Tribal Thriftiness #14 – That Old Ravnica Feeling

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Thursday, March 13th – With the revelation of Shadowmoor’s funky theme, Dave is pining for the fjords of Ravnica. Okay, there weren’t fjords in Ravnica, but Dave is still looking to play more than two colors in Standard one last time.

I miss Ravnica.

Now, I always miss old sets when they rotate out, and Lorwyn had a lot of neat stuff and cool flavor to help ease the pain, but this week, after Wizards leaked the theme of Shadowmoor, I’m really missing Ravnica.

For those twelve of you who didn’t see it, Wizards leaked a “pack” of Shadowmoor onto their website, with card names and casting costs, but without text boxes. Except one, the rare, who appears to be quite the beastie. Shadowmoor is going to be revisiting hybrid mana, which first appeared in Ravnica – but expanding on it beyond just the three-per-clan outing from the Ravnica block. (If you believe the forum postings, speculation is that it could be one-half hybrid cards, or maybe more.)

Seeing all the hybrid mana symbols reminded me how much fun Ravnica was. I loved being able to build decks that had three colors, all completely supportable with those guild bouncelands or the shock-duals. I felt like I could pick any three-color combination and build something fun with it.

I miss that.

So, in honor of my reminiscing over Ravnica, I’ve decided to revisit some of my old three-color decks from Ravnica and see what we can do with them in today’s Standard.

Enchantée, I’m Sure

Straight out the gate, Wizards tossed us a bone with Coldsnap, including a set of triple-colored Legendary Creatures to play around with. Tamanoa got some press as people included it here and there in the Kavu Predator decks, and I think I tried to build a deck with Diamond Faerie, although it turned out more snowy than multicolored. My least favorite of the five is Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper (loving referred to at my house as Sek’Kuar, That Sucky Orc Guy), and my favorite was Zur the Enchanter ($1).

On the surface, a 1/4 flyer for four mana probably needs a respectable ability to see play. The last one I can remember is Tradewind Rider, and I do not think that the best way to start your life is to garner comparisons to Tradewind Rider. That being said, Zur’s triggered ability has the potential to be pretty powerful… any time you can fetch something out of your library and play it For Free means that there is potential for some interesting interactions.

And really, that’s what I’m all about.

A quick search reveals there are over a hundred enchantments that meet Zur’s mana requirement in Standard alone. That’s a lot.

Rare Cost Summary:
Zur the Enchanter ($1.00 x 3 = $3.00)
Auratog ($1.50 x 4 = $6.00)
Porphyry Nodes ($2.00 x 3 = $6.00)
Mobilization ($2.50 x 3 = $7.50)
Story Circle ($2.50 x 3 = $7.50)
Celestial Dawn ($1.50 x 1 = $1.50)

Because Zur’s ability puts Auras directly into play, you get to attach them to whatever you want when they come into play. This means that you can play off-color Enchantments like Arcane Teachings without worrying about fitting them in to the mana structure. Celestial Dawn is my concession to getting something like that stuck in your hands; if you do, just fetch up the Dawn and go ahead and play it.

There are, as I said, over a hundred Enchantments that you could pick for this deck, which means that the variations are endless. You may want to add in some early attackers and try out Unstable Mutation, for instance. Or you may want to expand on the off-color enchantments and try out some toolbox options like Eyes of the Wisent ($2).

Artifact or Artifiction?

When Time Spiral first came out, everyone was excited about underpaying for Suspendable guys or playing with all the new/old mechanics. I was still stuck in the three-color ways, and so I naturally gravitated to the only new triple-color Legendary Creature that Time Spiral included. I guess it was a throwback to the original Legends expansion, but with the second multicolor block just behind us, I felt like they were still throwing us bones, giving us something to try and build around.

My first Time Spiral-based deck revolved around Mishra, Artificer Prodigy ($2). There were a bunch of good Artifacts to find, fetch, and reuse, even though it seemed a little ridiculous to play a three-color deck centered around Artifacts. It started out (and this takes a lot to admit) as a Bronze Bombshell ($1) “combo” deck, including a complement of Sky Swallowers ($1) to fling the Bombshells at your opponent. It eventually morphed into a more controlling deck, with Serrated Arrows ($1) and Icy Manipulators and, since they all cost 4 mana, the deck had Dimir House Guards to first find Mishra, and then to provide the Artifacts when necessary.

While the Transmute engine is gone now, the effect provided by Mishra is still potent. What’s better than a fresh Serrated Arrows against Faeries or Goblins? Why, a second one, of course! Is one Whispersilk Cloak not enough to protect your Mishra? Find a second one!

The problem with building a budget version of a Mishra deck is that most of the artifacts nowadays are rare, and while some of them are certainly cheap, the big splashy effects tend to stay expensive. Having two Platinum Angels ($7.50), for instance, would be hard to beat, but you’d want four to maximize your Mishra effect, and that would run you thirty bucks.

Rare Cost Summary:
Mishra, Artificer Prodigy ($2.00 x 3 = $6.00)
Triskelavus ($1.00 x 4 = $4.00)
Serrated Arrows ($1.00 x 4 = $4.00)
Academy Ruins ($3.00 x 1 = $3.00)

The deck needs help, probably a lot of it, against early creature swarms, which is why the deck includes eight Red board-sweepers. Otherwise, it’s a lot of reusable creature kill and Mishra, and the Triskelavi for a win condition. A second way to play with Mishra might be to include March of the Machines ($1), so kindly reprinted in 10th Edition … it would be a great way to get secondary use out of spent Serrated Arrows. But that road leads to Legacy Weapon ($1) madness, so maybe we’ll hold off on that for the moment.

As If From A Dream

Planar Chaos renewed both my love for the multicoloredness of Ravnica, and my love for the Invasion block, grandfather of all things multicolored, thanks in no small part to the Legendary Dragons. Designed as counterparts to the Invasion-block Dragon Legends like Crosis, the Purger, the Planar Chaos dragons also took over a design space that was as-of-then unused: the “wedge” color assignment. The “wedge” takes two allied colors and adds in their mutual enemy color – Blue and White combined with Red to give us Numot, the Devastator.

I played with all five of the big dragons. Numot, the Devastator fit into a Boros-style “air force” deck, along with Lightning Angel and the efficient flyers from Dissension. Oros, the Avenger is built on control colors and was the finisher to an Eight-Wrath deck. I actually played Teneb, the Harvester in Glittering Wish Rock at Regionals. Vorosh, the Hunter

… Okay, I didn’t play with Vorosh.

My favorite, far and away, is Intet, the Dreamer. He is my current Elder Dragon Highlander General. It’s almost a secondary theme to this column today – I like me some free stuff!

While my EDH deck is filled with instants I’d hate to actually pay mana for, I think a Standard deck featuring Intet probably has to change tact a little bit.

Rare Cost Summary:
Intet, the Dreamer ($1.75 x 3 = $5.25)
Primal Command ($1.25 x 4 = $6.00)
Evacuation ($1.50 x 4 = $6.00)
Beacon of Destruction ($2.00 x 2 = $4.00)
Commandeer ($1.25 x 1 = $1.25)
Time Stop ($2.00 x 1 = $2.00)
Might of Oaks ($2.50 x 1 = $2.50)

Sulfurous Blast and Evacuation provide your answer to small swarms, while Primal Command will fetch your Intet and put you out of burn range. Card drawing, direct damage… plus some one-ofs to surprise your opponent with. My kind of deck!

The Shadowmoor sneak preview has me really excited about the next set, and I hope you enjoyed this look at how you can get that “Ravnica Feeling” still in Standard.