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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jun 06 2019 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  Apologies for not being here last week, I had family come into town for an event and I could not find a reasonable time to record live gameplay.  I did have the option of doing quick replay videos but I felt I've been taking that option too much lately so I decided to wait a week and come back with the proper time to do all the videos live.  I feel it's a better experience for both the viewer and myself as not only do you hear what is going through my mind as I'm playing, I have to think more and not play on autopilot as much.  Playing on autopilot can have its advantages as over time you'll recognize play patterns and not have to waste time figuring out the simple stuff, but the downside is you may fail to consider all the angles before making a choice.  For instance, if you fall into the pattern of making an attack when you have a combat trick available, you might make an attack simply to use your trick and waste it on an inconsequential creature/attack.  Later on you might find yourself in a situation where having it would prove very advantageous but because of the autopilot you don't have it anymore.  There was actually a game I played in one of the videos where I drew a Wanderer's Strike and my immediate reaction was to go on autopilot and cast it, but I took a moment to read the board and saw there was no reason to cast it at that time.

Modern Horizons will be out on Magic Online as of the day of this article (June 6th) and I currently have no plans on playing any draft or sealed events for this article series.  I'll be doing some paper drafts but unless it is the masterpiece that was Modern Masters 2017 it isn't worth my time to pay double for a draft if the format itself is not fun for me.  I'll be doing paper draft but even if the format isn't as fun there, the value of playing with friends and getting cards for either trade bait/Commander decks is worth enough to pay that amount in real life.  Let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and play some Magic.

  • Today - War of the Spark Draft League #3, War of the Spark Sealed League #1 videos, War of the Spark Sealed League #2 videos
  • 6/13 - War of the Spark Draft League #4, War of the Spark Sealed League #3, War of the Spark Sealed League #4
  • 6/20 - War of the Spark Draft League #5, War of the Spark Sealed League #3 video, War of the Spark Sealed League #4 videos
  • 6/27 - War of the Spark Draft League #6, War of the Spark Sealed League #3 video, War of the Spark Sealed League #4 videos

War of the Spark Draft League #3

In theory the deck idea I wanted to make is possible, but forcing it and hoping it's open is another thing entirely.  Evolution Sage is a powerful card and definitely worth taking with my 2nd pick, and still worth trying to make a deck with it happen no matter what the next few picks are.  The thing that went wrong was taking Huatli's Raptor and then Pledge of Unity to force myself into W/G when I had to reason to go down that path yet.  Had I had an Ajani or another good white card perhaps the route I took was more reasonable, but forcing it from the start was not a good idea.  The other idea would either to be U/G or B/G, but it's hard to tell if that would have been a viable path in the next two packs.

The games went as expected when the plan is to hope your opponent never draws a removal spell to deal with your singular threat.  If your way to win centers around hoping your opponent never interacts with your permanents, that's quite the uphill climb you've set up in order to win.  I did that to myself and I paid the price by losing 4 very quick games and dropping after the 2nd match.  

War of the Spark Sealed League #1

With me being down 0-2 I decided I would keep playing until I lost since at X-3 I would be out of any prizes.  There's some amount of value in playing out the matches no matter the record but unless those matches have any tangible value I'm inclined to skip them instead.  In reality once you lose so many matches any wins after that don't feel as meaningful because either the skill of the player and/or power of the deck is too low to say anything about the deck we're piloting.  What you learn from those losses is much more valuable than the wins that may come afterwards and it's key to understand why so many losses come about more so than random wins.  In our case the glaring hole are deck has is the "support" cards around the bombs we have.  We're not guaranteed to draw our bombs whenever we want, so unless it figuratively says you win the game, drawing your bombs when you're behind may not help you.  Gideon Blackblade and Liliana, Dreadhorde General are great cards but they need to stick around to get value and aren't the sort of planeswalkers that can help you crawl out from behind.

As far as the matches went I was lucky to win the first game of the first match being on 5 cards on the play, but I also put myself in position to get lucky.  I knew I had a way to get to parity and if I got there I could use Liliana to push my advantage, the key was getting to parity.  When you're down on cards you can't 1 for 1 since eventually you'll run out of cards while they still have something in hand, so getting 2 for 1s are key to make up the card disparity.  This also works when your opponent has a card draw engine, but a little more difficult to sustain if the engine keeps churning turn after turn.  This won't always work but it is a path to victory and that's much better than accepting defeat automatically.  The second match was an exercise in futility as my cards were outclassed every step of the way and so it goes.  As I said earlier, the glaring hole in the deck was our support cards were pretty mediocre and so it always felt as though I was playing with one hand tied behind my back.

War of the Spark Sealed League #2

The last pack ended up not adding too much to my decks, but it gave me an opportunity to remake my decks from scratch and so I was able to look at things in a different light.  Normally I would just update the old decks but since at this point I have a pool of 8 packs instead of 6, colors I may have neglected before could become better now with more cards to work with.  I think going from 6 to 7 doesn't change much unless the pack you add is ridiculous, but going from 6 to 8 has a chance at changing things dramatically.  In the end I didn't really make anything new so it didn't help as much as I thought it would.  The one major change that happened as I was going over the decks was adding Ob Nixilis's Cruelty to my W/U/b deck to give myself a little more removal.  It's a fairly easy card to splash and very likely the best removal spell I have in the entire pool.  The combo of it plus Spellkeeper Weird and Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord meant I could easily loop the removal spell over and over, not to mention doing it with Enter the God-Eternals.

I went 3-0 in this stage and if you want you can put an asterisk on that record as I should have lost the 8th round to an opponent who had a much better deck than I did.  Playing to win via the clock is always a bit of a issue with me, as in the abstract I'm all for someone winning because they managed the clock better than the opponent, but at the same time it feels "cheap" to win that way.  It really all comes down to how you feel about it as no one is in the wrong (technically speaking) for playing out games hoping their opponent will run out of time.  It's part of the rules and sooner or later we have to adjust our pace of play so this doesn't come up at all.  I always address timing out when it comes up because I realize even though I've made my peace with it, others may not feel the same way.  I'm always cognizant of the time difference and if I'm behind I will speed up my pace of play to avoid being in a situation where I might time out.  Generally speaking it's a situation that should very rarely come up in my opinion with F6 being an option.

The funniest part of all this was the last match where I got the "aggro" draw and beat my opponent pretty easily with Grateful Apparition.  The idea when I saw it and Teyo's Lightshield/Battlefield Promotion was I could get this draw where if I put a +1/+1 counter on a creature early I could snowball that advantage provided my opponent didn't have a removal spell.  It never came up until the very last match and it won both times I tried it out.  I'm very glad I didn't take it out for Kasmina's Transmutation like I thought I would after the 7th match.

Conclusion

The draft itself could have gone a lot better if I hadn't forced an archetype I've never drafted, but at least I've learned the lesson of overvaluing Huatli's Raptor and now knowing it's not a very high pick.  I'm happy I went 3-0 in the last stage of the friendly league and managed to earn myself a trophy, even if someone might put an asterisk next to it.  The trophy isn't really a big deal in the end but it's nice to have since it does mark an accomplishment within a format.   Given where I started with the friendly league it's good to know I took a 1-2 start and when 5-1 the rest of the way for a overall record of 6-3.  The competitive league was disappointing since I had so many good cards at my top end to play with, but the rest of it was so bad it hindered me even with powerful mythics.  It just goes to show that you still need solid cards in your decks to make those powerful mythics shine.  Next week I'll be back with brand new sealed leagues and give myself a chance to analyze new pools given everything I know now.

Thanks for reading/watching!