Kicking off the Top 5 cards of Pro Tour Return for Ravnica is none other than Goblin Electromancer. What's that, I hear you ask? Where was the Goblin in the Top 8? Well, the Electromancer had to sit these particular playoffs out, but had been seen swarming about in numbers this weekend.
Initially, we saw Team SCG Black accelerating their Blue-Red Storm combo decks with the feisty little fella. Desperate Ritual, Pyretic Ritual, and Seething Song achieve a new level of ridiculousness when they cost one less mana.
But wait, there's more! You never know when someone's going to try and hide behind a Leyline of Sanctity, and something equally nefarious. Hall of Famer Jon Finkel was spotted successfully attacking someone from 20 to 0 through a Leyline, thanks to his squad of Electromancers.
Goblin Electromancer served rather an important role during the draft rounds, as well. Some players were heard to lament the power level of the Izzet Guild, or perceived lack of power, preferring to be down with the powerful Rakdos minions, or to embrace the ever-growing Selesnya family. But other players -- true Izzet players, really -- were seen rolling up their shirt sleeves and firing up the Bunsen burners, fueled by Goblin Electromancers. Reid Duke not only played four of them in his Modern deck, but scooped up four of them for his draft deck as well, allowing him to easily 3-0 his pod.
When you talk about Modern, you talk about a dangerously fast format, and when it comes to dangerously fast formats, you pay special attention to spells that let you pay life instead of mana to play them. Mental Misstep is already banned in the format, but Mutagenic Growth faces no such restriction, and has saw plenty of play this weekend.
While Kelvin Chew's Top 8 Infect deck elected not to play it, many other Infect decks did, helping players spread the sickness as early as turn 2 or 3. Where we didn't expect to see it was in Gerry Thompson and Brad Nelson's exciting Nivmagus Elemental combo deck, where they repeatedly smashed people with multi-colored giant Elementals just as quickly as the Infect decks, if not faster.
3. Pack Rat
Most of the players here this weekend should be aware of this by now, but let this be a public service announcement: Pack Rats are amongst some of the most unfair rare cards in Return to Ravnica, if not the most unfair, and certainly one of the most difficult to overcome if played and not immediately answered. Fellow Coverage Reporter Nate Price tells me that he heard more Pack Rat-related bad beat stories than he's heard for any other card in a long time.
Deathrite Shaman, or as Zac Hill describes it, "Birds of Lavamancer," saw a heck of a lot of play this weekend. Many of the Jund decks, which made up a sizable portion of the field, were happy to use it to power out explosive draws, to keep themselves alive, or to finish people off. Perhaps the most memorable moment was in the finals of the Pro Tour, when Player of the Year Yuuya Watanabe almost pulled a win out from under Stanislav Cifka's Leyline of Sanctity by not only getting around the targeting restriction of the Leyline to attack his life total, but lifting Watanabe from 15 to 17 life in the face of 16 copies of Grapeshot. It was a most unfavorable match-up for Watanabe, but he took it right up to the deciding game with the help of his trusty Deathrite Shamans.
And the number one card of Pro Tour Return to Ravnica was the almost completely unexpected Second Sunrise. Stanislav Cifka of the Czech Republic identified a very important weakness in the metagame, and steamrolled his way to the Top 8 with his Second Breakfast combo deck, not dropping a single game on Day One, and finally losing his first and only match in the last round before the Top 8.
Cifka's game plan was to reach a critical mass of trinkets like Chromatic Sphere, Elsewhere Flask, and Conjurer's Bauble, and with the help of Reshape, would even cheat Lotus Blooms into play. From there, he'd repeatedly sacrifice them, only to bring them right back with Second Sunrise, or failing that, Faith's Reward. He'd draw through all of the cards in his deck repeatedly, until he would find his sole Pyrite Spellbomb, which he would then throw at his opponents over and over again. It's safe to say that people are going to need to make room for Second Breakfast in their Modern sideboards.