Any Ravnica set has such high expectations that they’re almost bound to
fail. It doesn’t quite seem fair, does it? Despite that, Guilds of Ravnica delivered on all expectations (except maybe the
Guildmages) and even over-delivered by providing the best Standard format
Can Ravnica Allegiance follow in those footsteps?
The biggest thing that’s been severely hampering this Standard format in
terms of churn and the amount of viable decks is the mana. A smaller issue
is the fact that the colors missing shocklands are missing the power the
other colors have because of their lack of gold cards. Overall, the lack of
gold cards is workable — if you really wanted to play Orzhov Knights, you
could already because of Forsaken Sanctuary.
Together, those two issues were really felt last season, so I look forward
to seeing what happens when Standard is “whole.” So far, the previews have
been kind. Bedevil is incredible, spectacle looks awesome, and Tithe Taker
is solid. There’s still an incredible amount of cards to come.
I have the highest hopes for Rakdos. At some point, I turned into a red
Rix Maadi Reveler
I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a pretty big fan of Revelers in general.
Having a midgame refuel can be incredible, but getting spectacle online can
be an issue if you’ve run out of gas and your opponent has stabilized.
Those situations make me look closer at things like Fanatical Firebrand as
potential spectacle enablers.
Ideally, you’ll be using Rix Maadi Reveler to keep on the pressure from a
favorable situation. In the worst scenarios, Reveler is a Grizzly Bears
that allows you to rummage, which is still quite good. Having another
discard outlet could potentially pave the way for Arclight Phoenix to show
up in even more places. Stitcher’s Supplier is another potential outlet.
Clearly the rest of your deck needs to have a lot of spells, but that’s
Even outside of synergies and spectacle, Rix Maadi Reveler is a serviceable
Magic card. Red getting all these different ways to gas back up feels kinda
strange, but I’m a fan.
Midnight Reaper is a card I fully expect to pop off now that Blood Crypt
and Godless Shrine will be a thing. Blood Crypt also means that Goblin
Chainwhirler will be a thing again. Siege-Gang Commander is another card
that could be excellent in certain Rakdos decks.
There’s also that Rakdos Burn deck that popped up with Sword-Point
Diplomacy and the like. I wouldn’t expect that deck to be great going
forward, but it might get a new toy or two.
Uh, yeah, this card is fairly incredible. I didn’t think we’d get something
close to Hero’s Downfall in quite a while. Having a more prohibitive mana
cost is a big deal, so Bedevil won’t be as ubiquitous as its predecessor,
but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want a Hero’s Downfall, you
can get it, but you have to work for it, similar to cards like Abrupt Decay
and Assassin’s Trophy.
If you don’t want to dip into red mana, you can always play ol’ reliable
Vraska’s Contempt. For decks like Grixis or Jund, Bedevil is a potentially
huge pickup, as you get access to as many Hero’s Downfalls as you want,
plus you don’t have to load up on four-drops with Ritual of Soot, Vraska’s
Contempt, and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.
Because of things like Bedevil and Mortify, nothing is safe and everything
is going to die. The Gruul mechanic of “you have Fires of Yavimaya on the
battlefield” is a pretty great way to get value out of your creatures
before they bite it, but honestly, this is a Standard format where damage
is often more relevant than additional resources anyway.
Too many games come down to Niv-Mizzet, Parun; Carnage Tyrant; or Teferi,
Hero of Dominaria going over the top of whatever you’re trying to do. Even
cards like Banefire, Experimental Frenzy, or Heroic Reinforcements tend to
ignore whatever it is you’re trying to do. The list goes on. Getting people
dead is very important, but that shouldn’t downplay how impactful Bedevil
is going to be.
I’ve got big expectations for Gruul, even if the color combination isn’t
something I tend to play. Some Gruul decks have already been performing
well, such as those trying to abuse Wayward Swordtooth and Experimental
Frenzy and a bunch of different Dinosaur brews.
Gruul Spellbreaker is a sweet card that allows you pump it on your turn
without fear, and it also happens to punish Settle the Wreckage. Between
this and Tithe Taker as Settle punishers, it wouldn’t make sense to print
something as good as Supreme Verdict. Because of that, I’m assuming Azorius
won’t be getting another sweeper.
Anyway, I’m hoping we get to see Steel Leaf Champion followed up by hasty,
rioted monsters. Back it all up with Domri and you have a recipe for
success. Part of the issues with Mono-Green Aggro was their lack of reach,
and the addition of red should do wonders to help solve that issue. If
nothing else, you have Banefire.
