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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Oct 24 2018 12:00pm
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GUILDS OF RAVNICA

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 Everyone's favorite Magic urban setting is back! Again! Guilds of Ravnica marks the first occasion for a plane to get visited for a third time, Dominaria aside – though we actually visited Dominaria only twice (in Time Spiral block and the namesake set), since the original Mirrodin block sent the game in its multiversal wandering path.

 Guilds of Ravnica has less tribal undertone than some of its recent predecessors, but the strictly structured nature caused by the division into five guilds sort of lends itself to tribalism. So we'll have, for instance, Golgari's Elves, Insects and Zombies, Boros's Angels and Soldiers, Selesnya's Elves, Centaurs and Knights, Izzet's Wizards, and Dimir's Assassins and Rogues.

 Anyway, let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the focus is on all the Constructed applications, the tribes are listed alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump


Angel: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 151, online: 149

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Angels on Ravnica all hail from the Boros Legion, so the two specimens from GRN both have the watermark and the guild's keyword, mentor. Light of the Legion is naturally going to exploit the mechanic at its fullest, because it'll be hard not to have something with an inferior power to attack alongside her; this said, the death trigger is nice but the package is just fine for six mana, hardly a finisher for the ages. Very different evaluation for the new version of the Legion's fierce leader, Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice, who's all kinds of explosive for four mana. First of all, she impacts the board right away by boosting power and abilities of a teammate, especially of a Boros-colored one. If she's alone, she'll attack as a 4/5 flying vigilant trampler, thus immediately offsetting her apparently sub-par power, and marking a new power level for 4-mana Angels. In order to trigger mentor more frequently she'll probably have to do just that and boost herself, but she's also a good pair with double strikers in general, even if the one she'll have around more often in Standard, Swiftblade Vindicator, already sports the two abilities she offers.


Antelope: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 9, online: 9

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: One might expect that any new addition on a 9-member tribe is going to be relevant, but Antelope, despite its tiny size, actually has not a bad lineup. A playable French vanilla like this one ranks more or less in the middle. Which is already saying something, because the card Wary Okapi functionally reprints, Woodland Patrol, was clearly insignificant for both Humans and Scouts.


Assassin: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 53, online: 50

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Assassin receives some serious support, thanks to House Dimir. There's a selection of deathtouch (a keyword that's always bound to be playable when placed on a one-drop) and "surveil matters" cards. Ochran Assassin incorporates both elements of the old Lure on Thicket Basilisk combo, although, unlike the Basilisk, it needs a power boost to actually turn into a roundabout sweeper. Blood Operative feels like a good card but its design is a bit all over the place: it's a lifelinker, aggressively costed for its power, and includes anti-graveyard tech and recursion linked to surveil. None of these disparate elements seem particularly correlated, except the idea of getting some life by attacking to pay for the recursion later. I guess it's a multipurpose player.

 Then there's the guild champion, Etrata, the Silencer, and she feels more like a convoluted battleplan than a creature. Her attacks ignore the board position, she gets rid of a problematic target, then goes back into the library; do this three times and you'll win the game. I can't tell if it's a feasible plan or too clunky for its own good, but at least she acts as removal, if of a very slow variety. She's also a solid defender the turn while she's waiting for her occasion to strike. And you can tutor her up with Forerunner of the Legion, I guess (yeah, we're in a Standard environment where "legion" refers to two very different entities across the multiverse).


Bat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 19, online: 17

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Whoa, this is such a shameless piece of filler that it almost hurts. And it's a template that's being pushed on us a lot lately, because it's a functional reprint of both Carrion Screecher from Hour of Devastation and Vampire Revenant from Rivals of Ixalan. I guess it's an okay late pick in Limited?


Beast: +4

    

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 New Tribal Total: 357, online: 348

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Common and uncommon Beasts come here in a triplet of colors and to not especially memorable results. Affectionate Indrik is similar to Territorial Allosaurus, but without the option to trade the fighting trigger for a reduced cost. Also, it looks like it wants to pay homage to Gertie the Dinosaur; but if so, why isn't it a Dinosaur? And judging by name, art and flavor text, shouldn't it be fighting a creature you do control? You know, the one it's too affectionate towards? (It would be a terrible ability, I know, but that's what they set up).

 The real center of attention here is clearly Nullhide Ferox, which is one of the protagonists of this first stretch of new Standard. And you can easily see why: hexproof 6/6 for 4? Green power creep much? Except, well, it's not exactly hexproof, is it? More like you have to pay 2 to target it, Frost Titan style. And not being able to cast noncreature spells, or better, having your Vivian Reid suddenly cost 7, can be a bit annoying. Still, it's a beast of a Beast, and the pressure it applies on the opponent, easily since turn three, can be nerve-racking. Personally, though, I think it's overrated. The Obstinate Baloth-like anti-discard clause is nice, though, if very situational.


