Hello magic fans. I'm here to review another expansion for Magic the Gathering (MtG). We're going backward in time somewhat, to 2018, and a return to Ravnica, with: Guilds of Ravnica.
New to MtG? Here's a quick rundown:
MtG is a collectable card game for two or more players. Each game represents a battle between powerful wizards, known as Planeswalkers, who have the ability to travel a multi-verse. You’ll discover countless worlds inhabited by species as varied as the fantastic lands they live in.
Players will cast spells, summon creatures, and deploy artifacts to overcome their opponents. Typically, a player will win by reducing their opponent’s starting life points to zero, but there are other paths to victory.
Wizards of the Cast release expansion sets, like Guilds of Ravnica, regularly. Expansions add hundreds of cards to the available pool. Players now have thousands of cards from which to collect and play within customised decks.
Guilds of Ravnica marks the third return of MtG to the plane of Ravnica. It is also the first of three, thematically linked expansions known collectively as The Guilds of Ravnica Block. This is not a block in the traditional sense. The three expansions (including Ravnica Allegiance and War of the Spark) have no mechanical overlap. Only the related story connects them, serving as the final chapters of the Bolas arc. A long running story centred around the evil planewalker Nicol Bolas, and the planeswalkers of the Gatewatch, who stand against him.
Guilds of Ravnica is the 79th expansion set for Magic the Gathering, released on 5 October 2018. The set is made up of 259 cards: 111 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Unusually, the five basic lands are not included in the core set, so will not be available in booster packs. Instead, each booster pack contains gate cards in two common slots. Players must purchase the planeswalker decks and the Bundle product, to acquire the basic lands.
Collectors and players are more concerned by Shock lands, five of which are included Guilds of Ravnica. Watery Grave, Temple Garden, Steam Vents, Overgrown Tomb, and Sacred Foundry take five of the 53 rare slots in this set.
The product range for Guilds of Ravnica includes the Bundle, two planeswalker decks, draft, theme, and collector boosters. In addition, players can pick up five guild kits. Each guild kit contains a ready to play, 60-card deck, themed around one of the guilds featured in this expansion.
Thematically, Guilds of Ravnica focuses on five of the ten guilds who rule Ravnica: Selesnya, Izzet, Boros, Dimir, and Golgari are represented in this expansion.
The remaining guilds (Orzhov, Azorious, Rakdos, Gruul, and Simic) feature in the 80th expansion, Ravnica Allegiance.
New and Returning Mechanics:
Split-cards make a return. Guilds of Ravnica includes a cycle of uncommon, and a cycle rare split-cards. Each guild gets a card in each cycle. A split card contains two spells, with differing mana costs. Usually this provides the player with a low cost spell for early game, and a more expensive spell for mid/late game. When playing the card, either spell can be cast.
Each guild features a unique mechanic that leans into the particular guilds theme, four are new to the game:
The players creatures can help to cast a spell with the Convoke keyword. Each creature tapped, when casting the spell, reduces the casting cost by one colourless mana. Convoke is the only returning mechanic featured in this expansion.
The Jump-Start ability enables a player to cast the spell from their graveyard. To cast, the player must discard a card from hand, in addition to its other casting costs. The player exiles the card after casting with Jump-Start.
When a creature with Mentor attacks, the controlling player puts a +1/+1 counter on another attacking creature, with less power.
When casting a spell with Surveil, the controlling player will look at the top X cards of their library. The player decides to put them into the graveyard, or return them to the top of the library, in any order.
The Undergrowth ability allows the player to perform an action with a value of X. Where X is the number of creatures in the players graveyard.
Thoughts on Guilds of Ravnica
I've long been a fan of sets based on Ravnica. As a thematic setting, I find it quite appealing, enjoying the stories and world building that wrap around the game. I also enjoy deck building in Ravnican guild colours, with the guild themes in mind. That said, it will be unsurprising to learn that I really enjoyed the Guilds of Ravnica expansion! The guild abilities and card synergies make this a fun expansion to draft in isolation, and to deck build with.
However, a note to new and casual players. You may benefit from picking up Core Set products first, as those sets will give you more versatile cards and support a wider range of deck archetypes.