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Commander Review: Guilds of Ravnica Part 1 (White, Blue, Black)


Guilds of Ravnica has been fully spoiled so it's time to analyze the new cards and see which ones have the most potential for us Commander players! Let's begin:

 

WHITE

Bounty Agent

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Of all the formats out there, Commander is where you'll find the most legendary permanents: each deck starts with at least one legendary creature in the command zone! This makes Bounty Agent's conditional removal quite consistent in the format as you'll almost always have a target to destroy. That's a pretty good effect at 2cmc, but Bounty Agent goes from "decent" to "incredible" when your deck can consistently reanimate it to make it repeatable removal: Sun Titan, Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle, and Reveillark immediately come to mind in White and things only get better when you add Black like Karador, Ghost Chieftain. With strong reanimation themes and haste-enablers like Lightning Greaves, Bounty Agent can act as a powerful silver bullet that you can dredge up when needed. Very solid card.

 

Citywide Bust

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

We've seen quite a few variations of Retribution of the Meek so it's nice to finally see a board wipe based on toughness instead of power. I play Retribution of the Meek (and Dusk // Dawn / Slaughter the Strong) in a bunch of decks, most notably Doran, the Siege Tower and Arcades, the Strategist which are all about low power + high toughness creatures, and other Weenie style decks like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and even Zedruu the Greathearted.

There isn't really any "low toughness matters" deck so Citywide Bust won't be an auto-include in the same way that Retribution of the Meek is in Arcades, the Strategist, but Weenie decks like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death are going to be more than happy to run this board wipe right alongside Retribution.

 

Conclave Tribunal

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If you tap one creature to cast this, Conclave Tribunal becomes a same-cost Oblivion Ring. That's very mediocre. However, tap three creatures and you've got an Oblivion Ring for just W! That's really good! Tribunal looks like a great addition to any Go Wide / Tokens deck and will fit nicely in the removal suite alongside other solid options like Collective Effort.

 

Crush Contraband

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Crush Contraband closely resembles the Commander staple Return to Dust: while Return has more flexibility when cast during your main phase, Crush can sometimes be just as effective with the added bonus of being able to exile two things outside of your main phase. I think Return to Dust is a little better, but Crush Contraband is very close and will be a more budget-friendly option in the future.

 

Dawn of Hope

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Well of Lost Dreams is possibly the best card in the entire Lifegain archetype and offers White decks actual good card draw. Dawn of Hope is a far worse version but it's still good card draw in White, so if your Lifegain deck doesn't have great card draw options (Mono White in particular) then Dawn of Hope is a fine inclusion.

 

Divine Visitation

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Divine Visitation is easily my favorite White card from the set! Most tokens are small and turning 1/1's created by cards like Tilonalli's Summoner and Tendershoot Dryad into 4/4 flying vigilance beatsticks is a tremendous upgrade. While that alone is worth running Divine Visitation, things get even spicier when you pair this with token generators that care about creature types: Ophiomancer and Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder suddenly produce endless tokens, or you can just go infinite with Requiem Angel and a sac outlet like Ashnod's Altar! Divine Visitation has so many fun possibilities and I can't wait to start playing with it.

 

Venerated Loxodon

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Best case scenario with Venerated Loxodon is you convoke it by paying W and tapping four creatures, giving you a 4/4 and adding a +1/+1 counter on four creatures for W. That's alright, but as far as payoff go for assembling four creatures, it's kinda weak. I suppose if your Go Wide deck has a +1/+1 Counter theme and you can take full advantage of the counters then this is pretty good, otherwise I'd probably skip over this.

 

BLUE

Dream Eater

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Dream Eater is loaded with value: flash, decent body, surveil 4, and bounce a nonland permanent are all great things at a fair 6cmc. It's a pretty decent high-end card in just about any deck, but it really shines in decks that can abuse what it does: the best fits for Dream Eater will be Blink decks that can re-use its powerful ETB trigger with things like Panharmonicon, Strionic Resonator, Conjurer's Closet, etc. Brago, King Eternal, Aminatou, the Fateshifter, Roon of the Hidden Realm, and Ephara, God of the Polis are all excellent commanders for Dream Eater. Of course, the commander I'm most excited to play with this is Unesh, the Criosphinx, since Dream Eater is easily one of the best Sphinxes available to the deck.

