What to Expect: The Impact of Return to Ravnica on the Metagame – Multicolor and Hybrid

It’s time for the last installment of “What to Expect”, and today I’ll be covering the last group of cards that I think will be finding it’s way into the metagame: Multicolor and Hybrid. We haven’t see a lot of these types of cards since the Shards of Alara block (which went out of play last October I believe when Innistrad came out). Things have changed a lot since then, and I think Wizards of the Coast has learned some things from their past mistakes. However, they’ve also made new ones.


Deathrite Shaman: Probability – High

The most exciting hybrid card of the Return to Ravnica set is this guy, Deathrite Shaman. He is extremely versatile if you’re can pay the price. First off, look at his abilities. It isn’t YOUR graveyard, it’s A graveyard. If at any time you run out of your own cards to use, I’m sure you’re opponent wouldn’t mind. Let’s take a look at these abilities:

  1. Exile a land from a graveyard – More and more people are going to be using mana fixing in this format, and that means there are going to be a lot of people using Evolving Wilds. You can be sure to get a few free mana from this effect, but don’t count on using it every turn.
  2. Exile instant or sorcery – this is going to be extremely painful to Snapcaster Mage and any Flashback card sitting in a control players graveyard. Plus on top of getting rid of your opponent’s Forbidden Alchemy or Faithless Looting, they lose 2 life as well!
  3. Exile a creature – timed right, you can take out an undying creature before it returns to the battlefield. This is also really strong against Frites players, who will be filling their graveyard with LOTS of tasty creatures you can target.

He’s not bad as a one drop either, being a 1/2 creature. He won’t be taking any hits, but it’s not a vanilla 1/1 either. Not sure where we’ll see him, but you can be sure he’ll be around in the coming weeks, especially when people start trying out their Izzet and Azorius control decks.

Cryptborn Horror: Probability – low

I really like this guy, but I don’t think a lot of players do. He would fit in great in a very aggressive mono red deck, or even a mono black aggro deck. If you’re playing with cards like Strangleroot Geist or Hell Rider in your GR deck, this guy would be absolutely huge after an attack phase. I wouldn’t put him in a control deck, but in an aggressive deck he could be a key player in that 3 spot.

Other hybrid cards in the metagame

  • Dryad Militant – 2/1 for 1 that makes the graveyard irrelevant for a control player. This could go in the sideboard or also find it’s way into the main deck of a GW aggro deck. Usually people will want to cast mana creatures that first turn, but really aggressive decks might throw 1 or two of these main.
  • Sundering Growth – If anybody had a Revoke Existence or Naturalize in their sideboard before the rotation, they have probably already switched it with this. Same cost, but now you get that added Token maker bonus.
  • Frostburn Weird – I think this card can add a lot of power to mono blue decks, and it also wouldn’t be a bad 2 drop in a mono red deck since it could attack for 4 on turn 3. The 1/4 body also fares well against most zombies, so don’t put this card in the trash just yet.


Abrupt Decay: probability – high

This card has hit 2000 yen in stores in Japan, and it probably won’t be dropping in price for a long time. This card will see play in all formats, and it will be an especially strong card in a BG Zombie deck or even Frites (sideboard maybe?). The drawback of this card is probably that the mana cost of the permanent has to be 3 or less, but there are TONS of 3 mana permanents I wouldn’t mind getting rid of asap (Liliana of the Veil, Ajani, Silverblade Paladin, etc). This card is going to be played a lot.

Wayfaring Temple: probability – low

People probably are thinking “meh” about this card, but I think populate decks could get popular and for 3 mana this guy isn’t a bad investment. He can get huge extremely quick, and with cards like Rootborn Defenses and Druid’s Deliverance, you should have no problem keeping him safe from destruction while making him bigger at the same time. Slap a Rancor on him and your opponent is really in trouble.

Vraska the Unseen: probability – moderate to high

I don’t think we’ll see Vraska in a BG zombies deck, but in a BG aggro deck? Yes. This will be a deck with cards like Strangleroot Geists and kill spells like Ultimate Price, and it will also be heavy in Scavenge creatures. It will be one of those new metagame decks. I also think that Rancor will go up in price again because of all of the possibilities in a BG deck. T1 Deathrite Shaman, T2 Strangleroot Geists, T3 Dreg Mangler, T4 Desecration Demon, T5 Vraska, sprinkle in some Rancors and kill spells and bon apetit !

