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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Oct 12 2023 10:14am

Remasters are now a big part of Wizards’ library of sets, and recently it’s been a regular part of paper in addition to digital. The return to the “City of Guilds” will probably be the most gold-focused Masters set at least since Double Masters 2022, and it might even top that. That’s not the only reason this design is interesting, as there are also a ton of mechanics to consider, and I would be shocked if all the guild mechanics don’t make at least a token appearance. War of the Spark also throws a wrench into things with its power-creeped planeswalker focus working on a different axis to the gold stuff. We also got a first look at the set at Worlds recently, and while it was focused on showing the tons of possible treatments, it also gave us some interesting things to number crunch. Since the archetypes likely aren’t much of a surprise (as they’re the same basic concept in each of the three main blocks), I’ll start by going through every mechanic in the nine main sets and talking about how they’re used in my design.



Forecast: 3 Cards

I thought this flop of a mechanic might just be the needed reprint of Proclamation of Rebirth, but Sky Hussar and Pride of the Clouds both work well in Limited (and need reprints too, especially the latter).


Detain: 3 Cards

This is mostly filler that helps the aggressive decks, but I did end up moving Lyev Skyknight back to uncommon, which might be too conservative.


Addendum: 3 Cards

There’s no “instants at sorcery-speed” build-around here, but my downshift of (Sentinel's Mark) is at least a little spicy (and means all three cards are common).


Transmute: 3 Cards

Yes, Muddle the Mixture needs a reprint (and I upshifted it to uncommon), but Drift of Phantasms and Dimir House Guard also fit well in the set and mean three different mana values get Transmute cards.


Cipher: 2 Cards

This is one of the toughest mechanics to evaluate, as “saboteur” requires the whole archetype to be built around it, and that wasn’t even the case in Gatecrash. Call of the Nightwing is the most generically-good card, and Shadow Slice can also be strong on its own in an aggro deck, and that’s all I chose—maybe I should have Hidden Strings due to its constructed relevance, but it’s competing with Gigadrowse and lost out.


Surveil: 2 Cards

This is weird since the smoothing mechanic is now evergreen, but yet I only found two slots for it (the generic Whisper Agent and Price of Fame). Maybe that means I need more smoothing, but there’s a lot of it in other places (the kicker-likes, split cards, and cost reducers).


Hellbent: 4 Cards

I’ve kept the hand-emptying mechanic to higher-rarities (and needed reprints), rather than the mostly-failed archetype from Dissension. There is one spicy downshift though with Rakdos Pit Dragon to uncommon, and that might be too much.


Unleash: 4 Cards

Conversely, this fits better with Rakdos’ aggro bent and has more lower-cost, lower-rarity cards.


Spectacle: 4 Cards/Bloodthirst: 2 Cards

This overlap is one of the weirdest parts of using all the guild mechanics, though they have different purposes: the black Spectacle cards are more value-focused, while the green Bloodthirst cards are big (though both Bloodthirst cards I chose are red).


Bloodrush: 5 Cards

I may have put too many cards with Bloodrush into this set for a generic mechanic, but it works well as a “split card” of creature/pump spell to fill the limited slots I have, especially since I have fewer low-rarity non-gold cards than normal.


Riot: 3 Cards

I’m surprised not that many Riot cards made it, but it makes sense since they’re just good creatures at their heart, and not that efficient compared to other options.


Convoke: 8 Cards

Unsurprisingly the only mechanic to get doubled-up on gets the most cards of any mechanic, and they’re split 50/50 between Ravnica: City of Guilds and Guilds of Ravnica. Even so I’m worried it’s too much of a good thing, and that it’s just too easy to build this archetype.


Populate: 5 Cards

Again, this feels like too much token focus, especially since I don’t have that many cards that combo with it, and most of them are riders rather than the (Eyes in the Sky)-style built-in combo. At least two of the cards are mythics, so it’s not like the focus unbalances Limited.


Haunt: 2 Cards

This surprised me, but both Blind Hunter and Orzhov Pontiff fit well into what the sacrifice deck is doing, and I could have put in more—Exhumer Thrull is just too expensive, Orzhov Euthanist is fine but makes the board extremely complicated, and Belfry Spirit is likely too good for common and doesn’t fit at uncommon.


Extort: 4 Cards

It feels like I put too many Extort cards in the set since it doesn’t directly tie into the Limited theme, though I cut way back on the aggressive commons compared to Gatecrash, and then Thrull Parasite and Crypt Ghast are important reprints.


Afterlife: 2 Cards

Conversely it feels like I undershot this (especially since it hits both Orzhov and Selesnya), but it’s mostly a balance issue. For instance, it probably would be fine to print Orzhov Enforcer instead of Thrill-Kill Assassin at common, but it’s stronger, and there’s a lot of Orzhov support already.