Bird: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 235, online: 222

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: As unassuming as it looks, Healer's Hawk works great with mentor. Suddenly, your one-drop was a 2/2 flyer with lifelink. Good little Bird.


Boar: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 33, online: 31

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Yeah, giving a minor one-shot ability to Hill Giant is not gonna cut it, my swine friend.


Cat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 168, online: 161

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is not even a terrible card (it's Elvish Visionary for one mana more with one toughness more, so essentially a worse Elvish Visionary), but I can't get over the fact that it's literally someone's house cat that has been somehow brought to the field of a fantasy battle. And it's somehow as tough as a bear.


Centaur: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 55, online: 55

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Knight, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: With the Centaurs we find ourselves deep in the harmonious realm of then Selesnya Conclave. The pièce de résistance is the namesake Conclave Cavalier, part of the "protectors" cycle (a name I've totally made up right now), four-mana creatures that ask you to heavily commit to both colors in exchange for superior stats and abilities. In this case we get a vigilant 4/4 that splits into two vigilant 2/2s, which may even be better given the guild's propensity for anthems and boosting.

 The other two horse-people are not as good. Rosemane Centaur is just a basic convoke application. Centaur Peacemaker is weirdly a strictly worse version of Centaur Healer from Return to Ravnica (which is also going to be reprinted in the Selesnya guild kit). The comparison is baffling: is gaining one more life worth giving four to the opponent?


Cleric: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 373, online: 348

 Related Tribes: Centaur, Elephant, Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The GRN Clerics offer some good stuff, or at least some relevant stuff for the set's structure. Emmara, Soul of the Accord is the Selesnya champion, pretty solid in general and great with convoke (or, elsewhere, with anything that'll let you tap her without risking her in an attack, like, say, Springleaf Drum). Definitely an improvement over the previous, cumbersome Emmara Tandris.

 A Selesnya key piece is also their guildmage, part of a traditional cycle from Ravnica sets (but actually originating back in Mirage). I never particularly liked these two-drops with two activated abilities. This time around they're even all activations that include the tap symbol, which makes them clunkier. Conclave Guildmage has an expensive token generation and a cheaper ability that doesn't feel extremely relevant for Selesnya strategies, which mostly focus on going wide. See for instance how Venerated Loxodon is, according to plan, a low-costed 4/4 that puts a +1/+1 counter on up to four other creatures.

 Among the others, Rampaging Monument is an okay card, but the Vorthos in me has questions: it's clearly an animated statue; so why does it count as a proper Cleric? Is it a statue that's somehow able to perform the duties of a clergyman, despite simply being the effigy of one? I guess it's the same old conundrum, as we have several cases where a living statue representing an animal or a monster is considered as belonging to the tribe. Here the absurdity becomes somehow more blatant because being a cleric is a function achieved through will and knowledge, not something derived from nature. In fact, to say that some random guy in a tunic is definitely a priest rather than, say, a mage or a judge, you have to know who that guy is.


Construct: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 120, online: 119

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Continuing the Vorthos rant from above: why is this thing a Construct and not a Golem? It's an artificial humanoid figure just like, you know, any Golem ever. I feel like there's a lot of arbitrary assignations in this game. In any event, Chamber Sentry is pretty much contraband sunburst. It's also a very bad impression of Walking Ballista – granted, you only pay X once (up to five), but then you have to pay it again to deal the damage, and you need to tap the Sentry for that, and can't even divide the damage. Pretty awful. And I get that multicolor is a thing in any Ravnica set; but five-colored stuff is really not. This said, maybe I'm looking at it wrong. The recursion clause is hard to fulfill (though Chromatic Lantern is currently in Standard), but you could just pay two and get a 2/2 that can sacrifice itself for two mana to deal two damage. Can it be enough to make it playable? Doubtful.


Crab: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 21, online: 20

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Filler Crab is filler. I see a lot of comedic flavor text lately. Couldn't MaRo just be happy that they allowed him to release Unstable?


Cyclops: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 23, online: 23

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Cyclopes are Izzet-related (even the one without the watermark), but don't look very effective at that. If anything, the common Piston-Fist Cyclops seems the more consistent: its body is above the curve for a three-mana creature, and is going to lose defender almost every turn. Problem is, its body/cost ratio, while favorable, is not advantageous enough to actually bother. Whereas the rare Erratic Cyclops has good intentions and an impressive toughness, but how much power can we expect to give it on a regular basis? It's not like we're going to cast Cruel Ultimatum every turn. We're going to cast 1- or 2-mana spells, because those are always the bread and butter of any "instants and sorceries matter" strategy. This guy really had it backwards.


Demon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 97, online: 94

 Related Tribes: Nightmare

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Now this is something. Doom Whisperer's role as a finisher may be straightforward, but it's a real lightning in a bottle: the largest flying body for a Demon of this cost, no downsides, and a zero-mana ability that ranges from being useful enough in setting up your next draw to being a way to dig for the card that ensures your victory. Not to mention, it triggers all the "surveil matters" cards like Disinformation Campaign. And even if our many-limbed pal gets removed on sight, as it should, you can still activate its ability in response, so you're sure to get something out of the deal from an uncountered Whisperer. Arguably the best creature in the set.


