SCG Daily – Doctor Mox’s Ravnica Guild Round-Up

The good doctor returns, bringing the low-down on the three guilds from Ravnica, and his own particular take on the MagicTheGathering.com Legend “You Decide” vote.

Good morrow, my scrumptious ragamuffins! Gird your loins, juice your spines and supple-up your love-muscles. Doctor Mox is, quite literally, in effect.

When last we spoke, my Swiss ladyfriend Jetta and I were enjoying life on the ocean wave, performing cabaret and full-contact martial artistry aboard a Mediterranean liner. While our contract was terminated rather abruptly, we both felt it was a blessing for all concerned. Who knew scurvy seamen would be so touchy about remarks concerning personal hygiene? I don’t blame Jetta, of course… the sea-dog in question was so “salty” that his stench was capable of downing a buzzard at fifty paces. Maybe her claim that he “took frequent baths in a barrel of p*ss” was rather ill-advised, but I still maintain that throwing us overboard twenty miles off Grecian coast was a little heavy-handed.

Still, the Navy’s loss is StarCityGames.com gain… as it means I am available once more to answer your queries of a Magical nature. Pray stand clear of the doors, as contents may settle in transit.

First, we have a letter from the Big Cheese Himself.

Dear Doctor Mox.

My name is Mark. You may have heard of me. I once wrote for the Rosanne show.

My latest baby, Ravnica Block, is selling like hot cakes. Of course, Ravnica Block isn’t an actual baby — the cards won’t suckle at my teat, no matter how many times hold them in place. And of course, they’re not actually selling like hot cakes… hot cakes are a dying business in today’s modern fast-food age. Whoever heard of a Hot Cake Millionaire?

Anyway, Ravnica Block. And guilds. What do you think? Elegant?

Mark R
Renton, WA

Ps- If you continue bombarding me with lewd photographs, I’ll be forced to inform the police.

Thanks, Mark, for your wonderful letter. It’s nice to see you can take time from your hectic schedule to commune with us snuffle-pigs, down and dirty in the mud. I apologise for the photos, but I am a slave to my hormones. On the subject of photography, thank you for your wonderful picture: while I’m not au fait with the bondage scene, my Swiss ladyfriend Jetta says your tiny leather pouch brings out her latent dominatrix.

As for Ravnica, you can relax. It’s wonderful. I think we all know that. Well done, sir! Pat yourself on the back. If you can’t reach around to do it yourself, have a colleague do it for you. In fact, I recommend you all get in a circle, and pat each other on the back for twenty minutes. Doctor’s orders.

So far, we’ve been treated to sic guilds in Ravnica block. Each is possessed of strengths, and weaknesses. Each has a mechanic tied to it’s very being, although the color lines become a little blurred in places. In order to answer you question with the gravitas it deserves, I present Doctor Mox Ravnica Run-Down. The guilds, in all their glory, dissected for your pleasure. Today, the guilds of Ravnica itself.

We may as well start with Pure Evil.

Dimir is the guild of trickery and subterfuge. It is the guild of cunning. The Blue cards, mixed with the Black cards, brewing a heady broth of guile and deceit.

The Mechanic
Dimir mages rely on Transmute, an ability that enables a would-be sorcerer to exchange a card in hand for a card with the same converted mana-cost that currently resides within his deck. Like turtles mating, it’s slow, cumbersome, and rather embarrassing to watch.

“Ooooh, aren’t we clever! We can take this two-mana spell, and exchange it for another two-mana spell! It only costs three mana to do so! Fear us!”
“Yeah, whatever. Attack for eighteen. Got any trades?”

Aside from sounding like a gender-confused mime-artist, the word “Transmute” is far too space-age for Magic: the Gathering. It sounds like something a robot would do.

The Win-Condition
In general, the Dimir mage chooses to win the game by “milling” his opponent to death. This doesn’t involve grinding him between two revolving stones, although it is probably just as painful. No, it revolves around spells and effects that place cards from an opponent’s library into an opponent’s graveyard, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.

