This week's article actually features words about cards in it. It's getting rarer and rarer for me to want to write about Persistent Petitioners and nine other random Ravnica Allegiance cards, but I'll give it a shot this week.
A sideboard silver bullet or a Commander enthusiast's dream come true, Mass Manipulation does the trick in multiple formats. My own personal experience with it is in Ravnica Allegiance Limited, where it ends the game as soon as it's cast. My hunch is that it straight-up ends games on the spot everywhere else it's played, too. Stealing whatever your opponent has scales from format for format pretty well, it turns out.
Dev over at Strictly Better MTG did a deck tech on a Standard deck centered around Hero of Precinct One, which was a likely contributor to Hero of Precinct One's spike in sales if not the direct cause.
Gates are tricky; for the sake of this article, I'll stick to Guildgates in the Constructed sense. Here's a typical Guildgates deck, for a point of reference:
I've watched this deck slaughter opponents who never had a chance and I've watch it look on helplessly as its opponent ticked up an uncontested Vraska, Golgari Queen, got the emblem after a couple of turns, and won with whatever creatures happened to be lying around. The Nexus of Fate / Wilderness Reclamation engine is likely the most powerful combo in Standard (other than Nexus of Fate / Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, of course), but it takes a minute to get going, and if your Gates Ablazes can't yield a real advantage in the early game, the Gates deck's going to have some issues. My take is that it's a fine choice, but that it has vulnerabilities all over the place and probably needs to diversify its points of interaction.
I've never been above a Coercion, and Drill Bit seems much, much better than that. Aggression with light disruption has always been the best way to combat the weirdo linear decks that Ravnica Allegiance Standard appears to have in spades, making Drill Bit a perfect piece of tech to combat whatever bizarre Voltron your opponent's trying to assemble.
Blue feels like a more natural splash for the otherwise mono-white aggro decks, giving them Negate, Spell Pierce, Disdainful Stroke, and of course, Detention Sphere on a stick.
More on Light Up the Stage later.
I didn't play nearly enough Standard while Apocalypse was legal to make an out-and-out determination on Mystic Snake. Mystic Snake was time-shifted in Time Spiral, where it featured heavily in a pile of medium-to-bad U/G/x decks the entire time it was legal. My hunch is that Frilled Mystic will follow the same trend.
There was a Pteramander deck in the Top 16 of last weekend's team open in each format: Standard, Modern, and Legacy. Card's good.
Sometimes, there are commons and uncommons that initially go totally under the radar but eventually blow stuff up. Ponder and Sensei's Divining Top are good examples of these. Light Up the Stage and Skewer the Critics are not. Their power—a one-mana Divination and a sorcery-speed Lightning Bolt, respectively—is clearly apparent. They're not sneaking under any radars.