Return to Ravnica Set Overview Part II

While I was planning on doing a set review, other time commitments got in the way of doing it. Also other, better players have done that. Instead I’m just going to offer some more general thoughts and some helpful links.

I highly recommend reading this article due to the mathematical approach.  If you have the time then listen to Limited Resources do their common and uncommon set review, link here. There are numerous other places but those two that are my favorites.

I feel like I covered most of what I wanted to say last week but I’ll add some caveats. Izzet seems like the worst guild to me upon closer inspection of the cards, it doesn’t really have as much strength as the other guilds. Selesneya is better given the quality of token making you can get. Perhaps the biggest one is that Green is the only color that is going to allow you to do crazy color things; otherwise it seems more along the lines of conventional drafting with 2 colors, third as a splash. Only getting the two colors to work is really important, but you have time to get them to work since it seems like its going to be a slow format.

Anyone reading this who is going to a paper prerelease, good luck. I’m going to whirl around in limbo for the next two weeks until Return to Ravnica hits mtgo


Return to Ravnica: Set Overview

So with the full spoiler/preview out its possible to start looking at the set critically. I’ll spend this article going over things in general hopefully followed by a set review next week. I don’t claim that this will be an end all guide to Return to Ravnica, only that thinking and writing about it helps me, and hopefully you as well.  Also I suggest you read the mechanics article for the set, found here so you know what I’m talking about. In broad terms, let’s focus on deckbuilidng and color combinations. Conventional wisdom is that going for two guilds that have a color in common is the default way to draft. Let’s break that down Azorious U/W Izzet U/R Izzet U/R Rakdox B/R Rakdos B/R Golgari G/B Golgari G/B Selesneya G/W Selesneya G/W Azorious W/U While this does work in terms of color fixing, how good is the fixing and how synergistic do these combinations appear to be?


Return to Ravnica has three cycles of fixing: guildgates, guildkeys and shocklands. Gates enter the battlefield tapped and tap for either one of the guild’s colors. Guildkeys are artifacts costing three and can tap for either of the guild’s colors. Shocklands  come into play tapped unless they do two damage to you and tap for one of two colors. There is also Transguild Promenade, which is a common land that comes into play tapped, requires you to pay 1 when it enters the battlefield and taps for any color. While this isn’t the only fixing, it is the fixing that has a cycle and/or is likely to be encountered. Given the fixing, the idea of three colors is reasonable, and I expect games to be slow, since getting that fixing/just the right colors in general seems like its luck based. There’s also the issue that opening hands can be rather important in making sure that you have access to all your colors. It could end up being that just drafting a guild has its advantages in that you don’t have to worry about fixing.

There is also Chromatic Lantern, which is easily first pickable and is awesome universal fixing and ramp.


Guild Keywords

Azorious Detain; Assuming that your opponent has something you can target with this, its very good. Creates a tempo game where you want to curve out and keep them off balance while you bash their face in.

Izzet Overload: Good in the lategame with some of the cards have very powerful overload effects. On the flipside, without overload the cards are bad.

Raxdos Unleash:  On one hand, Unleash is one of the simpler mechanics, on the other hand it is the most skill intensive. There are gong to be times when you should put the counter on and other times when you shouldn’t.

 Golgari Scavenge: Making your creatures bigger is always good,getting as much value as you can out of your creatures is always good. Scavenge does both, while the sorcery speed is a bit of a letdown, Travel Preps was also a sorcery and it was one of the most important spells in Innistrad. Point being is that it’s a problem but its not crippling.

Selesneya Populate: How good are the tokens you already have? The better the token the better the ability. While the other four work together to varying degrees, Populate and token making cards are all in Selesneya. What you actually want in a two guild deck from Selesneya is a bit limited.

Golgari/Rakdos can team up to make a nice aggro deck with all the counters. Izzet/Azorious seems like the best control deck. Selesneya can go either way as an aggro deck or a more grindy control deck. Rakdos/Izzet seems like the worst combination to me.



