No metaphors this week. We opened up our latest sealed pool with a sweet UG Merfolk deck and rode it to a 5-0 start before falling to 5-1 and then switching up to an even sweeter RG Dinosaur build for the third stage. That 3-0 start netted us our very first Rivals of Ixalan friendly sealed league trophy!

If you recall from our goal-setting article, we have our eyes set on a Silver Prestige Avatar of Zacama, Primal Calamity. In order to secure one of those we need to rack up five trophies in the Rivals of Ixalan Friendly Sealed League. With one down, its starting to look like this goal will be achievable, though still very difficult.

It’s still been difficult to find time to consistently get in matches, but I do want to talk a bit about pivoting from UG Merfolk to RG Dinosaurs since this was not a decision I came to lightly. I played 15 straight rounds across two events with UG Merfolk and I’m in love with the archetype. The deck is incredibly aggressive and has a decent amount of control elements and I’m fortunate to have some heavy guns that can quickly close out a stalemate. Check this out:

That’s a pretty solid Merfolk deck, no? Turn one Mist-Cloaked Herald into turn two Giltgrove Stalker into turn three Merfolk Mistbinder and Curious Obsession is an opening that virtually no one recovers from. Protect it with Negate, Dive Down, and Swift Warden and you’re pretty much a lock to win. If your opponent somehow manages to stabilize, turn the tide with Tendershoot Dryad or Colossal Dreadmaw.

But, it just wasn’t good enough against the better and better BW Vampire decks I was going up against (which is roughly 90% of this league). The removal was too good. The synergy was too good. The fliers were too good. It was too much and I didn’t have enough ways to claw back against a solid board state.

So after opening our pack of Ixalan we went back to the drawing board, having gotten some sweet removal and some sweet dinosaurs, and put together something with a little more removal and a lot more high-end punching power:

That’s also pretty good, no? Solid starts with Hardy Veterans into some removal and then capping things off with a wide range of top-end finishers. What’s not to love?

Each deck does have its flaws though. The Merfolk deck is prone to sputtering out and can’t really go wide. It’s highly susceptible to a few well-timed removal spells and can get blown out by Ravenous Chupacabra (hence the main-deck defenses). The Dinosaur deck on the other hand has to play a bit of a mid-range game until it can establish a board state that will close things out. That leaves it vulnerable to decks that can go wide early and then close the game out before the Dinosaurs rule the land!

I did have time to play one match with the Dinosaur deck. It was, of course, against BW Vampires with The Immortal Sun. Quick aside, that artifact is bonkers. I boarded in Naturalize to deal with it but maybe should have also boarded in Demolish (probably not). I ended up losing game one to the Immortal Sun. I won game two with an aggressive opening, which prompted me to consider running back the Merfolk in game three.

However, I stuck with the Dinosaur deck, and ended up falling behind on board state. I top-decked Mutiny but sorely misplayed the card and then lost the game and the match. So now I’m 5-2 in this league, and hoping to find some time to finish it out (ideally with a 7-2 record) before moving on to league number three in the coming days.

Goal Updates

With one trophy under my belt I’m 20% of the way to my primary goal of securing a Silver Prestige Avatar. That’s solid progress on the first goal. The other two primary goals aren’t going as swimmingly. I’ve only managed to get through two leagues now, opening 16 packs along the way. That’s obviously not enough to build a solid collection. I have full sets of a few commons and maybe one uncommon, but less than 20 rares and mythic rares.

Also, it looks like I’ll have to postpone my first planned trip to a paper event. That’s okay, life takes precedent and I decided to spend my Saturday morning this weekend taking my cat to the vet (I’m also an MTG Fur Parent) because he’s been losing weight at a rate I’m not happy with, and while feeding him more has stopped the weight from falling off, he isn’t putting it back on. Vet appointment is at 10am and the PPTQ at Geekery starts at 11am so it would obviously be cutting things a bit too close.

As I continue to work through the challenges of balancing life as a parent with wanting to prove I can still compete at Magic, I think we’ll definitely need to work on our long-term scheduling and see if we can start carving out specific chunks of time for Magic, instead of taking advantage of opportunities. I expect I’ll end up with some mix of scheduled and unscheduled play time, but right now its all unscheduled and that probably isn’t going to work for all my goals.

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13.

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