Replicate: 2 Cards

It’s surprising how bad all the replicate cards besides Shattering Spree and Gigadrowse are—do you really want to play Pyromatics or Vacuumelt in today’s Magic?


Overload: 3 Cards

Conversely, Overload cards are stronger than you expect, so there’s only one common (Weapon Surge), alongside the interesting Mizzix's Mastery (which I assume is safe at rare) and another attack on Cyclonic Rift’s price.


Jump-start: 3 Cards

This is mostly a filler mechanic, with a damage spell (Direct Current), a card draw spell (Chemister's Insight, which I left at uncommon after debating a downshift), and both ((Risk Factor)).


Dredge: 4 Cards

This is the spiciest mechanic to focus on, but in managed numbers this helps fuel the other Golgari mechanics at the risk of repetitive game states. I pulled back on this from my first draft, removing Darkblast from common, and combined with other things like upshifting Stinkweed Imp (and cards like Life from the Loam not being Limited cards) it shouldn’t be too bad.


Scavenge: 3 Cards

I wish these cards were better, as it’s a neat mechanic that synergizes well with Golgari and Simic (though the anti-synergy with Undergrowth is concerning). At the very least, all three are commons, including spicy downshifts of Slitherhead and Zanikev Locust.


Undergrowth: 3 Cards

Another mechanic I wish there was more of, though maybe it’s too good with Dredge (and other enablers like Grisly Salvage), especially since I’m picking the more efficient cards like Rhizome Lurcher and (a downshifted) Necrotic Wound.


Radiance: 1 Card

The worst-designed Ravnica mechanic for modern Limited is difficult to fit in a modern set, especially in a Limited format with a lot of hybrid cards. Bathe in Light is the least-offensive that’s not extremely overcosted like Incite Hysteria or Cleansing Beam, and it might even be too powerful as an Overrun effect (since if your stuff has protection it doesn’t matters if their creatures have it).


Battalion: 4 Cards

It’s hard to design around Battalion since the mechanic is difficult to make work, though hopefully with lots of tokens it’ll be easier (though the only mono-white Battalion is Boros Elite, which I didn’t end up downshifting).


Mentor: 4 Cards

This is another weird one, as it’s in a decent position but the only good ones are uncommon (Sunhome Stalwart and Goblin Banneret), and Barging Sergeant is a common that fits the crunch. Maybe there’s a version of this set that leans more on Mentor, but I chose Battalion instead.


Graft: 3 Cards

Graft is a hard mechanic to use right (even before considering Proliferate), and I’m not helping by giving Cytoplast Manipulator (which wants you to put counters on opponents’ creatures) its needed reprint (maybe I should upshift it, but there’s no slot for it). As such, there are no commons and only Plaxcaster Frogling at uncommon.


Evolve: 4 Cards

This is where I’ve focused Simic since it’s the most interesting of the three mechanics, but it’s also the hardest to design. There isn’t much that’s biased towards it (I had Carven Caryatid at common for a while, but it got cut for space), so hopefully modern creatures like Bloom Hulk can boost Shambleshark enough.


Adapt: 3 Cards

This mechanic gets lost in the shuffle compared to the other Simic mechanics (down to me forgetting it in the initial draft), and I’ve mostly just chosen functional designs that fill in gaps (and Pteramander isn’t even a Simic card).


Fuse: 5 Cards

Split cards are an important part of Ravnica, and they also help in the same way as hybrid cards. I have a full cycle of ten dual-color ones at uncommon, and they’re split 50-50 between Dragon’s Maze’s Fuse cards and the new hybrid/gold ones from Guilds/Allegance.


Proliferate: 4 Cards

This is by far the riskiest mechanic to focus on, as it risks pumping up Simic way too much, especially with cards like Bloom Hulk and Merfolk Skydiver custom-made for it. I did upshift Evolution Sage at least.


Amass: 2 Cards

This fits in least with the set as a whole, but both Honor the God-Pharaoh and Toll of the Invasion are basic effects that fit well with their archetypes (a red spell that’s a creature and a piece of sacrifice fodder for black respectively).


White/Blue: Fliers

None of Azorius’s themes are really build-around by themselves, so we’re left with a blue/white staple archetype. However, there’s a lot of support with Azorius First-Wing, Lyev Skyknight (even back at uncommon), and Sky Hussar, with a downshifted Roc Charger helping your other creatures. Removal like Lawmage's Binding and tappers like Gigadrowse also help your creatures get through.


