By Al Wainer
Rejoice all, for a new set is upon us! The dust has settled on the prerelease, Ravnica Allegiance is in full swing on Arena, and I have been jamming in as many games of Sealed as I can. The current Sealed event for Ravnica Allegiance is an excellent way to build your collection of the new set: in addition to your Sealed pool of six packs, each event you enter has a guaranteed prize payout of three Arena packs. You’ll also win gems based on your record; note you’ll need to actually hit six wins to get to the “break-even” point. This event will last until February 11, and now seems like a good time to start buying gems to take advantage of the offer.
Anyway, here’s my hot take on the Sealed format for Ravnica Allegiance:
Magic Arena offers a more traditional Sealed experience as compared to what we see in a prerelease, as you will not have your sixth pack pre-seeded for a guild of your choice. As a consequence, games tend to be a little slower, and you are less likely to have enough cards to solidly make a two-color deck. More often than not, I’ve ended up playing a three-color combination with two guilds that shared a common color, and I had the most success playing some variant of a green-based deck.
Gruul and Simic seem very strong with their access to the largest creatures in the format and some of the best late-game mana sinks available. Adapt in particular played out very well for me, and the cards that can take advantage of existing counters, like Bolrac-Clan Crusher and Galloping Lizrog, are absolute bombs.
Azorius- and Orzhov-based decks tend to play defensively, and having a good way to stall the board and get incremental advantage is your best bet. Keep an eye out for copies of Angelic Exaltation or Ill-Gotten Inheritance as ways to grind a game out, ensuring your opponent has bad attacks while you are able to chip away damage.
Rakdos seems the least impressive of the guilds in Sealed, as the available threats can be pretty quickly stonewalled by the abundance of x/5s available. If you’re playing in Rakdos colors, keep this in mind and save your removal for bigger threats. Concentrate on trading off creatures early and potentially bring them back later with Clear the Stage or sacrifice your less impressive units with Fireblade Artist.
Bounce effects are good - Arrester’s Admonition and Applied Biomancy will get you out of jams and become valuable plays on your opponent’s adapted creatures or tokens. Swirling Torrent is even better, as this not only knocks out two of their creatures, but also puts your opponent off of their next draw. Plus, you’ll just feel clever when you bounce one of your creatures that an opponent has reanimated with Macabre Mockery.
You can play defensively, as this set has a number of playable creatures with 4-plus toughness. Azorius and Orzhov decks operate best when they can stall out the board, and a lot of the key creatures in their colors have the biggest butts. Azorius Knight-Arbiter, Catacomb Crocodile and Senate Courier are the cards you’ll look for to keep yourself defended. With the right defenders, Ill-Gotten Inheritance is a legitimate win condition for black decks, and Angelic Exaltation allows you to do decent damage while making your opponent’s attacks miserable.
The green-based creatures are the strongest, particularly Sauroform Hybrid, as it comes down early and becomes a huge threat when you hit six mana. Ultimately, the sizing of the creatures in green gets around the overall weak removal in Simic, and you’ll find yourself happy to two-for-one your opponent in a trade and just keep playing more adapt creatures.
This is helped by the ramp available to Simic: Gyre Sage and Growth Spiral. Gyre Sage lets you adapt a Sauroform Hybrid as early as turn four, which is key in keeping Simic ahead of the curve. Growth Spiral is a bit riskier, as this card gets bad if you do not have a land in hand to play off of it, but it’s worth playing one of in your blue/green decks.
That’s it for my quick take on the format. Before I leave you, I’d like to offer up some links that may prove useful:
For more tips on how to optimize playing arena and the best way to spend money wisely on the game I highly recommend a recent ChannelFireball article by Ryan Spain.
For help with card evaluation, check out the set reviews written by Luis Scott-Vargas.
If you’re looking to check out some Ravnica Sealed in action, here’s Meghan from Good Luck High Five on Arena.