 

Drowned Secrets

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Drowned Secrets might see play as a cheap combo win condition, since there's plenty of ways to cast Blue spells an infinite number of times, like Dramatic Reversal imprinted on an Isochron Scepter or High Tide enabling infinite Palinchron casts, thus milling out your opponents. It's a pretty easy win unless an opponent has old Ulamog/Kozilek (e.g. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre) to protect against milling. I'm not sure if it's the best combo finisher option, but that's probably the only way you'll see this card played in Commander.

 

Guild Summit

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Guild Summit is an okayish addition to a Maze's End deck. Since you can only run one of each Gate in your Commander deck, odds are you won't be drawing a bunch of cards off this, and if you do it's because you just resolved Scapeshift to dump all your Gates on to the battlefield and won the game so the card draw doesn't matter anyway. So it's ... fine. Maybe. Probably still worse than, say, Painful Truths.

 

Mission Briefing

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mission Briefing often gets compared to Snapcaster Mage, which is fair. Everyone's asking the question, "which is better?" And the answer in Commander is: "it depends." Snapcaster Mage is going to be better in any deck that can take advantage of it being a Wizard creature with an ETB trigger, so it'll be better in Blink decks like Brago, King Eternal, or a Wizard deck like Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, or even Reanimation decks like Muldrotha, the Gravetide.

On the other hand, Mission Briefing is superior in Spellslinger decks that benefit greatly from it being an Instant and don't have ways to re-use Snapcaster Mage: Mizzix of the Izmagnus and (best of all) Kess, Dissident Mage are going to usually prefer Mission Briefing. Also in a vacuum, assuming no deck synergies at all, Mission Briefing's surveil 2 is going to be more valuable than a 2/1 creature.

So that's how to figure it out: if your deck has ways to consistently re-use Snapcaster Mage's ETB trigger, then Snapcaster is better. Otherwise, Mission Briefing is better. They're both top-level instant/sorcery recursion and beat out most options unless you're going for infinite loops like Archaeomancer.

 

Murmuring Mystic

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Murmuring Mystic is a bad Talrand, Sky Summoner, but token generators like Talrand / Metallurgic Summonings / Young Pyromancer / Monastery Mentor are crucial in slower Spellslinger decks, giving you much-needed blockers to survive the early/midgame and doubling as win conditions when your army grows large enough. In these decks, even a bad Talrand is still a solid inclusion; I'd run Murmuring Mystic in basically every deck that I'd run Talrand in.

 

Omnispell Adept

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Omnispell Adept was clearly designed for Commander, promising big flashy turns that excite many drawn to the Battlecruiser Magic format. It's pretty terrible on its own, costing a whopping 5 mana to cast a smallish creature that is vulnerable to removal, and then you need to wait an entire turn (pray nobody kills it or casts a board wipe) and pay 3 additional mana just to use its ability a single time. You should only run Adept in a deck perfectly suited to abuse its abilities, specifically Big Spellslinger decks full of giant instants/sorceries like Adept Apex of Power and Enter the Infinite to cheat out, along with ways to make its activated ability stronger with haste (Anger) / mana discounts (Training Grounds) / extra activations (Paradox Engine, Rings of Brighthearth), and of course protection (Lighting Greaves). That's a lot of requirements to make Adept good, but in the right deck it's gonna do great things.

I can see Omnispell Adept fitting best in Big Spellslinger versions of the following commanders: Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge, Mizzix of the Izmagnus, Jodah, Archmage Eternal, Jhoira of the Ghitu, "fair" Narset, Enlightened Master, and others.

 

Quasiduplicate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Quasiduplicate is most similar to Cackling Counterpart and Fated Infatuation in Blue, and I think it's just as good if not better than the other two. Being restricted to copying only your own creatures makes these Clones inferior options in a vacuum, but if your deck has token synergies then they suddenly become insanely good. Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer is the most obvious commander to instantly make room for Quasiduplicate, but any Blue Tokens deck will want this, as will any deck that wants to win with Biovisionary.

 

BLACK

Burglar Rat

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

It's rare to be excited about a common these days, but Burglar Rat's ability to scale in multiplayer makes it something to keep an eye on in Commander. This is the cheapest cmc we've ever seen for this effect and its attached to a creature which opens it up to lots of abuse in Graveyard and Blink decks. Burglar Rat can see play in Discard decks like Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Blink decks like Gonti, Lord of Luxury, and Graveyard decks like Karador, Ghost Chieftain. It's far from broken, but it's highly efficient at what it does.