Blue/Black: Control Mill

Outside of warping saboteur to work with Cipher, Dimir was always going to be a control deck, but making mill work at an acceptable level is difficult. The main ways to mill out an opponent are Sage's Row Denizen and Psychic Spiral, with support from cards like Grisly Spectacle and Thought Collapse. Transmute also helps the deck’s versatility, with Drift of Phantasms being an important defense against the aggro decks that’s not a dead card.


Black/Red: Midrange Aggro

Rakdos has traditionally been a reckless aggro deck, and while aspects of that are left like Rakdos Cackler (downshifted to common) and Frenzied Goblin, the play pattern around cards like Blade Juggler and Rakdos Pit Dragon (downshifted to uncommon) is more interesting, especially with Boros in the same set (something that hasn’t happened in normal Ravnica sets yet).


Red/Green: Big Midrange

War of the Spark helps Gruul have a bit of direction, even if Turret Ogre and Kronch Wrangler are the only explicit “power 4 or greater” cards that fit. Otherwise it’s just efficient creatures with the flexibility of Riot and Bloodrush to help let you play a bunch of creatures.


Green/White: Tokens

The difference between the wide tokens (the focus of Convoke) and tall tokens (the best case for Populate) is difficult to balance. There is some overlap with cards like Centaur's Herald and Knight Watch, but my approach has generally been to take the top percentage of both strategies (Scatter the Seeds and Might of the Masses for Convoke, Call of the Conclave and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage for Populate), but maybe I should lean harder on one side (likely depending on whether Boros goes wide or not, but I’ll discuss that in a bit).


White/Black: Grindy Sacrifice

The value from Haunt and Afterlife points towards an Aristocrats strategy for Orzhov, along with War of the Spark’s WB sacrifice archetype with payoffs like Rising Populace and Cruel Celebrant. My sacrifice choices are different enough to give the deck color: Dimir House Guard at common,  and Maw of the Obzedat at uncommon.


Blue/Red: Spells

As single-minded as Izzet has been towards spells, most of the power actually comes from War of the Spark’s Spellgorger Weird and guest star Experimental Overload, though Gelectrode is still powerful. I may have pushed too hard with the spells themselves, with a downshift of Ral's Outburst to common, while red has both Krenko's Command and Honor the God Pharaoh as “spell” creatures, and three burn spells (one of which is the possibly overpushed in a “normal” environment Jaya's Greeting). Blue even gets Brainstorm as its cantrip, while both Tamiyo's Insight and Chemister's Insight provide card advantage.


Black/Green: Graveyard Value

Dredge plus Overgrowth and Scavenge is an obvious combo, especially when you can start the chain with Grisly Salvage and Glowspore Shaman (though the latter is back up to uncommon). I just wish the payoffs were a better rate, as I don’t know if Rhizome Lurcher, Molderhulk, and (a downshifted) Zanikev Locust are good enough.


Red/White: Wide Aggro

Can Battalion work in a high-power environment? Obviously it did in Gatecrash, but that was more Syndic of Tithes’ reach and the pure rate of Wojek Halberdiers (before every two-drop was a 3/2 with multiple ranges of upside) more than swarming the opponent. Afterlife (and Hunted Witness), helps, as do Krenko's Command, War Screecher, and Burning-Tree Emissary, but this is a hard deck to balance.


Green/Blue: +1/+1 Counters

The Simic counter strategies are neat, and cards like Drift of Phantasms and (downshifted) Merfolk of the Depths help Evolve creatures like Adaptive Snapjaw and Shambleshark. However, it all pales in comparison to how Bloom Hulk supercharges the Evolve creatures (and Kronch Wrangler), and Merfolk Skydiver is extremely strong as well.


Multicolor Support:

Ravnica has plenty of mana-rocks and lands to support gold cards, both guild-aligned and five-color, but supporting all ten color pairs is still extremely difficult. As such, I assumed R&D would crib heavily from Double Masters 2022 with a Cryptic Spires-style land (but a gate this time to support things like District Guide) in a land slot that could be upgraded to shocklands (and other rare lands like Mana Confluence) and bouncelands at uncommon. However, the previews show there aren’t many lands in the set, just the ten shocklands and ten guild-aligned lands (either the Guildgates or the Bouncelands).


As such, I’m back to a more typical lineup, with the cycle of Guildgates in the land slot rather than a Cryptic Spires. However, the same number crunch shows the total number of cards in the set before the multitude of special treatments is 291, 30 more than Dominaria Remastered’s total. Ten of those are shocklands, ten are likely other duals (which could be bouncelands or Guildgates), and ten are a mystery. As such, I’m predicting there are two slots in each pack dedicated to fixing, with one being lands and one being mana rocks. I’m not sure what the best choice is though—the Signets are the obvious choice, but they seem way too powerful to be one per pack, but the Keyrunes, Cluestones, and Lockets seem too weak to get their own slot. There could just be 90 uncommons, or even 121 commons with no land slot (and both Guildgates and Signets on the common sheet), but something needs to be done. Beyond that debate, there aren’t many five-color fixers in my design, just District Guide (downshifted to common), Prophetic Prism, and Utopia Sprawl (at uncommon).


