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Returning to Ravnica Set Review: White, Azorius, and Artifacts
Feature Article from Conley Woods
Conley Woods
9/28/2012 11:13:00 AM
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Welcome back to our thrilling conclusion of our Return to Ravnica complete walk through (Thrilling for me at least, because I get to reclaim my weeknights once again, hurray!) In all seriousness though, it has been a fun week filled with all of the confines Ravnica has had to offer. Well, most of what Ravnica has had to offer, as we will be revealing the rest of the goodies today! Today will be filled with tales from the Azorius guild, as well as all of the White cards from Ravnica, and the artifacts that hold the set together. As always, we will be going over each card to evaluate its performance in both limited and constructed.

But wait, there's more! At the end of all of that, we will also be going over the Top 8 cards for constructed as I see them. Beyond even that, we will also be briefly discussing Guild options for the prerelease tomorrow, including what guild I would pick and why. So until then, sit back and enjoy the cards. As usual, we will be using the following two scales to help us on our journey:


Constructed

5: These cards are all-stars and their greatness spans multiple formats usually. Generally the chase cards of a set such as Tarmogoyf or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. 5's should not be given out lightly as the really have to have a big impact across formats.

4: These cards are going to be seen in decks of their color more often than not but may be less universal than 5's. These will usually be dominant in certain formats but not so much in others much like Bloodbraid Elf or Baneslayer Angel. Note that with a shift to how Extended is, 4's tend to see both Extended and Standard play, but have not made the jump to eternal.

3: These are the backbone of Standard and usually serve some utility but are more restrictive in archetype, like a Makeshift Mannequin or Mind Spring.

2: These cards are generally much more restrictive in use and application. Occasional sideboard appearances or cameos in some combo deck are the most frequent uses here such as Splinter Twin or Acidic Slime

1: These are basically unplayable and only see use in the most rare of occasions such as bad card poster boy One with Nothing


Limited

5.0: I will always play this card. Period.

4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.

4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.

3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card's color.

3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I'm playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)

2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I'm playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)

2.0: If I'm playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)

1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)

1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)

0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I'll never start it. (10%)

0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)

And with that, let's move on to the cards!


White

High
Mid
Low
 Angel of Serenity
$12.37
$3.66
$1.42
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Card-Collecting 3 $2.49
Highlander Gaming 1 $2.61
Brian's Comics 1 $2.66
MTG Express 1 $2.76
That Book Place 1 $2.91
Dirigo Hobbies 1 $2.95
Cape Fear Games 8 $2.95
OldSchoolGaming 4 $2.95
Top Deck Gamers 1 $2.99

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Angel of Serenity

Constructed: 2-3

I am quite curious to see how good this angel ends up being and how the heck it ends up getting used. I think one of the most common ways to use this will be as a giant flying Angel with 3 Raise Dead attached to it. Oblivion Ringing permanents will definitely come up a lot as well. This might be a sick reanimation target, or it could just be a big control finisher. Also, with 2 Angels, you can protect one with the other for nearly forever.

Limited: 4.5

Worst case scenario when you play this, is that your opponent uses a removal spell and then gets triple unsummoned, which sets them way back. Raise Dead on your second best creature is also a good way to make sure you get value from this.

High
Mid
Low
 Armory Guard
$0.50
$0.10
$0.01
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The Mana Fix 440 $0.01
The Mana Fix 1 $0.01
That one Card 2 $0.02
Goblin Hammer 2 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 51 $0.02
Tabletop Adventures 5 $0.02
Dark Hand Games 16 $0.03
Geeks MTG 8 $0.03
The MTG Place 16 $0.03

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Armory Guard

Constructed: 1

Vigilance, Trample, Lifelink…a 2/5 for four mana just is not impressing any 60 card guru even if he had all of those abilities, and this isn't even guaranteed the first!

Limited: 1.5

If this has a reasonable shot at getting Vigilance in your deck, his value definitely goes up, but in general, a 2/5 body for four mana is not all that exciting. If you need defense, this is your man, but he can't do much else.

High
Mid
Low
 Arrest
$0.80
$0.16
$0.02
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Gamer Apocalypse 24 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 2 $0.03
Highlander Gaming 10 $0.03
SinCityMTG 2 $0.03
GameTimeCC 50 $0.03
The MTG Place 8 $0.03
OldSchoolGaming 20 $0.03
ISD Gaming 65 $0.03
Frogtown Hobbies 8 $0.05

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Arrest

Constructed: 1

Well this is one card that will not be rotating out, which is sad, because it is also one card that will not be seeing play.

Limited: 3.5

Splashable removal that hits both utility guys and big beaters is always a good thing. Arrest might be prone to enchantment removal, but for all of its positives, that is hardly a deterrent.

High
Mid
Low
 Avenging Arrow
$0.50
$0.13
$0.01
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Shivins Vault 2 $0.01
That one Card 2 $0.01
Goblin Hammer 4 $0.02
LastSavePoint 1 $0.02
Tricorp Games 2 $0.02
Tricorp Games 6 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 33 $0.02
ColiseumGamesHobbies 1 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 30 $0.02

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Avenging Arrow

Constructed: 1

Having to allow a creature to damage you or something you own before you can kill it, and not even at a discounted rate, is just not up to par with real removal spells.

