Magic The Gathering Arena Ravnica Allegiance Card Review and Ratings

by KunrinG

Card Rating System

5.0: The best of the best. (Bolas’s Clutches. Icy Manipulator. Lyra Dawnbringer.)

4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Josu Vess, Lich Knight. Tatyova, Benthic Druid. Slimefoot the Stowaway.)

4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Cast Down. Time of Ice. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind.)

3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Vicious Offering. Blessed Light. Shivan Fire.)

3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Cloudreader Sphinx. Caligo Skin-Witch. Grow from the Ashes.)

2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Fungal Infection. Academy Journeymage. Mammoth Spider.)

2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Krosan Druid. Soul Salvage. Ghitu Journeymage.)

1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Relic Runner. Ancient Animus. Deep Freeze.)

1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Divest. Homarid Explorer. Arbor Armament.)0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Rescue. Cabal Evangel. Drudge Sentinel.)0.0: Completely unplayable. (Kamahl’s Druidic Vow. One with Nothing.)

White Card Ratings

Angel of Grace – 4.5

A 5/4 Flying Flash for 5 means this is basically hard removal and a huge evasive threat for an absurd price. There are some rare spots when you’re racing where you can blow them out with this, or even if you’re behind to trade it off with their biggest creature and go to 10 to buy a turn or two. Those are the worst case scenarios, and she does a fantastic job at winning you the game in literally every circumstance.

Angelic Exaltation – 1.5

This is a difficult one to grade because the flying token synergy is real, but the real question then is why aren’t you attacking with all your creatures? This can be useful against other aggressive decks to hold them back, but if they start swinging to force trades the effect of this card is minimized. Adding on this does nothing when behind, and you have a real candidate for an absurdly overrated card.

Archway Angel – 1.5

Fliers are much larger than they used to be, but even older fliers outclass a 3/4 for 6. Situational lifegain doesn’t change the fact that this is worse than Gold-Forged Sentinel.

Arrester’s Zeal – 2.0

Mighty Leap finally updates to the new era of pump spells. Pretty standard trick these days.  

Bring to Trial – 2.5

This isn’t going to do much to non-green guilds, but it is quite good into Gruul and Simic and hits a couple random things in other guilds so you can certainly maindeck it. It just is very underwhelming in some spots so I can’t bump it up higher. Similar situation to Legion’s Judgement which was good into dinosaurs but not a ton else.

Civic Stalwart – 2.0

Inspiring Captain continues to be uninspiring.

Concordia Pegasus – 2.0

Filler defensive 2-drop for the right deck, but 1/3 stats don’t stop a lot of things and it doesn’t pose a clock. So play it sometimes if you want to stall and don’t get anything better.

Expose to Daylight – 1.5

Sideboard material.

Forbidding Spirit – 3.0

Ghostly Prison for a turn in a format that is aggressive is quite nice, 3 mana 3/3 is still a good deal.

Haazda Officer – 2.0

Underwhelming, 3 mana 3/2 is slightly the going rate these days and the ability is not that great. Fills the curve fine though as a late pick.

Hero of Precinct One – 3.0

One multicolored spell makes this great, it is already good on the curve which is important.

Impassioned Orator – 3.0

Aggro decks want this, slower decks want this. Either way, you’re looking at a nice 2/2 for 2 that helps you win races or stall. Nothing crazy but certainly in the right place.

Justicar’s Portal – 1.5

This is huge on the variance standpoint. It doesn’t pump your creature and costs 2 mana, so that adds a lot of situational components. Is my creature big enough to eat their guy? Can it do so without risk? If this goes wrong, you can easily 2-for-1 yourself. When it plays big though, it plays quite well as a nice way to win races and eat creatures. My question is if this is better than just running Arrester’s Zeal and I’m saying no. Changing combat math is better than minor trickery.

Knight of Sorrows – 1.5

Very overpriced. 5 mana 3/3 is just not an acceptable body, the ability is nice but not that great, and the afterlife is a bit minor. It would be good but not great for 1 less mana, but 5 is too much.

Lumbering Battlement – 2.0

Cute with ETB synergy but this is mostly a 5 mana 4/5 vigilance, which is certainly playable but not crazy. The fact that you don’t get the creatures back quickly is a huge detriment.

Ministrant of Obligation – 3.0

A half card plus a whole card is 1.5 cards, and despite the fact that Ministrant is slow, the value is there. I loved Mausoleum Guard in Innistrad and this is almost certainly an upgrade, which is needed for today’s level of creature. Basically treat it like Mausoleum Guard in Innistrad drafting.

Prowling Caracal – 2.5

Sure, it can run into Spirit tokens. That comes later though, when Caracal is already falling off a bit. I like the aggressive option early and think this will be a nice 2-drop for a lot of white decks.

Rally to Battle – 3.0

Another massive headache to play around considering +1/+3 is huge in Orzhov token decks as suddenly all the Spirits that got in for damage are untapped and blocking as 2/4s. It’s very difficult to attack into 4 open mana for this reason, but 4 open mana is quite a bit and readable.

Resolute Watchdog – 2.5

This sort of card actually plays decently in every deck. You can force difficult decisions from your opponent in aggressive decks from the threat of activation, and against aggro this 1 mana 1/3 is doing a great job of holding things up at a cost that doesn’t slow your curve. Good boy.

Sentinel’s Mark – 2.0

+1/+2 is barely high enough impact to be worth playing, I think. Flash auras are always something that I’ve been keen with, since they run less risk and act more like a combat trick with lingering advantage. This one doesn’t do much in combat, but the fact that it stays around is enough to make it playable, if only marginally.

Sky Tether – 3.5

I’m a huge fan for all white decks, since Azorius and Orzhov are playing a lot in the sky. Slows down aggro and really acts as basically removal for flying-heavy decks.

Smorthing Tithe – 1.0

I’m afraid I don’t treasure having expensive ramp in white decks. A 4 mana card that your opponent has the option on effect means that you have very little say on how good this card is, and even if you get what you want, you had to pay a ton just to get a tiny bit of ramp. I don’t buy it, and I’m sure your opponents won’t too.

Spirit of the Spires – 3.0

4 mana for a 2/4 flier is nice, the ability is nothing crazy but is slightly useful.

Summary Judgement – 3.0

Yeah, I like this too. Impeccable Timing was at its best when they swung into you, and when the damage isn’t enough you can switch into a bit of an Executioner’s Swing. Versatility is key here, you will definitely find situations where both are better. Obviously bad when your opponent is on heavy defense.

Syndicate Messenger – 2.5

It’s a good deal, but not a great deal. Vigilance would have secured a solid spot here.

Tenth District Veteran – 3.0

I do like this card, it plays well in races and with tricks. Probably the best way to fill your 3 slot out of the white commons.

Tithe Taker – 3.0

The question here is how much better is this over Doomed Traveler. It’s better, which basically means it has to be a 3.0, but not by a ton. Has some additional utility against Simic decks which look to be holding up Adapt activations at instant speed.

Twilight Panther – 2.5

Nothing great, nothing bad either. Mardu Hateblade was alright in standard Abzan decks but only really shined when the warrior subtype was an archetype.

