The 600 - A Review of Guilds of Ravnica Predictions

Firemind's Foresight | Art by Dan Scott)

Future Sight (Might Need Glasses)

This time one year ago, I made some predictions. Today, we’re going to check my work.

Welcome to another edition of The 600, the article series where we guess how popular new commanders will be on EDHREC. One year ago, I guessed the popularity of commanders from Guilds of Ravnica. Now it’s time to see how wrong (and in some cases, right) I was.

A reminder: the line is 600 decks, meaning an "Over" grade means I predicted the commander would have more than 600 decks by this time this year, and "Under" means I predicted the commander would have less than 600. Also, please note that all these numbers were pulled on October 5, 2019, which is the one-year anniversary of Guilds of Ravnica’s release. You can find last year’s article here, though there's no need to read through the whole thing, since we’ll be citing the salient points throughout.

Okay, enough stalling. Let’s see how this went down.

The Easy Overs

We’ve got one, folks. Niv-Mizzet, Parun stole the show for this set. As of October 5th, 2019 he led 1,416 EDHREC decks, placing him 36th on the all-time list. No wonder he’s smirking.

Here’s my analysis from last year's article:

"Imagine untapping with this dude. Every instant and sorcery cantrips for you, plus they fire a point of damage at any target. Your Arcanis the Omnipotent now casts a free Lightning Bolt. Your sweet new Jump-start spells now put you ahead on cards. Oh, and you still have a 5/5 flying Dragon Wizard!"

Good job, former self. You hit a leadoff single on a pitch straight down the middle. Let's just hope there are no curveballs in our future.

The Easy Unders

I find both of these cards interesting. However, they suffer from a terminal case of being Boros, and the survival rate is pretty low for that one. These two poor souls garnered just 99 and 114 decks, respectively. Here’s my analysis on Aurelia:

"...People seem to be pretty down on Aurelia. I’m seeing a lot of comments like 'yet another Boros beatstick.' Personally, I'd describe her as an efficiently costed, versatile Boros beatstick with an immediate impact on the board. Sadly, nobody else shares my enthusiasm.

Sorry, Aurelia. I still think you’re cool."

Whoa, emo much? Anyway, my glumness didn’t change her fate (or my pick). Whatever. I'd rather be right than happy, anyway.

Next, my thoughts on Tajic. As I've learned from my writers' group, always start with praise. That's what I did with Tajic, noting his efficient cost, the impressiveness of his mentorship program, and his affinity for Blasphemous Acts. Then came the scathing criticism.

"All this said, Tajic, Legion’s Edge is still an undersized Boros commander with several niche abilities. I do like the flames shooting out of his sword, but I don’t think 600 players will."

The only thing I forgot to insult him for was his carefully-posed picture, which is clearly a sponsored Instagram post promoting his fluffy armor. Caption: Love this luxurious fur coat for chilly days on the mean streets of Ravnica. ? Buy yours with the link in my bio!

Quit shilling, Tajic. It’s Under for you!

The Close Overs

Found the curveball. Niv-Mizzet was the only commander to go Over in the entire set. That's pretty baffling to me considering this is a Ravnica set with some fairly cool commanders. If anyone has theories on why this is, please share in the comments below. Soft words of condolence for my lousier picks are also welcome.

The Close Unders

Okay, at least I got this one right.

Emmara's 504 decks came close to our mark, but ultimately missed it. Here's how my thoughts on her began:

"Forgive me if I sound like Gordon Ramsay, but it's hard to get any worse than the original Emmara. Is Emmara, Soul of the Accord any more palatable?"

I’ll say this: I was ahead of my time on the Food jokes. (I heard about 10 of them at my Throne of Eldraine prerelease.) Anyway, let's continue.

"Emmara’s most obvious synergy starts with the Convoke mechanic. Tap her, reduce a casting cost by one, get a token that reduces future costs on other cards. She’s also an excellent pilot for most Vehicles. Some astute combo players have already pointed out the Emmara + Intruder Alarm combo. At that point she's no longer your commander, but I’m sure there’s similar jank potential in green and/or white."

Indeed, there is. Checking out her commander page, Emmara loves cards like Paradise Mantle, Glare of Subdual, and Springleaf Drum. All interesting stuff, but I noted her issue thusly:

"Yes, these synergies are interesting. However, I doubt they’ll be enough to get players excited. I mean, do you know any EDH players who’d be delighted by this sentence: "I tap my 2/2 and create a 1/1"? Neither do I."

