Sleeves will be rolled up and sleeves will be swapped. Agonizing choices will be made. Cards we love will return to the collection. Tantalizing dreams of what epic games might play out will materialize. All this and more goes into updating my ever-growing suite of decks with new cards and it will be the same with Guilds of Ravnica.
As time passes, fewer cards make it into old decks, but even though I was a little chilly on most of Guilds of Ravnica in my review, don't take that as an outright condemnation of the set. It has some wonderful cards in it, but room in those decks, even an ever-expanding suite of them, is getting precious. These days, cards almost always must be a strict upgrade to be considered. If not, then they must be more in line with the deck's theme or sub-theme than the card I'm taking out. There are very few removals anymore which are just from the card being an underperformer. Most often, it's just time to do the new thing.
Unlike its original, You Did This to Yourself, the Ruhan Do-Over is about attacking. It's about getting Ruhan of the Fomori himself and some medium-sized creatures going while making sure the defender has trouble blocking. It accomplishes this by creating smaller creatures with cards like Spirit Bonds and Assemble the Legion and then using Opposition to tap potential defenders. Part of that whole plan is to make Ruhan, who has to attack randomly, deadlier with cards like Arashin Foremost and Boldwyr Intimidator. That's where the new version of Aurelia comes in; one of the issues with Ruhan is that there always seem to be chump blockers hanging around. Adding +2/+0, trample, and vigilance makes said chumps irrelevant. Aurelia's mentor ability might occasionally buff up one of the tokens, but starting out with two power means that'll be tougher; unless, of course, you use her second ability to make herself larger.
Animar loves to cast creature spells. Even from someone who loves to cast creatures, this one has my highest count (46 if you count the commander). While I'm moving the deck away from infinite shenanigans - Animar with a few counters, two morphs or creatures with no colored mana in them, Cloudstone Curio - it still wants to cast creature spells in increasing numbers on each turn. The problem, of course, is running out of cards in hand. Enter Beast Whisperer, which is basically half of Zendikar's Resurgence, and problem solved.
Until and unless Balefire Liege makes an appearance, most of Queen Marchesa's Knights aren't going to get swept up in the Citywide Bust. If need be, we can use Mirror Entity to reduce their toughness for a bit (after combat, of course). If for some reason everyone is larger, then we'll use Knight Exemplar to protect them. Either way we play it, we'll keep battling and keep our queen as the right and just monarch that we know she is.
One of my longest-running decks gets one of the best new cards in the set. What Divine Visitation does is make the deck a turn or two deadlier by upgrading those little Saprolings into beefy Angels. The color we choose on the second pass will now be white instead of green for obvious reasons. Those Angels will now survive the fury of Archangel Avacyn when she transforms into Avacyn the Purifier. We don't necessarily need Rith triggers to get there with Angels, either. The deck has in it other token-creators like Avenger of Zendikar (sure, you don't get the landfall bonus, but who cares?) and it's not-so-secret tech Darien, King of Kjeldor.
One of three updates from Guilds of Ravnica for one of my signature decks, Doom Whisperer's function in the deck is pretty simple: get creatures into the graveyard, whether that's to make the commander easier to cast, to set up reanimation tricks, or to fuel a giant Living Death. It's also a pretty big beater in a cheap package. All in all, it's exactly the kind of card that the deck wants in it.
Dream Eater's function in the deck is two-fold. We can only get so many creatures out of the way with Thraximundar's combat triggered ability and the other tricks in the deck. When we have situations like an opponent having more creatures than we can currently deal with, Dream Eater changes the math; if Sigarda, Host of Herons on the battlefield (or worse, Angel of Jubilation), it might be the only way we can get rid of something. Surveil 4 is a minor consideration, but it will fuel two of my favorite cards in the deck, Dawn of the Dead and Oversold Cemetery.
It's not tricky, it's just an indestructible 16/16. It had to go into a deck that could easily cast it, like with Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, or one that has Lurking Predators in it. The Yidris Rotisserie Draft Deck fits that bill. One of the long-range plans for the deck might be to find a nine-mana creature so that I can also Birthing Pod into it.
Izoni is cooling its jets here in the Karador deck until we get around to sculpting a deck of its own. Especially once Doom Whisperer loads up the graveyard, Izoni will make a pile of Insects to sacrifice to Izoni's ability to draw cards or to either ability of Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, but most significantly, the second one, which exiles nonland permanents. Izoni might be a little expensive to cast, but as 1 of 99, it won't be piling up commander tax for subsequent castings, which we'll do via Karador.
This one is a simple case of seeing if something new will perform better than something older. The three mana you spend on Marching is the same three mana with which you'd draw the card from Decree of Justice (has anyone ever actually hardcast that spell?), so we'll be getting the same number of tokens and more if we have creatures with which we can convoke, which we most certainly will in this token-generating deck.
