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Jeff Zandi is a five time pro tour veteran who has been playing Magic since 1994. Jeff is a level two DCI judge and has been judging everything from small local tournaments to pro tour events. Jeff is from Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where his upstairs game room has been the "Guildhall", the home of the Texas Guildmages, since the team formed in 1996. One of the original founders of the team, Jeff Zandi is the team's administrator, and is proud to continue the team's tradition of having players in every pro tour from the first event in 1996 to the present.

 

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This Space For Rent

The Southwestern Paladin
Ravnica R
eviewed
Part Two – Common Red, Blue, Gold, Lands & Artifacts by Jeff Zandi
October 14, 2005

Ravnica: City of Guilds is a monstrous set full of amazing cards with never-before-seen capabilities. Ravnica is a richer set than any produced by Wizards of the Coast in many years. This set is so multi-layered and complex that it is a little hard to know where to start. So, in order to eat this elephant of a set, I plan to start with a single bite. Last week, I reviewed the fifteen commons from green, white and black. This week, I will review the rest of the commons including red and blue, as well as the common gold cards, artifacts, hybrid cards (the cards with the strange-looking split mana symbols in their casting cost) and common non-basic lands.

In each color, I have reviewed the cards from best to worst, in my opinion. Since limited formats are the first environment that players (including me) tend to encounter cards from any new set, my card review is primarily from the limited play point of view.

RED COMMONS

TIER ONE – ALWAYS PLAY

Galvanic Arc is a creature enchantment for 2R that gives the enchanted creature first strike. When Galvanic Arc comes into play, it deals three damage to target creature or player. Cheap, common removal cards are the first thing you look for in limited play. Red is the normal home of the best cheap damage spells in most sets. Such is not the case in Ravnica. In Ravnica, the best that red common removal gets is a creature enchantment that must resolve in order to deal the needed three points of damage. In o
Ravnica: City of Guilds ther words, to play Galvanic Arc and have it useful as a removal spell, you have to (a) play it during one of your own main steps (sorcery speed), (b) there has to be a creature in play to enchant with the Galvanic Arc and (c) the creature you enchant with Galvanic Arc has to be in play when the spell resolves. All that having been said, Galvanic Arc is STILL the best red common. Removal/damage spells are just that important.

Fiery Conclusion is an instant for 1R that deals five damage to a target creature. However, you must sacrifice a creature as an additional cost to play Fiery Conclusion. The key to this card is that it’s an instant. This means that you can sacrifice a creature who has lethal damage assigned to him in order to cast Fiery Conclusion. Clunky creature removal, but effective enough to make Fiery Conclusion the second best red common for limited play.

Viashino Fangtail is a 3/3 Viashino Warrior for 3RR. This creature taps to deal one point of damage to a target creature or player. “Pinger creatures” don’t usually come with a 3/3 body. This card is nicely costed for Ravnica. I love him and draft him highly.

Sabertooth Alley Cat is a 2/1 Cat for 1RR that must attack each turn if able. For 1R, you can make any creature (without the Defender ability) unable to block your Sabertooth Alley Cat. This card gives you some evasive capability although this card is probably better later in the game than it is on turn three.

Dogpile is an instant for 3R that deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of attacking creatures you control. Reviews from friends of mine who are A LOT better at booster draft than I am say that Dogpile is “completely fine”. Once again, not exactly a ROUSING vote for Dogpile, but a thumbs up for this card just the same. Once again, creature removal is at a premium in a very creature-based limited environment, making Dogpile a card you don’t necessarily WANT to play but which you will very often NEED to play.

Sparkmage Apprentice is a 1/1 Human Wizard for 1R. When this creature comes into play, it deals one damage to a target creature or player. My pals have taken to calling this guy “Baby Flametongue”. When this guy kills an important one toughness creature on the other team or finishes off a creature that was damaged earlier in the turn during combat, it feels pretty good.

Ordruun Commando is a 4/1 Minotaur Soldier for 3R. You can activate the Commando’s special ability for one white mana to prevent the next one point of damage that would be dealt to Ordruun Commando this turn. A 4/1 body for four mana is fine for red already, but the added ability gives you the chance to get this guy in there in combat without simply being traded for with a 1/1 chumpy on the other side.

