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.
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.