Form your own bonds in Ravnica Allegiance – take on a Two-Headed Giant prerelease with a teammate for double the fun and glory. Combine your sealed pool with a friend’s and build the best two decks. With more cards to use, Two-Headed Giant decks will generally be stronger than their single-pool counterparts, so craft yours accordingly. Here are a few tips to help guide you toward this format’s HIDDEN GEMS.
- Evasion: With more creatures in play, board stalls can happen very quickly. Evasive creatures are critical! Keep an eye out for creatures in the set that can’t be blocked like Azorius Knight-Arbiter or Bloodmist Infiltrator. On the other hand, creatures with menace like Rakdos Trumpeter tend to be much worse with twice as many potential blockers.
- Countermagic: Being able to shut down an enemy spell is twice as likely to happen with two spell-casting opponents. With stronger decks there are more must-answer bombs overall and the risk of devoting a turn to counter an enemy spell (say, with Absorb, Quench or Thought Collapse) is less problematic when your teammate helps advance the board. Even situational counterspells like Essence Capture find their targets more often.
- Situational Cards: Cards that only interact with specific card or creature types are normally relegated to the sideboard but with two opponents they’re more likely to have a target. Since matches are only one game you won’t have a chance to grab a silver bullet after seeing what you’re facing. Look for versatile cards with multiple options like Collision // Colossus or Expose to Daylight. Cards with restrictions like Bring to Trial and Syndicate Guildmage are more likely to connect also.
- Synergy: The larger shared pool means decks can be more synergy-based than when you’re on your own. You’re also likely to have more cards like Persistent Petitioners or Goblin Gathering that benefit from multiple copies. You’re also more likely to have more diverse playables for build-arounds like Guardian Project.
- Quick Tips
- Play or draw: In 2HG sealed it’s often correct to choose to draw if your decks aren’t incredibly aggressive. Drawing two extra cards on your first turn can be a significant advantage if you’re planning for a longer game.
- Mulligan: Each player has one ‘free’ mulligan. Use it aggressively! If you have a sub-par hand, pitch it back and try again. It’s not worth risking a mediocre opening seven.
Some notes specific to RAVNICA ALLEGIANCE
- “You” means You!: Watch out for the sneaky text “you” or “your” – an unusually high number of cards in Ravnica Allegiance only impact your own board. It may seem small, but we don’t want you to prepare for a sweet play to save your teammate’s creature with Resolute Watchdog or Justiciar’s Portal and realize too late that you can’t.
- Mill – Wall of Lost Thoughts, Screaming Shield, Thought Collapse and Persistent Petitioners suggest a serious mill strategy (putting cards from a library into the graveyard). Make sure you have a way to thwart their plans (perhaps with Clear the Mind) or be prepared to win before the card loss matters.
- Flying really matters – There are quite a few flying creatures in this set. Mammoth Spider and Rubble Slinger are the only two creatures with reach and Gift of Strength is the only way to grant it. With the afterlife mechanic creating tokens with flying, having a way to manage the skies is vital. Sagittars’ Volley is particularly useful for this since it can answer a single large flying threat in addition to numerous small ones.
- Spectacle – Since spectacle costs only care if an opponent has lost life this turn, work together! You can cause that life loss to help your teammate cast more effective spells. Cards like Gateway Sneak and Azorius Knight-Arbiter can’t normally get played in a Rakdos deck, but you or your teammate can play these evasive cards to help turn on spectacle.
BETTER WITH FRIENDS
As we mentioned earlier, 2HG matches are best of one. You want as many of your cards as possible to be efficient and flexible. That doesn’t only mean packing cards that answer different threats; it can also mean engaging with your teammate.
- Utility: Some cards gain additional benefits from being versatile. When evaluating cards, note which ones can interact with your teammate.
- Biogenic Upgrade doesn’t care where the counters go – it’ll double them no matter what. Consider sharing with your teammate.
- Clear the Mind can be used to reset any player’s graveyard, saving you or a teammate from milling out. Choice is valuable!
- Emergency Powers – As an instant speed ‘wheel’ effect, this has an incredibly high ceiling. Even if you cast it during your team’s main phase, your teammate can capitalize on the new hand before your opponents can. Use this at your own risk though, as paying to refill your opponent’s hands has high potential to backfire.
- High Alert allows you to manipulate your teammate’s creatures as well.
- Swirling Torrent – The option to temporarily remove two opposing creatures is powerful. The flexibility to additionally reset a teammate’s enters-the-battlefield trigger or rescue your creature from a Lawmage’s Binding really make this an excellent option in spite of its high cost.
- Verity Circle – More players means more chances to trigger.
- Combat Tricks: Instant-speed spells that don’t specify creatures “you control” can be great at fouling up combat math for the opponent. Watch for (and watch out for) common and uncommon tricks like Arrester’s Zeal, Sentinel’s Mark, Bladebrand, Storm Strike, Gift of Strength and Applied Biomancy.
BETTER WITH ENEMIES
The word “each” gains a great deal of power in multiplayer formats. Here’s the list of cards in Ravnica Allegiance that impact each opponent, often doubling their effectiveness:
- Awaken the Erstwhile – This is a dangerous gambit, but one that you can potentially leverage as a team. In the format of board stalls, sometimes the best plan is to empty everyone’s hand and leaving evasive threats to do the talking.
