Our last go in Guildpact and Ravnica block as a whole, we’re off to test the madcap engineers of the Izzet guild. Joining me at the table is Sam, who’s ready to put Gruul Wilding to work. Will the Izzet be able to build themselves a win, or will they be smashed to pulp by the guild that always leads with the blunt end?
In 1992, a twenty-three-year-old aspiring filmmaker named Robert came up with a plan that would help him make the movies he’d dreamt of making since his childhood. With his grades not high enough to get into the film department of his local college, it was “plan B or bust.” The idea was simple: make a low-budget film, sell it, and use the proceeds to fund the next one- repeat as needed. He raised funds for his first “feature” film however he could, including volunteering to take experimental drugs in drug-testing studies. Finally, when he’d cobbled together all of $9,000, he was ready to shoot.
As mentioned in the review of Code of the Orzhov, Ravnica block was the first full block to break from the evolutionary style we associate with most Magic releases. Ordinarily, you had a story in three acts, with a stage-setting for the opening large set, and two follow-on expansions that move the tale towards its dramatic conclusion. In some cases, a larger narrative has strung multiple blocks together, most notably with the Rath Cycle (which connected blocks from Mirage through Invasion) but also with smaller arcs like the Odyssey/Onslaught blocks. For the guild-based Ravnica block, the sense of forward progression was gone, leaving Wizards needing to rely upon other ways to retain a sense of advancement across the card pool.
For our opening look at Guildpact, Sam’s ready with Izzet Gizmometry. Itself an unusual build, today’s match pits one unorthodox style against another. In the end, only one can prevail… will the Orzhov have enough to make sure theirs is the last Thrull standing?
Mark Rosewater, he of Wizards R&D fame and perhaps the game’s most public face, once told the story of how in a brainstorming session for the development of Ravnica block and its guilds, there was a space on the wall for each of the ten. Rosewater then encouraged everyone to stick up pictures of things that they thought best represented the guild, to get a sense of where everyone’s thoughts were at and to help flesh out the character and identity of the entities that would be carrying the block. Then Rosewater himself went over and pinned up a picture under the White/Black, an individual he felt best represented what the colours in tandem would produce. The picture? Don Corleone.
For our final match before leaving the plane of Ravnica, I’ll be taking the reins of the Selesnya Conclave. A Green/White swarming strategy that looks to make full use of the conclave mechanic, I’ll be up against the slower Dimir Intrigues piloted by Jimi. The Dimir deck demans a bit of time to fully develop its milling strategy. Will it be able to withstand the Saproling hordes and let it dominate the endgame, or will the Selesnyan beaters storm the gates of the ‘secret guild?’
Here are the notes from our match.
In the Conclave, individuality is an anathema.
That’s not to say that you, as an individual, don’t matter. It’s better to say that while you, the individual, are critical to the aims of the Selesnya, you as an individual must by necessity be sublimated to the needs of the whole. Look at the selfish- their lives are zero-sum. They advance themselves at the expense of others, getting ahead by leaving someone else behind. Such waste! Is it not better to group together, so that all may benefit as one? This is the way of the Selesnya Conclave, the way of fulfillment of the one through the fulfillment of the all.
Approaching the end of our reviews of Ravnica and readying for Duel Decks: Ajani vs Nicol Bolas, we’re still finding the Ravnica set full of surprises. The designers did a very impressive job giving each guild its own unique feel, and translating the theme decks into showpieces for each guild is a perfect match. Not for nothing this is one of the most fondly-remembered sets. For today I’ve secured Sam as my sparring partner, and she’s chosen Selesnya United to serve in opposition.
Here are our notes from the customary three games.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
This is not only a slogan for today’s eco-conscious times, but could just as easily apply to the Golgari guild on Ravnica. To the Golgari, no living creature is ever truly dead, but rather lives on through the eternal cycle of life. A person is born, he lives his life, and then, inevitably, he dies… and then his body is fed to the Rot Farms’ crops of shambling plant-zombies. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful.
Of course, every guild in Ravnica must serve a civic function (discounting, of course, the guild that doesn’t exist- Dimir). The Boros, for instance, form its military and police force. The Selesyna provide organised spirituality as well as patrolling roads and byways and other routes of travel. To the Golgari fall the critical tasks of food production for the city’s poor (for those familiar, think ‘Flea Bottom’ and ‘bowls of brown’) and waste management.