Holiday season starts early for magic players! Guilds of Ravnica is just about to drop and the full set list just came out. So I get to write one of my favorite kinds of articles! This will be my second predictions article and I really enjoyed writing the first one…. Speaking of my first article lets talk about how I did with my predictions (Spoiler Alert… Not good.)
1: Bone Drake will revitalize Scarab god lists for one last push: WRONG!
Not even close… Bone drake is a bulk mythic. But with all the new graveyard stuff that may change!
2: Nicol Bolas will NOT be on top: RIGHT!
Hey I did it! Nicol Bolas never saw the top tier, a bunch of lists formed around it but never broke into the scene…. Maybe soon?
3: Mono green Stompy will see more play, but will leave Gigantosaurus behind. Vivian Reid will shine: RIGHT!…. but then wrong.
Stompy did see a rise in play and most lists didn’t play Gigantosaurus…. or Vivian reed…. Half point!
4: Guttersnipe will make Mono-red Keld a Teir 1 deck. Wrong!
Ghitu Lavarunner and Viashino Pyromancer made Keld a Teir 1 deck…. Guttersnipe sat on the bench all season.
5: Jund Dragons!: NOPE!
Sharkhan is cool…. Not much else to say about this one.
M19 Score… 1.5/5
Alright… That’s out of the way lets get into Guild of Ravnica! I have a little bit of a different format then usual. We are going to do Booms, Busts, Sleepers and All stars. This breakdown is for the upcoming standard meta but there still may be somthing here for you if you aren’t a standard player. The breakdown for each card will be a shorter but I will be going over a bunch of cards. I am going to do my best to give each card a look from all angles and not be Biased because I am a control player… That being said, understand that this is written by a control player.
Booms and Busts
Underrealm Lich: BOOM
I almost put this in the All-star category because I think this card is nuts! Its Grim Flayer/Sylvan Library effect is very strong for even for non-graveyard decks and provides so much more for the graveyard decks. It’s second ability is where this card shines through, we saw a similar effect on Adandto vanguard where you could pay some life to keep your creature around, but on a creature with a static effect like Lich has makes this version of the ability much better. I can see this becoming the next big thing, but its mana cost is the only thing that may keep it from getting there.
Vraska, Golgari Queen: BUST.
Such a bummer for Vraska to turn out not being all that great. I really dislike sacrificing a permanent on turn 4 for a card and a life. Her -3 is pretty strong as it hits more than creatures and her ultimate is cute but doesn’t fire easily. Vraska Relic seeker seems like a much better option with similar, arguably better effects.
Legion Warboss: BOOM.
If there is a goblin deck or a low to the ground aggro deck. This will be in it as a 4 of. It generates a lot of power for not a lot of mana and it churns out creatures so quickly. Mentor seems a little underpowered as an ability when compared to Surveil and Undergrowth, but this Goblin Rabblemaster remake seems like it can do great things. With his cousin Goblin Chainwhirler already cleaning up, Warboss will fit right in.
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. BUST.
As I just said, I don’t think mentor is a very strong ability and the rest of this card doesn’t make up for it, if she targets herself with BOTH abilities she is a 4/5 flying, trample, vigilance for 4. If she had haste or first strike she would be closer playable but she doesn’t do much as is. At the end of the day I am just not jazzed about paying 4 for a 2/5 flyer with some other conditional abilities. Note, this card does get grabbed by Militia Bugler.
Nullhide Ferrox: BOOM.
There is a LOT of text on this card…. Not all of it great… But I think the numbers matter more then the text… 6/6 for 4. The “You can’t play Non-creature spells” seems fine if you are going for the mono-green stompy deck that just wants to smash its head through the table. The discard effect is just gravy against Nicol-Bolas’s discard trigger. Paying two more for your removal spell is just fine, Cast down costs 4, Murder for 5, Contempt for 6 (GROSS!).
Dream Eater: BUST.
I really wanted this card to be good, the name, that art. But I think this is just another over-costed do-nothing sphinx. a 4/3 isn’t much of a supprise flash blocker. Surviel 4 and a bounce is pretty sweet but not 6 mana sweet. Maybe survieling 4 is way better then I think it is but 6 mana is a bit steep. There Is a chance this could see play in control decks but Doom whisperer and Chromium are better.
