Guilds of Ravnica – Playing To Your Weaknesses: Multicolor (UR, UB), Lands, and Artifacts

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.

 

I finally got around to finish this series and not a moment too soon! I’ll be training this weekend and next week for Grand Prix Nagoya which is happening on October 12th-14th. My team is psyched, as I am, and I’m looking forward to rocking some Guilds of Ravnica Limited. I’ve already talked a lot about Surveil and Dimir decks, but not so much about Jump-Start. Well, this is the moment of truth. Just how much can the multicolor cards help these archetypes, and just where do the lands and artifacts fit into this limited format? Let’s dive in.

 

Izzet

 

Hypothesizzle

Hypothesizzle? Fo Shizzle! An instant speed Divination with Lava Coil type damage for 5 mana seems totally worth it. People play 5-6 mana black removal spells, so why not pay 5 to draw two cards and kill 80% of the creatures in the format? Good card for Izzet decks, and totally splashable if you wanted to run it in Jeskai or Grixis.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

 

 

 

Both Wee Dragonauts and Crackling Drake are great flyers but rely heavily on you having enough spells to feed to them. Wee Dragonauts seems like it would work well in a tempo/combat heavy deck. Perhaps splashable in Boros if you have lots of instant speed effects to pump your team? Even without spells, it’s still a good blocker. I expect it will go a few picks into draft.

Crackling Drake is so much better than the other Drakes that came before it like Enigma Drake. Not only does it draw you a card when you play it, but it also works amazingly well with the Jump-Start ability. Even if your spells are exiled, Crackling Drake still gets the bonus. I think it would be a high pick in a UR/Izzet deck with 5-6 spells to back it up. I expect it to be a 3/4 most of the time you play it, but it has potential to be a lot more. Hard to splash though.

Wee Dragonauts – RATING: 2.5 Stars

Crackling Drake – RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

League Guildmage

The draw a card ability is what will end up getting the most use from League Guildmage, but I like that double cast ability as well. If you have lots of 2 mana removal spells like Lava Coil, paying an extra 3 mana to copy it will pay huge dividends. You might not always have the mana early on, but this ability also works better mid to late game with Jump-Start effects as well. I think this Guildmage will be a limited all-star in Izzet decks.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Sonic Assault

My final pick in Izzet is Sonic Assault. It’s a decent tempo card, and since Izzet’s focus in Guilds of Ravnica is more disruption and assault it fits right in. If you have a Goblin Electromancer in play, it becomes even better. A flyer heavy deck will probably get the most use out of it. Not worth a splash however.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

Other Cards that Might See Play

 

  • Beacon Bolt (2) – Highly dependent on how many instants/sorceries you have in your deck. Maybe okay in draft, but not sealed.
  • Goblin Electromancer (2) – I don’t see this being any more than a 2/2 bear most of the time in limited. Like Beacon Bolt, could be alright in draft with lots of good spells.
  • Piston-Fist Cyclops (2) – See a pattern here? Good in a draft deck with lots of spells, otherwise just something to fill up your last limited deck spot and SOMETIMES be useful.

 

Dimir

 

House Guildmage

 

WOW. Built in Sleep ability and built in Surveil? House Guildmage is incredibly versatile. I love both of these abilities and think this Wiz-kid will be worth splashing and go rather highly in draft. If only she had a slightly bigger body to protect herself with.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Nightveil Predator

Nightveil Predator doesn’t have any strong activated or triggered abilities like the other double symbol cards do, but it’s still an incredibly potent killer. Hexproof stops all removal, flying makes him hard to block, and deathtouch makes sure that whomever he blocks or hits will die. High pick for all Dimir players.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Thought Erasure

 

I usually wouldn’t play a card like Duress or Despise in a limited deck, but I might just break that rule for Thought Erasure. For 2 mana you pretty much ensure that you can grab their bomb or finisher. And if you wiff? You at least get some information about your opponent’s hand, weaken them a little, and you get to Surveil. Definitely playable in Dimir decks, but I probably wouldn’t splash for it. Probably not strong against the speed of Boros decks, but against everything else I think it’s playable.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

 

Surveil is a strong mechanic for Dimir but the UB decks will probably lack in good finishers. It’s the price you pay for an incredibly strong Guild ability. That being said, building a Surveil themed deck in draft or sealed can end up being incredibly strong. Whisper Agent is a solid 3 drop that can surveil at instant speed and provide clutch offense or defense when you need it. Notion Rain is basically the Surveil version of Sign in Blood and other cards like it. It digs through your deck quickly and draws you cards at the cost of 2 life.

