Insider: Researching Ravnica, Part 2

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This article marks the second half of our review of Ravnica: City of Guilds. Last week, we saw some power uncommons and surprisingly-valuable casual cards. This week, we'll get into heavy hitters like shocklands and more! Let's take a look...


The shock-Bayou has been a perennially-popular land in competitive play. For example, it showed up in plenty of Rock decks in older Extended seasons, and these days in Modern, it powers out other decks like Melira/Birthing Pod. If I'm ranking the value of the shock-duals, this one comes in right under anything that makes blue mana. Casual players love the Golgari color combination, since it turns on things like Pernicious Deed and you can use Elves to accelerate into Visara, The [card]Dreadful. A solid card that hasn't broken the top tier of shockland pricing; this one has yet to reach $25.


This is another hidden superstar in the set. To understand its power, all you must do is play against it once in Commander. The card singlehandedly deflects all the frustrating removal spells to other people. Your Kor Haven stays on the table, your Altar of Dementia lasts another day. Getting rid of a problem permanent usually means that two players have to work in concord, which is challenging enough if they have the removal spells in hand already.

I was surprised by the price on Privileged Position and I reckon that a lot of traders don't know that this thing has climbed as far as it has.


When Goremand was developed, designers said they considered that it might get block play, but wouldn't become anything greater. Boy, were they wrong! Goremand has been an iconic, powerful counterspell since its printing. On its face, Goremand looks kind of bad – don't they just get to cast that spell again next turn? In practice though, Goremand is much greater. In the early game, it sends back a monster and draws you a card. In effect, it's a Time Walk. Even in later turns, Goremand can soak up an opponent's excess mana, tapping them out of removal options. It has superb applications in Storm combo because you can send back the original spell and then cast it again. It is this engine that powers up the Modern Pyromancer Ascension deck. Who cares if they can cast the spell again next turn? They'll be dead by then!


The Boros land has also seen play since printing, since it enables the Zoo archetype in multiple formats. Zoo cares about white mana, and its importance has increased over the years. At first, it was just for Lightning Helix. Later came Path to Exile and Wild Nacatl, both cards rewarding you for having a Mistveil Plains around. White mana also enables Qasali Pridemage, one of the most influential cards in Zoo. Sacred Foundry doesn't get a lot of casual love, since W/R is an unpopular color combination; it's pretty boring. Foundry is reasonably priced, but I could see it going up if we see another Modern deck utilizing the color combo.


The shocklands from the base Ravnica set are all a little less expensive than their expansion counterparts, simply because they were opened in far greater quantities. Temple Garden supports the most boring color combination, but luckily, some competitive decks care about Savannahs. Zoo runs one, and several other decks (like Melira) also go to the Garden for mana now and then. Because of low casual appeal and easy access, I don't see Temple Garden breaking past its current price.


As an aside, my auto-complete called this “Watery Grave-Troll.”

Dimir was held back in Ravnica, for the express reason that we had just seen what Psychatog could do in the same color combination. While other colors got hits like Lightning Helix and Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree, Dimir got plain nothing. The primary mechanism for Dimir was milling, and all of the milling cards, save Glimpse the Unthinkable, were terrible and unplayable outside of draft. I don't fault Wizards for holding the guild back, but I would have preferred they focus on other U/B color themes. For example, both colors have creatures that are hard to block; why not make some Phantom Warriors and guys with Ace, Fearless Rebel? What about cards that could have stolen the enemy's previously-played spells? We didn't see things like Memory Plunder until much later, and Dimir would have been a thematic home for the sneaky spell-thieves of the house.

Watery Grave doesn't see much play in Modern because the color combination is underpowered right now. It's hard to beat Steam Vents decks and Watery Grave cannot get us there alone. If cards are banned in September, we could easily see Watery Grave pick up because if there is a control deck, it will be running these two colors. It's a fine card to pick up and hold onto.

That rounds out Ravnica, but stay posted for next week's look at Guildpact! Until then,

Douglas Linn

p.s. I am trying out a new format/layout for the article series. Let me know if you think it makes it better to read!

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