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SPOILED BY SPOILERS! JAMES ALLINGHAM 15/01/2019

In this article I’m going to look at some of the cards that I think you might see as we move into the early weeks of Ravnica Allegiance. When discussing each card I will try to give an idea of how I think it will fit, a rough sample decklist to give an idea of how you might use it and then a very brief idea of the strategy that sits behind it.

Looking at the spoilers for Ravnica Allegiance, there are plenty of powerful cards spread across the five guilds. This made it hard to actually whittle down to a few to talk about, so in the end I highlighted the splashy cards but the decklists contain lots of different cards which I think will be good as we move forward.

I have not looked at anything other than Standard and Modern as I do not really play much Legacy, Vintage or Commander.

The first card I will be discussing is Spawn of Mayhem.

Spawn of Mayhem offers us a fantastic rate as a 4/4 flyer with trample for 4 mana with no drawback – we would normally be reasonably excited to play that power level of card in Constructed if the right environment existed. However, with Spectacle providing the possibility of casting Spawn of Mayhem on turn 3 quite reliably and the upkeep ability adding recurring advantage and shortening the clock all in one card, I think that Spawn of Mayhem will become one of the premier aggressive threats in the format, similar to how History of Benalia plays in the White decks.

In order to maximise Spawn of Mayhem we want to be playing to the board early and to reliably be able to make double black on turn 3. My initial thinking was to go down the mono black route but I feel that Rakdos provides us good enough mana and enough incentives to push our mana a little harder. Having access to Rix Maadi Reveler & Judith as well as some Burn spells will give us the ability to close out games but also survive into the midgame.

Mayhem!

4 Gutterbones
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Vicious Conquistador
4 Graveyard Marshal
3 Fireblade Artist
4 Rix Maadi Reveler
3 Judith, the Scourge Diva
4 Spawn of Mayhem
2 Shock
4 Skewer the Critics
3 Bedevil

4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
10 Swamp
1 Mountain
2 Rakdos Guildgate

The sideboard of this sort of deck would likely contain Experimental Frenzy or Theater of Horrors. Some number of Duress effects along with some additional removal so that we can transition into a midrange game plan after sideboarding.

It’s also possible that Spawn of Mayhem might play well as a midrange threat alongside Doom Whisperer. Potentially fitting into the existing Golgari Midrange shell – giving more ways to pressure planeswalkers and bypass the Carnage Tyrant board stall. My only concern is Spawn of Mayhem’s weakness to Finality which tends to clear away the trash in that match up.

Moving forward I think that the presence of Spawn of Mayhem will make Lava Coil more desirable along with making attacks in the early turns more interesting.

From Demons I’d like to move onto Angels - more specifically Angel of Grace.

It’s not often we get a huge flash flyer in white that offers us this level of flexibility – my first thoughts were to put this card into a Blue White Control deck with Settle the Wreckage and use Angel of Grace as a removal spell that also doubles as a win condition that you can hold up and cast in a “Flash” style deck.

I think this might happen as we move through the format but for now, I think the most appealing thing for this card is to slot into the Red White midrange deck as a huge Angel that lets us steal games even if we’re on the defensive.

We have an anti-synergy in this deck with Tocatli Honor Guard and Angel of Grace. We can accept that loss for the gain of a five power flash flyer with upside. After it dies, it'll even trigger our Resplendent Angel from the Graveyard!

I have also added another card from Ravnica Allegiance - Tithe Taker. This card gives us a resilient threat that also taxes our opponents, disrupting their game plan alongside Tocalti Honor Guard. All these cards together mean we end up with a very disruptive deck that has a lot of high-quality cards.

Red White Grace

4 Adanto Vanguard
4 Tocatli Honor Guard
4 Tithe Taker
4 Resplendent Angel
3 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
4 Rekindling Phoenix
3 Angel of Grace
2 Lyra Dawnbringer 

4 History of Benalia
3 Lava Coil
1 Banefire

4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Sacred Foundry
11 Plains
5 Mountain

The sideboard of this deck would include additional removal, some sweepers and card advantage engines such as Karn or Experimental Frenzy.

The next two cards I want to talk about are Domri, Chaos Bringer and Hydroid Krasis.

Both of these cards look excellent and should play very well together, so the deck I have initially sought to place them in is an old favourite – Temur Ramp.

We have the option to play Growth Spiral as Explore but I chose to go with creatures to play well with Domri, Chaos Bringers’ -3 Ability. We also have access to Treasure Map to prevent us from flooding or to find us threats to cast along with some of the best threats in this format: Carnage Tyrant and new heavy hitter Hydroid Krasis. These cards benefit a lot from Riot giving them haste or an additional +1/+1 counter. Therefore I think they will play very well with Domri, Chaos Bringer.

