Drafters’ Corner: Sealed Deck Hype!!!

Hi everyone! I originally had another article lined up for this week, but after hearing about DWD’s sealed deck league, I knew I had to write about it. For those of you who haven’t read the official announcement, you can find it here.League-Backer-min

A Brief Overview

This is a very interesting format and it is pretty obvious DWD spent a significant amount of effort into designing it. You pay 800 gems or 10,000 gold to enter this event, and you get 8 packs (4 The Dusk Road, 2 The Empty Throne and 2 Omens of the Past). You have to build a 45-card deck out of this pool and play 10 placement games a week, for a total of 40 placement games in total. On top of this, you get a surplus of 20 tiebreak games each week that only affects your placement relative to other players with the same number of placement wins.

To make things even more interesting, at the start of each new week, you get an additional pack of cards. This means that as each week progresses, your deck should get progressively stronger.

How important are tiebreak games?

The first question that popped into my head, and also, probably the most important question for most players is, how important are tiebreak games? 10 games a week seems like a pretty reasonable number, but 30 games a week? That seems a bit too much, especially if you are playing standard ranked and draft games on top of that.

My best guess would be tiebreak games are only really going to matter if you are gunning for the top 100 or better placement. Outside of that, the only real use of tiebreak games would be to try and push you into the next reward bracket (for example from the 1000~5000 bracket into the 500~1000 bracket. However, the problem with that is all the way up till the final week, you wouldn’t really know if you are at the boundary of a reward bracket.

Thus, I would only feel compelled to play the tiebreak games every week if I am in the top 100 or close to it. In week 4, I might also play some tiebreak games if I see myself hovering around the cutoff. In all other cases, I think all the tiebreak games are just additional opportunities to play with the sealed deck that you’ve built (and I suspect that is DWD’s intention as well). In a way, I think this is a great initiative, because in draft, you are often left with a sour taste after going 1-3 with a great deck thanks to power screw/flood. With 10 fixed games, and an additional 20 games each week, you will probably be able to play with the deck to your heart’s content.

Tiebreaks also has an additional benefit since it allows you to test different builds of your sealed pool with next to no risk. For example, your pool allows for two possible deck builds and while your instinct tells you that build A is better, you also want to give build B a try. With this system, you can do your 10 placement games with build A, and then mess around with build B for your next 10 tiebreak games. If build B works out better, you can then use it for the following weeks instead.

What does adding a pack each week do?

An interesting modification that DWD introduced is that at the start of each new week, a new pack is added to your sealed pool. Now, depending on how committed you are to climbing the leaderboards, there are 3 levels of modification that you can do to your deck.

Firstly, you could just look at the cards in your factions and decide if any of them are worth running over your current cards. This is the most basic level of modification and would probably only take you a few minutes, if at all. At a slightly more intermediate stage, you could look at the power level of certain stand-alone cards in other factions and contemplate modifying your deck to include those splashes. A splash that might initially seem unwise could suddenly become good with additional fixing and more powerful splash cards.

Lastly, if you really want to tryhard, I would recommend looking at the entire draft pool and rebuilding your deck from scratch. This is because with the introduction of 10 new cards, it could drastically shift the relative power levels of each faction, and sometimes you might be biased to simply stick with the previous week’s faction pairing. Starting from scratch helps to reduce such cognitive biases and increases your odds of building the best possible deck.

What about latecomers?

DWD also pointed out that you can join the league any time with almost no penalty. For the first week that you join, you get to play the standard 10+20 games for that week, and an addition 10 placement games for each week that you’ve missed. This means that you get to play the same number of placement games regardless of which week you joined. However, the only drawback is that you don’t get to play tiebreak games for the weeks that you’ve missed. This is probably going to be a very minor drawback though, because as I’ve covered previously, I just don’t think tiebreak games are going to be worth grinding in general.

Is waiting until the last week a viable strategy?

Now, given that tiebreak games are going to be less impactful, a natural follow-up is should we wait until the last week to play all 40 placement games instead? I personally think that it would generally make you worse off. On the plus side, waiting means that you play all 40 games with cards from 11 packs. Thus, if you think that you will be able to build better decks with more cards, waiting could help you. However, you will also be playing against players with cards from 11 packs, so the benefit isn’t really that huge. Moreover, in your initial games, your opponent has a significant advantage because they are much more familiar with their deck and have also spent 30 games prior tuning the deck, whereas you are playing with your deck for the first time.

As such, I think you could wait till the last week if you wanted to, but I highly doubt it will give you any advantage. More importantly, I think the bonus placement games take into account when you joined the league, rather than when you play your first game, thus you can’t do something such as: join week 1, note that your pool is crap, decide to wait till week 4 to play your games to hopefully crack some bombs.

Resigning Runs?

To me, this is the biggest question mark. I don’t understand why DWD allows players to resign league runs and join back in for an additional 10k. This would make it likely that players who are serious about claiming the leaderboard positions reroll bad sealed pools. Outside of the 10k price tag, there is literally nothing preventing players from just rerolling until they get a busted pool and go on a 40-0 winning spree. While I do understand that DWD ultimately has to make money somewhere, I am strongly against making any leaderboard p2w. (I know draft leaderboards kind of toe the line since drafters can just resign bad decks, but as far as I know, none of the top drafters resign drafts, so the issue isn’t really there.)

Shout-out to DWD

To end this article on a positive note, while I’m slightly peeved about allowing for resigning runs, I am extremely happy that DWD is implementing a sealed mode. I really enjoyed Kcbandit/RNG’s sealed tournament, and I can’t wait to try my hands on the DWD’s sealed format. Being able to play with 45 card decks is also a huge plus. Overall, the format seems extremely well thought-out, with tiebreak games allowing us to effectively play sealed games for fun, adding packs each week to increase variety and even making allowances for latecomers. It seems as though DWD has put a tremendous amount of effort into this league, and I am honestly super hyped for it!

As always, if you have any comments or thoughts, feel free to let me know on the reddit thread! Feel free to share any speculations on the format as well! (As a disclaimer, I want to add that some assumptions were made with regards to the post, so if you spot anything wrong, do drop me a message and I can rectify it!)

Catch y’all on the leaderboards!
Flash2351