Explosive Impacts!

Briger joins us this week for his new series, Explosive Impacts and shares the top three cards from each set in the Ravnica Block

Hello everyone and welcome to the first edition Explosive Impacts. In this series I will be taking a look at the most impactful cards from each set,  while trying not to think about power creep! Quick side note, this series will be skipping color-fixing lands, because of course those would be all of the top slots. So, just in case you need them ranked they’re all at the top of their respective sets. Now with that out of the way let’s jump into the lists!

Return to Ravnica  

Of all the sets I have done in this extremely long series, this set was the hardest to narrow down what cards were the most impactful. There are so many options; so many of pioneer’s many archetypes feature cards from the format’s chronologically first set. Azorious Control has its roots here, as well as Auras and many other decks that have seen play at the top tables. However, these three (Non-Shocklands) stand above the rest 

Our third most impactful card is a control powerhouse Supreme Verdict! This is quite possibly the most potent four-mana board wipe ever, it’s basically perfect. It comes down on turn four which is usually early enough to stop several decks before they can get going; it is also uncounterable so it gets around the usual counterplay of just counter spelling an opponent’s sweeper. Verdict’s main claim to fame in Pioneer is being of the main reasons that Azorious Control is a playable deck in the pioneer format. 

The second is Dreadbore, this is a mainstay in the Rakdos midrange decks that are very popular at the time of writing. Rakdos players make good use of this card as a catch-all against a bevy of decks. It removes all the annoying chump blockers or all of those dastardly planeswalkers your opponent can be playing at the low low cost of just two mana, what a steal. 

My number one pick for the most impactful card in Return to Ravnica is Rest in Peace. This card may not be the sexiest of cards but it is powerful. Is your opponent on a graveyard-based strategy like a Phoenix or Greasefang? Boom! Turn two Rest in Peace has them neutered. The card is an extremely good way to police the graveyards, and is possibly the strongest grave hate card around, it just does so much. 


Now we come to a set that has a lot of personal significance to me, it’s the set that I first picked up and started playing with. I’ll try my best to keep personal bias out of it and not list alms beast as the best card.

    First up is Boros Charm as this set’s number three. This card is one of the most flexible, and subsequently powerful, burn spells ever printed; it can deal four, protect all your stuff, or just give a prowess creature double strike so they can get through blockers. Did I mention that the four damage mode can even hit planeswalkers? Boros Charm does it all!

    Next, Thespian's Stage. This is the card that really allows the Lotus Field/Hidden Strings decks to go off. If you can manage to get a lotus field and an active thespian stage out, you’re off to the races. Who would have thought being able to have two Lotus Fields without sacrificing four lands is insane?

    Picking the top card in Gatecrash proved to be a tough decision, but I think Balustrade Spy/Undercity Informer combine to be the most impactful cards from this set. This unlikely we’re the key pieces to an extremely powerful combo deck called Oops All Spells, which utilized the modal dual face cards from Zendikar to mill their controller’s entire deck and do dredge things. You know, pretty fair stuff like cast multiple Creeping Chill and filling the board with Prized Amalgam, Narcomeba, and Silversmote Ghoul. Oops All Spells proved highly consistent and nearly unbeatable pre-sideboard, and would force decks to start packing heavy amounts of graveyard hate. For this reason, Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer were banned as a part of what I like to refer to as The Valentine’s Day Massacre, where WotC banned a whopping FIVE cards from Pioneer. 

Dragon’s Maze. 

While this set is widely seen as one of Magic’s worst, it has had a surprisingly good showing in what it has to offer pioneer players. From the tournament spikes to the humble brewer this set has something for everybody.

Skylasher starts things off in the number three spot. This card is one of the best hate bears we have in pioneer, and it’s the perfect answer to all of the Mono-Blue Spirits that may plague any green based decks. It’s cheap, has flash, and can block any blue creature imaginable. Eat your heart out dream trawler. 

Firmly in the second place seat is Possibility Storm. A card most players wrote off as commander chaff, it became to lynch pin of a very potent combo deck that utilizes this card and adventure spells to combo off in crazy yet creative way. It’s very rare for players to see this deck on MTGO as it has been plagued by a slew of bugs rendering it near unplayable, but it has undergone a minor resurgence following the return to paper play.

Speaking of resurgence, Dragon’s Maze’s top elk is none other than Voice of Resurgence. This card is a masterclass on efficiency. It’s a bear that if removed leaves behind a token that can grow to insane power and toughness. And if that’s not enough for you, you also get the same token when an opponent casts a spell on your turn! The card is extremely good at forcing your opponent to play at sorcery speed or pointing their removal at Voice, otherwise they’ll be overrun by an elemental swarm!

Final thoughts 

To wrap things up I wanted to give my pick for the next big card from these sets, Loxodon Smiter. With the rise in Liliana of the Veil, I think Smiter has a good chance of seeing pioneer play. And that takes us to the end of the article, thank you all for checking it out! Hope all of you lovely readers have a great day!

  • Briger Smith


    Briger has been losing games of Magic since Gatecrash. On a good day, he can be found huddled up in his cave playing Elden Ring, and the rest of the time he can be found listening to and making Pioneer podcasts!

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