Limited: 2.0

This will often hurt you when you draw it, knowing you have to chump block or take damage before it does what you want it to do. That said, this is removal and it will deal with many problems, so it has a place, it just isn't as good as most removal.

High
Mid
Low
 Azorius Arrester
$0.60
$0.12
$0.02
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Tricorp Games 8 $0.02
The Mana Fix 197 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 28 $0.02
GameTimeCC 1 $0.03
The MTG Place 13 $0.03
Highlander Gaming 25 $0.04
Highlander Gaming 30 $0.04
Geeks MTG 8 $0.04
RelentlessMTG 12 $0.04

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Azorius Arrester

Constructed: 2

This could very easily never find a deck that wants to play it, but I think the potential is there. At his worst, this is basically a Goblin Shortcutter, which saw fringe play. On the other hand, this allows an element of removal on your two drop, with a relevant creature type, which seems fine to me.

Limited: 2.0

This is better than most bear-sized creatures due to the removal aspect he brings to the table in the late game. I Foresee playing this in most of my White decks.

High
Mid
Low
 Azorius Justiciar
$0.75
$0.15
$0.03
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The MTG Place 8 $0.03
OldSchoolGaming 20 $0.03
Gamer Apocalypse 1 $0.03
Tabletop Adventures 1 $0.03
GameTimeCC 2 $0.03
SinCityMTG 1 $0.03
ISD Gaming 81 $0.03
Cupcakecharlie 3 $0.04
Highlander Gaming 15 $0.04

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Azorius Justiciar

Constructed: 1

Unlike our 2-drop friend from before, this guy costs double the mana and only gives the smallest of stat increases. Obviously you are paying for the second detain trigger, but that is not likely to be worth playing such a bad rate creature.

Limited: 2.5-3.0

Detain looks quite strong, and if it proves to be that, this guy will be strong as a pseudo removal spell. Unfortunately, the body it brings along is not that impressive, but it isn't the worst thing to tack on to double detain at least.

High
Mid
Low
 Bazaar Krovod
$0.80
$0.16
$0.03
Store QTY Price  
OldSchoolGaming 20 $0.03
The MTG Place 8 $0.03
GameTimeCC 66 $0.03
Tabletop Adventures 3 $0.03
SinCityMTG 1 $0.03
ISD Gaming 84 $0.03
Metallistar 3 $0.05
MTGEmporium 8 $0.05
Crazy CardsNGaming 3 $0.05

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Bazaar Krovod

Constructed: 1

Isn't this a bazaar name for a creature. Brb, looking up Krovod. Looks like it might be a foreign word with no proper translation? Alrighty then...

Limited: 2.0

Even though this picks up a mana from the 4 mana 2/5, it has a much more relevant ability that can definitely change combat quite a bit. I would probably not include more than a single copy of this in most decks, but it seems decent.

High
Mid
Low
 Concordia Pegasus
$0.50
$0.10
$0.01
Store QTY Price  
The Mana Fix 388 $0.01
Highlander Gaming 38 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 30 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 1 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 48 $0.02
OldSchoolGaming 50 $0.02
Geeks MTG 8 $0.02
Tabletop Adventures 25 $0.02
The MTG Place 16 $0.03

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Concordia Pegasus

Constructed: 1

If this were a 3/1…then we would be talking! (and flying)

Limited: 1.5

Flying creatures are obviously good, but having 1 power is such a huge turn off. This is still a good target for auras and will serve a nice defensive purpose, but it is hardly an auto-include or anything of that nature.

High
Mid
Low
 Ethereal Armor
$0.99
$0.39
$0.05
Store QTY Price  
DarkVeil Games 6 $0.05
topherinc 2 $0.08
Oddyssey Gaming 1 $0.10
The End Zone 1 $0.13
Brian's Comics 1 $0.15
BattleZone Games 8 $0.19
Highlander Gaming 3 $0.20
MtGCards 3 $0.20
Frogtown Hobbies 8 $0.20

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Ethereal Armor

Constructed: 1

If Enchantress decided they want to start winning on the back of their enchantress itself, this has a shot. The big problem there, is typically the only enchantress that sees play has Shroud (that's like a more fair version of Hexproof for all you young'n's), so there aren't actually any good targets for this.

Limited: 1.5

Giving +1/+1 and first strike to a creature for 1 mana is fine, and there are decks where this will scale up really well. The issue, as always, comes from the fact that this opens you up to 2-for-1's, which is never a good thing.

High
Mid
Low
 Eyes in the Skies
$0.60
$0.12
$0.02
Store QTY Price  
Tabletop Adventures 21 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 45 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 40 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 34 $0.02
SinCityMTG 8 $0.03
Goblin Hammer 3 $0.03
The MTG Place 16 $0.03
GameTimeCC 90 $0.03
RelentlessMTG 12 $0.04

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Eyes in the Skies

Constructed: 1

Midnight Haunting does what this wants to do. Four mana is so much more than 3 mana, it isn't even funny. Yes, Populate can potentially be better than a 1/1 flier, but that requires set up and isn't just an inherent thing to the card.

