Two down, three to go. Today let’s take a look at the people in your neighborhood, also known as the Orzhov Syndicate.
The Orzhov Syndicate
Where the Azorius Senate are the politicians, and the Boros Legion are the police and detectives, the Orzhov Syndicate are akin to the bankers, judges, and lawyers that we would more often see in real life. While the similarities (mostly) stop at those professions they are one of the most populous guilds thanks to their reliance on the spirits of those who have passed on…through services rendered or services still owed.
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper has arrived in Standard. Some people though that keeping Kaya out of a Standard set was *sunglasses* a Conspiracy. However all CSI Miami memes aside she is finally here, and to be honest I like this card a lot. One of the biggest issues in Modern right now is the graveyard being used as a resource. Currently the only ways to handle graveyard decks in Modern is to either eliminate them completely, or race them (and hope to snipe a card with Surgical Extraction). While our savior from New Phyrexia is nice you have to draw it first, and unless you use Snapcaster Mage you get one shot. With Kaya you have a repeatable source of graveyard interaction.
Is she slow? Yeah. However with some early disruption (Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, etc.) I can see her in a midrange deck where white is the splash color. Do not sleep on her. She did kill Obzedat, the Ghost Council to get her position afterall. She’s also an ally of Nicol Bolas.
The last time we had a Wrath of God type of spell at the converted mana cost of four was in Return to Ravnica with Supreme Verdict. Now Kaya is getting all angry and killing all of the creatures with her Wrath in Kaya’s Wrath. While some of us control players will not have creatures to gain life from when they die it does not matter. A lot of people say this will be easy to cast with us receiving all of the shocklands now, however it won’t be as easy as they say in my opinion. Still a board wipe of this strength is nothing to overlook so keep this in mind if you need it for your midrange or control decks.
I was hoping we would receive a reprint of Merciless Eviction but instead we got…
Mortify! Coming all the way from Guildpact this versatile removal card will be able to deal with a lot. The farther removed we are from the Kaladesh sets the more powerful enchantments become in Standard so this makes a perfect inclusion.
Keep in mind this will also be available on Magic Arena, and could be a premier removal spell in your quick Best of One games.
Spells and reprints are not all this guild has to offer. It has been know as the guild to sacrifice creatures for some sort of effect. The regal nature of the members of the guild portrayed on the cards lends itself to a feeling of aristocracy, and thus the deck name “Aristocrats” is often times mentioned. Cards such as Pitiless Pontiff only need a creature (token or actual creature it does not matter) and a mana to make it indestructible as well as provide it deathtouch. To the Orzhov Syndicate this payment is not steep at all for the power they wish to wield.
…but what else can we get out of sacrificing creatures?
Seraph of the Scales is not only the first card with the new Orzhov mechanic Afterlife that I have mentioned, but it is quite on brand with the guild. Angels are usually majectic creatures bringing forth justice upon wrongdoers everywhere, and yet here we are with an angel showing the scales of justice. The art from Magali is absolutely breathtaking, and for me that alone is enough to get this card. However let’s take a look at what it can do. Gaining your choice of Vigilance or Deathtouch (or both) this angel reminds me a lot of Selenia, Dark Angel all the way back in Tempest. Maybe it’s just me being nostalgic, but this angel surely is quite strong on the battlefield. If she dies you also receive a pair of spirit tokens.
Afterlife has a number next to it, and depending on the number that’s how many 1/1 flying spirit tokens you receive when the creature dies. For a guild who controls the banks it’s always nice to get a return on your investment.
Speaking of returns on investments Angel of Grace is really your saving grace. Assuming your opponent can not burn you out in response you can stabilize at one life on their turn, and have a body to attack on your turn. If she somehow dies you can exile her from the graveyard to set your life to ten. This is an excellent card, and I recommend reading it a few times. I missed the fact it had Flash the first time I read it. This card is one to get a few copies of, and to do it quick.
Could it make it to Modern. I’m not sure yet, but only time will tell.
Now let’s take a look at one of the split cards in the set. While this card is “ok” the main reason I want to look at it is for the Consecrate side. A very splashable spell I can see this helping against decks such as Izzet Phoenix for those on a budget, or wish to use multiple graveyard hate spells. However Consume can also help you gain some life. Let’s say an opponent has a creature with four or more power. For four mana you gain that life, and set them back in their investment. Again not a card to overlook, but probably one for just Standard or EDH unless you’re on a budget.
The Orzhov Syndicate always seem to have unique options for many different archtypes, however how much are you willing to invest, and how much are you willing to pay to loan their power? This guild will be one to build around, and I can see a few archetypes arriving in Standard due to their inclusion.
Tomorrow we’re going to the circus, and you will all be the captive audience of the Cult of Rakdos.
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.