Top 5 Cards in Guilds of Ravnica for Standard
All the cards in Guilds of Ravnica have been spoiled and people are excited. Which new Standard decks will be built? How will the Limited format play out? How will card prices develop? Here are my top five picks in Guilds of Ravnica for the new Standard.
I've thought a lot about the cards in Guilds of Ravnica and how they could impact the Standard meta. While it is obvious that shock lands will be played in almost every deck, it's still too early for full evaluations. In my long experience of playing Magic: The Gathering and seeing how Standard is developing nowadays, I woud like to share my personal top five cards in Guilds of Ravnica for the upcoming new Standard format.
1. Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice is a card that, in my opinion, hasn't gotten enough attention (yet). A 5-toughness flying creature for four mana sounds like a good addition to a format that already has Glorybringer and Rekindling Phoenix. What I like most about Aurelia is that you get immediate value by giving another red creature +2/+0 and trample. Pumping a 2-power creature means that you can now attack a 4-toughness creature, so Aurelia helps you by either offering a trade or hitting your opponent.
Once Aurelia survives a turn, she has the potential to take over the game. She can target herself with her triggered ability and attack for four damage with flying and vigilance. She can also pump smaller creatures thanks to mentor. As a result, your opponent will be unable to deal with all this board pressure.
Overall, Aurelia's stats and abilities are too good to not see play in Standard. The only question that remains is whether there is a deck she'll fit in. Ideally, she can be a curve-topper in aggro decks, but she can even fit in mid-range decks as well. If aggro or mid-range Boros decks arise in Standard come Guilds of Ravnica, then I am sure Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice will be very efficient on turn four.
2. Legion Warboss
Many people are already comparing Legion Warboss to Goblin Rabblemaster and they are right to do so because those cards are indeed similar. Back in the day, Rabblemaster was still Standard-legal, but nobody really played him, and he was worth not more than one Euro. But players soon realized how good he was, and he became a ten-Euro rare. This goblin soldier fit perfectly in aggressive decks, letting you instantly attack for one damage and then a whopping six on the following turn. If the opposing player kills Rabblemaster, you still have a 1/1 goblin token, which could then be used for cards with convoke or you can just attack for one.
Legion Warboss also gives you a 1/1 goblin token with haste. The only difference is that you attack for one less damage each turn (assuming Warboss survives). Attacking for five is still good, and you are still disturbing your power, which is even better in some scenarios. Since Guilds of Ravnica features two good abilities for tokens in the form of convoke and mentor, your 1/1 goblin token will remain useful even if Warboss gets killed. I'm definitely expecting Legion Warboss to see play in either Naya convoke or aggro red decks.
3. Doom Whisperer
Looking solely at Doom Whisperer's stats, it seems good enough to see play in Standard. Now if you add his ability, it will definitely see play in Standard! A 6/6 flying creature with trample for five mana is a fine deal, but great Standard threats which cost five (or more) mana should be able to retain their value even when the opponent has a removal spell.
With this demon, you can Surveil 2 without paying any mana. You also get to do that multiple times, depending on how much life you want to invest in either finding useful cards in your deck or filling up your graveyard. If your opponent does not deal with your demon, it can end the game quickly; if they kill it with a removal spell like Cast Down or Vraska's Contempt, you are still trading one for one. While this isn't ideal, since your opponent can gain tempo advantage by paying less mana to deal with your demon, you can still surveil multiple times to make up for that lost tempo. Even in decks with no Undergrowth, jump-start, or graveyard synergies, you can still Surveil 2, letting you draw cards you are looking for.
Doom Whisperer's ability can be used often against control decks when your life total is not too important in the matchup. You can even build a surveil deck with cards like Dimir Spybug, Thoughtbound Phantasm, and Creeping Chill. Doom Whisperer is a complete beast in this type of deck. Furthermore, I think the card fits in every black mid-range deck. Doom Whisperer could easily be the best mythic rare of the set, and I am excited to see how many decks will be playing it.
4. Assassin's Trophy
I don't recall there ever being a rare that became worth more than twenty Euros as soon as it was spoiled; only good mythic rares are usually that expensive before a set even releases. I guess people instantly saw the strength of Path to Exile in Modern and back then in Standard.
The comparison between Path to Exile and Assassin's Trophy isn't wrong. Both cards are cheap removals with the disadvantage of giving your opponent a land. However, they also have a few differences. Assassin's Trophy has one big advantage over Path to Exile: It can kill any permanent. It doesn't matter if you want to kill creatures, enchantments, planeswalkers, or even sometimes lands. This Golgari removal spell helps you get rid of anything. However, there are also three reasons why Path to Exile is better than Assassin's Trophy. First, Path to Exile costs only one mana – I guess I do not have to explain why paying two mana instead of one can be a huge deal. Second, Assassin's Trophy gives the opponent an untapped land, which can be very problematic. This means that you are actually helping your opponent ramp, either when you cast Trophy on your turn or when you want to kill an opposing creature before it deals you damage to save life points. Unless you kill the opposing creature at end of their turn, Assassin's Trophy can become way worse than Path to Exile. Third, Assassin's Trophy cannot exile. Exiling creatures instead of killing them is sometimes the line between winning and losing because of indestructible, "when it dies…" abilities, and graveyard synergies.
All that said, I think the current price of Assassin's Trophy is still justified, since it is a card in which Eternal formats are also interested in. I do not think that Assassin's Trophy is a super strong card for Standard, but of course, it's still definitely good and Golgari decks will most probably play it.
5. Knight of Autumn
You just have to compare Knight of Autumn with Reclamation Sage to see how good the card is. Reclamation Sage is a common sideboard card in Modern and has seen play in previous Standard decks as well. To be fair, the power level of Reclamation Sage is obviously higher in Modern because of cards like Chord of Calling or Collected Company. Nonetheless, it's still a fine sideboard card even without those spells in Standard.
One thing we have learned from Magic: The Gathering is that flexibility is power, and Knight of Autumn is a very flexible card. Against decks that play enchantments or artifacts, you can keep Knight of Autumn in your hand until it trades two for one. Against aggressive decks, a 2/1 body and 4 life are a good deal for three mana. And if for some reason, you do not want to use either of these abilities, you still have a 4/3 body for three mana, which is not the worst. Even its creature type is relevant thanks to History of Benalia.
Knight of Autumn will definitely see play in Modern; it would at the very least replace Reclamation Sage in the sideboard slot but could also see play in the maindeck because of its flexibility, especially in Collected Company decks. In Standard, I am pretty confident when I say that Knight of Autumn will also see a lot of play. Although I guess this still depends on how many artifacts and enchantments will be played because using its second ability is its strongest value.
Guilds of Ravnica is bringing us many good cards for Standard. In spite of only talking about mythics and rares, there are other great uncommons, such as Price of Fame, Sinister Sabotage, and Lava Coil. Which cards in Guilds of Ravnica do you think will influence the Standard format the most?
Thanks for reading!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.