Unbreakable Formation – 3.5

Main phase giving your creatures +1/+1 counters, vigilance and indestructible is like having a Song of Freyalise that pops right away. We’ve seen how explosive this effect can be in the right deck, especially with flying tokens you get from afterlife. The fact that you need to sorcery speed cast it for the huge blowout hardly matters. In fact, you have the flexibility not to in certain circumstances which is an unnecessary addition to a great card.

Watchful Giant – 1.0

A bunch of medium defensive stats on a big mana sink. Not a fan.

Top 5 White Commons

#5. Syndicate Messenger

#4. Bring to Trial

#3. Tenth District Veteran

#2. Summary Judgement

#1. Impassioned Orator

Final Impressions

White isn’t looking strong as a monocolor, but they have some strong uncommons and absurdly strong combat tricks such as Rally to Battle and Unbreaking Formation that will be huge to helping their guilds succeed.

Blue Card Ratings

Arrester’s Admonition – 2.0

Worse than Repulse, so my only question is why? Repulse is a perfectly fair card for limited, never being broken or too weak. 3 mana to bounce instant speed is horribly slow and low-powered, so you need to do this sorcery speed to make it actually worth 3 mana and that lowers the power of this by a substantial amount, to the point where it is barely playable.

Benthic Biomancer – 3.0

Considering that your first turn play is usually land-go, this is pretty fantastic at turning a normal start into a turn 2 2/2 looter that can swing. That said, the body does fall off in terms of impact, but it’s never truly bad since the looting goes up in impact.

Chillbringer – 2.0

3/3 flying is below the curve these days for 5 mana, the tempo swing is nice and I like it quite a bit, but it doesn’t seem that strong. We’ve seen this card with Flash quite a few times, and that’s probably a better ability in general.

Clear the Mind – 0.0

3 mana cantrip is garbage.

Code of Constraint – 3.0

Sorcery Crippling Chill that has some situational combat trick implications which is a solid upside to make up for sorcery speed on the powerful end.

Coral Commander – 1.5

Mediocre filler 3-drop.

Essence Capture – 2.5

I will say UU is considerably more difficult than 1U early on, and Essence Scatter doesn’t scale perfectly, but Essence Capture being better later in the game and being castable on 2 (though not all the time) is enough to make it a perfectly solid choice.

Eyes Everywhere – 1.0

Scry 1 is not high enough impact and the exchange costs a ton. Would be interesting and maybe playable but unexciting in a slower format though.

Faerie Duelist – 2.0

A cute 1-of, but the effect is situational enough that playing more than one of these seems like a liability. Not that powerful either, in general.

Gateway Sneak – 1.5

Still not a deck, but people who like jank will undoubtedly get offended by that statement.

Humongulus – 1.0

Pretty bad card, a bit too slow to stall and a bit too small to swing which means it has the worst of both worlds. Best I can say is that it might be a sideboard option against Gruul, but probably not.

Mass Manipulation – 3.5

2UUUU for Mind Control is a bit overpriced, but 4UUUU for double mind control is an insane power play considering you’re casting two copies of Control Magic for a single card. Scales pretty quickly after that as well. This is the exact sort of card I tend to overrate though, which makes me nervous – cards like Hour of Eternity which look like a solid deal with huge scaling but end up turning out like duds. It’s hard to imagine 6 mana mind control ever being a complete dud though. We’ll see.

Mesmerizing Benthid – 3.5

My only problem with this sort of card is how hard it is to actually win with it. You need other things going on to really push this card, and while it may buy a plethora of time, that will only be useful if you improve over that time. That said, a ton of butt and a ton of time.

Persistent Petitioners – 1.5

2 mana 1/3 is not great, but playable. The effects are basically ignorable in this format, though.

Precognitive Perception – 3.5

Jace’s Ingenuity with upside is a card I’m on board with. Not too much more to say there, you will have reasons to do this both Sorcery and Instant speed in your games (ie: holding up Adapt and casting this if they don’t swing into Adapt activations), so the flexibility has good value.

Prying Eyes – 1.5

Even if this is closer to a draw 3 by the time you cast it, that’s still overpriced. The best thing I can say about it is you can hold up Adapt so it isn’t so bad for Simic, but I think you can do better.

Petramander – 3.0

A 1/1 flier is not good, we’re really looking at the wake up for when this becomes a real card. We can basically ignore upfront cost as fitting in a 1-drop in your curve can happen easily at many stages, so let’s look at Adapt cost only. How much am I willing to pay for a 5/5 flier? Answer is certainly 6 mana to be happy about it. So, we’re looking at 2 spells in the bin by turn 6. Not a hard ask, especially considering this has some more upside (can be cheaper) to make up for the downside (don’t always have 2 spells in the bin by turn 6). Overall, I’m a fan. It is just a slow flier in limited though, so don’t get the power of this too twisted.

Quench – 3.0

Mana Leak for the first 5 turns or so, falls off faster which is actually noticeable and much easier to play around. Don’t play more than 2 copies, and don’t always play the second one in your best decks.

Sage’s Row Savant – 2.0

Decent but not great 2-drop.

Senate Courier – 2.5

I like this sort of card, the difference between 3 and 4 toughness from the white pegasus is very relevant, as 3/3s and 3/2s are all over the place. Nothing great, but decent.

Shimmer of Possibility – 3.0

Looking at four cards is quite nice. Utility spells like this do have a cap though, since they don’t get you direct card advantage and don’t impact the board you only want so many. The first copy is really nice though, second is still decent.

Skatewing Spy – 3.0

A 4 mana 2/3 is not exciting, paying 6 mana to make it a 4/5 flying is acceptable. The true power of this card, however, is in its synergy with other simic cards that get counters easier and quicker than this. The amount of damage you can break through on the effect is enough to justify how slow it is by itself. It’s no Abzan Falconer, but that hardly means much considering how busted that card was.

Skitter Eel – 3.0

4 mana 3/3 is under par, but untap with this and suddenly it attacks as a 5/5 for free, and when you want you can just turn it into a 5/5 permanently. Great deal.

Slimebind – 1.5

Not a great trick, situational and doesn’t stop the creature from blocking so you kinda need to kill it in combat to make the most out of it. Not a huge ask, but does mean you have to work to make it into an expensive and kinda bad combat trick. Not a fan.

Sphinx of Foresight – 4.0

4 mana 4/4 fliers have a longstanding tradition at this point of being very good but not top bombs (like Curator of Mysteries). Sphinx, like the Curator, is just a huge body with Scry value. The bonus of being in your starting hand is nice but doesn’t add to its rating in limited, since it isn’t reliable with only one in your deck. I will say that Scry 3 at the start of your game is actually comparable to drawing an extra card in terms of how it can smooth out your curve, bottom extra lands/bad cards, or help plan turns.

Swirling Torrent – 3.0

Not a card you want more than one of usually, but the first copy is huge. Time Ebb + Bounce is a huge tempo swing that’s card neutral and prevents your opponent from topdecking a new play so you have some guarantee of what the board will look like next turn. I really like playing one of this if I can. It’s no Sea God’s Revenge but it will do well.

