This week I have listed out all of the instant speed tricks from Guilds of Ravnica and given a short write-up about each color. The idea is to provide something you can print out and bring with you to the prerelease to look at between games or between rounds, eventually committing the important ones to memory by the time the set release rolls around. Being able to anticipate what cards your opponent has in hand and how to play around them is one of the best ways to significantly improve your win percentage in Limited. So let’s look at the cards!
The trick I expect to be most widely played is Take Heart. This is a great combat trick because it pumps both the power and toughness of your creature and allows it to survive to see another combat step. While it incentivizes you to attack with it because of the gain life aspect, it can still be quite effective on defense.
Collar the Culprit and Righteous Blow are two cards to be aware of, but since they are situational removal spells, it will really depend on how many creatures are decent targets and how bad the other removal is in your opponent’s deck. Based on historic precedence, I would be surprised if these two are cards you need to be aware of in most games of Limited.
Crush Contraband is an excellent sideboard card, so be aware of it post-board if you show several enchantments or artifacts in earlier games.
There are two main counterspells to keep in mind (potentially three if your opponent is a maniac whose main win condition is Devious Cover-Up). Disdainful Stroke and Sinister Sabotage are both good enough at face value to appear in Limited, so be on alert when your opponent inconspicuously leaves up a few mana.
Capture Sphere is a good removal spell but it doesn’t have the ability to blow you out unless you are playing with Auras or Equipment, or are in a tight race where you plan to buy time with a crucial block.
Unexplained Disappearance and Dazzling Lights are situational combat tricks, neither of which I expect to see frequently. Dream Eater is a great card, so look out if your opponent is holding up 6 mana, or your small attacking creatures may be eaten alive.
The remaining playable cards on the list are Radical Idea and Chemister’s Insight, so in many instances it will be the right call to play your spells into your opponent’s open mana because they are just holding up a draw spell instead of a counterspell. These both have the ability to be cast from the graveyard at instant speed, so if you are trying to think of what your opponent could have, check there for clues. Mission Briefing is probably unplayable in Limited.
Necrotic Wound is a build-around removal spell, so I do not expect it to see much play. If your opponent is green-black or black-blue, it’s possible that they play it to good effect, so be more alert if your opponent seems to be in that type of strategy.
Price of Fame is quality, unconditional removal, so this is the most likely suspect if your opponent continues to leave this amount of mana available. Be aware if you have a legendary creature because of the discount effect. Mausoleum Secrets is likely unplayable in Limited.
Sure Strike has been a good combat trick every time it has been printed, so I expect this set to be no different. First strike is so good because it often lets smaller creatures survive combat with large ones, so even though it does not pump toughness, it can still be very strong.
Command the Storm is likely to see some play considering that it is decent removal, if not expensive. I would be surprised if Inescapable Blaze sees much play because of its cost, and Risk Factor is probably unplayable in Limited.
Might of the Masses has been a very good pump spell in past iterations, so I would not be surprised to see it here again.
The green spells are extra tricky in that there are two additional spells that have convoke. Pack’s Favor is probably good enough to see play because of convoke since it is so great on defense, but Pause for Reflection is likely unplayable outside of Constructed.
Crushing Canopy is good at what it does, so look out for it after sideboarding. I think Bounty of Might is likely too slow to see play since even cards of the past like Become Immense saw little play, but it is certainly something to note if your opponent leaves a lot of mana available.
Chance for Glory is unplayable—just ignore its existence.
Ionize is a very good spell to keep on your radar if your opponent is in blue and red since it is an easily splashed unconditional counterspell with upside. Sonic Assault is the same mana and colors, but not nearly as good. I do not expect to see it very often from my opponents, but it is exactly the type of card I like to play myself since it is both blue and red.
Whisper Agent is a decent-sized flash creature that helps with card selection and potentially synergizes with your opponent’s game plan because of surveil. I expect this to see a medium amount of play as the 23rd card in a deck.
Artful Takedown is a quality situational removal spell and combat trick, and can swing close races by effectively removing two of your blockers. If you are in a tight race, try to play around this decent common. Hypothesizzle is card advantage or filtering and situational removal, and it looks like it does both just enough to sometimes break into Limited, even if it does only turn out to be a trap. It’s difficult to play around, but try to notice if your opponent is leaving up a lot of mana.
Join Shields is not good enough since it does not make your creatures bigger. March of the Multitudes is expensive, but it is likely good enough to see play. If your opponent passed with a lot of mana available, take note.
Integrity // Intervention and Response // Resurgence are the only two split-cards I expect to see play in a deck that is only in one of the two colors, so these should be on your radar more frequently. The back side of Integrity // Intervention is an above average removal spell, so I anticipate seeing both sides cast quite often. Response // Resurgence is mediocre on both sides, but decks that are solidly red or white will play Response for the front half, meaning that the back side will see more play than normal, so be careful putting yourself in range of the combo kill if your opponent has represented Response on previous turns.
While the front side of Status // Statue is okay, the back side is unconditional removal and therefore very good in Limited, so this means that the front half is even more likely to see play because it will always make your green-black opponent’s deck. Be wary of combat situations when you could be blown out by deathtouch or the +1/+1. The back side of Expansion // Explosion is an expensive Banefire effect with a Stroke of Genius attached, which I expect to see play in solidly blue and red decks as a way to pull ahead in the late game or even win on the spot. The Expansion half is not great, but can be in some situations.
Assure // Assemble is difficult to evaluate, but it looks like it is good enough for Limited. The front half is an acceptable combat trick, but the back side is an ambushing 6/6 over three creatures, but since the back is 6 mana it should be easily telegraphed what they are planning.
Only half of Discovery // Dispersal is an instant, but neither half is good enough to really see play on its own. If your opponent is in blue and black, hold an extra land in your hand late in the game to play around the Dispersal side of the card.
Unfortunately, Invert // Invent does not look like it is good enough to see play in Limited (or Constructed), so we can all pretend that it does not exist.
The set looks great, and I am looking forward to playing a lot of Limited and winning games with Devious Cover-Up or Explosion. What instant-speed tricks do you think will be the best in Limited? Let’s discuss in the comments!