Hello everyone, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG. It’s time to review the upcoming cards in Ravnica Allegiance, and just like I did for the Guilds of Ravnica reviews I will look at a guild each day highlighting seven cards. Why seven? Well in Magic: the Gathering we start with that many cards so it feels appropriate. I hope you enjoy this look into the cards we will be receiving in the upcoming set. Without further delay let’s begin.
The Azorius Senate
The Azorius Senate, founded by parun Supreme Judge Azor I, is the guild on Ravnica that not only creates but also enforces the law. They work closely with the Boros Legion, and the Selesnya Conclave to enforce the laws. They also work with the Orzhov Syndicate to see to the provision of advocates and lawmages for trials. Or maybe did. You see the guilds for Azorius, Golgari, Gruul, Izzet, and Orzhov have all been taken over by planeswalkers aligned with Nicol Bolas. The stage is nearly set for a climactic battle happening this spring.
No more are Sphinx’s leading the guild. Currently in charge is a planeswalker we saw only a few years ago in Dovin Baan, who is now the Grand Arbiter of the Azorius.
A three mana planeswalker will always get my attention, however this is not your typical control planeswalker.
- His +1 requires you to have creatures you are wanting to attack with. Each one that does damage increases his loyalty if it does damage to the opponent during combat. This reminds me of the +1 for Gideon, Champion of Justice from Gatecrash in a way. There is a potential to gain a lot of loyalty, however how many creatures are you going to have on turn three? I’ll get to that in a moment.
- The -1 ability provides him a blocker, and you gain a life. “Meh” kind of describes this honestly. Someone as powerful as Dovin should be getting more than one thopter. I would have preferred this to be a 0 loyalty ability, and giving two thopters (that should be white/blue by the way) without life gain. A single thopter is nothing in a world full of Lightning Strikes, Shocks, and trampling creatures.
- Now the -7 is interesting. It feels a lot like Dig Through Time in that you can go find another Dovin, Grand Arbiter, and two other cards. It’s definitely not game ending, but can snowball if not answered.
So where would I play this? Honestly I would try this in Affinity in Modern. It sounds crazy, but with the right hand you can deploy this on turn two. Having a board of Mox Opal, Darksteel Citadel, Memnite, Springleaf Drum, and Vault Skirge is not unheard of with the deck. One of it’s main problems is the inability to consistently draw cards, and having evasive creatures attack very early can fuel a turn two Dovin getting you to the point where you can -7 and find a Cranial Plating among other cards. Yes it sounds crazy, but can be worth the testing to see how well it works.
Lavinia, Arorius Renegade is the most talked about card in the guild if not of the entire set. The implications this card has while in play are immeasurable.
- Casting Karn, Liberated with only Urza Tron assembled? Nope.
- Casting Terminus for it’s Miracle cost? Nope.
- Casting Collected Company using Llanowar Elves and three lands? Nope!
- Casting Mox Opal? Nope!!!
- Casting Hollow One after discarding three cards? NOPE!!!
…and there are many more examples.
One thing that frightens many is her creature type of “Human”. The Humans deck in Modern is already good, and now this provides a problem that needs solved almost immediately for many decks in order to play their deck the way it’s constructed.
One other thing of interest here is that there is a division within the Azorius. She is The Deputy of the Guildpact, apointed by Jace (who is The LIving Guildpact) so her story should be very interesting as it develops. I should also pick up Guildmasters Guide to Ravnica to see if her Dungeons & Dragons stats are in there.
As our Christmas preset for being patient lawmages Wizards of the Coast revealed Absorb. Printed for the first time since Invasion this inclusion now makes this card Modern legal. While I don’t think it will have much impact there is a possibility it’s used as a single copy in Azorius decks, and perhaps two copies will make their way into Jeskai to help boost your life total while the format gets faster. Just like with everything else only time will tell if it makes the cut, but speculation is that it can show up in some number.
It is also the first piece we need (outside of Hallowed Fountain) to have an Azorius control deck in Standard.
The mechanic for this set, Addendum, first appeared on Emergency Powers during preview season. Addendum allows you the choice of when you play the spell, and if you choose to do it during your main phase you get to do something more powerful. For instance if you cast this spell on your turn after you have drawn seven cards you can deploy a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, use his +1, play a land, and have three mana open for a counterspell. That’s not awful, and I think this card will be tried in some capacity. It may show up mostly in EDH though, which is perfectly fine.
Here we have another card with Addendum in Precognitive Perception. For those of you who remember Jace’s Ingenuity it’s been a long time since we have had a card of this power level. Until recently Azorius based true control decks have been nerfed (due to many complaints during the Return to Ravnica through Theros expansions era of Standard). While this takes up the same spot on the curve as Teferi, Hero of Dominaria it does have three magic words on it that have been synonymous with a powerful effect since Magic: the Gathering came into existence: Draw Three Cards. Doing this at Instant speed, and then taking your turn, gives you looks at four fresh cards before your next main phase. That’s a lot, and should help you dig for an answer. This card though secretly costs three mana if you have a Teferi in play so do not fear casting this on your main phase as the scrying, plus drawing three cards, plus another off of Teferi, and then untapping two lands (!!!), would be quite the line of play. Make sure to scry wisely.
The first split card I’m going to review has an effect I have been hoping for with the release of Ravnica Allegiance. While Warrant is no Azorius Charm it does cause a tempo play vs aggressive aggro decks. The card is also not dead game one vs midrange and other control decks as Warden provides a creature that can attack and block. This, along with Precognative Perception above, are the two cards I am looking forward to the most. However there is another card that could also help us shed the need for a third color when building a control deck in Standard.
Mana Leak is back..kind of. With control decks losing Censor upon rotation there was very little Azorius could do on it’s own at two mana. That has changed with Quench. Holding up two mana, even after untapping two lands with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria should help the opponent making big plays after landing the planeswalker. This can also be used to settle counterspell wars late in the game as the opponent tries to use all of their resources to stop you. Remember how Assassin’s Trophy streamlined the removal package for Jund in Modern? Quench could do the same thing for counterspells in Standard for Azorius decks. This card is also very splashable so it could fit into Sultai decks as well as other decks that utilize blue in some fashion (or perhaps even only for this).
However with all of that said for these cards I will admit I am a little disappointed with the guild overall. I knew going in that there might not be much, and the last three spells I highlighted are examples of that, due to us Azorius mages already having a lot as it is. Yet I am looking at these cards from the point of view of what these colors will look like once cards from Ixalan through Core Set 2019 leave Standard. I know we have another nine months to go before that happens, but one must always look ahead.
Please also read “Designing for Azorius” to get a better understanding of why I came in not expecting much, and why I am left disappointed. It feels like the design of this guild has taken a step back towards where it was in Dissension instead of where it was left off post Return to Ravnica. In the first set Azorius appeared in nothing felt like it fit the theme of the guild, yet (even though people hated Detain) Return to Ravnica gave us a true sense of what the lawmages, and guild as a whole were like…even with the creatures in that set. Now? Things feel less on theme, and out of focus. I still look forward to trying an Azorius based control deck on Magic Arena though.
There’s a look at the cards from the Azorius Senate. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at Gruul Clans and honestly they are a Riot. What are your thoughts on the cards in this guild? Leave a comment below, and make sure to follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.
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.