Guilds of Ravnica’s pre-release is quickly approaching this weekend, and we’re covering the set all week with our initial impressions of the cards we most want to play in the set.
So far, we’ve covered our favorite monocolor common cards and multicolor common cards, determining that Black/Blue Dimir and White/Green Selesnya are the front-runners for the most powerful Guilds in Guilds of Ravnica based on the power level of their commons and usefulness of their core mechanics.
Today, we’re going to pour over the monocolor uncommon cards, looking for powerful payoffs to the Guilds’ different abilities. We’ll touch on multicolored uncommons tomorrow since there are far too many uncommons in this set to discuss in a single article.
We’ll get this out of the way. White removal is always key to the color’s success, as seen in the recent popularity of Luminous Bonds, and this one is even better with the convoke skill.
What makes this one so great? Well, you don’t even need mana to cast this card! With a white creature on the battlefield and three other creatures, you can exile any permanent that an opponent plays absolutely free! That’s about as unfair of a transaction you’ll ever find in Magic. Even if you have two or three creatures on the battlefield, paying one or two mana for this effect is still strong.
Even at its base of four mana, the ability is still something you’ll want. Prime removal, take it highly.
While it says 2/2 on the card, this is actually a 3/3 when it attacks. The stats aren’t as bad as they appear at first glance, I promise. Inspiring Unicorn inspires itself by benefiting from its own ability, and every other creature becomes stronger alongside it.
Generally, aggressive creatures only require lords when they are thrown into the heat of battle since wimpy acts like “blocking” aren’t something Boros is looking to do. Every point of damage matters when you are closing out the game in a Boros, and even if the Inspiring Unicorn’s ability triggers only once, that should be all that is necessary.
In a Selesnya deck, powering up an army of tokens is all that you’ll need to close out games. The unicorn works in both color combinations very well.
This is the kind of card that is missing at common, a mentor that can attack early and survive multiple rounds of combat. First strike puts this card over the top, ensuring that any one-drop gets an early +1/+1 counter on turn-3 and probably allowing Sunhome Stalwart to survive another turn.
Things get really out of control when you play a second mentor that pumps Sunhome Stalwart on turn-4, who then again pumps the one-drop again.
Just remember to stack the mentor triggers properly.
Lol, after two expansions, Wizards realized that Pegasus Courser was too busted to be a common card. Roc Charger is Guilds of Ravnica’s reprint of Pegasus Courser, but it’s also way more powerful in this set thanks to mentor. The card is great at 1/3, it gets a little out of control at 2/4 or even 3/5.
Flying your non-flying creatures over opponents won’t happen as often, but will still feel just as good when you do.
8-mana for a 4/5 flyer… hmmm, is this the kind of payoff we want for convoke? In a good Selsnya deck, absolutely! In reality, this will more likely cost five, four, maybe even three mana, which is a very good rate for such a useful creature later in the game.
With a creature on turn-1, a creature on turn-2, and two creatures on turn-3 (most likely the common card, Sworn Companions), the earliest Flight of Equenauts can be cast is turn-4, which is an excellent play that early in the game.
Good sideboard card, but the chances that you’ll hit both an enchantment and an artifact are pretty slim. In the case that you only hit one, it’s an expensive removal option, but it could also save your life.
Keep this in your sideboard unless playing against a Blue or White deck. You’ll want to get rid of enchantment removal.
White is bangin’, delivering a good mentor, a good convoke creature, a FREE removal spell, an attack lord, and “Pegasus Courser.” Boros and Selesnya both make out like bandits with this selection of uncommons.
Radical Idea is a pretty weak card-draw option and not likely to make the cut in your Izzet deck. However, drawing two cards for four mana off of Chemister’s Insight is much stronger. Better yet, the payoff for jump-start is still positive card advantage since you’re getting two cards back for sacrificing one.
Instant speed on a “draw two cards” spell is also always busted since you can cast it on your opponent’s end step and start your turn with a refreshed hand.
Blue always has a big flyer that can close out games, but they need to deliver extra value to be playable. Citywatch Sphinx delivers because it is tied to surveil (and what Dimir card isn’t?) allowing players to fix their decks to better protect this legitimate win condition.
In fact, surveil is now at the point where it is poised to make even the most useless cards playable on some level. When putting on a card that was playable already, it simply makes it all the more appealing.
Any creature that can generate tokens is awesome in Limited Magic. Free flyers can block easily, and once the battlefield is stabilized, the damage these things can cause really piles up once you’re slamming in with four or five a turn.
As with any good Izzet deck, take advantage of those instant and sorcery cards and draft a second Murmuring Mystic if you can. 1/5 is also goofy set of stats, but those numbers only make this guy a legitimate blocker to boot.
You gotta fight! For your right! To caaaaaaard advantage!
I don’t think this is as great of a payoff as some of the multicolor surveil cards, but I’ll list it anyway seeing how surveil is everywhere. For a single mana, you get an early blocker that can hold the fort against weenies for a turn or two. After three turns and several surveil triggers there and there, you have a 5/5 creature that can openly rumble with even the biggest Selesnya payoffs.
