For the next week we have a special limited format event called Sealed Ravnica, where players receive 3 fifteen-card Guilds of Ravnica and 3 Ravnica Allegiance packs to use plus basic lands to build a 40-card deck. This event will be a great way to go back and build up your collection. Read on to find out when the event starts, what rewards you get, and the strategies you want to apply during this event!
- Duration: August 16 2019 to August 23 2019
- Format: Ravnica Sealed
- Cost: 2000 Gems
- Match Structure: Single matches (BO1)
- Rewards: Depending on amount of wins (up to 7) before 3 losses:
- 0 Wins – 200 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
- 1 Win – 400 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
- 2 Wins – 600 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
- 3 Wins – 1200 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
- 4 Wins – 1400 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
- 5 Wins – 1600 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
- 6 Wins – 2000 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
- 7 Wins – 2200 Gems, 3 Guilds of Ravnica Packs
This is a really interesting event due to the nature of Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance. Since each set contributes half of the possible 2-color Guilds, all ten are present in this format. Although Guilds of Ravnica in particular had some weaker Guilds, adding Allegiance to the mix enables some interesting interactions that could help even out their disparity. After all, you are going to have to play which ever are the strongest Guilds based on your card pool. I have a feeling that most pools are going to want to be configured into 3-color decks based on the fact that it provides access to 3 Guilds and both sets contain tools to form a viable mana base. On the other hand, some of the best uncommons in the format come from the XXYY-costed creature cycle, which may tempt players to form 2-color decks. I think it is going to nearly always be better to at least splash a third color, but there is going to be so much variance between card pools in format that it is virtually impossible to definitively say anything. It was also difficult to determine ‘sign post’ uncommons for each Guild. I considered using the XXYY creatures or the Guildmages, but ultimately settled on the ones below. Most of them showcase their Guild-specific keywords such as Mentor, Surveil, etc.. and the ones that don’t have an ability that has strong synergy with other cards in their Guild.
I have simply put these in alphabetical order because there isn’t much point in trying to rank them when it comes to Sealed. However, I do have some thoughts on which Guilds will likely perform better or worse in this format compared to just their own.
- Boros (RW), Selesnya (GW), Rakdos (BR), Orzhov (BW), and Gruul (GR) should play well– All of their guild abilities (Mentor, Convoke, Spectacle, Afterlife, and Riot, respectively) make for cards that are efficient on their own and don’t necessarily require you to have other cards to support them. Interestingly, all five of these Guilds are supportive of Aggro strategies, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this format ends up being on the faster side compared to most Sealed events.
- Dimir (UB) and Izzet (UR) will likely be worse – This format nerfs Dimir due to its reliance on surveil payoffs/enablers that are unlikely to show up in large numbers. There are still a lot of great cards in the colors and Surveil is a powerful ability on its own, so I wouldn’t completely count it out though. Izzet also suffers from needing large amounts of instants and sorcery cards to create synergy, and there won’t be too many payoffs for that sort of deck in other Guilds.
- Golgari (BG), Azorius (UW), and Simic (UG) have potential to be better but could end up being worse – Golgari has a lot of strong payoffs for graveyard interaction, but unfortunately there weren’t a lot of great enablers in Guilds of Ravnica. Ravnica Allegiance has a few more options for getting cards into your graveyard, so I could see Golgari getting a boost in some pools. Azorius has some powerful cards that improve decks that value flyers, high toughness creatures, and value-generating spells. Adendum cards are still going to be good in this format as well. At the same time, the RNA Draft decks that were able to abuse High Alert are unlikely to come together in this format. Simic creates value with +1/+1 counters, and I am intrigued with potential synergy with some other Guilds.
In addition to understanding the different Guilds, it is important to choose cards from your Sealed pool that provide you with a solid composition and mana curve. This will give your deck consistency and help advance the overall strategy of your deck. Typically in Sealed decks are going to fall in the ‘midrange’ category, but as I mentioned earlier more dedicated Aggro or even Control decks may come together. Probably the biggest mistake players make is not running enough creatures. Creatures and removal are your bread and butter in Limited, and consider yourself lucky if you open more than a couple removal spells in Sealed. This is especially true in this format, as both GRN and RNA have very strong creatures at common/uncommon.
