I like Ravnica, but I love the guilds.
Two-color pairs that define an identity in Magic is one of the more important developments in the game’s history, and for a third time we’re on the place of Ravnica seeing these color pairs in action. The cityscape world is filled with Eastern European nods and style, but the star of the show are always the piles of multicolor cards we get.
Which is why today’s edition of Quick Hits is brought to you by the majesty of common gold cards, and patrons like you.
Let’s do this.
Impassioned Orator isn’t too different from Soul Warden and friends, except our Orator is still on rate as a two-drop. I love the idea of have a Bear around that’s also a life gain machine. With enough ways to make tokens, and Orator being useful enough as a 2/2, I could see the value of slipping in some Soul Sisters touches.
Justiciar's Portal is the latest take on Cloudshift. The potential of flickering a great blocker for enters the battlefield value and getting a one-sided trade out of it seems awesome. Of course, that’s pretty much the best case scenario which isn’t going to happen often.
Syndicate Messenger shows just how high the Magic Play Design team rates afterlife as a mechanic. A 2/3 with flying for four is pretty anemic compared to other options (Aven Sentry and Geist of the Moors come to mind) even with a 1/1 flying Spirit insurance policy. I think this is pretty far from a solid contender, and that says a lot considering the other common afterlife cards look even worse. (Except the one we look at below.)
Arrester's Admonition is a sweet bounce spell. It’s always Drag Under but keeps the flexibility of being an instant at losing its addendum bonus. While fans of Repulse will stay disappointed, the flexibility (and decision point of when to cast Admonition) is an attractive way to bring Drag Under back.
Prying Eyes wasn’t a card that jumped out to me on my first pass through the complete list of commons, but the Pauper Cube Discord lit up with a few tags for it. Digging four cards deep at instant speed is a fine spell, but the final result is you only net one card more than where you started. At six mana it’s a big spell… but it’s also an instant which helps balance that out. I might be talked into this card, but blue already has plenty of card drawing power to grease its wheels in the cube.
Is a bad Opportunity really necessary?
Have I ever mentioned how much people love to play around with creatures with good enters the battlefield triggers? (Scry 2 is huge.)
Blade Juggler isn’t Phyrexian Rager, but it looks close enough to count. Black control decks need ways to get more cards, and if they aren’t playing blue it’s something like a Rager or Juggler you want. I really like this card, though it’s much closer to Rhox Oracle than Rager.
Some have suggested that Burn Bright is better than Trumpet Blast. Some note that Blast works better if you’re playing Two-Headed Giant. Some* comment that telling players to cast pump effects when they’re attacking is helpful to newer players. In the end, either spell works.
(*It was me in Discord.)
Repeatable card selection is powerful. Burning-Tree Vandal does it in red, with the option of haste or as a 3/2. This card is solid and I can’t wait to play with it at a Prerelease (or, being honest, somewhere in the cube).
Fact: This is probably all we need to know.
Wrecking Beast is an interesting ramp reward. If you need the biggest boy you can have a 7/7, but a 6/6 with haste from mono-green is nice as well. I don’t think this is as good as something like Walker of the Grove but it’s definitely a great creature.
It flies! It adapts! It’s a card only a green-blue deck would want anyway! Aeromunculus is a reasonable way to phase out something like Frilled Oculus or Beetleform Mage. Feedback about updating green-blue multicolor has been clear about these “Rootwalla” cards aren’t playing out as well as intended.
Applied Biomancy is a rare “and” modal card that reads like it originally was meant to say “put a +1/+1 counter on target creature” rather than a pump until end of turn. In any case, a bounce spell nobody outside of green-blue would take is awesome. What a trick!
Some of the best removal in the game is in white-black, and Final Payment lives up to the task. With so many tokens and enchantments in white, the additional cost isn’t challenging. The fact it’s an instant pushed this card further, and seeing where we end up with adding and updating each of the Ravnica Allegiance guilds in the cube will be interesting.
Frenzied Arynx is interesting. The six mana to pump itself up seems a distant possibility, but breaking stalemates and outclassing Rhox Brute puts meat back onto the cube menu. Again, riot is a nice way to add choices that matter to give cards more range and flexibility than they otherwise would have.
Growth Spiral looks like Explore, but as an instant in green-blue it’s a card that will always end up in the hands of the player that can actually use it. Cycling isn’t the worst for two mana, and if it’s an extra Rampant Growth in effect it’s not bad either. I believe I like this card more than some of the other folks in the Discord though.
What don’t I like about Imperious Oligarch? There isn’t another version of this efficient of the creature in the set. So many abilities for just two mana? Deal.
Flash plus Arrest equals value. This is hard to overlook as a slam dunk for the cube.
It's instant speed, clearly Arrestant. -M
— Color Commontary (@ColorCommontary) January 11, 2019
Fact: Savage Smash is an awesome fight spell.
Fact: Pit Fight can probably retire and rarely be missed.
I shouldn’t have to talk about Footlight Fiend. I feel the Rakdos, the color pair that brought us Terminate, got a shorter stick this trip. I wanted to see efficient cards (you can see the obvious power of the Gruul this go around) help redefine what black-red does in the cube. Instead, I contemplate whether a two-color flavor of Goblin Arsonist is actually needed here as it’s among the “better” Rakdos options.
Maybe I’m being too hard on our performing friends?
Man does Wizards (seem to) like making blue cards better than the others.