Insider: The Return of Shocks

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We have had quite a few awesome cards spoiled with Guilds of Ravnica, and while the Standard card pool may be retracting greatly with the release of Guilds of Ravnica, the format does look wide open. The card I am most excited about has already been covered well by my fellow writer Brian DeMars (which can be found here). So my article today will focus less on the brand-new toys we are getting and instead on the return of shocklands to Standard and what that will mean.

Old Shocks

First and foremost we've already seen the prices of the Return to Ravnica shocklands start to depreciate with the announcement of the reprint in Guilds of Ravnica.

The market price for these lands has dropped by 20% or more in some cases (which, given the upcoming reprint, is actually less than I would have expected). That being said, when this set name was announced, we knew it was a decent possibility that these would be reprinted, so hopefully people started moving out of any positions they had. Sadly I wasn't able to sell off all of mine, and I still have probably 30% of the ones I had stockpiled.

We can be fairly confident (I'd put it at 95%) that the remaining shocks will be reprinted in Ravnica Allegiance. Their prices have also dropped by around 20%, so keep moving out of them now.

Why, you ask, if the price has already dropped considerably?

Well this set is looking to be well received; there are some powerful eternal cards like Assassin's Trophy, Commander staples like Chromatic Lantern, and some fun-looking Standard build-around-me cards like Thousand Year Storm. This means that we will likely have a lot more of the above five shocks flooding the supply.

We can't say as much about the other five shocks until we start seeing spoilers for Ravnica Allegiance. We could end up in a situation like we did with Gatecrash shocks being more valuable because Gatecrash as a set was less impressive than Return to Ravnica.

Buddy/Check Lands

Whichever name you want to go by, the addition of shocks to the format makes all the buddy/check lands better. I particularly like the ones reprinted in Dominaria. While that was a heavily opened set, the fact that the allied versions were printed in M10, M11, M12, and M13 (as well as some supplemental products) likely means there are still more of them then the enemy ones originally printed in Innistrad. Thus the enemy ones have a higher potential price ceiling (barring one allied guild being so much more powerful than the others that it monopolizes the format).

I will mention that these lands' value will heavily depend on what guild(s) end up being Tier 1. Current spoilers imply that Golgari will likely be one of those guilds. Hence the best option of these is Woodland Cemetery, which has actually been on a slight but steady incline the past couple of weeks.

My greatest speculation story of all time was when I bought up my LGS's Clifftop Retreats every week during Scars/Innistrad Standard. When rotation happened and RW Humans became a deck, all my Clifftop Retreats went from around $1.5-$1.75 to $7. My LGS owner desperately needed them so he gave me full credit on my big stack, which I promptly used to pick up my NM Italian The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale (valued at $300 at the time).

Given this and my current feelings, I've been picking up all of the Dominaria checklands for the past few months.

Unbalanced Mana

Until Ravnica Allegiance comes out, we will have unbalanced mana thanks to Guilds of Ravnica only having five shocks in it. This also means that we will want to look at cards that fit well in decks that have the better mana options.

Guild Land 1 Land 2 Land 3 Land 4
Izzet Sulfur Falls Highland Lake Izzet Guildgate Steam Vents
Golgari Woodland Cemetery Foul Orchard Golgari Guildgate Overgrown Tomb
Dimir Drowned Catacombs Submerged Boneyard Dimir Guildgate Watery Grave
Boros Clifftop Retreat Stone Quarry Boros Guildgate Sacred Foundry
Selesnya Sunpetal Grove Tranquil Expanse Selesnya Guildgate Temple Garden
Azorius Glacial Fortress Meandering River Azorius Guildgate
Gruul Rootbound Crag Timber Gorge Gruul Guildgate
Simic Hinterland Harbor Woodland Stream Simic Guildgate
Rakdos Dragonskull Summit Cinder Barrens Rakdos Guildgate
Orzhov Isolated Chapel Forsaken Sanctuary Orzhov Guildgate

If we look at shards/wedges in the same manner we see the following. Note that I've omitted the taplands here, but each combo has access to six of them.

Shard Land 1 Land 2 Land 3 Land 4 Land 5
Jeskai Sulfur Falls Steam Vents Glacial Fortress Clifftop Retreat Sacred Foundry
Sultai Woodland Cemetery Overgrown Tomb Drowned Catacombs Watery Grave Hinterland Harbor
Abzan Woodland Cemetery Overgrown Tomb Sunpetal Grove Temple Garden Isolated Chapel
Temur Sulfur Falls Steam Vents Rootbound Crag Hinterland Harbor
Mardu Clifftop Retreat Sacred Foundry Dragonskull Summit Isolated Chapel
Bant Sunpetal Grove Temple Garden Glacial Fortress Hinterland Harbor
Esper Drowned Catacombs Watery Grave Glacial Fortress Isolated Chapel
Naya Clifftop Retreat Sacred Foundry Sunpetal Grove Temple Garden Rootbound Crag
Jund Woodland Cemetery Overgrown Tomb Rootbound Crag Dragonskull Summit
Grixis Sulfur Falls Steam Vents Drowned Catacombs Watery Grave Dragonskull Summit

We can see that certain shards and wedges have advantages (though interestingly enough, none has all three shocks available). If you're going to speculate for post-rotation Standard, I would give additional weight to cards that fit into one of the more supported options. For two-color options this includes Golgari, Izzet, Dimir, Boros, and Selesnya. For three-color combinations this means Jeskai, Sultai, Abzan, Naya, and Grixis.


The return of shocks to Standard is likely to be an exciting time for players. The last time we had shocks and checklands, midrange battlecruiser decks reigned supreme. It is important to remember that we haven't had anything like Farseek spoiled yet (which gave G/x decks a leg up last time around, as they had a much easier time fixing their mana).

I also looked to see what cards in the non-rotating released sets cared about specific land types. Interestingly enough, the list was very sparse. The ones from Dominaria specifically require the lands to be a basic, and nothing really jumped out.

I hope you're as excited for the new Standard as I am, thanks to the return of the shocks and a whole new format (with lots of new toys thanks to Guilds of Ravnica). As for me, I might finally return to some FNMs.

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