Ravnica Allegiance Limited Set Review: Black

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Ratings Scale

Retired and inducted into the Limited Hall of Fame: Pack Rat. Umezawa’s Jitte. The Scarab God.
5.0: The best of the best. (Bolas’s Clutches. Icy Manipulator. Lyra Dawnbringer.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Josu Vess, Lich Knight. Tatyova, Benthic Druid. Slimefoot the Stowaway.)
4.0: Good rare or top-tier uncommon. (Cast Down. Time of Ice. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind.)
3.5: Top-tier common or solid uncommon. (Vicious Offering. Blessed Light. Shivan Fire.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Cloudreader Sphinx. Caligo Skin-Witch. Grow from the Ashes.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Fungal Infection. Academy Journeymage. Mammoth Spider.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Krosan Druid. Soul Salvage. Ghitu Journeymage.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Relic Runner. Ancient Animus. Deep Freeze.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Divest. Homarid Explorer. Arbor Armament.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Rescue. Cabal Evangel. Drudge Sentinel.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Kamahl’s Druidic Vow. One with Nothing.)

Awaken the Erstwhile

Limited: 0.0

Let’s just leave the Erstwhile asleep, shall we? This is a symmetrical effect that costs you 5 mana and a card, and there’s not really any good way to get an edge from it. I’d heavily advise against playing this.

Bankrupt in Blood

Limited: 1.0

Bankrupt is exactly what you’ll be if you base your plans on this. Sacrificing two creatures is way too high a cost, so I’d leave this to the Constructed masterminds to break.

Blade Juggler

Limited: 3.0

I’m a big fan of this—it’s got exactly the qualities I look for in a spectacle card. It’s reasonable to cast straight up, and very good if you spectacle it out. I’d pay 5 for a 3/2 that replaces itself, and at 3 mana this is quite strong.


Limited: 2.0

I have this a little higher than tricks like these tend to be for a couple of reasons. The first is that it costs 2 instead of the usual 3, which is a real step forward. The second is that spectacle makes the opponent more prone to block, so you’ll have more opportunities to use this, and if you think of this as “sacrifice a creature to kill any creature it’s blocking or blocked by,” it becomes a lot more appealing. Plus, the combo with Dagger Caster is very real, and quite effective.

Bloodmist Infiltrator

Limited: 2.0

Even though Orzhov wants to sacrifice creatures, it isn’t like you have an infinite well to draw from, so this isn’t busted. It is a good finisher, as chunks of 3 damage add up quickly, and in a pinch it can enable spectacle. I’ll play this in creature-heavy aggressive decks, especially with synergies like afterlife or Act of Treason, but it’s not great in control decks.

Carrion Imp

Limited: 1.5

Carrion, my wayward Imp…

A 4-mana 2/3 flyer needs a little extra punch to get it over the line, and sometimes gaining 2 isn’t quite it. It’s not a disaster if you end up playing this, but I wouldn’t be thrilled about it either.

Catacomb Crocodile

Limited: 2.5

Douser of Lights wildly overperformed, so don’t be caught sleeping on the Croc. This is a lot of stats, even if they are strangely distributed, and I’m likely running one of these with no complaints. Well, I’ll have complaints, but they won’t be about the Croc.

Clear the Stage

Limited: 3.0

If you can’t enable the 4 power part, this becomes much worse, but if it’s on about half the time then I really like the card. Getting a 2-for-1 attached to a kill spell is worthy of applause, and this is well worth spending 5 mana on.

Consign to the Pit

Limited: 2.0

You may not like it, but you’ll play the first copy. 6 mana isn’t cheap, but you have to kill your opponent’s creatures somehow, and this will do the trick. The extra damage makes you feel less bad about spending so much mana, even if it doesn’t make this an exciting card.

Cry of the Carnarium

Limited: 3.0

Sweepers can lead to huge blowouts, and this even stops afterlife from working. There are matchups where this will be one of your best cards and matchups where it won’t do a lot, but overall I suspect it’ll be worth a slot. I wouldn’t cry about getting a 1-for-1 either—this doesn’t have to kill three things to be good.

Dead Revels

Limited: 2.5

I want exactly one Dead Revels in most of my decks, and I can even see playing two if my deck is particularly creature-heavy and aggressive. At 4 cost, this is acceptable, and it’s a great deal at 2, making it exactly the kind of spectacle card I’m in for.

Debtors’ Transport

Limited: 1.5

The games where you trade Debtors’ Transport for a 4+ drop and get two tokens, it’ll seem great. The ones where it gets bounced or Arrested less so. Overall this is a fine way to top out your curve, but you can ideally do better.

Drill Bit

Limited: 1.5

You need to be able to reliably pay 1 mana for this to be worth a main deck slot. Paying 3 mana for this effect is only good in specific matchups (mostly control mirrors, or against a deck with a high-impact finisher), and I would be a bit unhappy to play it main deck most of the time.

Font of Agonies

Limited: 0.0 // 1.5

This is a build-around, and a pretty narrow one at that. You need 3-4 life payment cards before this even enters the equation, and even then it doesn’t seem all that great.