TIER TWO – POSSIBLY PLAYABLE

Sell-Sword Brute is a 2/2 Human Mercenary for 1R that deals two points of damage to you when it goes to the graveyard from play. Normally, you shouldn’t have to put up with a penalty as great as two points of YOUR precious life points just in order to have a 2/2 bear for two mana. For this reason, the Sell-Sword Brute is downgraded to merely “playable” in limited. There’s not much wrong with him, but yo
Ravnica: City of Guilds u really would rather not take damage when your own men go to the graveyard.

Barbarian Riftcutter is a 3/3 Human Barbarian for 4R. You can spend one red and sacrifice this creature to destroy target land. Nothing wrong with this guy, a nice 3/3 for an acceptable cost of five mana, splashable at 4R with an ability that COULD matter occasionally in limited play. I have already seen a single land destruction spell change an entire game in the Ravnica limited formats already.

Coalhauler Swine is a 4/4 Beast for 4RR. Whenever Coalhauler Swine is dealt damage, it deals that much damage to each player. The good news is that as a 4/4 creature, Coalhauler Swine is likely to live through a lot of battles. The bad news is that every time he takes damage, YOU take damage (as well as your opponent). Basically, this card will be ALL GOOD whenever you are ahead on life, particularly when you are eight or more life points ahead of your opponent. Late in the game, however, when you need to top deck a big creature to stop your opponent from killing you, Coalhauler Swine will not be an exciting draw.

Viashino Slasher is a 1/2 Viashino Warrior for 1R. You can spend one red mana to give this creature +1/-1 until end of turn. This is a very decent cheap creature for green/red draft decks that can pump up an unblocked Slasher with a green spell and then can use the Slasher’s own ability to make him deal even more damage. Unfortunately, while red/green is an extremely common limited format color combination MOST OF THE TIME, in the land of Ravnica, it is all but ignored in favor of combinations that align better with the four guilds featured in the set.

Goblin Spelunkers is a 2/2 Goblin Warrior with Mountainwalk for 2R. Reprinted from Urza’s Saga (he also appeared in Seventh Edition) this creature is very good against red, but offers nothing else special. If you need another guy, go ahead and include this card in your main deck. Otherwise, look for something else better and bring the Spelunkers in only against Mountain wielding opponents.

War-Torch Goblin is a 1/1 Goblin Warrior for one red mana. For one red mana, you can sacrifice War-Torch Goblin to deal two damage to a target blocking creature. This is a 1/1 that trades with creatures with a toughness as high as three, as long as you’re ATTACKING. While his ability is a little situational, this is a more than acceptable one drop.

TIER THREE – NOT A STARTER

Rain of Embers is a sorcery for 1R that deals one point to each player and each creature. Effects like this one have never been particularly exciting for constructed OR limited play. This one is no different. Cards like this are strictly sideboard material. Bring it in when your opponent has a crazy number of one toughness creatures. I don’t think this will happen very often, based on the experience I have so far with Ravnica.

Goblin Fire Fiend is a 1/1 Goblin Berserker for 3R that has haste. Goblin Fire Fiend can be pumped +1/+0 for one red mana, and Goblin Fire Fiend must be blocked if defending player is able. Having Lure bolted on to this creature makes him somewhat interesting, but it’s just too risky to spend four mana for a one toughness man. No likey.

Incite Hysteria is a sorcery for 2R with Radiance that says that creatures that share a color with target creature cannot block this turn. On a good day, you might be able to make all of your opponent’s creatures unable to block. Radiance is often a hit or miss ability, since any detrimental effect you try to saddle your opponent’s creatures could affect some of yours as well. This card uses Radiance well, since it doesn’t matter if some of your creatures lose the ability to block this turn…it’s YOUR turn, your creatures will be attacking this turn.

Torpid Moloch is a 3/2 Lizard
Ravnica: City of Guilds with defender (I still like to call creatures with the defender ability walls) for one red mana. You can sacrifice three lands to allow Torpid Moloch to lose the defender ability until end of turn. I guess the idea is for you to get a wall on turn one or in the early part of the game that you can turn into an attacker nearer the end of the game. A 3/2 wall for one mana might be a good part of a slow deck’s strategy, but red is still about aggression, and I can’t believe very many good decks will ever include this card.

Seismic Spike is a sorcery for 2RR that destroys a target land and gives you two red mana. This card might well be a very exciting new card for constructed land destruction decks. If you have five lands in play, you can cast this card, destroy a land, then use the two red mana provided by this spell along with tapping your fifth land to cast a Stone Rain or similar card to kill another land on the same turn. In Ravnica limited formats, it will be hard to get enough land destruction spells to consider a pure land destruction strategy. However, mana is such an important consideration in Ravnica limited formats that even a little land disruption can be very effective. You might bring this card in from the board against three and four colored opponents in limited formats.

