A Guildpacked Review

It’s that time of year. The birds are singing, Magic is in the air, and guilds once again roam the earth. That’s right, it’s set review time! Like my review of Ravnica, this article won’t tell you how to pick Drafts or Draft picks or whatever it is you people do. It won’t help you out at the next Grand Prix. It’s never even heard of Block Constructed. No, we’re going to explore something else entirely. We’re going to talk about flavor, fun, and a curious obsession with bats.

It’s that time of year. The birds are singing, Magic is in the air, and guilds once again roam the earth. That’s right, it’s set review time! Like my review of Ravnica, this article won’t tell you how to pick Drafts or Draft picks or whatever it is you people do. It won’t help you out at the next Grand Prix. It’s never even heard of Block Constructed. No, we’re going to explore something else entirely. We’re going to talk about flavor, fun, and a curious obsession with bats.

Guildpact continues where Ravnica left off, so we’re sure to see old themes and mechanics developed even as new ones are introduced. I’m especially looking forward to seeing what they’ll do with the Dimir. For instance…

Huh. That’s weird. I can’t seem to find any Dimir cards in the spoiler… Or Selesnya. Or Golgari! Or Boros, but that’s no big loss. Where the hell are my guilds?


Oh… well, yeah. I guess that makes sense. 4-3-3, sure. Ok, thanks.

As I was saying, Guildpact throws Ravnica to the wind and introduces three completely new guilds with three completely new mechanics! I hope you hated the first four guilds, because you’ll never see them again!

Fortunately, Guildpact, like its predecessor, is absolutely packed with flavor. In fact, this time they were able to do what they only dreamed about in Ravnica: make the cards themselves flavored. Thanks to a revolutionary new printing process, they assigned each color a taste – spearmint for White, peppermint for Green, cinnamon for Red, licorice for Black, and “cool mint” for Blue – meaning that gold and hybrid cards offer exciting new flavor combinations!

If you don’t believe me, just lick a Guildmage.

Or, better yet, get someone else to.

And speaking of people who’ll eat anything, let’s take a look at…

The Gruul Clans
Schtick: Green’s philosophical objections to the constraints of city life meet Red’s love of smashing things.
Named for: Their favorite food. Also, Mark Rosewater desire to make “Gruul and unusual” puns.
Symbol: Pretty much just the Green mana symbol set on fire. Fair enough.
Stated Mission: Smash Everything!
Hidden Agenda: Durrrr… SMASH Everything!
Darkest Secret: Borborygmos was a total nerd in high school, and everybody made fun of him. He had glasses and everything. Well, a glass. Heh.
Style: Angry, enraged, frothing, violent, psychotic, or irritable. Also, dirty.
HQ: Skarrg, the Rage Pits, where all the tattooed freaks* hang out at 2AM. You know the place.
Signature Ability: Bloodthirst (If you’re already winning, win more. If you’re losing, good luck.)

Notable cards:

Battering Wurm
Okay, I like and respect the work of Darrell Riche… but that thing just looks silly. Wurms should look like they go SMASH, not BONK.

Feral Animist
Rest assured, the only way they resisted the “right to bear arms” joke on this one was because they’d already made it. I, of course, uphold the right to arm bears.

Giant Solifuge
Others have pointed it out, but I just want to mention that they didn’t make up the word Solifuge. I respect that to an unhealthy degree.

Ghor-Clan Savage
Look at him! He’s so savage he’s falling over.

Gruul Scrapper
You, uh, really ought to have that skin condition looked at.

Hypervolt Grasp
What’s that you say? Not a Gruul card? Why, look again.

Rumbling Slum
That. Is. So. Cool. But why doesn’t it have the creature type Slum? Town, maybe? C’mon! If they’d followed the race/class model, we could have had a Slum Warrior.

Scab-Clan Mauler
See? Deep down, he’s just a big bully who wants to be loved. His going into the red zone is really a cry for help.

Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
In his heart of hearts, that man is pondering a serious question: How the hell am I going to get down from here?