Grotesque Demise

Limited: 3.0

Clean, efficient removal that gets around afterlife? Sign me up.


Limited: 3.0

The difference between entering tapped and being unable to block is huge in Limited, and it makes this a much more useful card. You can trade it off and get it back without too much trouble, and it’s efficient enough that you don’t even need to return it to get your money’s worth. I’d play this in midrange decks happily—you don’t need to be a beatdown deck to want Ol’ Gutterbones.

Ill-Gotten Inheritance

Limited: 2.0

This seems like a bit of a sleeper. The numbers don’t look impressive, but it’s a consistent source of pressure, and being able to sacrifice it for a four-turn boost is quite good. I mainly see this as an aggro finisher, and it’s nice that it keeps spectacle always enabled. I’m less excited to try and use this as a control win condition, but it’s possible there’s some utility there.

Noxious Groodion

Limited: 2.5

I’m glad there aren’t seven deathtouch creatures at common this time around—that was obnoxious. This will do a good job blocking against Gruul or Simic, and can get in to threaten spectacle nonsense in Rakdos.

Orzhov Enforcer

Limited: 3.0

I really like this card, and it’s on the verge of getting a 3.5. It’s just so efficient, and often trades up in mana and leaves you with a 1/1 flyer. It’s good in aggro spectacle decks or anything defensive, and the rate is high enough that I’ll always play it.

Orzhov Racketeers

Limited: 3.0

Even though this is a little expensive, it presents the opponent with a difficult choice: they either let it through and are down a card, or trade and give you two 1/1 flyers. If you can remove blockers, it runs away with the game, and even without any additional work it will often lead to a favorable exchange.

Pestilent Spirit

Limited: 3.5

Giving your spells deathtouch is neat, even if it won’t come up all that often. I suppose a Rakdos deck could end up killing giant things with burn spells, which is a nice little bonus. What I’m most interested in is a 3/2 menace with deathtouch, as that’s a great deal for 3 mana. I’d look to skew aggressive here, as forcing the opponent to double-block is incredible value.

Plague Wight

Limited: 2.0

Plague Wight only works on offense, unlike Ornery Goblin, and is a solid little attacker as a result. It also walks right past Spirit tokens, putting it in the ideal spot to try and get spectacle going.

Priest of Forgotten Gods

Limited: 1.0 // 3.0

Because of the steep cost, you can’t just throw Priest of Forgotten Gods in your deck, but it’s a potent engine when it works. Sacrificing two creatures is big, but you get a card and your opponent sacrifices a creature, plus you get 2 mana and drain them for 2. That adds up to a lot, and I’d look to be an afterlife-heavy Orzhov deck if I saw this early. This is a build-around worth remembering.

Rakdos Trumpeter

Limited: 2.5

The activated ability here is expensive, but a 1/3 menace for 2 is a great way to get spectacle going. That makes the firebreathing ability more of a bonus than anything else, and aggro decks will be happy to get their hands on Rakdos Trumpeter.

Spawn of Mayhem

Limited: 4.0

You don’t need to spectacle Spawn of Mayhem for it to be incredible. It’s a huge flyer with multiple upsides, even if it can be a little risky if you’re low on life. This does fit much better in Rakdos (especially since it keeps spectacle on once in play), but I’d slam it in Orzhov too.

Spire Mangler

Limited: 3.0

Spire Mangler is an efficient little flyer that can ambush as a 4/1 blocker, or pump one of your Spirit tokens to trade up (with the additional option of getting extra damage through). It also leaves behind a 2/1 flyer for 3, making this a solid deal all around.

Thirsting Shade

Limited: 1.0

I’m not so thirsty for spectacle enablers that I’d play a 1/1 with bad abilities, and that’s exactly what this is. It’s expensive to pump, and ends up being too small at every point in the game.

Undercity Scavenger

Limited: 2.5

In a deck with good sacrifice fodder, Undercity Scavenger goes up in value, as a 5/5 with scry 2 is definitely worth eating something small. In a normal Rakdos deck, I’m less sold, as it won’t have as many good options to devour.

Undercity’s Embrace

Limited: 1.0

I don’t like sacrifice effects (edicts, as they’re commonly called) in Limited much. The opponent’s worst creature is often pretty bad, and especially at 3 mana, this will trade down for a 2-drop all too often. The potential to gain 4 life makes this more interesting, and I could see siding it in against an aggro deck if you have a lot of ways to get the kicker.

Vindictive Vampire

Limited: 3.5

This is awesome in both Orzhov and Rakdos, as it’s a very powerful card and plays nicely with Spirit tokens and spectacle cards alike. Draining the opponent for 1 every time one of your creatures dies adds up quickly, and this is big enough that it might even attack once or twice itself.

Top 3 Black Commons

3. Rakdos Trumpeter
2. Blade Juggler
1. Grotesque Demise

Demise and Juggler are an easy 1-2 punch, but the third-best common is close between Trumpeter, Consign, and the Crocodile. All have their uses, and whatever deck you’re drafting will inform which one you want most.


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