My overall thoughts about the set haven't changed much since last week. I'm still very high on Simic, Rakdos, and Gruul as future tier 1 decks, and I expect a bunch of the Azorius cards to see play in whatever Teferi-based control deck ends up making an impact. I'm less sure about Orzhov, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a bunch of top tier cards coming out of that guild. Plus, Esper Control is looking better and better.
Before we get started with the last batch of previews, though, let's take a look at which Ravnica Allegiance cards have gone up in price since I reviewed them last week:
- Hydroid Krasis - up $3 from $12 to $15
- Electrodominance - up $3 from $7 to $10
- Spawn of Mayhem - up $2 from $18 to $20
- Bedevil - up $2 from $8 to $10
- Judith, the Scourge Diva - up $1 from $2 to $3
- Gruul Spellbreaker - up $1 from $5 to $6
- Rix Maadi Reveler - up $1 from $3 to $4
- Tithe Taker - up $1 from $3 to $4
I'm not surprised by most of these increases. I was very high on Tithe Taker, Judith, Bedevil, Spawn of Mayhem, and Electrodominance at their initial price points. I also quite liked Gruul Spellbreaker and Rix Maadi Reveler, though they weren't among my breakout calls.
Hydroid Krasis feels like the biggest surprise to me, but that's likely because I was underrating Simic as a top tier guild. It didn't produce a tier 1 deck in either of the first two Ravnica blocks, but maybe the third time is the charm? I still don't see how this card ends up in more than one deck, which limits its upside quite a bit, but I'm more bullish on that one deck being good than I was last week.
Onto the new cards!
Domri, Chaos Bringer - $22.99
Now that we've seen the entire set, I'm not particularly thrilled about pre-ordering any of the planeswalkers in Ravnica Allegiance. Domri, Chaos Bringer is only good in a deck with a very high creature count, which means that we're looking at GRUUL SMASH or nothing. He can't protect himself, and at four mana, he's directly competing with Rekindling Phoenix and Nullhide Ferox.
That said, I do feel like Domri will find a home in whatever we decide to call GRUUL SMASH. It might end up kicking around the $20 mark for a while if that deck is great, but narrow planeswalkers like Domri tend to end up closer to $10 or $15 these days. Unless you want to play Gruul on day one, I'd hold off for now.
Biogenic Ooze - $7.99
Boy oh boy do I want Biogenic Ooze to be good. It's actually pretty comparable to Tendershoot Dryad, which has seen play in Standard from time to time. Six power across two creatures is certainly not an embarrassing rate for five mana, though you must sink a bunch more mana into the Ooze if you really want to go off.
Ultimately, though, I just don't think enough people are going to want to spend five mana on a 2/2. I know it doesn't stay a 2/2 for long, but I like my mid-game and end-game threats to be bigger, faster, or more evasive. Commander token hype should still keep this one in the $4-$5 range, but I'll be a tad surprised if Biogenic Ooze ends up being a major Constructed threat.
Mesmerizing Benthid - $6.99
I'm not sure where Mesmerizing Benthid fits into the metagame, but the raw power level is higher than most people have given it credit for so far. It probably won't end up having hexproof for long but playing a 4/5 that comes with two additional blockers makes it a pretty formidable bridge from the early game to the part where you win.
That said, I'm pretty gun-shy to buy in at $7. The realistic upside here is something like an $11-$12 role-player, while the downside is that Mesmerizing Benthid ends up being a $1.50 bulk mythic. This is not the type of card that's worth buying in early; it's the kind of card where you resign yourself to paying full freight in the unlikely case of a breakout.
Angel of Grace - $17.99
"This five-drop is great against aggro!" feels like a bit of a tough sell, but Angel of Grace is actually a pretty great card against aggressive decks. It's got a solid enters-the-battlefield ability, flash, and a way to let you stabilize your life total even after it dies. Boros Angels is absolutely going to run this, and I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up seeing more play than Lyra Dawnbringer in that deck.
My concern is mostly about where Angel of Grace sees play beyond Boros Angels. That deck isn't anywhere near the top of the Standard metagame right now, and an $18 card needs at least one top tier home if it wants to maintain its value. If Angel of Grace ends up in a new breakout deck, it'll probably end up peaking at $25-$30 before dropping back down to $15. If not, I see the card settling in around $7-$8. It's a Constructed-caliber card for sure, but Angel of Grace is too financially risky for me at current retail.
Captive Audience - $4.99
Captive Audience is super cool, but it costs seven mana and it's probably not going to win you the game for a couple of turns. I can see Grixis Control sticking a few of these in their sideboard for super grindy matchups, but it's too risky to rely on - and too much of a dead draw - against the rest of the metagame. Captive Audience is the sort of card that might end up being worth $5+ in a couple of years because of how unique it is, but it'll probably end up falling into bulk rare range in the meantime.