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice: probability – high to moderate

Along side an Armada Wurm, this card is just going to be insane in a WG aggro deck. Let her stay back and populate while you gain 5 life each turn while putting in a 5/5 trampling Wurm token. I’ve already put one in my WG life gain deck, and really hope I can pull off another infinite combo with her and 3 Fiend Hunters. I bought her for 590 yen today, and I think she’s INCREDIBLY under valued. If you can pick her up for under $10, I think you definitely should get one or two of her. She’ll be great in a format with cards like Restoration Angel and Thragtusk.

Supreme Verdict: probability – moderate to high

Control players are going to have a choice: Supreme Verdict or Terminus. Most people are saying that Terminus is the control card of choice in this new metagame, because there are simply too many ways to get creatures out of the graveyard. However, if you team this card up with Rest in Peace, I would use this before a Terminus. However, I think lots of players will use both. If could be a playset of each, or they might do a 4/2 split. It’s still a very good card and if you’re going to try to take on players in the standard metagame, you’re going to need all of the board wipes you can get. Look for this in UW control, or maybe even Esper control if they are still around.

Sphinx’s Revelation: probability – low to moderate

I believe it was Brad Nelson or Evan Erwin that said Sphinx’s Revelation is replacing Blue Sun’s Zenith, and I pretty much  agree. The only draw back is that you CAN’T use this to mill your opponent. Life gain is alright I guess, but Blue Sun was better. This will give UW control decks a little bit of breathing room in the late game as well as grab them their finishers, but don’t expect to see too many of these main deck. I think it would be a one off (maybe 2) more than anything alongside a Snapcaster Mage.

Rakdos’s Return: Probability – low to moderate

I think this card will show up a lot in Grixis decks. There are a lot of good cards in Izzet that will complement this, and if your opponent is tapped out it could be pretty effective. At its worse it’s a Blaze for an extra black mana in the cost. Running a Rakdos charm along side this would be a good idea, especially against Frites and control decks, but against aggro this card would be pretty useless.

Rakdos, Lord of Riots: probability – moderate

With cards like Bonfire of the Damned seeing heavy play and most people focusing on an aggro based attack, you can be sure Rakdos will see some play. I think he’d be great in Frites, but getting him out early might be tricky. You should definitely run Lotleth Troll and Lingering Souls in Frites to get that early damage, and then on turn 4 you should be able to get him out. Sure you can cast Unburial Rites and get your creatures back that way in a Frites/Reanimator deck, but Rakdos offers you another way of getting your big creatures out early as long as you can deal some damage. I think aggressive Unleashed decks are also possible in the metagame, and Rakdos would fit in perfectly in those decks.

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius: Probability – moderate

Niv-Mizzet is by far the best Legendary in Return to Ravnica. I love Trostani, but if all your doing is gaining life you’re not going to win the game. He has evasion (flying), a good body (5/5), and his ability to ping either creatures or players is incredibly useful. Grixis and Izzet are going to get a lot of play in the new metagame in my opinion, and Niv-Mizzet might even find a spot in URW Midrange. Without all the ramping we had in the last year of the metagame, I think card advantage is going to be incredibly important. On the next turn, he’ll be drawing you 3 cards at the end of your turn, and this is much better than Isperia’s ability which MIGHT cause your opponent to hesitate.

Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord: probability – low to moderate

Jarad will play a key role in Golgari/self mill decks, and I’m sure you’ll see cards like Splinterfright alongside him. These decks will focus on filling up their graveyards as quickly as possible then scavenging for parts to build up their power. Grisly Savage would be a great card in this deck, grabbing you a creature while filling up your graveyard and making him bigger, and along side a Splinterfright, you’ll have a lot of power on the board by turn 5. This build will probalby be similar to BG zombies. Gravecrawlers will probably fill in the one spot, and Lotleth Trolls or Blood Artists will be in the two spot, but I don’t think you’ll see many Geralf’s Messengers in a BG Scavenge deck. Dreg Mangler is much better.

