Happy 2019 everyone! Magic Pro League (MPL) Player Marcio Carvalho here, back with some more limited insights and my first impressions about the most recent set: Ravnica Allegiance.
My Insight of the Format and Control/Midrange Strategies
The first thing I want to point out is that I think the game speed of the format is much slower than Guilds of Ravnica. It is funny because we have 2 very aggressive guilds in the form of Rakdos and Gruul. As an example, in Sealed deck I’ve been choosing to be on the draw even without knowing my opponent’s deck, and only chose to play first if I’m playing against a curvy Rakdos deck or a sick tempo Simic strategy.
In addition, the premium creatures that I value high on my Azorious decks are better on the draw with the exception of 《Chillbringer》 (Also known as 《Frost Titan》). For example, 《Senate Courier》 (The 《Morphling》 of the format) blocks everything until you control the game and start attacking with your flyers and/or 《Azorius Knight-Arbiter》.
If you are drafting Orzhov, keep in mind that all you want to do is grind your opponent out of resources. Try to make as much two for one as you can, or even three for one with the 《Skeletal Vampire》 in this set: 《Debtors' Transport》. Afterlife allows you to trade your creatures for theirs and let you always ahead on the board. As a finisher, I want to highlight how great 《Grasping Thrull》 is and you should pick it highly.
They did not mess around with gates payoffs on this set: 《Gates Ablaze》, 《Gate Colossus》 , 《Gatebreaker Ram》 and 《Archway Angel》 are insanely powerful cards that created a competitive deck around them in Standard!
I was not a fan of guildgates strategy before, but in the slower format following this strategy is totally possible, if you get the right cards: The aforementioned uncommons and a lot of removals to get to the late game. For obvious reasons, don’t take a medium card over a guildgate. You want them as many as possible and you can get your hands on enough gates then. If you are lucky enough, maybe you end up with a deck just like this one from Sam Black at Grand Prix New Jersey 2019:
Now it’s time to talk about my favorite archetypes: people who know me well know that I love curvy decks with tempo cards to mess with my opponents block in combat. That brings to Simic, Rakdos and Gruul.
I value combat tricks and bounce spells quite high, so cards like 《Applied Biomancy》 are just perfect! On top of that, having multiple Adapt creatures in the battlefield makes combat hell for your opponent, so it’s just my cup of tea.
A good example of a Temur deck that I found excellent (Yes, a lot of time you will be able to splash a third color thanks to the gates!) was the one Italian player Davide Marcotti brought to the finals of Grand Prix Sydney 2019 last weekend:
Rakdos and an Important Card for All Black Decks
When it comes to black decks, a card that it didn’t seem that good at first and surprised me a lot is 《Ill-Gotten Inheritance》. Don’t be fooled, the card is gas! I will always play 2 of those in my black decks, the card beats some control decks singlehanded. Not only they can rarely interact with it, it is also the way to turn the Spectacle on every turn for free, making your 《Blade Juggler》 and 《Skewer the Critics》 become 《Phyrexian Rager》 and 《Lightning Bolt》!
Maybe there is even a MBC (Mono Black Control) deck around it (I’m going too far, I know). Take a look at this sweet deck I drafted and went undefeated with featuring this card:
Another card that I like is 《Rubblebelt Recluse》: 5 mana for 11 stats is too strong, and having to attack every turn is not a drawback, it is exactly what I want!
Finally, we come to my least favorite guild: Gruul. It is funny because when I saw the spoilers I thought that this was going to be my go to guild with so many big creatures and nice fight spells in 《Savage Smash》 and 《Titanic Brawl》. The problem is that there are a lot of deathtouch and bounce spells running around, and Rakdos is just going under you.
This does not mean that Gruul is bad, but maybe it is better suited as the base colors for your gate deck. You can still get an insane aggressive Gruul deck and crush everyone of course.