Thought Collapse – 2.0

Still prefer Quench as it’s harder to read and significantly cheaper, but this plays better late game obviously and you may want one of it sometimes or prefer it in certain matchups.

Verity Circle – 0.0

Not even a sideboard against some mechanic. Awful.

Wall of Lost Thoughts – 1.5

There’s been a lot of powerful 0/4 defenders lately, this is not one of them.

Windstorm Drake – 3.0

Battleground Geist functional reprint, slight differences (Battleground was a tad better considering it buffed cards like Spectral Rider and most the fliers were Spirits anyway) but not by enough to change anything.

Top 5 Blue Commons

#5. Senate Courier

#4. Sage’s Row Savant

#3. Shimmer of Possibility

#2. Quench

#1. Skitter Eel

Final Thoughts

Worse than white for sure, about the same level of commons but worse uncommons. This set is generally not about the monocolor, but that doesn’t stop Blue from looking really underwhelming.

Black Card Ratings

Awaken the Erstwhile – 0.5

Paying 5 mana for the privilege of getting rid of random cards from your opponent that were meant to develop the board anyway is a bit much. Not really like making a slower deck play topdeck will win you the game, and if you are the slower deck it seems likely you don’t want to help them go wider than they already are, or discard your higher cost cards. I’m not a believer, especially for limited.

Bankrupt in Blood – 1.0

Interesting with tokens and afterlife enabling but overall this sort of card takes a lot of setup and is situational. Generally avoid.

Blade Juggler – 2.5

I have to imagine cheating out a slightly better Phyrexian Rager, despite my love for the Rager, is not that powerful. The base body is a bit too expensive to make me too happy about playing multiples though.

Bladebrand – 1.0

Situational and just not good.

Bloodmist Infiltrator – 3.0

Good reach for aggressive decks, not a great baseline but the upside is pretty large.

Carrion Imp – 1.5

Not a good price for what you’re getting. 4 mana Chapel Geist that gains 2 maybe? No deal.

Catacomb Crocodile – 1.0

Useful if you’re a slow Orzhov deck going against Simic specifically, but keep it in the sideboard.

Clear the Stage – 3.0

Very expensive for just -3/-3, which it will be sometimes. When it’s on, it turns into basically Cruel Revival, which certainly balances things out.

Consign to the Pit – 2.5

In a format like this, 6 mana and sorcery speed with no significant upside is not a deal I’m happy to make, but this will make a one-of in most black decks that need a bit more removal.

Cry of the Cranarium – 0.5

A card in the wrong color. Black itself has a ton of 2 toughness creatures. Rakdos is aggro. Afterlife is an important part of Orzhov. This is a tech card against both black decks, why on earth would you put it in your black deck?

Dead Revels – 2.5

Actually I like this as a one-of, 2 mana to get back 2 creatures is a really solid deal, and it helps enable itself by you swinging and trading off to enable spectacle. It is a bit slow on its own which means it’s not that great when behind, but overall a decent one-of.

Debtors’ Transport – 1.5

Filler, low-impact 6 drop.

Drill Bit – 0.0

I’m certain I’ll be releasing my video on why 1 for 1 discard sucks in limited, but in the meantime I’ll continue to keep saying it. Mana matters, game plans are not reliant on a single card. These two things make paying mana to “disrupt a game plan” basically terrible. People will still live high on the moments they found a bomb with discard until the day they die. They’ll mention how good discard is in cube, ignoring that game plans are much more focused than in most draft formats. It’s a noob trap, be better than that.

Font of Agonies – 1.0

MythicSpoiler is trying to tell me this card is similar to Gonti’s Mechinations or Soul Stair Expedition, but in reality this is a Retribution of the Ancients. It looks cool because you have some guild synergy and it kills shit, but in the end it is unreliable and inconsistent (whereas Mechinations and Expedition could be reliably activated with other cards or by playing normally).

Grotesque Demise – 3.5

Seen a couple printings like Reaver Ambush, a very good set for this effect.

Gutterbones – 3.0

I think the first time we saw this effect without the “can’t block” clause was Dread Wanderer, and while that was relevant, it turns out most decks playing this card aren’t really intending on blocking with it much anyway. I mean this is basically just a semi-functional reprint of Dread Wanderer to be real. The card was nice for aggro but nothing spectacular.

Ill-Gotten Inheritance – 1.0

Technically reach, but slow and bad reach is not good in any books.

Noxious Groodian – 2.75

Does well into Green guild creatures.

Orzhov Enforcer – 3.0

About what I’d expect for this sort of thing, a lot of good things to say though. Trades up and gives you decent value. Solid.

Orzhov Racketeers – 2.75

I loved Ministrant of Obligation, why is this any different? Well, it does pack some decent value, but let’s consider Afterlife 2 to be worth 2 mana (it is around that area). This means the base body on Ministrant is like a 1 mana 2/1 for body value whereas Racketeers is a 3 mana 3/2 with a discard trigger. Obviously not a great comparison since these come down later, but it tells you where the value lies. Ministrant is all about the tokens, Racketeers does an awkward middle ground job of trying to pretend like the main body means something. It provides some obligation of value to make sure you really made it worth 5 mana, since afterlife 2 isn’t worth it on its own, whereas Ministrant can just die immediately and you don’t really care as that just means you cast Midnight Haunting. I mean, fine. I’m certainly never cutting this. I just don’t think it’s as good as Ministrant.

Pestilent Spirit – 3.5

Menace and Deathtouch is a pain in the royal ass and 3 power means your opponent has to care about it. Adding in deathtouch for spells like {}, you have a real card that can threaten a lot of damage or trade up into bigger threats or 2-for-1s easily.

Plague Wight – 3.0

A 2 mana 2/1 Flanking is great in my books, Spirit tokens can’t block this and it trades up easily. The worst you can say is it only trades across into 2/2s, but that’s not a big deal considering how well it does in many other combat situations.

Priest of Forgotten Gods – 1.5

It takes a lot to make this sort of thing interesting in limited, and afterlife just doesn’t do it for me. Paying 2 mana for a 1/2 is a bit of a ew and adding on a slow and situational ability doesn’t make it any more interesting.

Rakdos Trumpeter – 1.0

For this sort of card to be good, it has to actually deal at least 2 damage without putting any mana into it. This one does not, so it is not good. Simple enough.

Spawn of Mayhem – 4.5

I was trying to justify a 4.0 rating, but in the end I couldn’t. If you can connect turn 3, you get a 4/4 flier out for one of the dumbest rates in history. Add in the synergy with the clan mechanic, which actually means it does well in defensive positions (as you don’t have to attack to enable your spectacle cards) and Trample in a set with 1/1 flying tokens as a mechanic and you have a real winner.

Spire Mangler – 3.0

Acts as pseudo-removal as it blocks as a 4/1 flash flier, has some additional utility, and all said and done is just a 2 power flash flier for 3 which is a good deal.

Thirsting Shade – 1.0

Undercity Scavenger – 1.5

We’ve seen a lot of very similar cards to this, most recently being Undercity Necrolisk, a card I barely saw and basically never played. Seems unlikely that Afterlife will change that much.