- Basilica Bell-Haunt – Incidental discard is quite valuable as we saw in Guilds of Ravnica. This effect on a creature can be quite useful at the right moment.
- Dagger Caster – This card is a great way to clear out afterlife tokens and surprise your opponent with bonus damage post-combat.
- Grasping Thrull – A six-life swing on entering the battlefield plus decent evasive stats make this an easy include in any Orzhov deck.
- Ill-Gotten Inheritance – This is the ultimate control win-con for the format! It’s a three-life swing each turn and it you can pay to deal the final points or gain some extra life when it’s exhausted its other usefulness.
- Priest of Forgotten Gods – “Any number of target players” is almost always going to be both opposing heads. This generates significant value for what can be a heavy cost, but if you can reliably activate this it will pay off dividends for your team.
- Rafter Demon – While not an impressive body, tacking on discard to a creature has proven valuable in recent sets.
- Spawn of Mayhem – An oddball mythic, this deals 1 damage to each player which includes you and your teammate! 2 damage to each team each turn is significant but you’ll probably be on the up and up with a 4/4 flier on your side.
- Spear Spewer – 2 damage per team per turn starting on turn two? Sign me up! This card can generate considerable pressure by itself but it really shines if you’re the aggressor. This doesn’t fit in every build but the inevitability is strong when you’re ahead – remember that it damages you too!
- Vindictive Vampire – Similarly to Ill-Gotten Inheritance, this creature offers inevitability. Do note that it only triggers off the death of your creatures and not your teammate’s.
Some cards benefit from the Two-Headed Giant format either through shared life totals, more players or simply more flexibility. Here are some notable cards to be aware of:
- Angel of Grace – As a team, this keeps your collective life total from going below one for one turn due to damage.* You can still lose the game through other types of life loss. Also, thanks to shared life totals, you can set your team’s life total to 10 with its activated ability but only you gain the life.
- Azorius Skyguard – Reducing the power of the whole enemy team is quite strong. Do watch out for instant speed removal mid-combat!
- Captive Audience – This is incredibly strong for this format for multiple reasons. Reducing one player’s life to 4 changes the whole team’s total. Devastating! Additionally, ‘each opponent’ creating five Zombie tokens means your team comes away with ten threats ready to swing in during the next turn. It’s expensive, but it packs a serious punch!
- Ethereal Absolution – Having multiple graveyards means there are more creatures to be conscripted as Spirits. The P/T boost and reduction can also wreck some boardstates, clearing out opposing Spirit tokens and other small creatures. Keep in mind that the anthem doesn’t impact your teammate.
- Eyes Everywhere – Double the players means double the potential tasty targets for exchange. If you can trade with a player without access to Blue mana, all the better!
- Macabre Mockery – Two graveyards to choose from means a higher likelihood of a good reanimation target.
- Revival // Revenge – Thanks to shared life totals, you get to double your whole team’s life total with Revenge and reduce the opposing team’s life total by half. This can be quite the swing!
- Smothering Tithe – In the vein of ‘Rhystic’ cards from the past, this gives your opponent the choice of paying mana or letting you get a benefit. In this format, you’re potentially getting two treasures per turn during your opponents draw step! At worst, you force them to tie up their mana to keep you off of accumulating mana of your own.
As a quick note, board-wipes scale very well in multiplayer formats. Cry of the Carnarium, Gates Ablaze and Kaya’s Wrath all become more valuable when they can destroy more creatures. Being able to pair these effects with a teammate that can rebuild on the same turn is exceptionally useful.
These cards may be fine on their own but they either don’t work as well or limit your choices for how to play them thanks to the format.
- Forbidding Spirit – This card’s ability won’t stop your opponents from attacking your team since they can just choose the other player as the defending player when they attack.** Unless you need a 3/3 for three mana this card will be underwhelming.
- Rubblebelt Recluse – This creature has great stats but the lack of choice can be debilitating. This will often charge heedlessly into threats thanks to its ‘must attack’ clause. This can be effective if you can keep its path clear, but keep in mind that there are seven creatures with deathtouch in this set and a combat trick that grants it.
These are the cards I feel get the biggest boost from being in a multiplayer environment, not necessarily my top picks overall. You should still prioritize solid removal and efficient creatures but I personally value these cards and others like them highly.
Top 5 Common/Uncommon picks
- Ill-Gotten Inheritance
- Vindictive Vampire
- Swirling Torrent
- Spear Spewer
- Rumbling Ruin – This has the potential to steal games out of nowhere. A board clogged with small creatures doesn’t matter if the small creatures can’t block!
Top 5 Rare/Mythic Rare picks
We’ve reached the end of another missive! Was this helpful? Did I miss any cards you thought should be mentioned? Did you take down your own 2HG prerelease? Let me know in the comments and may good fortune follow you until we meet next spoiler season!
Kade Goforth is a L2 Judge from Oklahoma
* CR 810.9 – Damage, loss of life, and gaining life happen to each player individually. The result is applied to the team’s shared life total.
** CR 802.3 – As the attacking player declares each attacking creature, they choose a defending player or a planeswalker controlled by a defending player for it to attack.