My Swiss ladyfriend Jetta is a lover of the Dimir Mill strategy, forever grinding away at the resources of her opponent. Sadly, this relentlessness pours over into our private life. For starters, her iron grip makes grinding the Mox family jewellery a rather eye-opening event. Capping this is her overzealous attitude to the grinding-down of our personal finances. I know that a woman must have her trinkets… even so, three thousand dollars a month on designer shoes is excessive. She’s only paying for one shoe, after all: the major fashion houses usually shun designs for the club-footed.

Golgari is the grave-based guild. Coupling Green’s love of nature with Black’s love of the crypt, we have zombies and skeletons and gorgons, oh my!

The Mechanic
Perhaps the most potent of the guild-specific mechanic, Dredge allows you to replace any “draw a card” effect with the act of returning a “dredge-labelled” card from your graveyard… in exchange for “milling” a number of cards from your library into oblivion.

So, Dredge. Well… it sounds like “Reg,” which is short for “Reginald.” Also, Golgari includes the name “Gary,” so we know it’s a man’s mechanic. Not like Transmute of the Deirdre guild. Dredge has made an impact on the tournament scene, with decks such as “Friggorid,” “Loam Confinement,” and “Nine-Fingers McGee” all placing well around the globe.

The thing is, a rule of Magic states that you should draw a card from your deck, and not your graveyard. Drawing from the trash seems a little wretched: rather like a stumbling bum swearing at pigeons, downing hooch, and pissing away his pride. Dredge is a scavenging, ill-tempered mechanic, fit only for gypsies, tramps, and thieves.

The Win-Condition
The Golgari win-condition is strangely unfocussed. It uses the fuzzy logic of the old Extended Rock deck: “I’ll gain loads of card advantage, and then I’ll just win.” With cards that return from the dead, and plenty of cards that make things dead, the Golgari guild attempts to gain the upper hand through tedious inevitability.

They cast a spell. You deal with it.
The do something clever, and get the card back.
They cast the spell again. You deal with it, again.
The do something clever, and get the card back.
They cast the spell again. You deal with it, again.
They do something clever. You blah blah blah blah.

Rock players, and by extension all players of Black/Green, are freaks. The absolute best thing about Magic is that it’s constantly changing, constantly developing, in flux, and vibrant. The change is what makes it special. Rock players, however, are happiest when they’re casting the same spell, over and over again, in each and every game. Usually, they’ll play the same deck, over and over again, for tournaments, seasons, years.

Rumor has it that Bill Murray based his performance in Groundhog Day after watching Jeroen Remie play the Rock in Extended. I can believe it: that Jeroen is a wild and crazy guy.

Selesnya is the guild of the Flower People. Green and White, in perfect harmony. Friendliness, sharing, the bounty of nature… sickening, I’m sure you’ll agree.

The Mechanic
Convoke is the mechanic of acceleration. It turns each and every creature in your army into a color-specific Llanowar Elf. When casting a Convoke critter, you can literally tap your men for mana.

The Selesnyans are undisputed party animals. When they throw a bash, everyone’s invited. Make a little guy, make another guy, make more guys, make all the guys… hell, why bother attacking! Let’s just make men! Disco dancin’ like the Village People! Woo-hoo! Men men men men MEN!

Wrath of the what-now?


Selesnya: truly a party guild, but sadly in the kitchen at the Party of Power.

The Win-Condition
My Swiss ladyfriend Jetta abhors Selesnya, and all it stands for. According to her, there are far too many men in the Real World, and Magic needn’t mirror this imbalance. I tell her that a lot of the Selesnyan beefcake is, in fact, lovely lady-muffins, but by this stage in the conversation her eyes have glazed over and she’s beginning to foam at the mouth. I do wish she were more stringent with her oral hygiene: it breaks my heart to see the rabies affect her so.

Selesnya is a guild in turmoil. While it wins through an overpowering creature barrage, it never gets a chance to actually attack. It churns out creature after creature in a ceaseless parade of monkey-fat. It begs that you over-extend, and has no back-up plan when things invariably go tits-up.

