Ravnica Allegiance spoiler season is almost done and release on the horizon. So this is a good time to look at the contenders for Modern play from the set so far. If Guilds of Ravnica was anything to go by, we’re going to be pretty spoiled. Guilds of Ravnica brought us Arclight Phoenix, which birthed its own archetype U/R Phoenix, breaking off into different variants and even one with Standard All-Star Crackling Drake included. We also saw a different take on Burn with Mono-Red Steam-Kin, allowing a prolonged gameplan compared to the traditional variant.

Ravnica Allegiance focuses on the other five guilds, Azorious, Rakdos, Simic, Orzhov and Gruul, so there’s plenty in store for us to unravel. So let’s begin!

Deputy of Detention is a take on Detention Sphere from Return to Ravnica and is one of my most anticipated new cards. Deputy of Detention is not a human creature type by intention—that would make it too strong for 5C Humans decks. Detention Sphere has been a useful sideboard card in many Modern archetypes, but only some of those would rather have a creature than an enchantment. I can’t imagine U/W Control, for example, would want to run this over Detention Sphere, but Bant Company would prefer this over Fiend Hunter or Fairground Warden and toolbox archetypes with Chord of Calling can make good use of this at instant speed.

I’m excited to try Deputy of Detention in Bant Spirits, as it could be a potential replacement for Reflector Mage depending on your local metagame. At worst, it’ll be replacing the Detention Sphere already in my sideboard.

Tithe Taker is an exciting card and could be potent in the right build. I can foresee Tithe Taker fitting into Taxes archetypes as it supports the gameplan of cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Leonin Arbiter. The “your turn” limitation puts Tithe Taker in a similar space as Grand Abolisher, but the Afterlife mechanic and single white mana make Tithe Taker the better choice. Afterlife forces a two for one in most cases, and Taxes decks are happy to have extra spirit tokens.

Despite these positives, traditional Death and Taxes lists are pretty tight. Trimming away cards can be very difficult as you want as much disruption as possible. Tithe Taker doesn’t necessarily offer disruption on its own to the scale of Thalia, for example, but it does stack on top. It could be difficult for Tithe Taker to make an impression in this archetype, and the extra tax effect may not be needed.

Lavina, Azorious Renegade is an unusual design which will likely help Taxes or Stoneforge Mystic archetypes in Legacy and Vintage. Lavina is capable of hurting several decks in Modern with permission; she thwarts decks that rely on zero-cost spells such as Mox Opal and Summoner’s Pact. She’s also capable of preventing Storm going off on turn four and prevents your Tron opponent from casting Karn Liberated on turn three. Lavina can also counter a miracled Terminus before they have six lands in play. With this, I expect Lavina to see some play in 5C Humans, Bant Spirits, and U/W Control decks. But I predict she’ll be a sideboard card at most in these builds, and her application will rely on how the metagame adapts going forward.

In addition to potential fringe play in Tier 1 decks, she’s a natural fit in U/W Taxes—a deck that also adds Deputy of Detention and perhaps Tithe Taker. Despite U/W Taxes being relatively fringe for non-Craig Wescoe players, these new cards offer real opportunities for the archetype to grow. Spell Queller interacts well with Lavina, for example, and there are many new synergies to explore. And similar to Damping Sphere, Lavina can become better the more cards added to the Modern pool over time.

We’re starting to see a trend in newly printed creature cards that adopt many of the characteristics of older cards, and Prime Speaker Vannifar takes that to the next level. Birthing Pod is banned in Modern, but Vannifar gives us a fixed version of the card—Vannifar has summoning sickness and no Phyrexian mana discount—meaning this will be slower than its predecessor. Even so, Vannifar will see play as there is a deep attachment to Birthing Pod with players and encourages all kinds of nonsense to ensue with Kiki-Jiki toolbox-style decks.

I don’t think Vannifar will ever achieve the success that Birthing Pod once did in Modern, but happy to be proven wrong. Vannifar’s best home will be in Commander I feel, as there are more tools on offer to fire off her ability quickly and more efficiently.

Absorb is a well-timed reprint from Invasion, and now it becomes Modern legal. The impact this counterspell will have in Standard is going to be significant given how Mono Red is quick to close out games, but what about Modern? Absorb will fit easily into U/W Control: it’s a hard counter with upside, which is uncommon in Modern, and the mana demand isn’t an issue given the generous Modern manabases. On the flip side, there’s very little application for Absorb outside of U/W Control. Jeskai Control may run it, but I feel Ionize is probably closer to what they’re after than Absorb.