Pelt Collector: BOOM.
This little guy slid under my radar until I was reading the whole set for this article… This card can quickly become a 4/4 trample for 1. I think in the GB sacrifice decks and the mono green aggro deck this card can do some serious early damage. This one could end up just being a bulk rare but I think it has some good power behind it. Notably it is also an Elf.
Trostani Discordant: BUST.
I will come right out and say it. I am not a tokens player. But this card looks pretty bad. Compare this to a card like Angel of Invention, it boosts your board, makes some dudes, but she isn’t all that impressive on her own. full breakdown she is a 1/4 for 5 that makes two 2/2 lifelinkers, it’s just alright. But can we talk about her third ability? What is that? When did tokens decks care about if they lost a creature or two to a mind control effect. Very strange card and I don’t think that’s a good thing.
Thought Erasure: BOOM.
I probably am ranking this a bit to high because I love this card. I think this is just a half step down from Thoughtsieze. It is less splash-able and costs a bit more but it gives you the surveil and costs 0 life. Unconditional hand attack is really nice for control and midrange decks and the surveil lets you find more answers while taking away their threats. This is one of my favorite cards in the set but its two colors bar it from being an all star.
Lazav, the Multifarious: BUST.
I know I have shot down two of the guild leaders well here goes another one. Lazav is a build around card and there is support for it, but I just don’t think it’s that good. Surviel is sweet, I have said that a bunch of times already. Lazav doesn’t actually make the card you are flipping it into any cheaper. I like the on-the-fly ability to change as it adds some serious flexibility. If there is a U/B Surviel this, this card will be in it for sure. I could be wrong about this one for sure, but I don’t think it will get there.
Conclave Tribunal BOOM
I love love love Convoke on non-creature spells and this one is really sweet! With Cast out gone, this card is going to take the spot of white exile card. It is pretty fairly costed on its own but being able to play this for 0 mana is really cool. I think this will see a lot of play in the midrange creature decks to come. Good job wizards, keep making convoke sweet!
The literal definition of counter-burn. I like the design of this card a lot, I like that it is unconditional but there are better counterspells out there. I have a delemia with this card; If you are trying to play control and counter all their spells and deny all their recourses, 2 damage is nothing. On the other hand if you are trying to get their life total down quickly you should be playing lightining strike and shock instead of this. This card embodies the Izzet really well and I think is a very well designed card but just doens’t have a home in standard other then counter-burn.
Chemister’s Insight. BOOM
Jump-start is interesting. I like the design a lot as an alternative to flashback. Insight is a great replacement for Hirogpyhic illuminations and Glimmer of genius. Snap one of these off early to get some card advantage and then later when you are all out of gas, this card will be sitting in your graveyard, discard a land and get some more cards to work with.
Radical Idea: BUST
Very similar to the card I just called a boom, (Chemister’s Insight). This card doesn’t get the same value at insight. Reminecent of Think Twice this card doesn’t actually net you any cards it just lets you cycle through a few. While this may see play in some midrange decks, I think this card is much worse then Insight.
Ral, Izzet Viceroy: BOOM!
Ral has some eerily similar text to our fiery-haired friend Chandra, torch of defiance. While not AS good as Chandra, I think all three of his abilities are very well placed. His +1 looks like a fierce card draw engine that can also fuel graveyard effects. A solid replacement for Chandra in the more mid-range decks, Ral is going to be one of the best planeswalkers in standard not named Teferi.
Charnel Troll: BUST
Lotleth troll got a lot worse this time around, Charnel Troll looks like a classic Golgari card, sacrifice your way to a huge fat creature. The problem I have with troll is you will almost never want to play him on curve. If you do you won’t have any creatures in your graveyard to exile or want to exile, and then even if you do have a troll, say it dies, then all your other undergrowth cards are much worse now. Don’t even start on what happens if you happen to have two of the trolls out at the same time, your graveyard will be gone so fast! I could be wrong about this but I think the G/B graveyard deck doesn’t want to be exiling cards from its graveyard on turn 3, 4 or 5 or ever and even by the time you do play a troll with a full graveyard, a 4/4 isn’t going to do the trick.
