Are The Guild Kits Worth it?
Preconstructed decks representing the guilds from the plane of Ravnica? Yes, please! But are the Guild Kits for everyone? Ryan Scicluna talks about what the kits include and who they are intended for.
Guilds Kits at Face Value
Guild themed preconstructed decks are perfect for new players who want to experience Magic and it’s flavors. This includes introducing players to the ten guilds of Ravnica, their different mechanics, and play styles. Guilds, for the uninitiated, are groups representative of each of the 10 two-color pairings in Magic.
These decks are not standard legal since they contain cards from old Ravnica sets including some well deserved reprints and some old cards with new art. Additionally each kit includes a guild themed pin, sticker, cardboard deck box (which can hold the sleeved deck), a spindown die (with your guild symbol where the 20 would be), and a fun insert reminiscent of the guild’s style. This is all offered at an affordable price. Whether you are a new/casual player or an experienced one, the guild kits are a new product with a lot of potential.
A League of Guilds
How well constructed are these guild deck though? The decks are created with the aim to be played against each other, either multiplayer or one on one, and surprisingly, I have to admit that Wizards of the Coast nailed it. As expected, each deck plays differently, according to the guild’s mechanics, guaranteeing good replayability as different decks have noticeably different themes and styles. I have played a number of games with the Guild Kits in both multiplayer and one on one scenarios and I always had fun. Some decks are stronger than others, especially the Boros and other aggro strategies like the Gruul and Rakdos decks. An aggro archetype focuses on combat as fast as possible, this tends to overwhelm the other slower decks. This does not mean that those decks are the ultimate winners in each game though. In multiplayer matches, non-aggro players can negotiate deals between themselves in order to gang up against aggressive players to halt their continuous onslaught. In games with multiple aggro decks, they balance each other out, which means no one single player will run with the game.
The Azorius, Dimir and Izzet decks are the slowest and they can rarely manage fending off multiple threats/players at once. They tend to play better when the number of players is down to three or less. These decks can be strong in one-vs-one matches though. On many occasions, I even managed a mill win with the Dimir Deck, which is such a satisfying way to win considering how slow it can be. It reminded me of the original Ravnica set where milling was what Dimir was all about. The Selesnya, Orzhov and Golgari decks prefer the midrange game. Both decks have ways to create advantage in the long game, whether slowly building a token army, dredging cards to fill up the graveyard, or slowly draining life from other players. These decks, especially the Orzhov deck can win out of nowhere with a strategy I can only describe as death by a thousand cuts. The Simic deck tries to balance a control strategy with a midrange aggro one. The plan for Simic is to try and stabilize in order to make it’s creatures huge with +1/+1 counters. If left unchecked, the simic player can create a huge army nobody can deal with.
All ten decks were designed to be played against each other and each of them can be played straight out of the box. Setting up leagues between friends with the guild kits or having guild themed nights are both fun ways to enjoy this product. The gameplay is not super basic, as it is with many other preconstructed products, but it isn't overly complex either, making it a great alternative to Commander if you have newer players at your table.
Are There Other Benefits?
Some players like building decks. This is one of the alluring parts of Magic as it allows players the freedom to play how they like and express themselves. New or casual players, on the other hand, can find building decks a daunting challenge. Guild Kits take the pressure away and make it easier to build a battle box where the decks are always ready, sleeved and balanced to play against each other. For more experienced players who want to brew, you can definitely use these as a baseline for designing your own battle box, either with the guild themes present already or around other subthemes in the decks (like Dredge).
Another positive result of the Guild Kits is the reprints they bring with them. These kits might not offer the most wanted reprints from each guild but they do facilitate access to some wanted cards for play in other formats. Some of the notable reprints include Glimpse The Unthinkable, Abrupt Decay, Privileged Position, Shattering Spree, Voidslime, Experiment Kraj, Rapid Hybridization, Master of Cruelties, Dreadbore, Debtor’s Kneel, Orzhov Pontiff, Sphinx’s Revelation and Dovescape.
These decks even give players some commander options with new alternate foil artwork. The new artwork in question is featured below, for those interested.
Perhaps the most interesting chase items in the Guild Kits, however, are the guild themed basic lands. That might seem weird to say, as, you know, they're just basic lands. But unique land artwork is always interesting, and these guild themed lands are perfect for anyone trying to bling out their land base in a two-color deck. The basic lands in the Guild Kits all have the guild symbol around the mana symbol, letting everyone know which team you're on. This means that the Plains found in the Boros kits are different from the Pains in the Selesnya Kits. I may not think them quite as stunning as the Unstable full art lands, but they are definitely worth seeking out for you Ravnica fanatics out there.
My favorite way of using the Guild Kits is between Commander games. Sometime players get eliminated early in commander games while other players are waiting for a game to finish in order to join a new one. That time can be frustrating for those players unable to play. I'm always able to find players to play some guild themed games.
Overall, are Guild Kits for everybody? Maybe not, but they are a stellar product considering the cost. The total value of the cards in each kit is more than the price you pay to buy one. Currently one can find any of the Guild Kis available for 15 € or less. This product really shows the effort WotC puts into its supplementary products and they serve as excellent representations of each of the ravnican guilds. They're quite fun too boot! If you've been looking for a great product you can use to introduce friends to Magic with, on the cheap, look no further.
What do you think of this product? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.