monsters and prevailed to win a Through the Breach box topper.  My second draft was a bit of a train wreck as my first pack had nothing at all so I took a Reya Dawnbringer, then took Ulamog's Crusher followed by a Resurrection from a weak pack and tried to draft reanimator without knowing how exactly to do it in Ultimate Masters.  I ended up with a blue based deck using triple Frantic Search as a way to put creatures in the graveyard and Resurrection to get them back into play on turn 4.  Unfortunately I didn't have a way to win outside of doing that so I lost very quickly.

I do feel I would be doing my readers a disservice if I didn't mention the perceived state of Magic Online and the future of this column.  It's no secret Magic Arena has become the darling of Wizards of the Coast and with it the assumption that they can only support two clients for so long has to be addressed.  I personally believe Magic Arena is the future and the only question is when it will be the only client, not if.  Before I had some reservations as to how well Magic Arena would be maintained, if the economy would be pleasing to everyone, and how they'd handle organized play/collection issues.  It seems to be they're trending on the right path and so Magic Online's days are numbered in my opinion.  For a lack of a better term I plan to go down with the ship and continue making content on Magic Online until such a time where it is no longer feasible to do so.  Perhaps it's because I've been playing on the client for so long but I feel Magic Online has a bit of charm to it and I'm a bit fond of it.  It may be we will have to part one day, but that day is not today.  With that said, let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and play some Magic.

  • Today - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #10, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #3 videos, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #4 videos
  • 12/20 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #11, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #5, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #6
  • 12/27 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #12, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #5 video, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #6 videos
  • 1/3 - Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #13, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #5 video, Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #6 videos

 

Guilds of Ravnica Draft League #10

There are a few cards in this set you can take first and be inclined to force that particular color(s) because the card is very good and can win games for you, and that's how I feel about Legion Warboss.  A sequence of 2 drop, Warboss, removal/bounce for a clean attack can put your opponent very far behind and could snowball into a win if played properly.  It's also a card that goes well in both Boros and Izzet so you can draft red cards and have your first pick work well no matter what R/x deck you decide to be in.  The first pack looked a bit shallow to me in terms of other offerings and so I didn't have a real reason to pivot from drafting red cards and positioning myself to be either Boros or Izzet coming out of pack 1.  Pack 2 solidified my commitment to Boros with me grabbing two Legion Guildmages and made me feel better about sticking with red after a middling pack 1.  The Boros deck I ended up with was above average and definitely was missing a more substantial aerial assault, we didn't get any Parhelion Patrols, a card normally a solid include in Boros.  White turned out to not be open and blue wasn't either except for the final pack but at that point I felt it too late to switch into Izzet while not knowing how many blue cards we'd actually be getting.

The games played out in a disappointing fashion with me dropping out of the league with a 0-2 record.  I ran into bad matchups in the first two matches and it'll happen and you can't do much about it when it does.  Boros is good when your opponent doesn't have the right defensive strategy in place to combat the fast nature of Boros, but if you have the right cards then you can stop them in their tracks and win with whatever creatures you have.  Sometimes you want creatures with large amount of toughness but no power, other times you want creatures you can trade off with and the right type of creatures can crush Boros.  In the first instance you want Wall of Mist.dek when your opponent doesn't have Mentor and their P/T is always constant, whereas if your opponent does have Mentor creatures you want creatures to trade off with so they can only Mentor once as best.  In reality you don't mind trading off in either scenario but Wall of Mist tends to be poor against Mentor creatures, and Goblin Locksmith specifically, so do keep that in mind.

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #3

Finishing off the league 4-1 is great but I do wish I could have gone the full 5-0 with this deck.  I got a bit unlucky in the last match being unable to keep up the pressure against my Dimir opponent but that's something you can't control and I did the best with what I had available.  It does show if you're able to manage a defensive position that is hard to overcome, you can stave off aggressive decks even if you're playing a slower deck that would normally be at a disadvantage.  Nightveil Predator is quite the card and if your opponent can only muster small creatures as their offense then you've stymied them completely and are in great position to stabilize and form an offensive position.

I do believe I would have fared much worse overall had I not had Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice in my deck.  She's quite the powerful card capable of warping/winning games on her own if left uncontested.  Outside of removal you would need a much bigger flier and/or a great defensive position to not lose on the spot against her.  This is why I was cautious when in spots I knew I would afford to be patient with her and not run her into a removal or countermagic unless I had no other choice.  My deck wins best with Aurelia and loses easily without her, so I must exercise caution when deciding on what turn I should play her.  An important lesson not only in Magic but in life as well is to know who you are, what your strengths/weaknesses are, and play accordingly.  My deck wins and plays well when I have Aurelia in play, so I should play her in the best manner possible.  I tend to lose or not feel as confident in the game if I don't have Aurelia, so I should look to avoid those situations if possible.  Always put yourself in the best position, avoid being in the worst positions and things will go the right way.

Guilds of Ravnica Sealed League #4

Our only inclusions from the pack we opened were Skyline Scout and Selesnya Guildgate, certainly not what we were hoping for going into the last stage of the league.  Considering we opened 8 packs and the last two packs didn't add much to the deck I already had, I'd have to say we got a little unlucky in that regard.  The unfortunate part of it all is if our opponents are luckier than us and gain more from those two packs than we did, then we're in a bit of a disadvantage having to do more with less help.  Of course, that's not a bug in the way the league is set up, we must accept that in some cases luck plays a factor in how well you can do in Sealed Deck.  The best players in the world won't do much with a bad pool and the worst players could do very well with a pool stacked with rares and removal spells.  All we can worry about is the hands we are dealt and play the cards as best we can.

As for the matches themselves I did not fare as well as I'd hoped, but it's not because I could not find avenues to victory.  In each match I had a plan, a way towards assuring myself victory and yet it was not for me to win as either I did not draw the cards I needed in time or my opponent was able to press their advantage and leave me too much on the defensive.  Even though each match ended in defeat it's better for me to have lost knowing I could have won than to have been blown out every single time.  Blow out losses are incredibly difficult to learn from as there isn't much you could have done to alter what would have happened, but in close losses you can learn from your strategy and remember it for future games.  For example, when I faced the mirror match in the last round I had to decide how to approach that matchup.  Is it better to be aggressive or defensive knowing both players can go wide?  If we can both go wide is it better to go tall with bigger creatures and/or fliers?   Can one play defense against a deck with Camaraderie and Flower/Flourish?  Those questions, how I answered them, and how they played out are going to be useful in future games and I'm glad I can learn in defeat.

Conclusion 

I did a bit more losing than winning this week but I feel my play was good for most of the games and so I can live with a bad record knowing I did my best to make it a positive one.  I had some good decks just a bit unlucky with matchups but variance is a feature in this game and it's important to accept it when it comes and take it in stride.  Perhaps fortune will favor me next week or the week afterwards, and it's quite possible I don't realize how lucky I get because I notice the negative aspects of variance more than I do the positive ones.  Looking back on it, there was one game where I kept a two land hand on the play with Aurelia in hand and managed to cast her on turn 4 having drawn two lands with about a 50-60% chance to actually cast Aurelia on time.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here where I post all the videos in this article series early, along with occasional exclusive content for the channel.

Thanks for reading/watching!