A First Look at Ravnica Allegiance Limited
Whether you are anxiously awaiting the release of Ravnica Allegiance on Magic Arena or to play in your local prerelease, Toffel has you covered. Get a first glance into the power level of the guilds and which cards might be overrated or underrated.
Ravnica Allegiance is releasing soon. This will very likely be the most-played prerelease weekend. Everybody is saving up gold and gems, so that they can play as soon as the set comes out. With so much exciting and plentiful Magic coming up, it's definitely a huge advantage to attack the format in the right way. Which guild looks the most powerful? Let's dive right in.
Ravnica Allegiance focuses around the missing five guilds that we didn't get to play in Guilds of Ravnica. Anybody who has already drafted Guilds of Ravnica or any other tribe-themed guild set before will have experienced that those sets are almost exclusively built to play with certain color combinations. There was no Orzhov deck in Guilds of Ravnica as there won't be a Golgari deck in this set. The reason is quite simple: There are just not enough multicolored cards to support all the archetypes. And with multicolored cards being the most powerful, it indeed sounds like a horrible idea to print too many in one set. That means drafting and Sealed deck-building in RNA will be very similar to GRN.
You'll be looking for an open guild, since you'll want to be able to pick up all those sweet multicolored cards. Most of the decks' power level is directly correlated to the amount of (playable) multicolored cards and since guild preferences are heavily exclusive, it is totally fine to spend your early picks in a draft on very strong but different colored cards in order to have the best chance to later jump onto the open guild. If the person in front of you drafts a lot of black cards, they will be either Orzhov or Rakdos. As a result, we will most probably see the best green and blue cards our draft position has to offer. Maybe we picked a Seraph of the Scales earlier. But it won't be able to compete with the raw number of good cards we will be receiving later.
With that said, every guild usually has one certain theme. Boros wants to be low-cost and aggressive, Golgari needs a lot of creatures, and so on. The "only" goal we have to achieve is finding the strategy that works best within those five guilds.
Rakdos will pretty much be what you expect it to be. Like Boros in Guilds of Ravnica, the guild mechanic Spectacle rewards you for attacking at every turn. While Spectacle doesn't specifically say we have to attack, the easiest and most reliable way to make your opponent lose life is through attacking. Rakdos heavily relies on their cards to be cast with Spectacle, since a lot of them are a bit overcosted at their regular mana cost. Blade Juggler is no good a five-mana card, but excellent for three. The same is true for Spikewheel Acrobat.
These two commons will hugely impact the whole Limited environment. It means that Rakdos decks will now need a very high amount of two-drops, specifically something around five to seven, since you'll really want to be able to deal damage to your opponent by the third turn. On the other hand, that means every other deck will need to up their defenses up as early as turn 2 because you shouldn't allow your opponent to get away with such a powerful start. If your opponent plays Spikewheel Acrobat on turn 3, then removes your next two creatures, the game is usually over.
Your other priority should be getting cards that can deal damage through an opponent's defense. That can be in the form of evasion, like with Bloodmist Infiltrator or through other abilities, like Spear Spewer's.
Rakdos is about playing a lot of cheap cards, meaning the deck can be outclassed later in the game, so some of our decks should be focused on getting the last damage. Act of Treason should be a playable maindeck card and the same goes for Tin Street Dodger or maybe even Ill-Gotten Inheritance. Cards I would avoid for now are the expensive cards, like Orzhov Racketeers or Debtor's Transport. Rakdos is all about supporting your early cards.
Gruul's old mechanic was just stupid. Do you remember Unleash wherein you got either nothing or a +1/+1 counter with a downside? Well, why not make it better… on both sides! The really mean part of the new Riot mechanic is that even though Haste will be less chosen than the +1/+1 counter, simply having Haste as an option can already hugely impact the game. It's an advantage you don't even have to do anything for. It's free. Whenever you are in a race situation, your opponent has no choice but to respect the possibility of a haste creature attacking next turn. That means that they won't attack as often and every time there was no haste creature, you gain an advantage. Furthermore, even if you do have a creature with Riot, you can just play the creature with a counter, which is probably what you wanted to do anyway. In that sense, Riot plays really well with Adapt, since your opponent becomes more inclined to give you the extra time to use Adapt.
I would say drafting Gruul is the most obvious choice. Every card with Riot is great, excluding Ghor-Clan Wrecker, which is just okay. Since all the creatures are solid, we won't have to waste high-class picks for synergy. Always pick removal first, then solid creatures, then combat tricks.
Gruul is also a guild where I actively see Gruul Locket as playable. Lockets are great once they are in play, since they are basically lands with a huge upside. But playing them hurts. With this set, by giving your creatures Haste, you get negate that one turn that you spend on playing the Locket.
