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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Mar 07 2019 1:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  With War of the Spark coming up in the end of April, it would appear our time with Ravnica Allegiance is quickly coming to a close.  We'll likely squeeze in 3 more drafts after March is done and the 5th/6th sealed leagues before we take on an entirely new format.  It might be a little early to start looking into the future and looking back at the current format but time moves faster than we think and before we know it Ravnica Allegiance will be old news.  Personally I don't think I'll be sad to see Ravnica Allegiance go because I greatly prefer at this stage Guilds of Ravnica and feel it's a better format (for me) than this current one is.  With the exception of Golgari I felt the other guilds were equally draftable and had a chance to take down a pod.  In Ravnica Allegiance I feel Orzhov is best but my notions of what the format is don't line up to what is actually going on.  This is likely my inexperience showing and me playing a format which has already advanced past what I feel should be happening.  In any case I feel most people find a draft format to be likable based on how well they do in it, which is why you see me rave about triple Theros while a lot of people hated the Heroic mechanic.  In the end it's all about having fun right?  Let's open some packs and see if we can have some fun today.

  • Today - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #6, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #2 videos, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #3 & #4
  • 3/14 - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #7, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #3 video, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #4 videos
  • 3/21 - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #8, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #3 video, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #4 videos
  • 3/28 - Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #9, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #3 videos, Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #4 videos

 

Ravnica Allegiance Draft League #6

Sometimes its not enough to simply have a good idea, you need the proper tools to execute said idea or else you end up going nowhere.  This was what happened to me as I drafted and played the league: I had a good idea without the means to properly execute it.  If you're wanting to build your deck around a key card or concept, you have to know exactly how to execute it.  Ethereal Absolution is a great card but it does require a few things going for you in order for it to dominate a game.  Firstly, you need to have creatures in your opponents graveyard since that's where a lot of the value comes in with you making 2/2 spirits for every 4 mana you have available.  Secondly, you need a presence in play in order to make the +1/+1 and -1/-1 relevant enough for combat to be favorable to you.  Lastly, your creatures have to be formidable so if you draw them in an empty battlefield your creatures best whatever your opponent does.

I had none of this even though I tried to put the pieces in my deck to accomplish this goal.  I didn't have enough spot removal to make sure I had enough creatures in my opponents graveyard to make spirit tokens once I landed Ethereal Absolution.  My creatures weren't in the business of attacking well so making trades was far more difficult than I thought, and I couldn't force the issue by taking on an aggressive role.  As such my creatures were often just staring at my opponent giving them time to draw their good cards while I sat back and hoped something good would happen for me.  In all, I had the right idea of wanting to trade off and take the advantage in the later stages of the game, I was simply unable to execute.

Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #2

The league officially comes to a close with a 5-4 record with a chance at having a 6-3 record in the end.  Our record of 5-4 means the deck was slighly above average and I've had those feelings from the start so they've been confirmed at the way to the end.  We had good matchups where our opponent let us play our hand well and it line up against what they were doing, but if we were doing something our opponent could beat then we had a tough time.  The last game I felt was indicative of that where I thought my hand was good against a fast start but with a slow start it was not as strongly positioned, thus giving my opponent enough time to win with Spawn of Mayhem.

Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #3

When a pool doesn't amount to me making a lot of decks at the end, it means I'm either limited in what colors are viable or nothing else beats the obvious choice/best choice so those decks aren't worth making.  Here I believe it's a mix of both, a base Gruul deck is the best option in terms of having good creatures and a solid gameplan, and the other colors aren't as deep to warrant making those decks.  I did make an Orzhov deck simply because I wanted to see how it would look like, but I don't think it's any better than me playing any of the Gruul decks I have at the ready.

The question here is what flavor of Gruul do I want to play?  I can play straight Gruul and have a consistent manabase but have less powerful cards at my disposal.  If I splash blue I get to play Sharktocrab and Zegana, Utopian Speaker, which while making me less consistent would give me a more powerful deck as opposed to Gruul without a splash.  If I splash black I can add actual removal to my deck and have a slightly more balanced and powerful deck, but at the loss of consistency.  Consistency is important and shouldn't be overlooked because having less than perfect mana does come at a cost.  There will be hands where I have black cards but no black mana, or black mana but not enough red/green sources to cast my spells.  For each color you add to your deck you increase the likelihood you have to take a mulligan, you can't curve out, or you can't cast spells.

In all honesty I have to either play Gruul and ignore any splashes or play the black splash and commit to having a slower deck with the upside of having removal for things I can't deal with blocking (fliers/evasive creatures).  The blue splash doesn't add what I would really want/need in this pool (removal) at the cost of taking away consistency in my manabase.  What do you think?  

Ravnica Allegiance Sealed League #4

As opposed to the other pool this one has a bit more nuance since I was able to make several decks (even if some are not in consideration to be played), which makes things slightly more difficult.  Having a choice is a powerful weapon, but too many choices gives you a greater opportunity to make the wrong choice.  Decisions trees are only good if you're able to navigate them clearly and well, for lesser experienced players can easily pick the wrong path and all but guarantee a quick exit in games.  This is generally why a much more experienced player likes decks/tactics which allow for a variety of choices to be made since each choice can be used to further themselves in the game.  If your choices are limited then your skill doesn't shine and an outcome can be predetermined no matter what choices you make.

While I have several decks to choose from, the main decision I need to make is to pick the one which gives me the best chance to win matches in the first part of the league.  I'm primarily looking for threats and ways to win games by curving out since I don't think we have decks which can win simply by having removal and evasive creatures.  I don't see many win conditions in my pool but there are some that give me some hope.  Ethereal Absolution is a card that with the right setup can win games, Skatewing Spy and the right board can fly over for the win, and there's a possibility a 5 color deck with Gatebreaker Ram and Archway Angel is enough to overpower my opponents.  What do you think?  What do you feel are the win conditions and which deck best uses them?

Conclusion

I feel uneasy about my sealed pools and that generally equates to me having less than stellar records when it's all said and done.  At this point I feel I can tell how good or bad a deck is by looking at it, but I'll admit if you factor in play skill a deck can become better or worse depending on the pilot.  A skilled player can do well with an average deck and an average player could struggle with an above average deck.  Still, I do think I'll have a tough time winning games but am willing to accept the challenge nonetheless.

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

Thanks for reading/watching!