What to Expect: The Impact of Return to Ravnica on the Metagame – Red, White, and Blue

How did everybody’s pre-release go? I posted about my first day (using Selesnya), but I didn’t post about my second day. I ended up using Rakdos on the second day and got some sweet Unleashed cards and a killer deck with a great curve, but went 2-2-1. Azorius was such a pain in my side on both days. I’m looking forward to drafting RTR some more though, it looks like it will be a fun deck. By the way, how do you like the new layout? I was getting bored of the old one and thought that this one would make it easier to check out multiple stories.

But enough about the pre-release. If you read any of my old blog posts, you know that I did a set of articles called “What to Expect”. Inside these articles I posted what cards I thought would make an impact on the metagame, and what kind of decks they’d be used in (and at what probability). There are tons of great cards in Return to Ravnica and it’s sure to be a metagame changing set. Not only because all of the Scars Block and M12 cards will be leaving us on Friday, but also because some of these cards take things to a whole new level. I’ll be talking most about rares and mythic rares, but I will also review some of the uncommons and commons I already covered in my previous articles and how I think they’ll affect the metagame.

Today I’ll be taking on 3 colors: Red, White, and Blue. Good ole’ American colors (j/k). ^_^

Blue

Cyclonic Rift: Probability – Moderate

I definitely think Cyclonic Rift will see some play in control decks as a supplement to Terminus. UW/UWR Miracles would benefit the most from it, and it would also be good in UB Control. UB Control hasn’t been played for a while, but I think there is a possibility it will get some play post rotation with Talrand, Sky Summoner. UB Control lost the mass removal of Black Sun’s Zenith, but with Mutilate and Cyclonic Rift I think we’ll see some more players using this. Personally, I plan on using this in a Mill deck with Devastation Tide and Terminus.

Jace, Architect of Thought: Probability – Moderate to High

People weren’t as excited about this Jace as they were about Vraska, but his new abilities work much better in a control deck than Memory Adept. He could see play in in UW/UWR Control or in UB Control alongside a Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. He’ll help you to get through your library to those powerful cards you need, and even those cards that get discarded will see some play again through Snapcaster Mage. Finding a blue, black, or red card that can end the game will take some time, but alongside a Tamiyo and a Curse of Death’s Hold (ISD) I think you’ll have all the time in the world.

Other Blue Cards in the meta

  • Faerie Impostor – moderate. For a blue card it carries some power. I don’t know if you’ll see it played in a Delver deck, but in other blue decks where an enter the battlefield ability could be played again, it would work.
  • Inaction Injunction – moderate. I think this card would actually work well in Delver. It’s not an unsummon, but it does pretty much the same thing, taking care of an opponent’s creature on the second turn so it can’t block. Plus you get the bonus of drawing a card which Delver will need now that Ponder is gone.

White

Precinct Captain: Probability Moderate to High

I think there is a good chance to see this in an aggro deck. RW humans, GW Humans, or even other beatdown decks like GWB Gavony  could benefit by using him. Two mana and first strike on a 2/2 isn’t bad, though I don’t know if you’ll see it in any tri-color decks. If you can give him double strike with Silverblade Paladin, you could double your Soldier Tokens in play! Maybe eve Mono-white humans is possible in this new multcolor world!

Rest in Peace: Probabilty – Low to Moderate

This is a largely sideboard card, but I don’t think it will see any play in any type of control deck. Decks like RW Humans and Naya beatdown that have access to red damage spells would benefit from this card when they go up against Zombies or control strategies however. If you’re not messing around with your graveyard, it wouldn’t hurt to put this in your sideboard. It would absolutely DESTROY Frites/Reanimator as well!

Angel of Serenity: Probability – Moderate

It’s a pretty sweet card. It’s much better than Avacyn was and might see some play in control decks. Taking out your opponent’s 3 biggest threats and putting in a 5/6 flyer is a pretty good effect. If you were to do this with 3 Fiend Hunters, you’d have to pay 9 mana, but you’d also have to worry about losing your Fiend Hunter to 3 points of damage. Removal spells are always a problem, but if you’re playing multiples of these, you can just start the one in the graveyard (along with any other creatures you want to bring back!) and keep returning it to your hand while taking out their threats. This is a pretty versatile creature. You can stop a creature in a Frites deck from getting reanimated, you can take away a deck’s finishers and buy some time while you build up your defenses, and you can bring creatures back from your graveyard in a white deck with it. I definitely think it will see some play. I don’t think it fits into any of the meta decks at the moment, so most likely this will be part of an entirely new strategy.

Other White cards in the meta

  • Fencing Ace – Moderate. It has double strike and it only costs 2 mana. Human aggro decks have lost Mirran Crusader, so this might not be a bad substitute. It would also work well in Gavony decks or Soulbonded with a Wolfir Silverheart. I think somebody will find a place for this.
  • Keening Apparition – Low to Moderate. Now that UW Delver has lost some of its power, I think we’ll see a return to Spirit decks. Spirits was what Delver was like back during the early weeks of Dark Ascension. Throw out some  Drogskol Captains, cast some Midnight Hauntings and Lingering Souls, and you got yourself a might fine deck. Geist of Saint Traft also adds more power to this deck type, and with Keening Apparition I think this would be fine in the 2 drop slot. It does lack evasion however, which leads me to think players will put this in their Spirits sideboard to deal enchantments like Detention Sphere. There are a few instants that deal with Enchantments as well, but why not just add more power in your deck with another creature?
  • Phantom General – Low. White Token decks have lost one of their Anthems (Honor of the Pure), and in its place they have the General. Did they really need to give token creatures more power with cards like Intangible Virtue and Favorable Winds seeing a lot of play in token strategies? I don’t think he’ll get played too much, but there is a possibility he could work his way into a Spirit Token deck and make those 5/5 flyers even bigger. WB Tokens or UW Tokens could see 2 copies in their main . . . Maybe.
  • Rootborn Defenses – Low to Moderate. I don’t know why but I liked this card a lot in sealed, and I think it has its uses in constructed. Bonfire of the Damned is running rampant in the metagame, and I think Mizzium Mortars are going to be popular as well. It’s also a nice trick to block your opponent’s creatures and kill them while making your army bigger the following turn. A few of these might find their way into some X/white aggro strategies

