SCG Daily – Ravnica Sealed Upgraded

Zac examines some of the sleeper cards of Ravnica/Guildpact Sealed Deck construction, with particular reference to cards that have increased in value now the middle set of Ravnica Block has entered the ring spoiling for a fight.

I am sure Our Esteemed Editor is actually high-fiving his own reflection in the mirror as we speak: this whole “constricted article size” thing means I can’t go on for three entire pages without an ounce of content. While I alone bemoaned this outcast state for seven days and seven nights, it does make trudging through this thing a wee bit easier for you, my esteemed readers. So be thankful, because my forthcoming article on type drafting (isn’t that just a scintillating little tease?) will signal, no doubt, the return of my long-winded airbaggery.

How lucky.

For now I want to talk about Ravnica Sealed, and how several cards have changed in value with the introduction of the Guildpact set. Just so you know what’s coming, and don’t gnaw your nails in dread at the Kierkegaardian angst that comes with the ignorance of a week’s worth of Dailies, today I’m talking about which Ravnica cards have improved as a result of the Guildpact set. Tomorrow, as I am sure the wise and Feldmanesque among you could guess, I’ll talk about which ones have begun to suck the proverbial Siege Wurm — or, at least, have significantly decreased in value. Thursday and Friday will progress in a similar vein: I’ll first talk about the Guildpact cards that I think are under-rated, before moving to the ones that get people’s panties in a wad for no particular reason. Suffice to say that I think the Magemarks make the Laces look like polychromatic Umezawa’s Cursed Masticore Scroll-Jittes in comparison. And Yawgy Yawgs, I was denied my artwork last time…I know that last little gem was a lob right down the center of the plate for ya. Do a brother a favor? Come on, I beg for these things. Like each member of N*Sync’s autograph. But don’t tell that to my mom. She already asks a few questions…


I’m operating under the assumption that most of you will be attending Pro Tour Qualifiers in the near future. If you get to the Draft portion of the event, you’re on your own, but I’ve realized after some intense Magic Online sessions that most people don’t know the first thing about Sealed Deck. My team at Pro Tour: Atlanta used that to our advantage and practiced the hell out of the format, because people automatically assumed that it was all about opening bombs. Truth be told, it is, but what is much more important is maximizing the deepest card pool you can within the confines of your mana-base as defined by your signets, Dormant Volcanoes (Karoo is just *so* last week), Green mana fixers, and the occasional lucky Dual Land. Hopefully this look at some sleepers you might otherwise quickly ship into the “unplayable” pile might help you maximize the value of your pool and prevent you from embracing some Jacko-esque manabase just to accumulate the necessary twenty-four cards.

Oh, yeah, and draw first. Trust me.


Twisted Justice.
Yeah, you read that right. I think one time I played this against a guy and he furiously started downing breath-mints just to dampen the fury of the vomit that he already felt pouring upwards through his throat. Then I drew four cards, killed his guy, and smashed head. I am not saying that you should windmill slam this bad boy into your pile as if Phyrexian Purge had been reprinted in Dissention and you sneaked a naughty peek at the spoiler. What I am saying is that it’s a fine twenty-three card in a deck with some other bounce or removal. You do have to alter your play style around it to maximize its value, and sometimes you might have to force trades you’d otherwise be unwilling to make… but two fewer packs of Selesnya means two fewer packs of tokens this guy would have to eat. Killing a 2/2 with this is fine; you pay six mana for a three-for-one. Killing anything larger than that makes the game difficult to lose. Every Magic player’s greatest fantasy involves watching the opponent’s bearl hit the yard in slow-mo to the Chariots of Fire theme as you start picking a couple of cards up off the top of your deck. This card, played properly, allows you to do just that.

Sparkmage Apprentice.
I have always enjoyed this man right here, especially since he bears a strong resemblance to master cardslinger Cody Augustus Peck. However, the Guildpact set — a little less than two-thirds the effective size of the Ravnica set — features only seven fewer one-toughness creatures than Ravnica — and a higher percentage of them are Sealed Deck playable. That means even more juicy targets for Gambit here to pelt in the face with his quality brand of Shock-Tart mudballs. He also is one of the only ways to avoid losing card advantage against the patently annoying Shrieking Grotesque, whom I have actually tattooed on my ass to make him feel a fraction of the pain I experience whenever he is cast against me.

Speaking of formerly moderate Red citizens who have become more playable with the onslaught of the Pact de la Guilde:

Barbarian Riftcutter.
I love this guy. I readily admit that you are not going to get very many two-for-ones with him. Ya got me. But manabases are shakier than ever, and 90% of players still have no idea how to properly milk the most out of the mana resources they have available to them. They will try to run an entire color off the back of a Jungle Basin or two. Not only is killing one of these with Rifty Rifts a tremendous tempo advantage in your favor, you’ll also be able to lock poor unfortunate souls out of an entire color. Don’t even think about what happens with this guy and Debtor’s Knell, by the way. You might become ill.

I have always been the biggest advocate of the Terrarion ever, and in a format that has mana as erratic as this one, the situation only got worse. Suffice to say that if Monsignor T were to kill his wife, I would be there by his side with the ill-fitting glove to save him. It does everything you could possibly want in a card. Now, though, I pick it as high as fifth in Draft. What people don’t understand is that acceleration isn’t nearly as valuable as splash-color-fixing because of a variety of reasons I’ll cover in my next article. Suffice to say that there are enough cheap answers and efficient, undercosted threats in the format to answer and even outclass things that get powered out ahead of time. This is partially due to the tendency of gold cards to be aggressively priced for their power level.

Terrarion is more like a signet than some people realize. Both of these should ideally fix one of your colors before providing you with a particular resource in return for your investment. In the case of a Signet, that resource is essentially an Odyssey Land Card. This may or may not be good, but veterans of Ravnica draft will find, in a manner similar to Mr. Sam Gomersall, that the ideal situation is to “have as few lands as possible but still have a good mana base.” In this case, a Signet may as well be a land. Terry, on the other hand, replaces that land resource with the resource of a random card: the card might be a land, but it might be something useful that contributes to the velocity of your deck. If the random card you draw is a land card, the Terrarion may or may not be worse than a signet depending on if you need to make a land drop or need a source of a particular color. If it’s a threat, on the other hand, then you’re in that much better shape.

Seed Spark.
This is another doozy that surprises me to see it go as late as it does. You can totally wreck people by nuking a Magemark, and even hitting a Signet that people rely upon for a color can Avalanche Riders them or even worse. Pick this one up early before people realize how insane it is.

Blazing Archon.
Okay, hopefully y’all are aware of this guy’s power. I am sure that everybody knows that this is a stone bomb, but perhaps the 6WWW in the corner detracted people from playing it because they had The Fear. I know 6WWW is a lot, but with all the Everglades in the format you can get to the mana sooner or later. With two fewer packs of Brainspoils (and Peel from Realities and Vedalken Dismisser) that can actually deal with this guy, you want him in your pool if you can get him there. He tends to win games, or so I hear.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Toodle Oots.