by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
In the final installment of Mages of the Guild, we take a look at the Simic guild. The blue/green guild is one of the more interesting guilds mechanically – although from a Constructed standpoint, only recently as Simic been able to stand alone as a semi-competitive deck thanks to the Evolve mechanic. In the past, blue/green was a combination that required a third color, usually white or black, to be widely successful.
To be fair, Simic Guildmage is probably one of the more under-powered of all the Guildmages. His two abilities are quite interesting, but a bit underwhelming. The first costs 1G (1 colorless, Green) and it allows you to move a +1/+1 counter from a target creature onto another target creature with the same controller. This can be an interesting, if not a bit awkward combat trick.
The second ability is actually rather fascinating: for 1U (1 colorless, Blue) you attach target Aura enchanting a permanent to another permanent with the same controller. That’s actually an interesting ability, considering that Bant Enchantments has been a deck for a very long time. Where this would find a spot in that deck is a bit beyond me, however. It’s borderline playable in a Commander deck, especially if it’s running a lot of enchantments and +1/+1 counter shenanigans, in which he could prove to be a useful piece.
Not only is Zameck Guildmage strictly better than his Dissension counterpart, but he’s even seen some fringe Standard play in Tier Two Simic Evolve decks. What’s so great about this Guildmage, in addition to being an Elf Wizard (like his predecessor, actually), he has the ability to both pump your creatures and draw you cards.
Each of his abilities costs GU (1 Green, 1 Blue). The first is an ability that you would play before playing any creatures, as each creature you control enters the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on it. This also works for creature tokens. The even better part about this first ability is that because it mentions “additional”, you can stack this ability multiple times if you have the mana to do so. It interacts with Flash creatures, as well, since it doesn’t have to only be played on your turn.
The second ability allows you to remove a +1/+1 counter from a creature you control to draw a card. Drawing a card for only 2 mana is pretty awesome, and the fact that you can play this at instant speed means that you can draw cards off of a creature that is in the process of being destroyed in combat or by removal.
This match isn’t even close. Simic Guildmage does two interesting things that are not exactly incredibly relevant from a competitive standpoint and are extremely situational. Zameck Guildmage, on the other hand, pumps up your forces and draws you cards. The winner is fairly obvious here.
Winner: Zameck Guildmage, and it’s not particularly close.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Selesyna is an interesting guild, with some very powerful and aggressive creatures. The green/white guild has seen quite a power boost since its return in the Return to Ravnica block. Today on Mages of the Guild, we’ll see how the newer guildmage stacks up to the older one. First, we take a look at our old friend, Commander token-lover favorite, Selesnya Guildmage.
While Selesnya Guildmage’s abilities do not at first appear to be incredible powerful, in the right deck, they are definitely relevant. There’s a reason he’s been reprinted in both the Commander 2011 and Commander 2013 products, as well as in Archenemy and Modern Masters 2015.
Any deck that runs a bunch of little creatures can benefit from having this Elf Wizard around. The first ability for 3G (3 colorless, 1 Green) puts a 1/1 green Saproling creature token into play. This is a mediocre, but usable mana-sink in Commander for sure. It’s sub-par for Constructed purposes, though. The second ability for 3W (3 colorless, 1 White) gives all creatures you control +1/+1 until end of turn. This is the stronger of the two abilities by far.
In a deck that can swarm the field with creatures, this is a fine addition. It’s not a fantastic card by today’s Constructed standards. But it still has a home in anything that runs a ton of tokens, especially ones based around producing lots of Saprolings.
Return to Ravnica brought Selesnya players great creatures like Loxodon Smiter and Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice. The new guildmage, though, Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, is a bit underwhelming.
The first ability for 4GW (4 colorless, 1 Green, 1 White) simply puts a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield. That’s very pricey token generation. The second ability for 2GW (2 colorless, Green, White) allows you to Populate, or put a token onto the battlefield that’s a copy of another creature token you control. That ability is slightly better. With Voice of Resurgence running around as of Dragon’s Maze, the Populate mechanic can be quite relevant.
It’s a tough call here between these two, that each have their place in Commander decks, but Selesnya Guildmage is a bit better simply for being able to pump creatures for a turn. Neither is highly Constructed playable, but Selesnya Guildmage wins by a bit here. Despite the Populate ability with the Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, the original Ravnica guildmage is just a tad more versatile.
