Modern Set Review: Ravnica Allegiance

The format is reeling from the metagame shifts that the B&R update will cause. While we covered that in yesterday’s article, there is a further shake-up today. Today Ravnican Allegiance will be made legal in the format and create new possibilities for brewers. I put together a public poll asking which cards from the set were most likely to break through in Modern. Today we will take a look at the five that received the most votes and break down their potential. Before you dive in though, make sure to join the Facebook group so that you can vote on these polls in the future.

#5 Prime Speaker Vannifar
This one moved the needle very quickly in the MtG Finance community causing Scryb Ranger to more than quadruple in price. The obvious parallels to the banned Birthing Pod have at least one former Pod aficionado brewing a list. The gist is that with an active Vannifar, a one drop, and two Forests you go infinite:
1. Vann the one drop into a Scryb, return a Forest to hand and untap Vann
2. Vann the Scryb into a Renegade Rallier, return the Scryb to play, return a Forest to hand and untap Vann
3. Vann the Scryb into a Bounding Krasis, and untap Vann
4. Vann the Rallier into a Restoration Angel, blink Krasis and untap Vann
5. Vann the Resto into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and infinitely copy Krasis for the win
While I really enjoy convoluted creature combos, I do not see this as a legitimate build-around in Modern. Vannifar may dodge Bolt but it is four mana and is subject to summoning sickness. Furthermore, the combo can be interrupted by hitting one of the other pieces with Lightning Bolt mid-combo. Also, if you draw a one-of combo piece before your big turn it can be impossible to win. I think at best we see Kiki-Chord decks integrate these pieces as singletons as they already run a few of them.

#4 Deputy of Detention
This is a significantly buffed Fiend Hunter in that it hits any non-land permanent and takes care of any additional copies of the targeted card that are in play. 5C Humans players will lament that Detention Doug is not a Human. While they are known to play some non-Human creatures, they cannot consistently cast this one. Knight of Autumn is already a stretch with eight lands that produce the required green mana and they only have six lands for Doug’s blue cost. Therefore, the most likely home for Deputy Doug is Bant Spirits. While it is not guaranteed, there is a very fair chance that they stop running Reflector Mage for it. It may be worse in the face of removal but it has significantly more utility.

#3 Electrodominance
This is another card that motivated an MtG Finance buyout and this one tripled the price of Wheel of Fate. Many ideas are floating around but nobody is entirely sure what to do with it yet. The goal is not to play it fairly as a Fireball with extra value. The intent is to use it in conjunction with the suspend cards that lack mana costs; Living End being the most well known of the cycle. We have seen this in the past with As Foretold but together they may add some redundancy to such a deck. Hypergenesis is banned so brewers are left with two card draw options and two board wipe options to work with. This one is a big question mark and it will take time before we see what potential it has.

#2 Pteramander
Two words: Salamander Drake. Admittedly, this card is not amazing and will not see play in a myriad of archetypes. It is very similar to Delve threats, Tombstalker in particular, but the cards in the graveyard must be instants and/or sorceries and it will die to Fatal Push. However, it is a 1/1 flyer for one mana that comes down early for aggression and can be buffed later unlike the Delve creatures. The most important quality it has though is that it is blue. The destined home for this card appears to be Izzet Phoenix decks as they do not splash black for Delve creatures. They are already built to sling spells and fill their graveyard quickly so this is a natural fit. There has been significant experimentation with their creature suite and this may have been what they were searching for.

#1 Skewer the Critics
Wizards has not blessed us with a “bad Bolt” this good in over a decade. For Modern Burn decks this is a much more natural inclusion than Wizard’s Lightning from 2018; two Wizards versus forty damage-focused spells in typical lists. It is true that they will not be able to cast this on the first turn and that it is a sorcery. But with their creatures and Rift Bolt they can regularly enable Spectacle without committing mana on their turn. It is a much worse Lightning Bolt but such spells are the foundation of Burn decks. Skewer simply gives them further redundancy and in conjunction with the usual suspects and Bump in the Night they are able to effectively run twenty “Lightning Bolts”. I am not certain whether such a new build is the way to go for them or if just a couple copies sneak into the traditional lists. Either way this card is a shoe-in and will see play in Modern Burn decks going forward.

New sets and the cards that come with them are always exciting. However, we must keep in mind that the Modern format is very difficult to break into as a result of the high power level. Generally it is best to be skeptical of new cards and not purchase them at their inflated release prices. At the same time though, we must keep ourselves open to these new possibilities in order to innovate. While Ravnica Allegiance appears less impressive than the preceding set it is a fine set for Modern. Is there anything you think we missed though? Come over to the Facebook group and let us know!

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