Dragon: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 190, online: 187

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: No Obligatory Dragon this time, since Hellkite Whelp is more of a filler, while Niv-Mizzet, Parun, well, it's a new incarnation of Niv-Mizzet! Apparently, Ral Zarek is now the leader of the Izzet League somehow, but as this new card reminds us, the old Niv-Mizzet is still a Parun, one of the original creators of the Guildpact; in fact, the last one still alive. His latest iteration mixes together the superior body of Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius with the combo-friendly nature of the original Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (his Parun version still goes infinite with Curiosity, though he can't start the cycle on his own, must at worst wait for the draw phase to kick in). At the price of a more difficult, all-colored casting cost, he also adds to his arsenal uncounterability and occasional drawing triggered by the casting of instants and sorceries. He makes a strong case for a finisher in an Izzet build.


Drake: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 81, online: 79

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Not only filler Drakes for once! Crackling Drake is actually part of the "protectors" cycle; though not one of the strongest in the early going, it's possibly the most explosive in the late game, when its power can seriously get out of hand. Plus it draws you one card anyway, which is the same thing Muse Drake does, except then Muse Drake doesn't do anything else.


Druid: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 169, online: 164

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: It's not the first time Glimpse of Nature gets legs, but what Beast Whisperer has over both Primordial Sage and Soul of the Harvest is a reduced casting cost, and the fact that he's an Elf, therefore already part of the tribe that most benefits from Glimpse of Nature. Sumala Woodshaper's digging for creatures and enchantments is okay, but to be truly playable she should have had either a more competitive cost or a more threatening body.


Dryad: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 38, online: 36

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Dryad is shaping up to be quite the nice little tribe lately, and Guilds of Ravnica adds two critical new pieces. Guild leader Trostani Discordant is a living anthem and a miniature army, with side serving of lifelink and a Homeward Path clause that may be situational, but for starters means nothing can't take control of her. A good complement to her previous incarnation, Trostani, Selesnya's Voice. And Knight of Autumn is a three-mana wonder with multiple roles: she can be a Reclamation Sage, or she can be a 4-powered beater, or she can give you as much life as Obstinate Baloth. Three different problems, three suitable answers.


Elemental: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 390, online: 382

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The two big nature's Elementals from the Selesnya Conclave are kind of underwhelming: even with convoke threatening to make them as cheap as Ghalta, Primal Hunger, they still are vanilla dorks. And the amount of creatures you need to already control, and are forced to tap, in order to make Arboretum Elemental really economic, makes the whole scenario close to a win-more deal.

 No, it's the little red guy the winner here. Runaway Steam-Kin is already a superstar in RDW builds: drops fast, grows faster, then gives away its counters to cast more spells, which in turn will regrow its counters back. Left unchecked, it's a terrifying beatdown/ramp machine.


Elephant: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 51, online: 50

 Related Tribes: Cleric

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: As we've seen, both GRN Elephants are also Cleric (as they're humanoid Loxodons), and both use the convoke mechanic, but in different ways. Venerated Loxodon is a way to boost your team while adding a 4/4. It doesn't just have the option to exploit convoke, it's all about being cast with convoke, as it'd be very unimpressive otherwise. Loxodon Restorer, on the other hand, is just the typical lesser convoke card where the mechanic is meant to offset a overcosted spell; in this case, a worse Loxodon Hierarch.


Elf: +15

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 361, online: 347

 Related Tribes: Assassin, Cleric, Druid, Knight, Scout, Shaman, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Elves are the central race for both the Selesnya Conclave and the Golgari Swarm, but they play a role more traditionally reserved to Humans, in that their being Elves is not particularly relevant for most of these new additions. The main exception is Beast Whisperer, because Glimpse of Nature on legs is something the tribe is hardwired to enjoy. Are four mana too many for a 2/3 with that ability? Possibly, but there's still a chance this guy will conquer himself a place in non-Standard Elf builds as well.

 Pelt Collector is a Warrior and a great one-drop in Stompy archetypes that has already been put to work in the meta, but doesn't especially look like something Elves care for, since their power typically doesn't scale up the way the Collector would wish for. In a generic green aggro list, though, it could be easy to take him beyond to the trample threshold, and his responsiveness to death triggers helps with his growth in a way that could make him stand his ground in comparison with his evolve blueprint Experiment One, which however remains more likely to get bigger because evolve looks at the toughness, too. But trample is a good trade-off for regeneration, so there's that.

 After that, the Golgari sport a series of excellent Shamans that wil be better discussed with their other tribe. District Guide is a strictly better Borderland Ranger/Civic Wayfinder, though it only matters if you have Guildgates in the deck, which means it probably won't ever matter. But the art is great, she looks like a superheroine surveiling the city from up on the roofs. I guess being a tourist guide is tough in Ravnica.

