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Article Top > Hareruya Pros Blog > Rivals of Ixalan Sealed Tips -Three Ways to Win-

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed Tips -Three Ways to Win-

2018/01/25 00:00 

    • Grzegorz Kowalski
    • Hareruya Pros Blog

Hi! It's Grzegorz Kowalski again. There are two limited Grand Prixs around the corner (Grand Prix Houston 2017 and Grand Prix London 2017) so I'll try share my Sealed experience this week. I have managed to play a lot of Drafts and some Sealed already and I found few differences between these formats.

First of all, as usual, Sealed is slower. Decks are less synergistic which matters a lot in the tribal format such as RIX. On average you have less removal in your deck and your mana curve is usually worse than in a Draft.

There are three general types of decks that succeeded for me in this format:

1. High Impact Bombs and Removal

The easiest type to build - if you are lucky. You would choose this deck if you opened 3-4 good rares in 2-3 colors as well as some removal to go with them.

These decks were always overperforming in Sealed; they are also easy to figure out. Splashing is very easy in RIX, as we have 《Traveler's Amulet》, 《Evolving Wilds》 and a lot of Treasure token generators. If you have enough of them it's pretty much always worth to splash for another great rare or premium removal.

Traveler's AmuletEvolving Wilds

Defensive creatures like 《Looming Altisaur》 or 《Sun-Crested Pterodon》 in these decks perform better than they generally would, because your main goal in to survive until you can take over the game with your bombs.

Looming AltisaurSun-Crested PterodonGoblin Trailblazer

On the other hand, aggressive creatures like 《Goblin Trailblazer》 are worse. You still need a few of them to trade early with your opponent's aggressive drops though. Just remember that you don't need to play every two drop you have, since mana curve is not of as high priority if you have enough removal.

2. Good Aggresive Curve and Tricks/Removal.

That's your next choice if you don't open enough broken rares - usually decks of this type don't require rares and mythics. Everything you need is a lot of cheap creatures with the highest possible power and some tricks and/or removal.

This is a a good deck to counter the archetype above, as you don't give them enough time to play their bombs. RW and RB are the best color pairs for this strategy in RIX Sealed, but obviously everything depends on what you open in your pool.

Luminous BondsImpaleBombard

White, Black and Red have a lot of good common removal spells for 3 or 4 mana which works perfectly with a deck full of good one and two drops.

3. Cheap Evasion Creatures and Ground Blockers/Tempo Spells.

This is the last premium strategy in my opinion. These are mostly Ux decks with a bunch of《Kitesail Corsair》 and 《Deadeye Rig-Hauler》 which are both common!

Kitesail CorsairDeadeye Rig-Hauler

Your goal is to put some pressure through flying or unblockable creatures and kill, bounce or counter your opponents plays.

Sailor of Means

Cards like 《Sailor of Means》 are very welcome here because they protect the ground from small creatures and then you can focus your removal and bounce on bigger and more expensive threats.

Auras with lifelink put on creatures with evasion are also great while racing and can quickly shut the door to victory for the more aggressive decks.

Sealed Tips

Whenever I open a new pool I first look at the colors and cut the obviously unplayable ones. Oftentimes one or two colors will have just a few barely playable cards and there is no way you could build a deck with them. If there is anything that might be worth splashing, I simply pick them out and put the rest away.

Then I usually sort cards within each color by creatures/noncreatures and then by CMC(Converted Mana Cost). After that I simply try to combine the colors into decks in every possible color combination and see if any of these fit into the types that I have just described.

If a deck is not very aggressive, doesn't have enough evasion or bombs combined with removal, it probably gonna lose a lot.

Sample Pool

Here is one of the more interesting pools that I have opened. It's a decent - yet not broken - set without many good rares. I think that overall it's just a very average pool and you can expect to open something similar on GP, so it is a fantastic example that we can work with.

