The new Magic set Ravnica Allegiance is here and that means one thing: Simic is back! And if Fish/Octopus/Crab abominations aren't your thing, the Azorious, Rakdos, Gruul and Orzhov guilds are along for the ride as well. Each guild has brought new toys and will be competing for dominance not just in the streets of Ravnica but also in sealed and draft. The community has been hard at work grading each and every card in Magic's newest expansion to see how they will work in limited. You can see the results of that collective efforts by checking out the full Ravnica Allegiance Set Review.
You'll see that every card has been given hundreds of grades, and, no surprise, not all of those grades agree. As an example check out this card, the least controversial card in the set:
This Human/Lizard/Warrior plays the early game as a solid but unexciting two drop, but can also adapt to give you a solid late game beater and mana sink. That's an attractive package for limited and most of the community has said that Sauroform Hybrid is a solidly above average card - a C+. However, some players think that the Simic's newest creation is only going to be at best average compared to the powerful multicolor spells that Ravnica is home to and have graded it accordingly. Others think the combination of on curve two drop and access late game beef puts Sauroform Hybrid in the B range.
We can measure this disagreement by asking the question "If you asked two random community members how good this card is in limited, how much, on average, would they disagree?" By this metric we're pretty confident about just where Sauroform Hybrid is going to play out in Ravnica Allegiance limited.
However there are some cards the community just can't agree about at all. In this article we are going look at the 8 most controversial commons and uncommons - as voted on by you, the limited playing community. For each card I'll start by summarizing the controversy, looking at the average community grade and then offering my take...
...which, given these cards, is guaranteed to be controversial.
8. Gate Colossus
The controversy: Gate Colossus a is a gigantic, recursive, evasive threat that powers past Orzhov tokens and whatever other small creatures might be standing between your 8/8 and your opponent's face. The controversy is the undiscounted 8 mana price tag.
However, it appears that once again gates are going to be in good supply - and with 3 gates/player in draft and 6 gates/player in sealed it shouldn't be too hard to get the mana cost on Gate Colossus down from an unwieldy 8 or 7 to a much more palatable 6 mana. But the competition for gates varies a lot from draft to draft, so taking Gate Colossus early on the assumption that you can get your gates later won't always work out.
Community grade: C+
What I think: Gate colossus is flexible, colorless and powerful. Even decks that aren't all in on a gate strategy should be able to prioritize picking enough to make Colossus works. Either a few early gates will let you power out an early 8/8 or your opponent is going to have to worry about those late land draws bringing another 8/8 to the top of you deck.
As an expensive finisher you can't afford to play too many cards like Gate Colossus but the fact it can go in almost any deck and doesn't commit you to a guild is exactly what I want in an early pick.
My grade: B
7. Rhythm of the Wild
The controversy: Rhythm of the Wild is a callback to another famous Magic card and constructed staple:
Riot is a very powerful effect: the haste option keeps opponents off balance - and +1/+1 counter option is often a significant boost to a creature's board presence.
The controversy is whether the community thinks the upside of Rhythm of the Wild is worth the fact that it's a bad top deck that doesn't by itself affect the board. At least topdecking Fires could give you a +2/+2 boost to push through one of your on-board creatures. The community has decided that downside doesn't diminish the power of Rhythm and have put it in the premium card range.
Community grade: B-
What I think: I'm really excited about powering up my Gruul hordes with Rhythm of the Wild. You do need to play creatures to follow up Rhythm, so I'm going to prioritize having a high enough creature count. You really need to follow up this card with a steady stream of beef.
However, I can't see your typical red/green deck doing anything else, so I'm with the community, this card is great.
My grade: B
6. Angelic Exaltation
The controversy: Angelic Exaltation is another enchantment with the potential to add a lot of power to the board, if you have a wide board of creatures. It's a guest appearance of the Exalted mechanic of Alara and core set fame—Sublime Archangel off the stick.
