Hello, everyone! Just like Ravnica, I’m back! Skip to the bottom for my top 8 list! And let me know yours in the comments!
Today, we’ll be looking at the impact Guilds of Ravnica will have in Commander. Historically, Ravnica has been a slam-dunk set for EDH players. From its multicolor theme and phenomenal fixing to the various sweet generals the plane has gifted us, it’s easy to see why. Some of the greatest Ravnica hits we’ve enjoyed were goodies such as Privileged Position, Doubling Season, Grand Arbiter, Augustin IV, Aurelia, the Warleader, Signets, and of course, the shocklands. That’s going to be hard to top, but did they get close? We’ll see!
Quick disclaimer! For the most part, I will discuss cards for multiplayer, but I may touch on 1v1 in a few instances. Keep in mind that I approach EDH from a Spike’s perspective, so just because a card may not be alluring to me, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you. With that said, let’s jump-start right in.
Thumbs up for the fact that this card will almost always have a target at the table. It comes down early and can be revived for repeated use. Because many decks don’t get much use from the Grizzly Bear stats and because it takes a turn to activate, I would relegate this to decks like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and Karador, Ghost Chieftain.
Similar to a card like Dusk // Dawn or Retribution of the Meek, Citywide Bust is another attempt at a conditional sweeper that only hits larger targets. If you have a deck with lots of tokens or small creatures, Citywide Bust is a fine, if unreliable addition. Not a total bust but not a boom either.
Similar in effect and power level to Return to Dust, this spell is easier on your mana but loses the flexibility of being able to target two of the same permanent type. It’s unexciting and not always an upgrade, but I find it hard to imagine a game of EDH where there aren’t ample targets.
Dawn of Hope
Part Mobilization, part Well of Lost Dreams, this enchantment takes a lot of mana to keep churning. With this in mind, Dawn of Hope is in a color that often finds itself lacking in pure card advantage. Being both a mana sink and an enabler for life gain/tokens is appealing, I would consider this in a deck like Oloro, Ageless Ascetic, Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice, or Karlov of the Ghost Council.
For token decks, this card truly is divine. Once convoke was spoiled as a mechanic for Guilds of Ravnica, tokens were on the edge of their seats for cards like this. You’ll need to have a seriously dedicated token strategy to include this somewhat clunky spell. Luckily, it only has the one-time awkward 5 mana cost to pay for it and doesn’t require further setup. Perfect for Trostani, Rhys, the Redeemed, and Hazezon Tamar.
Mission Briefing is flexible, if a bit dull. Due to this flexibility, this card is well-suited for 1v1 and competitive environments where versatility and value reign supreme over flashy effects and game enders.
Consider this sweet line—Insidious Dreams (either discarding a fatty or tutoring one up) finding Reanimate, Mission Briefing into the Reanimate, and surveilling the creature right into the bin. Not even Snapcaster Mage can pull something like that off. This card should find a home in combo decks such as Mono-Blue High Tide and control decks that eke value out through attrition. I doubt this card’s mission will be brief, and we’ll see this card as a roleplayer for years to come.
This creature can be quite adept at casting Enter the Infinite. Nothing else matters to me—I just want discounted “I win now, please” cards to work with this. With the 5 mana required to get her onto the battlefield, coupled with the fact that she requires a bit of setup, I wouldn’t be happy unless I was reaping a huge reward. There is also a good chance that either she (or you) may not live to untap with her.
This little burglar is a BIG upgrade on Ravenous Rats. While I don’t expect this to see widespread play(gue), I do think it’s great in decks like Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and as sacrifice fodder for decks looking to get value.
Speaking of sacrifice fodder in decks looking to get lots of value, here we have an almost strict upgrade on classic EDH staples Fleshbag Marauder and Merciless Executioner. It’s exciting to have another creature like this to add to Karador and Savra’s already impressive repertoire. If you always find yourself happy drawing Executioner/Fleshbag, I suggest adding Plaguecrafter to your deck alongside them, rather than simply replacing them. Though if you just play one now, I think this is an easy upgrade.
Most decks aren’t in the market for big stat monsters like Doom Whisperer, but the manaless, repeatable activated ability is certainly very intriguing. It certainly isn’t impossible to find a spot to just dump 8-16 cards into your graveyard to use, making this an excellent enabler in addition to being a strong monster in combat. The higher life total of EDH makes this effect even more potent, though your deck won’t be as perfectly streamlined as it is in Constructed, which negates that a bit. Also, the name is great and things with tons of arms are always especially creepy.