Smash is an instant for 2R that destroys a target artifact and draws a card for you. If you could be sure that most of your opponents would have artifacts in their decks, this card could be good enough to play all the time. I do not think this is the case. Yes, a lot of players are using the common Signet artifacts to accelerate their mana, but overall, I don’t think you see enough artifacts in Ravnica limited play to justify running this card in your main deck.

Surge of Zeal is an instant for one red mana with Radiance that gives target creature and all creatures that share a color with it Haste until end of turn. This card is another card where Radiance will never bite you in the but, since it is unlikely that you and your opponent each have creatures with summoning sickness at the same time (and it would usually not matter if you did). While Radiance certainly does not make this card any worse than it would be without Radiance, neither does Radiance help this card significantly. Basically, this is just a bad card. It just isn’t going to come in handy often enough to justify playing it in your deck or to bring it in from the board. Just a bad, bad card that nobody will be playing.

BLUE COMMONS

TIER ONE – ALWAYS PLAY

Reviewing the blue commons in Ravnica for limited play requires a little bit explanation from the start. Even though there are TWENTY blue commons in Ravnica, there are only a handful that you really will be excited about for limited play. This is because there just won’t be that many blue cards in your decks. In a race between the five colors in the City of Guilds, blue comes in fifth. A distant fifth. This doesn’t mean the blue cards aren’t important. There is a very good strategy involving blue cards. Blue/black limited designs that win most of their games by MILLING the opponent’s library down to the ground have been very successful. With just a few weeks of Ravnica experience behind me and my teammates, we generally agree that the only use any booster draft deck has for any of the blue commons is in the blue/black mill deck.

Vedalken Entrancer is a 1/4
Ravnica: City of Guilds Vedalken Wizard for 3U. You can spend one blue mana and tap Vedalken Entrancer to make target player put the top two cards of his library into the graveyard. This “Millstone Man” can block in the early game (but I wouldn’t want to risk his death if I thought the opponent could pump up the creature I was blocking) and then mill the opponent right out of the game later. This card’s flavor text says it all, “their denial reaches far into your future.”

Compulsive Research is a sorcery for 2U that causes a target player to draw three cards and then either discard two cards or one card if the one card is a land. This is a great card for Ravnica limited formats because it helps you find land, allows you to discard creatures from your hand with Dredge that can be retrieved later and just generally helps you tunnel through your deck. Often, this card will simply be one of blue’s two very good common “mana fixers”, helping you get to the variety of land that you need in the early part of the game. On turn three, with no land in hand, you tap out to play Compulsive Research in hopes of digging up your fourth land drop, regardless of the fact that you might have to discard two non-land cards. The important thing is that you are discarding from your whole hand, not just from the three cards that you drew with Compulsive Research.

Drift of Phantasms is a 0/5 Spirit with defender (it’s a wall) and flying for 2U. Drift of Phantasms also has Transmute 1UU. You don’t generally want to put creatures in your deck that can’t attack, but in the world of Ravnica limited, a cheap blocker as BIG as Drift of Phantasms is very welcome. Just as importantly, you can use the Transmute ability to discard this WALL from your hand and replace it with any other card in your library that costs three mana. Very decent.

Tidewater Minion is a 4/4 Elemental with Defender (this WALL cannot attack) for 3UU. This creature has two interesting activated abilities. You can spend four mana to make Tidewater Minion LOSE the Defender ability until end of turn, turning your wimpy wall into an able attacker. You can also tap Tidewater Minion to untap target permanent. This card is worth playing as a kind of “Jade Statue” type card, gaining the ability to attack by activating its LOSE-DEFENDER-ABILITY. You will use the TAP-TO-UNTAP ability just as often, you will find. A decent big blue man anytime, this card is very important in the blue/black millstone deck because it essential becomes a second Vedalken Entrancer, untapping your Entrancer to let him mill FOUR cards off your opponent’s deck each turn while simultaneously keeping your opponent’s smaller creatures at bay.

Surveilling Sprite is a 1/1 Faerie Rogue with flying for 1U. When Surveilling Sprite is put into a graveyard from play, you may draw a card. You can’t fill up your deck with non-threats like this, but when you are filling in the last cards for your limited deck, you could do a lot worse. Surveilling Sprite is a walking, talking cantrip of sorts.