Oh yeah. Gordon Ramsay would approve of that burn. Get the [bleep] out of my kitchen!

The Egregious Unders

Usually this section comes last. However, I flipped it around for this article because, as it turns out, there were none. I didn’t go Under on any commanders that ended up Over.

Now you might think that means I did well with my predictions for this set. But au contraire, mon frere! Here's where it gets ugly.

The Bold (And Ultimately False) Overs

In keeping with the annoying food jokes, here's a bit of my analysis for Izoni, Thousand-Eyed:

"Izoni sounds more like a brand of microwave pizza than a guild leader."

That probably should've tipped me off to her mediocrity. Instead, I mistook the proverbial DiGiorno for delivery.

"Imagine having just three creatures in your graveyard for Izoni’s Undergrowth ability. That’s 5/6 worth of stats over four bodies, which feels like a low-end outcome in the colors of Dredge and self-mill. Her second ability offers all-important card draw and even potentially fuels her first ability the next time you cast her. Also, Golgari is the most popular two-color pair EDHREC. There are even some potential Elf synergies."

That still feels like sound logic. In fact, Dredge, self-mill, and Elf Tribal all appear as themes on Izoni’s commander page. What’s more, the scenario I outlined certainly does seem like a low-end one. I had games of Guilds Limited where I made seven tokens, easily.

But, you see, this is just me trying to make myself feel better. Izoni ended her year with just 355 decks. At least she was a little closer than our next card.

Where did we go wrong, Etrata? How did you only end up with 173 decks? We started out alright…

"When Etrata deals damage and her trigger goes on the stack, you can Ninjutsu a Ninja to switch with her and return her to hand before she’s shuffled away. This is because Etrata is still considered an “attacking creature” after she’s dealt combat damage until the very end of the combat step. At least, I think so. Judge!"

The Judge confirmed it.

Interestingly, we got additional Ninjas with the release of Modern Horizons. You’d think that might improve her numbers. I also noted some versatile deckbuilding options, such as tutors, Polymorph tokens, and even Vampires.

But nobody listened to me, not even after I wrote the following:

"Etrata’s getting 600 decks, easily. Book it."

Skip Bayless would be proud, both of my take and the delivery. Being off the mark by about 400 decks? Maybe not as much.

At least our other Dimir commander came a little closer to the mark.

Lazav came less than 200 decks short of the mark, earning 423 over its year of existence. Now for some of the more embarrassing statements I made about this card.

"Lazav can do nasty stuff."

"Lazav is destined for 600 decks, and beyond."

"All in all, Lazav fits the bill for a versatile commander with major upside, similar to Meren of Clan Nel-Toth and Animar, Soul of Elements. Heck, it might go down as this set’s most popular commander."

My mistake here is assuming a commander will earn 600 decks based on quality alone. I still believe Lazav is a solid commander. It just didn't catch on the way I thought it would.

Let’s end on a positive note… with my most atrocious pick of the set!

The art on this card was weirdly prescient. Just look at the dryad on the right.

She's like, "OMG, why are you making this pick?"

Sorry, sister. I did, and I was super wrong. Trostani Discordant ended up leading just 93 decks. For context, there have been more Korvold, Fae-Cursed King decks made in the past week than have ever been made of Trostani. Is it too soon to retire from these articles?

But wait, there's more shame! Some of my more heinous quotes:

"...I like the versatility here. Though we’re not revolutionizing Selesnya, it's just open-ended enough that I think players will enjoy experimenting."

"Even that last line of text is interesting. So far as I know, we’ve never had a commander with the Homeward Path effect on it."

"Despite the creepy picture, it should follow in the footsteps of its previous version."

Notes to self: do not mistake blandness for versatility. Do not overvalue situational effects. And do not get fooled again by a card's previous version. And pay attention to the body language in the artwork.

Summing It Up

Listen, Guilds of Ravnica was only my second The 600 article. All the greats experience a sophomore slump. Michael Jordan, Franco Harris, Ozzie Smith, me…it happens. I still have a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Correct Picks (4):

Incorrect Picks (4):

My Guilds of Ravnica Correct Prediction Percentage: 50%

My Overall Correct Prediction Percentage: 60%

Clearly I need to become more pessimistic in my card evaluations. Fortunately for my job security, things are looking up for my Ravnica Allegiance picks (so long as Nikya holds at 503). Do me a favor and don’t build that deck, eh? See you next time!

Kyle A. Massa is a writer and avid Magic player living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His current favorite card is Nahiri, Forged in Fury. Kyle can be found on Twitter @mindofkyleam.