MarcosPMA's picture
By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jul 18 2019 12:00pm

Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  I haven't drafted on Magic Arena since Ranked Drafts aren't up yet for Core Set 2020 since I'm loathe to do Traditional Drafts on it.  The reason for this is I don't budget time for Arena like I do Magic Online, I like to play quick and easy games on Arena whereas Magic Online is for a more stimulating experience.  There's also some performance issues on my laptop that make it less desirable to play best of 3 matches on there, but even if that weren't the case I'd still prefer to play best of 1.  As it stands my first draft of Core Set 2020 is on Magic Online and not paper or Arena, which is nothing new but the fact that it's still the only draft I've done so far is.  Ideally I'll be able to catch up on drafts as soon as ranked play comes to Arena since it'll be quick and easy to breeze through those and help me out when I do the Magic Online drafts.  It's also like doing a draft simulator except I also get to play the games and get experience that way as opposed to theory-crafting.  With that said let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and open some packs:

  • 7/25 - Core Set 2020 Draft League #1, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #1 video, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #2 videos
  • 8/1 - Core Set 2020 Draft League #2, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #1 video, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #2 videos
  • 8/8 - Core Set 2020 Draft League #3, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #1 videos, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #2 videos
  • 8/15 - Core Set 2020 Draft League #4, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #3, Core Set 2020 Sealed League #4

Core Set 2020 Draft League #1

I had played a fair amount with and against elemental decks at the Core Set 2020 Prerelease so when I picked Cavalier of Thorns and got passed Creeping Trailblazer, I priced myself into playing an elemental deck.  The deck itself is fairly strong as not only is the elemental tribal theme good, the creatures themselves don't need anthem effects to be playable.  In Ixalan block you had a bit of trouble with the tribal decks when you didn't have the tribal payoff, but an elemental deck with no lords is still playable.  Part of that is the relatively flat power level of a Core Set, and the other part is the elemental creature type not being as important as it would be otherwise.  It'd be weird to play some of the Ixalan tribal creatures in a random deck because they're meant to be played with other creatures of their tribe, but the elementals here are regular creatures with relevant creature type in this set.

As far as the deck goes the only thing I was missing, which came as a result of forcing the deck, was removal.  I passed up on Rabid Bite for a Thicket Crasher since I needed the trample effect, but other than that I didn't see red/green removal that I could have taken.  This is part of the danger in forcing a deck: there will be times when you can't find the key cards for your deck and you'll have to adjust because of that.  2-3 pieces of removal would have helped me a lot and perhaps turned my 1-2 draft into a 2-1 draft.  The creature base was certainly powerful enough to win games, what I needed was ways to interact with my opponent and sadly I didn't have much of that.  

Core Set 2020 Sealed League #1

Sadly there isn't much to say here since I got destroyed in both games pretty easily.  I didn't have enough mana to cast spells in the first game and in the second I was flooded completely with lands.  I will say I should have mulliganed my hand in the first game since I can only cast 2 spells if I draw a land and if I draw spells they're likely to be uncastable.  The slight saving grace is Bag of Holding since I'm okay with my first 2 draws being either land or Bag, but even so that's not a good plan and the better option is to mulligan.

Core Set 2020 Sealed League #2

I like my approach to the first match of the stage even if it didn't work out the way I wanted it to go.  Switching from the straightforward W/R deck to the slower W/B deck allowed me to match my opponent in the card advantage side of the game and not be overwhelmed by all the things they could do.  I had a chance at winning the match had I not been in so much pressure in the beginning with the Chandra, Acolyte of Flame coming down on turn 3.  The combination of Chandra tokens and Ogre Siegebreaker put me in a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation.  If I block I lose my creature but if I don't block then I'm taking damage.  I was able to get rid of Chandra, and I'll admit I was incorrect about my opponent being able to -2 her after casting Murder.  She had only 1 loyalty left and was unable to do so for at least one more turn.

I think I've used enough times in this article series to explain why I keep certain hands and what percentages I'm willing to accept on a particular goal.  Keeping a 2 land hand on the play and drawing a third land by turn 3 is 85% to occur, while the odds of having 3 lands in the top 10 cards of a 40 card deck is 90%.  So it's very unlikely to miss a 3rd land on the draw, and even less likely to not have it by turn 5 as that's a 4% chance of happening.  The reason I use Stattrek is to to provide understanding and reason to some of the choices I make when it would be very easy to say I should I have taken a mulligan.  Not all hands are the same and I will definitely admit when I should have mulliganed a hand (I've already done so today), but I'll also defend decisions where the math goes against me.  

In any case after getting beat by Cavalier of Gales and lack of lands I change from W/B to R/B so I can be more aggressive and give myself the best chance to beat Cavalier of Gales if I have to spend multiple resources to deal with it.  The plan ends up working as I'm able to get value from a lot of my cards and gradually dwindle away their defenses and take the game win to force a deciding game.  My opponent goes from U/B to G/B and even though they strand a Fry in my hand as I'm struggling for lands I manage to pull out the win thanks due to them flooding out towards the end.  Unfortunately I did not have time to finish out the last match of the stage so next week I'll have four matches to play instead of three.


We've not had a good start to Core Set 2020 but things can go up from here as we take the lessons learned from this week and apply them towards future matches.  I'll be going over my decks again to see if I can make better decks and/or select better ones for the upcoming matches while taking the draw when I can whenever it's appropriate.  My baseline for play/draw is different online since I feel I can leverage the play/draw in paper equally while online taking the play in sealed doesn't always work out for me.  I can't really explain why that is, I just know I feel comfortable on the draw in sealed more often than I do being on the play.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below.  Next week I'll be back with another draft and continue with my sealed leagues.

Thanks for reading/watching!