Kaya's Wrath - $7.99
Kaya's Wrath is really good, y'all. WWBB is less of a hurdle in the current Standard than it seems, and if Jeskai Control can handle Crackling Drake and Niv-Mizzet, Parun, then certainly an Orzhov or Esper brew will be able to cast Kaya's Wrath on-curve.
The big question here - and really, one of the biggest questions coming out of Ravnica Allegiance preview season - is this: which three-color shard makes for the best control shell? It's all about Jeskai right now, but there are good arguments to be made that Esper or even Grixis (possibly with a Teferi splash) will be the future of Standard control.
If you're paying $8 for Kaya's Wrath, then, you're essentially betting on either Esper or Orzhov Control breaking out. I don't think that's a particularly bad bet, and Kaya's Wrath should be an $8-$12 card in a world where Esper Control is a big deal, but there is some risk involved - fpossibly more than you think.
Personally, I'm going to hold off for now and I'll look to buy low if Jeskai or Grixis ends up winning out at the start of the new metagame. As long as Esper Control ends up being a thing at some point during the next two years, Kaya's Wrath will end up seeing play.
Incubation Druid - $3.99
Incubation Druid is also an incredibly exciting card. Its vanilla form isn't exactly Utopia Tree, but it's fairly close in a climate like Guilds of Ravnica Standard where a large portion of your manabase is made up of lands that are going to tap for two different colors regardless. I'm already seeing the synergies unfold in my mind between this, Hydroid Krasis, and Hadana's Climb. Or you can throw it in a Selesnya deck with Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants and Venerated Loxodon. Or you can just turn it into a multi-faceted threat on your own late in the game thanks to its adapt cost.
I tend to be skeptical of cards that require a lot of hoop-jumping, but if it's good enough on its own and it synergizes with cards that you already want to play…well, that's the mark of a really good spell. I don't like Incubation Druid quite as much as Growth-Chamber Guardian, but I expect both cards to play a role in at least one top-tier deck in the new metagame. $4 feels like a pretty solid buy-in for a card that could easily end up at $8-$9.
Cindervines - $2.99
Cindervines is exactly the sort of card I love in Commander, where I can ping people all day long before zapping some super problematic artifact or enchantment. I don't think it'll end up seeing much play in competitive Constructed, but it is worth noting Seal of Primordium does show up now and then. There are better sideboard cards against decks like Affinity, though, and I'm not sure there's a deck that wants to run this in their 60-card main right now. That can change, but in the meantime, I'd expect Cindervines to end up settling in the $1 range.
Theater of Horrors - $2.99
Oh man, Theater of Horrors is another rare that I absolutely love. I feel like it's a better Outpost Siege since the cards you "draw" with Theater of Horrors stick around until you find a turn to use them, essentially making them a second hand that you must unlock by jumping through an incredibly easy hoop.
I suppose that Theater of Horrors overlaps a little with Experimental Frenzy, but this card is cheaper to cast and seems destined to work in slightly different decks - not just burn, but Rakdos and Jund Midrange. The upside for these cards tends to only be in the $5-$6 range, but Theater of Horrors has a pretty good shot of ending up there. A totally solid buy at $3.
Priest of Forgotten Gods - $2.99
Priest of Forgotten Gods might be good, but it's really, really hard for me to get past the part of the card where it's a 1/2 for two that requires you to tap it and sacrifice two other creatures before it does literally anything. The payoff is impressive, certainly, but I'm not sure the support is there for an Aristocrats-style deck right now. If I'm wrong, then I suppose Priest of Forgotten Gods will end up as a $4-$5 combo piece or something. If not, then this is just a future bulk rare.
Repudiate // Replicate - $2.99
If Repudiate // Replicate sees play, it'll be on the back of its versatility, not its power level. I don't think I'd ever be happy spending two mana on a Stifle, especially not in a format without fetchlands, nor am I stoked about a slightly worse Quasiduplicate.
The best of these new split cards are the ones where a totally reasonable removal spell is attached to a not-quite-embarrassing use for the card if you don't need removal right now. Neither Repudiate nor Replicate seem up to that task. Future bulk rare.
Revival // Revenge - $2.49
Show me something that actually combos well with Revival and I'll change my mind, but for now I feel like this card is being overrated. Militia Bugler? Plaguecrafter? Possibly, but at what point do you just want to run Find // Finality instead? It's not because of Revenge, I assume, because that card seems slow and bad.
Sam Black gets into the nitty-gritty with all five of the new split cards, and I tend to agree with him about which ones are good. This one looks like a future bulk rare to me, sadly, but there are couple of cheaper split cards further down this list that are super good buys right now. We'll get there soon enough.
