I’ve played my fair share of Guilds of Ravnica Limited in preparation for the upcoming Pro Tour and the Team Grand Prix in Denver. I’ve learned a fair bit about the format, and disagree with a lot of strong players on a number of cards. Generally, disagreements of this magnitude mean that my results suffer, but not this time.
Last time, I went over some of the most overrated cards in the format. Now let’s get into the underrated ones:
10) Righteous Blow
I noticed Joel Larsson also found this card better than it looks at face value. It’s white’s equivalent to Dead Weight. It’s effective at slowing down fast decks, trading up on mana a lot, and like Dead Weight, can push you to draw against fast decks in multiples. While Righteous Blow doesn’t fit Boros decks, I’ve had plenty of Selesnya-based 3-, 4-, or 5-color decks that were a pile of fixing and good cards with cheap removal to stay in the game as it got a more powerful game plan going. Don’t sleep on Righteous Blow as a high-impact sideboard card against Boros or as a way to enable a slower white archetype like Selesnya midrange.
9) Affectionate Indrik
Drafting Golgari the other day I had a choice between Affectionate Indrik and Status // Statue. For the first time I questioned my immediate instinct to take the powerful and flexible gold card. For some reason my intuition was to take the Affectionate Indrik. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the Affectionate Indrik, while not quite a Ravenous Chupacabra, plays a similar role. It makes up for lost tempo and creates card advantage. After that, it’s a creature—which is important in a Golgari deck to maximize your undergrowth effects. Undergrowth is a weak mechanic unless you’re able to maximize it, so making a pick like this may be correct. I’m not sure this pick was correct, but it “felt” right to me for those reasons.
I see Affectionate Indrik 4th, 5th, and 6th on occasion, when it’s a perfectly splashable value creature.
Hypothesizzle is clearly a great card. In fact, when the set came out it irritated me that this was a common because it reads like it should have been an uncommon. It’s similar to Annihilate, as it’s a removal spell that nets you a card. Its downside is that you have to discard a spell, but with so much jump-start it’s not difficult to hold off on casting that Radical Idea for a turn or two.
I know everyone thinks this is a good card, but in my opinion it’s the best common in the set and I still on occasion wheel it, despite being easy to splash.
7) Douser of Lights
This one I’ve been slow to come around on because I have a general rule about creatures with all flavor text, but it actually lines up nicely in the format. It can effectively block creatures like Rosemane Centaur and Barging Sergeant, and fades some of the removal of the format like Hypothesizzle, Lava Coil, and Artful Takedown.
While I’m not thrilled at the idea of playing Douser of Lights, it’s a totally reasonable and playable “finisher” in a Dimir deck that has a lot of removal.
6) Never Happened
I consider Never Happened underrated because of how infrequently my opponents have cast it against me. I’ve had a lot of success with very controlling blue decks that lean heavily on counterspells and removal. A lot of the time I’m thinking, “I hope they don’t cast Never Happened or Thought Erasure and take my counter/removal.” Pilfering Imp also fits into this category. I see it as one of the better Golgari undergrowth enablers. It can clear the way for your big payoff card while adding to your graveyard. Getting to exile cards from the graveyard has come up before as well—you can take that Chemister’s Insight or Beacon Bolt from an opponent’s graveyard.
Don’t sleep on hand disruption out of the sideboard in this format. Blue decks tend to always have a lot of cards in hand, so it’s a brick less often, and working with perfect information makes playing against these decks so much easier.
5) Portcullis Vine
Very few people put Portcullis Vine in their deck but it’s just the kind of card Golgari decks want. It helps with undergrowth and to prolong the game against aggressive decks. Golgari’s undergrowth effects get much more potent deeper into the game, so I’m happy to include the Vine in most of my slow Golgari decks. If you have two or three of these you can start playing Barrier of Bones guilt-free as well, because you can cash it in after benefiting from the cheap blocker and surveil trigger.
4) Glaive of the Guildpact
I really like spell-heavy blue decks, but green decks generally want to have a high creature count. Having mostly creatures can be a problem. If they don’t have evasion they can simply be outsized, and then your opponent is getting effective card advantage with one bigger creature outclassing three of yours. Glaive of the Guildpact with a few Guildgates makes every creature in your deck a big threat. I really like the design of this card. I rarely play against it, and I can almost always pinpoint when I’ll wheel it because I generally keep in mind how many Guildgates I’m seeing. If people aren’t scooping up Guildgates early, they likely won’t have enough to play Glaive of the Guildpact.
I specifically like Glaive of the Guildpact in green decks because green decks are creature heavy; green is underdrafted, allowing you to pick up a bigger share of the Guildgates; and it doesn’t really have any splashable commons, so people take the Guildgates less to splash. On top of that, cards like District Guide and Circuitous Route give you more ways to get Guildgates in play. I’ve had a lot of success with Glaive of the Guildpact, yet I don’t think I’ve ever played against it. Give it a try.
3) Radical Idea
I love Radical Idea. On its face it’s pretty mediocre as a cycling card that essentially gives any other card in your deck cycling. With Goblin Electromancer also at common, you can churn through your deck in a hurry with multiple Radical Ideas. All of that piled in with a dozen or so “spells-matter” cards like Beacon Bolt, Piston-Fist Cyclops, or Murmuring Mystic, and you have a card that is the glue in a lot of my best blue decks. I’m often surprised to get Radical Idea as late as I do. I don’t think I’ve ever cut one from a deck and I always find a reason to include it.
2) Devious Cover-Up
I often draft blue decks with very few ways to win. You’re looking at my favorite way to win—by not losing. Multiple copies of Devious Cover-Up sets up an endgame loop that makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to deck you. On top of that, counterspells are just great in this format. It’s easy to find cheap, defensive cards like Wall of Mist to hold the ground early, then use removal, counterspells, and card draw to leave your opponent without a way to win while you set up the loop. Combined with Hypothesizzle, Artful Takedown, and even Capture Sphere, you can throw some Whisper Agents into the mix to have a deck that can play completely at instant speed, all at common. I especially like Devious Cover-Up in Izzet alongside Goblin Electromancer, making it a more efficient card. All this instant-speed interaction makes me not want to play more expensive sorcery-speed cards unless they’re especially powerful. This is one of the reasons I think people overplay Muse Drake, because I think they should be playing more counterspells main deck while siding into the Muse Drakes against Boros.
Pure control decks are the best decks in Guilds of Ravnica, and Devious Cover-Up is great way to win by trying not to lose.
Golgari took a lot of heat early in the Draft format. While I personally still think outside of a couple of rares that undergrowth cards are too underpowered overall, the archetype can be good. The biggest problem is that the common gold cards are bad overall. Rhizome Lurcher is serviceable, but the others are all close to unplayable. Golgari still has access to great common removal, and solid uncommons and rares. Opening a card like Izoni, Thousand-Eyed and taking a Skyknight Legionnaire under the assumption that Boros is better than Golgari should only be done in extreme circumstances. While Golgari is slightly worse than other colors at common, passing one of the best cards in the set for a solid common is going to losewin percentage. The only time I can remember a color being so bad that you should pass a great card of the color for a mediocre card of another was in Battle for Zendikar. Green was incredibly bad across the board with only one or two decent uncommons, no great commons, and very few good rares. Golgari is not in that category, and if you’re avoiding it at all costs to get “in a better guild” you’re just throwing away wins in the long run.