Conducted by John McCurdy
While I hesitate to speak on the behalf of all our members, I think that - judging by the chatter on our Facebook page throughout spoiler season and the burgeoning turnout at our Return to Ravnica Sealed event this past weekend - the People’s Republic is more than a little excited to be returning to the City of Guilds.
As part of the celebration, we asked for volunteers to represent their favorite guild in a fun roundtable. Hop on the hype train with our very own Doug Stine, Paul Cohen, Steven Mace, Jordan Clay and Al Wainer as they weigh in on the pressing issues from the point of view of the Golgari Swarm, Boros Legion, Izzet League, House Dimir and Selesnya Conclave, respectively.
The Izzet know it best, but I think we all love when a crazy experiment comes together beautifully. What’s your favorite deck - Constructed or Limited - that you’ve ever played in your guild’s colors?
Doug Stine, Golgari Swarm: My favorite Golgari deck was a Damia, Sage of Stone EDH build which focused on pulling off the classic Prosperity/Cadaverous Bloom combo to generate a ton of mana and channel that into a huge Exsanguinate or Drain Life to kill all my opponents at once. I also have a soft spot in my heart for the Jund and Junk builds in Modern, which should get quite a boost from Assassin’s Trophy.
Paul Cohen, Boros Legion: While not strictly Boros, drafting R/W in Shadowmoor and Eventide around a Balefire Liege, Hearthfire Hobgoblin and some of the other color pairs’ cards due to hybrid mana was a blast. Double strike, life gain and efficient removal cleared the way often, and then being able to send in fliers made it a mean deck to play.
Steven Mace, Izzet League: So when I first started - shortly after the release of Return to Ravnica - I built a variant of the storm deck that slapped Curiosity on Guttersnipe and went to town casting Lightning Bolt, Think Twice, Grapeshot and the like. I quickly became known around my local area for this deck, which I called Gutterstorm. I still remember that deck with great fondness and am excited that Guttersnipe and Goblin Electromancer are back in Standard together for exactly this reason.
Jordan Clay, Selesnya Conclave: G/W Little Kid has been my favorite deck for the Conclave while embodying all the values we cherish most. Birds of Paradise into Loxodon Smiter into Wilt-Leaf Liege is a great feeling.
Al Wainer, House Dimir: We’re all about versatility - look at our offering for Hour of Devastation Limited. Cycling is really at its best in our deck, as you can get extra value out of your cyclers with threats like Cunning Survivor and Vile Manifestation while keeping your hand stocked and ready to answer whatever your opponent throws at you. The synergy is strong with this deck, and you’ll often be able to pick up cards other drafters don’t want (Lurching Rotbeast, anyone?). You’ve never lived until you watch your opponent's face sink at the realization that there’s nothing they can do to stop an unblockable Cunning Survivor as you swing in for lethal!
Azorius lawkeepers are banging down your door. You apparently forgot to fill out Form 61807-B, which requires you to select ONE card that represents your guild best. Quick - what’s your pick?
DS, GS: Deathrite Shaman. It’s a card that is extremely powerful and utilizes the graveyard to generate that power. Close second would be Deadbridge Chant, which combines mill with graveyard value.
PC, BL: Boros Charm. While I was to tempted reach for Lighting Helix or Aurelia, the Warleader, the Charms in Magic have always defined what it means to be a certain color combination. Four damage to the face, double strike for a creature or indestructible for your permanents? Yeah, that's as Boros as it gets.
SM, IL: Of course, damn bureaucrats. Nothing is more Izzet than Epic Experiment. Go wild! You don’t know what’s going to happen! I don’t know what’s going to happen! But whatever happens it’s going to be crazy, and fun, and we may lose an eyebrow or two!
JL, SC: Voice of Resurgence.
AW, HD: If you were to ask some guildless roustabout on the street what Dimir were all about, their initial response would probably be “what are you talking about?” After some explanation, they’d probably try to sell you on some claptrap about how we’re the mill guild. Sure, we’ve been known to put a few cards from libraries into graveyards here and there, but let me tell you something! We are so. Much. More.
Look at The Scarab God and tell me again that mill is useless. Not only are we going to find ways to get your best cards into your graveyard, we’re going to steal them, turn them into 4/4s and make you pay (life) for it! All the while we just scry more and more cards, getting all the information we need to put you to rest in one of our trademark Watery Graves.
Those Rakdos, they know how to have fun and savor the pleasures in life. Taking a page from their book, what’s one flavorful element of your guild that you really appreciate?
DS, GS: The consistent use and abuse of the graveyard as an additional resource.
