Return to Ravnica Cards you need to own – Shared Discovery by Rob Wagner

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Return to Ravnica Cards you need to own – Shared Discovery by Rob Wagner

Hi all, I’m writing the second in a series of articles designed to be helpful to collectors of top-class Magic cards. My last one, on M13, was quite popular, so I’ve decided to do the same for Return to Ravnica. To recap the concept:

” I had the idea to look at the previous set and identify the cards I think you should be getting hold of for your collection if you want to keep up with competitive formats. This is the opposite of a trade speculation style article, instead telling you about the cards you might already know as good but acting as a consolidated guide to what I think you will need.

I am largely following my own advice for this, the reason being that this advice is aimed at people seeking to be competitive and don’t want to have to keep asking others for cards over and over. I know that if I need to borrow a card over and over I prefer to just buy the damned thing (or trade for it) to make my life a lot easier. This doesn’t just apply to rares either, the commons and uncommons should be collected, but I prefer to get 4 of all of these anyway for completionism sake (I always get a box or so at the start of the format to get a big jump on this).”

So, without further ado what cards do we want to keep from Return to Ravnica?


Angel of Serenity4 Angel of Serenity – One of the biggest threats to enter Standard early on, Angel of Serenity has seen play in all sorts of numbers as a control finisher or an aggro mirror-breaker (today’s decks are all Midrange anyway) or as a Reanimation target when you’re not on the Angel of Glory’s Rise plan. I predict it will continue to fluctuate in and out of standard so pick up as many as you see fit (I would opt for 3 myself).

4 Ethereal Armor – Apparently there’s a Modern deck which plays lots of silly auras and this is one of the ones that enables that deck.

3 Rest in Peace – Playable in all formats, this tremendous card is perhaps the best graveyard hate card printed yet. It is even a good sideboard card against something like RUG Delver in Legacy where it neuters both Tarmogoyf and Nimble Mongoose.


Jace, Architect of Thought2 Cyclonic Rift – A good role player and a fantastic one-sided upheaval if Standard becomes about board stalls.

4 Dispel – You may have 4 of these already from Worldwake but this is a very good counter when Standard becomes about the sorts of things I enjoy (namely, spells instead of creatures).

4 Jace, Architect of Thought – Top 3 Jaces of all time, this guy has dominated some of the weeks of Standard and has seen play in Modern in the Splinter Twin and/or Storm decks.

4 Syncopate – A poor counter but about as good as we’re allowed these days. I was hoping for something like Cryptic Command T_T.


4 Cremate – Maybe you don’t need 4 but this is a good graveyard hate card when you’re trying to remove single cards, e.g. vs Gifts Ungiven for Unburial Rites.

1 Pack Rat – The idea is you pick this one up in a Sealed deck somewhere, but it has potential for Cube and EDH.

4 Shrieking Affliction – There’s a mono-black Modern deck going around with 4 of this and 4 of The Rack. I think it’s rubbish currently, but is probably only 1-2 new cards off being pretty decent so you’ll definitely want to get these now.

4 Ultimate Price – Possibly the most versatile removal spell in Standard as removal currently is very non-versatile. Everything does something quite specific so it depends what you have to play around but keeping this as an option is good.

3 Underworld Connections – A good drawer of cards, but one which has lost traction in recent times. I like it a lot with Borderland Ranger since you mitigate the land you lose by casting the Connections. May pick up when Godless Shrine comes in as Black-White always liked an Arena.


Mizzium Mortars4 Ash Zealot – An aggressive card and sees a lot of play in Standard Red decks. Will gain value with Stomping Ground] coming in as Gruul will benefit from a cheap aggressive creature with first strike, but only buy this if you’re into attacking.

3 Mizzium Mortars – A terrific wrath in principle, it depends what creatures are running around. If it’s all stuff like Loxodon Smiter then we’re golden, if it’s all Strangleroot Geist then less so.

2 Vandalblast – I like having two of these for Modern as a versatile sideboard card against the Affinity deck. Currently Stony Silence is better because of the decks that use Chromatic Sphere and Chromatic Star, and you can’t really deal with those by spot removalling them. Vandalblast, however, is really both a Shatter (though at Sorcery speed and 1 mana less) and a Shatterstorm (though at 1 mana more and allowing regen) but as is often the case in Modern sideboard slots are so tight that having cards which do multiple things even marginally less well can be to your advantage.


4 Mana Bloom – Green was a bit unexciting this set actually, Mana Bloom is good if you absolutely positively have to hit Farseek on turn 2 for a 4 drop on turn 3, but not if you need that extra land every single turn. Would benefit from a Compulsive Research style card that gives you more options for it later on.