Undercity’s Embrace – 2.5

I don’t really get why 4 power is such a big deal considering Rakdos cards only have 2 creatures that fit it and both black guilds are about going small (fast or wide). Either way, a 3 mana instant speed edict is just fine.

Vindictive Vampire – 1.5

4 mana is too much to pay for this effect, and the 2/3 is irrelevant.

Top 5 Black Commons

#5. Undercity’s Embrace

#4. Consign to the Pit

#3. Noxious Groodian

#2. Plague Wight

#1. Grotesque Demise

Final Thoughts

Black is actually quite a strong monocolor here. Plague Wight and Groodian are nice curve fillers, but generally for different decks (Rakdos and Orzhov respectively). The removal is solid and that’s all black really needs to support their guilds. Not a dominant color, but a good one for sure.

Red Card Ratings

Act of Treason – 2.0

Rakdos can do a lot with Act of Treason, considering there are a few sacrifice effects. It’s insane with Electrodominance as well, but that’s not a huge consideration.

Amplifire – 3.5

A very solid attacker, since flipping a 2/2 means you can attack as a 4/4 for 4 and very reasonably average to a 5/5. Riot works against this, sadly, since the creatures are a bit understatted to compensate for +1/+1 counters, but again you don’t really need much. All that said, doesn’t have trample which is a detriment to making it a real bomb.  

Burn Bright – 1.5

Trumpet Blast that can be used on defense. I do think the format is aggressive enough that some decks may want it, but I also think the creatures and other spells are better to force out wins than this is.

Burning-Tree Vandal – 2.5

3 mana 2/1 haste with immediate rummage can be useful if they have no blockers, since you can do two triggers with it which is pretty huge. More often you will have a 3 mana 3/2 that will rummage once if it attacks. That’s nice but nothing special, and sometimes you will have to trade before it can even do that.

Cavalcade of Calamity – 1.0

Meant for a Rakdos deck with some Afterlife cards in black but I just can’t see this being worth the time. Raid Bombardment didn’t need the downgrade.

Clamor Shaman – 2.0

I’ll be the first to admit this is a bit of a bold prediction considering the past of Goblin Heelcutter. The thing is, a lot of what made Heelcutter great was getting in 5+ damage on turn 3 with the Dash and the 3 power on top of the haste was I think a big part of what made it such a huge success. Giving this guy haste means he isn’t actually contributing meaningful damage himself, and giving him the counter means he’s a bit slow and easier to play around. I think it will be a marginal playable and a bit of a flop, but I could very well be wrong.

Dagger Caster – 2.0

If this were a 3/3, I would be much more interested. But a 4 mana 2/3 is just too small to make me interested in this effect, even if it is a decent one.

Deface – 1.0

Not particularly good, even in the sideboard.

Electrodominance – 4.5

Fucking stupidly broken. Casting a creature instant speed, turning it into a FTK and getting to block with it? Reach to burn your opponent out? Burn an attack for 3, Steal another attacker with Act of Treason, and block to kill three of their guys? This card just does everything. Doesn’t even matter that it’s a bit slow.

Feral Maaka – 1.5

Not a great curve filler, but does the job in a real pinch.

Flames of the Raze-Boar – 3.5

Gruul decks love this, the condition is not that hard to make and 4 damage + 2 to all their other creatures at instant speed is a huge blowout and totally worth 6 mana. Without the 4 power creature it is much worse and overcosted.

Gates Ablaze – 1.5

Reasonably, you need 2-3 gates before this becomes interesting. There may be a deck there, but it wasn’t a thing in GRN (a slower set, which made it easier) so I highly doubt it will be in this set either. Undoubtedly there will be one person who doesn’t care about winning forcing this though.

Ghor-Clan Wrecker – 2.5

4 mana is a bit much for a 3/3 menace when considering other comparisons (Boggart Brute being the standout comparison). It’s still decent and the versatility is nice, it just isn’t strong.

Goblin Gathering – 1.5

I’m not a believer in the Goblin Gathering. Reasonably, you would want 3 tokens. So to gain any advantage at all, you need to cast 4 of this in a game (as your 3 first ones would get you 9 tokens, making it even). Not worth the buildup, especially since the first couple are not that great.

Gravel-Hide Goblin – 1.5/2.5

Bad filler for red, a pretty good card for Gruul. Threat of activation means he can connect more than you may think in the midgame. The only real problem is that he plays poorly with Riot creatures, since Haste means you have to not hold up the mana to threaten activations with this guy.

Immolation Shaman – 2.0

Best against Simic, but the fact that you can use this as a decent mana sink late game means a 2 mana 1/3 is acceptable.

Light Up the Stage – 2.0

A lot of people have completely given up on this card, but I refuse to completely toss it out. The problem with this sort of effect has been a upfront cost that is unreasonable (notably the normal cost of this), but spectacle means you can reasonably get card advantage with this. I still think it isn’t great, but there’s some playability here.

Mirror March – 0.0

6 mana is a bit steep for this sort of thing, considering you need to untap on turn 7 before it can do anything. Even then, there’s random chance involved in making this do anything. Even if we equate for averages (an average of 1 token per activation per the Geometric sequence), this card doesn’t do particularly well at being worth 6 mana.

Rix Maadi Reveler – 3.0

A 2 mana 2/2 with a rummage effect is solid. Spectacle is cute but often too rare/situational to be considered big in limited.

Rubble Reading – 0.0

Who likes intentionally paying 4 to do virtually nothing?

Rubblebelt Recluse – 2.0

It can top your curve as a beater, but in the end it isn’t that oversized these days so it isn’t exactly that great. Needing to attack makes it easy to play against from your opponent.

Rumbling Ruin – 3.0

You only really need 4 counters to make your creatures unblockable in most cases, which turns this into slightly better Seismic Elemental. Simic decks can splash this too, 6 mana with only 1 red symbol is pretty simple splash material for their adapt guys.

Scorchmark – 2.5

Reality Hemorrhage was a decent playable, but not great and certainly not an early pick. I doubt that will change, especially since exile clause is irrelevant.

Skarrgan Hellkite – 5.0

Very reminiscent of Glorybringer, if not quite as good. 4/4 flying/haste for 5 can win games out of nowhere (reach) and a 5/5 flier that shoots things down also wins games in a huge clock and removal sense. Just a package deal that should not be ignored. Best bomb of the set, bar none.

Skewer the Critics – 3.5

Would already be a top common if it didn’t have Spectacle but it does. Great removal.  

Smelt-Ward Ingus – 2.0

Has limits, can be played around, isn’t a great body on its own. Certainly fills the curve but doesn’t do it particularly well.

Spear Spewer – 1.0

Yes, yes, it enables Spectacle. At the cost of a whole card, since by god this does basically nothing else. Not worthwhile in my books.

Spikewheel Acrobat – 1.0

Not even that good of a deal for 3 mana.

Storm Strike – 1.5

Been pretty solidly proven at this point that +2/+2 is better than +1/+0 and first strike, so this is lackluster even by combat trick perspectives. Very similar to Guided Strike for power level purposes, including the Scry.