Limited: 2.5

Instant speed 1/1's are good, ones with flying are better. Spending 4 mana on the card is certainly a cost that you are paying, but this is still a solid card and occasionally will be popping out 3/3 Centaurs in addition to a bird token, which is pretty neat.

High
Mid
Low
 Fencing Ace
$1.00
$0.22
$0.03
Store QTY Price  
SinCityMTG 3 $0.03
SACTown 2 $0.05
Auggie's Games 14 $0.09
Mox Monkeys 1 $0.10
RelentlessMTG 8 $0.10
Brute Force Games 12 $0.10
Geeks MTG 5 $0.10
MTGEmporium 8 $0.10
Metallistar 1 $0.10

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Fencing Ace

Constructed: 2.5

Double strike creatures at low mana costs always have the potential to be busted and this is no exception. We just went through a phase where poison existed, which is almost inherently double strike, and it eventually was broken once enough quality pump spells were printed. This has much of that same potential, although he does not require every creature in your deck to have Infect.

Limited: 2.0

This guy is definitely a threat on turn 2 of the game and a bigger threat if you managed to draft enough synergy cards with it. The threat of bashing in for infinite is always looming with this card, even though its effectiveness does trail once the board gets cluttered.

High
Mid
Low
 Keening Apparition
$0.50
$0.10
$0.01
Store QTY Price  
The Mana Fix 379 $0.01
Gamer Apocalypse 47 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 23 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 28 $0.02
Tabletop Adventures 7 $0.02
GameTimeCC 100 $0.03
Geeks MTG 8 $0.03
The MTG Place 16 $0.03
OldSchoolGaming 50 $0.04

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Keening Apparition

Constructed: 2.5-3

I think it is actually pretty funny that this has the same creature type and stats as Kami of Ancient Law, but they could not use that name again. You have seen this two other times now, and it's been good each time, which will not be changing. In Standard, we might see this in main decks, but it is likely to be a sideboard staple above all else.

Limited: 2.5

Any bear with late game value is going to be pretty awesome. This is a main deck solution to some of the scary enchantments that are bound to show up from time to time. Beating down early and cashing this in later for a card is strong potential, even if only half of your opponents are actually running enchantments.

High
Mid
Low
 Knightly Valor
$0.50
$0.10
$0.01
Store QTY Price  
The Mana Fix 344 $0.01
Highlander Gaming 30 $0.02
Highlander Gaming 38 $0.02
Geeks MTG 8 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 38 $0.02
Tabletop Adventures 15 $0.02
The MTG Place 16 $0.03
GameTimeCC 100 $0.03
Brian's Comics 10 $0.03

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Knightly Valor

Constructed: 1

While both of these abilities are really strong, the mana cost is just too prohibitive to allow this to make its way into constructed. 5 mana needs to do a lot more than summon a 2/2 and boost an already existing creature by a marginal amount.

Limited: 2.5

This seems pretty strong in limited. Granting vigilance is nice and can sway the combat math your opponent has been figuring out. While this is no Elephant Guide, putting a 2/2 token into play does limit the blowout-ness of removal on your freshly enhanced creature.

High
Mid
Low
 Martial Law
$1.25
$0.25
$0.10
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Walrustown 1 $0.10
Icatian Store 1 $0.10
OldSchoolGaming 5 $0.14
SACTown 1 $0.14
GameTimeCC 1 $0.14
BattleZone Games 2 $0.14
Buds Place 2 $0.14
The Game Grotto 10 $0.15
OldSchoolGaming 8 $0.15

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Martial Law

Constructed: 2

I am not a huge fan of this in constructed, as I think a card like Oblivion Ring is going to be better most of the time, but this does have some upside, like being able to choose new targets every turn. That makes this much better with sweepers like Supreme Verdict, which is not too shabby.

Limited: 4.0

Basically a tough to deal with tapper that requires no upkeep? Sign me up. This will definitely win you a game going long and will be a nightmare to play against assuming you cannot immediately deal with the enchantment.

High
Mid
Low
 Palisade Giant
$1.20
$0.24
$0.09
Store QTY Price  
Fulfilled Dreamshop 1 $0.09
Hobbyist 3 $0.10
Buds Place 18 $0.12
OldSchoolGaming 5 $0.12
Grixis Wizards 1 $0.13
Dark Guild Games 1 $0.13
Buds Place 54 $0.13
OldSchoolGaming 8 $0.13
Static Age Games 2 $0.14

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Palisade Giant

Constructed: 2

Even though this guy costs about a million mana and does not have a higher power, he still has a really unique effect on the game. Imagine dropping this against Monored burn for example. That is probably better than just playing Baneslayer Angel or whatever against them. Niche in application, but unique enough that I don't think that will keep it down.

Limited: 3.5

Unfortunately, the first big combat you enter will likely result in this guy's death, but in the meantime, you have a permanent Safe Passage in effect and can jam your team into theirs without extreme consequence. This is dangerous to have out though, as one instant speed removal spell can ruin your day, so be careful!