 

Doom Whisperer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Of all the new cards from Guilds of Ravnica, Doom Whisperer is probably the most busted new addition in Commander. Being able to fill your graveyard at instant speed for just 1 life per card (no mana cost at all!) is just insane for basically all Graveyard decks. Played "fair," you can instantly fill your graveyard with tons of creatures to Reanimate, or bin a whole army to set up a game-winning Living Death. There's already buzz about using Doom Whisperer to instantly lower your health below 6 to take infinite turns with Second Chance and Muldrotha, the Gravetide. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant will love making a huge Zombie army as you keep activating. Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, literally any Black Graveyard deck should seriously consider running Doom Whisperer.

Honestly this is one of the most pushed cards I've ever seen. Even in Standard and limited, this is a 6/6 flying trampler for just 5cmc with a powerful ability on top? Yikes!

 

Gruesome Menagerie

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Gruesome Menagerie has great potential in specific decks that can consistently have 3 good creatures to reanimate each time you'd want to cast it. It's clearly BFFs with Buried Alive, which sets up this great 1-2 punch that screams combo potential: there's an easy infinite life combo with Viscera Seer + Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit + Kitchen Finks, and there's more convoluted winning combos that involve more situational/bad cards. But even if you're not trying to combo, getting back, say, Viscera Seer + Sakura-Tribe Elder + Eternal Witness for 5 mana is pretty sweet.

 

Mausoleum Secrets

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

In a Black Graveyard deck, Mausoleum Secrets is basically an instant Demonic Tutor that you can only play after Turn ~4 or so once you've started filling your graveyard a bit with stuff like Satyr Wayfinder, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Buried Alive. It's restrictive and a little slower than one of the best tutors ever printed, but it's still practically a new staple in the Graveyard archetype. I expect to see this played in almost every Meren of Clan Nel Toth / Karador, Ghost Chieftain / etc. decks.

 

Midnight Reaper

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Midnight Reaper is just a slightly worse Grim Haruspex. Haruspex is a staple in pretty much all Sacrifice decks and Reaper will soon join it in the exact same decks; the damage dealt is negligible, especially considering other staples like Blood Artist / Zulaport Cutthroat are going to negate the damage. All the popular Sacrifice decks that I can think of -- Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker, Teysa, Orzhov Scion, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper, and so on -- should free up a slot for the Reaper.

Midnight Reaper also has relevant creature types for tribal decks: it's a fine addition in Zombie decks since they often have a Sacrifice subtheme and is, well, alright in Knight decks under Aryel, Knight of Windgrace, considering it's not an awful Knight and the card pool is so shallow that it'll often make the cut.

 

Plaguecrafter

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Plaguecrafter is now the third Fleshbag Marauder available to us (second is Merciless Executioner). Is three too many for Sacrifice decks? Maybe. I think one of these is a must, two is great, and three is probably too much. I could be wrong though. I guess now you have some variety in terms of creature types, which is relevant for Tribal decks.

 

Price of Fame

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Price of Fame has brought extreme reviews from the community, with some calling it a new Commander staple and others calling it a bad removal spell. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle: Price of Fame is a solid targeted removal spell that will get better or worse depending on your playgroup. Killing commanders at instant speed and surveilling 2 for just 2cmc is amazing value, and it only gets better when you're up against decks full of legendary creatures like Captain Sisay. It can kill nonlegendary creatures too for 4cmc, which isn't great but isn't horrible.

With so many excellent targeted creature removal in Black -- Snuff Out, Malicious Affliction, Go for the Throat, and Hero's Downfall to name a few -- it's hard to make a definitive hierarchy of the best removal spells. It really depends on what decks you're up against. But I will say that Price of Fame joins the top ranks of excellent Black creature removal and I'd never feel bad about running it in a deck.

 

Ritual of Soot

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Ritual of Soot is Consume the Meek if you cut down the casting cost by 1 and changed it from instant to sorcery. I can't think of any decks that are thrilled to run Ritual over, say, Damnation. If there was a High CMC Creature Tribal sort of deck then maybe? Maybe Rakdos, Lord of Riots, or some version of Jodah, Archmage Eternal? I don't know. It's a card to keep in mind at least.

 

Next Up: Part 2! Red, Green, Multicolor, Colorless, and Lands!

There's some good stuff in Red and Green to talk about, and then finally we get to the meat of Guilds of Ravnica: the multicolor cards! Next article coming soon!


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