Bedevil is an improved take on Dreadbore back from Return to Ravnica, and will undoubtedly see Modern play as it’s an upgrade on its predecessor. I expect Bedevil to see fringe use in Hollow One, Mardu Pyromancer, Jund, Grixis Control and maybe B/R Vengevine decks as Bedevil can hit threats like Grafdigger’s Cage or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria at instant speed. This particularly important for decks that aren’t able to run Assassin’s Trophy as an option.

Notwithstanding, the problem Bedevil has is that it contests with Kolaghan’s Command at the same mana cost. It’s unlikely to replace Kolaghan’s Command because the latter card is always a two-for-one, if more flexible, and is easier to cast. Bedevil is an excellent card and has many targets in Modern, but may fall be in the shadow of Kolaghan’s Command for the time being unless you need planeswalker removal.

Burn rarely receives any new toys, given that plenty of Burn spells are fixed and underpowered from the days of Lightning Bolt. Skewer the Critics might offer some upsides in the archetype, perhaps as a replacement for Shard Volley. Although the Spectacle criteria can be difficult to meet if there are blockers present, in most cases this will cost one mana. Despite this being sorcery speed, Skewer the Critics is an excellent addition to the Burn roster, and I expect this to find home in Modern Burn in some capacity. If nothing else, this is a perfect fit for Pauper Burn and will see play there.

Judith, the Scourge Diva packs plenty of punch, offers protection for your non-token creatures, and she’s a human. Judith could see play in 5C Humans as it’s a way to deal damage through a board wipe and the +1/+0 will be relevant at times. Although the second ability isn’t as consistent, B/R Vengevine may want this too—it’s extra damage for all your creatures, and you have plenty of Bloodghasts and such that can die often and trigger more damage. Judith is an aggressive card and demands an answer otherwise the punishment is high. I’m curious to see where Judith’s home is in Modern.


Pteramander might be a two-mana 5/5 flier. That has a considerable potential for Modern and even Legacy. There have been claims it’s the best card of the set so far, which is quite a statement. Modern and Legacy promote cheap, powerful spells, so it’s possible.

Regardless, I don’t think it’ll be challenging to find a home for this card in Modern. There’s a chance Pteramander may replace Gurmag Angler in Delver builds—it can be more threatening than Gurmag could ever be, and you get to keep your spells for additional Snapcaster Mage value. Who knows, it could replace Delver of Secrets given its evasiveness from the get-go. I also would not be surprised to see this card crop in U/R Phoenix as it will just get out of hand in any spell-dense deck. There’s a tremendous space to build around this card, and I’m excited to see how it fares in Modern. Someone is bound to break it somehow.

Four-mana wraths are relatively hard to come by with any upside. The best we’ve had of recent was Bontu’s Last Reckoning back in Hour of Devastation, and that had a significant downside. Kaya’s Wrath has a one-sided Fumigate effect, which could see play in B/W Soul Sisters as it’s better than Wrath of God for that deck. Unfortunately, I can’t see Kaya’s Wrath expanding any further than that due to the mana demands the card requires.

I’m thinking in a similar vein for Revival // Revenge. Expect this in a B/W Soul Sisters build, where it promotes longevity through either gaining much life or bringing back Serra’s Ascendant to close out the game. Both cards support the Soul Sisters archetype very well and could become popular once again as the deck has decent matchups in the current Modern metagame. B/W Tokens might also want this card, but it has fallen out of favor of the years.

No, Growth Spiral doesn’t go in Amulet Titan. Explore is one of the weaker cards in that deck, with Adventurous Impulse being the preferred choice for some. Sakura-Tribe Scout and Asuza, Lost but Seeking already achieve what Growth Spiral does more straightforwardly and efficiently. However, there could be room for Growth Spiral in Temur Scapeshift builds as one of the issues the deck has is choosing whether to hold up a counterspell or to ramp—with Growth Spiral being an instant you can avoid that problem.

We still have a few cards left to be spoiled, followed by the full set reveal, but this is a good start on evaluating the Modern potential of Ravnica Allegiance cards. It will be interesting to see the impact of these cards in months to come. One of the best parts of a new sets release is the initial few weeks where players test with all kinds of cards to see what sticks. I’ll be keeping an eager eye on new Modern when Allegiance is released and will likely be wrong in my predictions—if we were to take lessons from innocuous card such as Creeping Chill and Arclight Phoenix.

What is the Allegiance card that will surprise us? Electrodominance?

Emma resides in Suffolk, England and started playing Magic back in 2014 when Khans of Tarkir first hit the shelves. She dabbled in Standard for a while then shifted into Modern, in particular playing Eldrazi Tron and Commander where she has found her home. Follow her on Twitter @emmmzyne to join in on the conversation!

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