 As for the Selesnya champion, Emmara, Soul of the Accord, she's an Elf Cleric and creates nondescript Soldiers, so it's not exactly the best tribal implementation. But I suppose she can be sort of great with Heritage Druid.


Faerie: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 74, online: 71

 Related Tribes: Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Surveil, the keyword that gave a name to what Search for Azcanta was doing, is a great alternative on scry, because scry is only able to manipulate the top of the library (and, I guess, the bottom), whereas surveil also influences the graveyard's content and the deck's composition itself. So a small, inexpensive flyer that lets you surveil every turn for free can be a welcome presence on the board. It's not a big showing for Faerie (admittedly, not a typical Ravnican tribe: this is only the seventh of them in as many sets), but it's a nice one.


Frog: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 22, online: 21

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: All right, filler Frog done. Let's move on.


Fungus: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 42, online: 41

 Related Tribes: Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Fungi obviously connect to all things Golgari, so they both have the Golgari ability keyword, undergrowth, which simply looks at the number of creatures in your graveyard to establish how strong the describe effect will be. Rhizome Lurcher is very basic at that, as it just uses undergrowth to try and escape its terrible destiny of being a vanilla 2/2 for 4. Molderhulk has the big ambition to be this cycle's Ghalta, Primal Hunger or at least Gurmag Angler, but kinda fails on both counts, because it's infinitely less threatening than the former, and it takes longer for its cost to decrease down to a workable amount. I imagine there might be a dedicated dredge deck that's able to exploit it satisfyingly, but at the end of the day it's just not enough of a surefire finisher to build around. It's also not a good fit for Fungus tribal, because those decks invade the board with tokens, and tokens don't work with undergrowth. Sucks being printed as an uncommon.


Gargoyle: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 25, online: 24

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Okay, a Gargoyle that wants Gates to be bigger, and is otherwise an anemic 3/3 for 6? Pass. Although, you know, you can technically have 48 Gates on the battlefield when the Gatekeeper drops (four of each plus full sets of Vesuva and Thespian's Stage. That would make it a 51/51 for 6!


Giant: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 142, online: 135

 Related Tribes: Soldier, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Nothing noteworthy among these new Ravnican Giants. The Golgari one is an expensive application of undergrowth that deals some direct damage, the Boros ones are both unremarkable, though Swathcutter Giant seems pretty okay, or even semi-bomby in Limited, damaging all the opponent's creatures, even for 1, can be nasty, and a big vigilant body is a good way to ensure that attack trigger will happen more often than not. The most defining feature of Hammer Dropper, instead, is his toughness: man, he must really have a glass jaw if he drops dead that easily.


Goblin: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 323, online: 309

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Soldier, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Goblins are building themselves a strong lineup in Standard these days. The highlight here is Legion Warboss, which is a new Goblin Rabblemaster, but he doesn't force all other Goblins to attack, only his freshest token. And the idea is that he would mentor the token, of course. And another good mentor Goblin from the Boros Legion is Goblin Banneret. The double power pumping is well-devised, because it makes him able to mentor two-powered teammates as well, but starting him as a 1/1 made possible to keep his cost down to a minimum. He's not the best one-drop the tribe ever had, but it's a solid one. Also notable, Goblin Cratermaker, which can turn into a Shock for creatures on a whim, or even into a Shatter. With a nice bonus: it doesn't just say "artifacts", the wording refers to "colorless nonland permanents", which means Eldrazi are affected, too, so... wait a minute, does this little dude really kill Emrakul, the Aeons Torn?! And Karn? And Ugin? Now, that's a twist!


Gorgon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 15, online: 14

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This lady can look like nothing much (still better not to look directly in her eyes, though), but it's actually the cheapest Gorgon ever printed, along with Arisen Gorgon, but at least this one has deathtouch even when Liliana is not around. Plus, Arisen Gorgon being a Planeswalker Deck exclusive makes her somehow harder to find.


Horror: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 190, online: 190

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: And that's the Horror tribe being woken up and asked to join Guilds of Ravnica for literally no reason at all.


Human: +30

   

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 New Tribal Total: 2151, online: 1963

 Related Tribes: Assassin, Knight, Rogue, Scout, Shaman, Soldier, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Given the infamous size of the tribe, any set's Human additions are increasingly bound to feel irrelevant, but Guilds of Ravnica really offers very little to the gigantic subtype. They're mostly Boros-aligned Soldiers, somewhat useful in this Standard rotation, but hardly going to prove crucial to any of the Eternal formats.


Imp: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 35, online: 33

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is not that bad for an Imp. A honest one-drop flyer that later turns into nonconditional targeted discard. Too bad it requires tap at sorcery speed, though, so it can't react to removal, nor chump-blocking efficiently. It's probably the difference between a "not that bad" card and one that would actually see play.


