Previous Ravnica Allegiance Reviews
Before I introduce the grading scale, I offer the usual caveat—the grades don’t tell the whole story, and what I write about each card provides context.
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Collected Company. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Radiant Flames. Shambling Vent.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Zulaport Cutthroat. Explosive Vegetation.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Anticipate. Transgress the Mind.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, the Living Guildpact. Naturalize. Duress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
Any creature that costs a single blue mana is worth looking at, thanks to Curious Obsession, and Benthic Biomancer even gives you a loot when you adapt it. This is still not quite enough stats to get me there, but remember that this is a Merfolk—that always goes a long way when you are looking at whether cheap creatures are good enough.
Clear the Mind
Cards like Clear the Mind only see play rarely, but when they do, they are critical. Elixir of Immortality is an example, and this draws a card instead of giving you 5 life, which is not a bad exchange. Nexus of Fate preventing decking makes this less likely to clear the bar, but any card that allows for infinite recursion is worth keeping in mind.
A strict upgrade for Essence Scatter in mono-blue is exciting, especially because that’s the exact deck that has cheap creatures and very much cares about the +1/+1 counter. Any amount of extra pressure that deck can get is welcome, and this captures the essence of the mono-blue beatdown experience to a T. This won’t displace Scatter in control decks, or decks with more than one color, but it’s a nice upgrade here.
Mono-blue is a sweet deck. It makes a lot of otherwise-bad cheap blue cards into role-players, and Faerie Duelist is one of them. Faerie Duelist snaps off mono-red, eats a Viashino Pyromancer or Fanatical Firebrand if they attack, and gives you another way to keep mana up but still add to the board if needed. I don’t see this making a huge impact outside of that, but in mono-blue this looks to be worth a slot or two (more if mono-red is wildly popular).
I love me a Scroll Thief, and sneaking in for unblockable action when you play a Gate is a solid bonus. I do think Constructed is fast enough these days that Gateway Sneak isn’t exactly where you want to be, but as a sideboard card out of a control deck it could do some work.
6 mana for one creature is not a good rate, but two for 8 mana is more what I’m interested in. Hydroid Krasis eats this card’s lunch, as that’s a better X-spell, but if there’s a matchup that goes long and has a lot of creatures, Mass Manipulation could be an interesting bit of tech.
Mesmerizing Benthid is a powerful card, though it’s not trivial to find exactly where it fits. I like it in a matchup full of ground creatures, as it defends you very well, and ideally gives you time to ramp to a big Hydroid Krasis. Hexproof does mean it also has applications against control, though Carnage Tyrant already means that control decks are well-suited to deal with this kind of threat.
Meme Potential: 5.0
If you want to make a sick Advisor deck with 30 of these, go nuts. It sounds fun, even if it’s not the most effective.
There are a lot of good instants floating around these days, and Precognitive Perception is one of them. It sees six cards on your main phase, and is always +2 cards, which is a lot for 5 mana. If you’ve already maxed Chemister’s Insight, this is a great place to turn, and it pairs nicely with Wilderness Reclamation to boot.
My first thought with Pteramander was how it could fit into Modern or Legacy, but it’s actually making a bit of a splash in Standard. It’s good in both U/R Drakes and Mono-Blue, as it’s a cheap evasive creature that can turn into a monster when you need it to. I’m not sold on its effectiveness in older formats yet, though being a blue card does give it an edge over Gurmag Angler (its closest competition).
Constructed: 2.5 (begrudgingly)
Look, I will admit, Quench is good enough. It gives control decks a 2-drop counter and helps them interact early. I also don’t think Mana Leak should have been reprinted, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel the pain of how much worse this is.
Shimmer of Possibility
There’s a possibility this sees some play, even at sorcery speed. It does look at a lot of cards, so my first impulse would be to try it in tapout control or combo decks—I don’t anticipate Shimmer of Possibility being good in Teferi Control with a bunch of counterspells.
Sphinx of Foresight
Scry 3 at the start of the game is a unique ability, though I don’t think Sphinx of Foresight quite gets across the finish line. A 4/4 flyer for 4 has been proven time and time again to not be good enough, and my incredible powers of foresight lead me to believe this won’t be bucking the trend.
