There’s been a great deal of well-deserved hype behind the powerhouse cards of Ravnica Allegiance in recent weeks, with all-star performances from cards like Hydroid Krasis and Angel of Grace in the most recent competitive tournaments. The supporting cast for this theater of horrors, however, should not be so easily forgotten, as these cards from previous sets still make up the overwhelming majority of the best Magic: The Gathering cards in standard. In this article we break down the important players from each other set legal in standard, identifying an opportunity to pick up exceptional cards for undervalued prices before they light up the stage once more.
Guilds of Ravnica is singlehandedly responsible for providing some of the best cards played in the dominating Izzet Drakes deck of the previous meta. As discussed in our previous article, Izzet Drakes was, and still is, one of the best Magic: The Gathering standard decks, and it’s important to keep these cards in mind for speculating and deckbuilding. First, and foremost, this set includes Niv-Mizzet, a card that can easily win games in any deck playing blue and red, including Jeskai Control, and that will likely remain a staple card moving forward. Izzet Drakes also relies heavily on Crackling Drake and Archlight Phoenix, although Phoenix is falling out of favor in exchange for the more versatile Pteramander. Other notable mentions from this set are Thief of Sanity and Experimental Frenzy, both of which still make frequent sideboard, and occasional maindeck, appearances. Overall, Guilds continues to see play, and with many more rotations to go provides some of the best Magic: The Gathering cards to invest in.
Some of the most powerful curve-toppers of standard come from Core Set 2019. For green, Vivien Reid is a multi-purpose planeswalker that can draw into more threats, destroy flying creatures and enchantments, or end the game with a powerful ultimate ability. In white, Ajani helps bolster go-wide strategies while Resplendent Angel turns an early play into a mid-game finisher. Indeed, even three color dragons, such as Nicol Bolas and Chromium, see competitive play. The card that defines this set, however, is the infamous Nexus of Fate, the box-topper that shot up in price after a surprise appearance in the summer of 2018 and wreaked havoc on GP Orlando’s draw bracket. All of these cards are staples in standard, and are especially prominent in some of the best Magic: The Gathering Arena decks.
The big winner from Dominaria is by far the Guild of Azorious, as the best cards from this set are heavily geared towards blue and white. Shalai and Lyra, the terrifying mono-white angels, act as a hard counter to red aggro and burn, especially together, while History of Benalia keeps the opponent on the defensive long enough to resolve them. This set also supplies standard with two of the premier planeswalkers in the format; Karn, who is especially cost effective and adaptable, and Teferi, arguably the best Magic: The Gathering card in standard. Dominaria was not generally an extremely valuable set, but these individual cards are worth their weight in gold.
Both Ixalan and Rivals provided standard with excellent utility cards. Removal such as Settle the Wreckage and Vraska’s Contempt have proven themselves invaluable in multiple metas, while Ravenous Chupacabra and Jadelight Ranger are the backbone of Golgari and Sultai decks alike. On the aggro side of the set, the evasion and durability of cards like Carnage Tyrant and Rekindling Phoenix enable aggressive strategies to thwart the efforts of control players to remove threats from the board, and have both continue to have a huge impact on how standard is currently played. Numerous other cards from these sets, including commons and uncommons, fill out the lists of top tier decks, and if you want to play the best decks in Magic: The Gathering standard, chances are you’ll need a large number of cards from Ixalan and Rivals.
As players incorporate Ravnica Allegiance into their builds, one thing remains certain; these cards from the previous sets in standard continue to be extraordinarily useful and especially valuable. They refuse to be but a poor player that struts and frets their hour upon the stage, only to be heard no more, and instead persist in relevance. Picking up these cards while others are enamored with new cards can not only help bolster your collection, but potentially lead to healthy profits. What cards do you think are undervalued at the moment? Let us know in the comments below!