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Magic: The Gathering Ravnica Allegiance – Our Favorite Commons

by Ron Duwell | January 19, 2019January 19, 2019 7:30 am PDT

New Magic sets mean great new cards and tactics to pour over. Ravnica Allegiance seems pushed so far, stacked with powerful abilities and versatile tactics between each of the Guilds. With pre-release just a week away, we’re going to be looking at the best cards you want to look for in Limited Magic, be it Draft or Sealed.

Today is the commons. Unlike last time, when I went a bit overboard and wrote about everything, I’m going to strictly adhere to numbers. The five best commons in each color, followed by the two best multicolored cards from the guilds. With five colors and five guilds, that comes down to exactly 35 cards we’re looking at today.

Assume that I always recommend the common dual lands if you have nothing to pick because splashing can be quite important in this set. As for the lockets, save those for the guilds that want to drag the game out or ramp, which is basically all of them except Rakdos. Azorius can always use the additional mana for counterspells, Gruul needs it for the big beasties, Simic is loaded with mana sinks that you’ll want a few extra sources here and there, and Orzhov does better once lifegain starts to drag out the game.

As for the cards themselves, here we go!

MONOCOLOR

White

Solid enough if you are making a “go wide” deck. Azorius doesn’t seem to interested in this card, but Orzhov could really put it to good use if you are able to max out on 1/1 afterlife Spirit tokens. This creature turns those into viable 2/2 flying threats, which would likely deal 6, 8, or maybe 10 damage, all while leaving a 3/3 body behind. Decent numbers for a four mana card.

This would have been better in Selesnya or Boros in the last set, but I think you’ll want one in an afterlife deck. Otherwise, it’s pretty mediocre.

Addendum is looking a little better now that we have a better grasp of it, especially with cards like this. Summary Judgement is solid removal since it can kill most of the smaller attackers in this game when cast as an instant. If a large creature comes charging in, you’ll at least be able to take it out on the following turn.

Not nearly as reliable as Luminous Bonds, but White needs removal at common. This is a solid substitute that can kill most when it needs to but can be saved the next turn for something bigger.

Solid flyer for White and easily the better of the two afterlife cards. Essentially, you’re getting 3/4 worth of flying stats across two bodies for four mana.

Securing your lifetotal is important in both Azorius and Orzhov, and this guy will get it done. Creatures will come into the battlefield, afterlife Spirit tokens come into the battle, “blinked” creatures from Justicar’s Portal will come into the battlefield, all gaining you life each time. This comes attached to a two-mana 2/2 “bear,” so it can attack and block efficiently early in the game in a pinch.

There don’t seem to be many lifegain payoffs in this set, making this a card that does nothing but gain life. However, sometimes, that’s enough if you are looking to just stay alive against aggressive Rakdos or brutal Gruul decks.

White is really good at common, so I’ve had to make a few tough choices. There in, I’m skipping a solid combat trick in Arrester’s Zeal and a quality removal spell in Bring to Trial for a more… interesting card. I’m always on the lookout for “blink” abilities, exiling a creature and bringing it back to the battlefield immediately, and White has one in this set. The power of this card increases with the number of creatures with “enter the battlefield” ETB effects that you have in your deck.

For example, if you play Civic Stalwart, your creatures get +1/+1 until the end of turn, and you’re happy. If you have this in your deck, you can play it, bounce your Civic Stalwart, and your creatures get +1/+1 all over again! Nice! However, your Civic Stalwart won’t be able to attack due to just coming back into the battlefield, so the first strike is more of a defensive ability. If your creatures are untapped, you can cast this card on a Civil Stalwart, bring him back to the battlefield, all of your creatures get +1/+1, the Civic Stalwart himself is a 4/4 first strike, and you essentially blow out your opponent with powerful blocks.

Cards like this make Magic fun, and you can bet I’ll be looking for ways to draft “blink” decks before this expansion is through.

Blue

Cancel + minor mill is more likely to make the cut in an Azorius deck since it will ruin plans much later in the game. Keeping three Blue mana open is basically screaming to an opponent that you have this card, but it might also force them to try and play around it.

Counterspells are not often seen as efficient in Limited Magic since you want to use your mana resources as much as possible, and taking a gamble that your opponent will play something you’ll want to counter might leave lots of untapped mana at the start of your turn. That’s nothing but wasted resources that could have been used for something else.

Still, counters are what Blue is best at, especially in Azorius, so don’t overlook this card if it comes back to you later in a pack. Simic also likes this because if you don’t use the mana you’ve held open, plenty of mana sinks could still find use for it. Definitely take it in a Sealed pool, since Sealed games go on a lot longer than Draft games.

