As a hardcore spike, I’ve always loved cards that gave you choices, and split cards are the epitome of that. Back in the day, Fire // Ice was one of my favorite cards and I often splashed a tertiary color in my deck just to have access to both sides. As a result, I tend to fall in love with split cards whenever I see them previewed. In reality, they frequently end up disappointing me since the power level of cards overall is so much higher now, but with the Ravnica Allegiance split cards we really have a shot at a lot of them being playable. So I decided to rank each of the 10 split cards from worst to best.
#10: Repudiate // Replicate
Normally, I’d welcome a very narrow but randomly game-winning effect like Repudiate on a split card, but then the other side really has to deliver, and Replicate doesn’t. Neither part of this spell is particularly strong, and even together they seem too narrow to see any play. Unless a card with an incredible activated ability gets printed, I don’t see Repudiate // Replicate being good.
#9: Revival // Revenge
This is the toughest split card to evaluate for me, and the one I think I’m most likely to grossly misevaluate.
For this to be good, you really have to make good use of the Revival part, which is, on the surface, not a very strong card. You need to have a good selection of creatures to return to make up for the times when it’s dead. The one Orzhov deck that might make use of it is Vampires, since you get a couple of lords that might be worth returning (Legion Lieutenant and Mavren Fein), and then you can randomly cast the Revenge side for a big life swing. It is the kind of effect that can be incredibly good in the right spot.
Other than Orzhov, this card might see play in Rakdos (or Mardu if the decks go in this direction) as a mini Gruesome Menagerie, since you get to return Judith, The Scourge Diva, Plaguecrafter, or any sac outlet.
#8: Bedeck // Bedazzle
Bedeck // Bedazzle is really a one-sided card with a random bonus that you’ll sometimes trigger. There have been cards like Bedeck before that have seen play—Nameless Inversion, Spatial Contortion—so there’s at least precedent for a card like this.
In Standard, we have to see if Bedeck is better than the removal we can play. If you’re red, you can play, for example, Lightning Strike. Is Bedeck better? It depends on what’s giving you trouble. If you’re trying to find a way to kill Adanto Vanguard, then it very well might be. A U/R Drakes deck, for example, can play a couple of copies of Watery Grave and then play Bedeck as its 2-mana removal spell.
For black, the competition is mostly Cast Down. Cast Down doesn’t destroy Adanto Vanguard, but it destroys mostly everything else, and whatever Cast Down doesn’t hit is unlikely to be killed by Bedeck anyway. Given that Cast Down kills Drakes, I think it should generally have the edge over Bedeck.
Overall, my inclination is that Lightning Strike is better than Bedeck for red decks, even factoring in Adanto Vanguard, and that Cast Down is better than Bedeck for black decks (also factoring in Adanto Vanguard).
Of course, the card isn’t just Bedeck—there’s also the Bedazzle side. Most decks aren’t going to be interested in it, but it has some narrow applications, such as killing your opponent when they are at 2 life. If you have a B/G deck that can generate red mana, then you can also snipe off Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin or Adanto, The First Fort. Rakdos control decks are basically never a thing, but if they exist, then I think the second side can be helpful, since those decks usually have a hard time dealing with any utility lands in the late game.
#7: Consecrate // Consume
The left side of Consecrate is a role-player. Most of the time, it’s going to be a 2-mana cantrip that you can’t cast on turn 2, and that’s really bad. Sometimes you’ll snipe a Rekindling Phoenix or an Arclight Phoenix and then it’ll feel great, but that seems a bit too narrow to me. It’s the kind of effect I would like in a split card, assuming the other side does the heavy lifting.
The right side is a better card, but it really suffers from being a sorcery. It’s not really an edict, as you get to kill whatever is the most powerful, which is likely what you’d want to kill anyway, so I can see there being some applications here or there (killing a Carnage Tyrant and gaining 7? Not bad).
Overall, I think this can be a good card if:
- You’re having particular trouble with a specific graveyard strategy, or
- You’re having particular trouble with big creatures.
In all likelihood, for this to be good, either one has to be true by a lot (you lose every game to Arclight Phoenix or you lose every game to Carnage Tyrant), or both have to be true a little (you lose some games to graveyard but also want some removal and life gain). I don’t think it currently has a place because a sorcery is just too punishing, but the edict + life gain effect can be very powerful in the right spot, so I’m not ruling this out.
#6: Collision // Colossus
I rather like Collision // Colossus. The Colossus side of things is pretty close to playable (it’s very good with cards like Vine Mare), and a lot of the creatures that give a Gruul deck problems are flyers: Niv-Mizzet, Lyra, Aurelia, Doom Whisperer, Crackling Drake, Rekindling Phoenix (though it doesn’t deal permanently with this one, of course). I think the thing that’s holding this card back is that Kraul Harpooner is such a good combo with Rhythm of the Wild that most green decks will already have a lot of ways to deal with flyers and might not be interested in many more.
Instead, this might just become a sideboard card, especially for red decks that often have problems with the exact same type of card that mono-green does. If you’re playing a deck like Big Red, you can even cast the Colossus side of things with Treasures, and that’ll catch a lot of people off-guard.
#5: Warrant // Warden
Warrant // Warden is intriguing because the first side, Warrant, isn’t an effect blue normally gets. White decks have Seal Away, which is a good comparison (at least on defense), but it’s not common for a mono-blue or U/R deck to be able to deal with any attacking creature. Warrant also deals with Adanto Vanguard pretty well, and against these white decks sometimes it’s better to put their creature back on top than to kill it, since it’s going to be a bad draw.