PC, BL: So, I cheated. I pulled up every red and white card (I didn’t double-check mono-colored cards), and looking through the previous cards of Boros, the guild isn’t funny or sadistic. It cares about the beings that live in its ranks. They are the Legion, the military that moves as one, bound by faith in the battle that they fight. The Boros assemble, and war follows.
SM, IL: I believe in science for the sake of science, and I love that the Izzet really bring that to life. They’re gonna do their thing, and maybe a few city blocks get sucked up into a Cyclonic Rift, but by the gods, we learned something, and we’ll do better next time!
JL, SC: Power in numbers while screwing over control with utility.
AW, HD: If there’s one thing the Dimir take to heart, it’s that knowledge truly is power. We have so much knowledge. We know what crawls in undercity tunnels, we know what new statutes the Azorius are going to enact weeks before a vote comes to pass, and we know how the Guildpact likes his coffee! Our spies are everywhere, collecting the secrets of Ravnica to ensure stability between guilds. The Guildpact exists, true, but when was the last time Mr. Beleren saw fit to even show his face at a summit? If it weren’t for the dedicated work of Dimir spies, you’d all still be wondering when the next Shattergang attack was about to happen or worrying about sporting whatever limbs the Simic find fashionable this season.
The Simic aren’t the only ones evolving and progressing - a new set means we all get new toys. What card spoiled so far from Guilds of Ravnica are you most excited about?
DS, GS: Assassin’s Trophy is probably the only one I will play outside of draft, but Underrealm Lich does seem interesting for a Gitrog Monster EDH build.
PC, BL: I know I was told to pick one, but there are three cards that stand out to me - two that will see play in Standard at one point, and one that might see fringe play but will wreck Limited as a must-answer bomb.
Chance for Glory and Swiftblade Vindicator are the Standard cards. A Final Fortune-style card at 3 mana is a good one- or two-of if R/W aggro finds a home in the format, or potentially in a Mardu build as well since it will help aggro builds push without losing resources then strike again. Then again, I prefer high-risk/high-reward games.
Swiftblade Vindicator is plain nuts. He is a crazy 2-drop with with vigilance, double strike and trample. Yeah, he’s a 1/1 to start, and yes, you need red and white to cast him, but with the pump effects in those colors and the mentor ability, he will be a shiny star in the format. I'm just glad he’s rare.
The Limited bomb, though, is the guild leader herself, Aurellia, Exemplar of Justice. Four mana means she might find a home in fringe Standard decks, but where she will shine (besides Commander or Brawl) is Limited. She will take over games herself due to her dual pump mechanics and flying. She is a straight beast.
SM, IL: In Magic, I love doing two things: Drawing cards and casting instants and sorceries. Niv-Mizzet, Parun rewards me for doing one with the other! How great is that?
JL, SC: Knight of Autumn. I'm excited to see if the little gal can replace Reclamation Sage and Kitchen Finks at the same time.
AW, HD: Limited is my bread and butter, and let me tell you, I anticipate many an Artful Takedown being used, but let’s set our sights on something more…mythic. Let’s talk big picture. Let’s talk about Mnemonic Betrayal.
This card has pedigree in the grand tradition of Yawgmoth’s Will, but fits nicely into the milling tendencies that we Dimir so frequently slide into. Sure, we probably won’t make you lose the game by piling cards into your graveyard. That’s OK - now we can just cast them. Your knowledge becoming our power - you may call it cruel, but we just call it Tuesday.
After piloting a perfect build to a 4-0 record at your prerelease, what will you blast over your car’s stereo on the way home to celebrate the glory of your guild?
DS, GS: “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” by The Smashing Pumpkins. Golgari fits well with the early ‘90s grunge aesthetic - dark, gloomy and maybe a bit unwashed.
PC, BL: Boros battle victory music? It's a toss-up, one option being “This War Is Ours” by Escape the Fate due its grindcore features and focus on the battles of war and how there has to be a better way.
The other choice for me - and one that I imagine the Boros would use - would be “Through the Fire and Flames” by Dragon Force. Epic metal describing the journey and how they carry on through the tribulations of their fight - I'm pretty sure it doesn't get more Boros than that.
SM, IL: Anything from Symphony of Science. Because a still more glorious dawn awaits under the Izzet. And remember: live, laugh. Lightning Bolt.
JL, SC: “Believe It or Not”...a true hero of the guild.
AW, HD: Nine Inch Nails’ “Shit Mirror” seems appropriate for a guild of shape-shifting spies.
Got a new face it feels alright/
Power and strength and appetite/
I eat your loathing, hate and fear/
Should probably stay away from here…
Enjoy your prereleases, and look for another roundtable around the release of Ravnica Allegiance!