Tin Street Dodger – 1.5

You need a lot of spectacle before you can really take advantage of this, because as stated earlier, you are tossing a card to play this. That said, at least it doesn’t damage both players. I’m still not a fan. No matter who tells you otherwise, 1 power creatures are not clocks nor do they develop the board. I think spectacle is easy enough and situational enough that enabling it on normal combat steps is better than running bad cards to enable it.

Top 5 Red Commons

#5. Rubblebelt Recluse

#4. Ghor-Clan Wrecker

#3. Scorchmark

#2. Burning-Tree Vandal

#1. Skewer the Critics

Final Thoughts

Red has some strong commons (including the strongest monocolor common), weaker uncommons, and some busted rares. Another solid color that will help support your guild choice.

Green Card Ratings

Disclaimer: I may give Green cards a higher rating than they deserve as I have a preference for the color, similar to LSV and Blue. It’s particularly difficult in sets where I think Green is strong. I will do my best to stay objective.

Axebane Beast – 1.5

Hyena Pack in a color that is expected to have the best creatures so it’s even worse.

Biogenic Ooze – 3.75

A Crested Herdcaller being the base is great, adding on potentially 4+ P/T per turn is really fantastic at winning slower games. The sort of card I love to play, even though it isn’t in the top bracket of bombs.

Biogenetic Upgrade – 3.0

Considering you’re paying 1 extra mana for your Incremental Growth, you lose the downside of needing three targets and gain the upside of doubling adapt counters already on creatures. Probably a wash in terms of cost/power ratio, this may be a bit better but I’d treat this very similar Incremental Growth.

End-Raze Forefunners – 3.5? (2.0 – 4.0)

I can’t dismiss this in the face of simic ramp. This is pretty powerful to be doing at your top end, but my problem is a question of necessity rather than of strength. If I win every late game I cast this that’s great. But if I win 90% of games where I don’t have this and just adapt shit until my opponent drowns in value, and instead put in a cheaper Adapt creature so I beat aggro more often, am I better off having this or not? A question for testing, in the meantime I will be play testing the win-the-game card with some reluctance on how good it actually is.

Enraged Ceratok – 3.5

We’re seeing more and more of this effect, and I’m a huge fan. Can’t be chump blocked, which makes it hard to take down for value (ie: No 3/3 and 1/4 double blocks), allowing more attacks. Either way, 4 mana 4/4 with an evasive ability is amazing.

Gatebreaker Ram – 1.5

Don’t play with less than 6-7 gates, and don’t play 6-7 gates or you will be run over.

Gift of Strength – 1.5

Not a great trick, but it demolishes Azorius decks (midrange fliers) so it plays well in the sideboard or as filler in a pinch.

Growth-Chamber Guardian – 3.5

No holds barred here, this card is Rootwalla to start (2/2 for 2 that can’t be blocked out of threat of activation), and when you choose to activate it you don’t ever have to pay to pump it again. It’s very hard to rate a better Rootwalla because that card is great already.

Gruul Beastmaster – 2.0

Very hard to see a 4 mana 3/3 or 4 mana 2/2 haste being particularly great these days, even with the ability. Not really any “power-matters” mechanics to push this so it’s pretty WYSIWYG which is a bit disappointing.

Guardian Project – 2.5

In some sets I would be head over heels for a card like this, but I just can’t be for this set. Being slow in an aggressive format is a surefire way to get yourself killed, and playing an attrition-based card draw spell is one of the slowest things you can be doing. The effect is powerful enough to play though, just be wary about overrating it.

Incubation Druid – 3.5

2 mana ramp is welcome, on turn 5 you can turn this into a 3/5 for effectively 2 mana, which means it behooves you to wait until then, generally. It can go up on turn 4, though, which is nice.

Mammoth Spider – 2.0

Incredible against Azorius, but not that great into most other decks.

Open the Gates – 1.0

I know Wizards has been printing some of the best Lay of the Land variants ever seen (Flower // Flourish and Attune with Aether come to mind), but the card is traditionally terrible and this one is too.

Rampage of the Clans – 1.0

Not meant for maindeck play and not even good in sideboards given how expensive it is with the downside.

Rampaging Rendhorn – 2.5

5 mana 4/4 haste or 5/5 is a solid deal, but neither is great. Versatility is nice though.

Regenesis – 1.0

No way the format is slow enough for this.

Root Snare – 0.5

Bad.

Saggitars’ Volley – 1.5

Plummet costing 1 more is no problem, and the upside of sweeping Spirit tokens is quite nice. A lot of good sideboard stuff here.

Saruli Caretaker – 1.5

Slightly better Loam Dryad is not a great card.

Sauroform Hybrid – 3.25

The direct comparison to Wooly Loxodon is obvious to me, as you get an early play and a late threat, pretty comparable on size and mana. I mean, that’s pretty incredible. The comparison we have to make is Wooly Loxodon was a fantastic threat in Khans of Tarkir due to slower speed, and this card is in a much faster format. That said, a 2/2 for 2 upfront is much better as is and I always love 2-drops that I can draw late and be super happy with. I mean, it’s hard to ignore this card.

Silhana Wayfinder – 2.75

Another 2-drop that I’m happy to draw early or late. It can help you hit your land drops early or help you draw action late. Either way, a nice 2-drop.

Steeple Creeper – 2.0

Simic is mana hungry enough as is, having access to this isn’t really necessary. That said, getting 4 flying damage in is a huge way to sink mana, and this helps you block some bigger Azorius fliers which may be necessary.

Stony Strength – 1.0

Burst of Strength is not that good, and doing this on an adapt creature makes this an actual liability.

Sylvan Bushstrider – 1.5

Again, just a mediocre curve filler.

Territorial Boar – 3.0

2 mana 2/2s that can turn into 3/3s are always solid in my books. Just a good 2-drop.

Titanic Brawl – 2.5

Basically Pounce.

Tower Defense – 0.5

Was bad before, is still bad now. You can do better for flying hate.

Trollbred Guardian – 3.25

Fuck I tried to think if I was overrating this and if it was a 3.0 but I was blinding myself to giant dorky green shit, but a 5 mana that attacks as a 7/7 Trample threat (again, instant speed means Rootwalla effect – they have to treat it as a 7/7 regardless) is kinda silly. I suppose the weakness of this card is that it’s just a fat creature and it can be a bit slow in an aggressive format (which does lower the rating), but the amount you get for 5 mana is pretty big and I couldn’t bring myself to 3.0 it.

Wilderness Reclamation – 0.0

Standard implications aside, this is not the format for this. No, I don’t care that it lets you adapt faster. It isn’t worth a card in limited.

Wrecking Beast – 1.5

7 mana is too much in this format, especially when all you get for it is a 7/7 or 6/6 haste. Your 2-drops can do better.

Top 5 Green Commons

#5. Steeple Creeper

#4. Titanic Brawl

#3. Rampaging Rendhorn

#2. Territorial Boar

#1. Sauroform Hybrid

Final Thoughts

Green has a lot of great cards and a lot of unplayable cards, and the in-between is few and far between. Tons of sideboard for fliers as well which is nice to pick up late into the pack. Should be good to support your guilds.

Azorius Card Ratings

Absorb – 2.0

3 mana counterspells are rough, difficult to cast despite the upside of lifegain. Honestly just a mess when you can just play two Quenches instead.

