Magic The Gathering News – Return To Ravnica Standard

Well, I thought enough time had gone by (about a month and a half) to report on the latest Magic the Gathering Standard… Return To Ravnica. I’m going to try to report, as accurately as I can, what it looks like and then give my personal opinion on it. Take it with a grain of salt because you know what they say about opinions.
Let’s start with some facts.
The shock lands, originally printed in the first Ravnica block, are back. Well, the first 5 anyway. The rest will be reprinted in the next set, Gatecrash. These lands were probably the most anticipated cards in the whole set. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if they WEREN’T reprinted, there would have been a player rebellion.
Other noteworthy cards in the set, as it’s turning out, include “Angel of Serenity”, “Jace, Architect of Thought”, “Abrupt Decay” (really more for Modern and Legacy) and “Armada Wurm”.
But what Return to Ravnica has really turned into, thanks to Avacyn Restored, is the battle of the Thragtusks or how to beat them if you’re not playing them.
Thragtusk is probably the most powerful creature, for its mana cost, to come out, maybe in the history of the game. For 1 green and 4 colorless, you get a 5/3 beat stick that gives you 5 life when it enters the battlefield and a 3/3 beast token when it leaves. Combine this with Restoration Angel, that can blink out non angel creatures, and you have some serious life gain and token making going on here.
But what really puts this combo over the top is Angel of Serenity. At 3 white and 4 colorless, she exiles up to 3 cards from play and/or graveyard and then, when she dies, those cards come back to the player’s hand. Start chaining these together and you can have tusks bouncing all over the place gaining life willy-nilly.
As a result, you’re going to find a lot of decks playing these cards since they only take up two colors, green and white. Thanks to the great mana fixing from the shock lands, you can play several combinations of GWx decks, all of them essentially focusing on abusing Thragtusk.
For some, this is making for a stale meta, though there are a number of different “shells” housing this beast. For others, the challenge is in beating it. And make no mistake about it… this card CAN be beaten.
Control, which has made a return to standard (finally) has found that out. UWx Control decks are doing quite well right now. In fact, I recently took All American Control (UWR) to a top 8 at my local LGS.
In addition to this, Rx decks are quite viable right now thanks to cards like Ash Zealot, Rakdos Shred-Freak and Vexing Devil, a card that players either seem to love or hate. I have found it’s really great turn 1. And if you can back to back them, it’s back breaking.
Bx Zombies, while everybody thought was going to be the top deck, isn’t doing as well as players expected. Just goes to show you that you just never can tell what’s going to be the top deck(s) until you start playing.
Personally, I love this meta. I haven’t run into the Thragtusk problem as much as others, though I do acknowledge that it exists. We’ll find out when Gatecrash hits the scene what, if anything, Wizards of the Coast does about it. I don’t think they’re going to do anything, just as I knew they weren’t going to do anything about Delver decks when they were annoying the heck out of a lot of people.
Anyway, that’s the 5 cent tour of the current standard.
To YOUR Magic the Gathering Enjoyment,
Steven “Land Boy” Wagenheim