Unlike Rhythm of the Wild, however, Angelic Exaltation doesn't just need creatures, it needs you to be attacking with those creatures too. The controversy stems from the fact that on top of doing nothing if you are low on creatures, Angelic Exaltation does nothing if you are behind. While there is space in certain decks for cards that specialize in breaking through stalemates the community has decided that Angelic Exaltation is a replacement level card.
Community Grade: C
What I think: I really like how Angelic Exaltation interacts with both white guilds strategy and several key white cards:
Both Orzhov and Azorious can clog up the ground and sky, and they might be in the market for exactly a card like Angelic Exaltation, which can let a key creature break through the board stall without sacrificing defensive posture. Being able to turn your defensive flyers into beefy flying threats, or spare spirit tokens into bodies the opponent has to deal with can give these decks inevitability and allow them to close out games quickly when they do get ahead.
However, because of how one dimensional Angelic Exaltation is, it can't be a high priority in draft and won't necessarily fit into every white deck. That sounds like a card the definition of a D-range to me - a role player that won't always make the maindeck.
My grade: D
5. Gates Ablaze
The controversy: Gates Ablaze is the second card for the gate drafter on this list. If a constructed player wanted, they could jam enough taplands into their deck for Gates Ablaze to scale to take out all but the biggest threats, but what about in limited?
The typical deck is never going to want Gates Ablaze since with only 2-4 gates, its going to be hard to make this card a Pyroclasm—and Pyroclasm isn't an effect all decks want. The controversy stems from how highly the community wants to rate a card that is essentially a blank unless you can accrue well over your share of gates—at 6 it will only deal 2 damage on curve 47% of the time—but can, if things go well, sweep the board for just three mana.
Community grade: C
What I think: I think Gates Ablaze feels like a catch-up tool for a gate themed deck, which have enough taplands to be—excuse me—slow coming out of the gates.
The good news is if you have drafted a ton of gates, Gates Ablaze should come back to you in the back half of your drafts. So while Gates Ablaze is a card you have to build around it's a card you should wait to take late and really is only at home in the very, very gate heavy deck.
If you do manage to assemble enough gates, Gates Ablaze will make a great addition to your deck. I'll feel really good about Gates Ablaze when I can play it on turn 5 or earlier for at least 3 damage. According to the good old hypergeometric calculator that means I'm looking at a deck with 8 or 9 gates in order for that to happen over 50% of the time. Since my plan is to pick the gates highly and hope to float Gates Ablaze on the wheel it gets a deprioritized grade.
My grade: C-
4. Ill-Gotten Inheritance
The controversy: Ill-Gotten Inheritance gives Orzhov control decks a hard to interact with win condition. It also helps those same control decks stabilize after their aggro opponent's aggressive start by padding a low life total.
Ill-Gotten Inheritance also gives Rakdos decks a Spectacle enabler that can also close give an aggro deck a little reach. However, it takes 4 mana and 1 turn before Ill-Gotten Inheritance yields a single point life swing. And if you want to cash it in instantly, its going to cost a total of 10 mana, which is not exactly mana efficient for an 8 point life swing. And of course, Ill-Gotten Inheritance doesn't affect the board.
Based on how slow and expensive it is, the community has decided that Ill-Gotten Inheritance is below average.
Community grade: C-
What I think: I can't look at this card without thinking of an old favorite from Shadows Over Innistrad:
Transforming Accursed witch was supremely satisfying, and winning through Infectious Curse felt like playing on hard mode. So I'm predisposed to like Ill-Gotten Inheritance, but the difference is pretty clear: the drain ability is not stapled to the back of a 4/2 body that can trade for an opponent's card. Which means it's much closer to being a glacial lava axe.
And like most Lava Axe variations—even ones that act as slow control win conditions—Ill-Gotten Inheritance feels like a card that is only going to make the deck under half the time.
My grade: D
3. High Alert
The controversy: Enchantments that do nothing on their own but "buff" your team seem to be the central theme of this list, and no card earns those quotation marks around "buff" more than High Alert. Yes, it can technically, potentially give your creatures a power boost, but surely your deck isn't going to be full of that many high toughness creatures, right?
