Allegiances are Established as Bolas Prepares in Ravnica Allegiance
Guilds of Ravnica reintroduced us to the plane of Ravnica and to five of its guilds as Nicol Bolas starts to weave his way into the leadership of several factions. This leadership is represented through the set's Planeswalkers. So far, two of ten guilds have "fallen," so Bolas needs three more to set the stage for the coming conflict. Which of the five remaining guilds will fall in Ravnica Allegiance and which will end up opposing Bolas? Lore aside, a new Ravnica set means new multicolor action, the five remaining shock lands, and, of course, five new guild mechanics.
Five "New" Mechanics Around Counters, Tokens, Life Loss, and Main Phases
Guild mechanics are a core part of any Ravnica set and Ravnica Allegiance is no exception. This time around, we have five "new" mechanics, though one of them is just an old mechanic renamed.
- The Orzhov, staffed by spirits, gets a spirit-based mechanic in Afterlife. This mechanic leaves behind X 1/1 Black and White Flying Spirits when a creature with Afterlife X dies. One example of Afterlife comes through the Orzhov mythic Seraph of the Scales, a 4/3 flier who can gain vigilance or deathtouch for a white or black mana respectively, and leaves behind 2 spirits when it dies.
- The Azorius have learned how to add addendums to their decrees with the new Addendum This mechanic only appears on instant-speed cards and offers extra effects if you cast them during your main phase. The most exciting of these, though not because of its addendum, is probably Emergency Powers, a new Timetwister effect at instant speed which lets you put a 7-drop from your hand into play if you cast it during your main phase.
- The Gruul get a reworking of Unleash, and old Rakdos mechanic. Gruul's version is named Riot, and instead of giving you a disadvantage if you choose the +1/+1 counter, players get the option of either a +1/+1 counter or Haste. This means making for interesting choices as to whether you want the damage immediately, or whether you want a more threatening creature the following turn. A great example of this is the new Skarrgan Hellkite, a 4/4 flying dragon that has Riot and an ability which, for four mana, deals 2 damage divided among one or two targets. You can only activate this ability if the Hellkite has a +1/+1 counter, so when you play it, you have the choice for four quick damage or a 5/5 with a strong activated ability.
- Simic gets a counters-based ability, as one would expect, in the only "returning" mechanic, albeit with a different name. Adapt is functionally identical to Monstrous, allowing creatures with the ability of one-time activation to give themselves +1/+1 counters. Zegana, Utopian Speaker, a 4/4 for four, cantrips when she enters, provided another creature has a +1/+1 counter. She also has Adapt 4 and gives all creatures with +1/+1 counters trample.
- Rakdos is the last remaining guild with an anticipated favorite card. Rakdos looks to showmanship with the Spectacle Cards with Spectacle will have an alternate cost that can be used in the event that the opponent has lost life this turn. The coolest example just might be Light Up the Stage, an exciting new pseudo-draw sorcery in red. It normally costs 2R, but has a Spectacle cost of R. When cast, it exiles the top two cards of your library and, until the end of your next turn, you can cast the exiled cards. That's right, two cards for one mana – seems pretty strong.
Bolas' Planeswalkers, Prepared for the Final Conflict
The mechanics are great and all, but there are plenty of cards that don't use them – Planeswalkers first and foremost. As stated earlier, three planeswalkers need to take over the guilds to gear up for Bolas' invasion of Ravnica. The affected guilds have finally been revealed: Kaya has taken over the Orzhov; Dovin Baan has killed Isperia to take over the Azorius; and Domri Rade has seized control of the Gruul. They, as a result, get Planeswalker cards. Dovin, Grand Arbiter encourages a wide strategy, gaining loyalty as more creatures attack. He can also create thopters. Kaya, Orzhov Usurper serves as niche graveyard hate and disruption. Domri, Chaos Bringer gives creatures Riot, while providing mana.
There are far too many cards to review everything interesting, so just get yourself some booster packs (MSRP 2,05 €) come 25 January 2019.