Finally, we have a preview of Guilds of Ravnica. There are a lot of powerful options for Standard, and some cards even bridge into other formats. Some of them may not quite hit the mark, though. Let’s see which cards are a hit, and which won’t make the cut.
Assassin’s Trophy: Hit
Let’s get started with one of the more important cards spoiled so far, Assassin’s Trophy. Don’t get it twisted: Assassin’s Trophy is going to be a cross-format staple. In fact, the older the format, the better. As a Standard card, however, its downside is huge. Casting it early could result in a planeswalker like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Vraska, Relic Seeker coming in ahead of schedule.
That said, the later the game goes, the better Assassin’s Trophy is. Casting it in the opponent’s end step will be a sequence to start getting used to. Let the opponent commit to using their mana, and then cast Assassin’s Trophy so that they don’t get another full turn of extra mana. This, at times, may mean it’s correct to take an extra hit from a creature you plan to destroy. At times, the loss of life will be worth the tempo advantage.
Assassin’s Trophy is going to have a huge impact on Modern. In fact, my pet Modern deck, as you may know, is Hollow One. I’m already splashing green for Ancient Grudge in the sideboard, and adding a pair of Trophies to the deck seems like a great place to immediately start upon the set’s release.
Assassin’s Trophy solves a ton of issues in Modern all rolled into one card. Urza’s lands, Ensnaring Bridge, Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, and Baneslayer Angel are all cards Hollow One would greatly benefit from having answers to, among many others. With access to this card, I can play a versatile answer and bring it in most matchups post-board when they bring in their problematic permanents.
Jund obviously receives a huge boost. As someone who loves a good Jund deck in Modern, one of the issues the deck has always had was lining up answers with threats, and overall, just having a ton of sideboard slots used up with versatile options to replace dead cards in the main deck. Game 1s you’d often have something too low impact and need to swap it out. Assassin’s Trophy is good in almost every matchup, so it’s not a card you’ll have to frequently remove from your deck like Abrupt Decay or Terminate. This means you can devote sideboard slots to more high impact and narrow sideboard cards.
Assassin’s Trophy is the truth, and it will see play in most decks that can cast it. I’m fairly surprised they printed a card this flexible as it will potentially be a staple in all decks that can cast it in every format and restrict deck construction across all formats for a long time. Basically, it’s going to be tough to not just throw four of these into a deck and consider other cards. Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse’s stock is going way down after this one’s release. But also, how is a card going to get much better than this in the future to break into Eternal formats? I like Assassin’s Trophy, but somehow for once I’m hoping it plays out worse than it looks.
Legion Warboss: Hit
This card closely resembles Goblin Rabblemaster and can get out of control quickly and I expect it to see a ton of play in Standard. Legion Warboss’s biggest downside by comparison is that it’s worse in combat. Goblin Rabblemaster has the ability to generate some tokens, and then punch through a card like Siege Rhino, forcing the opponent to trade down. Legion Warboss, while able to grow tokens it creates, can’t move into combat effectively against a 3-toughness creature that can kill it in combat. This means that decks playing the Warboss will be more effective when backed up with a lot of removal to make sure that the opponent’s battlefield is empty. It definitely will snowball if left unchecked, so I suspect that it will play a role in red aggressive decks in Standard, but it’s definitely worse than Goblin Rabblemaster in Eternal formats. I suspect that we won’t be seeing much of Legion Warboss outside of Standard.
Dream Eater: Miss
This card is interesting. Flash threats are powerful and can make combat a nightmare for opponents, but Dream Eater isn’t large enough to come down and ambush much in combat. Surveil 4 gets you deep into your deck, and bouncing any permanent means that you get some of your mana investment back, forcing your opponent to recast that spell. Dream Eater is tough to evaluate, but I think that it will overall be a miss in Standard if there isn’t a good reason to want to mill yourself up to four cards and exploit graveyard strategies. I don’t think jump-start cards are quite enough value either.
6 mana is a lot, and while this has a lot of relevant abilities, I don’t see it fitting into Teferi, Hero of Dominaria decks all that well as they don’t really want to play low-toughness creatures that can turn on an opponent’s Lightning Strike. While I hope this card plays out better than it looks, because I’d love to play Magic where a card like this is playable, I just don’t see it right now. 6 mana is just too much.
March of the Multitudes: Hit
Wow, this is a weird one. A Selesnya Sphinx’s Revelation of sorts, March of Multitudes can generate a huge swing in races, and in multiples gets disgusting. You can cast one copy for 7, leave a green mana open, then cast another for 5 on the same turn. This gets even better if you untap and wait a turn.
They work well in multiples, and in decks focused on casting this card for a bunch it will be potent. I’m worried that cards like this are easily nullified if Goblin Chainwhirler is still easily played and while we don’t know enough red cards in this set to see how deep the color will be yet, I suspect that March of Multitudes will see some play potentially in a deck with Huatli, Radiant Champion as the pair work quite well together if you can get into the late game.
Shalai, Voice of Plenty also feels excellent in this kind of shell as the premier sweeper at the moment is likely Settle the Wreckage and you can set up a big March of the Multitudes, then slam Shalai, Voice of Plenty to turn off Settle the Wreckage from your opponent by giving yourself hexproof. Emmara, Soul of the Accord fits right at home in this kind of deck, and I suspect we’ll see that card alongside March of the Multitudes.
I’m excited to see how deep the convoke mechanic can go in Guilds of Ravnica, and what creatures will be around to support the mechanic.
Ral, Izzet Viceroy: Miss
While there are some similarities between this and other 5-mana planeswalkers that can interact with creatures for -3 loyalty and draw cards for +1, Ral is no Teferi. Teferi doesn’t require setup to interact with an opponent’s creature, and Teferi can interact with noncreature permanents as well. You also get 2 mana back on your investment with Teferi, whereas you will be left tapped out with Ral. Ral could have a place in a U/R all-spells deck, but I don’t think that it’s quite strong enough to warrant building around when we already have Teferi, Hero of Dominaria that is better on its face than Ral after setup.
While I think that Ral is a sweet card, it’s just competing with what may go down as the best planeswalker of all time, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, in a format that has good mana for Jeskai with Steam Vents, Sacred Foundry, and Glacial Fortress.