Ravnica Allegiance Standard Sample Decks

Nathan McCarthy
February 14, 2019

Can you smell the pack-fresh cards already, or is that just me? RNA has me so excited that I’m brewing out of control! People who know me personally know that I love to put together decks from scratch and see what’s good and why so I figured I’d give you readers the pleasure of a decklist dump!

This article will mostly be a list of decklists that I have theorized so far for RNA Standard. Be mindful that I have put little testing into these specific lists, but also know that I did plenty of math when putting them together to make sure they’re statistically sound, at least. I’m going to give you a jumping-off point for each of the guilds that I believe is a potent choice.

Onto the lists!

Orzhov Knights

This color combination is the one I had the most trouble with. Not because it was hard to brew, but because there were too many options! An aggressive deck, a controlling deck, even a combo deck came to mind, but in the end I decided to give you my favorite midrange deck from a few Standard seasons ago that I feel could make a significant resurgence.


On one of the first weekends of DOM Standard, I managed to top 16 an SCG Classic with this archetype and I’m pretty stoked to get my hands on Knight of Grace and Knight of Malice once more. Without further ado, the decklist:

This tries to go slightly under opponents with its low-cost creatures while still having the ability to grind with premium removal and powerful top-end like Seraph of the Scales and Mortify. The true strength of this archetype is in its sideboard: Tocatli Honor Guard and Duress are the two best cards an aggressive deck can have in its sideboard. Sweepers/Fogs are the way many decks will attempt to protect themselves from your onslaught, emphasizing the power of grinding with Arguel’s Blood Fast backed up by Duress.

Additionally, after extensive testing on MTGArena, it appears as though Wildgrowth Walker is still the most effective and most popular early game that Green decks have access to. Being able to shut off all their Explore triggers turns the match-up from a midrange grind-fest (which you can still win) into an absolute slaughter where your creatures vastly out-class theirs.


I have played a ton of this deck and am very happy with this exact 75. After moving a lot of the numbers around, this list has what I feel to be the perfect mix of interaction and pressure, being able to attack with 3/2 First Strikers for 2 to steal game 1’s and then sideboard some out to start grinding post-board. I would recommend this strategy if you like transformational sideboards and playing both control and aggro, depending on the match-up.


Azorius Control

This is one of the more obvious decks to come out of the new set, but I still would recommend it. A lot of what was stopping Teferi-based control from being super powerful last format was the lack of Hallowed Fountain, and with the addition of that land and a premium removal spell that’s extremely easy to cast (Warrant // Warden), I am optimistic for a straight UW strategy.


This is also the archetype I have the most experience playing and I recently top 4’d a GP PTQ with Jeskai control in GRN Standard. Here is what I’d recommend after initial testing:

This is the quintessential ‘do nothing’ control deck. I know this style of control is often maligned, but there are plenty of people who really enjoy playing it too. To be clear, the only way to win the game with this deck is by decking your opponent with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or by attacking with Sphinx tokens off Warrant // Warden. Warrant // Warden has been particularly impressive against Mono Red. With the popularity of Risk Factor, Light Up the Stage, and Experimental Frenzy, their creatures are usually their weakest top-decks, and blanking their draw step by putting Fanatical Fire-Brand on top of their deck is extremely potent. That deck also has a hard time answering a Serra Angel, and I’ve won many games by just casting Warden on turn 5 as a brick wall that also clocks them.


I expect some might be confused by some of the sideboard choices, so I’d like to clarify. Lyra + Shalai is a very potent anti-burn combo, where you avoid being burnt out with Shalai and Lyra swings you out of reach by the time they figure out how to answer Shalai. Dovin, Grand Arbiter is a bit experimental, and that slot should be a ‘go-under’ threat for control mirrors. This slot could easily be History of Benalia, Adanto Vanguard, Knight of Grace, or Dawn of Hope. Pick your favorite. Finally, Transmogrifying Wand is recent tech to beat the Niv-Mizzet decks. This card can be invested early so you’ll have much more mana up to make sure they cannot Dive Down to protect their uncounterable dragon.


A major strength of this deck over other controlling archetypes is that none of your removal is conditional on anything but them attacking. Because your late game of Teferi + more Teferi’s is the best this format has to offer, you can count on basically any deck being forced to attack you in order to win. Having access to Ixalan’s Binding also means that many threats that are truly unpleasant for other decks (Niv-Mizzet, Parun, and Seraph of the Scales come to mind) can be swiftly dealt with. And of course, the mana is terrific and having access to Memorial to Genius and Field of Ruin is also great.