We are rich in 3 mana counters with upside, and milling the opponent for 3 is on the low end of that range. In fact, it’s more likely to be a downside, making Thought Collapse a niche card for some kind of bizarre mill deck at best.
Applied Biomancy has way more applications in Limited, but in a U/G Tempo deck this could be a cute way to win combats and stay ahead on board. It’s cheap, and that always helps get somewhat niche cards into decks.
The best use of Biomancer’s Familiar I can see is Growth-Chamber Guardian, which is already good on its own. Making it adapt for 1 mana is exciting, and helps chain multiple in the same turn. Past that, you’ve got Sharktocrab and Zegana, which is a decent start.
I am frilled to get Mystic Snake back, as it always made cool decks possible. This gives blue-green midrange decks a powerful tool against control and other midrange, and really gives you incentive to get on the board early. If you’re ahead and you get to slam one of these, the game is often over, and even at parity this adds 3 power to the board (which is not insignificant). I like Frilled Mystic, and I see it fitting into a bunch of different decks, even with the restrictive mana cost.
Instant-speed Explore is very strong, and Explore wasn’t a weak card to begin with (especially in multiples). Growth Spiral also benefits from having a bunch of powerful green and blue control/ramp incentives in the same format, which makes an already-good card into something that will make a big impact. I’d expect to see this all over, powering up Wilderness Reclamation and other expensive cards alike.
I’m in love with Hydroid Krasis. It’s just such an awesome card, and one that will have a huge impact on Standard. It’s easily splashable, which is nice on an X-spell, and it’s got a bunch of powerful effects. First of all, it’s a huge flyer with trample (I still refuse to use “flample”), which makes it a big threat, though that’s probably the least important of what it has going on. The best thing it does is draw you cards, and uncounterable cards at that. It’s good at any X-value, even 2, and scales up nicely as the game goes on. It also gains you a bunch of life, which helps stabilize and lets you make use of those cards. All of that together is a lot, and with cards like Find // Finality and Golgari Findbroker running around, you get multiple bites at this delicious apple. In fact, playing a Krasis for 2 early helps hit land drops, and then later you can slam it for a larger amount.
Being splashable is a big part of its power, and we are going to see Krasis as a finisher/card advantage engine in a ton of different decks.
Incubation // Incongruity
Incubation // Incongruity is a neat card. Paying 3 mana for a Rapid Hybridization is not the best deal, but this does exile, which matters in some matchups. What I really like is the fail case of getting to cycle this into a creature when Incongruity isn’t good, and because of that I could see it getting some niche play.
Prime Speaker Vannifar
Birthing Pod is one of my favorite cards, and even if Prime Speaker Vannifar isn’t quite as busted, she still has a ton of potential. In Modern, she kills off almost any board, thanks to Scryb Ranger (which can keep untapping her), and in Standard, there’s a lot of value you can accumulate. We still haven’t seen a fully tuned Vannifar deck, but I believe one is out there and is good enough to compete. Bant is a good place to start in Standard, thanks to Militia Bugler and all the other value creatures.
Repudiate // Replicate
Stifle + Clone (your side only) is a strange pairing, as Simic tends to do. I don’t know how often you want either of these enough to play Repudiate // Replicate, but both sides are fairly powerful. This looks like it will have trouble finding a home, even if there’s some powerful stuff going on.
Zegana, Utopian Speaker
Thanks to Wildgrowth Walker, explore creatures, and cheap adapters, Zegana often replaces herself right away. That alone is enticing, and the ability to grow her to be quite large while also giving your huge Wildgrowth Walkers trample is enough extra value to make me a fan.
Top 3 Blue/Simic Cards
Simic delivered, wow. Blue has some solid cards (especially for mono-blue), but the Simic cards overshadow them nicely. Krasis is sick, Mystic adds a ton of power to midrange or controlling Simic decks, and Zegana is a powerful threat that draws you a card. This is a promising set of cards, and I expect Breeding Pool to be a common turn-1 play going forward.