I don’t know why I’m listening to people on Twitter, but the readers spoke and said I should review Return to Ravnica by guild, not color. That’s a great idea except a good chunk of the monocolored cards in this set aren’t tied to a guild. But that won’t stop me from trying. Like always, I review every. Single. Card. in this set – including the awful limited pieces of fodder.
Return to Ravnica is a great set. I barely played Magic when the original Ravnica block came out (but returned with a violent vengeance thanks to Time Spiral), so this is giving me a chance to experience Magic with a unique twist because Ravnica is essentially Magic with 10 colors, not 5. To start off these reviews is Azorius! Also, I’m not going alphabetically this time because that often results in me slamming my head into my desk repeatedly thanks to most sets starting off horribly.
Isperia, Supreme Judge
Legendaries are always fun in Commander because each one is a new chance to make a deck! Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a Craw Wurm kick, but I love that he’s a 6/4 for 6! But what I love even more is him being a twisted reverse Edric. Drawing cards whenever you or one of your planeswalkers gets attack is amazing. It deters a lot of attacks, but thanks to new cards like Courtly Provocateur, Azorius has plenty of ways to force unfavorable attacks.
The big downsides though to Isperia are the cost and the fact that this card doesn’t do anything when it resolves. The double-blue, double-white makes this a hard cast (though great reanimating bait). Just make sure you have a pair of boots waiting upon resolution.
As a mythic, this doesn’t completely wow me. The fact that it is instant though makes me excited since so much card draw lately has been sorcery speed. I love that this card just combined Alabaster Potion and Stroke of Genius into one delicious package. This card is good, especially late game, but it doesn’t do anything mythical.
Archon of the Triumvirate
I want to love this card (and I love the idea of pairing him with anything that gives multiple combat phases), but a 4/5 for SEVEN mana feels outrageous. Politically though, detain is just begging to be abused at the kitchen table. The idea of offering to detain a permanent in exchange for another and the body is decent, but seven mana is a lot. This is another solid reanimation target though…
For Commander players in blue-white, here is Oblivion Ring 2! But this card is great. It utterly destroys all tokens of one type (I kind of want to make a deck that Donates Essence of the Wild and then Detention Spheres everything….). At three mana, this card is worth running almost always. The only exception I can think of is some weird mirror match where you’re both playing Relentless Rats.
This series of lands is the second best ever made. These are dual lands and they are amazing, Hallowed Fountain is no exception. If you are playing blue-white (or even more colors), you need to be running these. They are in print again, so collect your sets now.
This card can be mean in multiplayer since detain goes from “skip two turns” to “skip six turns.” Taking a single creature out of combat – of your choice each round of turns is amazing. I don’t want to face against this, especially when combined with Paradox Haze. Also, the Azorius are all communists.
Empyrial Armor is that you? You’re all grown up now! But this aura worries me because it makes theft a great deal. Righteous Authority doesn’t give the bonus based on YOUR hand or let YOU draw cards, it’s all about the creature’s controller. This is exactly the kind of dangerous card I would play. But a personal Howling Mine and a big creature? Yeah, that’s worth 5 mana.
I hate white-blue decks. All they do is slow down the game with pesky “resets.” And now they have an uncounterable Day of Judgment. That’s it, I’m going back to combo decks. Supreme Verdict is an amazing piece in the can’t be countered cycle and I love that these exist. Blue mages have hidden behind their Counterspells, Forbids, Rewinds and Force of Wills for too long.
Eloctutors isn’t a real word for the record. But I love alternate win condition decks (I’m working on a Laboratory Maniac/Battle of Wits deck – go big or go home). Thanks to proliferating effects, this card can quickly ramp but it only triggers on your upkeep. I do like that the counters can be managed from the other side of the table, but how the hell is an old bearded man a 3/5?
O RLY? YARLY! I want to love this guy, but in multiplayer counterspells usually don’t do enough. A single Force Spike is easy to play around, but I like the idea that Mana Tithe is bleeding into regular Magic. In Commander, this is too little to bother with.
The various Charms in Magic are great little gems, but getting two-colored ones is a blessing. The versatility of this card is amazing. Aggro decks can gain an obscene amount of life or it can be used as psuedo-removal in a pinch. Worst card, you can just cycle this charm! In WU decks, this is worth running.
Someone at Wizards must love the word Justiciar. I don’t know how this card is a wizard and not a paladin, but that doesn’t matter. Detaining two creatures is nice, but now there are plenty of options to flicker this card constantly and keep creatures locked down.
Fall of the Gavel
I’m not paying two more mana for two more life, I’ll stick with Absorb. Who wants to take bets on seeing the Dimir version of this in Gatecrash?
The first time I saw this card, I assumed it was a 1/1. I was horribly mistaken. Getting a 3/1 flier for only three mana and being able to detain ANY nonland permanent is crazy. Like many of the other enter the battlefield detainers, this combos so well with Avacyn Restored flickering effects.
New Prahv Guildmage
I’m not crazy about the new Guildmages in Return to Ravnica. The fact that they are no longer hybrid really hurts their usability outside of Commander. New Prahv Guildmage offers some solid abilities, but this card is obscenely mana intensive. In draft, I don’t see myself passing this much since it is both evasion and quasi-removal. In Commander, it’s pretty good too since the bigger abilities will actually see use. But in kitchen table 60, if you’re strategy is ramping to use guild mages… well, I would like to play against you with my Lucky Charms deck.
I love how the guilds are battling each other in this set. Skymark Roc is a beautiful way to battle the Selesnya token machine. A 3/3 flying bird is bound to find a home (right Bruce?). But the ability to bounce small creatures or eat small tokens makes me very interested in this card, but it really depends on your playgroup.
Salad Fingers? Of all the detainers, this one impresses me the least. Phantom Warrior is decent, and an unblockable creature doesn’t really need toughness but 4 mana feels like a lot to detain one creature that couldn’t block him anyway.
Cheap detaining is exactly what I like to see. While this only gets creatures, it’s a solid two-drop for white weenie strategies that can allow for a cheap hit. Toss in some flickering like always and you’ve got an annoying deck that makes me want to hate you.
We’re into the commons, so now I have to get creative. I think this would make an excellent Schoolhouse Rock song. This card is annoying, but I don’t see it getting much play.
Dropping 6 mana for a 3/3 is a bad idea, I don’t care how much you like vedalken.
Unexpected reprints are fun! Tower Drake hasn’t been seen since Invasion and looks much more terrifying.
Unsummon and some life gain isn’t too bad. If you’re making a multicolor bounce deck, you could do worse.
Nobody expects the Hussar Patrol! Flash and vigilance is an odd combo (it’s like he has super vigilance), but I like this as a defensive card to hold down the ground.
Much like my obsession with coin flipping, I love making people reveal their hands in multiplayer. Against someone who abuses Reliquary Tower, Search Warrant may be exactly what you need. Just do something awesome with the life, okay?
WHY IS THE HEAD SO BIG? This is decent, but for similar cost you can get extra abilities.
And the Cameos from Invasion are outclassed. Again. Much like the Totems from Time Spiral, I really like these cards that do double duty as both mana acceleration and creatures late game. If you’re in these colors and need to smooth out your curve, you could do a lot worse.
Azorius has some interesting offerings in this set, but blue and white is such a boring color combination to me. That said, detain is begging to be abused in some fashion, especially with flickering. That kind of synergy is exactly what I love about this game.
Top 5 Azorius Cards for Casual & Commander
5. Azor’s Elocutors
4. Supreme Verdict
3. Detention Sphere
2. Azorius Charm
1. Isperia, Supreme Judge