A Few Thoughts on Return to Ravnica Standard

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You’ll frequently find me criticizing Standard as the worst Constructed format. It is defined by small card pools and is often just the clashing of a few select spells that far outclass all of the other spells.

That said, I’m always optimistic when the format rotates. Though I am somewhat jaded, I do feel that R&D is learning with every mistake they make. While they do make entirely new mistakes from time to time, I believe that Magic as a game is moving in a positive direction.

I’m pretty excited for Return to Ravnica. As far as I can tell, there isn’t a single mistake of a card in the set and everything looks pretty sweet. I’ll probably be more into drafting than Standard, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be playing a lot of Standard anyway.

While many speculate that some variant of Zombies is going to be dominant early on in the format, I do not see the deck being nearly as powerful as others seem to. I’m more inclined to agree with Mike Flores and Brian Kibler that the format is going to be very midrange oriented. I do not want to be casting cards like Diregraf Ghoul into opposing Centaur Healers and Thragtusks.

Speaking of Thragtusk, I really don’t want to be caught dead without four of them in my deck in the immediate future. The most powerful core for a deck that I’ve come across to date looks like this:

Add Centaur Healers and Armada Wurms to taste.

While the train has left the station on investing in cards like Restoration Angel, I believe that Disciple of Bolas has a lot of upward potential. You can currently find the card for around two dollars and he is easily worth twice that price.

If the mindless masses playing Zombies are going to force you into playing defensive creatures anyhow, then Disciple of Bolas will  frequently have three power creatures to munch on. Drawing three cards and gaining three life for four mana and a creature is a pretty good rate where I’m from, and the value you get when Thragtusk is sacrificed is just insane.

If I am correct in saying that midrange is where you want to be early on in new Standard, then it seems obvious that players will be looking to start going bigger when all of the hyper-aggressive decks become unpopular due to their inability to beat a Centaur Healer-Thragtusk curve.

At this point in time I think that we’ll be seeing a lot of Rakdos's Return, Sphinx's Revelation and Planeswalkers. When players are trying to go big, X spells and permanents that “cast spells” turnly are the natural course they take.

I can’t point to a particular Planeswalker that I think is going to dominate Standard, as I believe that even Ajani, Caller of the Pride still has a lot of potential on the back of his game-winning ultimate. With mana being as good as it is we will be seeing all sorts of combinations.

One thing that I can say for certain is that Nicol Bolas has a way of winning any heads-up Planeswalker battle. I wouldn’t be even a little surprised if he sees a good amount of play during his return to Standard legality. I would even go so far to say that his five dollar price tag feels a little low.

In terms of the cards that are going to be extensively played, I feel there are some obvious and already expensive cards already out there, so I don’t want to relay too much information regarding those. I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that Thragtusk is going to increase in value, if only briefly, early on.

As a favor to those that looking for a cheap card to make a quick buck on, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

I purchased 80 copies of this card from Star City for fifty cents apiece, and I fully expect this card to see heavy play.

It hoses Lingering Souls, Lotleth Troll, Entreat the Angels, Geralf's Messenger, Ajani, Caller of the Pride any instance of redundant creatures. And much much more.

The major point I want to make is that Sever is good against basically everything. From the fastest aggressive decks to the slowest control decks (ala Miracles), there will be something that you can Sever for value. And then you get to flash it back later.

Sever saw a pretty good amount of play in Innistrad Block and really only never made the leap to Standard on account of the fact that it was invalidated by the way Delver played and the insane value generated by cards like Primeval Titan simply coming into play. In a slower format with creatures that generate considerably less value on CIPT, Sever is going to be much more of a player. And it’s not like you have anything to lose at fifty cents each.

While I don’t want to post any exact decklists before we start seeing tournament results, rest assured I have been doing some brewing. And once we start to get a defined metagame I’ll be doing everything I can to keep up with it and to push myself a step ahead of it.

To everybody else brewing out there - good luck, high five.

-Ryan Overturf

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