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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jul 04 2019 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  My apologies for not being here last week, had a few things come up in my personal life and while they weren't anything major, they just ended up being more time consuming than I would have liked.  So instead this week I'm here with everything I should have finished last week along with the Core Set 2020 Sealed Set Review.  It's quite a lot to take in so we're going to head in with the Core Set 2020 Sealed Set Review first, then finish up the War of the Spark leagues.  One thing to note I had a little bit of difficulty getting my War of the Spark leagues finished, I first realized I wasn't recording with audio and threw out those recordings to do replay videos.  I started to do some of the replay videos but couldn't get them all done before they completely ended and got replaced by Core Set 2020 leagues.  This means I don't have recordings for some of the matches but I'll still recap the leagues and talk about what went right/wrong.

As far as Core Set 2020 goes it still has the same flavor of previous Core Sets but it has more complexity in it, just like Core Set 2019 did.  We get the return of multicolored cards, ETB tapped lands in the common slot, and a lot of legendary creatures added as well.  In some aspects it feels like a companion set to Core 2019 but in others its completely different with the focus on Elementals and enchantments.  With that said, let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and then take on Core Set 2020:

  • Today - Core Set 2020 Sealed Set Review, War of the Spark Draft League #6, War of the Spark Sealed League #3 & #4
  • 7/11 - Core Set 2020 Sealed League #1, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #2
  • 7/18 - Core Set 2020 Draft League #1, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #1 video, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #2 videos
  • 7/25 - Core Set 2020 Draft League #2, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #1 video, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #2 videos

Core Set 2020 Card Rankings

I'm going to be using an A-F scale for the set review. I do explain the ratings in the videos but I'd like to expand on that more in this section. The scale is meant to give a card a letter grade based upon what you would expect an A/B/C/D/F card to look and play like. A's are cards that win the game for you on the spot, they produce an immediate impact and must be dealt with unless your opponent is unable to do so. Cards such as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Chromium, the Mutable are examples of A's. B's are cards that are quite strong but do not win the game outright. They progress the game either by advancing your board position or being powerful pieces of removal. Murder and Slimefoot, the Stowaway are examples of B's. C's are filler cards that go in most Limited decks, or higher rarity cards with a lesser impact on the game. Kari Zev, Skyship Raider is an example of a C. D's are either bad cards that aren't unplayable, or sideboard cards with narrow but strong effects in the right situation. They're less reliable and not always the best answer for any random threat, but the right answer for a very specific problem. Naturalize and Plummet are classic D's. Lastly, F's are unplayable cards and/or cards meant solely for Constructed play. Fog is a classic F.

One thing to note is a lot of cards are going to fall in the C rating and that's okay. I always surprise myself at how many cards I give a C rating to and it reflects not only the nature of the review (Sealed Deck) and how high the floor is for any given card. A good amount of C level cards are dependent on what you have in your pool, such as an uncommon creature lord that is still technically playable if you have no other members of its tribe. Merfolk Mistbinder is a C level card if it's your only Merfolk, but can be a B if you are in a heavy Merfolk deck. When it comes to cards that either depend on other cards in play or in your deck, I like to take the average scenario into account when I give a grade. I ask myself, how good is this card in the best, worst, and average case scenario and from that point assign either a set grade or give a range as to what it could be.

The purpose of this scale is to see how good a card is on its own, not how good it is with or against other cards in the set. You won't know what cards you're opening, and while context does matter for some cards, being able to analyze them independently of one another is important. Having said that, I must admit my bias while doing sealed set reviews. I like cards with staying power and the ability to do well in the later stages of the game and disliking cards that have more of an aggressive slant. This isn't to say I don't like/won't play cheap/aggressive cards or they are bad, I'm just more inclined to take a controlling stance in sealed deck and grind my opponent out.

Core Set 2020 Sealed Set Review

War of the Spark Draft League #6

I think this draft was pretty straightforward after taking Command the Dreadhorde with my first pick, although I should have prioritized creatures much higher than I did.  I went back and looked as I kept taking noncreature spells over creatures, putting me in a bad position if my opponent curved out or I didn't have an answer early on in the game.  Dreadhorde Invasion and a lack of creatures is not where you want to be and yet I put myself in that situation willingly.  Part of this was me thinking I'd get better creatures and I should take the fun noncreature spells early since the creatures I do have aren't all that great.  Instead, what I should have done is look for better creatures and not worry about the noncreature spells since I have Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Command the Dreadhorde to be more than adequate.

In the end I got burned by my lack of creatures and it ended up being the reason I lost even though I had good cards in my deck.  You really need to play to the board in War of the Spark and because I wasn't able to do that I couldn't win matches even with powerful cards.  

War of the Spark Sealed League #3

Round 2 has to be the weirdest match I've ever played since it doesn't make any sense to me at all.  I won the first game for free, my opponent beat me down in game 2, and then lost due to inaction in the final game.  It would have been one thing for us to both naturally split the first two games and then Internet issues come up in the third, but I won the first game because they conceded.  If we were playing the old system where you had a set time for deckbuilding and if you didn't submit in time you'd get a 100+ card deck with all the cards you opened with basic lands thrown in, that I would completely understand.  This though, this is something which will puzzle me for awhile.

I liked my approach in the third match by switching to the R/G deck to remove some of the weak cards from my deck and be better able to attack my opponent.  White has small creatures and while it's not so bad that I can't play a white deck at all, they just weren't what I needed against my opponent.  Green allowed me to go bigger with my creatures while still being able to play the good red cards I had.  I also increased my creature density by moving to green, giving me a better chance at having a good battlefield before my opponent sets up all their planeswalkers.  I got a little lucky to win the match by starting down one game but I'll take a win no matter what.  

As I mentioned earlier I was unable to catch the replays from Magic Online before Core Set 2020 went up, so you'll have to take my word for it that I went 3-2 to end the league.  In the end I still have a somewhat underpowered pool and the competition at 3-X was pretty good and left me on the defensive far too long than I would have liked to be.

War of the Spark Sealed League #4

As I mentioned earlier I wasn't able to get all the replay recordings done so we only have 5 of the 9 total matches available to look at, but if we look at my record along with my final record of 3-6, we get an idea of why that happened.  Even with some good removal we didn't have a way to play to the board or deal with big things if we didn't draw removal.  Planeswalker heavy decks were hard to beat since we had few creatures to pressure them with, and if we fell behind it could be a tall order to catch back up and then pull ahead.  If there is one takeaway from War of the Spark Limited it would be to play to the board every single game and not think a creature light deck can get things done.  The decks that can get away with fewer creature spells were the ones playing planeswalkers that produced creatures: Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor, Arlinn, Voice of the Pack, Vraska, Swarm's Eminence, etc.  I wasn't able to play that sort of style and so when my opponents started to curve out and put pressure on the board, it was hard for me to answer it.

Conclusion 

War of the Spark did not end on the high note I wanted it to end on but at least I had fun with the format.  I'm glad to be going back to a format where planeswalkers are rare to see and not the norm, the concept was novel and cool for awhile but after awhile it didn't really feel fun to draft or play.  There's only so many times I can lose to a planeswalker before I'm ready to go something else with my time.  In any case Core Set 2020 seems fun and I can't wait to play it and see how it all shakes out.  As of writing Core Set 2020 is both on Arena and Magic Online so I'm going to be playing a bit before I start doing the paper prereleases this weekend.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  Next week I'll be back with my first impression of Core 2020 Limited.

Thanks for reading/watching!