Ravnica Allegiance is the most powerful set in Standard. With mana acceleration like Growth Spiral and Incubation Druid, card draw like Theater of Horrors and Light up the Stage, and threats like Growth-Chamber Guardian and Judith, the Scourge Diva, RNA really has it all. Here are five decks I’ve really enjoyed playing with since the release of RNA.
Burn uses a lot of the aggressive elements from old mono-red aggro lists and adds some of the powerful new card draw. Theater of Horrors and Light up the Stage give Burn a ton of staying power. I’ve played a lot of games with the deck where I played an early Theater and then used all my damage spells to trade with enemy creatures and buy time while I accumulated card advantage.
Theater of Horrors also works perfectly with The Flame of Keld, as the cards hidden under the Theater don’t get discarded. I’ve had a number of games where I dealt 15ish on turn 6-7 after going Theater into Flame.
Skewer the Critics is another big addition. It’s similar to Wizard’s Lightning in that it’s a 3-cost or 1-cost Lightning Bolt, but it’s 1 cost a much larger percentage of the time than Lightning was. Carnival // Carnage isn’t a great rate card, but it is pretty versatile and a solid way to turn on spectacle.
One question with this deck is if it should play Chainwhirler. I like having four Swamps since you want to play Theater ASAP, but Chainwhirler may be powerful enough that it’s worth cutting back, depending on the metagame. Despite being weaker than Skewer, it may be correct to still run some number of Wizard’s Lightning as well.
Sacrifice decks have as many tools as they have had since Aristocrats was legal. Judith supports the go-wide strategy while creatures are in play and gives creatures value when they die. Playing four is a slam dunk as legend ruling them isn’t even that bad—it gives you a deal-2 divided as you choose.
Priest of the Forgotten Gods gives a ton of value and works even better when Judith is there to take out the small enemy creatures and force them to sacrifice the big ones. Gutterbones is the perfect creature to sacrifice to the Priest as the Priest gives you the 2 mana to return it and causes them to lose life.
Gruesome Menagerie is at its best in this deck, as every other nonland card is a 1-, 2-, or 3-cost creature. The deck is a little light on 3s, so it may be worth adding a couple more. Legion Warboss is the first one that comes to mind.
Midnight Reaper offers the deck a lot of staying power, and can even be reminiscent of the Fecundity Goblins deck with Skirk Prospector. This deck can fall behind early on, so make sure to be aware of your life total when using the Reaper. Sometimes you might fear the Reaper more than your opponent does.
Another potential addition for this deck is Siege-Gang Commander. It’s not a 1, 2, or 3, but it might be nice to have another mana sink in the deck, and there are a lot of Goblins to go with it.
When playing this deck, make sure to push through early damage. Between Priest and Judith you can kill people from pretty high life totals without even using combat. When you have Priest and Judith out, the Judith triggers resolve before the Priest activation, so you can take out their small guys before they have to sacrifice.
Hydroid Vannifar Guardian
Vannifar is a nice little throwback to Birthing Pod. While Pod was never that big in Standard, that was mostly due to the dominance of Delver decks and their ability to punish the clunkiness of Pod. Vannifar isn’t quite as powerful as Pod in terms of its ability to punish removal, but the metagame may be more friendly to it.
Rhythm of the Wild is a nice way to make sure Vannifar gets at least one activation in by giving it haste. It also gives Growth-Chamber Guardian and Incubation Druid a way to pick up counters. Once you have Rhythm out, Growth-Chamber Guardian is a 2-cost 3/3 Squadron Hawk, and Incubation Druid is a 2-cost 1/3 Gilded Lotus.
One of the keys to building Pod style decks is to not put too many silver bullets in. You want a high density of strong threats in the deck so that you can win when you don’t draw Vannifar. Hence, lots of copies of the powerful new cards like Hydroid Krasis and Ravager Wurm, and no copies of Reclamation Sage, End-Raze Forerunners, and other weaker bullets.
One thing to keep in mind is that red is not the only way to build a Vannifar deck. White gives you a way to find Vannifar in Militia Bugler, as well as some sweet bullets like Lyra and Trostani. Black gives you some sweet undergrowth creatures like Izoni, as well as some powerful ETB creatures like Ravenous Chupacabra.
Wilderness Reclamation may not be the best card in Ravnica Allegiance, but it is the most powerful. The amount of mana Reclamation can provide for a deck that supports it is absolutely off the charts. In addition to providing a ton of mana, Reclamation can also give you additional uses on Arch of Orazka and Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. Chemister’s Insight is the perfect support card for Reclamation as it spends all the mana the turn you play it, and gives you a mana sink for subsequent turns where you may have extra mana. I’m down to only four Fog effects in the list. Reclamation makes you combo off much faster, which means you need less time.
When playing the deck, make sure to play Nexus before any card draw effects. You want all four Nexuses in your deck when you’re drawing cards. You can put the Wilderness Reclamation trigger on the stack, float whatever mana you’d like, and then let the trigger resolve and make some more mana. Growth Spiral is an instant but make sure to play it at sorcery speed if you are going to have 2 mana available after it resolves. You might draw into Discovery or Search.
One question I’ve seen asked about TurboFog is whether you even still need Teferi. Andrew Cuneo was playing a straight U/G version and did really well with it. My gut is that Teferi is still worth it. Even if it’s not optimal for comboing, it should be really strong in post-board games when your opponent is disrupting you more.
Guilds of Ravnica has also offered a number of really powerful Gate synergy cards. Gates Ablaze and Gatebreaker Ram are both very pushed, and Plaza of Harmony also offers a nice life cushion. Combining that with Circuitous Route to bring out more Gates and Guild Summit to draw cards leads to a pretty sweet deck. Given all the ramping, I couldn’t leave out Hydroid Krasis.
Gates Ablaze and Gatebreaker Ram are both very strong against aggressive decks, and Guild Summit gets control pretty well. That said, it is very easy to draw the wrong half of your deck in the wrong matchup. This is definitely the type of deck that would get a big boost from sideboarded games.
If aggressive matchups are still tough, Archway Angel could be a sweet splash. It can gain a ludicrous amount of life in this deck, and even finish some games. The mana is pretty good in this deck, so this might be worthwhile.
Land sequencing is absolutely key with this deck, as you have a ton of taplands. Pay attention to both the colors you need and the turns you really need to maximize your mana, and play your lands accordingly.
That’s it for my brewing this week. Which deck is your favorite? Any changes you’d make to the decks? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, brew to your heart’s content.
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