High
Mid
Low
 Phantom General
$0.75
$0.15
$0.03
Store QTY Price  
OldSchoolGaming 20 $0.03
The MTG Place 8 $0.03
The Mana Fix 1 $0.03
Tabletop Adventures 1 $0.03
GameTimeCC 52 $0.03
The Mana Fix 82 $0.03
SinCityMTG 1 $0.03
ISD Gaming 78 $0.03
Highlander Gaming 10 $0.04

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Phantom General

Constructed: 2

While I think this is probably a step below where it needs to be to be a staple, at 3 mana, I would expect this to be heavily played, so it will likely still see some play. BW and GW tokens are bound to be real decks soon enough, so keep your eye out for this one.

Limited: 2.5

While this is only really going to be good in Selesnya, it will occasionally add value to a few random token makers in other colors. In Selesnya though, this can add a ton of power and toughness to the board and completely overwhelm the opponent.

High
Mid
Low
 Precinct Captain
$4.01
$1.73
$0.35
Store QTY Price  
Dungeon Dwellers 1 $0.35
Little Lion Games 1 $0.48
Austin Games 1 $0.96
Mad Hatter Games 1 $1.00
BigGuy 1 $1.00
Clockwork Gamer 1 $1.26
Quality Collectibles 1 $1.26
Brian's Comics 3 $1.33
TheWarStoreCCG 2 $1.34

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Precinct Captain

Constructed: 2.5

I can see this being the key two drop to any type of humans archetype, should they be heavy enough White. This can snowball out of control with Champion of the Parish among many other things.

Limited: 2.5

This is unlikely to connect more than once unless you work some Magic and suit him up with something that grants evasion. Still, a first strike creature is a good creature, and this does enabler populate nicely.

High
Mid
Low
 Rest in Peace
$3.08
$1.20
$0.50
Store QTY Price  
Jam and BB 1 $0.60
Highlander Gaming 1 $0.68
MagicLadyJessica 1 $0.70
Highlander Gaming 1 $0.72
handofjustice 1 $0.75
mtg cards plus 1 $0.76
MTGEmporium 2 $0.81
Fulfilled Dreamshop 1 $0.85
Auggie's Games 3 $0.86

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Rest in Peace

Constructed: 3

I may be overrating this a little bit, but it seems like a strong anti-graveyard card for any deck with access to white. Unlike more versatile cards like Relic of Progenitus, this is not just an easy to include sideboard card, but it will be more effective when you can cast it.

Limited: 0.5

You should only be boarding this in against extremely heavy Scavenge decks as it does nothing too often elsewhere.

High
Mid
Low
 Rootborn Defenses
$0.57
$0.17
$0.02
Store QTY Price  
The Mana Fix 7 $0.02
MTGEmporium 2 $0.05
Neeley 12 $0.05
Frogtown Hobbies 8 $0.05
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xace games 4 $0.05
GameTimeCC 70 $0.05
Brian's Comics 5 $0.06

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Rootborn Defenses

Constructed: 1

Maybe this ends up being good enough as a sideboard option against sweepers in token decks, but it seems really bad in every other situation, so it might just not be worth a slot at all, which I find to be more likely.

Limited: 2.5

This spells seems like it can be a complete blowout at times in limited. It can also be clunky, which is why I did not want to rate this too highly, but if you manage to put a token into play, this is great, and even if not, it probably replaced itself at least.

High
Mid
Low
 Security Blockade
$0.64
$0.15
$0.02
Store QTY Price  
Gamer Apocalypse 41 $0.02
ISD Gaming 114 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 29 $0.02
GameTimeCC 100 $0.03
OldSchoolGaming 20 $0.03
The MTG Place 8 $0.03
SinCityMTG 1 $0.03
Tabletop Adventures 14 $0.03
MTGEmporium 8 $0.05

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Security Blockade

Constructed: 1

I have heard rumors that if this is in your deck list, certain tournament organizers will actually just have security block you from the event. Or, instead I just really wanted to go out of my way for a bad pun... you decide...

Limited: 2.5

Three mana for a 2/2 vigilant Knight is not the worst rate in the world, but the key feature to put this in the right pick order is evaluating the land ability. It seems like that ability will not come up often early, but it certainly helps races later. Without the token producing effect, this would be unplayable, but I have hope for it with this design.

High
Mid
Low
 Selesnya Sentry
$0.50
$0.10
$0.01
Store QTY Price  
The Mana Fix 400 $0.01
Gamer Apocalypse 23 $0.02
Gamer Apocalypse 27 $0.02
Geeks MTG 8 $0.02
Tabletop Adventures 15 $0.02
The MTG Place 16 $0.03
GameTimeCC 100 $0.03
Brian's Comics 10 $0.03
Brian's Comics 10 $0.03

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Selesnya Sentry

Constructed: 1

SIX MANA!!! Six mana to regenerate... really?

Limited: 1.5

SIX MANA!!! Alright, all joking aside, you are playing this as a Warpath Ghoul. If you ever get to regenerate this, congratulations, you are the 1%.

