The Most Exciting Spoilers from Ravnica Allegiance

Apologies for being up a little later than usual this week; we hope you love our further discussion of Ravnica Allegiance.

Patrick’s Pick from Ravnica Allegiance So Far: Bedevil


Both Top Level Podcasts hosts think this is going to be a great card for Standard. It’s essentially a more flexible Hero’s Downfall… Same total casting cost, but you do have to replace one generic mana with a red pip. On the other hand, there is little spicier than getting an opponent that just tapped out for The Immortal Sun with a card you just happened to have in your main deck.

Bedevil will probably also be good in Modern! Hero’s Downfall is played in Modern and this one is a substantial upgrade, so long as you can cast it. Dreadbore always did what you wanted, but was slow. Bedevil, even for another mana, is better friends with Snapcaster Mage. It’s also just another nice option to help you bust out of a Lantern lock.

Two thumbs up.

Michael’s Pick from Ravnica Allegiance So Far: Absorb


Patrick starts off a little incredulous. How much better is Absorb than Sinister Sabotage? There is also a little tension between the W in Absorb and the aggressive requirements to play Niv-Mizzet.

Mike retorts that people are already bending over backwards to gain three life. Absorb doesn’t cost them a deck building slot, and doesn’t cost any more mana. While it might not be the most appropriate for the 4x Niv-Mizzet decks, Absorb seems like it would get along well in the Chemister’s Insight ones.

Plus… The part of Mike that likes to cast Rekindling Phoenix and Goblin Chainwhirler is absolutely terrified of this reprint!

More from Ravnica Allegiance:

  • Emergency Powers – Mike loves the Addendum mechanic, but neither of our hosts is necessarily a buyer of Emergency Powers. Mike recounts historical implementations of “we both draw seven” cards… Which have been mostly full of cheap cards. When will you get paid off? Patrick counters, though: River’s Rebuke.
  • Sphinx’s Insight – Again, neither host likes this card more than Chemister’s Insight. No one is interested in the prospect of casting “Inspiratin” main phase; and if you’re casting this during the opponent’s end step, it is way — way — worse than Chemister’s Insight.
  • Gruul Spellbreaker – Not that much worse than a Woolly Thoctar when it’s big… Lots of a Boggart Ram-Gang. Mike has been in for both at various times of his deck design career.

    Gruul Spellbreaker

    Not for nothing – This card turns the eff off of Settle the Wreckage.

  • Light Up the Stage – This card is substantially better than we — at least Mike — originally thought. Shout out to J Mazz on Twitter for setting him straight!

    Since Light Up the Stage is live until the end of your next turn, the downside is not so bad. It’s really only when you play your third land, tap out, and exile two lands that this is substantially worse than a “red Divination” … Obviously much better in almost every other circumstance. Mike now toying with it for Modern…

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Growth Spiral and Our First Look at Ravnica Allegiance

Growth Spiral
Growth Spiral is one of the strongest Ravnica Allegiance cards we’ve seen so far

Ravnica Allegiance Spoilers Are Upon Us!

We go over some of the new mechanics from Ravnica Allegiance, including…

  • Afterlife – Or, the one where you make a 1/1 flyer when your dude dies
  • Spectacle – Or, the one where you can pay a different cost for your dude as long as you’ve done some damage this turn

Spectacle in particular can go a couple of different ways. For example, Light Up the Stage discounts a “red Divination” from 2R to R. Some costs get more expensive (but give you more oomph). For instance Rix Maadi Reveler is a 2/2 for 1R. Its spectacle cost is actually higher at 2BR… But you get up to three times the card advantage.

Is that worth a splash of black?

But for now… We think it’s Growth Spiral!

There are some big clunky threats.

There are some cards that might be relevant (but might either be too much work or just too expensive).

And then there is Growth Spiral…

As an “instant speed Explore” we expect this card to be a paradigm shifter for decks that can cast it. They can hold back for Essence Scatter or Syncopate on turn two… But if the opponent doesn’t walk into their permission, they can go straight to four on turn three.

Oh, and it draws a card!