TIER TWO – POSSIBLY PLAYABLE

Tattered Drake is a 2/2 Zombie Drake
Ravnica: City of Guilds with flying for 4U that can be regenerated by spending one black mana. If you don’t have access to black mana in your deck, Tattered Drake is just a slightly overcosted flyer, which you would probably play anyway. If you have access to black in your deck, even if only as a splash, you can control the skies to a certain degree with this regenerating flyer. Look it up, regenerating flyers are few and far between, and it is very significant that this card is a common.

Induce Paranoia is an instant for 2UU that counters a target spell. If black mana was used to pay for Induce Paranoia, the controller of the countered spell puts the top X cards of their library into the graveyard where X is the countered spell’s converted mana cost. This is what we call a HARD counter, for two reasons. First it DEFINITIVELY counters the spell it targets, and second, it’s hard to cast at four mana. Normally, a four casting cost counter spell would not be good enough for limited main deck play, but in the world of Ravnica (and especially in the blue/black millstone deck) Induce Paranoia is entirely playable. Seriously, though, if you don’t have any other answers in your card pool to some powerful card you know your opponent has in his deck, Induce Paranoia might be the answer for you.

Snapping Drake is a 3/2 Drake with flying for 3U. This is one of the minority of creatures from Ravnica with no special ability (other than flying). It hardly matters. While other colors are playing four mana for a 2/2 creature WITHOUT flying you get a 3/2 flying creature for the same mana. Just a good solid creature for a good mana cost.

Convolute is an instant for 2U that counters a target spell unless its controller pays an additional four colorless mana. This is my favorite counter spell in the set. This card compares favorably to Mana Leak, but a mana cost of three is a lot to me (though cheaper than other such options in this set). This card is not first tier for me, because I would rather have a threat or a sure-fire answer like a hard counter, which Convolute is NOT.

Flight of Fancy is a creature enchantment for 3U that gives enchanted creature flying and which causes you to draw two cards when it comes into play. This card is one of five common creature enchantments designed to give you something extra and useful to “juice up” an otherwise not particularly special creature enchantment. This card has the best synergy of the five common creature enchantments by far. You not only imbue a creature of yours (hopefully) with flight, but you draw two cards. If this card was simply a sorcery for 3U that drew two cards, it would be played, though grudgingly. As it is, this card is a fine addition to almost any limited format deck playing virtually any amount of blue.

Peel from Reality is an instant for 1U that returns a target creature you control and a target creature you don’t control to their owners’ hands. This card seems unusually powerful to me, considering the lengths this set requires red players to go to for removal. Comparatively, Peel from Reality seems really powerful and cheap. Obviously you would USUALLY prefer to not have to bounce a creature of theirs and a creature of yours, but I have been surprised at how often this is not a problem. I think this card solves A LOT more problems than it creates.

Stasis Cell is a creature enchantment for 4U that keeps the creature it enchants from untapping. For 3U, you can move Stasis Cell from one creature to another. This card is not quite as good as it sounds, but it is still pretty good. This card would be perfectly fine if it were simply Dehydration for one extra mana. With Dehydration, however, you would often wait to be sure you were spending your creature enchantment wisely, shutting down the most troublesome creature on your opponent’s side of the board. With Stasis Cell, you don’t have to be so protective of your resources. You can go ahead and use it to slow down one creature, then move it to a new target when a bigger threat starts bothering you. The down side is the cost of the ability. You rarely are able to sit back with four untapped mana during the early to middle parts of the game, and when you do, your intentions will certainly be no mystery to your opponent, since they ALREADY KNOW what you are up to. In Ravnica limited formats, you have to take whatever kind of creature control effects you can get, so Stasis Cell goes right in your deck, warts and all.

Muddle the Mixture is an instant for UU that counters an instant or sorcery spell. This card also has Transmute 1UU, giving this card the flexibility necessary to be JUST GOOD ENOUGH for your deck some of the time. Without Transmute, this card would be too narrow to include in the main deck of most limited decks. With the ability to Transmute, this card becomes a slightly better card, as long as you have two casting cost cards worth Transmuting for.

TIER THREE – NOT A STARTER

Dizzy Spell is an instant for one blue mana that gives a target creature -3/-0 until end of turn. This card also has Transmute 1UU. The ONLY way you can really get excited about this card is for its Transmute ability. As a kind of “reverse giant growth” I think this card fails as a combat trick.

