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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Jul 17, 2012

Details Surface For Magic: The Gathering’s ‘Return to Ravnica’ Block

I started playing Magic: The Gathering back when the Mirrodin block first released. I was really interested in the leonin and the world in which they lived. If you’ve played Magic then you’ll know that each year new sets release that change the “planes” on which events are taking place. We’ve seen Lorwyn, traveled to Alara, and most recently watched the horrors taking place in Innistrad with Avacyn. Through each set I’ve played and ran with what was offered, but one set caught my eye when it was released and that was the Ravnica block.

Ravnica is a large city, built by the guilds who reside within it. In Magic, each guild was represented by different colors. This block was the first to really focus on dual-colored decks, and most of the cards weren’t meant to be played in mono-color decks of any kind. Of course you could use some of them with older cards, but in Ravnica it was all about doubling up. You had the Golgari which was green/black, Dimir which was blue/black, Selesnya which was green/white, and Boros which was red/white. Each clan played differently and worked off of different mechanics. Dimir focused on making players put cards from their library into the graveyard, Boros focused on attacking and dealing damage, Golgari played off of reanimating dead allies from the graveyard, and Selesnya focused on protection. It was an amazing block and some of my favorite cards, like Grave-shell Scarab, came from that block.

The second set introduced more guilds with different colors. We saw the Orzhov which was black/white, Izzet which was blue/red, and Gruul which was red/green. This added to the options players could run, and even offered some cards that allowed clans to be played together. Finally there was Dissension which introduced the final guilds in the set. There was Azorious which was blue/white, Simic which was blue/green, and Rakdos which was black/red.

Since the block’s release, no other set has really gotten me as enthralled. Ravnica cards are no longer legal in standard decks, which made me sad. There is good news, however, because Wizards of the Coast announced that in the newest set to release for the card game we’ll return to Ravnica and see what’s happened in the 10 years we’ve been gone.

Return to Ravnica will bring back the guilds, but some of their core mechanics will be gone. We won’t see hellbent, transmute, or dredge this time around. Each guild will be receiving a new mechanic, but there aren’t any details on what those will be yet. Also, while Ravnica was structured as a large/small/small block set, Return to Ravnica will be much different. The new set will be a large set that introduces five of the guilds right out of the gate. The second set in the block, Gatecrash, will introduce the remaining five guilds left in the block. The third and final set will then be filled with cards that complement each guild, allowing for better drafting and deck building.

The way the drafting will work is something like this: in the first season you’ll draft three Return to Ravnica packs. Next season you’ll draft triple Gatecrash, then finally you’ll draft the whole block as the final set releases in the next season. And with the release of this new block deck construction will be much different. The way these new sets are designed is to show that each guild has undergone changes. Now you’ll see more triple-color decks, with two guilds merging. Some of the guilds share a single color, like Izzet and Boros or Golgari and Selesnya. With that, here’s how the combinations could work out:

Return to Ravnica

  • Azorius and Selesnya (white/blue/green)
  • Izzet and Azorius (blue/white/red)
  • Golgari and Rakdos (black/green/red)
  • Rakdos and Izzet (blue/black/red)
  • Selesnya and Golgari (black/green/white)

Gatecrash

  • Orzhov and Boros (red/white/black)
  • Simic and Dimir (blue/green/black)
  • Dimir and Orzhov (black/blue/white)
  • Boros and Gruul (red/green/white)
  • Gruul and Simic (red/green/blue)

This really changes things compared to when the Ravnica block originally released. Let’s say you want to build a deck with both white and black. Normally you’d want to throw in some blue because it is a shared ally color of white and black. With Return to Ravnica the tables are turned so that you’d actually want to splash in green instead since it gives you access to the abilities from both the Golgari and Selesnya guilds. This really opens up new strategies as well as defense tactics when putting together decks.

While I love the fact that we’re returning to Ravnica and the guilds are once again making their appearance, that’s not what me the most excited. When this new block releases its prerelease will be the biggest yet. Wizards is changing up how this prerelease will work, and for the first time ever you’ll be allowed to use the foil promo card that you receive at signups. Why is that? It’s because you’ll choose a guild to play when you sign up and your promo card will be the leader of your chosen guild.

When you arrive and sign up at the prerelease you’ll choose from one of the guilds available in the set. Then you’ll receive this package:

  • Five standard booster packs
  • One designated guild booster (which includes your promo card)
  • Life die with your guild colors
  • Sticker for your guild emblem
  • Letter from your guild’s leader
  • Achievements card designated for your guild

Using the normal boosters you will add to the guild booster to build a deck. This way players will receive a leg-up when putting their tournament deck together. Each guild leader is a two-color mythic rare that will be the most influential unit in the guild. Some entirely new characters will be introduced, and tons of familiar faces will show up again.

Return to Ravnica will no doubt be my next favorite block to release in Magic: The Gathering. We won’t get to see it until this coming October, and the anticipation is crushing. I can’t wait to dive in once again with the Golgari and show the true power of my favorite guild. What guild will you play?

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