Somewhere in the middle of my deep-seated hatred for everything lies a soft spot for small card shops. I can say with a high degree of confidence that I've spent more time in such stores than any other business. Growing up as a socially inept nerd they were always my best bet for meeting new people that wanted to talk about the things that I was interested in talking about.
That soft spot has endured with me to this day, but my visits to such shops have become less and less frequent as time has passed and I have become more firm in my opinions. When I was 15 I was very excited to hear what everybody had to say about the new set and to compare what sweet-action rares everybody had opened. Now I'm most interested in what manner of deck my commons can support and less-inclined to say anything to the guy asserting his belief that Zhur-Taa Druid will be a five-dollar common. Even still, I found myself giving up one of the first days of actually tolerable Minnesota weather to sling spells with a bunch of strangers.
I chose Azorius because I am the most boring and got paired with Boros, which was kind of a whammy in terms of my sealed-deck philosophy. You know, take the draw every time. Luckily for me I didn't open a ton of red cards in my pool. Less luckily, this was because the majority of my Dragon's Maze cards were black and green. Awkward.
I did open an Aurelia and a Ral Zarek, so I figured that I'd be able to pull something off, but my most exciting commons were three copies of Opal Lake Gatekeepers. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of cantrips, but my pool was pretty far from ideal. This is the deck I ended up playing:
[deck title="Dragon's Mazed Sealed Act I"]
Aurelia, the Warleader
Nav Squad Commandos
Court Street Denizen
3 Opal Lake Gatekeepers
2 Haazda Snare Squad
So yeah, basically my deck was bad creatures, bad spells, two mythics and a Skymark Roc. My sideboard consisted of other four+ costing creatures and three copies of Levy Decree. I made the mistake of boarding the Levy Decrees in against a very aggressive deck that I was sure I was very unfavored against anyway and saw what I had suspected very clearly- they're only going to be good in a deck that's good at attacking.
I ended up going 3-2 and my matches weren't particularly interesting. My round five opponent seemed to think that our match was close for some reason as he bemoaned his draws as he rolled me, but I'm not convinced that he was all there. My pool's general lack of 2-3 drop creatures made me quite cold to good aggressive decks and Opal Lake Gatekeepers was actually an insane breaker against other slow decks. Relevant bodies that generate card advantage, to the surprise of no one, are good.
So What Did We Learn
Well, I confirmed that for the most part the format is going to be slow and that jamming a bunch of gates really isn't going to be too detrimental. Further, the upside on "kicked" gatekeepers is going to be a lot better than the average common in this format. When the stars line up the aggressive decks are potent, but I'd rather have a deck with strong removal ala Street Spasm and One-Thousand Lashes than one full of Rakdos Cacklers.
When I first saw the Cluestones spoiled I thought it was neat that we were going to have more manafixing but them costing three is just not going to cut it, even with the format being as slow as it is. Jumping from three to five just isn't a thing. The four drops are very comparable to the fives and you don't want to have a huge quantity of either. Alternatively, the B-plan of six mana draw a card is just plain bad. I pumped my fist every time somebody played one of these against me and I never noticed them making a positive difference. It is far more relevant to build one's deck in a way that emphasizes one color over the others for consistency than to have some clunky rock to attempt to go greedier.
Split Cards are Insane
Hey look, more obvious information. If you played against Turn/Burn there is a reasonable chance that you got worked. It happens. It's Magic. Personally I learned a lot from playing with Far/Away. The card very clearly does a lot of work when "kicked" but I found myself most commonly casting it strictly as an Unsummon. This provided tempo swings that let me win from under some oppressive rares and cards like Unflinching Courage.
The ease of splashing the back end of these cards in conjunction with the relevance that many of them have as singular cards illustrates that they will be very good in my "force five color" type draft decks. I'm quite excited to sling these ones.
Our Work is Only Just Beginning
Basically all of my thought son this limited format start from the basis of "I really like being on the draw" and build from there. There is a ton more to learn and I'm pretty excited to get into DGR in a big way. Of course, we have a bit of a lull before it launches on MTGO so next week I will likely be giving updates on Pauper MUC Delver- something that I've been putting some reps in with and think that I have a very strong edge against the format with right now.
Thanks for reading.
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