Vedalken Dismisser is a 2/2 Vedalken Wizard for 5U. When Vedalken Dismisser comes into play, put target creature on top of its owner’s library. This creature’s coming into play effect is very powerful, but the cost is severe as well. You would just much rather play Peel from Reality than this card 99% of the time.

Terraformer is a 2/2
Ravnica: City of Guilds Human Wizard for 2U. For one mana, you choose a basic land type, the land type of each land you control becomes that type until end of turn. Mana fixers are more important than normal in Ravnica limited formats. Terraformer gives you a decent 2/2 bear that helps you access any color you need. If you need to cast a spell that costs 4UB but all you have are seven Islands? Tap six of your lands for blue mana, then use one of the blue mana in your pool to activate Terraformer’s ability, changing all of your lands into Swamps (for most intents and purposes) now tap your last untapped land for black mana. It’s not the most efficient color fixer ever, but it’s not bad.

Drake Familiar is a 2/1 Drake with flying for 1U. When Drake Familiar comes into play, you must sacrifice it unless you return an enchantment in play to its owner’s hand. Not the worst. The worst would be if you had to return an enchantment THAT YOU CONTROLLED to your hand. Drake Familiar allows you to bounce an enchantment that your opponent controls, instantly elevating this card from almost-unplayable to certainly-sideboardable. Don’t make a meal out of this guy, however, unless you have LOTS of cheap enchantments of your own, because a cheap flyer is NOT a bargain if you can’t play him early enough in the game to make a difference.

Quickchange is an instant for 1U that changes a target creature’s color to the color or colors of your choice until end of turn and then draws you a card. At worst, this card is a “cycling” effect, replacing itself with the next card in your deck. Cycling is also about the BEST thing that you can say about this card. Let’s put it this way: your deck is probably in trouble if you need to play a card like this in the main deck.

Grayscaled Gharial is a 1/1 Crocodile with Islandwalk for one blue mana. Traditionally, 1/1 creatures with landwalk have not been big hits. Neither is this one. However, Islandwalk can be a little more important than Forest-, Mountain- or Swampwalk because blue opponents (they’re the ones with the Islands) often hide behind more defensive fortifications than other colors, making Islandwalk particularly useful. That’s about as good as this cute little Crocodile gets. In the end, it comes down to this: 2/2 landwalk good, 1/1 landwalk bad.

Zephyr Spirit is a 0/6 Spirit for 5U. When Zephyr Spirit blocks, return it to its owner’s hand. Go ahead, try to think of a way that this isn’t the worst creature in Ravnica. I challenge you!

GOLD COMMONS

TIER ONE – ALWAYS PLAY

Skyknight Legionnaire is a 2/2 Human
Ravnica: City of Guilds Knight with flying and haste for 1RW. On turn three, a 2/2 hastey flyer is pretty hard to beat. This card is great, and one of the biggest reasons red/white is one of the most popular color combinations in Ravnica booster drafts so far. In my opinion, this is the single best gold common in the set for limited play.

Thundersong Trumpeter is a 2/1 Human Soldier for RW that taps to make a target creature unable to attack or block this turn. Amazing. For just two mana, you get a 2/1 bear that acts like Pacifism on a stick, able to keep an opponent’s creature out of combat no matter whose turn it is. This is A LOT of control for two mana with a completely useful 2/1 body besides. The fact that the two best gold commons are both red/white is a strong clue as to why so many limited players love this color combination.

Selesnya Evangel is a 1/2 Elf Shaman for GW. You can spend one colorless mana, tap Selesnya Evangel and another untapped creature you control to put a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play. This is just about the cheapest, fastest reusable source for creating MORE creatures that I have ever seen. There are LOTS of uses in Ravnica limited for little men, and you can make a LOT of them in a hurry with Selesnya Evangel. I don’t know if you really want two or three of this creature in your main deck, but I do know that if I am playing green/white, I want at least ONE of these creatures in my deck.

Shambling Shell is a 3/1 Plant Zombie for 1BG with Dredge 3. You can sacrifice Shambling Shell to put a +1/+1 counter on a target creature. A nice trick is to keep dredging up Shambling Shell each turn, even relatively early in the game, to block and possibly kill attacking creatures while slowly piling on +1/+1 counters onto your evasive creature that attacks each turn while Shambling Shell holds down the ground for your side of the board.