Loxodon Smiter: probability – moderate

This card is definitely anti-liliana of the Veil, but it would also fit well in GW aggro deck. It’s raw power that can’t be countered, simple as that. If you need the beat, he’s got the hammer.

Lotleth Troll: Probability – very high

He’ll definitely be in BG Zombies, but he’ll also be great in 4 color frites as well. This card has been selling like hotcakes already and he’s hard to find for under 1000 yen. Look for him to be the defining card in Zombies this generation like Geralf’s Messenger was in the last one. He was meant to be teamed up with Gravecrawler! You could easily have him up to a 4/3 or a 5/4 by turn 3.

Hypersonic Dragon: Probability – low

Everybody and their brother got one of these during the pre-release it seems, but I don’t think they’re garbage at all. He’s a 4/4 Haste flyer for 5 mana, and his ability might be a useful trick in a UWR Miracle deck. I don’t expect to see too much of him in the early weeks, but I think he’ll show up on the scene later as people realize how much hidden power is in Izzet and how they can exploit various sorcery effects as instants.

Dreadbore: probability – high

Yet another reason why Grixis and BR decks will be powerful. In a BR zombie deck it’s a great sideboard card , and in Grixis it’s the best kill spell out there. It’s better than Murder, Ultimate Price, and Victim of Night. I don’t know how many times I was about to stop a player from reaching their planeswalker’s ultimate ability and I got fogged or stopped in some other way. This totally sidesteps chump blockers and just straight out destroys it. If only we had this against Gideon and Karn in the previous metagame.

Epic Experiment: probability – moderate

This is another one of those cards that are undervalued I think. UR (Izzet) control/burn will soon break out in the metagame, and Epic Experiment might see some game play at that time. It doesn’t have good synergy with Miracles, so I don’t think it would work well in a URW miracle deck, but I DO think it would work well in a Grixis control deck. Pay a few mana and you could easily clear the board (Dreadbore, Ultimate Price), deal damage (Searing Spear, Pillar of Flame), and draw cards (Think Twice, Thought Scour). Where I’d REALLY like to use this is in a Burning Vengeance deck. Cast this during the middle of the game with some Guttersnipes and you could end the game, and if you didn’t, you could flash them back the following turn for damage with Burning Vengeance.

Detention Sphere: probability – moderate to high

I’ve played against Tokens recently in the new metagame, and they are NOT fun in a format without Ratchet Bomb. Detention Sphere is a great strategy against them, and would fit really well with Terminus too. Oblivion Ring is going to still be in many UW/Esper control decks, but expect this to get played more. Id say if you’re playing with these colors, it would be a great idea to have at least a few in your sideboard.

Armada Wurm: Moderate to High

This card puts 10 power on the table for 6 mana! How freaking amazing is that? It also has trample, and can be blinked for even more 5/5 wurms as well. I’m in love with this card and can’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s going to be the new “Titan” for GW, Naya ramp, and GWB Gavony ramp, so you can expect to see a lot of it in the those type of decks. Teamed up with Trostani will also be great. You’ll gain 10 life when he comes into play, and 5 more life each time she populate’s your token. GW aggro is definitely going to be the next GR beatdown in this metagame!

Other multicolor cards in the metagame

  • The Charms – They’ll see play in some form or other. They are pretty useful in a pinch and have much better abilities in constructed than in limited
  • Dreg Mangler – BG Zombies are definitely going to have him in there. He’s the best of both worlds. He’s like a Strangleroot Geist married a Messenger (but lost the undying).
  • Grisly Savage – Great in Frites and BG Scavenge decks to fill the graveyard up quickly.

Wrap up

GW and BG zombies are going to be hitting the floor running during the first few weeks of the metagame. You can expect control to bridge out a little as Grixis, UR, and UW control test the waters to see what works and what doesn’t. I also think we’ll see a lot of BG Scavenge decks and BR Heartless Summoning or BR Rakdos unleashed decks as well. I don’t want to say too much else at this point, but rather I’m going to take a wait and see approach.

I know a few of you probably disagree with some of these choices, but overall I think most of the multicolor cards are very solid and playable. I’ll be playing a few events this weekend, so I’ll be sure to research the new metagame a little more and fill you in with the new decks out there.

Thanks for reading and good luck in the new metagame.