Rakdos Burn

The potency of this strategy has already been demonstrated. Even without Blood Crypt, a Rakdos burn deck was making the rounds on magic online and 5-0’ing regularly by taking advantage of the powerful draw spells available to burn decks. Leaning on Sword-Point Diplomacy and Risk Factor to ensure your hand is full allowed them to ‘punish’ midrange decks by ignoring the battlefield and just going face.


I have seen several lists focusing on an aggressive creature strategy to enable the burn, but I’m going to present a very spell-heavy version of the deck that is significantly more polarized. Being spell-heavy allows you to circumvent a lot of the removal and blocking that opponents try to do against a deck like this and just go all face all time. Here is my theory for a Rakdos Burn deck:

I have a strong affinity for decks that are entirely 4-ofs. Don’t let history fool you, Goblin Chainwhirler is strictly on blocking duty in this brew. There is so much powerful card-draw for this strategy that you don’t need the creature based damage of traditional burn decks. Also, similarly to many other decks like this from magic’s history, more controlling options out of the sideboard are particularly potent, along with additional lands. This deck will serve you particularly well if you want your opponent to misevaluate what is actually going on, as it is unlikely they’ll predict you eschewing small creatures entirely.


Rakdos Aristocrats

This next deck is courtesy of my editor, Connor Bryant. He has cited significant success on the BO1 Arena ladder with the following list:

I really love what this 60 has going on. Judith, the Scourge Diva and Light Up the Stage are 2 of the breakout cards from RNA on power level. In a deck that’s going wide like this, turning your 1-power creatures into 2-power with a pseudo third power with the Judith ping is a huge deal for getting in important points. Being able to chump attack aggressively and pressure their life total with direct damage through Priest of Forgotten Gods means that even against more defensive decks looking to block, you are good at closing past their defenses.


A few interactions that are particularly impressive from this deck are that if you cast a second Judith with one in play, she just turns into a Forked Bolt, which is pretty great. Also, with Judith in play, Footlight Fiend (a card that is unimpressive on its face) can trade with a 4-toughness creature in combat! The most unique thing this deck has going for it is the Goblin tribal + Experimental Frenzy package. With Skirk Prospector in play, your Experimental Frenzies go into absolute overdrive, with Wily Goblin and Goblin Instigator both refunding their mana cost after you sacrifice them to Prospector, so you can turbo through your deck to find exactly what you need to close the game out, which is always more Judiths.


Gruul Monsters

I am sure no one is surprised by this inclusion. Gruul really does one thing: SMASH! I considered for a bit whether I should try to get more creative with this guild, but then I punched myself in the face hard enough to break a tooth and now I’m writing about monsters.


The stand-out card from RNA for Gruul is Rhythm of the Wild, and leveraging this powerful enchantment to punish decks looking to take it slow is exactly where I want to be. Smash, smash, smash!:

Play large green man, play larger green man, play larger red man, play largest green man! Let’s not kid ourselves, you’re not reading this section, your creatures are already sideways. Next guild!


Simic Merfolk

This is the only true aggro deck on the list. While Knights, Monsters, and Burn all have aggressive elements, Merfolk is just looking to curve out and attack for lethal, without a gimmick or transformative sideboard or any giant monsters to supplement its ‘go-under’ strategy. I have already lost to this tribe far often then I’d like to admit with them playing dubious cards like Mist-Cloaked Herald and not having access to Breeding Pool.


There are a lot of extremely potent additions to this strategy, but just like all the other decks we’ve looked at, the archetype could have existed before if only it had the appropriate shock land. However, Incubation // Incongruity and Benthic Biomancer are extraordinary additions to the deck that fill significant holes the archetype previously had.

When playing this strategy, tempo is the name of the game. Get bodies into play and protect them by growing larger and countering key spells and eventually tap down your opponent’s team and swing for the kill. The fact the Incubation // Incongruity is a removal spell that also is the best creature in your top 5 is truly incredible. I am pretty excited about a lot of the tribes in the new set, but Merfolk looks the most consistent, not in the least because it’s the best at leveraging Unclaimed Territory.


Wrapping Up

That’s all for today. As an ending note, I want to mention that this is the second draft of this article. The first draft was very similar, but in the week since I completed it, I have learned a lot more about the format and wanted to update the lists before publishing them. With Standard evolving this quickly and being so accessible and popular on Arena, I want to hear about the updates you’d make to these lists week-to-week! If you learn more about what’s powerful or want something specific from my content, tweet me @SuddenOats.


Until next time.