Insect: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 161, online: 156

 Related Tribes: Scout, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Except for Dimir Spybug, which, as the name implies, belongs to House Dimir and is like the perfect pet for Doom Whisperer, Insects on Ravnica are associated with the Golgari Swarm. Most of them are generic undergrowth exemplificatives, with Kraul Harpooner being the most notable: for two mana it has vigorous power, the ability to stop those pesky flyers, especially precious in green-based decks, and a chance to outright get rid of them for good; of course it won't be too easy to dispatch Doom Whisperer that way, but hey, an Insect can dream.

 Kraul Raider can only be found in Vraska's Planeswalker Deck. That's basically the only thing to say about it.


Knight: +8

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 248, online: 234

 Related Tribes: Centaur, Dryad, Elf, Human, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Knighthood seems to mostly be a Selesnya thing, with Knight of Autumn and Conclave Cavalier being the foremost examples, albeit both feel more at home with their other, smaller tribes. As mentioned, Human aren't that memorable in Guilds of Ravnica, and the same goes for their Knights. The Boros-affiliated Truefire Captain is playable enough, but as far as the "protectors" go, it's not the most impressive of the lot, doing a limited mimicry of Boros Reckoner for a larger and more demanding cost. The Elf, Ledev Champion, is okay, works well with vigilant creatures, and has an instant-speed mana dump activation that generates lifelinkers.

 Far from the guilds and their restrictive CMCs, the lone black Zombie Knight that goes by the suggestive (and a bit tacky) name of Midnight Reaper is actually interesting, as a new take of "creature death matters" that gives you card draws (in the classic black flavor that requires some pain) rather than the more typical drain life effect. He's a bit frail, but boasts a significant power which can be put to good use whenever he's free to turn sideways. He looks like someone who could form a good relationship with Vraska, Golgari Queen, to draw two cards per sacrifice without any loss of life, though their whole routine might feel a little too casual to inveterate Spikes.


Lizard: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 48, online: 43

 Related Tribes: Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This seems like something that could have made for a nice rare, but has received too many tweaks to be printed an uncommon, and now it's a mess of limiting clauses that make it pretty much useless.


Minotaur: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 73, online: 72

 Related Tribes: Soldier, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Nothing to write home about for the Minotaurs. Just semi-decent draft picks for a Boros deck.


Nightmare: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 26, online: 26

 Related Tribes: Demon, Sphinx

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Whoa, two Nightmares, two mythics! That's how you spoil a tribe, and even one that was trapped for a long time into the same "have this happen until your Nightmare stays alive" shtick. They've been also more commonly associated with Horror and, to a lesser extent, with Horse (due to the "mare" nonsense), and in fact had never been paired with either Demon or Sphinx before. The former case lead to the current best finisher in Standard; the latter, Dream Eater, is trickier to evaluate. Same guild, different color, higher cost, much smaller body, a plethora of effects: flash, massive surveil, bounce. It certainly does its multifaceted job with gusto, but it's not a definite "yes" to the question "should I add it to my blue-based control deck". Six mana buys you a whole lot of more impressive fatties, methinks.


Phoenix: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 19, online: 18

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Is it me, or do Phoenices always show up at mythic? (It's not me, one third of the tribe is from the top rarity, and only one of them, (Warcry Phoenix) from Dominaria, was first printed as less than a rare). This one has haste, as one would expect, but the recursion policy, which is what the tribe is clearly all about, seems a bit hard to satisfy. I mean, a storm deck wouldn't have any problem with that, but then again, a storm deck wouldn't probably be too excited about playing a four-mana Phoenix.


Plant: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 47, online: 43

 Related Tribes: Wall

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Both new Plants are defenders (one is literally a Wall). They're kinda fine for a (Arcades, the Strategist) deck in Standard; Grappling Sundew has a solid toughness/cost ratio, reach, and the chance to become indestructible later (compares favorably with Amaranthine Wall, which activates for less but costs too much, and improves on Consulate Skygate, which just rotated out); Portcullis Vine is a watered down Wall of Mulch. Of course, the moment you leave Standard pool, they sort of disappear into nothingness, because cards like Wall of Tanglecord and, you know, the actual Wall of Mulch do exist. 


Rat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 54, online: 48

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Rats could use a second Ravenous Rats (actually, a strictly better Ravenous Rats). And now they have it.


Rhino: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 30, online: 29

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: No humanoid Rhinos on Ravnica (the Rhox are from Alara), so they only get the functional reprint of half a dozen other useless junk cards. Not that there's any causal link there, because Tarkir also lacked humanoid Rhinos and yet it gave us Siege Rhino.


Rogue: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 231, online: 215

 Related Tribes: Faerie, Goblin, Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Very filler-y showing for the Rogues of House Dimir. Multiple, uninspired applications of surveil, with only Nightveil Sprite being somewhat noteworthy. Also, boy, there's quite a number of cards with "whisper" in their name, isn't there? I guess it's part of the attempt to give Guilds of Ravnica a film-noir setting, which honestly I don't feel is been especially successful; Ravnica is too much of a colorful hodgepodge to accommodate a single framing.