One of the problems with this and other Zombie decks is that card draw is frequently difficult to come by. I don't mind paying a life for a card, and since Gisa and Geralf like casting creatures from the graveyard, I don't mind sacrificing them so that Midnight Reaper will trigger. Obviously, we must be careful. . .oh, who am I kidding? We're playing Zombies. There's no being careful.
It's a 6/6 for four mana, and in this deck, I'm not really casting creature spells anyway. It's a Beast so it fits the theme, and it still works with Contested Cliffs and Ravenous Baloth, so all is good.
- Into: The Mill-Meoplasm
- For: Rift Sweeper
I looked for my deck with the highest number of instants and sorceries that cost three or more, and it's The Mimeoplasm. There's something about casting Rise of the Dark Realms for three mana at the end of turn of the opponent on my right that's quite exciting. The idea of getting around both mana costs and timing restrictions continues to make Omnispell Adept one of the cards in Guilds of Ravnica which I'm most excited to play with. The fact that it's a pretty beefy Wizard at 3/4 doesn't hurt.
- Into: Ruhan Do-Over
- For: Purphoros, God of the Forge
Tajic fits the deck's somewhat aggressive profile while making our creatures immune to non-combat damage. the kind we find in attack-inhibitors like Powerstone Minefield and sweepers like Chain Reaction and Blasphemous Act. Tajic having haste helps trigger battalion abilities like with Firemane Avenger with a bit of surprise factor.
Trostani brings friends and makes them larger. If the deck's other addition from Guilds of Ravnica is on the battlefield, her friends are Angels and she still makes them larger. And if anyone has deigned to steal your creatures, Trostani calls them home.
You doing it to yourself is all about, well, you doing it to yourself. No one will make you attack me, after all (which makes me wonder if I should put Avatar of Slaughter back into the deck). To be fair, sometimes I'm going to do it to you anyway, since Chain Reaction and Blasphemous Act are definitely in the deck.
It's like they were making cards to put into my primary Karador deck. Combine with Izoni, Thousand-Eyed to fill the graveyard faster and Harvester of Souls just gets kind of silly here. I suspect there will be quite a few times when I pay the four life to keep Underrealm Lich around, since it does exactly what the deck wants done. To some extent, it makes the deck a little more vulnerable to graveyard removal, but there's a bit of a built-in resiliency for that eventuality anyway. The deck can function with a smaller graveyard as well, it just needs to change tactics slightly. There will certainly be times when we just get blown out from a Bojuka Bog or something. Such is life. We shuffle up and move on.
Venerated Loxodon is best in a deck in which +1/+1 counters matter. Sure, it's worth a little something in any deck, in which you basically get to distribute five of those counters for nothing or next to nothing (plus get a 4/4), but when the counters matter and/or you have Hardened Scales or Doubling Season, things get even better.
This is just the list of cards which are going into my existing decks. There are others which will go into decks that are yet-to-but built, like an Elephant tribal or featuring some of the commanders from Guilds of Ravnica. Izoni, Thousand-Eyed is probably at the top of the list, but I'm also drawn to the difficulty of building something coherent with Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Doing Lazav, the Multifarous right is probably worth some effort, as is Tajic, Legion's Edge (I think I could basically take the blue out of You Did This to Yourself and make it a Tajic deck). Trostani Discordant probably has some legs, but I'd want to put her into a blink deck instead of re-casting her a bunch of times.
What I like about the setup of Guilds of Ravnica and the upcoming Ravnica Allegiance is that we don't have to wait until the next set in the block comes out to build new decks with new commanders. In previous sets, like with Ixalan, we knew that there would be more Pirates and Dinosaurs and whatnot in Rivals of Ixalan to go with the commanders the first set presented and perhaps even better commanders in the same color(s). With this return to Ravnica, we know that there will be five different guilds with five new foci so we can get to building new decks right away. Start brewing!
Question of the Week will return after release season.
Lavinia Blinks ; Obzedat, Ghost Killer ; Aurelia Goes to War ; Trostani and Her Angels ; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind ; Zegana and a Dice Bag ; Rakdos Reimagined ; Glissa, Glissa ; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club ; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever .
Shards and Wedges
Adun's Toolbox ; Angry, Angry Dinos ; Animar's Swarm ; Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point ; Ikra and Kydele ; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky ; Demons of Kaalia ; Merieke's Esper Dragons ; Nath of the Value Leaf ; Queen Marchesa, Long May She Reign ; Queen Marchesa's Knights ; Rith's Tokens ; The Mill-Meoplasm ; The Altar of Thraximundar ; The Threat of Yasova ; Zombies of Tresserhorn .
Adun Oakenshield Do-Over ; Animar Do-Over ; Glissa Do-Over ; Karador Do-Over ; Karador Version 3 ; Karrthus Do-Over ; Kresh Do-Over ; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over ; Mimeoplasm Do-Over ; Phelddagrif Do-Over ; Rith Do-Over ; Ruhan Do-Over .
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."