Alright. Enough of all that, lets get into the Sleepers and the All stars of the set.
Sleepers and All-Stars
All-stars are the best cards of the set. To set a baseline some cards from past sets I would consider all stars would be: Fatal Push, Teferi, Hazoret, Chainwhirler, Scarab god, Walking Balista, Glorybringer, and Scrapheap scrounger.
This card is insane. One of the best removal spells ever, unconditional removal for only two mana. This card gets much better as the game goes on as land drops matter less and less but this card can be so flexible. I don’t need to say much about this card other then it is in the top 5 best removal spells ever.
5 mana 6/6 flying and trample. Already awesome. 2 life: Surviel 2.Nuts. This card is going to be all standard and is going to enable so much extra card filtering for Black/(Non-blue) decks. This card closes out games and can also just set you up to have a steady flow of bombs. This thing dies to cast down and assassins trophy, but I think that’s the risk you will have to take when playing such a crazy card like this.
Okay, this is my personal favorite card in the set and therefore am probably overrating it putting it in with the all-stars, but I think this is the next big thing. This card is comparable to Snapcaster mage and has been called a worse Snapcaster and I’m okay with that, Snapcaster is incredibly good so if this is even half of what Snapcaster is that’s fine. This card gives you access to everything else you have played this game and it also lets you see whats coming up. I think this will be a powerhouse control card and I am very excited to see it play out.
A sleeper is a overlooked card or a card that isn’t being talked about a ton but may turn out to be a great card or at least a played card. Some examples of sleepers are: Ghitu Lavarunner, Bomat Courier, Merfolk Branchwalker, Vine Mare and Infernal Reckoning.
Tajic, Legions Edge
I’ll say it now and be wrong about it in a month: This is better than Aurelia. So many keywords an aggro deck wants to see. Mentor with 3 power lets you hit a lot of things under it and the on-demand first strike makes combat really tough with this guy. He is cheaper and more aggressive then Aurelia and also protects your other creatures from enemy shocks and lightning strikes.
Connive is pretty strong, not many 2 power creatures in the format worth taking but it can grab an Aurelia or a Warboss on a good day, eh its overpriced but whatever… Concoct is what I’m about, 5 mana surviel 3 and then reanimate any creature, Wow! Playing one or two of these in any U/B deck will give you a bunch of stuff to do in one spell; it will set up your next few draws and give you the best creature in your bin for 5 mana. Not sure how many decks will play this but I can see this card being played as a 1 or 2 of in a few decks.
Ritual of Soot
Okay last control card I promise (Maybe). But come on! With Hazoret out of the format, red decks are going to rely on having a bunch of cheap threats quickly and this takes care of all of them! This will be a sideboard staple if low to the ground red decks start popping up. Not much else to say about it, solid card.
A 1/1 in the chainwhirler days are scary but they also lend themselves nicely to mentor and this has all the juice it needs to be a great card once it’s a 3/3. As is the card is going to have trouble early but if you buff it a bit (and you will) it will demand an answer.
Knight of Autumn
Alright Selesnya you impressed me. This could possibly fit with History of Benalia or a GW mid-range shell. Knight of autumn has so much flexibility to it. a 4/3 for 3 is fine but being able to flex into a naturalize leaving behind a 2/1 and sometimes 4 life is just what you need. Maybe an overreaction because of all the red-black we have seen in Kaladesh standard, but I think this card will be a great answer to some of the more aggressive decks.
Okay, I cheated a bit. I have tested with this card a bit and it’s the real deal. Generating extra damage of every spell you play in a mono-red deck can build this card to either a quick 4/4 or a free 3 mana (Chainwhirler!!) this card is the real deal in standard and will be the cornerstone to mono-red burn lists.
Alright I have covered quite a few cards in this set and I hope I am right about at least a few of them! I hope you took something away from this article when you are brewing your standard deck for the season!
Come play standard with us and beat me with the cards I called a bust! Saturdays at 6:00 and check our schedule for standard FNM!