Golgari Rotwurm is a 5/4 Zombie Wurm for 3BG. You can spend one black mana and sacrifice a creature at any time to make a target player lose one life. This is a big, powerful ground creature for a fair price. The Rotwurm’s activated ability can become a win-condition on its own late in the game when you have more creatures and black mana sources than your opponent has life points.

Rally the Righteous is an instant for 1RW with Radiance that untaps a target creature and each other creature that shares a creature with it, those creatures get +2/+0 until end of turn. This card can give you amazing opportunities for controlling a combat step on offense or defense for a very reasonable cost. This is one card where Radiance can become a bit of a two-edged sword since it might be untapping and pumping up some of your opponent’s creatures as well as yours, depending on their color. However, this card is still a must play because of the powerful way it swings a combat step into your favor. You can use it to suddenly create a lot more blockers (and bigger blockers) than your opponent expected you to have. You can also simply use this card to give one or more of your attackers a +2/+0 boost on the attack. Either way, this card really seems to pay off well whenever it is used.

Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi is a 4/7 Elemental with Vigilance and Convoke for 6GW. This casting cost would lower the value of this card a great deal if it did not have Convoke. With Convoke, this creature is such a good blocker that you really don’t mind tapping five or six mana along with all of your two or three creatures to drop this massive creature into play. Truthfully, this giant man does a lot more blocking than attacking, only because your opponent will be in a big hurry to block the Guardian with ALL his creatures in order to kill it. Since this card is more defensive than offensive, I’d have to say it’s more of a MAYBE for your deck.

Seeds of Strength is an instant for GW that gives a target creature +1/+1 until end of turn THREE SEPARATE TIMES. This card can be used to give a single creature all three +1/+1 pumps, or to pump up two or three different creatures. Green and white go together better in Ravnica than they ever have before, which makes this popular card very easy to play. Wrecking your opponent in the combat step before damage has been assigned is what Seeds of Strength does ALL DAY LONG. Enjoy.

(by the way, I consider the previous eight cards automatic must-plays for your deck if you are playing the appropriate colors. There are only four more gold cards, ALL of which are at least PLAYABLE. Give Wizards of the Coast some credit, it would have been easy to play it safe and make a bunch of weak multi-colored commons. Thankfully, they did not!)

TIER TWO – POSSIBLY PLAYABLE

Consult the Necrosages is a sorcery for 1UB that lets you choose to either draw two cards or to make a target player discard two cards. Both abilities are perfectly useful, but I have to say I have not seen anyone use this card to do anything else besides DRAW TWO CARDS. As such, this card is NOT a necessity for your deck, but it certainly is a decent card that will often be very useful for you.

Perplex is an instant fo
Ravnica: City of Guilds r 1UB that counters a target spell unless that spell’s controller discards his or her hand. I have been extremely suspicious of this card, since it seems to let your opponent pull all the strings, choosing whichever resolution of Perplex hurts them the least. Other players that I trust have told me they like this card a lot, that it is a hard counter much more often than not. I say the jury is still out. I think we can all agree that late in the game, this card has next to no value at all, since your opponent can still elect to discard his entire hand even when he has no cards in his hand. (I already looked it up)

Dimir Infiltrator is a 1/3 unblockable Spirit for UB. I thought this creature was really good when I first saw it, a useful sized creature for just two mana that can block a lot of early game threats and then deal the unblockable beats later in the game. Unfortunately, like the 1/1 blue common Islandwalker, the Infiltrator just doesn’t make enough of a positive difference for your deck. Still playable, I have learned that the Dimir Infiltrator is good but certainly not great.

Woodwraith Strangler is a 2/2 Plant Zombie for 2BG that you can regenerate by removing a creature card in your graveyard from the game. Amazing, the WORST of the twelve gold commons in Ravnica is a slightly overcosted 2/2 with an occasionally useful regeneration ability. There really is nothing too terrible about this creature, he simply is pushed out of contention in most black/green decks because of better creature options in those creature-rich colors.

HYBRID COMMONS

Lurking Informant is a
Ravnica: City of Guilds 1/2 Human Rogue that costs one colorless and either one blue or one black mana. You can spend two colorless mana and tap Lurking Informant to look at the top card of target player’s library. You may put that card into that player’s graveyard. You can use this highly flexible card to check out the next card of your own library and possibly improve your next draw. More often, you will use the Lurking Informant to check out the top card of your opponent’s library. A lot of times, you will want to put the top card into the graveyard, pushing your opponent one step closer to running out of cards. Late in the game, however, you will also be quite content to use the Informant to control the quality of the opponent’s draw. Find a useful spell on top of their library? Dump it. Find a land on turn fifteen? Leave it and let ‘em choke on it!

