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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Feb 21 2019 1:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Ravnica Allegiance weekend has come and gone without me drafting in it.  I had made a goal for myself to draft during said weekend but didn't realize it was this past weekend until it was happening and by that point I had made plans to do other things.  It's not much of a big deal but I do miss drafting in paper, online drafts are fine but there's nothing like sitting down and feeling the cards in your hand and interacting with someone else.  It's also a bit harder to draft in person since a lot of things you can easily do at home aren't really possible in a store.  For example, you can't talk about your picks as they happen since you'd be giving information away to your potential opponents.  Some people can think about their picks and it work for them, but others need to say it aloud for them to engage in the experience better.  You can't take down notes of what you've seen or reference your cards as you are drafting (although I believe that only applies at timed drafts).  It's a more rigid process of drafting and in some aspects more intellectually taxing.   That all said I'm sure I'll get back to drafting in paper soon as while I do enjoy playing my Standard deck I need to scratch the drafting bug.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and open some packs:

  • Today - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #4, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #1 video, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #2 videos
  • 2/28 - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #5, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #1 videos, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #2 videos
  • 3/7 - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #6, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #3, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #4
  • 3/14 - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #7, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #3 video, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #4 videos

Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #4

My goal at the beginning of the draft was to be open to whatever signals I was getting and not force myself into an archetype simply because I picked a card and wanted to play with it.  The first pick in the draft was a bit tough for me since I didn't really see anything jump out to me as a first pick.  Guardain Project, Flames of the Raze-Boar, and Windstorm Drake are the cards I could see being taken first and since the only card I've had good experience with was Windstorm Drake I decided to take it first.  I could have tried to push myself into Simic by taking Sharktocrab but I wanted to keep myself open and if I took Sharktocrab I'd be more inclined to draft Simic.  I took Orzhov Racketeers since it's a pretty open pick and I'm not married to either of my first two picks.  As the pack went on I started to see red as the color that was most available so I decided to start picking up red cards and finished pack 1 firmly in red.  Pack two gave me a good push to Rakdos and once I saw a late Rix Maadi Reveler I was all in on playing Rakdos.

Hindsight being 20/20 if I had taken Sharktocrab second and taken Galloping Lizrog third, I might have had a good Simic deck, at least coming out of pack 1 it would have been good.  That isn't to say I could have forced Simic and it have worked out fine, I merely thought it was worth nothing Simic was indeed a viable option if I was bent on pursuing it.  This was truly my first time playing and drafting Rakdos so it was interesting to see how the deck played out.  I don't think this was an ideal version of it but it worked out when I had the right draws.  I feel your ideal curve is 2 mana creature into Blade Juggler so you can put pressure on your opponent while having the cards to back it up.  Rakdos Trumpeter or Footlight Fiend work well early to get you the early Blade Juggler starts and still are slightly serviceable later on.

The matches turned out to not be all that interesting looking back on it.  I was screwed/played poorly in the first match, my opponent draw poorly in the last match, which made the second match the only remotely interesting one of them all.  The key there was me acknowledging in the second game I needed to push through damage every single turn because if I tried and get rid of Gateway Sneak it was going to take too long and at that point it didn't matter how many cards they drew if they had any sort of way to build a board presence.  Instead I decided to kill everything but Gateway Sneak and hope it was enough to get the win and it ended up working out.  My plan wasn't very good I'll give you that, but it was what needed to happen for me to win and because I stuck to it I gave myself a shot at victory.

Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #1

For some reason I thought I had won the first match when I made the video, turns out I had not so allow me to admit that mistake right now.  As far as the match goes I thought it was a matchup where realistically I should not be favored but my opponent had a slow draw both games and the draws I had lined up well enough against them.  I wasn't under constant duress and I was able to use blockers as a deterrent from attacks so I was able to nip away with random fliers.  The games played out in such a way where if one player had evasive creatures or a way to push through unimpeded they would win and it turned out to be me in both games.  I got lucky there but it also made sense for me to be on the defensive since my creatures were always going to be smaller than whatever my opponent played.  It's hard for me to beat Riot creatures if they always take the +1/+1 counter since my removal is clunky and my creatures are small.  If the game played out in a way where I could make smart attacks and not try to race I could do well.  It's not the best situation to be in but it worked.

I mentioned I needed to be aggressive to win games and that still holds true regardless of what happened in this match.  Generally speaking I don't have great removal nor do I have a good position in terms of defense and the late game.  I'm going to lose more often than not if the game goes late and my opponent has expensive spells they can draw into.  It stands to reason I need to be the aggressive player, even if my deck isn't situated to do it well.  The thing to keep in mind is to always play well even if your deck isn't the best at employing whatever strategy you have.  This way you gain experience in maneuvering yourself with those strategies and that'll pay off when you have the decks that are able to do well with them.

Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #2

I didn't think my pack added much to my pool but when I saw I could support a green splash for Domri, Chaos Bringer I figured it would be worth it to try it out and see if it gave me a different angle of attack in the second stage.  I made sure I could still play with the white splash in case I felt I needed white cards to better myself in any matchup I came across.  I did look at other decks, namely Gruul and Orzhov but those decks weren't any better than my base Rakdos deck so I didn't bother making those decks.  

In practice I had to switch decks every match but that doesn't mean Domri was bad or the green splash wasn't worth having, in fact I think in some cases it can be better for me to have Domri in my deck.  The thing is, I was in matchups were I needed to have access to white sideboard cards and I didn't have those in green so it didn't make sense to stick with my green cards.  My opponents would have bigger creatures and it's better to have Bring to Trial and Final Payment as opposed to Titanic Brawl or the Scorchmarks I had.  The matchups Domri is better in is when I'm not facing immediate pressure and/or unable to defend Domri, which happened to be what occurred all throughout the second stage. 

As far as the matches go I was not surprised to lose, but a little disappointed to go 0-3 in the second stage.  As I said in the videos I felt I got lucky to go 3-0 in the first stage and it would be more difficult to win matches in the second stage when paired against decks who have achieved a good level of success along with having an extra pack to work with.  Early success in a tournament can be a sign of a good deck but context matters when considering how well you'll keep doing.  Against random decks with a record where variance can be more pronounced, me going 3-0 doesn't mean as much if I thought beforehand my deck was average.  If I had faced good decks and beaten them fairly I would be more inclined to believe my 3-0 record had merit.  In actuality I should have gone either 2-1 or 1-2 in the first stage and the losses I should have gotten caught up to me in the second stage.  My opponents were simply better than I was and it showed.

Conclusion

3-0 to 3-3 isn't the best showing but not unsurprising given my thoughts heading into the second stage.  Now with the second pack added I feel we should have a fighting chance to come out with a winning record in the last stage of the league.  While the green splash isn't bad I think having access to white is too much to give up so I'll be going back to that for the last three rounds.  If we're lucky we get to make Teysa work in our deck so that's something to potentially look forward to.  I'm glad I got a positive record in the draft this week and I hope it continues with my next draft.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading/watching!