Vedalken Mesmerist turned out to be a solid playable in the aggressive Izzet decks in the previous set, and this is the slightly weaker, slightly tougher, flying version of him. Giving -2/-0 to any creature in combat usually ensures that your opponent will struggle for profitable blocks once your bigger creatures start charging in.

Tapping a creature and keeping it tapped for an extra turn can both win you the game if you’re pushing through damage or save your skin if it’s a threat that has you on the ropes. Flying also helps a lot in Limited Magic, especially for Blue.

Plus, look at it. That art is so sweet!

Blue’s other common beater also can push you over the top. A 3/3 for four mana is decent in a color that craves strong creatures, but when it can turn into a 5/5 on the next turn, the investment becomes worth it when your opponents Green or Red creatures finally have something they can rumble with.

Skitter Eel is also the perfect card to have in play with a Thought Collapse in your hands. If you hold open mana, your opponent might not play their bomb, and you still have a place to sink those resources at the end of your turn. Just remember, you only get to play this trick once, but it might be enough if they take off a turn to play their big creature and you have a 5/5 on the board.

I like Blink of an Eye better since you can get the additional card draw even at instant speed. However, this card replaces itself with a drawn card when you’re just looking to open up attacks, and it still operates well when you’re trying to bounce a creature in combat.

Black

Now that we’ve seen how easily Rakdos can dish out an easy point of damage here and there, Spectacle is all the more powerful and looks almost as exciting as Gruul’s Riot mechanic, especially for aggro players like myself.

Blade Juggler is mediocre as a five mana 3/2 that draws you a card. I don’t have much interest in that. Still, if you can get a single point of damage though, I’d pay three mana for this card on turn-3, no sweat. If you’re not dealing damage on turn-3 with a Rakdos deck, you’re doing it wrong!

Just be careful when playing against other Rakdos decks because Blade Juggle could possibly trigger their Spectacle cards, and then you’re f^&#ed.

We’ve been spoiled with too many four- or five-mana Black removal spells as of late, so a six mana one might seem like a bad deal. Regardless, it is Black removal, and you are definitely going to take one in spite of its high casting cost. These cards are ridiculously important in Limited Magic and can make or break your or your opponent’s game if you blow up the right creature.

Just don’t expect to cast anything off Spectacle when you hit the opponent for two.

3/3 menace is always nice towards the end of the game, especially if you can get the opponent down to a single blocker. Even if they have two blockers, just having open mana will make them think twice since the threat of activation here is high enough to get a solid two-for-one.

Decent in aggressive decks, but you’ll need that Red mana to ensure you can use it properly.

Boom…

I’m cool with this card since it triggers spectacle unconditionally every turn. That in itself is enough to keep it on the board.

Aside from that, it drains your opponent and boosts your life total every turn, which draws out the game nicely, and when you have enough open mana, it makes for an eight point life swing. Not the best or most efficient way to close the game, but Ill-Gotten Inheritance has way more uses than the average “do nothing” four-mana enchantment.

Red

With a Spectacle trigger, it’s a sorcery speed Lightning Bolt. Otherwise, it’s still solid removal. Why couldn’t it be an instant, Wizards? WHY?!

Magma Spray was really solid back in Amonkhet… back when it cost one mana. I’m still high on it for two mana, especially if it deals with an annoying creature for good. Remember kids, “exiling” a creating also means no afterlife tokens!

Sometimes, Red just needs some beef! A 6/5 for five mana is aggressively paced, and this aggressive card does just what it needs to do: wreck opposing blockers or crunch in 6 damage. Its 5 toughness also makes it a solid blocker the turn it comes into play… but only that turn.

I like this card since a recurring Tormenting Voice attached to an attacker helps dig for your bombs efficiently. With the option for haste, you’ll likely get two uses out of it, a solid deal if you land the first of those attacks and trade on the second one.

Like Justicar’s Portal in White, Act of Treason’s power depends solely on how many sacrifice outlets you are able to get your hands on. And considering Rakdos is the guild that gets its rocks off on sadistic torture and human sacrifice, Act of Treason will be a superstar in the draft format.

Don’t focus on the sacrifice strategy until after you have a good outlet or two. Otherwise, Act of Treason is very mediocre if you are using it for just the basic ability.

If not Act of Treason, pick Spear Spewer for spectacle triggers, early blocks, and a solid way to pressure your opponent every turn. They work well in multiples, too.

Green

Instant speed Green “fight” removal is awesome in Limited, especially if you’re able to use it for just a single mana. Both Simic and Gruul specialize in +1/+1 counters, so the likelihood that you’re getting to use an instant speed Prey Upon with a beefed up creature is pretty high.

I’ll be shaking in my boots every time I attack into a single open Green mana during this sets run.