Winner: Selesnya Guildmage, by a bit
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
"Mages of the Guild" takes a look at the Guildmages from the original Ravnica block and comparing them to the new Guildmages from the Return to Ravnica block.
So, for Rakdos, who will win?
Rix Maadi Guildmage is a very interesting card. While he hasn’t ever seen much Standard play at all, he has a couple of very interesting mana abilities. He can give you combat advantage, and deal a little extra damage, as well.
While you might say that “target blocking creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn” doesn’t sound like a big deal, it can indeed be so. While it’s not the most impressive mana sink ability around, if you have open mana, it can actually save you a burn card later. It also lets you save valuable removal cards like Dreadbore or Hero’s Downfall for something more threatening. It also means that you can get through just a little more often.
His second ability is actually fairly relevant, too. Say you have one card in hand and it’s not anything you’ll use on this turn. While you may not want to tap out to use Rix Maadi’s ability, making a player lose 1 or 2 extra life can indeed be relevant (it will be more in the future). He’s not the best of the guildmages, but you have to watch out for him.
So let’s compare the new Guildmage to his old counterpart, Rakdos Guildmage. Pretty freaky looking guy, isn’t he? While his abilities aren’t good enough for Constructed play today, they are interesting. His first ability is a nice little combat trick. For 3B (3 colorless, 1 Black) you discard a card and target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn. At the cost of a card in hand and four mana, though, it’s clear that Rix Maadi’s ability is actually a bit better. So the new Guildmage has the advantage here.
However, this older Guildmage has a very interesting second ability. For 3R (3 colorless, 1 Red), you can make a 2/1 red Goblin creature token with haste onto the battlefield, which you then have to exile at the beginning of the next end step.
In Commander, you can make a lot of little hasty Goblin guys to annoy your opponent, certainly. Infinite mana equals infinite tokens, as well. But what’s most interesting about this ability is that you can create chump-blockers on your opponent’s turn. You can also create potential problem hasty attackers on your own turn. Still, though, the ability is a bit more costly, and you have far more effective removal in the formats in which this Guildmage is legal.
Overall, Rix Maadi Guildmage is a bit more useful than his older counterpart. While he’s not flashy, the Return To Ravnica version is a bit more flexible in combat situations, and has a useful ping ability. From a Constructed standpoint, I have to go with the new kid on the block here. However, in Commander, the Rakdos Guildmage is actually a Goblin-spewing combo piece for infinite mana shenanigans.
But there is one more thing about Rix Maadi Guildmage that gives him the slightest edge. In Commander, while it's hardly a staple in any particular deck, players lose life on a regular basis. So his second ability to make a player lose an additional life for only 2 mana is fairly efficient.
Winner: Rix Maadi Guildmage, just because he's slightly better in Commander.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today, on Mages of the Guild, we take a look at the Guildmages from Orzhov, the black/white guild of Ravnica. First, here's the original Orzhov Guildmage.
Orzhov Guildmage hails from the set of Guildpact. He also saw a reprint in the original Commander pre-constructed product in 2011. He has two interesting abilities. The first for 2W has target player gain 1 life. The second ability has each player lose 1 life. There are cases where this ability could prove rather relevant, especially in Commander where you have a lot of mana floating around, and plenty of ways to abuse life gain and life loss effects. However, from a Constructed standpoint, Orzhov Guildmage doesn’t do a whole lot.
Vizkopa Guildmage, from Gatecrash, on the other hand, is a part of some particularly nasty infinite combos, one of which is with an Enchantment from Avacyn Restored called Exquisite Blood. Vizkopa Guildmage has two abilities, both which cost 1WB (1 colorless, 1 White, 1 Black). The first gives a target creature lifelink until end of turn, which seems nice enough. But the second ability says “Whenever you gain life this turn, each opponent loses that much life.”
That Enchantment, Exquisite Blood, costs 4B, and reads “Whenever an opponent loses life, you gain that much life.” Since Vizkopa Guildmage’s second ability and Exquisite Blood’s ability work in tandem, as soon as you deal 1 damage or gain 1 life, it creates an infinite loop which runs until every opponent is at zero life and you win the game.
There are some other infinite life combos that the Guildmage can also turn into a win condition. Boros Reckoner has a very nifty ability that many people might be aware of: whenever he is dealt damage, he deals that much damage to target creature or player. If you find a way to make the Reckoner indestructible, give him lifelink, and target him with a card that deals damage (or if he’s blocked by someone unaware you have the combo), it creates the ability to target himself an infinite number of times. As long as he’s indestructible, you can deal as much damage as you want off of a single target, since his ability will trigger endlessly, giving you infinite life.