Not only that, you have the deck stacked to protect your investment and more surveil cards to help it only get bigger. Yeah, this is a solid way to boost the value or surveil in your deck… as if you need it.
The Guildgates provide dual mana, so taking them in your colors is a natural fit, and taking them on an off-color allows for easy splashing. Even without Guild Summit, you’re incentivized to take them over mediocre filler and weaker spells.
Normally, I wouldn’t bother with a build-around card like this, but Guild Summit makes its mark by triggering on both ends. Normal payoffs would either let you draw for each Gate on the battlefield or draw each time you play a Gate. Guild Summit allows for both, letting you capitalize on the Gates on the board and those that will follow.
Just be sure to balance the number of basics you play against the number of Gates you play. You don’t want a majority of your lands coming into play tapped.
As you can see, surveil is going to be huge in this Limited Magic format. It’s everywhere, and the payoffs are starting to reveal themselves. Even without the payoffs, just the basic ability on its own is enough to build a deck around.
As for Izzet, we saw a decent card draw spell with jump-start, which is a good sign of things to come. Murmuring Mystic is also a powerful creature you’ll want to build around. With two on the battlefield and a ton of spells in your hand… ugh. That’s disgusting. I’m not entirely sold on Izzet decks as a whole just yet, but a few of the cards are interesting, at least.
Oh look, more amazing removal for Black. Four mana to blow something up is already a good sorcery speed spell at common, but at uncommon, it needs to tack on a few bonuses. Let’s see…
This is instant speed, it’s cheaper against powerful legendary creatures, and… look at that… adds the ability of surveil 2. What a better way to back up hard removal than to dig for more hard removal?
Ugh, with a single black mana, it’s even easily splashable! This is the best removal spell in the entire set, no question about it.
… I guess Black just doesn’t want other people to play creatures. This acts as a pseudo removal spell, with opponents getting to choose what is sacrificed. Of course, if you’re playing Black, you already have killed off all the other creatures with the eight removal spells in your deck, and they won’t have much of a choice at that point.
Even if you play this into an empty board, it hits their hand!
Unless you’re playing in a zombie set, this is strictly better than longtime fan-favorite Magic card, Fleshbag Marauder. Plaguecrafter targets planeswalkers or players’ hands if need be, and it even has an added point of toughness to it!
Powerful removal spell in a Golgari deck and, finally, a decent payoff for undergrowth. Even if Necrotic Wound doesn’t totally kill off the creature, it can be finished off as a combat trick.
Just remember, it’s a dead card in your hand if there are no creatures in your graveyard. Don’t play this and expect it to all work out on its own. This is unplayable in a deck not looking to trade creatures.
Kraul Swarm is a recurring threat for the late game, but you better hope that this card can get the job done better than the creatures you’re discarding to bring it back. That being said, 4 power attached to a flyer will likely do just that. Recurring this at the end of an opponent’s turn, since its ability can be activated at instant speed, will negate the summoning sickness that the discarded creature would have had anyway.
Also, it’s a great way to enable undergrowth if you’re really looking to do that. This can close the game on its own, but you never know when you’ll need to cash in on that graveyard.
I’ve always liked sacrifice outlets in limited, provided that the payoff is more than “get bigger.” Undercity Necrolisk gets bigger and bigger while you load up on creatures in your graveyard for an undergrowth payoff, but the turn you activate it also grants it menace, an evasion ability that helps it get damage through or trade for two creatures. That’s where the power lies.
Activating only at sorcery speed knocks it down a peg or two, but sacrifice outlet creatures usually deliver the value you’re looking for.
And while Golgari is nice, you really want this card splashed into a Selesnya deck, where tokens provide Necrolisk with a huge number of token targets
Yeah, I can dig it. Thoughtseize on a sacrifice creature is solid and can be cashed in once you feel your opponent has the bomb they’ve been looking for in their hand. Sadly, it must be cast at sorcery speed, meaning you can trigger the ability after it has chump blocked or been targeted for removal.
Don’t sit on that activated ability too long! Otherwise, you will lose the opportunity to do so.
Again, we’re a bit shy on the undergrowth payoffs, with only Necroctic Wound being a playable card, but we at least found two solid undergrowrth enablers that put creatures in the graveyard. Oh yeah, and Price of Fame… and Plaguecrafter, which puts Black at six quality removal spells.
I mean, seriously, who even needs synergies at that point?
Book Devourer is great for that art alone! Don’t get me wrong, the attached ability of getting a new hand is nice, especially if you’re dumping a bunch of jump-start cards into your graveyard, but just look at that monster! CHOMP!
The creature itself is also solid at its base. A 4/5 trample for six mana is a decent closer for aggressive red decks, especially in games that have gone on for too long. Duking it out with huge Green cards is always Red’s problem if the game goes on too long, and that’s just what Book Devourer can do.
