Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer – Modern Horizons 2
Date Reviewed: December 31, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.63
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale: 1 is bad; 3 is average; 5 is great.
Ragavan changed the game in every way you can interpret that term. He pushed the “Savannah Lions-plus” design archetype into a power level nobody would have guessed possible, topping almost all the previous ones for general usefulness and versatility. He does basically the same thing for dash, which I suspect many of us never thought we’d see again after Dragons of Tarkir. He cemented Treasures as a top-tier strategy in red, both in a pure gaming sense and in players’ hearts. He made 2021 a year where the top two in our Top Ten were red, and not that long ago nobody would have seen that coming either. And I think I said something similar the last time we reviewed him, but yes: “Legendary Creature – Monkey Pirate” is objectively the best type line ever. (That may not actually be an objective statement.)
Happy New Year – and I’ll see you under the bright lights of Eiganjo . . .
This card was 1st on my Top 10 Cards of 2021 list.
Back when we reviewed Ragavan, I initially was a bit cautious in my assessment; the main reason I was lower on him was that, compared to the primary one-drop red creatures of choice, the prime ape lacked haste without dashing him in. Turns out that haste was largely unnecessary, and the monkey went on to play demolition derby in Modern, Legacy, and Vintage alike; I’m more than happy to admit that I might have been too cautious in my assessment then!
Ragavan may not have haste, but if he’s not answered that turn, a turn 1 Ragavan starts to accelerate your mana out of control and also chew through opponents’ decks at the same time. It presents a fast clock that also accelerates you further ahead, which red decks certainly will not complain about at all, and even if they kill the poor and helpless primate, you still forced them to drop a removal spell on that and not on other things that they will inevitably regret not removing later. Ragavan’s acceleration really helped to reshape what red decks looked like in all the Constructed formats it’s been legal in, and dash is actually a nice little way to hit an unsuspecting opponent while protecting your monkey from them trying to be very rude with sorcery-speed effects.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer was my clear no.1 of the year; more than any other card, it’s redefined multiple formats and rewrote what decks want to be doing. A playset of Ragavan has almost become an essential part of any red-centric shell in its legal formats, and it’s annoying enough to justify splashing for red just to have access to its talents. It’s also still a Monkey Pirate, and that’s pretty awesome.
Constructed: 5 (if you actually are a card in 2021 that makes a sustained and substantial impression in Vintage, that’s a scary thing indeed)
Multiplayer: 4.75 (you can usually find someone to sic the monkey on)
Commander: 4.75 (it lacks some late-game legs, but it’s excellent early, and dash can do a surprising amount of work if you let it)
See you next year! (which may not totally start on Monday but who’s counting)
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Ah the monkey…this card is in the category of Tarmogoyf level of good creature. For one red you get a 2/1 no drawback and whenever he attacks you create a treasure token and you get to have your opponent exile the top card of their library and you can cast that card. To top it off it has a dash ability for 1R and it’ll go back to your hand for further protection against creature removal. There are so many strategies and decks built around this card, there’s a reason it is worth so much money on the secondary market. Throw this in with Goldspan Dragon and Galazeth Prismari and you got yourself a nice token base strategy. I do have some reservations about this card, it hasn’t broken a format yet but if it does I can see Wizards easily banning this card or printing it in every single Masters set going forward to lower the cost down. Ragavan is the best card printed in 2021, hands down no questions because it’s such a good card and can be so versatile it makes red a top tier deck in Modern.
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