At first Gruesome Menagerie seemed like a pure gimmick. Upon further evaluation, it still is pretty gimmicky but at least after you can mill your whole library with Cephalid Illusionist or Hermit Druid and you can cast it targeting Laboratory Maniac, Grand Abolisher, and Hapless Researcher. Dread Return is probably better on Angel of Glory’s Rise, though.
Though Grim Tutor would have been a widely appreciated reprint, I guess Mausoleum Secrets will have to hold us over. Some of the most powerful black cards in the format such as Entomb, Reanimate, and Doomsday have low CMCs. Because of this, Mausoleum Secrets should be able to snag something of use even with minimal graveyard commitments.
Let’s just take a moment to consider Mausoleum Secrets if it did not have the color restriction. What a different world we’d live in.
This is easier to cast than Dark Prophecy and it triggers off its own death unlike Grim Haruspex. Combine that with a better creature type, and you have the makings of a solid EDH roleplayer card in Midnight Reaper. Tribute granted.
Many people are excited by a card like this. I am not one of them, personally, but if you want to do the whole “look at me, I’m casting Future Sight and stuff instead of straight winning somehow,” here you go. I do like how this is finally a mono-red card that can destroy an enchantment. (shrugging emoji girl)
Goblin Cratermaker is a solid addition for any and all Goblin tribal decks. I can envision this seeing play in some competitive Duel Commander lists as well due to its flexibility.
Somebody much smarter than I should be able to find a way to throw this into some heavy-red storm concoction and totally break this. That being said, I still doubt we will see much of this in Commander, but you never know—this elemental could runaway with things.
Glimpse of Nature on a stick! Beast Whisperer is a nice target for Green Sun’s Zenith and Survival of the Fittest, and being an Elf is just another nice bonus. Beast Whisperer will slot in quite nicely to decks like Ezuri Elfball and perhaps even Animar, Soul of Elements.
Here’s a nice little addition for Commander players! If you’re already playing with Explosive Vegetation, here’s another copy. You probably know by now, but Gates are some of the first cards I recommend cutting from your Commander decks for other options (even if they’re low budget as well), but the fact that Circuitous Route can grab them does make it technically an upgrade to Vegetation. Don’t look at the fact that this card can grab Gates as a reason to include them, even one single copy. We can find a better route.
Before we talk about the merits of this card, I must point out its art resemblance to Ishkanah. Seriously, google it!
As for the card, although the cast trigger is nice versus counterspells, it does mean that it isn’t repeatable with something like Roon of the Hidden Realm or Riku of Two Reflections. That makes this a bit of a commitment for a relatively small/swingy payoff. Hatch your plans elsewhere.
Urban Utopia is similar to Nylea’s Presence, and could pop-up in an Estrid, the Masked Commander list. That’s about it, though. Don’t be tempted to try mana fixing like this otherwise—they aren’t worth the tempo loss.
Another set, another solid Buy-a-Box promo.
Okay, let’s not kid anyone—Impervious Greatwurm isn’t even close to the power level of Nexus of Fate, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t hold its own. This style and power level are what I would expect of a BaB promo—not good enough for Constructed but flashy and playable in formats like EDH.
Miles (literally) better than Autochthon Wurm, this beefy beast is a solid payoff for when you just want to bash face. It isn’t incredibly elegant, but victory will taste extra delicious.
Bang! You’re dead. Yes, that means even you, random land lying there. Assassin’s Trophy is an incredibly powerful multi-format staple that everyone should own some copies of. I’ll even go out and say that every black-green+ Commander deck should include this card, even combo decks. Being able to hit any target at instant speed for a minimal drawback is almost unheard of. If Anguished Unmaking and Putrefy see the play statistics they do (over 30% inclusion rate), expect Assassin’s Trophy to be absolutely no different. Even with the questionable choice of lexicon when casting it. I’ve personally chosen “atrophy”, but we’ll see how it develops over time.
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
She’s a solid roleplayer in Boros decks that centralize around combat. Okay, let’s admit it—that’s EVERY Boros deck ever. Aurelia comes down relatively early and has a repeatable and immediate effect. This is a good enough ability for her rate.