Check it out in this week’s podcast:

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Everything You Could Ever Want to Know About Arclight Phoenix in Modern

Arclight Phoenix
Arclight Phoenix is one of the best creatures in Modern

Crackling Drake + Arclight Phoenix… In Modern?

Arclight Phoenix has contributed to many Modern builds already, despite a relatively short lifetime. It’s been a Delver of Secrets add-on. It closes out games for the Mono-Red deck. And of course the centerpiece of a cantrips-rich Izzet strategy.

What might surprise you is seeing Arclight Phoenix next to Standard Staple Crackling Drake!

Crackling Drake is of course capable of enormous power. The Izzet decks are heavily instants and sorceries, most of which are cantrips that replace themselves… With more cantrips.

But did you know that Surgical Extraction can play Giant Growth in this strategy?

You can Surgical Extraction your own instant. This will not only put an additional instant or sorcery into your graveyard (the Surgical Extraction)… But you can search your library for up to three more copies of the targeted card. Because Crackling Drake feasts on cards in exile as well as the graveyard, Surgical Extraction can serve as a powerful pump trick.

Subtly, Crackling Drake also serves as some defense against Rest in Peace. Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, etc. can blunt the efficacy of your Phoenixes and flashback cards… But Crackling Drake is okay with its food being exiled. You don’t want-want to play against some of these cards, but the Drake does give you a bit of protection.

What about Gut Shot + Arclight Phoenix?

Gut Shot is kind of a narrow card. But when you play four copies of Faithless Looting, you can kind of play more conditional cards. If Gut Shot isn’t good… You can always get rid of it.

But that said, Gut Shot is very productive for launching Phoenixes on turn two.

Imagine you play a first turn Faithless Looting, discarding double Phoenix.

On turn two, you can plausibly play a Thought Scour, a Sleight of Hand, and then finish the play with a zero mana Gut Shot. Take seven!

If nothing else, Gut Shot can team up with Lightning Bolt to take out four toughness creatures.

Arclight Phoenix and the Kitchen Sink

… Because if it’s Modern, we talk about it this week. Tons of commentary on land selection, the viability of midrange decks, and just how good Spellstutter Sprite can be. Check it out:

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Detection Tower Makes the Difference

Detection Tower
Detection Tower was a key addition to Golgari in last week’s Grand Prix

What Does Detection Tower Do?

This card does two things. One of them is simply to tap for a colorless mana. It takes up a land slot (more on this later) rather than a spell slot. As long as you can afford a slightly greedier mana base, adding Detection Tower is kind of free.

But more than that, Detection Tower can steal Hexproof from “opponents and creatures your opponents control”. The Standard format has simply gone so far in a particular direction (or set of directions) that ridding yourself the horrors of Hexproof becomes very attractive.

Most notably:

  • Carnage Tyrant – Most opposing Golgari decks will play 2-3 Carnage Tyrants. This giant dinosaur will kill you if left unanswered. It lives through Find // Finality, which clears the path. BUT! If you cause Carnage Tyrant to lose Hexproof, it becomes a six casting cost creature that did not generate card advantage.
  • Niv-Mizzet, Parun – The Adrian Sullivan builds incorporating Dive Down changes the Izzet-Golgari matchup. While Golgari still has Vivien Reid, The Eldest Reborn, and Ravenous Chupacabra for cards that can kill Niv-Mizzet without triggering it. Golgari retains those tools… But Dive Down changes, dramatically, what having those cards means.

Can Jeskai Play Detection Tower?

Golgari has natural synergy with Detection Tower. With Merfolk Branchwalker, Jadelight Ranger, and potentially Seekers Squire as its Explore card advantage guys, Golgari’s draw engine is especially suited to finding a specialty land (or two).

The opposite is, unfortunately, true for Jeskai. Rather that having a natural synergy with its key creatures… Because both Cracking Drake and Niv-Mizzet, Parun require all blue and red mana, Detection Tower can’t help cast any of them.

Michael and Patrick spitball how to incorporate this land despite the challenging Jeskai mana base.

Find out how in this week’s podcast!

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