Guilds of Ravnica – Playing To Your Weaknesses: Blue
NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, after a lot of feedback I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. For the most part, I will focus mainly on cards from 2.5 to 5 stars in my article. The system is as follows:
- 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
- 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective. Example: A creature that fills the curve, a spell that destroys an artifact. Probably filler to finish up your limited deck or needs synergy to be playable.
- 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws. Example: A creature with a good ETB effect or decent activated ability. A spell that has a great effect but costs too much or has a big drawback. A good 2nd to 5th pick in draft.
- 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback. Example: A creature that will win the game on its own if left unchecked and wins head to head battles often. A spell that has multiple effects or creates a huge swing in tempo. Usually a first pick in draft.
- 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around. Example: A creature that is almost impossible to due to special abilities or recursion. A spell that wipes the board or gives you massive card advantage. “Windmill slam” first pick in limited.
Blue brings us some more interesting strategies thanks to two new mechanics: Surveil and Jump-Start. Both lend themselves to some graveyard manipulation which should really help those strategies with graveyard matter cards. They could work alright with Undergrowth effects, but they’ll probably find most of their power by joining forces. Let’s see what blue has to offer.
It’s very rare for me to want to play counterspells in Limited, but I could see both of these being played in Guilds of Ravnica limited. Sinister Sabotage has the new Surveil mechanic that basically lets you scry, but also lets you dump cards into your graveyard to fuel cards like Crackling Drake or if you’re playing UB it can help you improve the effects of your Undergrowth cards.
As for Devious Cover-Up, it’s a little bit harder to play and will most likely be held onto until later in the game in response to an opponent’s finisher or beater being played. If you’ve been surveiling a lot or want to get more use out of your removal, this a great card to have in your deck as it can get any 4 cards from your graveyard back into your library. All this on TOP of exiling the cast card. In a format built on manipulating the grave, this type of effect can’t be understated.
Sinister Sabotage – RATING: 3 Stars
Devious Cover-Up – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Next on my list are the tempo and ‘removal’ effects in blue. Blue never has TRUE removal but it is the king of tempo. Unexplained Disappearance is a decent bounce effect that also lets you Surveil, and Capture Sphere is basically Claustrophobia but with Flash, however the card I’m most excited about in GRN Limited is Selective Snare. Humans, Soldiers, Elves, Knights, etc . . . there are so many creature types being shared in this set that I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card returning 3-4 cards to their owner’s hand on average. It should be deceptively strong against Boros and Selesnya decks. I would pick it highly in draft.
Capture Sphere – RATING: 3 Stars
Unexplained Disappearance – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Selective Snare – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Would you normally play an Inspiration effect in limited? I’m sure you would. How about playing 2 of them but only using one card to do it? While you’re really only getting 3 cards due to having to discard when you use the Jump-Start ability, there’s no denying how powerful this card will be in limited. Chemister’s Insight is definitely going to be a high pick in draft.
RATING: 4 Stars
If the world of Ravnica is known for anything, it’s for its strong spells. While we haven’t gotten into black or red you, you can be sure to find more playable spells in those Ravnica colors than you’d usually find in another limited set. Therefore, I think the “spells matter” cards will become a lot better. Two such cards are Leapfrog and Murmuring Mystic. Leapfrog is the better aggressive card that will probably find its way into an Izzet deck with a good amount of burn, but Murmuring Mystic could end up being an all-star sleeper in this limited format. Incredibly good in Izzet (UR) with Jumpstart effects doubling the number of tokens you can get, and not bad in Dimir (UB) either. I expect it to be a high draft pick.
Murmuring Mystic – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Leapfrog – RATING: 2.5 Stars
It’s fair to say that the Surveil mechanic is being pushed, and that Dimir seems to be getting some of the best cards in the set, at least from a limited perspective. If you’re going to be playing any kind of Surveil strategy, then you’ll absolutely want Nightveil Sprite in this deck. It’s an enabler for all sorts of strategies. It can put cards into graveyard early on and set up your powerful Undergrowth or Izzet strategies with ease. That 2 toughness assures you it won’t be chump blocked by 1/1 flyers.
It’s also great card with the second card I’d like to talk about, Thoughtbound Phantasm. It’s probably worthless outside of a UB surveil deck, but if you’re all in on the strategy it can become terrifying very quickly. It doesn’t stop getting counters once it hits 3 and is able to attack so it’s not crazy to think this could become a great beater around turn 5 or so in a dedicated Surveil deck.
Watcher in the Mist and Citywatch Sphinx also help with Surveil strategy, but they are more valuable as flyers in my opinion. A 3/4 and 5/4 body that pseudo-scrys for 2 each while also give you evasion make them worth playing in your deck.
Nightveil Sprite – RATING: 3 Stars
Thoughtbound Phantasm – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Watcher in the Mist – RATING: 3 Stars
Citywatch Sphinx – RATING: 3 Stars
My final two picks for GRN limited in blue are Muse Drake and Passwall Adept. Muse Drake is barely above filler, but makes it into one of those last slots in my limited deck because 1) It’s a flyer, and 2) it replaces itself by drawing a card when it comes into play. Decent blocker, but you’ll need some strong combat tricks to make it anything more than that.
Passwall Adept has the same stats as Muse Drake and lacks flying, but hot damn does that ability make me tingle. If you’re playing a lot of dangerous creatures like in UR or UG, you’ll want to have Passwall Adept in there. Being able to turn any creature into an unblockable phantom will finish games very quickly.
Muse Drake – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Passwall Adept – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Other Cards that Will See Play
- Enhanced Surveillance – If you said I could scry an additional 2 each time I scryed, I’d say heck yeah. In a dedicated surveil deck I like this a lot. Digs through your deck to get to your powerful cards.
Coming Up Next
So blue seems to be partnering up with black and red pretty well. Surveil seems to be strong if you can put together synergy with other mechanics like Undergrowth and Jump-Start, but Jump-Start is better as a stand alone without the support cards. The tempo cards are rather few and far between in blue, so it’s probably good to stock up on the other colors for removal.
That’s going to do it for today’s article, but if you have any suggestions for blue I’d like to hear them. I expect the other traditional archetypes like UW Flyers to be available but subdued until the next set when Simic and Azorius archetypes become known. I’ll be working on black next and hope to get it done in the next few days. While I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do all of the articles before the weekend (Multicolor is going to be absolutely massive), I should have about 80% of it done. Thanks for reading and be sure to stop back in the next few days for the next article!