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 Seller of Songbirds
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Seller of Songbirds

Constructed: 1

If Birthing Pod were around though, this would still be utterly unplayable.

Limited: 2.0

The actual body on this is pretty miserable, but you have to remember to take on a 1/1 flier into the equation. Because of populate, I think this will be pretty good much of the time beyond her initial impact.

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 Soul Tithe
$0.64
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Soul Tithe

Constructed: 1

This is essentially the punisher mechanic, which is generally not a good place to go in Constructed. By giving your opponent the choice between 2 different things, you always have to assume the worst outcome for yourself whenever you present those choices. In this case, the best case scenario is not even very appealing, so this is an easy miss for constructed.

Limited: 1.5-2.0

I need to play with this to know how often the tax actively seems like a removal spell or not, but it seems like the tempo from this will still be well endorsed. The biggest issue with this, is that it is not that great against aggro, due to low mana costs and the speed at which they empty their hand. Drawing removal spells is normally strong against decks like that, but this one can easily be a miss.

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 Sphere of Safety
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Sphere of Safety

Constructed: 2

I once again can see this making its way into Enchantress in older formats. It does cost 5, but that deck can ramp up pretty quickly and this shuts down everything from Emrakul to Tarmogoyf assuming your deck is doing what it wants to do.

Limited: 1.5-3.0

If you don't build around this, it can often show up as a complete blank or just buy you a turn or two, but once you build around this, it can actually lock your opponent out of the game barring some sort of Naturalize effect. Value this higher the earlier in the draft you are.

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 Sunspire Griffin
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Sunspire Griffin

Constructed: 1

Chapel Geist and this guy can team up and do a twin swap thing on an unexpecting deck right?

Limited: 2.5

While I think Chapel Geist was about a 3.0 on power level, that was also due to the speed of the format and the creature type matters theme that could have your Geist flying high if you will. This is still strong, but lacks a few of those intangibles.

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 Swift Justice
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Swift Justice

Constructed: 1

This has a lot going on and most of those things are good, but most of these things are better in limited rather than constructed. Gaining some life is good, but worth a card? First strike, is that worth a card? Even once you add all the things together, I still think this is mostly a miss.

Limited: 2.0

Meanwhile, in limited, I see this as fairly comparable to Giant Growth. While you can't save your guys from removal or anything like that, gaining life in creature races can be absolutely crucial. I think Kindled Fury is underrated and tacking lifelink onto the card is just awesome.

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 Trained Caracal
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Trained Caracal

Constructed: 1

Here kitty, kitty... NO! That's a bad kitty entering my constructed deck! No, kitty!

Limited: 1.0

You need to be really deep in the tank before you decide to play this, but if you do, have some fun with it, eh?

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 Trostani's Judgment
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Trostani's Judgment

Constructed: 1

Once again, we stumble upon another over the top expensive removal spell. For this mana, you have the world plus some as better options to be looking toward.

Limited: 2.5

If this were cheaper, it would certainly be higher in rating, as the effect is pretty much bonkers, but spending 6 mana on an effect should be expected to yield that. Populate is a toss up, but most White decks, regardless of tokens or not, will want to pick this up mid pack and play it.


Azorius

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 Archon of the Triumvirate
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Archon of the Triumvirate

Constructed: 1

This card had a few things about it that keep it from being a relevant constructed card. Most of it is similar to Drogskol Reaver in fact. The first is that this is 7 mana. That means the bar for what this has to do is very high. Secondly, this has no real impact until it gets to attack. That means a full turn cycle where any removal can rain on his parade. Beyond all of that, this just doesn't end the game fast enough in my opinion.

Limited: 4.5

If you are going to spend 7 mana on something, this should probably be a goal for that slot. This takes over a game completely and essentially nullifies the two best things your opponent has in play once he gets rolling. First pick quality for sure.

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 Azorius Charm
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Azorius Charm

Constructed: 2

To me, this is right in the middle of the charms. While I think Selesnya and Izzet will see plenty of main deck play, this one will do the same but in smaller quantities. Rakdos and Golgari are primarily sideboard material, even though they fill that role nicely. None of the abilities on this will blow you away, but they do add a nice element of versatility to whatever deck you include it in.

Limited: 3.0

Granting your squad lifelink is a much bigger effect in limited and naturally increases the power level of this card. In addition, the Neck Snap ability actually gets rid of tokens permanently, which is more likely to come up in limited. A solid card that can always just be cycled away when need be.

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 Detention Sphere
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Detention Sphere

Constructed: 3

So I think this will generally be chosen over Oblivion Ring in decks that can cast it, but it is not so much better than O-Ring that decks will go out of their way to include it in their list. A nice upgrade when available, but it can also hurt you in any type of mirror match where you might hurt your own permanents.

Limited: 3.5

About as good as sorcery speed removal can get. This has the nasty clause of being an enchantment in a world where enchantment removal is fairly common, but this is still pretty awesome. Taking out a squad of tokens has to be about the most satisfying thing ever.

