Soaring and Smashing Through Ravnica Allegiance

 

Ravnica Allegiance has hit the shelves. It’s time to bust open some packs and draft our favorite guilds.  In this article I’ll be looking at the overall power level of different color combinations and common strategies for drafting those colors, as well some of the standout performers from the set.  This is by no means a strict pack-1 pick-1 article, but more of a general guideline for drafting.

 

Mechanics

Ravnica Allegiance features 5 different guilds each with their own unique mechanics.

  • Gruul – Riot (This creature enters the battlefield with your choice of a +1/+1 counter or haste.)
  • Rakdos – Spectacle (You may cast this spell for its spectacle cost rather than its mana cost if an opponent lost life this turn.)
  • Simic – Adapt X – If this creature has no +1/+1 counters on it, put X +1/+1 counter(s) on it.
  • Orzhov – Afterlife X – When this creature dies, create X 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token(s) with flying.
  • Azorius – Addendum – If you cast a spell during your main phase,… it has an additional or alternative effect.

 

Gruul SMASH!

As far as strategies go, there’s none quite as straightforward as SMASH!  When drafting Gruul, you’re really trying to get the most value out of your creatures by selecting creatures with either adapt or riot.  A lot of the decision making in Gruul is simply choosing the correct Riot option for the situation, and recognizing key moments to adapt your creatures.  Creatures such as Sauroform Hybrid, Rampaging Rendhorn, and Frenzied Arynx will often make up the bulk of your creatures.

Removal and Spells

You’ll be looking to pick up cheap removal and combat tricks from red to support this aggressive strategy.  Commons such as Skewer the Critics and Scorchmark are great cheap removal options that will help you close out the game quickly.

Cards like Collision//Colossus and Storm Strike will help you be aggressive with creatures and make sure that your creatures are attacking often and efficiently.

If you happen to be so lucky as to draft a mythic or rare like Skarrgan Hellkite, End-Raze Forerunners, or Domri Chaos Bringer, Gruul might just be the proper tool for you.

 

Rakdos Hits the Stage

Is smashing not quite your style?   Perhaps you need something more spectacular and extravagant?  Look no further than the scorching sensation that is Rakdos. Rakdos will not only light up the stage, but also your opponent, with brutal efficiency.  Rakdos thrives on direct damage making most of their cards cheaper and more efficient. When drafting Rakdos you will be looking for the same cheap removal we would in Gruul, like Scorchmark and Skewer the Critics, but this time you’ll also be looking to get plenty of cheap and efficient cards that help ensure you can always pay the reduced Spectacle costs.  Cards such as Spear Spewer, Tin Street Dodger, and Ill-Gotten Inheritance serve as consistent Spectacle enablers by avoiding blockers and combat.

Removal and Spells

These are just a few of the ways you can enable Spectacle. Creatures with flying are another great way to enable Spectacle.  I often find myself splashing creatures with Afterlife or flying, such as Debtors’ Transport, Orzhov Enforcer or Carrion Imp.  

I also wouldn’t be afraid to splash white as a third color in order to utilize some of the better afterlife cards such as Imperious Oligarch, Syndicate Messenger, or if you’re lucky enough to pull it, Seraph of the Scales.

If you get lucky enough to draft some of the powerful rares and mythics such as Theater of Horrors, Judith the Scourge Diva, or Spawn of Mayhem, the cult of Rakdos just might be calling to you.

 

Adapting to the Competition with Simic

If you’re more of a midrange or control player, then perhaps you’ll want to evolve your game plan the Simic way.  With Simic, you’ll be looking to utilize the best efficient and evasive creatures while countering your opponents game plan, stopping them dead in their tracks.  As far as creatures go, you’re game plan is similar to Gruul: looking for good Riot and Adapt Creatures. However, unlike Gruul, Simic has access to a good amount of creatures with flying.  Cards such as Pteramander, Chillbringer, and Windstorm Drakes are almost always immediately picked up if you’re drafting blue in your deck.

Removal and Spells

As far as noncreature spells go, you’re looking for counterspells like Essence Capture, Thought Collapse and Frilled Mystic.  

Because you’re in blue/green, you’ll be limited in what you can do as far as removal goes.  For the most part, you’ll be relying on combat tricks such as Slimebind, Faerie Duelist, and Code of Constraint.