Mythic Rares:

Blazing Archon:

This creature hasn’t been reprinted since Commander 2016, though it’s one of the lower-value cards on the sheet.


(Song of the Worldsoul:c19):
An obvious fit for Selesnya, this would be its first reprint and first foil printing (since it was only in Commander 2019).


Bruvac the Grandiloquent:

Yes, this is a Ravnica character and a perfect fit as a topper for Dimir while desperately needing a reprint (only being in Jumpstart and The List).


Jace, Wielder of Mysteries:

While there isn’t a planeswalker theme in Ravnica Remastered, there are slightly more Planeswalkers than normal, though they’re all at mythic, starting with another good topper for mill.


Lord of the Void:

Did you know this is above $10? That’s what happens when you haven’t been reprinted in a decade, and that makes it a good choice for this set.


Liliana, Dreadhorde General:

Another planeswalker that’s worth more than you expect, and one of the faces of War of the Spark makes sense here.


Ilharg, the Raze-Boar:

The only “god” that’s a Ravnica native, and a fine choice for a color that normally doesn’t have many good mythic reprints (especially since we know Arclight Phoenix has been downshifted).


Breath of Fury:

Extra-attack cards are generally mythic these days, and this is also hovering around $10 since it hasn’t been reprinted since Commander 2016.


Worldspine Wurm:

The surprise Pioneer staple has only been reprinted in a Secret Lair since its original printing, so it’s likely to get the reprint here.


Nissa, Who Shakes the World:

This upshift is probably my most conservative pick, and Wizards will probably hit something from Commander Masters again (either Doubling Season or (Finale of Devastation)), but I don’t like hitting things in multiple consecutive sets, especially things that can be reprinted easily in other places.


Teferi, Time Raveler:

Conversely, here’s an upshift no one will complain about (except for the people who think this card shouldn’t have been printed as-is, but that horse left the stable a while ago).


Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge:

This is an odd choice since it has nothing to do with the wider set (much less Dimir), but this would be its first non-foil printing, and there are no other Dimir gold cards worth anything.


Rakdos, Lord of Riots:

The two mythic Rakdos cards are the only okay choices here, and the one with virtual Spectacle makes more sense than the chaos demon.


Borborygmos Enraged:

Another case where there are no good options, so it makes sense to go with the one that sees a bit of play.


Trostani, Selesnya's Voice:

Another case where there aren’t many good options—(Autocathon Wurm) is actually the most valuable Selesnya gold card, so maybe I should upshift that and print a Limited-relevant rare in its place, though there aren’t many great options there either.


Karlov of the Ghost Council:

This is an obvious reprint outside of the main nine Ravnica sets, even if there isn’t as much support for it in Limited beyond Extort.


Stitch in Time:

Another hard choice, as this feels off, yet there aren’t any other better selections (of the six natural mythics, three are Ral Zareks, two were downshifted previously, and Epic Experiment is a quarter).


Underrealm Lich:

Another case where a normal rare in the set is worth more than the mythic, but Assassin's Trophy isn’t a card you upshift and the lich is still worth a bit.


Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice:

Confirmed, and while this is worth nothing, there aren’t many choices other the just-reprinted Aurelia, the Warleader (and I had Aurelia's Fury here before the Worlds previews).


Prime Speaker Zegana:

Voidslime is surprisingly the most expensive Simic card, but that’s not a card to upshift, and most of the other expensive ones were hit in Commander Masters, so this feels like the “default” choice.



As interesting as this design is, one piece of number crunching points towards the set being much less gold-focused than I thought: Tomik, Distinguished Advokist being #31. There are three eligible colorless non-artifacts (not counting Invasion of Ravnica), and even if all three are in the set that means there are at least 28 white cards, and there are plenty of relevant white cards after Tomik (my design has five of them). Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice is #164 as well (though there are plenty of important gold cards like Assassin's Trophy before it), which also points towards ~32 cards per color. You can cut some cycles of gold cards (cutting one uncommon cycle and one hybrid cycle takes my design up to 31), but that’s far out of scope for my design (the final list of which is here)—tweaking the lands is simple, but this would still be a lot of guesswork and cause a lot of changes. Expect my final article on the set early next year (as previews are in late December and I doubt my editors are working over Christmas), but before then, we’ll travel into the Lost Caverns of Ixalan.



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