Red

Mizzium Mortars: Probability – moderate

Mixed in with Bonfire of the Damned, you’d have some potent board wipes in a red deck. X/red control decks are losing cards like Slagstorm and Whipflare, and in their place we have Bonfire of the Damned and Mizzium Mortars. Mortars isn’t as good as Bonfire, but at 6 mana it will do more damage to creatures than a Bonfire would do. This type of card could get some play in BR control, Grixis Control, and maybe even GR/Naya beatdown where they have access to mana acceleration. On the 2 mana side, you still have a 4 damage burn spell that could take out a Restoration Angel.

Guild Feud: Probability – low

Now hear me out on this. I played with this in my Rakdos Unleashed deck during the pre-release and I like what it did. In order for it to work, you’ll need to have the biggest creatures, and which deck HAS the biggest creatures??? That’s right, Frites! Six mana might seem a little steep, but Frites usually gets started kind of slowly anyways. With the biggest creatures, you’ll be spitting out fatties like Griselbrand and Gisela every turn while your opponent sheds a tear every time their Angel or Zombie gets ripped into tiny little pieces. Another upside to this card in a Frites deck is that helps to fill up your graveyard faster. That means you’ll put other Unburial Rites targets into the graveyard (along with Unburial Rites) and after putting a creature into the battlefield FOR free, you can zap the other big creature back to life with the Rites you were saving. I definitely think there could be a spot for this card.

Chaos Imps: Probability – low to moderate

He’s a little steep at 6 mana, but I think he’d fit in fine in a GR beatdown deck. You could get him out on turn 4 with some mana dorks like Arbor Elf, Unleash him, and then quickly proceed to slam your opponent with 7 points a turn. Restoration Angel can’t do anything about it, and neither can Delver. I don’t know if you’d want 4 of these in a GR deck that is already going to have Thundermaw Hellkite and Hellrider, but it would fit into the curve alright after the Hellkite.

Utvara Hellkite: Probability – low to

I think it’s time to build a dragon deck! Turn 1, Slumbering Dragon. Turn 2, Dragon Hatchling. Turn 3, Fervor. Turn 4, Furnace Whelp. Turn 5 Thundermaw Hellkite. Turn 6, Moonveil Dragon. Turn 7 Balefire Dragon. Turn 8, Utvara Hellkite. Attack for OVER 9000!!! (or to something close to it). Throw in some Battle Hymns for mana acceleration and  Reforge the Soul for card draw and you’re all good. Truthfully, he’s probably too heavy to get played in constructed, but wouldn’t it be AWESOME to build a dragon deck?

Ash Zealot: Probability – moderate

Soooo much graveyard hate in RTR. Snapcaster Mage has no friends :(. I think cards like this are going to make Mono Red viable again. Vexing Devils, Ash Zealot, Guttersnipe, and a crap ton of burn spells could decimate your opponent before the 6th turn. This card would be especially dangerous for a Frites, UB control, or other control deck.

Other Red cards in the meta

  • Annihilating Fire: Moderate to high. Pillar of Flame has been pretty effective in the metagame, exiling Zombies and other bothersome creatures you don’t want to put into the graveyard, and I think some players will be willing to put in some Annihilating Fires even with the higher casting cost so they can have that instant speed and another point of damage.
  • Bloodfray Giant: Moderate. I don’t think it would fit into a GR or Naya beatdown deck because that 4 spot is already filled by Huntmaster of the Fells, but I think the Giant would fit well into a mono red deck. A possible 5/4 trampler for 4 mana is just too sweet. This guy would also be a candidate for the new Heartless Summoning Unleashed deck that people have been talking about. He’d be a 4/3 trampler for 2 mana! We’ll see.
  • Guttersnipe: Moderate to High. I like Guttersnipe, but know what I would like more than him? 4 Guttersnipes. In a BR or UR deck heavy in spells, a few of him could kill your opponent very quickly. I’m very excited about the possibility of putting him in a Burning Vengeance deck as well. Cast the spell and do 2 damage, then flash it back and deal 4 damage! Can’t wait to build one.

Wrap Up

We’ll definitely see some new decks come Friday, but I also think that a few decks (such as mono red and UWB Spirits) will have new life breathed into them. I’m interested in seeing how the previous monsters of the meta (GR beatdown, UW Delver, and BR zombies) will fair. What do you think will happen? Will their be more control, or crazy new archetypes? I’d like to hear from you.

That’s it for today’s article about the new metagame. Join me later this week before FNM to discuss what cards from green, black, and artifacts will see a lot of play. If you have any other cards you’d like to add to this list or disagree with one of mine, please be sure to leave a comment. Thanks again for reading.

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