You also have some conditional removal in the form of Arrester’s Admonition, Titanic Brawl, Incubation//Incongruity and Eyes Everywhere, the last of which doubling as an upkeep scry and a way to remove a blocker or threat later in the game when you need to.

If you’re lucky enough to draft a Prime Speaker Vannifar, Hydroid Krasis, or Zegana Utopian Speaker, you may wish to adapt what you’ve been given and evolve with the Simic combine.

 

Soaring with Azorius

There isn’t a guild that soars above the competition quite like Azorius.  Azorius boasts a total of 18 cards that are either creatures with flying or cards that create creatures with flying.  The game plan with Azorius is to kill your opponents in the air while countering your opponents gameplan. Much like Simic and Orzhov, you’ll be looking for powerful blue and white flyers like Pteramander and Syndicate Messenger. However, with the addition of powerful split cards like Depose//Deploy and Warrant//Warden, you can out tempo your opponent by stopping their big creatures while attacking with your fliers.

Azorius also has access to possibly one of the best fliers in the set, Azorius Skyguard.  Not only does it have First Strike, making it beat nearly every flyer in the set. It also gives -1/-0 to all your opponents creatures, helping you make favorable trades and slow down your opponent’s aggression.

Removal and Spells

As far as noncreature spells go you have powerful options for removal with Lawmage’s Binding, Bring to Trial and Summary Judgement.  Though you’ll be happy to draft any of the counterspells with the addition of being able to play Absorb.

Other strong options to support your game plan come in the form of Unbreakable Formation, which doubles as protection and a way to push damage, and Justiciar’s Portal, which can be used to give you a surprise blocker as well as a way to flash your creatures and protect them from removal spells.  Azorious Knight-Arbiter is also a very efficient minion that can block as well as push uncontested damage with Vigilance.

As far as rares and mythics go, if you manage to draft a Deputy of Detention or a Dovin, Grand Arbiter, Azorius can be a strong option to fly you to victory.

 

Death and an Afterlife with Orzhov

When it comes to killing creatures and persisting through death, no guild does it better than Orzhov.  The game plan is fairly simple: remove creatures while developing a board of highly resourceful attrition creatures with Afterlife.  Creatures such as Tithe Taker, Ministrant of Obligation, and Pitiless Pontiff will help to ensure you always have a creature on board.

Removal and Spells

You’ll be looking to support your creatures with powerful and readily available removal spells such as Final Payment, Mortify and Consign to the Pit.

Orzhov also has access to some of the most powerful board wipes with both Cry of the Carnarium and Kaya’s Wrath.  While Cry can have some negative synergy with afterlife creatures, if used at the proper moment can help stabilize the board state.  Kaya’s Wrath will always allow us to clear the board while gaining life and triggering our Afterlife creatures, giving you a leg up if you ever fall behind.

If you’re lucky enough to draft rares or mythics such as Kaya, Orzhov Usurper, Seraph of the Scales, Teysa Karlov, and/or Ethereal Absolution, you should consider bringing death and afterlife to your enemies with Orzhov.

 

Splashing a Third Color

Many of the guilds have a lot synergy with one another, so don’t be afraid to go three colors in your draft.  The only thing to be careful of is making sure you have a good mana base to support your splash. What that means is avoiding color combinations where your lands don’t overlap.  For instance, Esper(W/U/B) is a good 3 color combination because you have both Azorius and Orzhov Guildgates, shock lands, and lockets. Other good 3 color combinations are Bant(G/W/U), Mardu(R/W/B), Jund(B/R/G) and Temur(G/U/R).

 

Drafting Guildgates

Another strategy that completely goes against all other strategies, but I feel must be addressed, is the guildgate strategy.  Ravnica Allegiance introduces some very powerful cards that take advantage of running lots of guildgates in your deck. Gate Colossus, Gatebreaker Ram, Archway Angel, and Gates Ablaze all get stronger the more guildgates you run in your deck.  Individually these cards are not very strong, however, if you can assemble them all into a deck with many guildgates their power level increases exponentially.

Hopefully this article helps you have a better understanding of how to be successful when drafting Ravnica Allegiance, and which strategies and color combinations to go for when building your deck.  

~ Ralph Vanderlan

Editor’s Note: Gameology hold RNA Drafts every Tuesday at 6:30 PM, so you can put practice into play then!