Scout: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 133, online: 127

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Insect

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: She might not be Wood Elves (but nobody expects cards with that wording to be printed again), nor, of course, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, but District Guide is a good Scout nonetheless, ranking right there with the best of them, and she's in fact slightly better than Borderland Ranger and the likes. Her two fellow tribesmembers are entirely negligible.


Shade: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 28, online: 26

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So, basically the difference between a Shade and a Spirit of the ghost variety is that a Shade will inevitably have some black-based self-pumping ability. Whereas a Specter will make you discard. And a Wraith... I can't even remember what a Wraith is supposed to do. This is all terribly arbitrary and just betrays the fact that there's way too many different types of ghostly undead in this game, for no good reason.


Shaman: +8

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 361, online: 355

 Related Tribes: Cyclops, Elf, Human, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Golgari Swarm took over this new serving of Ravnican Shamans almost entirely, and the tribe is all the better for it, because there's a lot of goodies here. Plaguecrafter gives them their own Fleshbag Marauder, except better, because it also involves planeswalkers and, on a board where you're not facing neither creatures nor planeswalkers, you can still use it to force a discard in a pinch. Golgari Findbroker is one of the best "protectors", because he's essentially Eternal Witness, but trading non-permanent action for a relevant body – in fact, more than twice the Witness's body. He's also more expensive and color-restrictive, of course, so he's not going to replace the Witness any time soon, but he has a wider function (just as a blocker alone!), and he's certainly a beast in Standard.

 The Swarm Guildmage is not excellent or anything (no guildmage is), but has an early activation that gives you life when you have a couple mana around, and a late activation that could result in a decisive alpha strike. Glowspore Shaman is a graveyard enabler that trades well, thus adding herself to the pile of undergrowth as well. She saw some play at the beginning of the Standard cycle, then Golgari switched from all-in graveyard shenanigans to just midrange good stuff that's more of an explore build, but I fully expect the graveyard to become a factor again before the next rotation, and if it does, this little Shaman will be there.

 Moving onto higher echelons of rarity, the mythic Shaman (and only cards in the set with three types), Underrealm Lich, is a midrange drop that doesn't immediately impact the board but severely changes the game from that point on, because with him on the board you select all your draws between three cards, and fill your graveyard with the rest. Plus, he's hard to kill, especially if you're gaining life on a regular basis with Vraska, Golgari Queen or what have you.

 However, the mandated finisher of any Golgari deck is the insect wrangler Izoni, Thousand-Eyed. She's the most powerful implementation of undergrowth, creating potentially a ton of little spy-critters (hence the "thousand eyes") to turn into cards and life. She's expensive and has a minimal body, though, so she probably works better as a one-of, also in consideration of the fact that she's a late game threat by design, and accelerating into her in the early turns is not going to get you much. Flavor corner: Izoni is a dark elf (a Devkarin) directly affiliated with freshly appointed guild leader Vraska as the Golgari champion. We can see both of them side by side in the art for one of the best Golgari cards, Find // Finality by Tomasz Jedruszek.

 Izoni is with one of her pet cockroaches. Under all the Golgari trappings, she's hella cute.


Shapeshifter: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 82, online: 80

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The elusive Shapeshifters get to rule House Dimir once again through the mysterious Lazav. His previous incarnation, Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, was sort of a restricted Mimic Vat. Lazav, the Multifarious cuts the cost in half, loses hexproof and targets his controller's graveyard rather than the opponent's. You have to pay the CMC of the target in full, though, which means you're basically getting to cast a creature from your graveyard, then maybe change your mind later. It's cool and everything, but maybe not the smoothest operation, even with Lazav only asking two mana for himself, because you may end stuck with a Lazav without targets, or be tempted to drop his very frail self a turn earlier, exposing him to spot removal that, this time, he can't really dribble.


Skeleton: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 48, online: 46

 Related Tribes: Wall

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Let's be honest, this is not a Skeleton. It's just that this Wall is made of bone – just like, you know, Wall of Bone – so they felt obliged to reference it in the type line. See also: the ridiculousness of Wall of Limbs being a Zombie and Wall of Vipers being a Snake. Following the same logic, Wall of Faith should count as a Cleric and Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs as an Advisor.


Soldier: +20

   

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 630, online: 572

 Related Tribes: Centaur, Giant, Goblin, Human, Minotaur, Viashino, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Soldier is, unsurprisingly, a Boros job, which means mentor aplenty, of course, starting from Aurelia's second in command, the guild's champion, Tajic, Legion's Edge, who's, like, a professional mentor: he has haste, so his mentoring can get going right away; can acquire first strike, to never let his mentorees down by dying on them (unfortunately, he's not indestructible anymore like when he was called Tajic, Blade of the Legion); and he even protects his boys and girls from Lightning Bolts and such! For three mana, he's one of the key cards in a Boros Deck Wins type of build. But so is Swiftblade Vindicator, aka the guy most in need of mentoring in the whole Legion, because his skill set is truly spectacular, but that tiny body of his needs some +1/+1 counters to properly begin the vindicating.