2 damage seems to be the standard in Guilds of Ravnica for direct damage, and Goblin Cratermaker can deal that at any point when it’s on the battlefield. Instant speed, uncounterable damage. Nice! Outside of that, two-drop 2/2 “bears” are always in style in Magic, especially in aggro decks. This guy can attack, force a block uncomfortable block, sacrifice itself and blow up any creature or lifelink token. Unpredictability is always on your side when it come to jamming in with this creature.
True, Goblin Cratermaker wishes it could be in a set where it’s facing down Ulamog, Ugin, or Karn. No such luck, bud. You’re in the wrong set of Magic and better served in Constructed.
Still, in an aggressive Limited deck where you need a two drop creature, 2 direct damage, or even artifact removal, this is a solid choice.
BOOM! Six damage at instant speed anywhere. That’ll kill any creature on the spot or even finish the game, all while your Blue opponent sits back and cries.
I’d rather have Magma Spray, may it rest in peace, but Lava Coil is still an excellent removal spell. Two mana for 4 damage is blazing, even if it’s cast at sorcery speed.
Lava Coil also shines against Golgari decks because it helps keep the effects of undergrowth in check. Exiling creatures from the game rips value from their graveyard, something no Golgari player wants to see.
Yeah, I can dig it. In an Izzet or Boros deck, your instant or sorcery spells will be able to destroy or bounce a creature, and the minotaur here will render another unable to block, opening the opportunity to push through a ton of damage. The only downside is you’ll have to stack up on spells in your aggressive creature deck, which means repeated use is not a guaranteed thing.
I’m game for that, even if the 2/3 stats for three mana is a bit on the steep side.
I honestly have no idea if this card is any good or not, but I really want to see how a 1/1 mentor plays out. With enough mana, this 1/1 can easily become a 7/1, putting +1/+1 counters on even the strongest creatures in the game!
Seems very very silly, but mentoring the Impervious Greatwurm with a 17/1 Goblin Banneret is one of my dream goals for Guilds of Ravnica.
I’m digging Red a bit more now that we have some quality direct damage spells. We’re still a little shy on mentors, with Goblin Banneret holding a huge question mark over its head, but I like what uncommon brings into the fold for both Izzet and Boros.
The lack of any jump-start card at uncommon is also something Izzer players should take note of.
Oh Green, you know I love you so much. You don’t need cute art to try and lure me in.
Affectionate Indrik is six mana for a 4/4 creature that doubles as a removal spell. No, it doesn’t have convoke because that would just be plain rude, and how could such a cute monster be so cruel? This is a great Magic card, one that every Green deck wants and every non-Green deck wants to splash for.
And you thought Black was going to run circles around the other colors with all that removal. How cute. A 7/5 hexproof mammonth might have something to say to that, even if it dies to Black’s deathtouch creatures.
All other colors, beware! In a dedicated Selesnya deck, this card comes down as early as turn-5, and once it’s on the battlefield, not even a battering ram can get rid of it. Ganging up is the only option, and even then, you’re losing at least two creatures or your win condition.
Just be thankful there is no trample here.
Be careful! When these land tutors are putting lands into your hand, they aren’t ramping you. This card is purely for mana fixing, and while that’s not usually an ability that Limited Magic players want, it’s fine when attached to a 2/2 creature.
As said before, Green is wide open to playing three, four, or even five color nonsense, and Selesnya decks especially have huge incentive to break into Golari, using undergrowth effectively with all of the cheap green and white creatures in the graveyard.
If you’ve got payoffs in multiple colors and find yourself base-green, District Guide is the card that will glue your strategy together.
Too powerful for common anymore! Might of the Masses gets a rarity boost in Guilds of Ravnica since it is obviously far overpowered in a Selesnya tokens deck. If you attack with ten tokens and an opponent lets even a single one through, you’re getting an additional 10 damage in for just the cost of a single mana.
Thank goodness this isn’t at common anymore.
Even without undergrowth, a 3/2 creature for two mana is something every aggressive Green deck is looking for. Most of the time, this will pick off a small flyer since players will want their Kraul Harpooner to survive the fight.
Undergrowth only helps brings down the powerful flyers that Blue and White like to play in the later game. Kraul Harpooner will certainly die at that point, but it’s delivering value by taking down an even bigger threat with it. Undergrowth as situational payoff is still payoff nonetheless. Better than most we’ve seen.
Hopefully, you’ll use this as a removal spell, but the possibility of a free 2/2 vigilance creature is a nice escape pod from this being a dead card in your hand.
Trying not to be bias here since Green is my favorite color, but… whoa, these uncommons are just as busted as the commons! Hopefully, that’s not a sign that the rare cards suck. The only cards we didn’t talk about were a ramp card. which doesn’t seem necessary with convoke in the set, and… go figure… and undergrowth card.
As for colorless, I’m not really digging the uncommon artifacts in this set. Silent Dart is decent, but it would be better if there were artifact synergies, of which Guilds of Ravnica have none. It’s hardly worth an entire section on its own.