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 Dramatic Rescue
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Dramatic Rescue

Constructed: 1.5

While I was going to initially going to rule this out completely, I remember back to the old times, as far back as yesterday even, when Vapor Snag was probably the most annoying card to play against in Standard. While this output is definitely worse, with Snapcaster Mage running around, who knows?

Limited: 2.0-2.5

I think this is pretty strong in limited due to the environment it will be in. There are going to be tokens running rampant and auras on things all day long. That means that unlike most bounce spells, this one will be removal some decent percentage of the time. In addition, the life gain is nothing to complain about.

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 Fall of the Gavel
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Fall of the Gavel

Constructed: 1

This might make some list as a 1-of eventually, but five mana for a Counterspell is just so much. Gaining life is nice, but in the match ups where you get to cast 5 mana counterspells, you probably don't care much about the life, and vice versa.

Limited: 1.5

This is quite expensive, which makes it only strong at countering late game bombs and the like, but the 5 life is definitely more relevant here. Decent at what it does, but there are better Counterspells to take over this.

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 Hussar Patrol
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Hussar Patrol

Constructed: 1

It's funny: for months I have been asking for a 4 mana flash creature with 4 toughness in White! Luckily, Wizards delivered that in Avacyn Restored so my quota has already been filled... sorry Hussar.

Limited: 2.5

I wonder how often people will fall for this as a combat trick and I am inclined to think that it will drop dramatically over time. That said, this gets to gang block, which does increase his value as a trick.

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 Isperia, Supreme Judge
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Isperia, Supreme Judge

Constructed: 2

While last month I would have told you this was unplayable, once the Titans and Sphinxes of the world rotate out, there is so much more possibility. Now this breaks the traditional rule of “no immediate impact, leave alone,” but I think the effect it does have if it sticks around is game changing enough. I don't expect this to be heavily played, but it might see some play here and there.

Limited: 4.5

Obviously any dragon in limited is going to be the nuts and this one rewards you for your opponent doing completely normal things which is nice. No hoops to jump through, just play and profit.

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 Lyev Skyknight
$0.90
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$0.03
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Lyev Skyknight

Constructed: 2.5

I can actually see this being a decent card in Standard mostly due to its interaction with Restoration Angel. It curves out nicely and has a decent body, so I can actually see this being viable. Note that this targets any nonland permanent, not just creatures.

Limited: 3.5

Any high power flier for a low mana cost is going to be pretty exceptional in limited, and this comes with a temporary removal spell attached. 1 toughness is certainly risky, but I think this guy will win enough games that he is more than worth it.

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 New Prahv Guildmage
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New Prahv Guildmage

Constructed: 1

Once again, I think the activation cost on detain here is just too expensive for this to be a consideration in Standard. It does hit planeswalkers, but he is on such a fragile body as well that I don't think that matters much.

Limited: 3.5-4.0

I would not be surprised if this turned out to be a legit bomb in the format. Granting evasion is already such a clutch ability to be able to use over and over again that we wouldn't expect more than that. But then, in the late game, he just turns into removal on a stick, almost handing you victory.

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 Righteous Authority
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Righteous Authority

Constructed: 1

A five mana Howling Mine that requires the creature under it to stay alive is just asking for all kinds of problems...

Limited: 3.5

If this were not an aura, it would be completely insane, but as an aura, it has plenty of inherent risks to it. That said, if you sneak this on some hexproof creature or just manage to keep it around some other way, it is going to win you the game.

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 Search Warrant
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Search Warrant

Constructed: 1

So I know we have all been on a Gitaxian Probe rush for the past 2 years, but peeking at someone's hand is not worth a card, which is why Probe cycled itself. Gaining 4-5 life is cute, but not reliable enough, and the decks you want to gain life against probably don't have any cards in their hand either. You can technically target yourself, but where is the fun in that?

Limited: 0.5

I would probably never play this, but I suppose someone might want to board it in against aggro if they absolutely had to. Playing a do-nothing card like this just sets you so far back that it isn't worth it.

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 Skymark Roc
$0.60
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$0.02
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Skymark Roc

Constructed: 1

Restoration Angel and Talrand are just so much better by comparison. I mean, I am sure there is a format where this guy rocs, but this isn't it.

Limited: 3.5

Oh wait, here it is! This is a legitimate 1st pick quality card. For 4 mana, you already get an exceptional 3/3 flier which is better than you normally expect. Then, as if he needed it, he gains a recursive bounce ability? Sure, it is narrow, but anything would be great, and this is going to hit a big part of the time!

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 Sphinx's Revelation
$35.00
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Sphinx's Revelation

Constructed: 3

This card seems custom made for decks like UW Tron in Modern and UW Control in Standard. Now, it likely won't be played as a 4 of or anything due to the expensive nature of it, but this still seems very sweet. Expect control decks to be built to take advantage of this in Standard.

Limited: 4.0

You are looking to cast this for 3 or 4 and be happy, but if you get up higher than that, this will just get better. Be careful of decking yourself in the late game, but that shouldn't detract from the power level of this.