Generic Composition – 17 Creatures, 6 Non-Creatures, and 17 Lands
Curve – 1-drops (0-2), 2-drops (5-8), 3-drops (5-7), 4-drops (2-6), 5+ mana (0-4), Cards that are cast off-curve (2-6)
Okay, so a couple things related to this outline. First, if you average them all you get about 23 spells, so that makes sense. Next, this illustrates the concept of mana curve. If you follow this outline the mana costs form a sort of curve, where most of your cards cost 2-3 mana and it tapers down from there. Most importantly, mana curve should be figured out based on cards you are actually going to play on that turn. So, combat tricks and counter-spells would usually be placed in the last category.
Aggro – These decks want to end the game quickly, and are happiest with a low mana curve and fewer lands than usual. This means you want to have plenty of 2 and 3 drops to maximize your chances of ‘curving out,’ which is more important to aggro decks than any other strategy. A sample deck might look something like this: 17 creatures, 7 noncreatures, 16 lands
1-drops (1), 2-drops (8), 3-drops (7), 4-drops (2), 5+ (0), Off-curve spells (6)
Your off-curve spells should primarily be removal and combat tricks in this archetype. These kind of spells allow you to keep attacking even after your opponent has played creatures that are stronger than your two and three drop creatures. Aggro decks want to empty their hand quickly and end the game before their opponent can empty theirs. This is a subtle form of card advantage that aggro decks can generate. Another common tool of aggro decks is evasion. Flying or unblockable creatures for example can allow aggro decks to continue attacking even in the later stages of the game. Another win condition for aggro decks is spells that can deal damage directly to their opponent.
Control – The alter-ego of aggro, control decks want to prolong the game in order to capitalize on value-generating and/or powerful but expensive spells. Where aggro decks are strongest early and then taper off, control decks gain strength over time. Control decks will usually play fewer creatures and favor a higher mana-curve. A sample control deck might look like this: 13 creatures, 10 noncreatures, 17 lands
1-drops (0), 2-drops (5), 3-drops (6), 4-drops (4), 5+ (3), Off-curve Spells (5)
Your off-curve spells should primarily be removal and counter-spells, as combat tricks are less relevant in an archetype that has fewer creatures. Notice there are still a decent number of creatures and enough two and three drops to consistently have early plays. This allows control to keep pace with aggro decks and eventually stabilize by playing powerful spells later in the game. Control decks usually win the game with powerful creatures, but can sometimes win the game by milling, or causing their opponent to run out of cards in their deck before them. These types of control decks can get away with running even fewer creatures. However, a mistake players new to control will often make is not running enough win conditions. It might seem reasonable to play many spells to disrupt your opponent/draw cards and rely on a couple bomb creatures to take down your opponent. But if your opponent has removal for those creatures you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot win. Regardless of deck type it is always important to consider how/when your deck wants to win the game and gear it to that end.
Midrange – This describes any deck that is a blend of aggro and control. Typically these decks have a medium mana-curve. Midrange wants to play creatures and spells that slightly outclass aggro decks, while still presenting sufficient threats to outpace control decks. Of all the strategies, more limited decks fall into this this one as it is difficult to find enough tools in most card sets to create a dedicated aggro or control deck. Creating an example midrange deck is sort of meaningless because there is so much variance.
For a deeper look back into these sets I suggest you check out my previous articles on them. In particular I would look at the posts where I break down 7-X decks that I had drafted in Guilds of Ravnica. I made those posts after I had played a ton of the format and the decks were great exemplars of each 2-color Guild. It is unlikely that your Sealed pool will contain cards with as much synergy as what is possible in a Draft deck, but having a good feel for each Guild and knowing the strongest cards in each is going to help you narrow down your colors. I would be surprised if 3-color isn’t the strongest way to configure most pools in this format, but I have a feeling that finding the most complimentary colors in a given pool could prove challenging. Overall, I suggest sticking to your fundamentals when it comes to deck composition and paying attention to which guildgate lands and lockets are available. In a BO1 format it is important to have a solid mana base and luckily there several potential tools available to enable you to play many of the strongest cards you open.
I am actually really excited to try out this format after the MCQ this weekend. You can see me stream some of it at twitch.tv/compulsion02. Until then – Good Luck out there!