Unbreakable Formation - $1.99
We're not playing Make a Stand in our competitive decks, and I'm not sure that Unbreakable Formation is significantly better. I guess it might see a little play in Selesnya Tokens or some sort of quick Boros or Orzhov deck that really just wants the tokens as well as a nice clean combat step? Regardless, this looks like a $1-$2 card to me. Grab a few if you need them, but there's not a ton of upside here.
Benthic Biomancer - $1.99
I haven't seen a ton of love for Benthic Biomancer yet, but I'm still holding out some hope. Little utility creatures often end up being far better than they look, and a one-drop that gives you a loot while growing into a 2/2 seems like it might have some game. Benthic Biomancer will certainly end up seeing play in any sort of Merfolk deck that may or may not actually come to play, but the real upside would start coming into play be if, say, the Simic Ramp decks ended up using this card as a draw smoother/enabler. It's far from a slam dunk, but there's absolutely a world where Benthic Biomancer ends up being a $5-$7 card for quite some time.
Nikya of the Old Ways - $1.99
Sometimes, the old ways die out for a reason. Nikya of the Old Ways demands that you leave all your toys at home if you want to come over and party at their house - yuck. Ramp decks aren't going to mess with a card that blanks half their deck, especially not when the card itself is a five-drop without evasion, and I think all the GRUUL SMASH decks are going to want to be playing more threatening cards on turn 5. Future bulk rare.
Glass of the Guildpact - $1.99
Cheap anthem effects are always worth a second look, but this one doesn't play well with 95% of tokens so I'm not terribly interested. Future bulk rare, though Commander demand might cause it to end back up in the $2 range again someday.
Guardian Project - $1.99
Speaking of Commander, Guardian Project is pretty close to reading "draw a card whenever you play a creature" in that format. Primordial Sage sees a decent amount of Commander play, and Guardian Project probably will too. Just don't expect it to be worth more than $1 at any point soon.
Hero of Precinct One - $1.99
I'm never going to completely dismiss a Young Pyromancer-style card, especially when it's a respectable 2/2 Human for 1W in a vacuum. I don't know how many multicolored cards you must run before Hero of Precinct One is good enough, but I feel like you're ahead even if you're just activating this twice per game.
At the very least, deck builders are going to keep considering ways to make Hero of Precinct One work for the next couple of years. And who knows? It might even spawn a new version of Modern Humans, a deck that already runs twelve multicolored cards in its current maindeck configuration. I don't see an immediate path to success here, but for $2 there are far worse gambles.
Immolation Shaman - $1.99
You won't fool me this time, Harsh Mentor! I liked you more when you were a 2/2 that could attack in the early game, and even that wasn't good enough to make you playable in anything. Maybe the activated ability puts Immolation Shaman over the top, but I doubt it. Future bulk rare.
Plaza of Harmony - $1.99
Good decks don't run Gates because Gates are slow and bad outside of Limited. Plaza of Harmony does not do anything without Gates, and it's not worth running Gates just to unlock a little bit of life and fixing when you play this card. Future bulk rare.
Tome of the Guildpact - $1.99
Tome of the Guildpact is fine in all those nonsense big-mana multicolored Commander decks I like to build, where I can just chain through my hand while gaining some incidental mana. This does nothing on the competitive stage, though, so wait until it hits bulk before buying in. It'll be a $2-$3 card long-term, but you'll have to wait quite a while for that investment to pay off.
Ethereal Absolution - $1.49
Ethereal Absolution is very cool. Every Orzhov and Esper Tokens Commander player is going to want a copy. Six mana is too much for competitive play, though, which means that this will almost certainly end up as a bulk rare.
Bedeck // Bedazzle - $0.99
As much as I would like to get out my Bedazzler and fasten a bunch of hot pink rhinestone studs to your Urzatron lands, I don't think that the rate here is good enough to see any competitive play. Maybe if there were fewer good burn spells in Standard? Future bulk rare.
Awaken the Erstwhile - $0.99
I have no idea how to use Awaken the Erstwhile, but I'm surprised that I haven't seen more chatter about one of the most interesting cards in Ravnica Allegiance. How quickly we forget that symmetrical effects don't always have to be symmetrical! Maybe having a couple of Death Barons around is good enough. Maybe this ends up as a win-con for some sort of deck that can draw ten or twenty lands in a single turn. Maybe it's just a way for midrange to fight against a control deck with a fully sculpted hand.
Five mana might end up being a deal-breaker, of course, but the buy-in can't be any lower than $0.99 - that's bulk rare pricing for a brand new set. Cards this powerful rarely start at $0.99 and worst case I like it as a long-term combulk hold. I'm snagging a set or two for sure.
