Spoiler season for Ravnica Allegiance is now in full swing. It’s basically a second Christmas, giving us treats to look at each day until we get our hands on the set. And there are exciting things ahead.

Each guild has been given a new mechanic this time around, with arguably the least exciting guild mechanic being Adapt. An evolution of the Theros mechanic Monstrosity, Adapt fits with the flavor of Simic, but it doesn’t look exciting for Standard. I’m here to argue though that in the current spoilers that Simic appears to be the strongest guild. Let’s see why!

Frilled Mystic is a harder-to-cast Mystic Snake—who thought that would be possible? This card is not only nostalgic but also incredibly powerful. If blue/green is going to make a return as a top tier Standard archetype (last seen in the days of Madness), then this card will certainly be leading the charge. Its strength lies in its versatility and will be even more powerful if we have cheap adapt creatures printed.

Being able to hold up Frilled Mystic or an Adapt activation will be a nightmare for your opponent, giving you the best chance of winning the strategic battle. On a side note, it appears that Wizards are continuing to make the XXYY cycle of uncommons in this and the previous set inconsistent. While Crackling Drake has proven to be way ahead of the competition in Guilds of Ravnica, in Frilled Mystic we have what is essentially a downgraded rare and looks to be a top pick in Ravnica Allegiance too. The Elf Lizard Wizard is here to make an impact on Standard and I have high hopes that it will.

Growth Spiral can seem pretty innocuous. Two mana to draw a card isn’t a great deal, and we’ve already seen play-extra-land effects tacked onto cards in Standard with Broken Bond. Comparing this to Explore, we have traded a slightly more prohibitive casting cost for the ability to play this at instant speed.

There are two decks that immediately scream out for this effect: Bant Turbo Nexus and Ugx Ramp. Putting extra lands into play is extremely important for Turbo Nexus, as it ensures that the deck can hit its infinite loop quicker. Growth Spiral will be a key card for ramp though for two reasons: the ability to put lands into play quicker, and the cantrip for the late game where ramp decks typically run out of steam.

One of the first cards spoiled of Ravnica Allegiance, the flexibility of Incubation // Incongruity will ensure its appearance in Standard. While the card will mostly be used for the Incubation side, there will be moments where Incongruity will shine—such as shutting down Niv-Mizzet, Parun or even sniping Lyra Dawnbringer. Pongify and Rapid Hybridization increase in playability with the amount of problematic creatures, so the fact that this is added as an alternative to Incubation means that we should be seeing a lot of this split card in the future.

Probably the most exciting reveal from Ravnica Allegiance so far, Prime Speaker Vannifar brings back Birthing Pod! Vannifar’s viability will hinge on your ability to protect her while maintaining a chain of creatures. Birthing Pod’s strength was in its ability to run a toolbox of creatures that have extremely powerful enters-the-battlefield triggers. When they have served their purpose, they can be upgraded to a new creature.

In Standard, we can use Frilled Mystic to counter a spell, then upgrade it with Prime Speaker Vannifar into something like Demanding Dragon, Regisaur Alpha, or even Garna, the Bloodflame. The only vulnerability that Vannifar has is summoning sickness, in a Standard format where Lava Coil is a popular removal spell. Let’s just hope for that Thousand-Year Elixir reprint!

Wilderness Reclamation isn’t strictly a Simic card due to all of the Gruul flavor, but hear me out. This card is just straight up busted. Untapping lands is such a powerful effect, to put it onto an enchantment which is difficult to interact with just makes the card even more powerful. The card synergises with the Adapt mechanic very well, meaning that your turns do not have to be decided on whether to advance the board or to adapt your creature. Also good? Frilled Mystic.

But what if you don’t need the extra mana on your opponent’s turn? The untap trigger also gives you the potential to play some high-cost instants during your end step by doubling your mana. Like, say, the new red spell Electrodominance. Playing Wilderness Reclamation on turn four can easily lead to a fifth-turn Electrodominance, putting Omniscience into play. Any Legacy player will tell you that it’s pretty difficult to lose once you have Omniscience, and that should be no different in Standard.

Currently Standard has few creatures with mana sinks to fully tap the power of Wilderness Reclamation—imagine if Walking Ballista were still around! There is one powerful mythic which has been overlooked, however, which could now rise to prominence: Azor, The Lawbringer. The problem with Azor initially is that as a control player, you did not want to tap out on your own turn to mimic casting Sphinx’s Revelation, as that leaves your opponent free to cast whatever they want to on their next turn. With Wilderness Reclamation in play, we can tap out when Azor attacks to fill our hand, then untap all of our lands to interact on our opponent’s turn. That’s what Sword of Feast and Famine did for Caw Blade, essentially. Can it spawn a new archetype in Standard—Bant Midrange or even Bant Control?

We’re only a few days into spoiler season, but with the full set due to be spoiled by the end of the week, we should get a clearer picture of what standard will look like. From what we’ve seen so far though is that the Simic Combine will be at the core of it.

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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