 Other notable Soldiers not directly associated with mentor: Haazda Marshal, who uses a non-keyworded battalion to create lifelinkers; and Bounty Agent, who's a nice bear with vigilance that can be counted on to get rid of some annoying legend – and there's quite a few around in the GRN environment alone.


Specter: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 22, online: 21

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: I noted how Specter is a disruption-prone tribe, but that doesn't just take the form of the Hypnotic Specter brand of discard upon connection anymore. Nightveil Specter from Gatecrash started this new trend of stealing cards from the top of the opponent's library instead, and now Thief of Sanity improves on it by digging deeper and casting the stolen cards easier, using a template that's becoming increasingly common (cfr. Dire Fleet Daredevil, Hostage Taker) and first appeared on Daxos of Meletis from Theros.


Sphinx: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 48, online: 47

 Related Tribes: Nightmare

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Aside from the strange Nightmare-adjacent mythic Dream Eater, which is more correctly categorized as a handbook "good, not great" specimen, Sphinx also received one basic surveil demonstrator with just mild limited playability. It really shows that Isperia is dead. By the way, did you know that Isperia is dead? Yep, Vraska did her in. It's what Assassin's Trophy is about. That's a petrified Isperia in the art right there.


Spider: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 49, online: 47

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This is a significant Spider for sure, the second best undergrowth card after (Izoni, Thousand-Eyed). Still, a big reach dude for seven mana is not exactly Carnage Tyrant, and the Genesis Hydra effect is not guaranteed to find something meaningful, or to find something at all, or even to fire. I can see it becoming a minor staple in Commander, though.


Spirit: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 443, online: 436

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Several filler cards, like Watcher in the Mist, resorted to surveil as their one defining trait because surveil is the most self-contained of the new mechanics: you just look at the cards you're going to draw next and decide if you do want to draw them. In a deck that does that a lot, and a Dimir-based build is likely to, Thoughtbound Phantasm is sort of an okay early drop, as you'll later find yourself with a 5/5 or better that came out of nowhere (well, it actually came out of the early drop I mentioned, but you know what I mean). It's not exactly Thing in the Ice, but it's attractive a prospect enough – and it keeps growing if you keep surveiling, so its dangerousness increases, despite remaining a simple vanilla beater. It makes for a terrible topdeck, though.


Troll: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 28, online: 27

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: There was some excitement for this card in the early going, but it died down by now. I still think this Troll has potential, it's very aggressively costed for its trampling body, and it's a discard outlet if you need one, something which in theory was meant as a way to fuel its upkeep cost, but playing it that way would defy the purpose of a discard outlet, I think. It's clear you need either a heavy self-milling shell around it, or a bit of a combo angle, like pairing it with Eternal Scourge or something. Or it might just be an early beater that stays around just for a couple of turns. In this sense, it reminds me of (Jötun Grunt).


Unicorn: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 15, online: 11

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is not a good card by any stretch of the imagination – it's terribly overcosted and on its own, it attacks as a Hill Giant and blocks as a Grizzly Bears – but it's a honest ability for a lowly, semi-forgotten tribe like Unicorn. I mean, it could have been worse. It could have actually been Hill Giant.


Vampire: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 216, online: 211

 Related Tribes: Assassin, Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: There's a few solid Vampires here – though the tribe has reached high standards over the years, so it's hard to please by now. Like, Etrata, the Silencer is an alternate win-con that Vampire decks probably won't care about, and Nightveil Predator is resilient enough, but nothing that a good Deafening Clarion won't take care of. Plus, deathtouch and hexproof is kind of a weird pairing, albeit it seems to say, "I die only on my terms" (Deafening Clarion aside. Or, you know, Slagstorm and Anger of the Gods).

 And I still don't know if I like (Blood Operative), or if I decided what deck should be interested in playing him. Also, Blood Operative is really banal name. He's a vampire who deals in blood, but does so covertly? It's more intriguing the fact that Whispering Snitch is a Vampire. It's the stock character of the small-time scoundrel who tries and sells the rumors he heard on the street, a figure often seen in crime movies. It's not what you expect a vampire to be, even in Magic (Innistrad's vamps are decadent aristocrats, the Zendikari are fierce predators), and I like the concept. The card is so-so, though; a drain life per each turn in which you surveiled is small potatoes business. But at least he's a decent early blocker.