What Vizkopa Guildmage in this case can do is one or two things. First of all, the Guildmage can give a creature lifelink until end of turn, which is an important part of the combo, although there are certainly other ways to do this. But when you do pull off the combo, if you activate the Guildmage’s second ability, that infinite life combo also becomes a win condition, draining your opponents down to zero. (Note that Guildmage’s ability says “each opponent” so this win condition works in multi-player, as well.)
It’s fairly easy to see who wins here. You might play Orzhov Guildmage in a Commander deck, even one with this combo in it, but Vizkopa Guildmage is the enabler. This is an easy win for the new kid on the block.
WINNER: Vizkopa Guildmage, for enabling infinite combos that lead to win conditions.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today on Mages of the Guild, we’re going to switch things up. That’s right, we’re looking at the old guard first! Let’s take a look at the senior Guildmage, Izzet Guildmage from Guildpact!
Izzet Guildmage is a very good creature with two very good abilities. For 2U (2 colorless, 1 Blue) you can copy target instant spell you control with converted mana cost 2 or less. You’re also able to choose new targets for that copy. Then, for 2R (2 colorless, 1 Red) you can do the same thing for a target sorcery spell you control. Copying spells is nice, but what’s even better is that with a little one-drop Blue Enchantment called Training Grounds, those abilities become only 1U and 1R, respectively.
Having these abilities able to be used at a significant discount is important. Cards like Desperate Ritual, Rite of Flame, and Manamorphose suddenly are playable for free! You can create infinite mana with the Ritual and Rite of Flame, since they remain on the stack to copy. With that mana, you just cast Banefire, burning them infinitely for the win.
In fact, Rite of Flame is so powerful in this combo that it’s banned in Modern! Izzet Guildmage Combo was a real deck at one time in the now-defunct Extended format. This is why Wizards was so quick to ban Rite of Flame in the Modern format early on. The combo is still playable in Modern with the other two cards, but the deck now only mostly sees fringe play in Legacy. Talk about a combo enabler!
So the new kid on the block, Nivix Guildmage, must be better then, right? For 1UR (1 colorless, Blue, Red), you can draw a card, then discard a card. Woo-hoo, card filtering! But the second ability, oh, wow, it’s just like Izzet Guildmage‘s ability, except that it’s 2UR! Actually, that one extra mana means a lot. Sure, there’s Goblin Electromancer around to cheapen your instants and sorceries a bit and there is Training Grounds. But the only combo you can really make in 60-card Constructed with Nivix Guildmage is infinite card draw with Manamorphose. He can help you get to the Izzet Guildmage combo, and little more.
In Commander, Nivix Guildmage is a tad more versatile, and that first ability is more relevant to filter dead cards out of the hand. Also, like Izzet Guildmage, he can also create infinite mana, but it requires a lot more initial mana investment. The infinite mana combo revolves around Turnabout from Urza's Saga. You use Nivix Guildmage to copy Turnabout, tap all of your lands for mana, and let the copy of Turnabout untap all your lands. Then, keep copying Turnabout without ever letting the original Turnabout resolve. It's similar to the classic High Tide & Palinchron combo, but it's much slower.
Still, Izzet Guildmage is still the far better card here. Nivix Guildmage is still Constructed-playable, but he's nowhere near the efficient combo enabler of his senior associate. He is simply a useful creature that combos well with Manamorphose (which creates two of any colored mana). Having the Blue/Red combination there hurts it with any of the Red mana producing spells besides that one. Sorry, Nivix Guildmage, but you don’t stand a chance in this match-up.
Winner: Izzet Guildmage, for single-handedly making Rite of Flame banned in Modern.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today on Mages of the Guild, we take a look at the aggressive red/green Guild of Gruul! Our contestants are Gruul Guildmage and Skarrg Guildmage. Continuing the new trend started with Izzet Guildmage of showing the old guard before the new kid on the block, we’ll begin with Gruul Guildmage from Guildpact!
Gruul Guildmage, for how aggressive his guild is, has two fairly highly costed abilities. His first, for 3R, allows you to sacrifice a land to deal 2 damage to target player. Considering that there are cards that deal 3 or 4 damage to a player for less mana without sacrificing any thing makes this ability appear pretty bad. Yes, that ability could help you finish off a player. That non-tap ability can potentially be used many times in a turn, so it's properly costed. But in a Constructed environment, there are just more effective ways to finish an opponent.
