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Ten New Ravnica Allegiance Standard Brews

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Warning!

The brews you are about to see are untested first drafts. They were played live on stream as part of the MTG Arena Ravnica Allegiance Early Access Streamer Event, before anyone had ever played a game of Ravnica Allegiance Standard. They contain the first inklings of ideas for the format and are excellent first steps, but are not finished products and should not be copied card for card. Use them as stepping stones for your deck brewing process, but play them ‘as-is’ at your own risk!

Since the rotation of Kaladesh and Amonkhet and the release of Guilds of Ravnica, Standard has been nothing short of awesome. However, nothing lasts forever in Magic and we’re about to get another big shakeup. The good news is that Ravnica Allegiance looks awesome too! The set has tons of powerful cards in it, and we’re gonna waste no time getting to the decklists today.

I’ll be going over all ten decks I played on the early access stream Wednesday, assigning them all a letter grade as well as talking about what their future prospects look like.

Let’s go!

Four Color Gates


Deck Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Surprisingly High

No lies, I built this deck as a meme. Streaming is always a mixture of playing competitive decks and fun decks and this was the last deck of the ten I built cause I wanted something that was a bit off the wall and out there. Imagine my surprise when the deck actually seemed very good!

Gates Ablaze
Gatebreaker Ram
Gate Colossus

The new ‘gates matter’ cards from Ravnica Allegiance are an excellent combination of cards that reward you for playing gates while also working very well together. When more than half your lands enter the battlefield tapped having some sort of mass removal is very important, which makes Gates Ablaze the most important card in the deck by a mile.

But it goes much further than that with Gatebreaker Ram and Gate Colossus, both very powerful finishers that are relatively cheap to play, play good defense and offense, and survive Gates Ablaze no problem. The vigilance and trample on Gatebreaker Ram lets it play great defense as well as great offense, while the recursion on Gate Colossus gives you some late game grind potential.

Growth Spiral
Guild Summit

Growth Spiral is also amazing in this deck, joining Circuitous Route as a way to both ramp mana and get lots of gates into play very quickly to power up your payoff cards. And speaking of payoff cards, the quickly forgotten Guild Summit ends up being the best one of all, providing you with an endless stream of cards.

It’s hard to know exactly where the format will land, but make no mistake that there is a real deck here.

Orzhov Afterlife


Deck Grade: D

Deck Potential: Low

From “most exciting” to “most disappointing.”

Revival // Revenge

This is a deck very similar to the deck that I built in my article a few weeks ago previewing Revival // Revenge. Because it was the preview card I made sure to push it into the deck pretty hard, but overall it was very underwhelming. The Revival effect is rarely better than just playing another good creature, while the Revenge effect is basically blank. It also forced me into playing low-impact cards like Stitcher's Supplier to try and make it better which feels wrong.

Priest of Forgotten Gods

While the deck felt underpowered and at times anemic, one of the highlights was Priest of Forgotten Gods. Priest of Forgotten Gods is the real deal, offering a boatload of value at a very low cost. It also gives you extra value from your Diabolic Edict effect, so if the effect isn’t good you still get other things out of it. Diabolic Edict doesn’t feel too great in the new format, which was partly why Plaguecrafter underperformed.

There may be something here with Orzhov Afterlife stuff, but this first shot feels like you’re playing Limited and everyone else playing Constructed.

Azorius Skies


Deck Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Medium

Up to the skies!

Favorable Winds
Dovin, Grand Arbiter

Depose // Deploy

Favorable Winds has been a card that has floated around Standard formats before, never really making a big splash, but with both Dovin, Grand Arbiter and Depose // Deploy making thopter tokens it seemed like it was worth a shot. We kept parts of the Curious Obsession/Dive Down package usually employed by Mono-Blue Aggro, but they played very awkwardly with the go wide elements of Favorable Winds. One card wants you to focus on powering up and protecting one big creature, while the other wants you to go wide with lots of small creatures.

Sky Tether

One bright spot was the new removal spell Sky Tether, which seems very powerful in a deck either looking to attack in the air or to defend planeswalkers. While not great on utility creatures or against decks with sacrifice effects, being able to ground something like a Doom Whisperer for only one mana is pretty great. Depose // Deploy also played nicely.

There’s certainly something here, but it would require a pretty substantial rebuild that likely drops the Curious Obsession package.

Gruul Fires


Deck Grade: B-

Deck Potential: Medium to Low

One of the decks I was most excited about, I was very unimpressed with Gruul despite us wining most of our games.

Rhythm of the Wild

Rhythm of the Wild was very awkward, as taking an early turn off to do nothing that effects the board comes at a pretty steep cost in Standard. When played on curve or off of a Llanowar Elves it was pretty great, but whenever you didn’t curve perfectly it often felt very awkward. The synergy with Growth-Chamber Guardian was fantastic, but that was really it. We played against a few more combo-focused Rhythm of the Wild decks based around a lot of mana creatures and Elf effects that was pretty interesting, but overall it was unimpressive.

Gruul Spellbreaker
Sunder Shaman

Otherwise the deck sorta just did what it did. New cards like Gruul Spellbreaker and Growth-Chamber Guardian are obviously very good, and Sunder Shaman was also pretty impressive. Thrash // Threat was also a reasonable removal spell.

Once the format starts to get refined however, just playing good creatures is not going to be enough to win.

Azorius Weenie


Deck Grade: C

Deck Potential: Low

Speaking of just playing good cards, one of the most prominent things we noticed was that the format felt significantly faster with Ravnica Allegiance than without.

