Ravnica Allegiance- 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.
We’ve seen this happen again and again in past limited environments. A few of the colors get incredibly deep pools of playable cards, and others lose out. Maybe it’s because past expansions made that color too strong and the designers wanted to pull it back to balance out the color wheel, or maybe it was just bad design. Is that the case for blue? Well, let’s see RNA can surprise us like it did in white. As I said before, Azorius’ main new ability is addendum and will show up on some of the blue cards, but we also now get access to Simic’s ability; Adapt. This ability lets you add counters to the creature, sometimes activating a second effect while doing so. There are some interesting ones to be sure, but are they playable?
Blue usually has a lot of power in its flyers. It has probably the highest concentration of creatures with evasion of any colors, but they usually don’t have a lot of finishing or blocking power like red’s or white’s does. There are a decent number in Ravnica Allegiance, starting with the impressive Pteramander. It’s a 1/1 flyer with a hefty 8 mana adapt 4 ability, but that cost is offset by how many instants and sorceries you have in your graveyard. I expect it to be somewhat easy to get enough blue tempo spells and maybe some removal spells in your second color, but most of the time we don’t see more than 6-7 total spells in a limited deck. You won’t be using the ability for 1 mana, but I think it’s not unusual to be able to activate it at 5 mana, and it makes the card not unplayable as a late draw.
Faerie Duelist is a neat little card. The 1/2 body will block those pesky 1/1 Afterlife spirit tokens easily, and it also has flash and a combat trick tacked on so you can use it to create some tempo on your side. In an aggressive flyer deck I like it as part of my 23. Chillbringer is another great tempo card. It’s just on the edge of playable as a 3/3 flyer for 5 mana, but the “sleep” effect in addition to that makes it a good addition to your blue deck in my book.
While white had a 2/4 flying spirit that gave +0/+1 to flying creatures, blue has a drake that gives +1/+0 to flying creatures to offset it. This is going to be a highly drafted card I think, especially if the draft pod has a lot of quality Afterlife effects going around. Not only does this card groove well with the many blue flyers, but it makes a true UW Flyer deck absolutely terrifying. Maybe not a high pick in that first pack, but in the other two I wouldn’t be surprised to see this go pick 1 or 2.
Pteramander – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Faerie Duelist – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Windstorm Drake – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Chillbringer – RATING: 3 Stars
Blue’s other power comes in the form of its tempo cards. They have a lot of bounce, tap, and debuff abilities that make it very frustrating to play against sometimes. We don’t have any super cheap effects this time, but we do have a lot of instant speed ones. Slimebond and Code of Constraint both give creatures -4/-0 at instant speed, but while Code lasts only that turn, Slimebond effectively takes an attacker out of battle for the rest of the game. The difference is that Code of Constraint also replaces itself by drawing you a card, and if you use it in a more aggressive deck on your turn, you can “sleep” your opponent’s creature and leave them open to attack on your next turn as well.
Arrester’s Admonition also has the ability to bounce a creature to it’s owner’s hand, but at 3 mana and basically forcing you to use it on your turn in order to get value from it, it’s not as good as Code in my opinion. Playable yes, but nothing I’d take highly in draft.
Swirling Torrent is incredibly heavy for a tempo spell, but late game it can be very powerful since it lets you choose two effects when yo cast it. Timewalk an opponent by putting a creature on their library that they have to draw and cast again, and also return one to their hand. At this point in the game, you’re probably targeting their finishers/beaters, and getting them off the board for a turn at the same time can be rather effective. Again I don’t see it as a high draft, but I don’t see it going around the table either. Good to pick up around choice 3-4 or so.
Slimebond – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Code of Constraint – RATING: 3 Stars
Arrester’s Admonition – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Swirling Torrent – RATING: 3 Stars
Other than the Pteramander, I think Skitter Eel and Skatewing Spy are also rather good Adapt cards in blue. Skatewing Spy is obviously the higher pick since it gives all of your creatures with counters on them flying, which is going to be amazing in a Simic laden UG deck. His ability to become a 4/5 flyer himself later in the game is also rather impressive. Good body early on, and very threatening later. Grab it early!
Skitter Eel is more of a roleplayer fitting into that 4 drop position and filling out your curve, sitting there until you can spare the mana to turn it into a beater. I like that it can fill that 4 drop spot instead of taking up a 5 or 6 drop spot like most beaters usually do. It frees those spaces up for even more power cards.
Skitter Eel – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Skatewing Spy – RATING: 3.5 Stars
Last but not least, blue gives us card draw. Prying Eyes lets us draw 4 cards at instant speed, but it also costs a total of 6 mana and you have to throw away 2 of those cards. It’s not as much value as you might think as a normal Divination effect costs only 3 and draws you 2, but it does let you dig deeper and find cards you need more easily. Some decks will want this, but some are better off without it I think.
Gateway Sneak is a little more impressive to me. It has a decent body that can block well, but also has built in evasion if you play a gate. Each pack you open should have at least once gate, and in draft you should be able to get even more. Seems like a great target to put enchantments on, as well to give evasion too. This card could end up getting you a decent amount of card advantage. I think it deserves a spot in your 23 card deck.
Prying Eyes – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Gateway Sneak -RATING: 3 Stars
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Essence Capture (2.5) – Limited always has lots of creatures to counter. Better than Essence Scatter, but double blue early on can be tough.
- Eyes Everywhere (2.5) – Seems fun, but effectively costs 9 mana. If your deck is built to play slow, it can be really strong. The scry 1 each turn is great.
- Humongulus (2) – Playablity on flavor alone. The hexproof is nice though and big defender if you want to play a slow deck or have the Azorius enchantment that does damage from toughness.
- Persistent Petitioners (2) – Super strong in draft if you can get multiples, but otherwise not sure it’s more than filler in sealed.
- Quench (2.5) – Good Mana Leak type effect, just not sure every blue deck wants to play it.
- Senate Courier (2) – Great blocker that flies, another great card for that Azorius enchantment that deal damage equal to toughness. Much more playable if you have Windstorm Drake in your deck.
- Wall of Lost Thoughts (1.5) – There is definitely a mill deck in draft somewhere, but most of parts are worthless by themselves.
Coming Up Next
Well I wasn’t disappointed. Blue usually isn’t a powerful color, at least not without another color as part of it in the multicolor cards, but I’m satisfied with what Ravnica Allegiance has given us. Lots of good flyers to help with UW flyer decks, tempo cantrips, and some beefy adapt cards that are good mana sinks for later in the game.
I’ll be working on Black next and hopefully I’ll have it out by Thursday afternoon Japan time. Black has always been rather scary on Ravnica with cards like Dark Confidant and Desecration Demon. I expect there to be some good removal at least in the next article. Thanks for reading and hope to see you back for black!