The Guilds of Ravnica and Zombie Pod Updates

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One of the most important things for Standard in the next couple of months will be the guilds in Return to Ravnica. These color combinations will give some direction for deck construction, as a starting point for initial brainstorming. There will be many powerful multicolored cards in the set and usually these are good building blocks for decks. Here are the guilds we'll have access to.

  • Rakdos (R/B)
  • Azorius (U/W)
  • Selesnya (G/W)
  • Golgari (G/B)
  • Izzet (R/U)

If you noticed, there are three allied-colored guilds and two enemy-colored guilds.

The available dual lands will contribute to some interesting decks while Ravnica is in Standard. Wizards confirmed the shock lands from original Ravnica are back in this set and the next one. Here are the lands that will be legal once this set hits the scene:

  • Five M13 dual lands
  • Five Innistrad dual lands
  • Five Ravnica shock lands
  • Five Ravnica gates (dual lands that come into play tapped)

What this means is that three color decks will be commonplace. By combining two guilds that share a color, Azorius and Selesnya for example, you will have lots of lands to make a stable mana base. Shock lands are even better alongside the M13 and Innistrad lands, allowing the latter to come into play untapped off their basic land types. We already know this interaction from Modern and it will be just as potent in Standard.

Another complication of shock lands is the life loss. One of the skills we will need to learn is when to lose life and when to wait a turn. That decision can make the difference in some games. If you are playing against an aggressive deck, the impact is magnified.

The lands in Standard are always important. Ravnica is going to give every player a chance to work with interesting mana bases for the time it is legal. I am excited to work with this new environment and see where it takes us.

The Spoiled Charms

The Ravnica cards I want to talk about today are the charms. This cycle is shaping up to be as influential as the charm cycle from Shards of Alara. Since they are only two colors, they will be able to fit in more decks than the previous ones. Three have been spoiled so far: Izzet, Azorius, and Selesnya.

First up is Izzet Charm. Wow. You have your choice of Spell Pierce, Magma Spray (essentially) or Faithless Looting. That is a wide range of options. The ability to use it as both a Counterspell or a removal spell is quite powerful. Add on the ability to discard some lands late in the game and we have a card that is certain to see a lot of constructed play. This charm is even powerful enough that it may effect some of the older formats.

Next, Azorius Charm. While this card is not quite as powerful as Izzet Charm, the effects it provides are good enough that it should impact Standard.

I think the Excommunicate option is the most important effect on the card. It's easy to underestimate effects that put a permanent on top of its opponent's library. This effect is almost like making them draw one less card because they basically skip their next draw step. The lifelink option can be good if you find yourself in a racing situation where you cannot deal with a creature (Invisible Stalker for example) but usually you would just Aethertow the creature instead.

The cylcing ability is also good, especially in the late game, but I keep thinking it should have been a minor upgrade to an effect like Sleight of Hand.

Finally we have Selesnya Charm. When I break this instant down, what I see are three different types of removal spells. You can choose from Sylvan Might, a slightly worse Smite the Monstrous and Reap the Seagraf. The first one is a good combat trick to mess up your opponent's combat math or force through some damage. The second ability would be better if it were four instead of five, but that is still removal for your opponent's bomb.

The third ability is my favorite. Being able to play your creature at instant speed is a powerful effect. You can surprise block their guy or simply flash in a guy they didn't expect EOT and attack with it.

All three charms we know about so far are Constructed playable. Each has three relevant abilities and I think they will all see a lot of play.

Zombie Pod

Before I go, I wanted to post my updated Zombie Pod deck. This is the list I would play in a tournament tomorrow.


-1 Fume Spitter
-1 Butcher Ghoul
-1 Tragic Slip

+3 Ravenous Rats

That may not seem like a major change but it really does have a big impact. If you don't care for the rats, three Butcher Ghoul is an option as well. This change fits how I play the deck, but depending on your play style you might customize it differently. For example, if you tend to play this deck more like a zombie aggro deck, then adding in Diregraf Ghoul might be the way to go. No matter the changes you make, the basic concept of combining Birthing Pod and Zombies is quite powerful.

Next week I will be diving into spoilers and hopefully telling you about some powerful interactions from our Return to Ravnica.

Until Next Time,

Unleash the little kid force!
(What? Yeah, you know because spoiler season is like Christmas. OK bad joke, but you laughed a little. See you guys next week.)

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

3 thoughts on “The Guilds of Ravnica and Zombie Pod Updates

  1. So, I do not have an up to date sideboard but here is my tentative list.

    3 Phyrexian Obliterator (Against other aggro deck but not delver)
    2 Sylvok Lifestaff
    2 Gut Shot
    2 Distress
    2 Lilly of the Veil
    1 Phyrexian Metamorph
    2 Doom Blade
    1 Nihil Spellbomb

    Obviously customize to your own liking but thats what I would run if I could make it to FNM this week. Hope that helps.

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