Prereleases for Guilds of Ravnica start tonight at midnight, and Magic players across the globe will be choosing one of five guilds to represent for the weekend. While many of us have deep affinities for our chosen guilds, others will want to evaluate each of the guilds’ mechanics and choose their prerelease pack accordingly.
For those of you in the latter camp who may be looking for some guidance, I wanted to share what I gleaned about Guilds of Ravnica from playing in LoadingReadyRun’s Pre-Prerelease last week. If you’re curious, you can watch a recording of the full event here; for a more behind-the-scenes look, our affiliate Sam from Rhystic Studies wrote a fantastic blog post about his experience at the Moonbase.
The guild I chose for the Pre-Prerelease was Selesnya – the green-and-white guild of elves, centaurs, and shamans with healing magic. Selesnya’s keyword mechanic, Convoke, allows big creatures to hit the battlefield ahead of schedule, at the cost of tapping your untapped creatures. Fortunately, many green and white creatures have vigilance, so they can attack freely and help bring more friends to the battlefield after combat.
Selesnya had plenty of raw power, but few ways to push through damage in stalled board states. While cards like Ledev Champion and Emmara, Soul of the Accord can gum up the ground with tokens, the Selesnya player needs to be able to either go wide or go through opposing creatures. Old Selesnya standby Siege Wurm, a 5/5 with trample, seems like an important ingredient here, as does Conclave Guildmage, which can give creatures trample for a single green mana.
As I watched other matches, each guild seemed impressive in its own way. Golgari and Dimir ground out graveyard value, Izzet played a great tempo game, and Boros came out of the gate as quickly as expected. Of all the guild mechanics, however, Surveil impressed me most with its versatility. Like Scry in Theros block, Surveil adds value to the cards that feature it with virtually no drawback. While Mentor may not trigger in a Selesnya deck and a Boros player may have little use for Jump-Start, Golgari and Izzet can both make use of cards with Surveil, and the amount of good, common mana-fixing in the set makes Sultai and Grixis decks viable.
I also wanted to share a list of individual cards – or groups of cards – that impressed me at the Pre-Prerelease.
The Uncommon 4-Mana Gold Creatures
While their casting costs are somewhat prohibitive, these five creatures will reward you for building a solid two-color deck at your prerelease. Golgari Findbroker and Truefire Captain do great impersonations of Eternal Witness and Boros Reckoner, respectively. Nightveil Predator has three of the best evergreen keywords for Limited. Crackling Drake counts instant and sorcery spells in your graveyard AND in exile; I once saw one attack as a 8/4. My own Conclave Cavalier had plenty of utility as well: in addition to being a great Convoke enabler, it brings along TWO Convoke-enablers when it dies. If you open one of these five cards in your seeded guild pack, consider running it in your deck.
Sam included this creature in his Sultai deck and got more value out of it than he ever imagined. In Limited, a format dominated by creature combat, drawing a card for each creature you control often means drawing most of your deck; the more cards you see, the more options you have at your disposal. One word of caution: Beast Whisperer’s ability isn’t optional – you MUST draw a card for each creature spell you cast – so if you notice your library disappearing, it may be time to slow down.
I wanted to get Sam’s Beast Whisperer off the board as soon as possible, but there was a problem: While the card-advantage engine allowed him to draw as many as four cards in a turn, I had to deal with his Passwall Adept first if I wanted to survive. Passwall Adept’s ability to make creatures unblockable shouldn’t be underestimated with so many Convoke-ready tokens running around, and its 1/3 body is surprisingly suitable. For all the jokes we made about “upside bears” on stream, the preponderance of 2/2 creatures in the format means that 1/3’s can fend off plenty of early attacks. Fire Urchin pulls its weight in aggressive Izzet decks, while Whispering Snitch can help Dimir players stabilize.
Finally, I wanted to touch on the lockets – the new cycle of mana rocks in Guilds of Ravnica. While their closest cousins, the Dragon’s Maze cluestones, rarely made the cut, the prospect of drawing two cards makes these artifacts useful in GRN Sealed. If you’re looking to splash a color in your prerelease deck and have few (if any) ways to draw cards, consider adding a locket to your deck.
That’s all for now! Have a great prerelease, and be sure to share your pool with us at @Card_Kingdom!