Dimir Spybug might seem weak at first, but in a devoted Dimir deck with 5 or more Surveil mechanics it ends up being a great attacker. It’s not often you see flyers with Menace on them. It can be downright broken in a deck with Nightveil Sprite and some evasion effects. I don’t think any of these cards are splash worthy, but they are strong picks for Dimir players.

Whisper Agent – RATING: 2.5 Stars

Notion Rain – RATING: 2.5 Stars

Dimir Spybug – RATING: 3 Stars

 

Artful Takedown

Artful Takedown, so powerful it can take down an Ox. Seriously, I like this a lot better than the recent -3/-3 cards that have been printed. It hits a heck of a lot more creatures with the -4 toughness part, and can also tap a creature offensive or defensively. Great removal and tempo card. Early pick, possibly splashable.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Discovery:Dispersal

The last card on my list of playable Dimir cards is Discovery/Dispersal. It’s a simple surveil and draw if you need a card, but late game it becomes a powerful discard effect. One of the worst things about playing Discard effects in a main deck is that if you don’t draw it to get rid of an opponent’s finishers early enough, they become dead later on in the game. Dispersal makes sure you grab something good because it forces one of your opponent’s bombs back into their hand. I absolutely love it in limited and would probably splash for this type of effect in a BUG or Grixis deck.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

Other Cards that Might See Play

 

  • Darkblade Agent (2.5) – Great in a Surveil decks, otherwise just a 2/3 filler for 3 mana.
  • Disinformation Campaign (2) – Could be really good in a devoted Surveil deck. Not great against aggro decks though.

 

Artifacts

 

Rampaging Monument

Great card in this format I think. It comes in as at least a 3/3, and each time you play a multicolor card it gets bigger. Not that hard to play with. Fits in any deck, AND it has trample!

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Silent Dart

You’re probably scraping the bottom of the barrel if you need to play this as part of your removal package. But hey, it happens. Sometimes this is all you got. Easy to play, but hard to activate. A 3 damage effect isn’t bad though.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

Selesnya Locket

 

I would say that the Lockets are good enough to play in any deck, but could easily be cut if your curve is great or if you can’t decide what else to cut. If your curve is a little high, with a lot of 4 drops and more than normal 5 and 6 drops, then I think you’ll want at least one in that deck. Boros might not need one, but I think all of the other color combos wouldn’t mind having a Locket. 

All Locket RATINGs: 2.5 

 

Gatekeeper Gargoyle

 

I played with Gatekeeper Gargoyle a few times at the pre-release and I wasn’t disappointed. I had about 3-4 Gates in my deck and I usually was able to play it for at least a 4/4 and sometimes a 5/5 or 6/6. It’s a decent limited card, and I expect it would be better in draft when you can grab as many guild gates as you can in your colors. If you don’t end up having any, it’s probably going to get cut though. 

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Lands

 

Gateway Plaza

Is Guilds of Ravnica a multicolor set? Is water wet? If you answered yes to these questions then heck yes you want as much mana fixing as possible. I would say that Gateway Plaza is the best gate out there. Great for fixing your mana and for splashing a 3rd color. I’d take it rather highly in draft I think. 

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

Golgari Guildgate

I believe that every GRN pack will have a Guildgate in them, so there shouldn’t be any shortage of them floating around in draft, but getting your colors could be tough. Always be on the lookout for a 3rd splashable color and try to grab them if your main color is taken. If you can get 3-4 Gates for your deck you’ll be in great shape. I think It’s a good idea to draft them somewhat highly. Probably as your 3-4th pick in a pack. 

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

That’s a Wrap

 

Annnndddd scene. Fade to black. The lights dim on my little series and the curtain prepares to rise for what seems to be a great limited format. I can totally understand why people like Surveil so much and I think UB will be one of the better archetypes in this format. BUG should be good too. Izzet and Jump-Start seem decent but I think it will end up being a great support color, but it will probably rely more on Boros cards to get things done. Blue is a good color to splash in Boros and Boros is good to splash in Blue decks.

I hope you did good at your pre-release and that you use the information posted in my articles to help you in future limited events. I’ll be playing a lot more Arena now that I’ve downloaded it, and I’ll be doing GP Nagoya next weekend as well, so I look forward to playing this limited format a lot. If you have any other questions or comments I hope to hear from you! Thanks for reading. 

 

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