Vedalken: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 54, online: 53

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: I can't tell how Vedalken came to be one of the major humanoid races in the game, but it definitely happened. Most of them are Wizards (seriously, 28 out of 54 Vedalkens have the Wizard subtype), and on Ravnica, they hail from the Izzet League, apparently. These two are not very good at their job, though, because Vedalken Mesmerist appears to be wanting to play the beatdown role, which is something very little else in the tribe even supports, and Beamsplitter Mage duplicates any instant or sorcery... that you cast on him? Like what, exactly? Off the top of my mind I can't think of anything commonly used in the kind of deck that would run him. Distortion Strike? It's not like Izzet decks play Giant Growth.


Viashino: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 38, online: 38

 Related Tribes: Soldier, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: For some reason, I forgot the Viashinos are part of Ravnica's society, too (possibly because they weren't exactly unforgettable. I mean, was I supposed to remember Ghor-Clan Bloodscale or Stormscale Anarch?). The one from Izzet is an exclusive of Ral's Planeswalker Deck. The Boros one has a "Guildgates matter" mechanic. They really treated the Gates as an afterthought this time around.


Wall: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 123, online: 102

 Related Tribes: Plant, Skeleton

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Three different Walls in three different colors. The only one that approaches playability is Portcullis Vine, because at least you can draw a card from it, if in a clunky way. Maybe Electrostatic Field has some worth as protection from creature-based aggro in a burn deck? Like, you stop attackers while enhancing your burn spells? Hmm, lemme think about it... Nah.


Warrior: +10

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 664, online: 647

 Related Tribes: Elf, Goblin, Human, Insect, Minotaur

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Wow, for being the fourth largest tribe in the set (along with Wizard), sure Warrior has nothing going on for it. Essentially, only Pelt Collector is worth a mention – though that's definitely a good one, at least for Stompy builds in Standard, possibly Modern. It just shows how Guilds of Ravnica is not a tribal-oriented set.


Wizard: +10

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 666, online: 644

 Related Tribes: Dragon, Human, Vedalken, Viashino

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Wizard tribe is home to three fifths of the guildmages, and they all rank from bad to worst. Like, six mana and tap to deal three damage to the opponent's dome? Three mana to tap a creature? Seriously, Legion Guildmage? At least House Guildmage (who should rethink her name, because it sounds like a deejay) can keep a creature tapped for two mana, and League Guildmage (who sounds like a sports anchor) can chain a lightning. But none of these will be seeing play, I bet.

 The big name here is Niv-Mizzet, Parun, of course, though his being a Wizard is purely cosmetic. Murmuring Mystic tries to outdo Young Pyromancer, but four mana are probably two too many, even with the massive toughness. Omnispell Adept could be a build-around me, if maybe of a irremediably casual nature. Once she's online, you get to cast Enter the Infinite (or Apex of Power, or Decree of Annihilation, or even just Cruel Ultimatum) for three mana. She's like the Elvish Piper of instants and sorceries.


Wurm: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 87, online: 82

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The indestructible Impervious Greatwurm is the Buy-a-Box promo of the set (meaning, you can't find it in boosters, so it's part of the set but not part of the Limited environment). It's also the largest non-token body in the game, beating out Emrakul, the Aeons Torn but not the Marit Lage token from Dark Depths. Is it playable, though? The thing about convoke is that it's a great mechanic for decreasing a casting cost by two or three points, but when you have seven creatures out, a) you don't want to tap them all, and b) chances are you're already winning, so it's not like paying GGG for this big fella is that much of a plan. Is it a good reanimation target, at least? Well, let's put it this way: it certainly makes for a noticeable presence on the battlefield, but has no evasive capabilities and gets exiled like anything else, so I personally wouldn't bother. Truth is, even just talking about Wurms, Pelakka Wurm is almost certainly a more alluring target for your graveyard shenanigans. Seems like Impervious Greatwurm really was just a publicity stunt!

 In fact, its GRN companion Vigorspore Wurm, while not quite a strong option itself, at least is a strictly better Craw Wurm, for that matter. It's hard to trade with, the undergrowth boost might come in handy, and gifting vigilance for a turn is a nice touch that would rarely get wasted. At common, it's a good draft pick, I'd say, and even easily splashable.


Zombie: +8

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 411, online: 402

 Related Tribes: Elf, Fungus, Giant, Knight, Lizard, Shaman, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Where Zombies are concerned, the card-drawing engine Midnight Reaper and the permanent digger Underrealm Lich are the cream of the Golgari crop. Erstwhile Trooper is an unimpressive sacrifice outlet, and both Molderhulk and Lotleth Giant are cumbersome, not entirely convincing implementations of undergrowth.

 As the name clearly communicates, Attendant of Vraska is a Planeswalker Deck exclusive card, and is meant to synergize with Vraska, Golgari Queen, albeit in a not particularly satisfying way, because I'm sure you can find better stuff to sacrifice than your 3/3, even if it'll net you three life.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


BEST IN SHOW
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GUILD LEADERS
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GUILD CHAMPIONS
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GUILD PROTECTORS
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GUILDMAGES
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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS