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Ravnica: City of Guilds

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Ravnica: City of Guilds is a Magic: The Gathering set and is the first set in the Ravnica Block. Ravnica was released on October 7, 2005 (prerelease events were held worldwide on September 24 and 25, 2005). Its expansion symbol is a silhouette of a city with a prominent clock tower.

Storyline

Following in the tradition of recent Magic blocks, Ravnica takes place in a plane of Dominia (often confused with Dominaria, which is the central plane of the multiverse) that was previously unexplored in the game's backstory. The world of Ravnica is an ecumenopolis, a vast city that covers the entire surface of its planet, and is home to a diverse assortment of sentient races. For ten thousand years, there has been a power struggle between the ten guilds, political factions that each represent a combination of two of Magic's five colors. Ten millennia ago, the Guildpact was signed by the leaders of the ten factions, ending active warfare between them and ushering in an era of peace. But now, on the eve of the celebrations of the accord's ten thousandth anniversary, a sinister force threatens the survival of that peace.

Guilds

Of the ten guilds that rule Ravnica, four are the focus of this first set in the block. The next expansion, Guildpact, focused only on three other guilds, and the last set in the block, Dissension, introduced the last three guilds. Each guild corresponds to a different two-color combination.

All the multicolor cards in Ravnica (and many other cards) are associated with one of these four guilds. Each guild has the following cards:

  • A legendary leader, who includes two mana of each of the guild's colors and some colorless mana as a cost.
  • A legendary champion, who encourages players to play with cards of both of the guild's colors. The champion includes 1 mana of each of the guild's color in their cost.
    • Note: The aforementioned definition of guild leader and guild champion is solely based on game mechanics, not the story. Some guilds have the propeties of their champions and leaders swapped around.
  • A signet, a common artifact which produces one mana of each of the guild's colors. [[
  • A common "karoo" land, which returns a land to hand when it comes into play (tapped), but produces 2 mana of the guild's colors. (For example; Simic Growth Chamber for the Simic's.)
  • An uncommon "guildhome" land, which produces colorless mana but has a special ability.
  • A rare land that has two basic land types even though it is nonbasic.
  • A rare guild-affiliated artifact.
  • Three hybrid mana cards, 1 of each rarity level, the uncommon one is always the guildmage which costs 2 hybrid mana to play, and is a 2/2 with 2 abilities associated each of its colors.
  • Miscellaneous spells of each of the guild's colors that are "enhanced" if played with a mana of the guild's other color.
  • Two permanents from each guild that are one colour, and have an activated ability of the second colour of their guild. (Simic Wurm in the Simic Guild (Green/Blue))

The four guilds featured in Ravnica are:

  • The Boros Legion (red/white): The militaristic guild, they act as enforcers of order on Ravnica, and are not against using force to keep the peace. The Boros Legion is epitomized by the actions of the Wojek League, the police force of Ravnica. They are inspired by the archangel Razia. The champion, Agrus Kos, is a Wojek Police officer and was the main character in the Ravnica books.
  • The Golgari Swarm (black/green): A sect which emphasizes that death is an essential aspect of the life cycle, and which to that end encourages death and plague in order to foster regrowth. They are ruled by a trio of sibling gorgons called The Sisters of Stone Death (Lydya, Lexya and Ludmilla), but their rule is being fought over with the elvish shaman Savra.
  • The Selesnya Conclave (green/white): A quasi-monastic order whose members are zealously dedicated to keeping life in balance. The Conclave disapproves strongly of individuality, holding that the good of the whole is always more important than that of a single being. It is directed by The Chorus of the Conclave, a group of mostly ancient dryads. A preacher named Tolsimir Wolfblood is their champion, although he was absent from the Ravnica book.
  • House Dimir (blue/black): A shadowy guild that few of the common people of Ravnica are sure still exists. The other nine guilds know it does, and that it traffics in secrets, employing a network of spies and assassins to discover them and enforce their use in blackmail. It is led by the eldritch psionic vampire Szadek and the mysterious champion of the guild Circu, Dimir Lobotomist (Circu wasn't in the book, though).

Design

Ravnica was conceived following the success of Invasion. This set, released in 2000, emphasized interactions between the colors, and it was one of Magic's most popular releases ever. Magic's lead designer, Mark Rosewater, wanted to expand on the multicolor theme in a new way. Therefore, the design of Ravnica is based around the four guilds above, including cards in which those pairs of colors work in concert.