Of course, the Gruul seem pretty even-keeled compared to those nuts…

The Izzet
Schtick: Blue’s carelessness meets Red’s thoughtlessness. Yeah, this is gonna go great.
Named for: Constant, irritating query, “Izzit ready yet? Izzit?” And puns again, of course. I swear to you, at the prerelease, I actually heard the following exchange concerning one player’s deck:
Player A: Dude, Izzet?
Player B: Is it what?
Player A: No. Dude… Izzet?
Player B: Oh. Yeah.
Symbol: A dragon wearing a little crown. Yeah, who da man?
Stated Mission: To transregulate an electrospheric stratocharge across dipolar anbaric matrices, resulting in free light, heat, and water for all Ravnicans.
Hidden Agenda: Blow sh** up.
Darkest Secret: Frequent nosebleeds.
Style: Professor Frink + Emmett Brown + way too much fire.
HQ: Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind, a wacky hall of funhouse mirrors.
Signature Ability: Replicate (When you play this, play it as many times as you want. No, really. See if we care.)

Notable Cards:

A new creature type! That’s… weird.

Goblin Flectomancer
See, you only wish you were as cool as he is.

Mizzium Transreliquat
I will never, ever get tired of saying that. Mizzium Transreliquat! See?

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
d00d, N1/-|/|1223t 1$ t3h r0x0rz!

Steam Vents
On our way out of the prerelease in Indianapolis, I saw steam pouring out of a manhole cover and immediately thought of this card. I attempted to tap it for Red or Blue mana, but all I got were these lousy third-degree burns.

Steamcore Weird
Okay, that settles it. If I ever start laying the beats, I’ll be doing it as DJ Steamcore, opening for Circu at the House of Shadow. Word.

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain!

Train of Thought
This art was actually commissioned for an Unhinged card called Trick Shuffle.

Wee Dragonauts
These aren’t just any Dragonauts, mind you. These are wee Dragonauts. Is um’s a wee Dwagonaut? Yes, um’s is! Yes, um’s – oh, God, my face! AHHH!

Naturally, the Izzet have a lot more fun than those moaning specters in…

The Orzhov Syndicate
Schtick: White’s love of order meets Black’s love of thrulls.
Named for: Stalin’s head of secret police, Nikolai Yezhov. On an unrelated note, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Google’s “did you mean?” feature.
Symbol: Like the White mana symbol, but evil.
Stated Mission: Eternal life or your money back!
Hidden Agenda: Refuse to honor money-back guarantees.
Darkest Secret: Shrine not nearly as godless as advertised.
Style: Definitely not Catholic. Not even a little.
HQ: Orzhova, the Church of Deals, a savage twenty-turn clock.
Signature Ability: Haunt (When this goes to the graveyard, remove it from the game confusing target player. When this has an effect on the game, stop the freaking presses.)

Notable Cards:

Angel of Despair
I figured there’d be something like this in the set, and now I feel vindicated. [Ouch. – Craig]

Belfry Spirit
What’s with all the bats? Seriously, they should have called this set Batpact.

Blind Hunter
It’s also interesting to note that, as per Leviticus 11:19, bats aren’t kosher. They are also birds.

The most feared of the Orzhov’s many punishments: the noogie.

Moratorium Stone
I can’t see anything but the Orb of Insight when I look at that thing. I wonder how long it’ll be before they actually name a card that…

Mourning Thrull
I know it’s tempting, but you can’t always go for cheap thrulls.

Orzhov Euthanist
A lot of people are misreading this card as Orzhov Enthusiast, which is a funny thought. “Okay, guys, we’re gonna kill somebody! Isn’t that super!”

Orzhov Guildmage
A dark figure steps from the shadows, his robes billowing in darkness. His face is invisible within the folds of his cloak, and you are glad to be spared the sight. He speaks, in a voice to chill the dead: “Your time has come. Are you prepared… to Gain Some Life? Ah-hahahahahahahahahaaaa!!

Orzhov Signet
“…and totally hardcore.”

Shrieking Grotesque
Wow. Being an Orzhov mage-sculptor must be the most irritating job ever.