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 Supreme Verdict
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Supreme Verdict

Constructed: 3.5-4

This should be an awesome addition to Standard to sit alongside Day of Judgment.... Oh wait, we're losing Day of Judgment? Dang it... Still, even though you have to dip into blue to get Wrath, this is still a welcome addition to Standard. In Legacy, this should be a powerful option against decks like Merfolk and the same could be said for Delver in Modern. Not Wrath of God for sure, but this still has a nice place to live.

Limited: 3.5-4.0

I would always play this if I was blue and white, but its value definitely goes up the more controlling you are. Setting up situations to use it when you plan on committing to the board is possible, but not ideal. Wraths are generally slightly overvalued in limited, which is fine as it's definitely a card to overvalue rather than the opposite.

High
Mid
Low
 Azor's Elocutors
$1.25
$0.25
$0.11
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Azor's Elocutors

Constructed: 1

While I will give this the award for the strangest and possibly sweetest card in the set, this is not going to be living up to anything constructed worthy. You cannot expect a 3/5 vanilla creature to just stick around for 5 turns while you win the game. Can it happen? Absolutely. But why put your fate into such a fragile victory condition when there are such powerful alternatives.

Limited: 3.0

I don't think it's that realistic to try to win with this in limited due to combat being the primary place of interaction. That said, I do absolutely want to win a game that way. This guy is not the most embarrassing body and can win board stalls, so he has a place.

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 Judge's Familiar
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Judge's Familiar

Constructed: 3

Cursecatcher has shown how far this effect can go. Yes, it isn't a Merfolk, which keeps it from making it into the tribal deck, but outside of that, this is just way better. Not only does this obviously pick up flying, but it also can be cast in WHITE! That is a huge upside.

Limited: 1.5

You are mostly just playing this as a Flying Man, but that is not the worst thing in limited. Disrupting a spell from the opponent and their curve, is also pretty nice, but not the most effective in limited.

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 Vassal Soul
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Vassal Soul

Constructed: 1

This is about as good as every other 2/2 flier for 3 mana with no other text in constructed; unplayable.

Limited: 2.5

You can never be mad at a Wind Drake in limited, especially one that can be cast in two different colors. Not going to wow you, but it will be a work horse for you.


Artifacts

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 Azorius Keyrune
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Azorius Keyrune

Constructed: 2

I generally view any type of artifact accelerator as playable to some degree in Standard. This one produces two different colors, which is nice, and then can get in a few beats later on in the game. All of those things are pretty good, so together I think this might see a little play.

Limited: 3.0

Anything that can fix your mana, accelerate you, and then turn into a 2/2 flier when all of that stuff no longer matters, is probably worth picking up. Signets were high picks and these come with utility.

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 Chromatic Lantern
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Chromatic Lantern

Constructed: 3

One of my favorite cards of all time is Coalition Relic and this reminds me of just that. A Darksteel Ingot is already playable, but turning it into a big mana fixer for everything else makes me think that 5 color control might be possible once again in Standard.

Limited: 5.0

So while I do think this is better than the Keyrunes, I don't really think it is 2 full points higher. The reason this gets a full 5 is that it goes into literally every deck and will be powerful while there. In Ravnica, fixing is king, and this is the king of fixing.

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 Civic Saber
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Civic Saber

Constructed: 1

This will sometimes be a Bonesplitter, but with the quality of equipment these days, I am not sure that is good enough. I could be wrong, and this could be great, but I am not too optimistic about that.

Limited: 2.5

This should go into more decks than it doesn't, as it can be quite powerful, but there will be plenty of decks that want to win a long, drawn out game. Worth noting that this cannot get better than Bonesplitter in the format due to there not being a 3 colored card.

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 Codex Shredder
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Codex Shredder

Constructed: 1

This does nothing worthy of the time or mana put into this. Probably a heck of a lot of fun in casual though.

Limited: 2.0-?

This is a confusing card because I am not sure if playing it for just its second half is good enough to play it. That said, if you actually want the mill effect, this becomes pretty dang good. But should you want it to be milling yourself? Setting up a 5 mana tutor eventually? Is that good enough? I have no idea to be honest...

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 Golgari Keyrune
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Golgari Keyrune

Constructed: 2

This is another solid option for mana acceleration coupled with late game value. This is diminished slightly by being in green, but I think a “removal spell” as an activation cost will make this appealing.

Limited: 3.0

In limited, I would rate a 2/2 deathtouch pretty closely to a 2/2 flier consider that you cannot get the flier on turn 2 like normal, so this is pretty comparable to Azorius Keyrune.

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 Izzet Keyrune
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Izzet Keyrune

Constructed: 2.5

I give this a higher rating than the others because it is A) In colors that really like acceleration, and B) Great in control mirrors in Standard as that loot trigger is very valuable. This seems like a super fun card to try out.

Limited: 2.5

I give it a slightly lower rating in limited though, as connecting with your no evasion 2/1 is significantly more difficult here.

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 Pithing Needle
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Pithing Needle

Constructed: 3

I actually think Pithing Needle's value has gone down over the years with other alternatives to this effect and more and more ways to efficiently get around it. It is still a high impact hate card, but I just think it has lost a step.

