Ravnica Allegiance spoiler season is now in full swing, and soon we’ll have the entire set in our hands. There’s significant risk associated with speculating on cards during spoiler season because pre-order prices tend to be very inflated. An alternative way to speculate on new cards, irrespective of their pre-order prices, is to invest on cards that go along with them in the metagame that could see a surge in demand if new cards rise to the top tier. Today I will identify some of the most important cards spoiled so far and what they mean for some existing cards I’ve identified as possible spec targets.
Judith, the Scourge Diva has been getting a lot of hype recently, and it feels warranted. It’s one of the best “lord” creatures ever printed because it doesn’t care about creature type like most, so it’s a shoe-in for any Rakdos aggro deck and is held back only by being legendary. It also comes with a whole second ability, which is incredibly strong in its own right, and also functions as a psuedo-Blood Artist effect in a sacrifice deck. It could be the centerpiece of its own deck or a support role in others, but I am sure it will be a strong Standard card. At $7, I am definitely not buying any pre-orders of this rare, but it looks to be worth speculating around.
The card that most jumps out at me likely to be impacted by Judith, Scourge Diva is Midnight Reaper. It’s an ideal card in sacrifice-based and aggressive creature decks, so I see it tied to the Scourge Diva wherever she is included. Midnight Reaper is especially attractive because it’s also a strong Orzhov card. While it doesn’t trigger from afterlife tokens, it still triggers whenever the front half of a creature dies, and Orzhov is shaping up to be all about that.
Teysa Karlov doubles the effect of abilities triggered from creatures dying, which makes it great with afterlife creatures, but that effect also includes Midnight Reaper. This sort of value will add up quickly – just imagine sacrificing a Hunted Witness or any afterlife creature with both Teysa Karlov and Midnight Reaper in play, drawing two cards and creating two tokens.
At this point, we have the tools to put some sort of sacrifice deck together, and there are only more to come. With a price point under $1, online at around 0.15 tickets, down from a high of $0.50, a lifespan of nearly two more years in Standard, unlimited future potential, and a high floor because it’s already a top-tier Standard staple in Golgari, I love speculating on Midnight Reaper right now.
One of the best cards spoiled so far must be Deputy of Detention. It’s Detention Sphere on a creature, which makes it the best Fiend Hunter-esque card ever printed. Fairgrounds Warden recently rotated from Standard and only ever made it as a minor player in the metagame, but the ability to remove any kind of nonland permanent makes Deputy of Detention much more versatile. Whether it’s a troublesome artifact or enchantment or even a planeswalker, Deputy of Detention will always hit its mark. It’s, of course, susceptible to dying, so it doesn’t lock in advantage like Reflector Mage, but that won’t stop it from being very effective. Also consider it’s being printed alongside Dive Down and even Dauntless Bodyguard, which are useful for protecting it.
Deputy of Detention is also a Wizard, which opens up some up some fun synergies. Perhaps Azorius Wizards will be a deck and open up Wizard’s Retort. What I’m really interested in is Naban, Dean of Iteration, which will double Deputy of Detention’s effect to remove two permanents. That’s a powerful curve that will stop just about any start the opponent can muster and seems plenty good enough for a Standard deck if it included another way to get value from Naban, Dean of Iteration’s effect. At $8, I’d stay far away from buying in on Deputy of Detention, but there could be plenty of upside for the $0.50 Naban, Dean of Iteration, which is just a few pennies on MTGO.
Three-mana planeswalkers are nothing to take lightly, and Dovin, Grand Arbiter looks to me like one of the best yet. Though small, 1/1 flying creatures are not to be taken lightly, as Squadron Hawk and Lingering Souls taught us, and Dovin, Grand Arbiter reminds me of both. It can tick down over three turns to make three tokens, making it like a slow Spectral Procession, but in reality, it will mix in its +1 ability to add loyalty, which allows for even more tokens over time. Eventually, if backed up by other creatures, it will be able to hit its ultimate and generate more value. It’s more of a supporting card than a star, but it will go a very long way in something like an Azorius Aggro deck, or even in a control deck to help protect Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. At $40, it’s no bargain, but there may be opportunity surrounding it.
A card I see Dovin, Grand Arbiter working very well with is Karn, Scion of Urza, which benefits from having other artifacts around. Karn is typically used in Standard as a card-drawing engine, but it feels most impressive when it can generate a pair of sizable tokens. Up to now, Treasure Map has been the artifact most commonly supporting Karn, but now Dovin, Grand Arbiter will allow Karn to make tokens larger than ever before. Karn, Scion of Urza has bottomed out around $20, which seems like a bargain for such an accessible and iconic card, especially for one that sees play in every Eternal format. Its online price is now at an all-time low under 5 tix.
There’s also potential for Tezzeret, Artifice Master. I was originally hesitant to mention the card when it competes with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, but it’s possible in a deck with enough artifact synergies for it to perform even better. Normally, Tezzeret, Artifact Master only draws one card from its 0 ability, but Dovin, Grand Arbiter would allow it to draw two, which is quite strong and arguably more impressive than what Teferi can do. The freshly-spoiled Depose // Deploy only adds to the value of Thopter tokens from Tezzeret, which will gain life, but also makes me wonder if even more potential Thopter synergies are to come. At $6 in paper and under 3 tickets online, there is definitely room for growth, even it’s not entirely likely at this point.
It’s very speculative, but fortunes may be changing for Mox Amber. Ravnica Allegiance already includes multiple cheap legendary cards, including some three-mana planeswalkers and a strong two-mana legendary in Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. Mox Amber probably requires a one-mana legendary to really be a big part of a deck, but I can imagine a copy or two of Mox Amber making its way into the right deck after Ravnica Allegiance.