With Ravnica Allegiance spoiler season in full swing, my brain's brewing juices have been flowing nonstop. We still have a full week of spoilers remaining, but I wanted to bring up a few cards that are getting better as more and more cards are released. Specifically, I want to mention the cards that have seen little play, but now have the potential to be break out cards in the new meta that is shaping.
Elenda, the Dusk Rose.
Elenda, the Dusk Rose is a really interesting mythic. It is a Legendary 1/1 vampire with lifelink for 2WB that says, whenever a creature dies, put a +1/+1 counter on Elenda, the Dusk Rose, then when Elenda dies, put X 1/1 vampire tokens with lifelink onto the battlefield, where X is her power. I had been toying around with Elenda for a while but she did not really have a home. Last season, we were ravaged by Chainwhirler, which is an easy answer to Elenda. She still is very easy to kill before she gets going but can potentially really get out of hand. I initially thought about running her with Whisper to continually loop her, but the deck suffered from the low toughness of the two creatures. However, we are now receiving a gift: Teysa Karlov. For 2WB we get a 2/4 Legend that states if a creature dying causes a triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, double it; creature tokens have vigilance and lifelink. Basically, everything that Elenda wants to be doing, Teysa adds extra spice to the mix. Whenever a creature dies, Elenda will get two +1/+1 counters instead of one and when she finally bites the bullet, you'll get 2X the tokens she normally would create, all of which would have vigilance. This match it made in heaven.
Desecrated Tomb was one of those cards that I seemed to hate to love. Its effect was just so interesting, giving us an ability to create a 1/1 flying bat token whenever one or more creatures left our graveyard. The main draw back was the "or more" clause. We didn't really have much in the way of selectively removing 1 creature at a time from the yard, at least until recently. We've had cards like Reassembling Skeleton and Squee, the Immortal in the format, probably some of the better combo pieces with Desecrated Tomb. However, we now have Gutterbones, a 2/1 skeleton warrior for a single black mana that enters the battlefield tapped, but we can pay 1B at sorcery speed if an opponent lost life that turn to bring it back to our hand, thus creating another 1/1 bat. So now that we have three (and maybe soon to be more) options for recursive creatures, perhaps its time to break out our Desecrated Tombs and start making a bunch of 1/1 flying bat tokens.
Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire.
Vaevictis Asmadi has been at the forefront of JB's and my thoughts in the last month of so. The dragon is incredibly powerful. For 3BRG, we get a 6/6 legend with flying that says whenever it attacks, for each player, choose a permanent. They will sacrifice that permanent and flip the top card of their library, if its a permanent, they can put it on the battlefield. We've been wanting to make this work but there are 2 major vulnerabilities that kept creeping in: 1) he is easily countered and 2) he has to attack. However, Allegiance is bringing us a new card to help us fight this: Rhythm of the Savages. For 1RG, we get an enchantment that prevents our creatures from being countered and it gives all of our nontoken creatures Riot, effectively giving them haste. What?! This literally fixes the majority of the issues with Vaevictis! I'm ready and willing to give him a try and to see if we can't make him a force to be reckoned with.
Another thing that Rhythm of Savages helps save is Dinos. Specifically, I have two in mind. The first is Siegehorn Ceratops. For GW we get a 2/2 with an Enrage ability that will put two +1/+1 counters on him when he is dealt damage. Seems great. The problem is that his ability is incredibly hard to work, as he will die to most things he blocks. But, with Rhythm of the Savages, we can elect to put a +1/+1 counter on him, making him a 3/3. This larger starting body is a substantial change and will make him be more successful as a threat. I am also considering Gishath, Sun's Avatar as another great option. Typically, casting 8 mana for a creature can be blown out by a simple "counter target spell." So, having the ability to freely get this bad boy down AND give him an extra point of power from riot (since Gishath already has haste) seems to be where you want to be with this creature, as whenever Gishath deals combat damage to an opponent, you can reveal the top X cards of your library where X is the amount of combat damage Gishath dealt to a player, and put all dinosaurs revealed this way on the battlefield under your control. Wow!
Arcades, the Strategist
People love building decks out of Walls. They just do. Many of us rejoiced when Standard got another way to make a deck like that work with Arcades, the Strategist. He's a 3/5 flying dragon for 1GWU with flying and vigilance that draws you a card whenever you cast a defender and each creature you control with defender deals damage equal to their toughness and can attack as though they didn't have defender. The biggest problem with Arcades is that he was a glass cannon. Either you found him and he stuck, or you didn't. We hadn't yet had another piece to really make the deck sing. At least until now. Allegiance has given us High Alert, an enchantment for 1WU that allows us to attack with our defenders and have them deal damage equal to their toughness, with the added ability of being able to pay 2WU to untap target creature. This card basically fixes the main issue we had with Arcades. He's no longer a limited style of card as High Alert basically becomes copies 5-8 of him, allowing us to attack with our big butt defenders even if Arcades is destroyed.
Mentor of the Meek
Mentor of the Meek seemed to really be struggling to find a home in this meta. A white weenie and Boros aggro deck did develop, but it seemed to be missing the Mentor in it. For 2W we get a 2/2 that allows us to pay (1) whenever a creature with power 2 or less enters the battlefield. If we do, we draw a card. Now with cards like Tithe Taker and other small creatures with the new Afterlife mechanic, I think we'll start seeing more of him. Tithe Taker is already great to go in a weenies deck, as it forces your opponents to play off curve against him, and being at 2 power, he triggers the Mentor's ability. And then when Tithe Taker dies, we'd get a 1/1 flying spirit, again further triggering the Mentor's ability. We are already beginning to see a cool deck shape up with something like Mentor, Tithe Taker, Elenda, Teysa, and a few other pieces, I'm just excited to try to make this Orzhov or Abzan aggro weenie or tokens list work.
The Mirari Conjecture
I'd be remiss not to mention this, but I don't want to spend too much time on it. Strictly Better MTG brought this to our attention in one of his videos, but The Mirari Conjecture just got a super awesome card to play along side it. Electrodominance is an XRR instant that deals X damage to any target, but then you can cast a card with CMC X or less from your hand without paying its mana cost, also circumventing any timing restrictions. So, the play he mentions is to cast Electrodominance on your opponent's end step for X=5, and drop your The Mirari Conjecture into play, this 4U saga enchantment allows us to return an instant from our graveyard once it enters the battlefield, effectively giving us back our Elecrodominance to save for its ultimate, allowing us to cast a metric ton of spells from our hand, and doubling it up. It is a cool combo and I can't wait to build around it.
Paladin of Atonement
Here is the last card of the day that gets better. Paladin of Atonement is one of those cards that had a little bit of hype when we still had the pain deserts, but has since fallen out of favor. Its a 1/1 for 1W that says at each end step put a +1/+1 counter on it if you lost life this turn. Then, when it dies, you gain life equal to its power. So, it grows if an opponent deals damage to you on their turn, or if you can deal damage to yourself on yours. Maybe with a card like Spawn of Mayhem. This 2BB 4/4 flying, trampler also has a spectacle cost for 1BB, making it possible to play on curve with the Paladin. At the beginning of your upkeep, Spawn of Mayhem deals 1 damage to each player. Then if you have 10 or less life, put a +1/+1 counter on it. What's great here is that it consistently triggers the Paladin of Atonement, making him an ever growing threat that once your opponent finally deals with it, it pulls you out of range of being burned out. I think these cards combo really well together, and I'm excited to see what other support we may get in this on coming week.
Do you have any fun combos you are seeing? Let us know in the comment section below!