Azorius Knight-Arbiter – 2.5

About Sky Ruin Drake, probably a bit better but creatures have gotten better since then so it’s a wash.

Azorius Skyguard – 3.0

The effect on this card has proven to be amazing time and time again, this set is no exception. Slows the game down heavily and turns Spirit tokens into absolute jokes. 6 mana is quite steep though.

Depose // Deploy – 3.0

Pressure Point on one half, instant speed flying tokens + lifegain on the other. Neither is perfectly efficient but together you have a real card.

Deputy of Detention – 3.5

Fiend Hunter that hits all Spirit tokens against Orzhov and problematic permanents as well.

Dovin, Grand Arbiter – 3.5

Basically Jace, Cunning Castaway reprint. Making 1/1 flying tokens is pretty nice, and he does have to be answered, but not very fast and takes a long time to become a real threat.

Dovin’s Acuity – 3.0

Just because it looks like Disinformation Campaign doesn’t mean it is. Dovin’s Acuity is much worse, but that still makes it a fine card if you can turn the game into a grind, which the 2 life helps with.

Emergency Powers – 0.5

Hard to judge such an expensive card that can help your opponent quite a bit as good in limited. No way this is good.

High Alert – 1.5

Interesting card, works quite well with a few fliers (1/3 for 2, 1/4 for 3, 2/3 afterlife for 4) but works against you on a lot of creatures as well, including a lot of good Azorius cards. Seems too difficult to work and be consistent.

Lavinia, Azorius Renegade – 1.5

Vanilla 2/2 for 2 in limited. You can do better most of the time.

Lawmage’s Binding – 3.5

Arrest is a good card. Flash is nice upside.

Senate Griffin – 3.0

Solid flier for the mid game, the scry is a good touch.

Senate Guildmage – 3.5

Cheap activations and powerful activations against both aggro and slower decks. Pure gasoline.

Sphinx of New Prahv – 3.5

An extra +1/+1, protection, and vigilance over what you expect for 4 mana (Cloud Manta). At the end of the day, Flying and Vigilance is a classic for a reason, this card is difficult to race and gets in huge pot shots all day. Solid.

Sphinx’s Insight – 2.0

Hilariously enough, the best Addendum cards are ones that are mono-blue since you can put them into Simic decks that can actually use the instant speed better than Azorius can. This is slow and is a one-of in some decks, but I can hardly see it being any better than that.

Warrant // Warden – 3.5

90% of the time in limited this is Serra Angel which is solid, even today. Warrant is honestly a solid card in its own right, but proactive trumps reactive unless the game is about to end. It does mean picking this early not committing as it slots into Orzhov and Simic decks just fine, similar to Response // Resurgence.

Orzhov Card Ratings

Basilica Bell-Haunt – 3.0

This does a lot of things quite well, but not quite strong enough to push it to a 3.5. Don’t take that as a dismissal though, this card is good in Orzhov decks.

Consecrate // Consume – 3.0

Crackling Doom was quite a good card in limited, 1 extra mana and changing the damage to lifegain is totally acceptable.

Ethereal Absolution – 3.5

It’s hard to underestimate how good the top two abilities are, shrinking your opponent’s board and buffing your own. It’s just a bit expensive to make it a pure bomb.

Final Payment – 2.0

The price on this is steep, 5 life is a bit too much to be reliably good. So you’re looking at an expensive Bone Splinters unless you’re in dire straits or can afford it.

Grasping Thrull – 2.5

Worse than Vampire Sovereign, but at common it does good work. I’ve always held that lifegain is best attached to slower cards, so that’s actually a nice relevant upside to this.

Imperious Oligarch – 3.0

Basically Tithe Taker, more universally good (vigilance is better than his ability against most decks) but more difficult to cast as well.

Kaya, Orzhov Usurper – 3.0

Kaya may well be the worst planeswalker for limited ever printed, outside perhaps Tibalt. First, when she comes down on 3, she may not even be gaining life or impacting the board at all. She really needs to deal a ton of damage with her ult to be worthwhile. Oftentimes your opponent can ignore this though, as it is barely doing anything while it’s out. I mean, the threat of multiple ultimate activations means they will have to do something to stop it, but that hardly makes it a bomb when they have plenty of time to do so without her taking over the game.

Kaya’s Wrath – 4.0

Wraths in limited are generally 4.0 unless they cost too much. Day of Judgement was no exception, nor is this.

Knight of the Last Breath – 1.5

The value is there, but as I’ve said before, 7 mana is too much. Especially for a non-Simic card.

Mortify – 3.5

Premium, instant speed, cheap removal that hits some noncreature permanents as well.

Pitiless Pontiff – 3.5

Holy shit this gal is annoying to deal with. Turning tokens into trading up is just the tip here, she is a pain in the neck to block as well.

Revival // Revenge – 2.0

Really depends on how good Revival is in your deck, as revenge is expensive and situational. Do you have very powerful 2-3 drops? It’s playable. If not, I wouldn’t bother. 2 mana to get back a 3-drop is situational already and doesn’t net you a significant mana advantage.

Seraph of the Scales – 4.5

Seraph, on the other hand, is a fantastic bomb. 4 mana 4/3 flying is great, afterlife 2 is really huge to making sure you get value, and the vigilance activations is really cheap. Again, flying and vigilance is a classic for a reason. Easily a 2-for-1 and can be better than that. Gets the full 4.5 because of the Afterlife 2, but she is on the lower end of 4.5.

Syndicate Guildmage – 3.0

A guildmage I quite like, though I will admit to its shortcomings. The tap is very good when it is good, but can be a bit difficult against aggro. Doesn’t help that the bottom ability is meant to beat the same decks as the top ability. It will help you a ton against slower Simic decks though, which is very nice.

Teysa Karlov – 4.0

Turning afterlife 1 into afterlife 2 is worth about 1 mana, turning afterlife 2 into afterlife 4 is worth about 2.7 mana. Giving your spirits vigilance and lifelink is huge, and the body is correct in the right place (toughness). Teysa does a lot without having to do a lot herself, and if she doesn’t get removed, your Orzhov deck will take over the game.

Vizkopa Vampire – 1.5

Markov Patrician wasn’t impressive before, and it certainly isn’t now.

Simic Card Ratings

Aeromunculus – 3.5

I’m worried that Chapel Geist might be overtaking Wind Drake as our standard 3-mana flier in a few years. The body is great and it can’t even be blocked by things like Grasping Thrull which is really nice. +1/+1 counters on fliers have extra power as well. Fantastic common.

Applied Biomancy – 2.5

There’s a lot of variance in this, but 2 mana bounce is not the worst floor to stand on.

Biomancer’s Familiar – 3.5

Cheaper adapts and being able to Adapt multiple times are both huge, especially for combat math where your opponent will have a headache with your huge creatures not even being able to be double blocked. It is just a 2/2 on its own, but it packs a lot of punch.

Combine Guildmage – 3.0

Works very well with your creatures that don’t have adapt, and even with adapt you can move the counter the following turn so it doesn’t get in the way. Combines very well with Sharktocrab to tap things permanently.