3 Worldspine Wurm – Maybe you only need 1, I dunno, but Travis Woo has been playing this guy in a Modern Through the Breach deck. His decks are more about having fun than winning (either that or killing lands) but if you’re into fun then you could do worse than to check it out.


4 Abrupt Decay – A defining card of Legacy right now in the BUG decks, a 2-of in Modern Jund decks, and seeing a bit of play in Standard. This is a card more aimed at eternal formats but it’s fantastic at its job.

Abrupt Decay

4 X Charm – All 5 of the charms have seen play, with probably Selesnya or Golgari being the least-used. The Azorious one has been all over Standard despite a very frosty reception, and the red ones have made their mark in Modern as both main deck and sideboard playables. Great design on these I think, people really underestimate options.

2 Counterflux – Recently picked up play as a way to win the big control mirrors due to this spell’s own uncounterability, worth having access to.

4 Detention Sphere – Possibly you only need 3 as the 4th can be an Oblivion Ring, but this card is beautiful in Legacy as a card which can be useful even when it’s not useful – vs combo you just pitch it to Force of Will!

4 Dreadbore – Maybe hedging here, I think this card is actually very good and it may benefit from the printing of Watery Grave as a splashed removal spell in Blue control.

4 Goblin Electromancer – The “Medallion” for Modern Storm, caught many by surprise because we haven’t been able to play good Combo decks for some time.

4 Izzet Staticaster – I was surprised by this one, but he’s sweet. A great answer to Lingering Souls but in all honestly just great anyway, I keep trying to find ways to pair it with Basilisk Collar in Modern.

4 Lotleth Troll – Was supposed to dominate Standard but puttered out somewhat, however sees some play in Modern when people aren’t attacking graveyards too heavily.

2 Rakdos’s Return – A terrific “finish him” card for Standard, a la Cruel Ultimatum.

3 Slaughter Games – Sees play in Modern as a great way to stop combo dead. I’ve won a PTQ myself with Cranial and uncounterability (although double coloured) is a neat addition in that context.

4 Sphinx’s Revelation – One of peoples’ favourite cards in Standard from what my Facebook feed suggests, this card almost single-handedly is what is making Standard mono-midrange (on the other hand, it’s Thragtusk).

4 Supreme Verdict – See Detention Sphere for Legacy, this card is well designed and really helps against the tempo decks we’ve had in recent times such as Delver of Secrets.

1 Vraska the Unseen – Way overhyped initially, but a decent role player if you need a Vindicate with upside in Standard, happy to have one for Cube also.

Hybrid and Artifact

Deathrite Shaman4 Deathrite Shaman – The standout card from the set, this guy has defined Modern and Legacy to some extent since its release. The guy is so versatile, it’s definitely on a Planeswalker level and is probably a mistake in a few different ways – maybe it should only have 1 toughness, or only drain/gain 1 life?

3 Dryad Militant – Currently bad, but a hedge against future cards making it a fine sideboard card.

4 Rakdos Cackler – A very aggressive creature in both Red and Black decks.

4 Nivmagus Elemental – I don’t like it but if the combo deck based around this becomes well positioned then you don’t want to be scrambling for it (see Daybreak Coronet).

4 Slitherhead – Also currently bad but sees some play with Lotleth Troll.

3 Pithing Needle – A lot of people will have these already but it’s a good cheap answer to stuff like Planeswalkers and some Enchantments. Used to be a very expensive card when it was trying to stop stuff like Aether Vial and Arcbound Ravager.


return to ravnica complete set dual lands

4 Hallowed Fountain, 4 Steam Vents, 4 Blood Crypt, 4 Overgrown Tomb, 4 Temple Garden – 5 of the 15 best lands in Modern, the other 5 being the Zendikar fetchlands. Definitely the best way to fix your mana since the original dual lands.


Quite a lot to get there, I think the best things to go for in the long term are the cards that are currently good in Modern and Legacy – i.e. the Shock Lands, Abrupt Decay, Rest in Peace and the Deathrite Shamans. After that there’s a lot of stuff that depends on your colour preference and deck preference, but you should definitely stock up on Charms.

I’m looking forward to the next one of these already, though it’s weird having focused on Power Cube and Modern so much at the expense of Standard that I’ve actually had to look up articles to make sure I didn’t miss something there. From Gatecrash I know I want all the Shock lands and all the Charms (Dimir Charm is neat) but I’ll reserve judgment on the rest of the set until more of it comes out.

What do you think – have I overlooked anything important? Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing.


@DrRobWagner on Twitter

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