The second ability is an expensive pump effect, 3G to give a target creature +2/+2 until end of turn. The fact that both this and the first ability can be played at instant speed is certainly important. Activated abilities are far more difficult to counter than cast cards, so Gruul Guildmage is an okay card overall. In an aggressive deck, both abilities can work, especially if mana flood becomes a problem in a given game, so he’s still a decent card, if only good back in his day. He’s a bit slow now.
Now, Skarrg Guildmage from Gatecrash is definitely a lot more aggressive than his Guildpact counterpart. He has two fairly low cost abilities, and they’re both pretty powerful. Like Gruul Guildmage‘s abilities, they can be played at instant speed. His first ability for RG (1 Red, 1 Green) gives all creatures you control trample until end of turn. This can be declared before combat damage is assigned, too, which is extremely relevant. That’s a lot better than Gruul Guildmage’s comparable +2/+2 pump for 3G, since using this ability could deal far more damage.
Also, Skarrg Guildmage‘s second ability involves lands, like Gruul Guildmage’s first ability to sacrifice a land to deal 2 damage to target player. The good news here is that for 1RG (1 colorless, 1 Red, 1 Green) you make a target land you control become a 4/4 Elemental creature until end of turn that is still a land. You can do this as you enter combat. Potentially, this 4/4 land will deal a lot more damage to a player, especially if given trample with that other ability, than sacrificing that same land would do. Yes, it then becomes vulnerable to creature removal and being destroyed by blocking creatures. But it survives otherwise to stay a land at the end of the turn and going forward.
Gruul Guildmage may have been playable back in the days of original Ravnica block and the abilities are properly costed for what they do. But Skarrg Guildmage has two very underrated and powerful abilities for a far lesser cost that can potentially do far more damage. While he’s been in Standard, though, he’s been relegated to sideboards. It seems that there’s a lot of untapped potential in this creature. While he never became that viable in competitive play, he's clearly the superior card.
Winner: Skarrg Guildmage, by a considerable margin.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Next up on Mages of the Guild are the black/green guildmages of the Golgari. Will the newer brethren’s skills overwhelm the old mage’s abilities? Let’s take a look.
Korozda Guildmage is the newer of the two and has two fairly decent abilities. The first costs 1BG (1 colorless, 1 Black, 1 Green) and gives a target creature +1/+1 and intimidate until end of turn. This evasion can prove useful, and if you have enough mana to pour into this ability, you could get in for a decent amount of damage in one turn. It can also be used defensively, for the extra power and toughness, which is also useful.
The second ability costs 2BG (2 colorless, 1 Black, 1 Green). You sacrifice a nontoken creature (important that you can’t use a token) and you put X 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield, where X is the sacrificed creature’s toughness. This is a pretty decent ability that can be used offensively and defensively. You could sacrifice a creature that will be destroyed by removal anyway, essentially negating that removal and getting Saproling tokens to replace it. It’s an even better ability in Commander where there are some creatures with massive amounts of toughness (Ghoultree, Tree of Redemption, etc.) which you can sacrifice for tons of token shenanigans.
He’s also an Elf, so for fans of green/black Elves, he can be fairly useful, especially since his second ability is even more powerful with how strong Elves can become over the course of a game!
Golgari Guildmage has two interesting abilities, but each of them cost 5 total mana. The first costs 4B (4 colorless, 1 Black) and allows you to sacrifice a creature and return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. This can be a pretty useful ability, especially when this card was first printed back in the original Ravnica block where Dredge was such an important and powerful mechanic. Five mana is a lot for this sort of ability, but it’s definitely useful in Commander.
The second ability costs 4G (4 colorless, 1 Green) and allows you to put a +1/+1 counters on target creature. There are plenty of far better ways, today at least, that can put these counters on creatures at a far lesser cost.
He is also an Elf Shaman, like his newer counterpart, but the abilities are clearly less powerful than the Korozda version. In Commander, I could see both working together. But he is clearly the weaker of the two here, and the disparity between the two cards’ power levels is not even really close .
Winner: Korozda Guildmage, by a good degree!