This set is loaded with powerful flyers, so naturally, Green needs a big spider. A big, fat, hairy Shelob ready to trap and eat any Griffin or Pegasus that comes flying its way. Here is Ravnica Allegiances, and it’s as big as they come!

I approve of this bear. He hits the curve nicely as a two-mana 2/2, and later in the game, he becomes a legitimate 6/6 body when you have the open mana. If you don’t want to wait that long, a +1/+1 counter can still turn him into a legit 3/3 or 4/4 ahead of schedule, which is also fine.

Just be sure to realize that once you have a counter on a creature, you can’t use adapt. Your dream of a 6/6 will be lost unless you find a way to get that single counter off of him.

Green’s Riot cards are naturally bigger than Red’s, and I had a beast of a time choosing between the two. The efficiency of a five mana creature vs the power of a seven mana creature?

However, seeing how Red has several quality riot creatures and can hold the fort long enough for this monster to come down, I’ll happily play one of these. A 6/6 with haste and trample can end the game in a flash, and a 7/7 with trample is a threat that few removal spells can handle. Raw power is what Gruul wants, and it has it in this card. Just be sure to keep yourself alive until it hits the battlefield.

Seven mana is a LOT in Limited Magic.

Okay, okay, we’ll pick both. You don’t have to twist my arm to talk about big Green beasties.

This is the better of the two Green riot creatures, no doubt, I’d pick the first Wrecking Beast over this, but after one, I’d go for a few of these. This card can be equally destructive, but since it lacks trample, it can’t catch your opponent off guard so easily.

This means, I’ll usually take the counter here, getting a 5/5 for five. It’ll still likely be the biggest creature on the board at that point, which is what Gruul always wants.

MULTICOLOR

Orzhov

Easy easy pick here. If you’re playing Orzhov correctly, you’ll have enough life to sacrifice to get rid of that big, nasty bomb that would kill you otherwise. If not, you’ll have afterlife creatures which will at least leave those Spirit tokens behind, or you’ll have Spirit tokens which make an easy trade for a larger creature.

In other words, if you play Orzhov right, you’ll have plenty of options and always end up ahead when casting this for TWO mana at instant speed.

I already wrote about the remaining two over in our introduction to the set, and my mind hasn’t changed. Both are high value commons that do exactly what the colors want. However, when I have to choose, I still choose the Imperious Oligarch, which is an aggressive and defensive beater that also leaves tokens behind when it dies.

Both are nice, but this is a card you don’t want to pass up.

Azorius

Absolutely! This is a huge payoff for Azorius as it defends spectacularly and guarantees two points of damage every turn it’s in play. Get this down, load up on counter spells to protect it, and your opponent will weep as they die 2 points of damage every round, unable to punch back in the face of 5 toughness.

White doesn’t get enchantment removal in this set, but Azorius does. One of the best commons in the set.

Rakdos

Boom, dead… and Scry! This is better than Consign to the Pit by a mile. It’s instant speed, cheaper, gives card advantage, and it’s easily splashable into both Gruul and Orzhov. Another one of the set’s best commons. Always take it, even if you’re on the splash.

Solid Aggressive creature with respectable stats for Rakdos. The real appeal here is the guaranteed Spectacle trigger this guy offers when he attacks. Either he get through and does 3 damage, or he gets blocked (and likely dies) and deals 1 damage. Either way, you’ll get your chance to cast a powerful Spectacle if you attack with him.

Gruul

So far, all four Guilds have a solid multicolor removal spell, and all four are the best commons in the set! This one is ridiculous, giving your beefy creatures even more power, crushing an opponent’s blockers, and then charging in with all that added beef! Put this on a trample or a menace creature, and you’re guaranteed a positive turn,

Another card I’ve written about and poured praise all over. This is the best riot card in the set, providing a 3/3 haste and trample or a 4/4 trample. No matter the choice, it can also pump itself, letting it be a threat the turn it comes into play or further down the road.

Simic

Simic’s removal spell is also great, but its ability to totally ruin an opponent is a bit more complicated. This is best used when your opponent double blocks a creature of yours. You can bounce one, give your own creature +1/+1, and easily win combat. There are more efficient ways of doing this, but when it works, it works spectacularly.

Otherwise, you bounce a blocker, get an extra point of damage through. Or you use it to win a combat and bounce an expensive creature. There are multiple ways to take advantage here, but the stars have to align for it to be devastating.

I’ll go big and pick the hybrid card here. This is a monster of a Magic card, especially since you can easily cheat a +1/+1 counter on this creature the very next turn, making this a six mana 7/7 that can attack the turn after it comes into play. If not, well, then you have a 9/9 a few turns later and a dangerous blocker in the meantime.

Your opponents will want to kill you, but they might not be able to with this blocker chomping away at their creatures.

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