Ravnica Allegiance. I'm not sure I have ever been so eager to start playing a new set in my life. There are a number of reasons for this. I will be getting into the cards themselves, as for the last week I have been doing some serious brewing with the help of friends. Today, I'm going to be talking about four decks that I am playing in the Early Access Streamer Event on MTG Arena.
The Early Access Streamer Event is an event where streamers get a chance to play with Ravnica Allegiance a bit early and are being provided fully stocked accounts for this event. This is pretty exciting and will certainly be the first chance I have to play in something like this. The matches will be played as best-of-one and considering Ravnica Allegiance is brand new in many ways that is a good thing. Sideboards come later as the format becomes more established.
The deck is inspired by the card Hydroid Krasis. This is a card I think can be built around, and also should be super fun to play with. The Simic guild in Ravnica Allegiance isn't strictly geared towards ramp decks, but there are a few specific cards that stand out, that fit this type of strategy. Here is the list, with the help of my podcast cohost Spencer Howland:
This is a typical ramp deck. While ramp has been a strategy previously, Ravnica Allegiance should take it to the next level.
There is a high density of lands in the list, with 27. I'm not confident on the number as I could see playing only 26, but it makes sense to hedge towards more lands as you can't really win games when missing early land drops with this deck. It does mean a very large percentage of the deck is mana, which is important to be aware of as well.
There are a couple Guildgates in the deck, and being able to search them up with your Circuitous Route is pretty nice. That card is four mana for two lands, and it's hard to be too much better than the rate of a card like Explosive Vegetation. Growth Spiral is one of the ways to benefit from just drawing a lot of lands naturally, and there's nothing wrong with Explore in this sort of deck. A couple Grow from the Ashes round out the actual ramp spells.
There is one more ramp effect coming from the creatures: Incubation Druid. This is a really solid ramp creature, and in this deck I think it makes more sense to play over Llanowar Elves. Being able toaAdapt is huge, as producing three mana can get us to some of our high-impact spells. It is exciting to see another good ramp creature in the format.
There are a few cards that help the deck stem the bleeding against aggro during the first couple of turns, which is certainly important. These are the cheap removal spells like Shivan Fire and Lava Coil. In the later turns it is all about having enough haymakers, and there are quite a few of them here. We have the Fight with Fire plus Expansion // Explosion package to just burn the opponent out. Threats like Ravager Wurm come with a built in two-for-one attached most of the time.
The most important card we are ramping into though is Hydroid Krasis. Hydroid Krasis is good because of its flexibility and is one of the main ways to take advantage of having a ton of lands in play. The top-end plays are somewhat interchangeable based on the metagame, as at six mana Ravager Wurm, Carnage Tyrant and The Immortal Sun all have merit.
There are a few different directions the Mardu colors can go in, which is awesome. Control and tokens are reasonable takes on the color combination, but today I'm talking about Angels. Seraph of the Scales is one of the top stand-alone threats in Ravnica Allegiance, and it pairs really nicely alongside Lyra Dawnbringer. This deck is all about high impact threats.
While there is some interaction with the Lava Coils, this deck really is not about that. It is about having as high-impact a card as possible at each point in the curve. Three-color mana bases actually can work now, and even if we are shocking off our lands there are ways to gain that life back. We already know Adanto Vanguard is pretty great at two mana, and I have high hopes for Tithe Taker as well. The card makes life very difficult for control decks, and you are happy to trade it with an early creature because of the Afterlife.
After turn two we can start dropping Angels, and these are all must-answer threats. Resplendent Angel and History of Benalia make a ton of sense as the three-drops, and I have mixed in a couple Midnight Reapers that go well with the Afterlife and lifegain. Then after that is where the red really becomes important with Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice, and there are the Seraph of the Scales as well at four. These are pretty scary creatures for the opponent and are even better when you can potentially drop a Lyra Dawnbringer on the following turn.
There are the full four Lyra Dawnbringer here because the card seems fairly absurd when curving into it with an Angel or two already on the battlefield. The fact it turns on the tribal theme of the deck is big. Angel of Grace is a card I think has some potential, but Lyra has to get the priority at five mana.
Let's talk Birthing Pod, err… I mean, Prime Speaker Vannifar. This card has so much potential that it is really a matter of how best to abuse it. My list is inspired off a take of the archetype I saw from Mike Sigrist a few days ago. Initially I wasn't sure where Rhythm of the Wild would fit in Standard, but now it is clear to me it goes really well alongside Prime Speaker Vannifar. Giving Prime Speaker Vannifar haste so that it can be activated immediately when it come into play is disgusting.
This deck is not easy to build, I will say that up front. I put a lot of time into the numbers, and there is likely something I overlooked. This stretches mana bases just about as far as possible for Standard play. It is also important to think about each creature at every point in the curve, as with Prime Speaker Vannifar you always want to have things that can be found when sacrificing a creature to the Prime Speaker Vannifar.
Creatures that provide effects when entering the battlefield or trigger in some way from going to the graveyard work really well in the deck. Prime Speaker Vannifar is always looking for creatures that you don't mind getting rid of, and that is essentially what the deck is filled with. There isn't that much room for noncreature spells, as you really need a critical density of creatures. Even though the deck is built around getting Prime Speaker Vannifar going, it can play a fair game if that isn't happening because the creatures are generally fine on their own.
The only color missing from the deck is black – even though there are some nice options you get from that color like Ravenous Chupacabra – but the deck needs to be concerned about spells with double color casting costs that aren't your primary colors.
There is plenty of card advantage in the deck, so games can become about figuring out ways to actually interact with what the opponent is doing with just your creatures. Cards like Ravager Wurm and Exclusion Mage are great for that sort of stuff. There are also cards like Knight of Autumn and Kraul Harpooner that can be really nice depending on the matchups.
The curve is a little top-heavy and I could see wanting to cut an expensive creature, but I'm just not sure which one. Pelakka Wurm is a great way to dig out of tight spots and being able to go all the way up to eight with Prime Speaker Vannifar is pretty sweet, while End-Raze Forerunners should end the game if you are able to get that card into play. This is a deck I think will be super fun to play and probably needs a little bit more tuning, but I'm up for the challenge!
Thanks for reading,