History of Benalia
Dovin, Grand Arbiter

As such, History of Benalia just didn’t feel like the knockout card it has been. The idea of adding some counterspells and interaction to the White Weenie deck was very appealing, as giving the fast creature aggro deck a way to interact with spells has often been a recipe for success. The problem was that there are just too many Suntail Hawks and not enough real cards.

The weenie deck is very reliant on its payoff cards like History of Benalia and Venerated Loxodon to make its early creatures actually matter, which means you must be casting those cards as soon as possible which makes it hard to leave mana up on your opponents turn. If you don’t cast them and try to leave up mana, you fall behind enough where your soft countermagic isn’t good anymore. We also tried and failed again with Curious Obsession.

If you want to add Blue to your White aggressive decks it’s going to require a significant rebuild.

Horrors Aggro


Deck Grade: C+

Deck Potential: Medium to High

This was perhaps the most disappointing deck for me.

I’m a huge fan of the card Outpost Siege, having played it a bunch when it was legal. Those decks were always built with a bunch of cheap removal and threats and utilized Outpost Siege to grind their way through games.

Theater of Horrors

Here we’re trying to use Theater of Horrors to the same effect, but the supporting cast just didn’t feel up to snuff. When we drew Theater of Horrors things went pretty awesome, but when we didn’t things felt pretty underpowered. Furthermore, you run into the issue of just drawing the wrong half of your deck at the wrong time; you draw three Shock and a Lava Coil against Turbo Fog or a few Kitesail Freebooter and Legion Warboss against the big Green creature deck.

Theater of Horrors is very good and the Rakdos cards are definitely very good, but this wasn’t the right way to go about it.

Goblin Bidding


Deck Grade: A-

Deck Potential: Very High

Speaking of the potential of Rakdos, we come to our most exciting deck.

Judith, the Scourge Diva
Priest of Forgotten Gods
Siege-Gang Commander

Goblins!

With the ability to be aggressive, go very wide, and also play longer games rife with card advantage, Goblins was the best deck we played overall. Judith, the Scourge Diva is a very real Magic card, while the deck also is the best Priest of Forgotten Gods deck we played as well. When added to the free sacrifice outlet in Skirk Prospector, the constant flow of Legion Warboss, and the game ending power of Siege-Gang Commander, you’ve got quite the engine.

The synergy is real, the power is there, and the sky is the limit. Something like this deck will be a major player in Standard going forward.

Azorius Legends/Artifacts


Deck Grade: C

Deck Potential: Low to Medium

I wanted this deck to work so bad!

Dovin, Grand Arbiter
Sai, Master Thopterist
Scrabbling Claws

With Dovin, Grand Arbiter producing thopter tokens and helping to enable Mox Amber, and Scrabbling Claws giving us a reasonable artifact that can cycle while also triggering our artifact synergies like Sai, Master Thopterist, it felt like we had something interesting here. Karn, Scion of Urza gets significantly better if you’re playing artifacts while cards like Tezzeret, Artifice Master and Urza's Ruinous Blast are powerful but underutilized.

Sky Tether

Unfortunately, despite interesting new cards like Sky Tether, this decklist wasn’t really it. There are a lot of elements to balance here that present quite the deck-building puzzle, but it’s something that I’m going to work on more.

It may never be a top metagame choice, but it sure looks fun for streams or FNM!

Bant Climb


Deck Grade: B-

Deck Potential: High

Growth-Chamber Guardian is so good!

Growth-Chamber Guardian
Incubation Druid

Being able to trigger the adept mechanic’s effects without playing the full adapt cost is very big game, and this deck is very good at doing that. Growth-Chamber Guardian becomes an army in a can, while Incubation Druid makes for a free Black Lotus every turn that you can pump into playing more spells, activating Winged-Temple of Orazca, or pumping Shalai, Voice of Plenty.

Hadana's Climb
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants

Even better is that the adapt cards are good by themselves and the enablers in Hadana's Climb and Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants are also just good Magic cards. When you’ve got good Magic cards teaming up with good Magic cards to do awesome things that’s a recipe for success in Standard. Ajani in particular is a card that gains a ton with Ravnica Allegiance and stands to be one of Standard’s new big players.

This deck is definitely built all wrong, as Vine Mare and Unbreakable Formation felt pretty bad, but there’s some serious potential here once it’s built correctly.

Spectacle Burn


Deck Grade: B+

Deck Potential: Very High

One of the best for last; you better be ready for Burn in new Standard or you’re going to be really dead really fast.

Light Up the Stage
Skewer the Critics
Theater of Horrors

While playing Shock on your opponent in a normal deck to turn on spectacle doesn’t feel very good, it feels great when you’re playing an actual burn deck! With so many Lightning Bolt effects your opponent is often very dead very fast, with just enough early creatures to sneak some damage in. Both Light Up The Stage and Theater of Horrors far outpace Risk Factor and Sword-Point Diplomacy, giving the deck a huge upgrade in power level.

Our list is not perfect, as Electrostatic Barrier feels like a holdover from the old format and those Swamps were very annoying, but Burn is going to be a huge player in Standard going forward.

That’s A Lot Of Decks!

It’s amazing to think that was ten decks and we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Wilderness Reclamation
Prime Speaker Vannifar

Emergency Powers
Captive Audience
Zegana, Utopian Speaker
Precognitive Perception
Frilled Mystic
Angel of Grace

There are so many sweet cards to brew with in this set!

Ravnica Allegiance is going to have a profound impact on Standard and the time to brew is now. Get those ideas out and into battle as soon as you can. You always learn so much more in actual game play then you do theory crafting, so get building and playing as soon as you can in any way you can. Play online or a grab a friend and a sharpie, just do what you’ve gotta do to dive in!