By: Myles Miller
Happy New Year, readers!! I hope you had an excellent holiday season with friends and family, and I’m sure I saw a good number of you at the Battlegrounds New Year Lock-In. Special thanks to the Battlegrounds staff for hosting such an awesome event and organizing so many great events.
Speaking of new things, it’s time to start talking about some new cards. Today’s topic is a preliminary look at the upcoming mechanics in Ravnica Allegiance (here’s your first spoiler, they’re all brand new mechanics!). I’ll also discuss other cards that are currently in standard that might play well in a Standard deck that features each new guild, just to get your deck-brewing started. Consider this your final warning: Here There Be Spoilers.
Cult of Rakdos: Spectacle
The Cult of Rakdos is all about dealing damage, and this new mechanic fits the bill: cards with Spectacle have an alternate casting cost that you may use if an opponent has lost life this turn. The red/black color combination usually excels at dealing damage to opponents, so Spectacle should be relatively easy to turn on. I’d expect the current iterations of Monored that are running cards like Goblin Chainwhirler and Experimental Frenzy to sprinkle in some black mana to take advantage of these powerful effects. What cards in Standard might complement this new mechanic? Why, cards that deal direct damage, of course!
I’d expect to see cards like these featured in a future Rakdos deck. Fanatical Firebrand is a cheap, aggressive creature that can use its ability to turn on Spectacle without having to spend any mana. They say the best things in life are free. Angrath the Flame-Chained is a strong planeswalker that hasn’t gotten a chance to really shine in Standard yet. With Blood Crypt being added to standard, and the fact that Angrath’s +1 ability turns on Spectacle for free, I won’t be surprised if we start seeing this angry pirate more often.
Orzhov Syndicate: Afterlife
Once you’re in debt with the Orzhov, you’re in debt for life. And sometimes longer than that. Get your Settle the Wreckages and Lava Coils ready, because exile effects are going to be at a premium. Creatures with Afterlife X will create X 1/1 spirit tokens with flying when they die, so you’ll want to have some exile removal ready or be prepared to deal with fliers.
If these creatures leave behind a spirit when they die, you might as well get some value out of killing them yourself. It’s not hard to imagine a black/white or a black/white/green deck that gains value by sacrificing its own creatures to Vraska, Golgari Queen or Demon of Catastrophes. It has been a while since Standard had a good “Aristocrats”-style deck, and Afterlife might just be the tool needed to bring it back.
Gruul Clans: Riot
It seems like the Gruul are ready to take advantage of the chaos on Ravnica and cause a bit of property damage. Creatures with Riot will present you with a simple choice: you can have that creature enter with a +1/+1 counter, or you can have it enter with haste. Hit hard or hit fast, you decide! Either way, the battlefield is bound to end up looking like, well, a riot.
It’s tough to relate Riot to the rest of the format, since it’s a very “isolated” mechanic. It doesn’t affect cards besides the one it’s on, it simply affects how the creature plays on the battlefield. Regisaur Alpha comes with an extra creature that can attack right away, putting a total of 7 power on the board for the low cost of 5 mana. Pelt Collector is a very powerful card that doesn’t really have a deck to call home in the format right now. If a creature with Riot isn’t big enough to trigger Pelt Collector, consider choosing the +1/+1 counter option to get that Pelt Collector trigger. Both of these creatures are the sort that might complement creatures with Riot and really bring the pain.
Simic Combine: Adapt
The Simic have always enjoyed playing around with +1/+1 counters, and this new set is no different. If you played during the Theros block, you’ll recognize that Adapt is similar to the old Monstrosity mechanic: you may activate the Adapt X ability to put X counters on this creature, but only if it doesn’t already have a +1/+1 counter on it. Monstrosity could only be used once though, whereas Adapt can be used multiple times if the creature has lost its counters. Rumor has it there will be cards that let players use these counters as a resource by removing them or donating them to other creatures, so keep an eye out as spoiler season continues.
Remember Hadana’s Climb? This enchantment saw a small amount of play when it was first released, but has fallen into obscurity. It might be poised for a comeback with a guild full of +1/+1 counter manipulation. Shapers of Nature may not see much play in Standard, but the potential for using those counters as a means to draw cards is always promising.
Azorius Senate: Addendum
The laws of Ravnica are written and magically enforced by the Azorius, but sometimes the law needs to be altered to allow a little flexibility. The new Addendum keyword grants an additional effect to a spell, but only if it’s being cast during your main phase. Following the rules of sorcery-speed casting has its benefits.
Much like Riot, Addendum is a very isolated mechanic. Any Azorius deck will likely value flexibility in its spells: even if you’re not always playing a card on your opponent’s turn, having that option available to you can be a powerful tool. Cards like Merfolk Trickster and Seal Away that can be played at any time to create problems for your opponent are exactly the kind of cards that would pair well with the Addendum mechanic.
Spoiler season has just begun, so there are plenty of cards left to see in the next two weeks. Be sure to keep an eye out for new cards being announced and familiarize yourself with each new guild before the Battlegrounds prerelease events on January 19th and 20th. Which mechanic are you most excited to play with? What cards currently in Standard do you think will make an appearance in the format once this new set releases? Let us know what you think!