This card is like a fixed Sphinx’s Revelation for Selesnya. No, I would never include this in a deck that had access to black or blue’s card advantage suite, but Camaraderie serves a solid role in decks that don’t have many ways to replenish their resources. Its largest downside is that it requires you to currently have a substantial board and then tap out for a 6 mana sorcery. If you follow some logic, if you already have a substantial board, you may be doing well already. That means this card will be dead if you draw or top deck when you’re in the hole. And while it may help you draw cards that close out the game, it doesn’t do it by itself.
And would it be too much to ask for this spell to have convoke?
Emmara, Soul of the Accord
This chord isn’t calling me. Emmara is fairly bland and generic. Even the art feels digital and uninspired to me. This card feels like a bomb uncommon in Limited rather than a card to build an EDH deck around. Don’t be allured by the “freeness” of her ability. Rhys, the Redeemed is so much more rewarding and fun.
Etrata, the Silencer
Awesome art – check
Alternate wincon – check
Fun to build around? – um, maybe?
At this point I have a very long and unwieldy backlog of cool Commanders to try and build around. I guess that’s a good thing though, right? As for this one, Etrata can throw herself right back into the command zone after triggering her ability, which eliminates the need to go search her out. She does come with the problem of needing to recast and wait another turn to smack someone around. She also has the downside of making you a huge target at your table.
If you’re bringing her to your table, I would make sure to include Geode Golem, Helm of the Host, and Lightning Greaves at the bare minimum. You’ll also want to include some cards to give your opponent creatures in case they wise up and stop deploying them into Etrata. Swan Song and Forbidden Orchard can fill that slot. If you successfully kill the entire table with her ability, just make sure to get lots of high fives. Like seriously, leave the table, find some people who have never even seen a Magic card before, and explain to them what just happened. DO IT!
To wipe out three other players with this single-handedly you will need to have cast 24 instant/sorceries and have 48 mana available to you. Hmmmm **thinking emoji ** I really wish the activated abilities didn’t have mana requirements. Then we’d be cooking with fire.
Sweet artwork and a powerful, easily abused ETB ability. Izoni practically casts Spider Spawning (good times) when you play her, and the value doesn’t stop there. She comes equipped with a way to turn excess creatures (that she just made) into life and cards. Sacrificing actual creatures to her ability also fuels her ETB to create more little critters. The circle of life never ends with Izoni, and though she has quite a prohibitive casting cost, she is a Golgari slam dunk. It doesn’t take a thousand eyes to see the writing on this wall.
Knight of Autumn
Prepare yourself to see this card often. Cube, Modern, and Commander always appreciate the printing of cards like Knight of Autumn, and although the flexibility of the abilities is lost a bit in Commander, another copy of Reclamation Sage is 100% always welcome.
Lazav, the Multifarious
Something about this card feels as though it should have been in Unstable or Battlebond. As it stands, Lazav is an interesting build-around general that already has some hype built up behind him. Phyrexian Dreadnought has even climbed up a notch in price because honestly, who doesn’t want to make their general a 12/12 for just 1 mana?
Lazav comes into play early, which frees up your mana to set up your graveyard for him. Wouldn’t you love to attack someone with this and throw a Phage the Untouchable into the bin at instant speed with Entomb? Get your Cephalid Inkshrouders out and ready! We’ve got some fariousin’ to do.
March of the Multitudes
March of the Multitudes is a riff on cards like Decree of Justice and Secure the Wastes. If you have a token deck and are playing G/W, this is a respectable include as a one-card army in a can that both sets up your army and presses your advantage if you already have one. Careful though—it’s a little all-in to chain spells like these. But token decks can’t be scared about little ole wraths, can they?
Yawgmoth’s Win for your opponents’ graveyards? Now you’ve piqued my interest. Mnemonic Betrayal rewards you more if the rest of the table is playing powerful decks and you can take advantage of one big turn. It’s not a guarantee that your opponent’s graveyards are filled with Lotus Petals and Dark Rituals. This card could be a solid late game finisher a la cards like Villainous Wealth or Rise of the Dark Realms.
Holy mana costs, Batman! What on Earth is happening with Niv’s new mana cost? It’s somehow even harder to cast than his predecessors, and that’s saying something. You’ll need access to all seven fetchlands possible, as well as a Steam Vents, Volcanic Island, City of Brass, Tarnished Citadel, and Mana Confluence if you want to consistently cast this bad boy. Don’t even think about playing any colorless utility lands.
