Sep 29 2012

Return to Ravnica Set Review

Return to Ravnica is a strong start in this new block revisiting a familiar plane.

Set Name: Return to Ravnica
Block: Return to Ravnica block
Game: Magic the Gathering
Release Date: Oct. 5, 2012

What is this set about?
Return to Ravnica revisits the Ravnica block originally released seven years ago. Just like the Scars of Mirrodin set, Return to Ravnica returns with old favourites from the original set while making things interesting with updated mechanics. Please refer to my previous article describing the guilds participating in Return to Ravnica.

Return to Ravnica will place a heavy focus on the two-colored guilds – Azorius, Izzet, Rakdos, Golgari, and Selesnya. Multicolored decks will become mainstream in this format. The five new mechanics of the set are Detain, Overload, Unleash, Scavenge, and Populate. In my opinion, I think the Detain and Scavenge are the best effects. Unleash is alright, Overload is too expensive and Populate is situational but broken when the timing is right.

Highlights
Picking my top 5 was extremely difficult for me because of the numerous value rares. I also sense a bit of power creep from this set like I did from Zendikar a few blocks back.

Abrupt Decay – an elegant Golgari card succeeding the legendary Putrefy. It puts the “hate” on counterspells and it destroys a lot of the early-mid game permanents on the field including some planeswalkers. The only thing Abrupt Decay cannot hit are late game bombs.

Dreadbore – This is the future Terminate. However unlike Terminate, Dreadbore is a sorcery slowing it down considerably. Also unlike Terminate, the creature it targets is allowed to regenerate. Despite all that it does hit planeswalkers for a cheap 2 mana so expect this to appear often in competitive play.

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius – Niv-Mizzet received an update in his latest printing. The effect is the reverse of its original. He is bulkier too (now a 5/5) at the same mana cost. With the updated effect, you can trigger its “draw n’ burn” (more like burn n’ draw) effect multiple times per turn. Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius will become the premier commander for Izzet color players.

Vraska the Unseen – Vraska is powerful but it’s the ultimate ability that’s eye-opening. Creating assassins that wins you the game by dealing combat damage puts your opponents on their toes. It’s easy to achieve too because lots of cards makes your creatures unlockable such as Artful Dodge back in Dark Ascension.

Ravnica Dual Lands: It was a subtle hint fans saw coming when Magic 2013 decided to reprint the underpowered Farseek. These lands are amazing and are they come closest to the quality of the original dual lands. I would be surprised if the dual lands here does not easily fetch $10.

Is this set worth my time?
It depends on if you’re interested in the Ravnica universe (which you should be). If you are, then are you interested in one of the five guilds? I would go for it just for that chance to get the dual lands.

Strengths: First of all, I like how Wizards release the general fan favourite guilds first. Second, I like how Wizards treated all the guilds fairly. Each one has been revamped and are given a special theme to remain competitive.
All is not lost for fans of other guilds. There are subtle references of the other five guilds in the mono colored cards suggesting that in the meantime, fans can attempt to build their own makeshift guild deck to their liking by forcing on the colors (eg Izzet’s red instant/sorceries with Azorius’ white creatures making a Boros deck? It could work).

Weaknesses: One of the biggest cons for this set is the particular hate on control players. Cavern of Souls from Avacyn Restored was crippling enough but adding a cycle of uncounterable cards will definitely leave control players in the dust.

It seems that creature spot removal are very common in this set so don’t expect creatures to last very long. There are four cards to remove creatures for black players alone along with Abrupt Decay and Dreadbore giving players plenty of options. I haven’t even mention the number of creature removal options for the other colors. It really is overkill (pun intended).

This set’s main focus is on multicolored guilds. It is difficult for players to construct a playable mono colored deck in block constructed and succeed. You may notice the top cards I listed are multicolored. The mono colored cards in this set are marginal in quality.

Which guild would dominate Return to Ravnica?
Wizards designed the set so no one guild will completely dominate this block (or at least I hope). Sure Izzet received a lot of hype and fan support but I think Golgari will remain steady among the top for the long run. Selesnya is another good pick for the Limited Format.

Rating: Return to Ravnica is a solid revisit of an older plane. I would buy boosters if you are a fan of one or more of the five guilds in this set. Otherwise, players may invest in singles that may be of interest to prepare for the next wave of guilds in Gatecrash.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree with something in my review.
(Source: Wizards.com and TCGplayer.com for estimated card prices)

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