The objective of this deck is to get on board early with ramp creatures or spells and then cast a stream of six or more mana plays from turn four onwards. We also have access to Banefire as both a removal spell and a way of ending a game.

I considered Electrodominance but wanted to keep the Red mana requirement as low as possible as we want to cast a lot of Green spells early in the game, on the same note I have chosen to play no Red Blue dual lands.

Domri, Chaos Bringer Ramp

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Druid of the Cowl
4 Treasure Map
4 Grow from the Ashes
4 Domri, Chaos Bringer
3 Vivien Reid
4 Hydroid Krasis
4 Carnage Tyrant

3 Lava Coil
2 Banefire

4 Breeding Pool
4 Stomping Ground
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Rootbound Crag
6 Forest
1 Mountain
1 Island

The sideboard of this deck would likely contain counter magic, removal and some sweepers to allow us to transition to a different plan, as required. Often the plan will be to resolve a large threat and then use negate to prevent any counter-play from our opponent.

The next few cards speak to my personal favourite thing to do in Magic; extending the game until winning becomes a formality. I think adding Hallowed Fountain and Godless Shrine is probably enough, but we got a veritable treasure trove of new goodies in Ravnica Allegiance for Esper Control.

Specifically, the cards I think will see significant play are Quench, Absorb and Kaya’s Wrath; this trio of cards offers an excellent turn 2 counter spell which reminds me of Mana Leak – a multi format all-star. Absorb is one of the best Anti-Aggro counter spells we have seen and a 4 CMC unconditional Wrath effect are exactly the things I have been waiting for. It feels a bit like a late Christmas!

My starting point would be something like the list below:

Esper Control

2 Syncopate
2 Thought Erasure
1 Search for Azcanta // Azcanta the Sunken Ruin
1 Warrant / Warden
1 Consecrate / Consume
4 Quench
3 Sinister Sabotage
2 Absorb
3 Mortify
4 Chemisters Insight
3 Kaya's Wrath
1 Dovin, Grand Arbiter
4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
2 The Eldest Reborn

4 Glacial Fortress
3 Isolated Chapel
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Watery Grave
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Godless Shrine
3 Island
1 Swamp
1 Plains

This deck relies on The Eldest Reborn to find some way to win the game once you’re ahead. I would have Angel of Grace, Settle the Wreckage, Duress and Negate in my sideboard, the rest will be a matter of tuning as we move forward in the format.

I have chosen not to play any Vraska’s Contempt at the moment, this is likely something that would change but the number is unclear and will depend on how many Adanto Vanguards are running (leaping?) around. It’s also possible Moment of Craving is a desirable card for the same reason.

The last card I would like to talk about is Prime Speaker Vannifar. I’m not sure how much play this card will see in Standard but, I view this as a Modern Pod replacement fitting into a Deceiver Exarch shell to make a new version of Kiki Pod. The deck list will likely take significant tuning but I would start with the Kiki Pod decks and do a straight replacement and begin my tuning process.

I looked up a list that unfortunately I did not get a chance to play before Pod was banned. Cedric Phillips took this list to a GP shortly before the ban, I have updated it a little bit but with all the options available to us, it’s possible (and likely) there is a better build than I have here.

4 Colour Vannifar
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Noble Hierarch
3 Lotus Cobra
1 Knight of Autumn
1 Qasali Pridemage
2 Courser of Kruphix
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Murderous Redcap
2 Kitchen Finks
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Zealous Conscripts
2 Restoration Angel
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Lightning Mauler
2 Deceiver Exarch
4 Prime Speaker Vannifar
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Chord of Calling
2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

1 Gavony Township
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Arid Mesa
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Breeding Pool
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Island
1 Mountain
1 Forest

One draw to this deck is that it does not need to play any artifacts, so you can play Stony Silence! You could also add Cavern of Souls to force your creatures through, although I’d need to do some serious thinking about what I named!

Ravnica Allegiance looks like it’s set to shake up multiple formats and bring the remaining five guilds into the fray with new vigour. Good luck at your pre-releases and release events over the next few weeks. What are you planning for this new Standard format?

About James Allingham:

James has been playing Magic competitively since 2010. He joined Team Axion in 2016 as the last of the initial team and has since made his first PT at PT Rivals of Ixalan. He attends as many Grand Prix as his work life will allow and is best known for being perennially busy. He frequently has his own ideas about a format which leads to him playing a different deck to the rest of the team for some major events. Outside of Magic, he is always busy with work but in his spare time he enjoys playing board games and cooking. He will also always make time to watch the NFL games during the season and actively follows the Seattle Seahawks.