Warden is not good, but it’s playable if you have nothing else going on. It doesn’t really function as a “card against aggro and card versus control” because people usually have 10 dead removal spells in their hand by the end of most control mirrors. They can just use one on the Sphinx, but having vigilance is nice if Seal Away is still the removal of choice. There will be definitely be spots where you tap 5 mana and cast Serra Angel, and it’s going to be great.
Warden also has the added benefit of being a kill condition with Teferi. Teferi is in itself a kill condition, but for time purposes it’s nice to have a card that’s capable of winning the game, and Warrant // Warden can do that.
I think the question with this card is mostly, “do you want Warrant?” If the answer is “no,” then you very likely do not want Warrant // Warden (aggressive decks do not want it). If you’re a slower deck and interested in the bounce effect, then you’ll make good use of Warden some small amount of the time, and this card will be good for you.
#4: Depose // Deploy
Some split cards require one side to do the heavy lifting, but I think both sides of Depose // Deploy are equally playable. Depose is a cantrip that you can’t always cast, but it can help avoid some damage or sneak some damage of your own through, and it’s the perfect card to have on a split card since the effect is randomly very good (such as when they leave a blocker up and suddenly you can attack with three things). Deploy is a little overcosted, but two flying tokens and 2+ life at instant speed is often going to be good, and the tokens play very well with cards like Legion’s Landing, Dovin, Grand Arbiter, and Karn, Scion of Urza. On power level alone this card isn’t great, but the synergies in blue-white currently make me think that a Dovin, Grand Arbiter deck is at least viable. At that point, it’s very likely to want Depose // Deploy, so it has a high chance of seeing play.
#3: Carnival // Carnage
This card is good because of its flexibility. Dealing 1 point of damage to a creature can be very good for killing Llanowar Elves, Runaway Steam-Kin, Jadelight Rangers with a trigger on the stack and any of White Weenie’s creatures, and the 1 damage to players helps trigger spectacle. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, you have a Blightning, which is great against slower decks. The problem with cards like Blightning is that they don’t help you when you fall behind, and they can be a bit clunky. Carnival // Carnage solves this because if they are running over you, then they might just have a 1-toughness creature. The fact that this can be a great card versus both sides of the spectrum, regardless of how the game is going, makes up for the fact that the Blightning side costs 1 more (plus Blightning is extremely good, so there’s room for it to be a little worse and still be OK).
#2: Thrash // Threat
Thrash // Threat is very good because both sides are very reasonable, and it does two things to green decks. The first is to give them a way to deal with planeswalkers. Cards like Teferi are a nightmare for green decks, and now you can Thrash them (bonus points if it’s with some hexproof card like Vine Mare). The second is to make sure you can play removal spells in your deck while still keeping your creature count high. Green decks in the past have mostly had mono-creatures, since they had cards like Ghalta or Vehicles that demanded you had a board presence, and with Thrash // Threat in your deck you can play removal for any potential annoying creature and still keep your threat density high, making sure that you don’t get flooded with inaction. A 4/4 trampler for 4 is nothing to write home about, but it’s still a very serviceable backup creature.
The biggest downside of Thrash // Threat, and the reason it’s not an automatic 4-of in all my Gruul decks to start (and not the #1 card in this list) is that it doesn’t work with Rhythm of the Wild. I expect Rhythm of the Wild to be the centerpiece of most Gruul strategies, and it doesn’t work on tokens, so all of a sudden you’re not getting exactly a 4/4 trampler for 4—you’re getting a worse card than that (since the 4/4 would have riot). I still think you should play a couple of Thrash // Threats, but it’s much worse than it could have been.
#1: Incubation // Incongruity
Incubation // Incongruity is fantastic. You really need to make the Incubation side work for it to be good, but if you get to play it, then you’re getting an already playable card and a ton of upside on top of it. Normally turning creatures into 3/3s for 3 mana isn’t a good thing, but when it’s good, it wins you the game. Imagine all the times that Rekindling Phoenix brickwalled your entire mono-green team and how that would change if you could have just turned it into a Frog Lizard instead.
Incubation is going to be best in decks that are looking for specific things at multiple points in the curve. For example, B/G Energy decks often played Adventurous Impulse, since it could get a turn-2 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner or Winding Constrictor, or a Walking Ballista or Verdurous Gearhulk in the late game. Obviously Incubation doesn’t get lands, so it’s not the same, and you do need a higher creature count (25 creatures is around 95% to hit), but it seems pretty appealing to me to have a card that can help you find, say, a Wildgrowth Walker on turn 2, a Jadelight Ranger on turn 3, or a Carnage Tyrant or Doom Whisperer later in the game. If you’re a U/G deck, you can also use it to find Frilled Mystic and counter something. By itself this effect might not be strong enough, but it’s at least really close, and when you add it to an exile removal spell later on, that pushes it over the top.
The other cool part about this card is that it’s an effect that blue normally doesn’t get access to. Does a blue but not green deck want this? I don’t know, but it’s possible! We’ve never had to even think about that because this type of thing just didn’t exist. Maybe there’s a deck that wants to find a Goblin Electromancer on turn 2 or a Crackling Drake turn 4? Maybe Mono-Blue Tempo wants more chances to find Tempest Djinn?
Incubation // Incongruity is very likely to see a lot of Standard play. Most U/G decks that are creature-based will want it. Merfolk, for example, or any U/G build that might appear and plays enough creatures to support it. Some non-U/G decks might also want it, especially if they can randomly cast the Pongify side.
So there you are! Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!