Oh baby we’re going back to Ravnica!
This weekend is Guilds of Ravnica Pre-Release and as with any Ravnica set — it looks absolutely awesome. I cannot wait to get my hands on these cards.
With that in mind, I wanted to spend some time going over each guild in this new set. Ravnica brings out a ton of players of varied levels of competition. So I’m going to go through each guild, tell you what they’re all about, what their strengths and weaknesses are and even give you some suggestions as to which signpost commons you should be on the lookout for.
Before I get started, I’d like to reinforce that Ravnica is a multi-coloured set. This means that you should look to the gold cards in your Sealed pool for guidance. Traditionally, the majority of gold cards in any set are playable, these will help tell you what you deck should be about, and show give you an idea of what to build around.
Buckle up, let’s take a trip to Ravnica.
In Guilds of Ravnica the B/G colour pair revolves around the graveyard, which is right on brand for Golgari. The mechanic that defines Golgari is called Undergrowth; which gives a spell’s wielder incentives based on the number of creature cards in their own graveyard.
So, I think it’s safe to say that you’re going to want to play a lot of creatures in your Golgari decks and you’re going to want to find ways to get those creatures into you graveyard.
As you can see here, these multicoloured cards tend to be the most “on theme” for each guild and will help teach you what kinds of cards you’re going to want to play in your deck.
These Golgari Decks are going to want to play as many creatures as possible (obviously). But, you’re also going to want to trade your cards as aggressively as possible. If your opponent attacks you with a 2/2 into your 2/2, you’re going to want to trade all day, play for the late game and fuel Undergrowth.
This iteration of Golgari does seem to be a little more beat-down-centric than in the past. To me, this looks like the “big creatures and a few kill spells” deck and that is always going to be a fine place to be in Pre-Release Sealed.
At a base level U/B is the control players dream in Guilds of Ravnica. The colour combination revolves around the “Surveil” mechanic which is at it’s core a better version of “scry.” This is going to allow you to look at the top X cards of your library, and then decide whether to keep them there or to put them in your graveyard.
Now with this in mind, you can expect your deck to have a good late game on average because you’re going to have a lot better card selection than other colour combinations. So, you’re going to want to build a deck that does its best to get out of the early game to take best advantage of Surveil going late.
Darkblade Agent is your bread and butter Dimir common. This card’s got a nice defensive body and gives you a strong incentive to pick up as many Dimir Surveil cards as possible. I’d look to play as many as possible.
Both the Dimir and Golgari guilds allow you to fill up your graveyard in one way or another so make sure to keep this in the back of your head while you’re building your deck. If you’re in any combination of these three colours, cards that benefit from having a stocked graveyard are going to go up in value in comparison to how they would stand in an average set.
Ah yes, the beat down colours.
W/R decks in this format are going to honestly look pretty similar to how they look in every format. You’re going to want to load up on cheap creatures and combat tricks and then beat your opponent down.
The Boros mechanic for this set is called “Mentor” and allows you to put a +1/+1 counter on a creature with lesser power when your Mentor creatures attack with it.
One thing that comes to my mind when I look at the Boros cards is just how powerful they are. It’s not that often that the fastest and most aggressive cards have the highest raw power level, but some of the Boros rares and uncommons are just going to be tough to beat at any time.
This is some valuable information to take to Pre-Release. If you get those nice aggressive rares, it might be time to get your beat down on.
With Guilds of Ravnica Izzet has kind of returned to its “counter-burn” roots. Thematically, a lot of its cards seem primed to start defensive and then turn the corner fast.
The Izzet mechanic in Guilds is “Jump-Start” which allows you to discard a card from your hand to buy back the effect of a card from the graveyard for a second use. The U/R colour pair also features a numbers of cards that ask you to play a high density of instant or sorcery cards in your deck — which is an Izzet staple.
It’s worth noting here that as I mentioned before, some of these guild’s mechanics work together. Jump-Start is enabled nicely by Surveil and if the black splash is available there’s a lot of merit in taking it.
To me, Piston-Fist Cyclops gives you the perfect image of what Izzet is about. It’s a card that trades well early and plays defensively, but once you get the chance to start using Jump-Start and casting card draw spells, can also end the game for you.
The last Guild you can choose to build around in Guilds of Ravnica is Selesyna.
If you jump into G/W you’re going to want to flood the board with as many creatures as possible in order to best abuse the “Convoke” mechanic. This allows you to tap your creatures like lands in order to power out Convoke spells.
There truly isn’t anything in Magic more broken than cost-reduction, and Convoke is no exception to this.
What you’re going to need for this is enablers. Cheap creatures that can help snowball the advantage that Convoke provides. The best Selesnya decks are going to be able to power out unbeatable boards in a way that just feels unfair in Limited. So, that means you’ve got to prioritize cheap creatures over just about anything.
This is another colour that pairs nicely with another guild. The Mentor mechanic from Boros works nicely to add some beef to these little creatures you’ve got hanging around for convoke. Obviously three colour aggro decks can be tough to assemble, but some of these mono-white Boros and Selesnya cards are good to cross between guilds.
I’m going to leave you with something that has been true in both of the previous Ravnica sets — the uncommons associated with each Guild are always very good.
In Guilds of Ravnica we get both a cycle of Guildmages and another cycle of heavily colour-restrictive creatures. If you can get these cards into your deck, you should. The way these sets are designed, they want to force you to play the Guild colours. If you want to make sure your deck is solid, don’t stray off into Gruul or try to force some five colour monstrosity. Let the Guildmage be your guide.