Sample Pool

Skymarcher Aspirant

1

Snubhorn Sentry

1

Martyr of Dusk

1

Raptor Companion

1

Sun Sentinel

1

Exultant Skymarcher

1

Legion Conquistador

1

Looming Altisaur

1

Paladin of the Bloodstained

2

Steadfast Armasaur

1

Glorifier of Dusk

1

Temple Altisaur

1

Pride of Conquerors

1

Ritual of Rejuvenation

1

Squire's Devotion

1

Radiant Destiny

1

Mist-Cloaked Herald

1

Kitesail Corsair

1

Silvergill Adept

1

Storm Fleet Aerialist

1

Sworn Guardian

1

Sailor of Means

1

Deadeye Rig-Hauler

2

Headwater Sentries

1

Riverwise Augur

1

Soul of the Rapids

1

Siren's Ruse

1

Sea Legs

1

Navigator's Ruin

1

Deadeye Tracker

1

Dinosaur Hunter

2

Seekers' Squire

1

Fathom Fleet Boarder

1

Forerunner of the Coalition

1

Sadistic Skymarcher

1

Dusk Charger

2

Anointed Deacon

1

Queen's Agent

1

Dark Inquiry

1

Golden Demise

1

Gruesome Fate

1

Vona's Hunger

1

Impale

1

Spreading Rot

1

Daring Buccaneer

1

Fanatical Firebrand

1

Fire Shrine Keeper

1

Sun-Collared Raptor

1

Frenzied Raptor

1

Frilled Deathspitter

2

Brazen Freebooter

1

Orazca Raptor

1

Dual Shot

1

Buccaneer's Bravado

1

Bombard

1

Demolish

1

Unfriendly Fire

1

Makeshift Munitions

1

See Red

1

Form of the Dinosaur

1

Deeproot Warrior

1

Giltgrove Stalker

2

Hardy Veteran

1

Ixalli's Keeper

1

Knight of the Stampede

1

Crested Herdcaller

1

Overgrown Armasaur

1

Spike-Tailed Ceratops

1

Ancient Brontodon

1

Enter the Unknown

1

Naturalize

2

Strength of the Pack

1

Huatli, Warrior Poet

1

Traveler's Amulet

1

Hierophant's Chalice

1

Pirate's Cutlass

1

Highland Lake

1

The first thing I did here is I checked the amount of available mana fixing. There is only one 《Traveler's Amulet》, only one dual land and no 《Evolving Wilds》, which means that we most likely have to stick to only two colors.

After I browsed my pool I quickly realized that Green is very shallow in this pool - to the point that it's almost impossible to build a two color deck with it. Since it didn't have any bombs nor removal, I just discarded it.

Deadeye Rig-Hauler

Blue was also quite shallow, but the card quality was significantly better in it. I opened three creatures with CMC 2 or more with evasion, which is quite promising. Two 《Deadeye Rig-Hauler》 to go with them are very good as well. The only way to build a Ux deck here is the aggresive tempo/evasion deck, so to completely evaluate our Blue we need to check the other colors first.

The last three colors leave us with more options. There is enough playables to build a two color deck in every combination of these, so we have to take a closer look at them.

The first thing that stands out is the fact that all of our six rares are in the Mardu combination. Unfortunately most of them are mediocre or just plain bad.

Radiant DestinyTemple AltisaurDeadeye Tracker Vona's HungerForm of the DinosaurHuatli, Warrior Poet

《Radiant Destiny》 and 《Temple Altisaur》 both require very specific decks to perform well and are unplayable outside of them. 《Deadeye Tracker》 is fairly weak and 《Vona's Hunger》 and 《Form of the Dinosaur》 are closer in power level to good uncommons. I knew I would probably play both of them if they fit my colors, but I was not very excited to open them in my pool.

Summing this all up, I came to the conclusion that the "High Impact Bombs and Removal" plan is not feasible. I continued deciding how to build my deck with the other two strategies in mind.

Sample Deck 1

The first deck I tried to put together was Orzhov(WB). It seemed to have a nice curve, and looked OK at the first glance:

Sample Deck 1 -WB-

Plains

9

Swamp

8

Skymarcher Aspirant

1

Snubhorn Sentry

1

Dinosaur Hunter

2

Martyr of Dusk

1

Raptor Companion

1

Seekers' Squire

1

Sun Sentinel

1

Exultant Skymarcher

1

Fathom Fleet Boarder

1

Sadistic Skymarcher

1

Dusk Charger

2

Paladin of the Bloodstained

2

Anointed Deacon

1

Glorifier of Dusk

1

Queen's Agent

1

Pride of Conquerors

1

Golden Demise

1

Impale

1

Squire's Devotion

1

Pirate's Cutlass

1

The positive perception fell apart upon a closer look though; our creatures (with the exception of 《Dusk Charger》) are of small-to-medium size. Furthermore, there are no creatures with evasion nor removal.