Limited: 1.0

You basically should only be sideboarding this unless you had to 23rd card it. But once it comes out of the board, it can actually deal with a lot of problem cards that you may not have otherwise been able to deal with.

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 Rakdos Keyrune
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Rakdos Keyrune

Constructed: 2

I actually think this is one of the Keyrunes least likely to see play as BR is so often an aggro. But I know that with Black getting a lot of good control cards recently, there may be some BR control deck that enjoys the late game versatility, like blocking Geist of Saint Traft or attacking Jace.

Limited: 3.0

A 3/1 first striker is a pretty good defender if you need that sort of thing and when you are in the highest removal colors, you can actually lay down the beats with this on occasion too.

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 Selesnya Keyrune
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Selesnya Keyrune

Constructed: 1.5

I think this is the least likely to see play as it does nothing that the colors cannot already do and do better than this. This still might be a 1-of or 2-of in some deck to apply pressure around sweepers, but I expect it to be the least played of them.

Limited: 3.0

This is probably the second weakest of the keyrunes in limited as a 3/3 could end up not being valuable by the time you start activating this. That said, it is a big enough body that I can see it getting around that anyway.

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 Street Sweeper
$0.80
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Street Sweeper

Constructed: 1

I don't know if I ever expected to see this line of text on a card before... but okay! Definitely unplayable.

Limited: 2.0

This strangely seems like it has enough utility that maindecking it on occasion can pay off. Probably best out of sideboards, but a reverse Craw Wurm isn't that embarrassing

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 Tablet of the Guilds
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Tablet of the Guilds

Constructed: 2

One second, reading this for the 9th time to make sure I have it right... Ok, so yea, this is pretty bad. BUT! Dragon's Claw has definitely seen play before and this is definitely better than Dragon's Claw, so I can see the environment where this effect is desired and put into sideboards.

Limited: 1.0

I don't think I would want to include this main unless I had some weird synergies with it, but out of the sideboard it can definitely help you out against an aggro deck that put too much pressure on you early.

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 Volatile Rig
$1.15
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Volatile Rig

Constructed: 2??

I have no idea on this one. Personally, I think I would try to avoid this because it has so much randomness to it that shaping the outcome can be too difficult to gather any kind of consistency. That said, Juggernaut is a playable card in Vintage, and this might squeeze into that same slot as a result. Another option might be to play this in Legacy Ancient Tomb decks as a main deck threat and potential sweeper against aggro.

Limited: 5.0

I think you should basically always include this in your deck, so for that reason, it gets a 5, but I have no idea how it plays out. Get your lucky coin out and have some fun!


TOP 8

As always, to round out the week, I like to round up what I think are the Top 8 constructed cards from the set. In this particular set, the list could have gone on for days. Some of the items left off were things I was certain would make the list prior to looking the full file. Without further ado -

8- Mizzium Mortars

7- Vraska the Unseen

6- Armada Wurm

5- Izzet Charm

4- Supreme Verdict

3- Jace, Architect of Thought

2- Abrupt Decay

1- The Shocklands!


Some pretty heavy hitters, like Rakdos Cackler and Dryad Militant didn't get to make the list, as well as a lot of cool cards that should have big roles in Standard, like Underworld Connections
and Selesnya Charm. It is hard to argue with that Top 8 though, even if you disagree with some of the ordering. Standard looks like it will be in good hands as Scars of Mirrodin rotates out and we see our futures form before us.

Before we end all of this though, the Prerelease this time around is a little unique, so I wanted to weigh in on that for a second.


I Choose You

For those of you who do not know, the way the prerelease is going down this time is a little different. Instead of just getting 6 packs of the set, you will be receiving 5 packs plus a guild pack of your choice. In addition to the guild pack, whatever guild you choose comes with a promo card you get to play with. Check out this link for the full details.

So the big question that has come out of this, is what guild is the correct choice. Well first off all, let me tell you this is not a right or wrong answer. No guild is just going to get crushed by any other. But, before you choose your guild, you should ask yourself some questions. Am I in this for the promo card? Do I want the most powerful cards? Do I just want to play with the guild I am affiliated with? These are all going to end up impacting your decision.

Personally, I will be battling with Izzet this weekend. This is partly because Blue/Red is my favorite color combination ever, and partly because I want to play with fun and wacky cards, which Izzet delivers. It is certainly powerful, with good removal and an awesome promo card, but that is just a secondary characteristic of the guild in my mind. I just want to have a good time at my prerelease and that gives me a good shot at it.

If you are looking to eek value out of the promo card, don't. I don't think any of them are substantially more powerful than any other, and none of them are going to be breakout money rares. Hypersonic Dragon is likely the best of the bunch, but it can't be by much.

In general, I would just pick a guild you are going to enjoy and maybe that fits your play style. Just keep in mind obvious color qualities so you don't get tricked. If you go Rakdos, you are going to get a lot of removal and small guys. Selesnya yields you tokens and limited removal. Etc. Regardless of what you choose though, have a blast this weekend! Thanks for sticking it out all week with me and thanks for reading!

--Conley Woods



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