Frilled Mystic – 3.0

Most plays in limited are made during the second main phase, so that stops the card’s best potential of countering a spell and holding back a creature. That said, pseudo-removal or a solid 2-for-1 is hard to pass up, even on 4 mana.

Galloping Lizrog – 2.5

It’s cute, but it’s slow and situational. There will be times it will show up huge, but oftentimes that comes at a price. If you have adapts off, you probably don’t need this. All that said, you only need one counter to make it good, so we’ll give him the playable pass.

Growth Spiral – 2.75

The sort of card that can easily be over or under rated. Explore, like most controversial cards in limited, is a bit between everyone’s opinions. It’s better than your backbone curve fillers, but not as good as your impact cards. Considering spell slots are limited and can be much better, it won’t always make the cut.

Gyre Engineer – 3.25

Weaver of Currents but taps for colored mana, nice.

Hydroid Krasis – 4.0

The fact that this is good (not great) on 4 mana is already the benchmark to making this a solid spell at all points. Can certainly win games in the late game on its own as well, and the life gain is really appreciated. The fact that it is easily splashable really takes it over the top for me, though.

Incubation // Incongruity – 3.0

Commune with Nature being the more consistent side, Rapid Hybridization being the more powerful but situational side. This is exactly how I want my split spells.

Prime Speaker Vannifar – 3.5

Birthing Pod is notoriously difficult to build around in limited, even in cube drafts. That said, putting it on a 4 mana 2/4 means that you’re guaranteed a certain amount of board presence and the upgrades you can make are relevant to helping win the game. There are a ton of simic cards that aren’t always upgrades over their higher mana counterparts and your curve/cards may not support it always. That means it is not a straight bomb in every deck (unlike what most people will think), but solid nonetheless.

Repudiate // Replicate – 3.25

Quasiduplicate with no Jump-Start is fine, and this works pretty well against other Simic decks to stop an Adapt in combat which is rare but useful.

Scuttlegator – 2.0

Expensive, but good. I wouldn’t play more than one most of the time though.

Sharktocrab – 3.5

4 mana 4/4 that Adapts to a 5/5 with a huge tempo swing is just a bunch of bullshit on one card.

Simic Ascendancy – 2.5

Alright. We can straight up ignore the growth counters, twenty is unrealistic in a limited game, and if you do get it you are winning anyway. So Dragon’s Blood that you can activate multiple times for slightly cheaper upfront. In a slower format, I’m all for it. This format is fast enough that it can be difficult to get the value you need from it though.

Zegana, Utopian Speaker – 4.25

4 mana 4/4 is a great start, drawing a card would already be huge. The fact that this goes full Nessian Asp for less mana on both ends is huge, and the Trample is incredibly relevant. Nessian Asp won games consistently with the one weakness of being chump blocked to oblivion so removing that is huge.

Rakdos Card Ratings

Bedeck // Bedazzle – 3.5

Oh, look it’s Nameless Inversion! It’s a split card? I don’t see the other half, are you sure?

Bedevil – 3.5

While it can be a bit difficult sometimes to cast these sorts of cards on turn 3, the fact that it only costs 3 mana makes it easy to play 2 spells around turn 6 and it is incredibly efficient regardless.

Captive Audience – 0.0

I don’t want to give the impression that you should ever play this. So let’s just get that straight, don’t play this. It won’t do anything until turn 9, because odds are high your opponent has played out their hand and will simply choose that first. Makes it too slow to ever be useful.

Carnival // Carnage – 2.0

Not that impressed. First Volley is situational and not great even in the better situations, and the power of Blightning is how quickly you can get it off and how efficient it is for the cost, so the extra mana is actually very relevant. That said, I’m sure it’s still worth playing.

Cult Guildmage – 3.0

I mean, 2/2 with the bottom ability is just solid as is. The top ability is not irrelevant either, just expensive.

Fireblade Artist – 3.5

2/2 haste is great, the reach of being able to toss 2 damage to face each turn when your opponent stabilizes the board is amazing. Aggro needs quick plays and reach, this counts for both which is amazing and will win you many games. Not to mention it’s another 2-drop I’m happy to see late.

Footlight Fiend – 1.0

No pressure, can trade up but why would you bother. 2 mana 2/2 vanilla is better.

Get the Point – 3.5

5 mana instant speed hard removal with a nice little upside.  

Hackrobat – 3.0

It’s a bit easier to deal with than it first appears, but being able to cast this turn 5 along with a 3-drop is a pretty huge tempo swing. Unlikely the Spectacle is relevant before then, though.

Judith, the Scourge Diva – 3.0

Body is small, but the effects are good. Makes it very easy to trade any creature up considering they can deal +2 damage from their original, making 2/2s trade into 2/4s is really good. Requires a board and costs a substantial amount of mana to get going and go off.

Macabre Mockery – 3.0

I mean, it’s basically instant speed removal on defense or aggressive reach on offense which both equate to a good card in all situations. It is a bit expensive for Rakdos and requires some trading to have already happened, but that’s not a huge ask.  

Rafter Demon – 1.0

I was beginning to get worried that Wizards had forgotten how to print bad cards for a second, jesus.

Rakdos Firewheeler – 3.5

Aggro set calls for aggro solutions, and Firewheeler acts as relevant removal, even on turn 4. The body is decent for the top end of aggro, but nothing incredible.

Rakdos Roustabout – 2.5

Curve filler if you need it.

Rakdos, the Showstopper – 4.5

6 mana 6/6 flying trample is huge (again, trample in the set with Spirit tokens is relevant), and the ability is, in fact, upside. It does carry that Rakdos risk that I know and hate a little on the inside due to my love of consistency.

Theater of Horrors – 3.0

I love this card, it creates cool situations. Your opponent knows what you are flipping, so they know how much they care about chump blocking to make sure you don’t get it. It can lead to some difficult spots and it doesn’t always pull its weight, but it will often enough and it costs little enough to be worth it.

Gruul Card Ratings

Bolrac-Clan Crusher – 3.0

To be honest, I think it could be a 2.5. 5 mana 4/4 isn’t what it used to be and the effect is slow and situational. But the fact that it can take over games against aggro and stabilize in a hurry, or act as reach against slower Simic decks is all enough that I have to give it the 3.0.

Cindervines – 1.5

Not main deck worth in draft, maybe in sealed. Either way, a decent sideboard card.

Clan Guildmage – 2.75

Certainly the worst guildmage, since its abilities are basically locked until the late game. The bottom ability is certainly the best, but it doesn’t develop the board which is a huge limiter for a 3 mana ability’s power level.

Collision // Colossus – 2.5

Colossus is actually a pretty standard power level for combat tricks these days, +2/+2 and an upside is expected for 1 mana so +4/+2 and Trample is about normal for 2 mana. Collision does actively bump the rating, as it is a situational but very powerful effect.

Domri, Chaos Bringer – 4.0

Holy shit a good walker in limited. This guy threatens a real nasty -8 rather quickly, as getting 8/8 worth of stats each turn cycle is huge. He has a powerful utility -3, and can start with 6 loyalty on turn 4 making him very difficult to kill – his own version of protecting himself.

