The fact that you can play with Rivals of Ixalan online even before the prerelease is pretty cool. This was my very first time playing with the set in any capacity, so like everyone else I'm still trying to understand what some of the cards do. That said, there are definitely some lessons that can be taken away from this Sealed Deck experience – and you can watch the videos and learn along with me.

When first looking at a Sealed pool, the most fun thing to do is take a look at the rares, so of course that is exactly what I do! However, it is important not to only build a deck around the rares. The most important part of building is figuring out the correct base two colors to play. I very rarely go straight three colors, but will sometimes splash a third color if the mana fixing is present. With the addition of cards like Evolving Wilds and Traveler's Amulet to the format, splashing should become more popular than it was in Ixalan Limited.

The easiest way to choose what two colors to play is if you can clearly eliminate a color or two. The way to eliminate a color is to realize that the cards in that color are too underpowered, or there simply aren't enough cards you can realistically main deck in the color. Once finding your best colors, then it becomes important to look at the presence of removal, mana curve and synergy. With this pool, from a pure power level standpoint, I initially thought black-green was going to be the best build. However, the Vampire synergy in white-black along with the significantly better curve makes it the clear choice here.

Rivals of Ixalan Sealed Deck is going to be very different than drafting. It is extremely unlikely you are going to have all creatures – or even most of your creatures – in the same tribe. We were lucky enough to have three copies of Legion Conquistador in this pool, but otherwise there would have been very few Vampires. Drawing one Legion Conquistador is essentially like drawing three Vampires, and we saw this as the games played out. Overall, while we had a couple cards that cared about Vampire synergy, we also had a bunch of Dinosaurs, and it isn't uncommon to be split between two tribes.

This deck ended up being quite strong. We had hard removal, a good curve and card advantage. Even though the deck wasn't anything flashy, you can't ask for much more. I knew Champion of Dusk was a bomb, and it was clearly great in our deck. However, Captain's Hook is the card that impressed me the most, as a way to really force damage through and make blocking extremely difficult for the opponent. I also realized that the flying Dinosaurs ended up being quite important when the game stalled out, as the Vampires tended to mostly be early drops.

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield