Ravnica Allegiance Guild Reviews – Rakdos, Simic, Bant, and Mardu
In this article I will be going over the other two 2-color guilds and touching on a couple 3-color archetypes that I find lacking. Just like last time I have to include a disclaimer that just because I rank some guilds above others doesn’t make them automatically better. While I do believe that some are better than others on average, in limited your card pool and ability to assemble cards that work well together is always more important than your color choices. What I am hoping this article will provide is some insight into what each archetype is hoping to accomplish and the most important cards you should draft to achieve that game plan for each guild.P
Red/Black is and always will be an aggro deck. Rakdos gained a really great mechanic (spectacle) that helps propel the aggro strategy. With the right cards this deck can be incredible, but overall I don’t believe RNA is an ideal format for all out aggro decks.
There are a lot of great uncommons in Rakdos. I wanted to include two additional 4-drops here as well: Dagger Caster and Vindictive Vampire. Clamor Shaman is really great in an aggro theme though, and allows you to keep attacking and enabling your spectacle cards. Cult Guildmage is another great spectacle enabler and the discard ability can be game changing against certain decks. He is probably the second best guildmage behind Senate (Azorius). Fireblade Artist gets in for early damage and then gives the deck some legs, allowing it to literally throw its creatures at the opponent after they establish blockers. Hackrobat is a creature your opponent doesn’t want to block, but punishes them if they don’t. Rakdos Firewheeler is my favorite XXYY uncommon of the set, not only because it is very good but I also think Red & Black should be played as a 2-color deck and not 3. I will discuss the pitfalls of Jund/Mardu in my next article.
I’m not blown away at common in Rakdos, but there is some good stuff here. Grotesque Demise, Skewer the Critics, Get the Point, and Scorchmark are a good removal suite. Blade Juggler is a great spectacle card and I would always look for multiples. You definitely need to activate spectacle for cards like that, though, so creatures like Rakdos Roustabout are good at ensuring it. Rakdos Trumpeter is another card I could have included here that helps with spectacle due to its menace ability. Goblin Gathering does not belong in every deck, but if you can find a few copies and several ways to get extra value out of a bunch of 1/1’s it can be excellent!
Low-Curve, 16 mana, and all out aggro is the way to go. If you try to incorporate too many high-cost spells your opponent will stabilize and you will run out of gas. This deck can really take people by surprise because it is mostly a slow format, so playing a deck with the ability to blitz can really punish some people’s drafts. It can be frustrating when you run out a bunch of small creatures and your opponent drops a 1/4 flyer or a 4/4 beast early on. This is definitely a playable deck but it makes me nervous at times.
This archetype is powerful and relatively straightforward. Adapt creatures are very good in this format, and there are several ways to get additional value out of the +1/+1 counters. It doesn’t hurt that green and blue are both excellent in this set.
The real stars here are Sharktocrab and Trollbred Guardian. Both of them are completely bonkers and if you get them early it is a great sign to draft this archetype. Keep in mind that Trollbred Guardian works really well in Gruul too with riot creatures, so just because he has adapt doesn’t mean you need to force Simic if you draft him. The other four cards here are pure Simic, though. Combine Guildmage is only okay on average, but if you draft some cards like Sharktocrab that can take advantage of his second ability, his value goes way up. Frilled Mystic is an interesting card. Not that I wouldn’t play him, but at higher ranks you will face opponents that will see your UUGG mana open and know what is happening. If your opponent has a board advantage where they don’t need to cast anything on their turn, it is better to play a spell rather than leaving mana open for Mystic. On the other hand, if you are ahead Frilled Mystic is a fantastic ‘win-more’ card. I probably wouldn’t reach for him if I am 3-color, but in Simic the mana cost is doable. Biogenic Upgrade is a bomb. At minimum it gives you six +1/+1 counters for six mana. If you can hit things that have already adapted the value here is insane. Galloping Lizrog doesn’t belong in every Simic deck because it can end up putting all your eggs in one basket that then gets removed. However, it has great synergy with cards like Sharktocrab where you get a 5/5 trample for 5 and the ability to re-adapt Sharktocrab and tap down another creature the following turn.
The commons in the archetype leave some to be desired. Aeromunculus is the most important card here. After that, Chillbringer and Sauroform Hybrid are great choices. Skitter Eel is another solid adapt creature to pick. Because Simic doesn’t really have traditional removal, we are stuck tapping, bouncing, and fighting creatures. This can still be highly effective. If there is any deck that I would run Quench in, it is this one. The reasoning would be that mana is often left open to adapt, so you usually don’t need to choose between leaving mana open for quench or playing a spell. Just realize that a lot of people will play around Quench if they can, and it is a dead draw late in the game.
+1/+1 counters for everyone! You get a plus one counter! You get a plus one counter! But yeah, basically that is the archetype. This is a midrange tempo deck, but adding white gives it more of a control/flyers vibe, while adding red gives it some seriously powerful creatures.
Mardu (RBW) & Bant (UGW)
I really don’t recommend either of these 3-color combinations. I do not think BW is powerful enough as an aggro deck to compliment Rakdos, and Bant is basically going to be a gate deck that will likely go 4 or 5 colors. I really don’t think either of these are good options for splashing, but they could work if you open the right rares/good uncommons.