Welcome to the conclusion of my Return to Ravnica set review. As usual, this review was a lengthy affair, partially due to such things as a team Grand Prix and flying to San Jose. Reviewing every card does take some time, especially when you have to think of incredibly clever/horrible puns for most of them, but it’s time to wrap things up.
All the Keyrunes are reasonably interesting in Constructed, serving as both mana and threats. This isn’t one of the ones with the most impressive creature form, but if there’s a deck that wants a 3-mana accelerator, this could be a part of it.
Azorius is one of the decks where I like having a Keyrune, and a 2/2 flier is exactly what Azorius is usually looking for. If your mana is perfect and your curve is low, maybe you leave this out, but it hasn’t happened yet for me.
With the state of dual lands that currently exists, there really isn’t a reason to play this over the appropriate Keyrune. I certainly appreciate being able to cast quad-colored spells of multiple colors at the same time, but any deck that could really abuse this also wouldn’t be able to cast spells without it.
I’m much less enamored with this than you’d think. Much like I mentioned under the Constructed portion, any deck that needs this will have problems functioning without it, so I wouldn’t advise relying too much on the fixing it provides.
This is a Bonesplitter at best, and Bonesplitter isn’t exactly a Constructed superstar.
Aggressive decks appreciate this, and as long as you have at least four or five early drops that get +2/+0, this does its civic duty admirably. I do see people play this in decks where they shouldn’t, so be sure you actually are aggressive and want a power boost. Evasion definitely plays into that, and putting this in Selesnya and Golgari is usually a mistake.
I can’t imagine the beast of a deck that wants this, but I look forward to finding out.
I like this Keyrune more than most, since letting your land trade for any ground guy is definitely something I’d be interested in. Going late, this could let you play more lands in a controlling deck, while still having lategame gas.
The Keyrunes are extremely on-flavor for their guilds, with a 2/2 deathtouch being exactly the kind of grindy card that most Golgari decks are looking for.
The colors on this Keyrune are better than most, with blue-red being a good color combination and one that traditionally lacks mana acceleration/fixing. Unfortunately, the actual creature is easily the worst of all the Keyrunes, though if you are wiping their board often enough, looting is kind of sweet.
While I do play this most of the time, the 2/1 being anemic and Izzet being the worst of the guilds dampens my enthusiam for this card.
From the school of overrated hate cards comes Pithing Needle, which almost always trades for half a card. I don’t mean to keep needling those who like this type of card, but it’s rare that this does what you really want it to do. The only time I remember being happy with this is when I’ve named Bazaar of Baghdad, though it is more interesting now that Planeswalkers seem to be making a resurgence.
Barring the double Jace deck, you really shouldn’t be siding this in.
As has already been demonstrated, a 3/1 first striker is no joke. Rakdos Keyrune does exactly what manlands are supposed to do, and throws in a bit of acceleration to boot.
Even though most Rakdos decks don’t want acceleration, this beats down way too well to leave it out. It’s no coincidence that the guild that least wants to ramp also gets the actual best Keyrune.
A 3/3 is nothing to sneeze at, even if it’s the most vanilla of them all. Green does have so many options for ramping that a 3-mana one isn’t likely to be the best, but this is still a built in 2-for-1.
The only thing I don’t like about this card is that it’s a 3/3 that isn’t a Centaur. I get that it’s a Watchwolf, but it still feels weird to have multiple 3/3’s of different types. Also, as you can tell by this being the prime complaint about the card, it’s quite excellent in Limited.
Unless the land-Aura deck becomes a real threat, the streets shall remain unswept.
The ability is obviously a joke, but sometimes you do need a 4/6 for six. It isn’t exceedingly often, but it does happen.
Tablet of the Guilds
Surprisingly, the build-your-own Demon’s Horn is about as bad as the originals.
This was cast against me today in a booster draft. It was not very effective. The only time I can imagine sideboarding this in is against a hyper-aggressive Rakdos deck with a ton of burn spells, and even then only if I have enough spells that gain me 2 per casting.
I sincerely hope this isn’t good enough for Constructed. Literally flipping coins to determine games isn’t what I signed up for, and none of the things this does are unobtainable if that’s what you really want.
Limited: 1.0…or 3.0, or maybe 4.0?
Seriously, I have no idea how good this card is. I think it’s closer to a 2.5-3.5 than lower, but suspect it’s at its best in aggressive decks. While you clearly don’t want to get your board wiped, this does make it hard for the opponent to play around, and they will often take 4-8 damage just to avoid the flips. It’s funny that you don’t necessarily want to win or lose any given flip, with the most often scenario being that you are happy if it survives and happy if it explodes, only losing out when it dies and doesn’t go off.
It hasn’t come to the point where dual land number 9-12 is necessary, and I doubt we’ll be there anytime soon.
The value of these varies wildly, not by color but by deck type. Once you add the third color, or particularly brutal color requirements, the value of the Guildgates go up dramatically. If you are straight 2-colors, you don’t usually need the Gates that badly, and the more aggressive you are, the worse the Gates get.
In a shock to no one, these are all back. They are among the best duals ever printed for Constructed, and certainly make casting spells easier in Standard. They do imply that fetchlands won’t be coming back for a while, but that is well worth the cost.
These are basically just Gates, with the vast majority of their selections in draft based on price, not actual utility. They clearly do what you want, but aren’t anything too special.
Grove of the Guardian
This isn’t a manland, this is a god-land. 8/8 is huge, and even if it takes a little work, it’s definitely exciting. It doesn’t play like manlands normally do, which is to provide action after you run out, but it does make your best draws better. If you can populate once or twice, the more the better.
While I doubt you will be tricking anyone with this, there isn’t much they can do to stop an 8/8 anyway. Populating this is awesome too, even if it’s a bit excessive.
You know the best way to make your creatures unblockable in Constructed? Kill all of their creatures.
Not every deck is going to want this, but it will be excellent in the ones that do. It’s at its best in Golgari, decent in Selesnya and Rakdos, and usually pretty bad in Azorius or Izzet. In the green decks, it’s a finisher for after the board stalls, and in the red deck it’s used to force the last five points of damage through.
Despite Rupture Spire seeing vague amounts of play in Block, the shockland cycle does away with Transguild Promenade’s chances this time around.
I like this card, but limit it to three-color decks without a ton of 2-drops. When you want this, it’s going to be great, but you won’t want it all that often. PV in particular hates this card, and wouldn’t let us play any during the team GP.
Since I somehow left off the Limited rating for this card, let me explain how awesome it is. It’s a great Giant Growth, a great removal spell, and a decent (if unexciting) way to make a token. Selesnya got the lion’s share of uncommons, with the best Charm, the best Guildmage, and an incredibly synergistic Watchwolf.
Leaving this off wasn’t some sort of racket, it was just a reflection of how unexciting this is.
If you need a 3-drop, this does the trick. Looting once isn’t the worst, but a random 2/1 isn’t quite worth a card either, making this just passable.
Wrapping Things Up
Now that we have fully returned to Ravnica, what sort of impact are we looking at for Constructed formats? There are definitely a ton of interesting things going on, and Standard looks to be pretty sweet. Granted, new formats usually do, but RtR seems like it’s going to have a bigger impact than the single set usually does on a full format.
Top 10 Constructed Cards
I left the shocklands off the list, since they would rightfully occupy the top slot otherwise. This is an exciting collection of cards, and there are certainly plenty that could make it on to the list if one so desired. As the format matures, I’ll be exploring most of these, often in combination with each other.
For older formats, RtR has a decent impact, with a few cards providing niche answers here and there. As for Modern, we shall see in a week…