I would lose to lifelink or defensive ground creatures. Lastly - as I had no removal - there was no way of beating any deck with bomb rares. WB didn't fit into any of the three categories I described above and was clearly a trap!

Sample Deck 2

The next deck I constructed was Boros(RW). It gave me more hope, since at least I had the ability to play some of my rares - including the broken 《Huatli, Warrior Poet》:

Sample Deck 2 -RW-

Mountain

9

Plains

8

Skymarcher Aspirant

1

Martyr of Dusk

1

Raptor Companion

1

Sun-Collared Raptor

1

Sun Sentinel

1

Exultant Skymarcher

1

Frenzied Raptor

1

Frilled Deathspitter

2

Brazen Freebooter

1

Orazca Raptor

1

Paladin of the Bloodstained

2

Steadfast Armasaur

1

Glorifier of Dusk

1

Temple Altisaur

1

Buccaneer's Bravado

1

Bombard

1

Unfriendly Fire

1

See Red

1

Squire's Devotion

1

Form of the Dinosaur

1

Huatli, Warrior Poet

1

Unfortunately, this deck wasn't great either. It was missing premium removal and lacked in it's ability to deal with flying or evasive creatures.

There were some good things about it though: a two drop into 《See Red》 or an 《Exultant Skymarcher》/《Glorifier of Dusk》 with a lifelink aura can win games on their own.

Huatli, Warrior Poet

Other than that, a turn five 《Huatli》 would give me an opportunity to close the game in a lot of cases, as it's an extremely strong card.

Finally, 《Temple Altisaur》 would make my dinosaurs - which there are a lot of in this deck - almost indestructible in combat.

Even though this RW deck was far from being perfect, it turned out to kinda fit into category number one - High impact bombs and removal.

Sample Deck 3

The last color combination that I wanted to give a go was Rakdos(RB). I came up with the following build:

Sample Deck 3 -RB-

Swamp

9

Mountain

8

Daring Buccaneer

1

Dinosaur Hunter

2

Seekers' Squire

1

Sun-Collared Raptor

1

Fathom Fleet Boarder

1

Forerunner of the Coalition

1

Frenzied Raptor

1

Frilled Deathspitter

2

Brazen Freebooter

1

Dusk Charger

2

Orazca Raptor

1

Dual Shot

1

Buccaneer's Bravado

1

Bombard

1

Vona's Hunger

1

Golden Demise

1

Impale

1

Unfriendly Fire

1

See Red

1

Pirate's Cutlass

1

Mana curve almost mirrored the Boros one, but the deck offered slightly better removal for the cost of lesser creature quality.

Good rares were substituted by mediocre creatures, and I couldn't realistically play 《Huatli》 here - the splash would be too costly with double Black mana in a lot of cards and only one available piece of mana fixing. As you can tell, this isn't a perfect scenario for a deck that wants to fit the aggressive curve, tricks and removal type.

In this particular case I think that Boros was the best choice; it was also the deck that I ended up playing. I managed to finish 4-1 in this league which - for a pool like this - is not that bad. The match that I lost was to a deck featuring 《Tetzimoc, Primal Death》 which would feel unbeatable if my opponent drew him and six lands.

Conclusion

This is all I have for you today. The best way to get better at Sealed is to play a lot of them. If you don't have MODO and your Local Game Store doesn't host Sealed events outside of Prereleases there is a lot of random Sealed pool generators online where you can simply practice with as many pools as you have time for.

Practice makes perfect. Every time you build a deck ask yourself a question whether that deck fits into any of three categories I described. At the same time, try to avoid decks with random creatures without any reasonable gameplan. They just don't work.

For any of you attending Grand Prix Houston or London, I wish you all best of luck!

Until next time,

Grzegorz.

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