Without that all you get is a way too expensive way to give something vigilance, or maybe, with a million mana, double activate a guildmage.
As we've already seen twice in this list, enchantments that boost your team in weird ways have a knack for being controversial. The inherent risk that they do nothing is too great, and so the community has deemed High Alert a below average card.
Community grade: C-
What I think: This card is a stupid, stupid combo with the following:
So much so that it takes a card that in a vacuum I never want to play and threatens to make it one of the bigger groan tests in the format. At least Azorious Knight-Arbiter doesn't have Hexproof...
Well that's not too scary, it's just another five drop...
Ok, so given the amount of creatures that this thing combos with at common, if I open this I'm going to be strongly tempted to move into the defensive skies deck. It may turn out that Azorious doesn't need to play this, but the synergies are too good and the potential for cheap wins too high for me not to start the format tempted. Just the off chance of going turn 2 Concordia Pegasus, turn 3 this, swing for 3 evasive seems like it will end a few limited games before they get started.
B tends to be my range for cards that move me into archetypes, but I'm still embarrassed to give this card a high grade so B- it is.
My grade: B-
2. Eyes Everywhere
The controversy: The theme of controversial enchantments continues, and spoiler, Eyes Everywhere might not be the last on our list. The controversy here is—well, just how complicated can we make Confiscate and have it still be good?
Probably pretty complicated, which is why a good chunk of players have it in the B range. But others see the nine mana total investment to make an impact on the board, and the handing over of a valuable source of card selection, and the possibility of playing against another blue deck that can Switcheroo it right back at you...well, they're skeptical enough to indicate that they won't be picking it very early. The community overall, ranks Eye Everywhere as an average card.
Community grade: C
What I think: A three mana enchantment that scrys you every turn is already surprisingly close to playable in some sets. Seer's Lantern almost felt like a win condition in some games of Oath of the Gatewatch.
Let's say you are paired against another blue deck. Well, those grindy matchups are exactly the ones where the scrys really pull you ahead. Maybe you just don't bother to activate the ability until you're well ahead and it's time to remove a key blocker.
Looking through the spoiler its hard to find ways to break the symmetry of Eyes Everywhere's activated ability There are almost no ways of sacrificing or bouncing permanents in Ravnica Allegiance, and the sorcery speed clause means you can't pull double activation tricks. So you are forced to play Eyes Everywhere more or less honestly.
However, the fact that Eyes Everywhere has the ability to punish decks that can't produce blue mana and has utility against slower decks means that I think its good enough to start in the maindeck. Just don't be surprised if you have to sideboard it out.
My grade: C+
1. Wilderness Reclamation
The controversy: Wilderness Reclamation is a four mana green enchantment that does nothing to affect the board (shocking on this list, I know) and instead provides extra mana — that can only be used at instant speed.
Is it a surprise that a plurality of players graded it an 'F'? No.
That said it's not hard to see why other players are excited to deploy Wilderness Reclamation:
Adapt gives Simic players a built in home to dump the newly reclaimed mana, and the dream of not even having to take the turn 4 off to pump your Frilled Mystic or hold up some other instant make some players think that Ravnica Allegiance might be the perfect home for Wilderness Reclamation.
Community grade: D+
What I think: The window for playing Wilderness Reclamation is small - you essentially want it on turn 4 or maybe turn 5. Later turns quickly result in diminishing returns as you run out the last of your adapters and instants. Adapt is not an unlimited mana sink unless you get very tricky. It's a nice effect to have for those couple turns, but you are spending a full card to get it.
That's too many things that need to go right for Wilderness Reclamation to affect a game and be worth the card. I don't expect to ever play this card.
My grade: F
Those are the 8 most controversial commons and uncommons in Ravnica Allegiance. What cards am I wrong about? Where is the community misjudging the cards? Do you have a better read on the environment? Let us know: rate the cards yourself.