Strong removal spells like Doom Blade and Terminate have historically played major roles in determining the best decks in past Standard formats, and an uncommon out of Guilds of Ravnica has a chance to be a truly impactful removal spell in this one.
This card should draw obvious comparisons to Terminate, but with a drawback. A 2-mana instant speed removal spell is strong, but having to spend two different colors is a clear downside. Not being able to kill everything would often be the death blow to a spell that already has color restrictions.
The way Standard looks to be shaping up, however, the percentage of relevant creatures Justice Strike kills is absurdly high. It would be a major drawback if you couldn’t kill some of the early creatures aggro decks put on the table, but with Soul-Scar Mage and Kari Zev rotating out of Standard, that’s just not the issue it might have been. Even Mono-Blue Aggro will loses Slither Blade for Mist-Cloaked Herald!
A removal spell that, for 2 mana, can kill both a Llanowar Elves and a Ghalta, Primal Hunger, should be eye opening. While there are a few choice targets you can’t hit out of a green deck, such as Thrashing Brontodon and maybe Druid of the Cowl, the fact remains that spending 2 mana to kill your opponent’s important early and late game is huge.
A dead removal spell against control decks is a pretty big drawback, but I’m not sure that will be the case here either. Sure, if they’re creatureless, then Justice Strike might not do anything, but that was going to be true of any removal spell. It kills Nicol Bolas, Lyra Dawnbringer, and Doom Whisperer. Control decks just lost access to The Scarab God, which could have recovered from this, and Torrential Gearhulk, which could have survived it. In their place, a card like Dream Eater should see a lot of play, and the big flyer does not survive a Justice Strike.
Justice Strike being in Boros colors should lead to some new archetypes, as well as just slotting into Boros aggro decks. I expect Boros midrange to be a real player, as well as Jeskai Control making a comeback. Deafening Clarion provides a cheap sweeper for the R/W colors, as well as some potential additional utility in gaining you some life should the situation arise. Giving these decks the Doom Blade they’ve needed goes a long way.
There are definitely going to be situations where Justice Strike doesn’t get the job done, but they’re on the rare side. Not being able to kill an Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice is painful, but it does open up a bit of an odd combo in decks where you’re playing your own Aurelia. With Aurelia and Lyra Dawnbringer in play, you can potentially Justice Strike your own Aurelia and use the lifelink granted by Lyra to gain a bit of life. It’s a corner-case, but it’s there!
While Justice Strike may not be Doom Blade, it’s going to be super close in Standard. Boros is most definitely back!