Teysa, Orzhov Scion
Okay, what is the deal with intimidating women in fantasy and sci-fi having holes in their armor to show off their cleavage? I mean, okay, I know what the deal is, but you might as well paint a bulls eye on your chest and walk around saying, “Hey, stick a knife in my heart!” This always bugged me about Klingon women. Well, that and the teeth.

But enough about guilds! I seem to recall hearing that this set contained a few…

Other Cards

An X, a Y, and a *, all in one text box! Now they just need to get pi in there. Mmmm… Pie.

Caustic Rain
That would be a pretty good name for a metal band, except you’d have to spell it Kaustik Räyne and write it in a font that looks like lightning bolts.

“This is Halloween, this is Halloween…”

Debtors’ Knell
“One moment, conscious only of an incomplete sentence. The next moment, reading another one. He sighed and struggled through the flavor text again.”

Droning Bureaucrats
At last! The Advisor tribal deck and the Paranoia theme deck both get a much-needed boost.

Drowned Rusalka
It’s Moaning Myrtle!

Dryad Sophisticate
She looks really, um, sophisticated.

Dune-Brood Nephilim
It looks like a cross between one of those ugly deep-sea fish and a Belgian waffle, and it vomits up little people made of sand. And people think Magic is weird.

Earth Surge
Feed the rush!

Gatherer of Graces
Okay, go read her flavor text… now tell me why she’s wearing clothes. She’d look so much better in nothing but a Wurmweaver Coil

Glint-Eye Nephilim
I’ll share my full objections to the Nephilim in a later treatise, but I do want to point out that they picked the name because it’s a cool word, not because these guys have anything at all to do with the Biblical Nephilim in the Apocrypha. Just sayin’. [See Abe Sargent article for an alternate take on this. – Craig]

Guardian’s Magemark
And that, children, is why we don’t take drugs.

Harrier Griffin
Considering that the scent in question is almost certainly griffin musk, I don’t even want to think about what happens to those people.

Leyline of the Meek
Ahhh! He said the H-word! Don’t listen, Sheldon! Don’t listen!

Martyred Rusalka
The Tree of Weeping, by the way, quickly became a popular vacation spot.

Ogre Savant
“Add pi to both sides, carry da one, divide by zero… Wait… Dividing by zero impossible! Equation not balance! Grrrrraaaaaarrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!!”

Parallectric Feedback
Practicing… Magic… Feedback… Me oh my, that’s clever.

Poisonbelly Ogre
“Look, hun, you’ve really got to start dressing to your body-type. That little vest just doesn’t flatter a plus-size, ‘kay?”

Sanguine Praetor
I bet ol’ Bromov’s awful popular, telling fun stories like that. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear about their own bones clattering in the wind?

Skeletal Vampire
I’m very eager to see how they’ll make this one legal in China. Change the name and leave the art out entirely? Sure! You could call it, like, “Invisible Vampire.” Also, bats.

“…They also mark a time when the streets are coated in zeppelid poo, but that’s slightly less poetic.”

To Arms!
I know some people who feel that this is a little too punctuated for a Magic card name. Me, I just like playing it and yelling, “To Arms!” I mean, you can’t just say it. It’s got an exclamation point!

Sun Tzu would disagree with that sentiment. Just sayin’.

Wurmweaver Coil
If this were a videogame, I’d play it in a heartbeat. How cool would that be?

That concludes our Magical journey through a land filled with dragons, centaurs, cyclops, wafflefish, weirds, slums, nephilim, and especially bats. What exciting new guilds might Dissension bring? Can these cards I’ve been making fun of be used to play some sort of “game,” as I’ve heard? Will Gatherer of Graces ever get nekkid?

Tune in next time, and remember, never look a guildhouse in the mouth.

Kelly Digges

*I don’t mean to imply that everyone who has a tattoo is a freak.** I am talking about a specific type of freak, namely those with tattoos. Hence, tattooed freaks.

**Although I think you’ve got to concede that there’s no small amount of overlap.