Sarkhan’s Unsealing had a bit of time in the spotlight, but I wouldn’t mind
seeing a little more of it. You really have to work to make Unsealing
powerful, plus the metagame has to be vulnerable to it. It could add a nice
wrinkle to the format, and it wouldn’t take much to give it a second
Gruul is exactly the color combination that will allow Pelt Collector and
Ghalta, Primal Hunger to shine. Both Riot and Spectacle shine in red-based
aggressive decks, but that doesn’t mean green and black can’t get in on the
fun. It does mean we’ll likely see a resurgence in Goblin Chainwhirlers
When I envision what I want an Orzhov deck to look like for upcoming
Standard, I think of a midrange deck that leans more toward control, that
slowly tightens the noose before ultimately closing out the game. Obzedat,
Ghost Council was exactly what I think of when I think about Orzhov’s play
patterns in Constructed.
Given that our first three Orzhov previews are two Grizzly Bears with a
creature-centric mechanic and a removal spell, I’m feeling like I might not
get what I’m expecting. A change of pace isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but
Orzhov themes in recent sets (Vampires, Knights) have been about small
creatures and I’m kind of over it, especially since those two themes didn’t
Disruptive aggro decks really appeal to me, but we could use a little more
midrange in our lives, especially if it’s the creature-light variety. I’ve
been dying to Militia Bugler for Ravenous Chupacabra, so I’d be happy if it
comes to that. Maybe we get to splash Trostani Discordant, but either way,
Militia Bugler is a strong candidate for Orzhov. Afterlife could lend
itself well to an Aristocrats-style deck, which would also be acceptable.
Given that previous iterations of both Azorius and Orzhov leaned on the
midrange and control spectrum of things, it doesn’t seem like that’s the
direction for Allegiance. Orzhov’s Afterlife mechanic is creature-based and
so far we’ve seen some aggressively costed creatures. Azorius’ guild leader
Lavinia is also a Grizzly Bears.
However, all it takes is a couple key guild rares like Detention Sphere,
Supreme Verdict, and Sphinx’s Revelation to fuel an archetype. I doubt
we’ll get the same type of treatment, but if control went home
empty-handed, I’d be sad. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is already the backbone
of Azorius Control, so the archetype doesn’t need help to be a true
There’s already Seal Away for cheap removal, Chemister’s Insight for card
drawing, and Teferi for the lategame, so what more do we need? Something
that gains life would help, as would a lower mana curve overall, but
realistically all we probably need is Hallowed Fountain.
Settle the Wreckage is about to get a lot worse, but Cleansing Nova isn’t
the worst thing in the world. Any deck with Chemister’s Insight and
Cleansing Nova is going to be a little on the clunky end, which is why it
wouldn’t surprise me if “Azorius” decks end up as Jeskai decks for the
Maybe we’ll just get a sweet aggro-control deck, but it’s hard to say
without seeing the guild mechanic first.
Merfolk was a bust, largely due to the Simic spells being so poor. Without
cards like Pongify, Mana Leak, Spell Queller, or Reflector Mage,
tempo-based aggressive decks don’t necessarily work. You need to be able to
interact to some degree, and Merfolk didn’t have that capability. Here’s
hoping Simic brings something to the table in that regard.
If Curious Obsession showed up in more places, I’d be happy. It’s a card
that snowballs hard, so that’s not particularly fun, but having fringe
archetypes that have different play patterns tends to make for an enjoyable
experience over the course of a nine-round tournament (or lengthy day of
ladder climbing). Azorius will likely be a better home for it than Simic,
but we’ll see.
Realistically, the hidden Simic payoff is going to be Hadana’s Climb, not
Curious Obsession. Simic’s theme seems to be based on +1/+1 counters again,
and Hadana’s Climb is both one of the best enablers and payoffs you could
possibly ask for.
You can’t forget about Nexus of Fate. With all the Golgari running around
and even the Izzet decks with very little countermagic, Bant Nexus has seen
a slight resurgence. With Growth Spiral, I imagine that deck will get
another boost, even if it seems like Allegiance is adding quite
the aggressive mix of cards so far.
Simic is another one of those guilds that tends to get the short end of the
stick, so I’m curious what we’ll get. As a general rule, Simic doesn’t
stand alone well enough compared to the other color pairs and typically
needs help from a third color.
Any three-color combination is on the table now. You can easily play
Niv-Mizzet, Parun in Jeskai or Grixis without having to focus on Izzet
colors. Before, you’d have to keep the white splash in Jeskai to a minimum
because you couldn’t afford to play basic Plains, but Hallowed Fountain
will pick up that slack for you. If you want to jam Settle the Wreckage
alongside Niv, you absolutely can!
Three-color green midrange decks are interesting because they can splash
whatever threat or card advantage engine they want now. Naya will
absolutely be a thing people try, and the same can be said for Abzan, Jund,
and everything else.
If your main issue with last season’s Standard format was there “only”
being six viable decks, then you should be excited about the coming months.
Not only does Allegiance unlock the remaining five guilds, but it
also enables the ten shards and wedges that come with having great mana.
Things are about to get fun.