Top Ravnica Allegiance Standard Decks

Posted in Ways to Play on February 1, 2019

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

There are a lot of sweet decks to jump into thanks to the release of Ravnica Allegiance, and today, we are going to take a look at a wide variety of archetypes. There's something for everyone here. Let's take a peek at some of the cards that stand out and go from there.

  • Light Up the Stage
  • Judith, the Scourge Diva
  • Hydroid Krasis
  • Absorb
  • Wilderness Reclamation

Every archetype gets some action here, and some of these cards are powerful enough to spawn entire new decks. I love when sets provide a combination of cards that amp up existing decks and cards that create new ones; that means people who love a deck frequently get to keep playing it and people who want something completely new get to experience that too. Ravnica Allegiance does a great job here, and this handful of cards alone represents a lot of deck-building space (though there are plenty of other interesting cards as well).

Going up the curve, that gets us started with aggro, which got a pair of spectacular cards in Light Up the Stage and Skewer the Critics.

Spectacular Red

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Game Plan: Get the opponent dead as soon as possible by using cheap creatures and burn spells.

Key Cards:

Light Up the Stage is quietly (or in the Rakdos way, not so quietly) the most important card in the deck. This is what lets the deck play so few lands and ensures that it rarely runs out of gas. A one-mana draw two is just absurd, and this gives you two turns to play out the cards, which is trivial for this deck.

Chainwhirler has always been great and is even better now that it enables spectacle. It mows down the various token decks, and Chainwhirler into Skewer is a common way to kill a 4-toughness creature on the cheap.

This deck is brutal, fast, and surprisingly powerful. The combination of Light Up the Stage, Experimental Frenzy, and Risk Factor means it can generate a ton of extra cards, and it's still capable of just killing turn four if unopposed.

If you're looking for an aggro deck, this is a great place to start. It's also not too difficult to assemble, which definitely helps. Moving on to midrange, let's scope out what Judith has to offer.

jakedurshimer's Mardu Aristocrats (5-0 on MTGO)

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Game Plan: Generate tokens with Elenda, the Dusk Rose and Hero of Precinct One, and get value by going wide out of Judith, the Scourge Diva and Midnight Reaper.

Key Cards:

Judith makes your entire team bigger, and even though she only pings when a nontoken creature dies, she's still incredibly powerful. She is what makes this deck tick.

Hero is the best source for tokens in the deck, and maybe in the set entirely. It easily makes a token per turn, and if you draw enough Footlight Fiends, you may even make multiples.

This Aristocrats deck does a good job of flooding the board and getting value from all its cards. Against aggro, it can stabilize and kill all their threats. Against control, it can put together a surprising amount of pressure, even in the face of board wipes. Like any good midrange deck, it shifts game plans easily and adjusts to whatever it happens to be facing.

This deck is a little tricky to play, so be sure you get some good practice in before taking it to an event; it's got a lot of combat math and interaction.

Our next deck will keep you well-hydroided, which is important before a long day in the Ranked queues.

I may have taken some liberties on the name of the deck, but the point remains that Hydroid Krasis is a great addition to a midrange strategy. The combination of solid creatures and removal lends itself well to casting Hydroid Krasis for a lot, and if need be, you can play it for two or four and still be happy.

TheHissingQuagmire's Moist Golgari (5-0 on MTGO)

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Game Plan: Make a bunch of one-for-one trades and get ahead using Find // Finality and Hydroid Krasis, while pressuring the opponent with Wildgrowth Walker and cheap explore creatures.

Key Cards:

Against aggro decks, games are divided into two types: those with Walker, and those without. It's a critical card in defeating them, and the card you most want in your opening hand.

I didn't like black-green before Krasis, and now I'm a fan. This is just great at any point in the curve, though you are heavily incentivized to hit even numbers (because of how it rounds). Krasis gives you uncounterable draw power, a great late-game play, and life against aggro decks. It's the perfect card for this deck, and so far, this seems like the best home for it.

Moist Golgari also benefits from being able to switch game plans, and knowing how to approach aggro and control matchups is critical. It's a little more straightforward than the Aristocrats deck, so keep that in mind if you are deciding between them.

If controlling the game is more your speed, the next deck should absorb some of your interest.

Esper Control got a big boost from Hallowed Fountain and Godless Shrine, though Kaya's Wrath and Absorb aren't far behind. Teferi is still a good card, and you haven't seen the last of him yet.

oyola's Esper Control (5-0 on MTGO)

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Game Plan: Answer every card the opponent plays, and pull ahead with Teferi and card draw. Kill the opponent at your leisure.

Key Cards:

Besides the lands, getting a real four-mana wrath is huge. It's not the easiest to cast, but this mana base does get there most of the time, and blowing up the world the turn before Teferi is perfect timing.

The best Azorius win condition showed up before the rest of the guild, as time travelers tend to do. Teferi answers problematic permanents, draws cards, and even can give you a (excruciating) win condition by using the -3 on himself to prevent decking.

I really like all the incidental life gain in this deck. It makes the mono-red matchup way easier, and the rest of the deck is naturally good against midrange. If you want to grind your opponents out and draw a ton of extra cards, this is the deck for you.

Lastly, we have the boogeyman of the format. Wilderness Reclamation has really opened the door to a true combo deck, and its power with Nexus of Fate can't be denied.

Bas Melis's Bant Reclamation

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This decklist comes from a player who got Mythic on MTG Arena with Bant Nexus, and updated it to include Wilderness Reclamation. For a best-of-three world, the sideboard would likely want to include a combination of counterspells, defense against aggro, and something like Carnage Tyrant.

Game Plan: Ramp out Wilderness Reclamation and use it to generate a ton of mana. Draw cards, fog the opponent, and win with Nexus of Fate and Teferi.

Key Cards:

This card does a ton in this deck. The whole deck is instants, so it effectively doubles your mana and really speeds up how fast the deck can start looping Nexus. Note that you can go to your end of turn, tap all your lands, untap them, then tap them again to cast something gigantic.

I'm actually really excited about this one, too. A ramp spell that replaces itself and puts lands into play is exactly what this deck wants, and having this in your opening hand speeds you up by a full turn.

Of course, Teferi and Nexus are also critical, as those are what this deck wins with, but the boost in mana production is the real story here. This was already a good deck, and speeding it up is going to make some waves.

This deck being built for best-of-one actually brings up a point I want to address. Many readers are looking to battle Ranked on MTG Arena, and that actually impacts the decks I'd recommend. Of the decks I've presented today, I'd be looking to play the following:

  • Mono-Red Aggro
  • Esper Control
  • Bant Nexus

I would not recommend either midrange deck, as those tend to lean on their sideboards the most. Remember how both adapt their game plan against the opponent? A key component of that is siding dead cards out and moving in cards like Duress, and in best-of-one, you want your whole deck to be more focused. As a result, I'd highly recommend the three decks I just called out, as they fit much better into a best-of-one world (a world I have enjoyed, for what it's worth).

This is plenty to get you started. Go out, and conquer!


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