Editor's note: this article is short, but it is packed. Read closely, and probably reread. Then, take his predictions and test them. He may not be handing you decklists on a platter, but he has a good idea of what a competitive idea looks like when he sees one. -Gob
So what impact is Ravnica going to have on T2? Ohhhhh boy. If I had a webcam, I’d post the video of me trying to figure it all out. I don’t have a webcam, so you’ll just have to imagine. My hair is standing up on end like I’ve just been electrocuted, my eyes are bulging out of my sockets, I’m hovering 3 feet in the air, and I think my brain might have exploded. Ravnica brings so ridiculously many playable cards to the format that just sorting them all has me dancing on tables. While dancing, my toes have hit the keyboard a few times, and here’s what came out.
1: Red White control is the sleeper deck of the set. The Boros Guild brings plenty of cool new toys to the format to play around with. Devouring Light and Lightning Helix both offer cheap sources of spot removal out of Ravnica, while Wrath of God, and Wildfire are current mass removal staples. Win conditions leave something to be desired, with the best being Razia, Boros Archangel, and Hammerfist Giant. Other possible includes are Ghostly Prison, an aggro hoser that goes great with Wildfire. Complimenting prison is Razia’s Purification, a card which I personally dislike, but can synergize nicely with prison for hosing aggro. The deck's biggest weakness is its control matchups, however it does appear to pound aggro of all forms into the dirt.
Yes, I'm really just 6 years old
2: As long as we’re discussing the Boros Guild, Red/White Weenie is better than WW in almost every conceivable way. Adding Red allows you to pick up Lightning Helix and Volcanic Hammer for proactive removal. It also gives you access to Stoneshaker Shaman, who is a dream against control decks, most of whom dislike tapping out. Of course, there are also the incredible RW creatures, like Skyknight Legionnaire and Boros Swiftblade. It's said every year with every new set... but perhaps this is the year where WW finally won't suck.
3: Black Green will be around all year. BG is already more popular than it really deserves in the current format, and Ravnica brings it TONS of good toys. Gleancrawler is the biggest and baddest, and frankly, he's strong enough to design an entire deck around. Grave Shell Scarab makes for a strong additon as well. Aside from the obviously good synergy with Gleancrawler, the 4/4 body for 5 is respectable in today's metagame, and the dredge is a real bonus. Putrefy is obviously the best spot-removal spell in the format, with a range of targets that make other contenders like Dark Banishing and Rend Flesh cringe.
Plague Boiler is a reset button the likes of which BG hasn't had since Pernicous Deed. Depressingly, it is a bit slow, and may not even make the cut. One of the more interesting strategies for BG would be to splash a little bit of White for access to Loxodon Hierarch and other white cards (Gift of Estates for example). All in all, BG stacks up to be one of the strongest decks of the season, and is one I have very high hopes for.
4: There are about twenty different versions of Blue/Black on the market; however, they break down to three different approaches. The first is UB reanimator. Glimpse the Unthinkable, the dredge mechanic, Compulsive Research, and Consult the Necrosages all help to put stuff into your graveyard. Dimir Doppelganger and Vigor Mortis helps in the reanimation category. Not to mention Rav brings a whole host of interesting reanimation targets, the strength of each depending on how the metagame pans out.
The second version of UB is a control deck. Combining current removal like Sickening Shoal and Cruel Edict with permission like Perplex and Hinder makes UB control a foil to a wide variety of strategies. How you win the game is often more an academic question, however the best win conditions that I have found are Dimir Doppleganger, and Circu, Dimir Lobotomist.
The third variety of Black Blue is combo-mill. The heavy hitters are Glimpse the Unthinkable and Circu, Dimir Lobotomist. Most of the cards that are playable in control also fit in mill, however the real difference between them is mill wins by attacking the opposing library, whereas control wins by creature beatdown.
5: WG is better than it looks. That's not saying much, but it's true. A few of the more aggressive cards from today's mono green aggro like Iwamori of the Open Fist and Llanowar Elves, combined with items from WW like Isamaru, Hound of Konda and Umezawa's Jitte give you a rough skeleton. Fill that in with Ravnica cards like Watchwolf and Loxodon Hierarch, and you have a respectible if rather boring aggro deck. Plow Under would have done wonders for this deck, although it may manage to stand on it's own, even without the Plow.
6: Saprolings are going nowhere. Nope. Not gonna happen. There just isn't enough support to make a Saproling deck work. See also Umezawa’s Jitte.
7: Having exhausted the guilds, it’s time to consider other color combinations. Mono-Black of all forms gets a huge boost in Ravnica. For you rat-aggro players Dark Confidant is exactly what you want. He’s got a good power-CMC ratio at 1-1. More importantly, he draws you cards. Also, Last Grasp is a workable removal spell which should help your Rats get through early on for damage. For those of you who prefer a control approach, your biggest gain is Moonlight Bargian, which is a veritable Fact or Fiction, only black, and better. Plagueboiler is also good in MBC, helping to replace the departing Oblivion Stone, although it would obviously be better with a small splash of Green.
8: Eye of the Storm is a card that’s just SCREAMING to be broken. I anticipate quick trips to the Vintage restricted and Legacy banned lists. As far as T2 goes, there are a few different ways you can try to break it. RU is one option, with Seething Song to pay for cheap burn spells while Telling Time and Sleight of Hand keep you drawing more burn.
If red blue doesn't interest you, you could also try black. Your combo would instead be Sins of the Past. The best kill available to black is likey Cranial Extraction. Without Seething Song to accelerate you, most of the rest of the deck will have to be defensively oriented cards, designed to keep you alive long enough to cast Eye, or Tunnel Vision your way into it.
3y3 of t3h s40r/\/\ = 1337
9: Gifts Ungiven decks from Kamigawa Block Constructed should find a home in Ravnica. The Hana Kami lock (Souless Revival spliced onto Ethereal Haze, recurring the Kami, who recurs the Haze) should be effective against most of the aggro decks in the format. The combination of permission and disruption should also give it game against aggro.
Because the manbabase is so broad, it can support most of the good cards in the set. Simple and effecient removal like Putrefy and Devouring Light gives it a much stronger early game, while other more general cards like Recollect and Farseek provide nice additions as well.
10: Enduring Ideal will carry over its current success into the Ravnica T2 as the most common combo deck of the format. Privileged Position provides some shelter from enchantment removal while Tunnel Vision acts as another way to get Form of the Dragon or other key enchantments into play. The consistency lost when Thirst for Knowledge and Serum Visions rotate out is made up for by Compulsive Research and Telling Time respectively.
11: At least 4 of these predictions will be very wrong. Hey... I've had barely 48 hours as of my last edit to predict the metagame, and I spent a good portion of that sleeping and stalking MaRo instead of testing.
There you have it. Ten bold (or rather cowardly) predictions about Ravnica Type 2, and important cards you should be looking to bend, break, or just plain smash face with. Now get out there, and get a jump on the impending metagame. GoGo Ravnica!
Banner by votan. Edited by Goblinboy.