It’s that time, once again, for us to uncover the goods delivered to us from on high. We’re about to jump into prerelease weekend, and now we have the full spoiler of Return to Ravnica to review.
As always, I’ll be looking at the cards I think have value in Legacy. They’ll be rated on a completely arbitrary scale of, “It might be ok,” to, “Could be good.” And I reserve every right to be as wrong on these puppies as I was on Omniscience.
We have a lot to dig through, so let’s begin.
Angel of Serenity
This could find a home in some build of Sneak/Show as an alternative to Angel of Despair or Terastodon (do people still play either of those?). She provides you with additional creatures to Sneak in after she dies—assuming she is the second creature you use—and can remove pesky blockers from the battlefield. I don’t think this is enough to make her worthwhile, because she doesn’t attack for enough on her own, but there’s enough power here to be a consideration.
Enchantment – Aura
Enchanted creature gets +1/+1 for each enchantment you control and has first strike.
The only place I can imagine this seeing play is in some type of Enchantress deck that tries to use [card argothian enchantress]Argothian[/card] and Yavimaya Enchantress. Unlikely.
Once upon a time, way back when Legacy was just a little tyke, there was a masterpiece called Garv.dec. I say masterpiece, but really, it was a pretty awful version of Zoo, that was all-in on the combination of aggressively cost creatures and pump spells, including Berserk. As a precursor to the Infect decks, the first Ravnica Block gave us double strike—and with it Boros Swiftblade. This card momentarily revitalized the dead Garv.dec, which had fallen out of favor as players realized how terrible it was. Giant Growth on a Swiftblade, paired with a Berserk, was an enormous amount of damage. It still wasn’t good.
Rest in Peace
This is one of the better grave hate cards we’ve seen in recent sets—something worth noting, as we’ve seen some pretty awesome graveyard removal lately. This has the potential to be a player in the format, mostly due to its similarity to Leyline of the Void—which means it combos with Helm of Obedience. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this combo:
With Helm and either Rest in Peace or Leyline in play, you activate the Helm for 1. Since Helm mills the opponent until you put a creature or X cards into the opponent’s graveyard—and Rest in Peace ensures no cards ever hit the graveyard—the ability continues until it exiles the opponent’s entire deck. It’s important to note the difference between the wording on RIP and a card like Planar Void—Planar Void is a triggered effect, rather than a replacement effect, and will not work with Helm.
Because the RIP is white (the color of Enlightened Tutor) and of a much less prohibitive cost than Leyline, we may see some decks either focused on this combo or potentially sideboarding into it.
Enchantment – Aura
Enchant nonland permanent
At the beginning of the upkeep of enchanted permanent’s controller, that player sacrifices it unless he or she pays X, where X is its converted mana cost.
I just want to mention that this is a potential answer for planeswalkers, as most decks playing ‘walkers can’t afford to keep that kind of mana up every turn. Sure, they may get a Brainstorm out of Jace, but having to pay 2UU every turn means they’re left much more vulnerable to attacks from creatures. It breaks the “free spell every turn” rule of ‘walkers by actually turning them into sorcery speed spells each turn.
Sphere of Safety
Creatures can’t attack you or a planeswalker you control unless their controller pays X for each of those creatures, where X is the number of enchantments you control.
This thing makes it extremely prohibitive to attack into an Enchantress player. Since that deck already plays spells like Moat and Elephant Grass—both of which are cheaper—this may end up being redundant. By the time this card is better than a Grass, you should already have a pretty good handle on the game, and be looking for more impactful spells than this one.
Jace, Architect of Thought
Look, I’m not going to say that this Jace isn’t awesome. I think he’s actually better than the first [card jace beleren]Jace[/card], and probably about 75% as good as the “real” [card jace, the mind sculptor]Jace[/card]. However, that means little in a format where you can actually play real Jace. You have to ask yourself if you’d ever play this guy over Mind Sculptor, and I think we all know the answer to that is “HELL NO.”
Search the City
I don’t know what this card actually does.
I think Snuff Out and Dismember are both closer to paying the “Ultimate Price” to kill a creature than this is. Flavor failure. That said, this kills a vast majority of the creatures in the format. I mean, so does Go for the Throat, so that’s not that impressive.
If you’re the kind of Magician who likes a Lava Spike, this is a solid two-drop that gives you something you aren’t embarrassed to side in against Dredge. But you’re playing Lava Spike, so I’m not sure why we’re worried about you being embarrassed by your deck.
Oak Street Innkeeper
Creature – Elf
As long as it’s not your turn, tapped creatures you control have hexproof.
There was about a two-week window, somewhere around six years ago or so, where Eladamri, Lord of Leaves said “All Elves,” instead of “All other Elves.” We called the Elf deck at that time “Crystalline Elves,” after the Sliver with the same ability, and it was surprisingly good during that brief sliver of time. Somehow, players were surprised when that loophole was closed, and Eladamri tanked in value, back to where he belongs. As a pseudo-Eladamri for Elf decks against decks with spot removal—except one that actually protects the most important creature, Wirewood Symbiote—I think this card has the potential to be sideboard material. I give a lot of leeway to the potentials for that deck, because there is a LOT of room for personality in it once you’ve locked the specific combo slots into place.
Enchantment – Aura
Enchanted land has “Untap this land during each other player’s untap step.”
