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.)
Ooze the boss? Ooze adds a lot of stats to the board, and it increases quickly. If they don’t kill it before your end step, you get a pair of 3/3s, which is a good deal for 5 mana. Where it gets nuts is if you get a turn to make another, and have two 4/4s and a 3/3, at which point you’re really far ahead. This is a solid tool for midrange decks, and a neat thing to Vannifar into. It’s soft against instant-speed removal, so you may want to cut it against Cast Down and other cheap kill spells.
Craterhoof v2.0 isn’t bad, and some go-wide decks may be in the market. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t get them dead nearly as well, which makes me a little skeptical of paying 8 for End-Raze Forerunners.
Gates is looking like it’s more than just a niche archetype, and Ram is a huge (and trampling) part of that. It’s a 4/4 at minimum, and often much, much bigger. That’s a solid payoff for playing Gates, as a 7/7 vigilance, trample is quite the card for 3 mana.
I’ve been very impressed with GCG (Squadron Crab?). It hits really hard, and gives you a great mana sink later in the game. Even playing this turn 2 and pumping it turn 3 works out well, and it combos nicely with Hadana’s Climb or Rhythm of the Wild (both trigger the search when you give GCG counters).
The deckbuilding challenge here is a neat one, as you’re encouraged to build a deck with mostly singleton creatures. The reward of a hard-to-kill Beast Whisperer probably doesn’t do quite enough, but it’s sufficiently powerful to get my attention.
I love mana dorks that have more relevance late game. Deathrite Shaman is obviously the king, but Incubation Druid isn’t embarrassingly far behind. This ramps you early and can become beefy later, with Gilded Lotus mode being very relevant in a world full of Hydroid Krasis and the like.
Open the Gates
Gates decks can just play more Gates, making this a somewhat finicky way to fix mana. It is a 5-color fixer, but paying 1 to get a tapland is not the best deal.
Rampage of the Clans
You want this to blow up a bunch of stuff, but you don’t want it to blow up too much or you just die to Centaurs. That’s a pretty precise needle to thread, and I’d recommend playing some kind of Naturalize.
Constructed: 2.5 (for now)
I suspect the days are numbered for Nexus of Fate, though until then, this will do its job of stopping combat.
This has some niche combos with Incubation Druid, but they don’t seem particularly strong to me.
The hype on this card is real, and to be honest, I still believe it. Maybe we don’t have the best lists yet, and maybe the midrange decks playing Duress plus Negate make it hard to go off, but this card is really powerful. It pays for itself immediately, and generates mana every turn after that. It’s a great combo with Chemister’s Insight and Nexus of Fate, plus counterspells, and I suspect there will be some really powerful decks that use this.
Author’s Note: I should have done red plus Rakdos and green plus Gruul, but I didn’t, so we get Jund today.
This card is clearly good, so the question really comes down to the mana. If there are Rakdos decks that want this effect, this will show up, as 3 mana to kill almost anything is a great deal.
Maybe I just loved Demonic Pact too much, but this card tickles me. It seems really fun, even if not the most efficient.
I can imagine Rakdos leaning on this as a 2-drop that has abilities later in the game, but I think the next card in the list does the job even better.
The combination of a 2/2 haste and a long game damage source isn’t a bad one, and I can see this being part of a good Rakdos beatdown deck. Tossing Gutterbones at the opponent is a cute combo, and Footlight Fiend isn’t far behind.
As much as I love the name, Hackrobat is a tad short of being awesome. It still might fill out a curve if 2/3 ends up being good stats, but I doubt that’ll be the case.
Judith, the Scourge Diva
Judith is incredibly powerful, and will spawn multiple archetypes in Standard. Granted, those archetypes will look pretty similar, but she’s still a driving force. Rewarding you for your creatures dying plus making them must-kills is a good combo, and if you can keep Judith in play for any amount of time you are likely winning.
Rakdos, the Showstopper
Rakdos is a little too pricey to show up, but I just like the idea of flipping coins to see who wins. What is the most you’ve ever lost on a coin flip?
Theater of Horrors
This has stiff competition in Experimental Frenzy and Light Up the Stage, but it’s still a solid contender. Theater draws you a lot of extra cards over the course of the game, and note that when it’s on, you can play any card it previously exiled. That’s enough to make any Rakdos aggro deck sit up and take notice, and could even be a part of a midrange strategy.
It turns out that all it takes to make Goblin Arsonist playable is to make it easier to cast. Who knew?
Bedeck // Bedazzle
Bedazzle is nearly flavor text, but a 2-mana spell that kills any small to medium creature is worth paying attention to. Skewer is ahead of this, but you may want multiple options in this vein, and in mono-black, this could be a decent secondary removal spell after Cast Down.
Carnival // Carnage
Shower of Sparks plus Blightning is a cute combination, and I’ve actually tried this out in mono-red as an additional spectacle enabler. It’s close, and Rakdos aggro may turn to this if there are enough 1-toughness creatures running around.
Top 3 Jund Cards
Sorry Rakdos, green has you beat. All of these cards are very good, and Reclamation could end up being even better than that. Regardless, green mages got a ton, and Rakdos enthusiasts still get Theater of Horrors to play with.