I myself enjoy the Selesnyan party paradise: it’s not often I get a chance to socialize, as Jetta is a stern mistress. When I am allowed off the proverbial leash, I find most of my medical colleagues to be frightful bores. So I sit alone in my dank cellar and cry onto my cards, and whisper sweet nothings to my Saprolings friends.

Sometimes they talk to me. They tell me to burn things.

There you go, Mark. I hope you learnt something from my Ravnica guild roundup. I suspect you didn’t, if I’m being honest. I may return to the Guildpact guilds at a later date, but don’t hold your breath. Unless, of course, you’re engaging in the pursuit of snorkelling, in which case “holding you breath” may be seen as exquisite advice.

Finally, it appears that our good friends at MagicTheGathering.com have a mysterious new poll, in which Legendary Creatures face off in the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. Good guys, bad guys, and explosions, as far as the eye can see. Only one can survive, I wonder who it will be?

Let’s check out the runners and riders in today’s “You Decide” poll:

Sliver Queen versus Vhati il-Dal

Sliver Queen is a 7/7 Sliver, for five mana, that sh**s out other Slivers! Sure, it costs one of each mana ever created under the sun… but hey, Slivers! SLIVERS!

Vhati il-Dal is a 3/3 bloke who makes another guy have a toughness of one until end of turn. Vhati il-Dal costs four mana, and sounds like an obscure Indian delicacy. His only redeeming feature, as far as I can make out, is the fact that he has snakes for hair. While not quite Snakes on a Plane, Snakes on a Head is still somewhat exciting.

While I am permanently and unequivocally in the Sliver Queen camp, my Swiss ladyfriend Jetta shines a light for Vhati il-Dal. I think she empathises with the “snakes-for-hair” problem. At her last visit to the hair salon, her matted rat-tail dreadlocks had to be gouged from her skull with an angle-grinder, in a process akin to the removal of barnacles from an ancient ship’s hull.

The Mox Verdict: Sliver Queen.

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind versus Kataki, War’s Wage

This one, I feel, is a little closer. While Niv-Mizzet is a relative newcomer to the Legendary scene, there’s no denying this Dragon Wizard is a mover, a shaker and, indeed, a money-maker. Draws cards, deals damage, flaps wings and breathes fire: the archetypical Dragon Wizard.

Apparently, his flavor text is something clever, but no-one has figured it out yet. I’ve not read about it anywhere, at least.

Kataki, on the other hand, is tiny. Sure, he’s a Legend, but he’s a Legend that’d die when fighting a bloody squirrel. Let’s face it; he’s hardly Rocky Balboa.

However, he can punch far far above his weight against the Voldemort of M:TG, the Deck Who Shall Not Be Named… the dreaded Affinity. In Extended, in Boros Deck Wins, a turn 2 Kataki (versus Affinity) caused a number of Magic-related black eyes and boxed ears.

Overall, I think I’ll give this one to Niv-Mizzet. While I respect Kataki and all that he’s done, I can’t quite forgive him for arriving a touch too late to truly quench the fires of horror. Affinity rode us so hard, I’m still walking with a limp.

The Mox Verdict: Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

My time is spent, my Magnificent Moxettes. I must fade into the wallpaper once more. I’ll be back tomorrow, naturally, on the traditional Day of Love.

Tonight, Jetta and I plan to visit our local cheese museum. While I’m not a particular connoisseur of such pungent comestibles, Jetta has a voracious dairy appetite. She claims her insatiable cravings stem from a calcium dependency developed during her childhood farmyard upbringing, but I suspect she uses the acrid aroma as an attractant for passing mice and rats. I’ve told her that no-one will pay to see an attraction called Jetta’s Rodent Circus, but she will cling to her dreams.

Until next time, keep nipping in for two.

Doctor Mox
Doctor Mox can be contacted at [email protected]
Warning: may bolt if startled.