Arcbound Ravager
Arcbound Ravager

Arcbound Ravager – Darksteel

Date Reviewed:  July 20, 2023

Constructed: 5.00
Casual: 3.75
Limited: 4.00
Multiplayer: 3.25
Commander [EDH]: 3.50

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below: 


This card’s name still strikes fear into an entire generation of Magic players. It’s not the card that made Affinity – those were the artifact lands. It’s not the card that first made Affinity powerful – that was Disciple of the Vault and, believe it or not, Broodstar. But it’s the card that helped make Affinity into the unstoppable juggernaut that it once was. It reads so innocent, but it can destroy opponents in so many different ways. It gives you complete control over other modular creatures, including the ability to eventually sacrifice itself and load up an Ornithopter or Frogmite with one-hit-kill damage. It obviously works well with Disciple of the Vault, and knowing how the stack works just deepens the despair: trying to kill the support cards gives the opponent a chance to make it bigger and attack you, and if an Affinity player ever had a Ravager and a Disciple in play at once, you had often already lost because they could just win in response to whatever you did.

And Arcbound Ravager somehow still sees play in non-rotating formats, almost twenty (!) years on. I’m not sure how much of that is due to artifacts historically being incredibly overpowered in Magic, but I know that at least part of it is because the Ravager has synergy with almost everything and negative interaction with very little.

Constructed: 5
Casual: 4
Limited: 4
Multiplayer: 3.5
Commander [EDH]: 3.5

 James H. 


On of the most infamous Standard environments of all time is the one wrought by the release of the second ser of the Mirrodin block, Darksteel. There are many culprits responsible for what made Darksteel such a disastrously powerful and impactful set, but Arcbound Ravager is pretty much at the top of the list; it encapsulates what made that era such a mess to begin with and underscores what happens when cards play “too well” with each other.

On the surface, Arcbound Ravager doesn’t seem like much, and I would say that, while powerful, you might be able to print it into the current Standard without it being a format-warping menace. It has the modular mechanic of all of the Arcbound creatures, and it can consume other artifacts to get stronger. However, there are two things to note here: it can sacrifice itself (you won’t get a counter for it, but you do get to re-allocate its counters to another artifact creature), and it was released in a block where the vast majority of cards could be sacrificed into Arcbound Ravager to trigger it.

Affinity is a deck name that may strike fear into the hearts of certain players, and Arcbound Ravager was very much one of the cards that held everything together for the deck. It was a finisher and an enabler all in one; with Disciple of the Vault as an additional finisher, the artifact lands from Mirrodin providing the affinity cards with even more fuel, and evasive finishers like Blinkmoth Nexus, the deck was a well-oiled machine where everything played nearly perfectly with each other, and the format was dominated by Affinity and attempts to directly counter Affinity. Arcbound Ravager’s damage was enough to actually earn it a spot on the banned list in Standard (alongside the six artifact lands and Disciple of the Vault), in an era where Wizards of the Coast did not ban cards except as a last-ditch maneuver.

Arcbound Ravager’s story didn’t end there, and it’s been an ever-present force in Modern since the format’s inception, even with the five colored artifact lands from Mirrodin pre-emptively and permanently banned. It’s always found a way to do disastrous things, thanks to how it can take a little fuel and start a massive conflagration. It may not be the menace it once was, but I’d say that’s mostly because all of its friends have kept getting hit with the ban hammer (like Mox Opal); a fully-powered Affinity deck would certainly terrorize Modern in a way that few other decks could match, and Arcbound Ravager might be the one card that does the most with the right tools at its disposal.

Constructed: 5
Casual: 3.5
Limited: 4 (it’s had some good Limited showings and a few that were less fun, so call this splitting the difference)
Multiplayer: 3
Commander [EDH]: 3.5 (bit fiddlier here, but you can still do a lot if you believe in yourself)

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