Frenzied Arnyx – 3.5

4 mana 4/4 that acts as reach makes this card deceptively better than it looks, which is already quite good. If you have 6 mana open, your opponent will have to block to make sure they don’t take lethal damage with an activation which can lead to some great trades.

Gruul Spellbreaker – 3.5

There’s a bit of a cap for these sorts of cards, but this one hits that cap for sure. 3 mana 4/4 or 3/3 haste is really solid, and the fact that they can’t remove it until their turn is quite relevant.

Nikya of the Old Ways – 3.5

This may be best in a splash for a Simic deck, since they can generally use large amounts of mana better than Gruul, but it’s still fine in Gruul. 5 mana 5/5 has to be dealt with pretty quickly, so if this is holding back your spells you can easily just swing until you win or it gets answered. It does pose some awkward timings and decisions though.

Ravager Wurm – 4.0

Hard to imagine many board where a 4/5 haste that eats a creature doesn’t enable wins. It’s still very good when behind as well.

Rhythm of the Wild – 3.0

Fires of Yavamaya was quite a good card, and despite this being slightly worse in Limited (where the can’t be countered clause is less relevant), it is still a nice card to bolster your forces.

Rubble Slinger – 2.0

Decent 3-drop filler.

Rubblebelt Runner – 3.0

Good 3-drop that dodges Spirit tokens which is not huge but is nice to have.

Savage Smash – 3.25

What Wild Instincts should have costed. Gets in good damage and kills shit, all a great recipe.

Sunder Shaman – 3.5

A 4 mana 5/5 that can’t be blocked by more than one creature is welcome in every one of my gruul decks.

Thrash // Threat – 3.5

Instant speed fight or a 4 mana 4/4 are both great options so combining them obviously makes a great card.

Zhur-Taa Goblin – 3.0

2 mana 3/3 most of the time, though many people will mistakenly want the damage. You will generally get more damage in and have more board control with a Watchwolf than you will a Rip-Clan Crasher. That said, the versatility is nice.

Artifact/Land Card Ratings

Azorius Locket – 1.5

Standard issue locket. Not worse or better than normal.

Gate Colossus – 2.0

This deck is still bad and will get run over, but this is probably the best card in the gates deck.

Glass of the Guildpact – 1.5

Pumping about half your creatures is generally not worth a whole card.

Gruul Locket – 1.5

Another Locket that’s neither better or worse than others.

Junktroller – 1.0

This is junk, and whoever actually plays it is a troll. Appropriate name.

Orzhov Locket – 1.5

Standard locket.

Rakdos Locket – 1.0 // 2.0

Weak in Rakdos, but good for helping splash Get the Point.

Scabbling Claws – 1.0

The fact that I know I’ll see this played is embarrassing. 1+1 mana to cantrip is complete garbage, just play a real card instead.

Screaming Shield – 1.5

Usually it’s too slow, but if both players are slow then this card will simply win games. Fortunately for everyone, that isn’t often enough to make it maindeck worthy. Sideboard though, you can put it in your aggro deck to win late games and that’s really nice.

Simic Locket – 2.0

Mana hungry AF guild, so Lockets are welcome more than usual. Still not needed often.

Sphinx of the Guildpact – 0.5

I’ve dismissed much better 7-drops already. Really, really bad.

Tome of the Guildpact – 1.0

Too expensive to be useful.

Land Notes:

Guildgates – Run 1-3 depending on curve disruption, sometimes 4 if you’re splashing.

Gateway Plaza – Worse in this set, less control and the slower nature is just bad. Don’t bother.

Plaza – Bad.

Shocks – Better than Guildgates, but should count for your 1-3.

Strategy Analysis

Over/Underrated Cards

Can’t fill out until I playtest more

Guild Ranking Analysis

#1. Gruul (GR)

A 4 mana 4/4 with upside, 3 mana 3/3, and powerful fight card at common for their clan. Playing red gives you Skewer the Critics and playing green gets you Sauroform Hybrid. The colors in general are pretty deep. Riot as a mechanic is difficult to play against, because you don’t know if Gruul will be dropping a 3/3 haste or if they will slow down and develop a 4/4, and playing around one means playing into the other. I can’t think of any reason this doesn’t make #1 at the moment.

#2. Rakdos (Tie) (BR)

Rakdos puts on a huge amount of speed quickly, combining powerful 2-drops and 3-drops with removal at all stages to keep the pressure mounting. They have some duds as multicolored cards, but in general the amount of incidental damage you get to deal sets up well for some reach cards. There’s plenty of reach too, so I’m liking Rakdos here as a nice way to punish the more midrange decks of the format.

#2. Simic (Tie) (GU)

Adapt is probably the second most powerful limited mechanic in the format after Riot, any creature with Adapt immediately acts as a pseudo-rootwalla. A 2/2 Adapt 2 has to be blocked as if it were a 4/4, and this will force difficult decisions and get you a lot of damage if you are the aggressor. Things get a bit worse on the defense, but the fact that all your creatures grow huge means that you can sit back and wait on inevitability against aggressive decks. You make the most use out of blue instants since holding up expensive cards isn’t easy to read when you are just threatening to adapt, and attacking into adapt creatures when they have open mana can be difficult. Overall, really nothing to complain about with Simic. They’re my favorite and I’m sure I’ll book many wins playing them.

#4. Orzhov

Afterlife is a powerful mechanic, but Wizards made it a bit too slow in most circumstances. Orzhov decks are looking to survive whatever big push your opponent puts out by trading off with afterlife creatures, and then using their remaining board presence to push Spirits in and turn the tides. The problem is, you have to be ahead at some point. It is certainly doable, but I think it’s harder to pull off than the natural aggro of Rakdos and the development/aggro mix that Simic/Gruul have. This is by no means saying the gap here is very big though, Orzhov is a deck that packs a big punch and will win a lot of value wars with your opponents guilds, if you can make it about your game things will be looking good.

#5. Azorius

They don’t have anything great to do early besides Arrest things and don’t have the late game to compensate. Simic and Gruul both have power spikes when Azorius does, the only difference is Azorius does it in the air. That is an upgrade, but 5/5s on the ground are getting through or getting chumped by everything they have to offer, so it’s not like the midgame race is firmly in their favor, especially since they almost certainly have soaked some damage early on. We’re not even mentioning their mechanic, which, as implemented, simply means some spells can be casted in their normal manner or a situational and overcosted manner. It’s not like there’s a ton of difficult choices on how to use a card like Arrester’s Admonition, if I’m not drawing a card the cost is garbage. Really just think Gruul does what they do, better.

Final Thoughts

I want to thank everyone for checking this out, I really do hope you enjoyed and learned. More importantly, I hope I gave you a glimpse into how I evaluate cards so you can do it as well. If you’re even reading this, I must say you really need to stop now. I don’t know what you really expected here, but I’m not giving you money or anything so yeah.

Enjoy the set, having fun in whatever way that means to you is literally the most important part of Magic. If you want to play X color gates and you don’t care that it isn’t good, feel free. You may even 3-0! It’s a general principle that better cards and decks win more often, but that’s by no means a hard and fast rule, and many people care less about winning than having fun, especially at FNM.

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