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
In this mini-series, we've been taking a look at the Guildmages of the various Guilds in both the new Ravnica block and the old Ravnica block and compare and contrast them. Yes, some are far superior to others, and while some of the newer ones have way cooler abilities, let’s just see how much better they are compared to their predecessors in their respective guilds, shall we?
Today, we take a look at the two from the blue/black guild of Dimir: Duskmantle Guildmage from Gatecrash and Dimir Guildmage from Ravnica: City of Guilds.
First up, we have the newer Guildmage from Dimir: Duskmantle Guildmage. For one blue and one black, you get a 2/2 body with a couple of interesting mana abilities. First for 1UB (1 colorless, 1 Blue, 1 Black), whenever a card is put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere this turn, that player loses 1 life. Honestly, with the mill strategies being played in Standard today, that’s pretty relevant. Not only that, this ability affects cards going to the graveyard from ANYWHERE. So, if your opponent plays an instant, they lose a life. If your opponent has a creature die for any reason, they lose a life. If they’re forced to mill cards, they lose a life for each card that hits the bin. I will say: a mana sink of only 1UB for that powerful of an effect is pretty darn good, especially if you have a way to make them mill a whole bunch of cards.
The second ability for 2UB is a bit underwhelming compared to the first ability. You just mill the top two cards of your opponent’s deck into the graveyard. There are much more effective ways of doing this in Constructed, but it has Limited applications, and if nothing else, you have four mana open to do it, and nothing better to do, it can’t hurt, really. In Commander, however, if you get infinite mana, you can mill everyone for game. Of course, that’s only true as long as one or more of your opponents doesn’t play an Eldrazi in their decks. Then again, the good news is that if you use his 1UB ability before-hand, which would make lots of sense, you’ll probably kill them with the life drain anyway.
Overall, Duskmantle Guildmage is a pretty nice little uncommon. For Constructed, it fits very well into the Dimir strategies, and three mana for a potential major life drain is pretty darn good, I must say. Also, in multi-player formats, EDH especially, that first ability can do serious harm in multiple situations, as it affects any of your opponents.
So what about Duskmantle’s older brother, the original Dimir Guildmage? First off all, he has a hybrid mana cost of 2 blue or black, so he may drop on turn two more often than his newer counterpart on the basis of his more convenient casting cost. After that, though, his abilities are a bit underwhelming. For 3 and a blue, target player draws a card. For 3 and a black, target player discards a card.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad abilities, especially considering that if you have the mana open you can draw and discard a few cards, especially in Commander. However, you can only play them any time you could play a sorcery, as in during your own main phases.
For Constructed purposes, the new Guildmage blows this one away, but I can see this card still being relevant in Commander as a decent mana sink. But not being able to play those abilities at will really makes this card nowhere as good as it would be if they didn’t have that limitation of being only played at sorcery speed.
Winner: Duskmantle Guildmage. He’s just a great solid card and he has great utility in Standard, Limited, and EDH. It remains to be seen how and if he is utilized in other Constructed formats, but in any case, he’s just a great card to have in your deck-building arsenal.
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today on Mages of the Guild, we look next at the red/white Guild of Boros. In the ring today, we have Sunhome Guildmage and his earlier counterpart, Boros Guildmage. While both certainly have their strengths, one is clearly better than the other.
So we’ll start with the newer Guildmage first. Sunhome Guildmage has a casting cost of 1 Red and 1 White for a 2/2. Pretty standard. His mana abilities are good, but not great. For 1RW, creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn. As it’s not a tap ability, you can activate it as many times as you have the mana. It’s not a bad ability, but that mana is perhaps better invested into creatures that have Haste, or three-drop lords like Rageblood Shaman.
His second ability is a bit underwhelming. For 2RW you get a 1/1 red and white soldier creature token with haste onto the battlefield. Now that 1 damage may be enough to put the game away, but for 4 mana, especially in Boros, you will have better options. Heck, just play a Lightning Strike for 1R if the game’s that tight!
Overall, Sunhome Guildmage may be an OK card in Limited, but in Constructed he’s one of the weaker Guildmages. He’s not even really great in Commander, unless you find someway to get ridiculous amounts of mana to pump your creatures for a game-winning alpha strike. While that’s doable, there are far better combos. Then again, if you can find a way to get that sort of mana, you could also get ridiculous amounts of tokens. It’s something to think about, but again, there are far more efficient cards that can do these things than this can.