Ravnica is functionally different from Invasion block due to the interaction of the multi-colored theme. In Invasion block, for example, the first two sets (Invasion and Planeshift) centered around friendly colors and the harmony they create when put together. The last set, Apocalypse emphasized enemy colors and areas where the colors contrast and possibly create powerful effects. However, the Ravnica block features a limited number of color combinations (some friendly, some enemy) in every set based on what guilds are present.

Mechanics

  • Hybrid Cards: For the first time in Magic's history, entirely new mana symbols appear. Each symbol is a circle halved diagonally, in which the top left half is one color and the bottom right half another. A smaller version of the color's icon (sun for white, skull for black, etc.) appears in the corresponding half. These mana symbols mean that mana of either color may be used to pay it; for example, a spell whose mana cost is two of the green/white symbols may be played using two green mana, two white mana, or one green and one white. The cards with these mana symbols have a colored border that fades from left to right, out of one color and into the other. A large version of the guild's sigil underlies the text box of the card. These symbols each correspond to one of the guilds.

Each two-color combination is represented in the world of Ravnica by a guild -- an organized association of people with common beliefs. Four of these guilds appear in this set and the remaining six appear later in the Ravnica block.

The appearance of a guild symbol in the background of a card's text box identifies that card's guild affiliation. For example, the symbol of the green-white Selesnya guild appears on green-white cards, cards with the convoke mechanic, lands that produce green and white mana, and so on. The guild symbols have no effect on game play.

  • Radiance (red/white): Radiance is an ability word that appears on spells and abilities that affect every creature that shares a color with the target creature. When played on multi-colored cards, the effect spreads to both colors.
  • Convoke (green/white): A player playing a spell with Convoke may tap some of his or her creatures to pay part or all of the mana cost. Each creature tapped reduces the cost by one mana of that creature's color, or by one colorless mana. Selesnya takes advantage of Convoke by playing cards that create Saproling creature tokens.
  • Dredge (black/green): Cards with dredge may be returned from the graveyard to their owner's hand, provided that player opts to skip drawing a card and instead puts a number of cards from the top of his or her library into the graveyard.
  • Transmute (blue/black): For a certain amount of mana, a card with Transmute that's in a player's hand may be discarded. Doing this allows the player to find a card with the same converted mana cost from that player's library and put it into his or her hand.

In addition, several spells of the set, such as Boros-Fury Shield (create), Dryad’s Caress (create), Vigor Mortis (create), and Induce Paronoia (create) have an enhanced effect if a particular color of mana is spent to play it. This theme continues with creatures in Guildpact.

Novel

Ravnica: City of Guilds (Book One)

Kos is one of a cast of 6 major players: Kos, Jarad, Fonn, Feather, Pivlic, and Savra. Each one of these characters has another part to play in the big storyline, but the main story is split between Kos and Feather, followed by Jarad and Fonn. As Pivlic is introduced to the story, all four characters come together in one place and everything breaks loose. From that point, Savra’s plan to take over her guild and resurrect its founder Svogthir, a necromancer, begins and the five characters are thrown into a war that only ends when a titan crumbles, an angel fights, a guild is nearly destroyed, and Kos arrests makes the greatest collar in 10,000 years.

This story takes place in the city of Ravnica, the city of guilds. 10,000 years prior to the story, 10 guilds assembled and signed a contract know as the guildpact, and that guildpact has held the city together since. Thanks to policing from the Boros Legion, a guild run by angels from above, the upper tiers of the city have been peaceful for much of the time, but the underworld is dark and desolate, devoid of sun. That’s where the Devkarins, members of the Golgari guild, come in: dark elves that run the darker parts of Ravnica with Necromancy and pure hunting skill. Jarad is one such Devkarin.

However, they stay close to old Rav’s underworld, leaving the roads free, and so the Selsnyan Conclave use Ledev’s, a group of paramilitary soldiers that protect the rights of free passage on the road. Within these elite Ledev, we find Fonn, eager to guard her friend, a priest, into Ravnica for his part in the Decimillenial celebrations. However, they meet with some heartache as an explosion tears through the city and kills the priest, flinging Fonn into Jarad’s arms and causing far too much trouble for Kos to handle.

With a partner dead and a contract he never signed keeping the ghost bound to his presence, Kos embarks on the investigation that takes him under Ravnica, through the skies and into the streets plunged deep with innocent blood. Unfortunately for him, that means crossing the doorsteps of some of the most powerful guilds of the plane. But only the corrupt ones and only the ones whose intentions do not honor the guildpact. Armed with his pendrek and his angel friend, he sets out to discover that the conspiracies of the present are invariably tied directly to the past; his past and Ravnica’s past.

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