Consider this a card to keep an eye on. If there’s a way to break it, it’s going to be either through copious amounts of mana, or an activated ability that’s worth using multiple times a cycle. At first I thought Rishadan Port, but I don’t think that’s actually enough. What we really need is a Library of Alexandria or a Bazaar of Baghdad to untap.
Caleb made an excellent point about this card that I think people are forgetting—while it is an excellent card, and will see a ton of play; does it actually do anything that this color combination couldn’t already do in Legacy? Between Maelstrom Pulse, [card pernicious deed]Deed[/card], Putrefy, Smother, Krosan Grip, etc., there were plenty of ways to take out a permanent without worrying about stuff like Counterbalance, and there’s no shortage of ways to kill a Tarmogoyf.
The versatility is where this shines, but I’d still rather draw Pernicious Deed in most circumstances. Of course, when you’re looking at a ‘Goyf against RUG with a full grip, you’ll love the “can’t be countered,” but I still have this hope that RUG starts to wane in the face of this card and Supreme Verdict.
There’s a small subset of decks that have been playing Oblivion Ring as a catch-all answer to problematic permanents. Those decks are often blue and white. The debate here for me is whether the ability to pitch to Force of Will and hit multiple permanents will be worth the vulnerability to [card red elemental blast]REB[/card]. My guess is a resounding YES, for all the reasons I said in the article about Supreme Verdict. Allowing your board control card to be useful in a counter war is incredible, and I think the fact that this O-Ring is an answer to infinite Empty the Warrens tokens is pretty sweet, too.
Much like Terminate, this card reeks of efficiency, but unfortunately lacks a home to make it useful.
I see this much the same way as Dreadbore—it’s an awesome aggro guy, but there’s no deck that’s looking for it.
I like it. I like it a lot. I think this may be one format where the right tools exist to make it a realistic plan, especially since there are cards that turn it into a genuine engine. I imagine it will bear a striking resemblance to storm combo, but will overload on the rituals and possibly include some number of Regrowth effects or Past in Flames. I don’t think it needs to be strictly UR, but once you go to URB it may be possible to just jump all the way to five colors. I’d love to see a deck that runs False Dawn.
Historically this kind of card has been weak, but this is about how much I’d want it to cost if I tried to make it good. If we tried it in an aggro-control deck, like Nightscape Familiar in ‘Tog, it may be stronger than in a combo shell.
All modes are awesome. Versatility is awesome. This card is awesome. It’s been legal for some time, and no one has done much with it yet, but I think once there’s some additional focus on it we may see it pop up here and there.
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
This card seems pretty awesome if you use it with [card life from the loam]Loam[/card] and Dryad Arbor as an engine. Too bad this isn’t a real card:
It’s been a while since Wild Mongrel was a real card in Legacy, which makes me a little sad. That puppy has been a staple in many formats over the years, with a lot of success in this one. Lotleth, while on the surface seems less versatile than Mongrel, is actually quite a bit stronger—it can gain incremental advantage in a way Mongrel never could. Growing over time, rather than all at once, is pretty sweet. I’m considering the potential of bringing back the Necrotic Ooze combo, since this card is like 1000x better than even Mongrel in that shell.
See my last article. Game changing.
Vraska the Unseen
Five is a LOT of loyalty. Added to that, she has a +1 ability that kind of protects her, although I’m not sure it’s actually all that amazing. That said, ticking her up cannot be ignored, because it only takes three turns before she makes lethal Assassins. In a color combo like BG, you’re probably going to have a bunch of little guys that can hold off the attackers you don’t want getting through and use her as a recurring removal spell, which is pretty great by itself—except there’s no incentive for the opponent to actually attack into her, unlike with [card gideon jura]Gideon[/card], for example.
Her second ability is also very strong, serving as an out to anything problematic—but much like with Abrupt Decay, this is something BG already excels at. I think there’s potential here, and I’m interested to see what is done with her—she seems very strong on the surface. She’ll be best in conjunction with other planeswalkers, sort of like a pseudo-Gideon, protecting them by taking attention away from them while they work.
If you’re in a metagame where Snapcaster Mage, Life from the Loam, or Dredge are the top dogs, it’s good. Otherwise it’s not all that impressive as a graveyard hate piece. Sure, it beats down, but it’s very fragile and only impacts a small fraction of the things you’re looking to shut down.
This is not the Cursecatcher you’re looking for. Despite the flying, having a useless creature type is a hurdle that’s too tall to jump over. The reason Cursecatcher is good isn’t because it’s a Daze on a stick, it’s because it’s a Daze on a stick that becomes a club in conjunction with all the Merfolk lords.
The first Ravnica set of the first Ravnica block gave us a multitude of cards that found a home in Legacy. Nearly the entire Dredge deck exists because of the set, and that’s merely scratching the surface of the impact it had on this format. While I don’t believe the Return to Ravnica will have the same per-capita effect on Legacy, it still has an unnaturally large percentage of cards that can potentially see play in Eternal Magic, and that’s always an exciting prospect.
Just like everyone else I know, this set has me buzzing to play in a way we’re all becoming more and more used to—which says a lot about the current direction of the game. Magic is better than it has ever been, and returning to Ravnica is something we’ve all wanted to do since we left it years ago.
The set has a little for everyone (except, perhaps, RUG—and I don’t think anyone is complaining about that), and I think we may see some old archetypes and cards popping back into the spotlight once again. Get excited about Legacy, folks. We’re headed into a very awesome time to be fetching dual lands.
While writing this article, Adam was listening to: RWake – Leviticus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnsjYTw9j6s)