Boros Guildmage, on the other hand, from the original Ravnica block, is actually hands down a better card than Sunhome. She’s been played in Commander for quite some time (hence her inclusion in the Commander pre-constructed decks released a couple of years ago – the reprint which is shown above.) First of all, her casting cost is easier, because of the hybrid red/white mana cost. So you can get stuck on one color and still play her on turn two.
Her casting cost is far from the best part about her, as her activated abilities are just plain silly. For 1R, you can give target creature haste until end of turn. We’ll use a good example from Commander. Say you play a Balefire Dragon or something else big that doesn’t have haste. Well, for 1R, it now does. In the case of Balefire: goodbye, opponent’s creatures – as Balefire deals damage equal to his power, usually 6, to all of that player’s creatures. There are plenty of creatures that you would not mind paying 1R to have haste and swing for great effects or for game. That ability is just fantastic. You can use that ability on Guildmage herself, although you probably wouldn’t.
Her second ability, while more tactical, is also incredibly good. For 1W, you can give a target creature first strike until end of turn. This can lead to some interesting blocking situations. If you have the open mana, some players simply will let your attack through because giving first strike a lot of times will kill their creature and not yours. It’s also a fine combat trick for when they do block. While not quite as exciting as giving something haste, it’s a great ability that can serve you probably just as well.
The only issue is now that Boros Guildmage isn’t in Standard. I don’t know if any Modern Boros lists will ever be running her, considering how easy it is to remove her. In Constructed today, while those abilities are pretty darn good, you won’t often use them until much later in the game since they are what players like to call “mana sink” abilities. The best application for her is in Casual Boros decks and in Commander, where you often have mana to spare on many turns, and giving things haste in Commander can be a potential Win Target Game depending on what creature you’re giving it to. So she’s a really good card to have.
So while neither Boros Guildmage is especially fantastic in Constructed, there’s little doubt that Boros Guildmage wears the crown for better card here. Sorry, Sunhome Guildmage, you’re just not quite good enough, although you can make a whole bunch of tokens…
by ElspethFTW, Old School Duelist
Today, on Mages of the Guild, we take a look at the blue/white Ravnica guild of Azorius, a pesky one with a couple of interesting Guildmages. Which one is better in the long run? Let’s take a look.
First, we’ll take a look at the newer kid on the block, New Prahv Guildmage. He costs one each of the Azorius colors to cast (Blue and White), and is the typical 2/2. His first activated ability for WU (Blue, White) gives a target creature flying until end of turn. Especially in a Limited environment, that’s quite a useful ability. It’s also a Commander-relevant ability. It’s not quite good enough for other competitive Constructed formats, though, but it’s not terrible.
The second ability is good, but a bit high on the cost (3WU). This ability allows you to detain target non-land permanent an opponent controls. This means that if it’s a creature, it can’t block or use its activated abilities, even mana abilities. If it’s an enchantment, planeswalker, or artifact, it simply can’t be used unless its effect is not activated, such as an enter-the-battlefield trigger. But 5 mana is a huge investment for that sort of effect. Then again, because it’s a repeatable and not a tap ability, it makes sense that the cost would be intentionally fairly high.
Overall, the main reason to use New Prahv Guildmage is to give your bigger creatures flying. The detain ability will only be used if you get mana flooded and need something to sink it into. It could save you here and there, but it’s not an ability to rely on.
Not only does the original Azorius Guildmage from Dissension (the Commander reprint is pictured above) look more interesting, being a Vedalken Wizard, but it may be a bit more useful. While this Guildmage doesn’t give creatures flying, it has two abilities that are similar to the New Prahv Guildmage‘s second ability. This Guildmage can tap a target creature for 2W and counter a target activated ability for 2U (although it can’t touch mana abilities).
So which of these is actually better in the long run? The fact that the Azorius Guildmage can react to an activated ability rather than simply detain something may be a bit more useful. Then again, tapping a creature rather than giving your own creature flying may not be as good.
From a Limited perspective, New Prahv may be better simply for the flying ability and the ability to detain whatever it wants (even at that steep of a cost). Azorius Guildmage has more utility in a format like Commander where tapping the right creature and countering the right ability is more important.
The battle here looks to be a wash. They’re both very good, but the hybrid mana cost of Azorius Guildmage and the ability to counter an ability rather than detain something might allow it to win this round. But it’s very close.
Winner: Azorius Guildmage, by a hair.
Let me know if you agree or disagree and why!
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