Font of Agonies - $0.99
I might throw Font of Agonies into a Commander deck or two, but the fact that it's a miserable topdeck that requires a massive amount of set-up should keep it from seeing any competitive play. Future bulk rare.
Lumbering Battlement - $0.99
Lumbering Battlement is better in Commander than it looks since it can hide a number of your creatures from a mid-game wrath while allowing you to rebuy your enter-the-battlefield triggers. It's not a card for competitive Constructed play, but casual interest could push it up toward the $2-$3 range eventually.
Mirror March - $0.99
I kind of liked Mirror March until I re-read how much it cost to cast this sucker. For six mana, I want some guaranteed damage. Future bulk rare.
Thrash // Threat - $0.99
Huh? Why is Thrash selling for $0.99? Not only is it a one-sided fight effect (your target won't deal damage back), but it's a way for green to interact with planeswalkers - and at instant speed, no less. Heck, even red-based decks can get in on the fun if they want to.
Warrant // Warden - $0.99
I like Warrant even more than Thrash, and neither card has any business being this cheap. This is a great tempo play for any blue or white-based deck. It's flexible, powerful, and it comes tacked onto a Serra Angel that stops it from ever being a completely dead card. Warrant is going to see so much play that "Cherry Pie" will be permanently stuck in your head. Grab it at $1.
Verity Circle - $0.99
"I cast….Zone of Truth!"
Verity Circle is probably not a spell you'll want to cast in a competitive Constructed game, but I suppose it could end up seeing use in a pinch. Cards like this are stellar in certain multiplayer Commander groups, though, so don't expect this one to end up as true bulk. $2-$3 long-term seems about right to me.
This Week's Trends
- Remember Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition? It ended up essentially amounting to free money for anyone who actually got the Hasbro Toy Shop website to load. MSRP on that sucker was $250, and you can easily get $500 or so for your copy if you choose to sell it. A slam dunk.
I bring this up now because Wizards of the Coast just announced the release of Ravnica Allegiance Mythic Edition, which will have eight new full-art planeswalkers and the same MSRP as the Guilds of Ravnica version. While the planeswalker line-up looks a tad underwhelming at first blush, it seems worth it to do the math and figure out if Ravnica Allegiance Mythic Edition is worth the buy anyway. After all, free money is free money, right?
Adding up the retail costs of the regular, non-mythic version of all the planeswalkers in the Guilds of Ravnica version gets us a total value of $181, or roughly $23 each. Together, the mythic versions of all eight have a retail price of $720, or $90 each.
How does the Ravnica Allegiance crop add up? Well, the eight new 'walkers have a current MSRP of $133. That figure is likely to go down, however, since Domri, Chaos Bringer and Kaya, Orzhov Usurper are still at their preorder highs. So let's estimate the expected value at $120, which is roughly two-thirds of what the Guilds of Ravnica batch is worth. That number might even end up lower for the Masterpieces; Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition had a couple of high-end Eternal playables in Liliana, the Last Hope and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Ravnica Allegiance has Dack Fayden. After that, you're mostly hoping that Karn finds a second wind somewhere.
There's also a strong possibility that WotC prints far more copies of this version of the mythic edition than the last one.Modern Masters 2015 was printed in far higher quantities than Modern Masters 2013, remember, and even the Comic-Con exclusives have gotten more common as the years have gone by. It's quite likely that you won't be able to quick-flip these nearly as easily.
That said, $250 still seems like a pretty solid buy for this set. If we assume that you'd be happy to pay $50 for 24 packs of Ravnica Allegiance and $100 for the 'walkers, than you're essentially just paying an extra $100 to upgrade them to masterpieces. There's no way to be certain that Hasbro won't just release infinite copies onto their eBay store (no more Hasbro Toy Shop!), but as long as they're halfway reasonable with their allotments, you should still be able to make at least $50 or $100 per copy that you purchase. Less free money is still free money, right?
- In other news, cards that look sweet with the Ravnica Allegiance previews are going up in price for the third straight week. Nullhide Ferox and Elenda, the Dusk Rose are both up another couple of bucks, while Divine Visitation and Hadana's Climb are each up about a dollar. Hadana's Climb seems especially good to me right now, and I'm not sure the price has fully adjusted to how good the Simic previews are yet. There's $15 upside here if everything breaks right, especially since Rivals of Ixalan was such an under-opened set.
- Over in Modern, Scryb Ranger was the latest "maybe this works with Vannifar!" card to spike. It jumped from $1 to $5 as Saffron Olive showed off this Prime Speaker Pod list late last week. I still don't think this deck is very good, but it is very sweet. If it sees more play, expect Chord of Calling and Birds of Paradise to double-up at least. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker seems to have some room to grow as well.