I have to say, Simic looks the worst to me. While their theme revolves around getting a lot of mana to make better creatures, the creatures are a little weak to begin with. On top of that, Simic is usually the color combination with the most difficult access to removal. Your creatures can't really use fight spells to kill big threats, so Slimebind seems to be your only best friend.
I don't quite see the upside of Simic as a standalone guild, but it seems like a nice base for the multicolored gate builds. There are many very powerful gate synergies like Gateway Sneak and Gatebreaker Ram. Since gate strategies are usually about generating value, Adapt seems like a perfect fit. Card draw, card selection, and mana fixing are best supported in Simic, meaning we can mitigate the missing removal by just playing good removal spells from the other colors that we picked up earlier.
Orzhov just screams value. The sole goal of playing an Orzhov deck should be to trade creatures one by one and to use the rewarded spirits to kill the opponent. While the creatures aren't super powerful, multiple afterlife creatures are wonderful blockers. Even if something goes wrong, your opponent still had to trade their spells for the front half of your card. 1/1 flyers are about half the Orzhov, so this advantage should resolve the game pretty quickly in your favor. This also implies that all removal spells should focus primarily on flyers that can hold our spirits at bay. Once our spirits are not able to attack, the whole Orzhov advantage goes down the drain.
My biggest problem with Orzhov is that the cards are rather weak on their own. Multiples are great for a defense strategy, but attacks still make every creature fight for themselves. So if our opponent can't really attack anymore because we would end up gaining advantage by trading creatures, we also can't simply attack our opponent's creatures either. Thus, Orzhov needs some cards that can fight through board stalls. One of the most obvious answers (besides flying) is Angelic Exaltation, so our creatures definitely have to be blocked. But when everything is under control, maybe cards like Screaming Shield can also do the trick.
Honestly, no matter how unimpressive the Azorius keyword Addendum looks like, the combination of white and blue has always been one of the strongest in Magic. Good card draws paired with solid creatures, removal, and a few maybe even mediocre flyers to win the game is all that a perfectly functioning Limited deck needs. But Addendum really does look horrific and none of the cards really draw me in to play the guild. They are acceptable and certainly not bad, but I can't see myself picking any of the regular commons or uncommons with decent excitement. However, I really do like Senate Guildmage. Both its abilities are exactly what you want for a very reasonable price.
I expect that Azurious will be very underdrafted in the first few days. Players are usually hyped by huge creatures and grindy Afterlife effects, so a lot of people may underestimate the pure, clean power of Azorius. Furthermore, since players won't be eagerly snapping up "only decent" multicolored cards, Azorius cards might come around much later in the draft. Azorius Skyguard is a great card, but it's just not a card you would want to start your draft with. Azorius Knight-Arbiter is certainly not a slam dunk either, although I suspect him to be one of those cards that will surprise people in the end – just like Sun-Crested Pterodon.
Ranking the Guilds and Power Levels
Assessing power levels is somewhat difficult, since an important feature of a draft is that it is self-correcting. If Azorius is the worst guild because of its weaker cards, then less people will draft it, meaning the good cards will be concentrated in one deck, thus actually making the deck quite powerful. That's why I would rather say how many players one guild can satisfy in one draft. In Guilds of Ravnica, we usually had two Boros drafters, two Dimir drafters, two Izzet drafters, one Selesnya drafter, and one Golgari drafter. So even though two guilds are, percentage wise, less played, deck quality is still comparable.
In Ravnica Allegiance, I would definitely not fight for Azorius and Simic cards. The deck gets much weaker when you have to fight another person for those same colors. This is mainly due to the subpar card quality I mentioned before. Again, it is not technically a problem to draft those guilds; you just have to be sure that you are not competing with anyone else for them. My approach would be to actively avoid those guilds in the first pick, if possible, then look for high-quality picks that may be in the later boosters. I fully expect the other guilds to support two players at one table. In Return to Ravnica, I was slightly biased towards blue or red cards, since they fueled two strong guilds. I think black and red will be those colors now.
I expect Ravnica Allegiance to be a rather quick and powerful format with many two-drops and evasion. I can't see myself in a draw when I don't know my opponent's deck because both Riot and Spectacle are powerful snowball mechanics. Also, being the first one to adapt creatures will be a nice advantage. I can see a draw in Orzhov mirrors or maybe even in Adapt mirrors – just make sure to hit those land drops. I will definitely experiment with that a little.
That's it and I can't wait to hit the drafts as soon as possible! If you have any comments or experiences, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
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