Looking over the set, there is a good amount of removal that is either rare or mythic. The removal at common and uncommon is somewhat sparse and expensive. I think Arrest is going to be one of the best commons in the set. I hope that in play it doesn’t feel like AVR did with removal being few and far between.

Worst case scenario

Part of me is dreading the possibility that Return to Ravnica plays out AVR did, very fast format, drafting correctly is super important and the big guys are usually unplayable.


Return to Ravnica isn’t a clear cut set and I’m gong to have to see it in play to get a better sense. Also doing a card by card breakdown, which I will hopefully have done by the paper prerelease.


Review: Resident Evil Deck building Game

What is it: You play as characters from the Resident Evil franchise and go hunt zombies while improving your arsenal so you can kill stronger and stronger zombies.

Great what does that mean: You pick/deal out characters who have their own abilities and improve as they kill zombies. There are action cards and weapons in play in a Dominion set up that you use to improve your deck and go through the Mansion deck to kill zombies. The goal of the game is to get the most points and  kill the final boss to end the game.

Scaling: There isn’t any sort of sweet number here so 1-4 works depending on your needs.

Production Quality: The cards are what you expect from a card game. the packaging is utterly horrible though.

What’s good: It’s clearly inspired from Dominion but does enough things differently that it feels like its own game. Character abilities and random weapons make the game somewhat asymmetrical. It can also be played in solitaire mode. While there are expansions the base game is perfectly functional on its own.

What’s not so good: This game isn’t the most balanced in the world. It takes a while for the game to just end as you try to get enough power to kill the final two cards in the Mansion deck.  The non standard cards work better when you use the listed option in the book instead of randomly selecting them due to how narrow they are. It also doesn’t play well with expansions as my experience with alliance and what I read about the other two is that they revolve around their own special mechanics that break down if they’re diluted. The card formatting is also somewhat poor.

Overall: 2/5, it’s not a bad game but it’s not a good game either.  It falls into the I’d play it but I wouldn’t suggest it category.  In regards to buying I’d say buy something else, there are better games out there.

Resident Evil DBG at BGG

Resident Evil DBG at Amazon


I’ve watched as Kickstarter has grown over the past year or so into being such a force for crowdsourcing and allowing plenty of projects to get off the ground that would have never been created otherwise.  However I hadn’t pledged to any of them until Solforge came along for several reasons. The concept appealed to me, Gary Games and Richard Garfield both have proven their skill at game design, and even though the game will be free; the rewards are nice.

Review: Dominion and expansions

Last week I wrote about what I consider to be Dominion as a complete game. This week I’d figured I would review it. 

What is it: Your parents were nobles of little account who didn’t improve their holding, they’re dead and now you’re in charge. Being more ambitious you decide to

Great what does that mean: You spend your turn using the cards in your hand to play Action cards, then play out your money cards and buy more cards to improve your deck. The ultimate goal is to get more victory points than your opponent.

Scaling: I find it handles best at 2 players, 3-4 is good, 5-6 you’re really pushing it and should probably play something else.

Production Quality: The cards are durable and feel solid. The boxes are also durable with the set up being clear in how cards are stored. It should be noted that if you want to save space than you’re going to want to invest some storage solution, use google to look around for which you prefer.

What’s good: There’s strategy, it plays smoothly and quickly, you don’t have to be totally committed to a game but you can also socialize. The game has a certain layer of customization in regards to which kingdom cards are used, which can help stop unfun games from being played.

what’s not good: For better or worse Dominion is more about skill then relying upon variance, playing against bad players means that it’s going to be a trainwreck. One of the areas that the game does have high variance is with the kingdom card set up which can effecct who good the game will be.  The flavor is poor (while the card names are somewhat thematic each expansion is grouped with a mechanical theme) and the you ideally want two expansions to avoid the issue of Big Money being the predominant strategy.

Overall: 5/5, Dominion is one of my favorite games and it’s weaknesses, assuming you like the idea of a deck building game, are not insurmountable.

Dominion and expansions at BGG

Dominion and expansions at Amazon