Gaze of the Gorgon is an instant that costs three colorless and either one black or one green mana that lets you regenerate target creature, destroying all creatures that blocked or were blocked by the target creature at the end of combat. This is an outstanding combat trick, best played on your own attacker when it is double blocked by an opponent in order to kill your creature while losing only one of theirs. Of course, you can also use this instant to save a creature from being destroyed by many of your opponent’s creature removal spells.

Centaur Safeguard is a 3/1 Centaur Warrior that costs two colorless and either one green or one white mana. When Centaur Safeguard is put into a graveyard from play, you may gain three life points. This is simply a very efficiently costed 3/1 creature that can be played in white or green decks. Hard to say anything bad about this one.

Boros Recruit is a 1/1 Goblin Soldier with first strike that costs either one white or one red mana. This is my least favorite hybrid colored common in Ravnica, because Tundra Wolf just doesn’t do it for me like it did ten years ago. There is, however, nothing wrong with using one of these guys to fill out the lower end of your booster draft or sealed deck.

ARTIFACT COMMONS

Terrarion is a one ca
Ravnica: City of Guilds sting cost artifact that comes into play tapped. When you spend two colorless mana and tap and sacrifice Terrarion, you get to add two mana of any combination of colors to your mana pool. When Terrarion is put into a graveyard from play, you draw a card. This is a decent little cantrip card that can help solve your early game multi-colored mana problems. The downside to this card may be enough to make you want to leave it out of your deck. Very simply, it comes into play tapped, making it none too speedy. If you can live with this drawback, and you usually can when you are able to play Terrarion on turn one, then you will find this card fairly useful in decks that need access to a third (or fourth) color.

The four common Signet artifacts are very useful for mana acceleration in any deck, but are particularly useful in decks that are using both colors of mana that your Signet creates. The first two or three times that I drafted Ravnica, I played every Signet that I could draft with little regard for the kind of mana it produced. Now I only play a Signet if I am playing both colors it produces, or if my deck is full of eight casting cost spells (which is probably never a good idea in limited play). The four Signets each cost two colorless mana and there is one for each of the two colored Guilds featured in Ravnica. They include Selesnya Signet, which produces a green and a white mana when you spend one colorless mana and tap the Signet. Golgari Signet similarly produces a black and a green, Dimir Signet produces a blue and a black, and Boros Signet produces a red and a white.

NON-BASIC LAND COMMONS

The four common non-basic lands in Ravnica each come into play tapped and require you to return a land to your hand when they come into play. Once untapped, each of these lands taps to produce TWO mana, one each of the two colors of the four two-colored Guilds featured in this set. Dimir Aqueduct taps for a blue and a black mana, Boros Garrison taps for a red and a white mana, Golgari Rot Farm taps for a black and a green mana and, finally, Selesnya Sanctuary taps for a green and a white mana. Like the four common Signet mana artifacts, these non-basic lands were at first grabbed by players and put into their Ravnica limited decks whether or not both colors produced by the land were needed for their decks. After some further experience with the set, it has become clear that you (a) don’t want to use these lands unless your deck uses BOTH of the colors produced and (b) you really don’t want to have too many of these lands in your deck at any time. The last thing you want to do is to be forced to mulligan because the only lands in your hand are these non-basics.

REVIEWING THE RAVNICA COMMONS FOR LIMITED PLAY

I can’t say enough about how good the gold and hybrid commons are in this set. WOTC Research and Development has done a great job of encouraging players to get excited about multi-colored card strategies. I wish I could say the same about the mono colored commons. While I like the asymmetric distribution of commons among the five colors (due to the concentration on four Guild two-color combinations that this set focuses on) I find the average power level of the commons in Ravnica to be lower than average. What REALLY matters in Ravnica limited formats is whether the set encourages good skill-based play. I believe that Ravnica really delivers on this score. The super-powerful rare bombs are satisfyingly difficult to pay for, requiring the players who play with broken rares to design good decks around them in order to exploit them.

Of course, I would love to know what you think!

Jeff Zandi
Texas Guildmages
Level II DCI Judge
jeffzandi@hotmail.com
Zanman on Magic Online






 

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