As far as the card goes, Niv-Mizzet, Parun combos with dozens of cards from Curiosity to Dramatic Reversal/Isochron Scepter. He also serves as a combo enabler and it’s easy to storm off consistently once he hits play. I think powerful things can be done with Niv, but his mana cost is far harder to achieve on curve than one might originally think. Keranos, God of Storms has a new best friend though.
Ral, Izzet Viceroy
Ral’s +1 is similar to Teferi, Temporal Archmage’s, so that’s pretty solid for a 5-drop planeswalker. His -3 ability is costly and requires some setup to properly protect him. His ultimate is strong, but it’s unlikely your table will allow his ultimate to pop.
Overall, Ral, Izzet Viceroy is bland and uninspiring for Commander.
Tajic, Legion’s Edge
Mark of Asylum in the command zone. Interesting, but he doesn’t do anything against the more common board sweepers of the format. And if you play your own Earthquake effects he’ll still die to them. I expect Tajic to see plenty of play in Standard, as well as Duel Commander since those formats have a lower life total and more damage-based removal.
Thief of Sanity
This card is a sweet, sweet child o’ mine. The thief is an easier to cast Nightveil Specter that gives you selection over the top three in exchange for being unable to play lands. Being able to cast cards for any color is something we shouldn’t overlook. I don’t know how much better Thief of Sanity is than Shadowmage Infiltrator, but I suspect many will give it a test run. The name is certainly apt, as this card will steal your sanity after a few hits.
6 mana is a lot. But Thousand-Year Storm has a ridiculous scaling power level and it would be trivial to get your mana’s worth from it once you resolve it and get to work casting spells. I suspect Melek, Mizzix, and Jeleva decks will have an easy time breaking this card wide open when they resolve it. I can’t even imagine how dumb this is with extra turn effects. GG.
Cards like Thousand-Year Storm are why we all pack enchantment removal in EDH.
Trostani will be quite the powerhouse in Limited, but this card won’t be able to hold its own in Commander. There are just so many better options for an anthem like Mirari’s Wake. The Brooding Saurian effect is interesting, but overall just not powerful enough to be much of a build-around incentive.
Indestructible is a powerful keyword ability especially when it comes at the low cost of some life in a 40-life format. Though admittedly it isn’t a blue card, Underrealm Lich’s replacement ability is very powerful, and can be used to great effect as an excellent graveyard enabler despite its expensive mana cost. Damia, Sage of Stone will appreciate this card to sculpt that absolutely perfect hand.
Vraska, Golgari Queen
Vraska is a planeswalker whose ultimate you want to chase immediately. Sadly, she does not insta-ult with Doubling Season (on purpose maybe? Probably.), so it’s going to be a long grind to tick her up over the turns while the table takes shots at her. Her first and second abilities are fine, if unexciting, for a 4-drop planeswalker. As time goes on, there are just more and more powerful planeswalkers being printed. Competition is stiff, and I think she, like Ral, Izzet Viceroy, are forgettable and mediocre.
Connive // Concoct
Don’t underestimate mind control effects that don’t leave behind a vulnerable enchantment. After stealing a general with this, your opponent will have to jump through hoops to kill their own card just to replay it later. Concoct is a bit overcosted, but a solid late-game spell when you’ve used up the utility of Connive.
Let me take a moment to say that I really dislike the naming convention on these split cards.
Response // Resurgence
This spell should be included primarily for the Resurgence half. It’s a potential game ender in decks like Gisela, Blade of Goldnight and Aurelia, the Warleader. Even a deck like Narset, Enlightened Master can use this and don’t forget, you can still use Response in a pinch. It does make me sad that the card called “Response” isn’t a blue one. #Missedopportunities
Status // Statue
Status is just a bit too cute, but Statue does a solid Putrefy/Mortify impersonation. If you don’t have white’s color identity for Anguished Unmaking/Utter End, Statue is a solid, versatile removal spell that would probably be getting more discussion if not for Assassin’s Trophy.
I wouldn’t rush to include this in many EDH decks, just the ones where you can make use of the actual +1/+1 counter (not just the menial buff). Experiment Kraj, Animar, Soul of Elements, Karlov of the Ghost Council, and Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter all come to mind.
Top 8 Picks From Guilds of Ravnica
Guilds of Ravnica has an abundance of excellent build-around generals, as well as some solid role-players. Which cards are you excited to try out? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading, and until next time, don’t forget to pay for your (guild)pacts.