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.)
Angel of Grace
Angel of Grace is a really cool card. Flavor-wise, it does exactly what you want a life-saving Angel to do, and the exile ability means that it can even protect you from beyond the grave. It does seem a little hard to find a home for this, as surviving at one against aggro isn’t usually good enough on the subsequent turn, and if they don’t kill your Angel then you just get burned out.
I’ve seen some Gates decks already (shout out to @bryango from the GAM Podcast for posting a sweet Wilderness Reclamation Gates deck on Twitter), and a gain 10+ Angel sounds like it could be a real sideboard card. Archway Angel is expensive, but I like the idea.
Expose to Daylight
Invoke the Divine eats Expose’s lunch, as the saying goes, and I doubt you’d want a scry 1 over 4 life. That said, Expose is a good rate, and it’s possible that this will find a home if the format slants heavily against aggro.
Hero of Precinct One
I may like gyros over hero sandwiches, but this is still a very exciting card. It’s a great fit in Mardu Aristocrats in Standard, and is just a good rate even without having a specific home for it. There are a lot of powerful gold cards in Standard right now, and Hero of Precinct One can easily make a 1/1 a turn, which is a fantastic card, and sometimes it’ll make multiples per turn.
Soul Warden is a classic, but a lot of that is the ability, and paying twice as much for twice as many stats isn’t something I’d be passionate about. There still may be decks that want this effect and can’t get it elsewhere, even if it’s not as good as the original.
There may be some strange combos with this, as exiling a creature that then returns another Battlement (think something like Fiend Hunter) can lead to a loop. That sounds ponderous and hard to assemble, but it is funny.
Ministrant of Obligation
Ministrant of Obligation not making it into Mardu Tokens decks isn’t a great sign, but someone may feel obliged to try this at some point. It’s a lot of creatures for not a lot of mana, especially if you have good sacrifice outlets.
This good doggie is cheap enough to make me sit up, and the ability can come in handy. Not being able to attack is probably enough to keep Resolute Watchdog leashed, as triggering Legion’s Landing is a big deal nowadays.
Meme Constructed: 4.0
Smothering Tithe plus Emergency Powers is really funny, if not the best thing you can be doing (I can think of another 4-mana enchantment + 7-mana spell combo I’d rather assemble). I also love the flavor here and think the card is really cool, regardless of how good it ends up being.
Here we go—a card worth taking a second look at! Tithe Taker is a powerful effect on a cheap creature, and even gives you value when it dies. It does a lot of work against control decks and trades off nicely against aggro, making it a solid addition to aggressive white decks across the board. I want to make a joke about losing to this, but if we are being honest, I’m way more likely to just be playing it.
While this card isn’t broken, it is very good at what it’s trying to do. It gives you a mass pump spell that also hedges against sweepers, and puts a ton of power onto the board. I like that you can main deck it for the +1/+1 while picking up free wins against control playing Wraths, and it’s a potent sideboard card as well.
Absorb is a big game right now. Mono-Red picked up a couple of very good cards (Light Up the Stage and Skewer the Critics), and Absorb is a sick two-for-one against them. It does the job of a 3-mana counter in all matchups, and in the ones where life gain matters, it’s very efficient. It also isn’t that hard to cast, given how good the mana is these days. I’m a fan of Absorb, and it will see a lot of play.
Depose // Deploy
I like both modes here—Depose can remove a blocker or save some damage for just 2 mana, and casting it for Thopters puts multiple bodies into play and gains you a ton of life. Split cards that are powerful and flexible catch my attention, and deploying this looks like a lot of fun (especially if I remember it’s an instant on both halves—I kept casting Deploy as a sorcery last time I streamed).
Deputy of Detention
Deputy of Detention has a lot going for it. It’s naturally a 2-for-1 (or more, if it snags multiple copies), it can be searched up with Vannifar and Militia Bugler, and it’s just an efficient card on its own. The fact that it hits anything, not just creatures, is really what takes this over the top, and what makes it such a good catch-all. I could even see it hitting Modern in Collected Company decks, though not being a Human does mean it won’t improve that tribe at least.
Dovin, Grand Arbiter
If you get two Thopters and a couple life out of Dovin you haven’t done badly, and this will often do more. It spirals out of control really quickly (much like any planeswalker), and only costs 3 mana (unlike most). If you can curve into Dovin, he provides a steady source of creatures, and it only takes one big turn with the +1 ability before you threaten an ultimate. Granted, the ultimate isn’t game-ending, but drawing three of your top ten cards is really powerful, especially for a 3-mana card.
The main places I could see Dovin fitting are in mono-white decks looking to touch blue for Dovin and maybe Deploy, or a more dedicated token deck. Either way, Hero of Precinct One is a natural fit, and the curve of Hero into Dovin is a powerful one.
Timetwister reprints are usually flashy and powerful-looking but don’t actually deliver. This one has more going for it, for two reasons:
The addendum part gives you back a lot of the mana you spent, leading to extra cards plus a way to utilize them.
This is an instant, making it a great combo with Wilderness Reclamation and giving it extra power on its own. Casting this at the end of your opponent’s turn is a good way to break the symmetry and give you first crack at the new cards.
Emergency Powers does face stiff competition from Nexus of Fate and Expansion // Explosion, as there are some powerful spells running around these days, but it’s got potential. Figuring out what to put in with addendum or how to break the inherent symmetry is the key.
I like meme cards, what can I say? This is a pretty funny one, and could make Arcades a real contender. You have to dream big and defend even bigger.
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
This rating is solely for Vintage, where Lavinia is going to put quite a damper on all sorts of fun things. It’s pretty hard in most formats for her text to be relevant, but in a format full of Moxen and Force of Will, it does a lot in Vintage. I don’t think she’s necessarily going to keep Paradoxical Outcome down, but she’s definitely going to try.
Sphinx of New Prahv
This is about as fringe as it gets, especially thanks to the cost, but a hard-to-kill 4/3 flyer is worth mentioning. In a blue-white skies deck, Sphinx of New Prahv could be a threat, assuming the mana works out.
2 life and two cards is worth 4 mana, even if Chemister’s Insight is really hard to compete with. I like the flexibility here too, as playing Sphinx’s Insight as a sorcery in matchups where the life matters is fine, and when you don’t care about the life you do often want this as an instant.
Warrant // Warden
Warrant is 95% of the reason to play this—control decks are always in need of a 2-mana removal spell. You do get to make 4/4s every now and then, but don’t go nuts here—tapping out against control is still a bad move.
Top 3 White/Azorius Cards
Deputy will have the biggest splash overall, thanks to its reach in older formats, but all of these are solid cards. White gets options for all sorts of decks, from aggro to control to combo, and that’s always exciting space to tap into.