Few things make me as happier during a draft than when I can fill out my curve on the wheel of each pack. Playable “vanilla” creatures don’t always make the cut, but Ravnica Allegiance has more than usual. Perhaps that is a result of guild drafting, because players need to pick guild cards early and care more about signals than simply filling out a creature curve. Or maybe that’s the reward for drafting an open archetype. Whatever the reason, my successful draft decks tend to fill out well from the back of the packs.

What boring creatures am I most excited about? Which ones have surprised me with the slightly-better-than-usual performance? Why can’t we have more Thraben Purebloods? These are a bunch of commons that have made me happy.

Oh yeah, that’s the spice. Axebane Beast is about as boring as a card can get. Green usually wants to pay less than four mana for three power, but a 3/4 turns out to be a good size in Ravnica Allegiance draft. Nobody really wants cards like this. Unless four people are drafting green in your pod, you should be able to pick it up tenth pick or later. Once you head into pack three, you know pretty well whether cards like this will wheel; and that gives you a lot of freedom to take other types of cards your first time through the packs. Gotta love those little edges.

I may like Carrion Imp card too much. Do you like blocking? A 2/3 flier than tosses in two free life really ties the room together, if your room is an Orzhov deck. Or a Rakdos deck. It turns out I was right that they designed Rakdos to be more controlling than it has been in previous iterations. Cards like Ill-Gotten Inheritance want defensive creatures to ensure you stay ahead of the life clock.

Carrion Imp does more than play defense, though. The 2/3 flier triples your Inheritance clock, helps feed spectacle for cards like Theater of Horrors, and provides its own win condition if the game goes long enough. None of this makes the card great—that’s why you can pick one or two up late—but Carrion Imp offers a lot of value for grindy decks.

People like Debtor’s Transport well enough, but you can’t take too many six drops. Thankfully, there are enough copies floating around for everyone who wants one to get one. Orzhov Racketeers looks like a better card, but Debtor’s Transport does the job better. They have to block your 5/3 after a few turns. Once they are forced to trade off, the two spirit tokens will finish the job.

How many Feral Maaka are too many? Ironclaw Orcs have been winning games of Magic longer than Limited has been a real thing. You can do good things with a bunch of 2/2s in Ravnica Allegiance. Plus it’s a kitty! Check out that fearful symmetry.

The more I play with Haazda Officer, the more I like it. This effect is nothing new, but the prevalence of flying spirit tokens makes this officer a strong play even late in the game. Vanilla 3/2s tend to be fine anyway. Creatures in Ravnica Allegiance tend to be small, so even if you aren’t pumping an evasive body, the stat bonus still has meaning. You can even chain Haazda Officers to get past those pesky opposing Axebane Beasts. Just make sure to take plenty of powerful spells early in your packs, so you have fun things to do alongside these boring 3/2s.

Mammoth Spider is Thraben Purebloods with upside! If you think Axebane Beast blocks well, then you need to meet my massive spider friend. Not many fliers can get by the five toughness on this thing. Drakes are no longer a problem!

Scry 2? Who cares what body is attached to Sage’s Row Savant when you can Scry 2! This is what I call “blue mana fixing.” The 2/1 body doesn’t do much, but it can trade up if you play your cards right.

How often do you give your Senate Courier vigilance? All the time, right? Attacking for one in the air is surprisingly effective these days, and you definitely want to keep this thing back to block as well. Debtor’s Transport is the only card on this list that can beat a Senate Courier in combat. That seems ludicrous—what are these birds eating?

Sylvan Brushstrider is secretly amazing. The art looks like a really tall goat, which is a great place to start. Incremental life always helps, except when it doesn’t. You probably weren’t winning anyway if Sylvan Brushstrider comes up short. Once again Axebane Beast reveals its true power—the green Nekrataal compared to all these 3/2s.

I’d also like to take this moment to point out that “lowing” is one of the weirdest words in the English language. Ancient in both origin and usage, it’s the perfect flavor for giant goats.

Maybe not. Watchful Giant sucks. The art is good, but there’s no way a Senate Courier would survive being stepped on.

Brendan McNamara (Twitter: @brendanistan) is Editor in Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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