Ravager Wurm is a mythic rare littered with game text which allows it to do
all sorts of things when it enters the battlefield, and it’s one of the
most exciting cards from Ravnica Allegiance for Gruul fans.
There’s a lot to digest here, and when I sat down and started to flesh out
my review I had to go back and reread Ravager Wurm a few times to be sure
it’s actually as good as it looks.
Fortunately, it is.
Ravager Wurm has a major thing working in its favor and that’s the printing
of Rhythm of the Wild. Jokes aside about double haste, multiple instances
of riot aren’t completely wasted since you can pick haste once and +1/+1
for the rest and rack up extra counters. The synergy that I’m focused on
most, though, is making sure Ravager Wurm can’t be countered. When I see
Ravager Wurm, I see a strong anti-control option, but the natural fear with
six-mana spells is that they can simply be countered so it’s only natural
to pair Rhythm of the Wild and Ravager Wurm.
When discussing riot, one very basic but helpful way to view it is haste
with upside, and I’ll go on record as saying haste is one of the best
keywords ever printed. One underrated aspect of haste is that we’re very
much living in a world where planeswalkers are dominant and often warp the
format. When my opponent plays a planeswalker and my turn is a haste
creature to attack and kill that planeswalker, that’s a massive
game-defining swing. When I add to the battlefield and attack a
planeswalker to death, I get the same feeling I have when I play a Ravenous
Chupacabra on turn 4. Haste can and does produce card advantage and tempo
in games where planeswalkers are involved.
Ravager Wurm will often be used to fight target creature you don’t control,
and, in that instance, you do have the option to fight with Ravager Wurm as
a 5/6, thanks to riot. Five power and six toughness are significant because
Lyra Dawnbringer is potentially one of the biggest problem cards for Gruul
with the arrival of Ravnica Allegiance.
If you aren’t using the fight ability, the wordy and confusing second
ability which basically reads “destroy target land but only if it’s fancy”
seems tailor-made for cards like Adanto, the First Fort, Treasure Cover,
and Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin.
Turns out providing value and transforming into a land that
provides repeated advantage is good, and this cycle of cards is all over
the place in Standard. I have big dreams of someday resolving Ravager Wurm
destroying Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin and attacking a Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria down to zero loyalty in the same turn.
I like the decision to print cards which are more versatile and allow me to
answer troublesome permanent types in game 1. If you’re a member of the
Gruul Clans and you play a Standard match which happens to be a best-of-one
on Magic Arena, it might be really convenient to have an answer to
Niv-Mizzet, Parun or Temple of Aclazotz without needing to play an
excessive amount of creature kill or land destruction effects that have
potential to be dead draws when facing a diverse metagame.
Ravager Wurm has a lot of positive things going for it, but you must always
keep in mind that it’s Standard and all six-mana plays need to be
compared to Carnage Tyrant. I can easily envision Gruul being successful in
future Standard playing a variety of different strategies from midrange to
pure ramp and if ramp is best then, I don’t see why Ravager Wurm and
Carnage Tyrant can’t coexist in the same decklist and even have positive
synergy together. If you use Ravager Wurm first to destroy Detection Tower
and preserve the hexproof that makes Carnage Tyrant so fearsome, that’s a
combo worth talking about. Llanowar Elves and Incubation Druid are
extremely efficient and at a glance, it looks like ramp should have all the
tools it needs to succeed.
Green has been very successful so far in Standard in the form of Golgari
Midrange, but I suspect with the addition of cards like Blood Crypt,
Stomping Grounds, and Bedevil, who knows – maybe we might try playing Jund
again. Ravager Wurm is an attractive option for a midrange deck like
Golgari or Jund because it can provide all its useful effects while being a
creature which opens the door for repeatable use thanks to Memorial to
Folly, Golgari Findbroker, and Find//Finality. Vivien Reid and Domri, Chaos
Bringer can be used to pseudo tutor for the answers you need should they
happen to be creatures.
Speaking of creature tutoring, the possibilities with Prime Speaker
Vannifar are vast. Almost every time a Birthing Pod effect has been legal
in a format, people try to find infinite loops, so I won’t exactly be
waiting for a Temur value-based deck of creatures going all the way up the
chain to Ravager Wurm, but it would likely be effective. The ability to
fight is a unique effect that Simic doesn’t usually have access to, so
being able to find it on command is worth noting.
I like Ravager Wurm a lot and expect to see it play, but I don’t think it
will be a defining aspect of Ravnica Allegiance Standard
and will end up being more of a strong role player instead. It’s clear to
me that Wizards of the Coast wants Ravager Wurm to be a card that actually
shows up based on its numerous abilities, rarity, and even the amazing
artwork. I really like it when cards like Ravager Wurm are impactful
because it can have a dramatic effect on the battlefield, and its
uniqueness allows for more dynamic and interesting gameplay.
Cards with as much going on as Ravager Wurm shouldn’t go overlooked. I
certainly won’t make the mistake of doing so.
Neither should you.