It has begun. Over the Christmas break we got to see some of the new mechanics and cards we get to play around with when Ravnica Allegiance drops in a few weeks’ time. Tomorrow, spoiler season will start in earnest and many Magic players are keen to see what other delights we have to look forward to. But given what we already know about Magic’s latest set, could we already work out what might be in store for us? Could we predict what impact Ravnica Allegiance will have on the Standard meta game? That’s what I’m aiming to explore today.
I’m going to look at each Guild in the upcoming set and see if I can predict what decks will appear in the first few weeks of the new Standard session. Will I be able to successfully guess all the new decks correctly? Possibly not, but maybe my thoughts on Ravnica Allegiance will inspire you in your own deck building attempts.
While it would be easy to just assume that the Rakdos decks of this new Standard season would be all aggro-based in nature, it would be a mistake to simpl jump to that conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, Spectacle is an ideal mechanic for an aggressive deck, but I think this is only half the story when it comes to the carnivalistic cult.
With Bedevil poised to become the premium removal spell of the format, and value creatures like Midnight Reaper and Rekindling Phoenix still very much a part of the meta, Rakdos could easily challenge Golgari for the title of the format value deck. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from getting the best of both worlds and mixing the two to ally yourself with the shard of Jund, especially with the manabase options in standard available when Allegiance drops.
The first thing that everyone asked when they first saw the keyword mechanic for the Orzhov was, “What’s going to be the sacrifice payoff?” It’s not difficult to see why when you think about it. Aristocrat decks first came into existence thanks, in part, to Cartel Aristocrat from Gatecrash, and so when everyone saw Afterlife it was assumed some type of sacrifice strategy was coming.
We already have cards like Severed Strands and Costly Plunder which go along nicely with creatures that replace themselves. Add in some creatures like Plaguecrafter and the above-mentioned Midnight Reaper and you have the ground work for a Standard Aristocrat brew. the only thing the deck could make use of are more consistent sacrifice outlets for some end-game payoff. We will just have to wait and see.
When players first got a look at the Simic keyword of Adapt, many felt underwhelmed by what they saw as Monstrous 2.0. While I was originally of the same mindset, I believe that this Guild has more playability than many first suspected. Many have already pointed to the synergy of Zegana, Utopian Speaker and the rest of the merfolk that we have already seen in Ixalan. While I do believe that this will be a deck that turns up in the first couple of weeks of Standard, it isn’t a deck I’m interested in trying out.
Before rotation, Green Stompy decks were known to splash blue for evasion-granting enchantments to make creatures like Ghalta, Primal Hunger flying finishers. Given the fact that Adapt creatures can get bigger (making those Ghaltas even easier to cast), I could easily see a heavier blue splash in mono-green Stompy.
I’m not going to lie. The Gruul mechanic of Riot has me the most excited for this upcoming Standard season. It is probably the aggro player in me, but any mechanic that offers me the chance to hit harder or faster is going to please me greatly. It might seem a little simplistic when compared to some of the other mechanics from the last few years of the game, but simple doesn’t mean bad, and the mechanic encompasses the gruul ideals really well.
Having the ability to either get in and deal damage when your opponent’s shields are down, or placing a larger creature onto the battlefield when you need to expand our board presence always puts a smile on faces. If you think about it, all of the Riot creatures are effectively modular spells. Throw in a playset of Gruul Spellbreaker to prevent your opponents from casting Settle the Wreckage on you and you have the basis for an aggro deck I can get behind. All of the cards which made G/R monsters powerful in Ixalan standard are still here, and I think a little gruul flair could bring the deck back for a second try at the top tables.
It will come as a surprise to no-one that the Azorius Guild is primed to continue the tradition of being the resident control deck. Given that cards like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Settle the Wreckage and Cleansing Nova are already staples of Standard control decks, it won’t take long for the new Sphinix’s Insight and the reprinted Absorb to be incorporated into these builds.
On the subject of new cards, let’s talk about Addendum. At first it might seem counter-productive to cast your instants during your own main phase. Surely you want to keep your mana open to give you the option to either counter an enemy spell or draw cards during their end step. This is true most of the time.
However, there comes a moment during the game when, as a control player, you have managed to turn the corner and have stabilized. At this point your opponent is probably in top deck mode, and as a result is less likely to regain the advantage. At this point it might be more beneficial to cast a Sphinix’s Insight in your main phase and give yourself those few extra points of life to keep you on top of things.
Three colours the new norm?
There is also the very real chance that since Standard players will have access to both shock lands and check lands, that three or even four colour decks will become far more commonplace on magic tables. I already noted above that Jund could see more play in the coming weeks and months, but what about the other three colour combinations?
Since Afterlife cards produce spirits when they are destroyed, perhaps we could see an Esper tribal deck with Supreme Phantom and Mirror Image. Maybe we could see a Temur +1/+1 counter synergy build with Simic Ascendancy as an alternative win condition? Or even an Abzan token deck capable of swarming the board with ease. Whatever the future holds we can say this for certain – Standard is in for a wild ride, and I for one can’t wait to see what will happen.
But what do you think? Is Ravnica Allegiance primed to shake the Standard meta to its core? Or will it just be more of the same? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and while you’re at it why not like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics. Spoilers start tomorrow, and I for one am very excited to see what new toys Wizards of the Coast provides us with for the next couple of years. Maybe some more burn spells? Fingers crossed. But until next time, remember – Good Luck and Have Fun!