With the release of Ravnica: City of Guilds, I decided to try my hand at writing a set review. But I wanted to do something different than everyone else. So what do you do when you want to be original? Copy someone else, of course. Anyone familiar with Bill Simmons (he's a sportswriter – does anyone out there like sports?) might be aware that he often rates sporting teams and players by using movie quotes to describe what's going on with them. Well, I'm going to do something similar with Ravnica, except instead of using movie quotes, I'll be using some quotes from one of the best television series ever made: Futurama.
I don't think I could come up with a new quote for every card in the set, so I'm going to look at mechanics, themes, cycles and a few specific cards that caught my eye. Enjoy.
"But existing is basically all I do."
I've decided to get all the worst cards in the set out of the way first. This quote is for all the worst commons in the set. These are the cards that are worthless in almost any format and are merely around to temper the overall power level of the set: Caregiver, Gate Hound, Vedalken Dismisser, Zepyhr Spirit, Infectious Host, Thoughtpicker Witch, Sell-Sword Brute, and Stone-Seeder Hierophant.
"You're a pimple on society's oink and you'll never amount to anything."
This one's for the worst uncommons in the set. Some of these should probably be commons, some have a really narrow use, some are overcosted, and others are just plain bad: Chant of Vhit-Ghazi, Sandsower, Wojek Apothecary, Ethereal Usher, Wizened Snitches, Dimir Machinations, Undercity Shade, Reroute, Frenzied Goblin, Ivy Dancer, Root-Kin Ally, Cyclopian Snare and Voyager Staff.
"There are guys in the background of Mary Worth comics who are more important than me."
And finally, let's get to the junk rares. These are the cards you don't want to see at the back of your packs. I felt they deserved a little more explanation than the first two categories.
Light of Sanction – Way too limited in its usage to be wasting a rare slot.
Grozoth – There's definitely better ways to spend 9 mana.
Spawnbroker – This would be awesome without the "with power less than or equal to your creature's power" part. As much as I think this is bad, I also feel like it has the most potential to break out of the "junk rare" category.
Blood Funnel – Its disadvantage just seems too large to offset its advantage.
Char – Does anyone else remember Lightning Bolt being a common? Now we have Char and it's rare. Even in this set, I'd take Lightning Helix (uncommon) or Fiery Conclusion (common) over this new Psionic Blast.
Excruciator – Like Vizzerdrix or Trained Orgg, but slightly bigger and less terrible. Is damage prevention suddenly a powerful mechanic?
Molten Sentry – I love coinflip cards, but this one seems too weak, even if you "win" the flip.
Birds of Paradise – Ha ha. Just seeing if you're paying attention.
Autochthon Wurm – I guess it's not that bad... if you can actually cast it.
Nullstone Gargoyle – Way too expensive for what it does. But at least you can use your Grozoth to get it in your hand.
"Its just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year long the grasshopper kept burying acorns for winter while the octopus mooched off his girlfriend and watched TV. Then the winter came, and the grasshopper died, and the octopus ate all his acorns and also he got a racecar. Is any of this getting through to you?"
This quote is for the Dredge Mechanic. All those lazy creatures and spells that got their asses stuck in the graveyard can let their friends in the library bail them out. And also, they'll get a racecar.
"This is the best movie I've ever seen. It has a vampire and an explosion!"
That's how I felt when I saw the new cycle of rare dual lands. Ever since the originals went out of print, R&D has been reaching to come up with the next best thing without making them strictly better than basic lands and I think they've finally struck gold. If you prefer the painlands, you got them. If you prefer the taplands, you got those. These are the dual lands that swing both ways.
"Here's to us poor schmoes, working for the man. Even if he is a hot, sexy female man."
This one's for the Boros Legion, lead by that sexy new angel, Razia.
"The pie is ready. You guys like swarms of things, right?"
Saprolings are back, baby. And it looks like they can be produced in great enough quantities to make all those sacrifice-a-creature abilities worthwhile.
"Leela, save me... and yourself I guess... and my banjo... and Fry."
The first card I saw with Radiance was Bathe in Light and I couldn't help but think of this quote.
"You're the kind of guy who visits Jerusalem and doesn't want to see the Sexeteria!"
This quote is for all the new hotties in the set. Is it just me or did green totally dominate in this category? Cards like Dryad's Caress, Nullmage Shepherd, Translumninant and Perilous Forays could all compete with the previously hottest green cards. Other colors still got gems like Boros Guildmage, Quickchange and, of course, the aforementioned Razia.
"...letting my waste lie wherever it falls like an animal at the zoo."
"Actually, animals go in the corner."
"The corner! Why didn't I think of that?"
One of my all time favorite quotes from the show and I think it's deserving of the new dual mana cost cards. I don't know how long R&D has been looking for a way to make mechanics evenly span two different colors, but they sure found it now. And in retrospect, it seems so obvious.
"In the game of chess, you can never let your adversary see your pieces."
The card that almost destroyed me, even after my opponent mulliganed down to 4: Bottled Cloister. Not only is it an insane card-drawing machine, but it also makes your hand immune to 99% of discard effects.
"You guys realize you live in a sewer, right?"
For House Dimir. They may be cunning and sneaky and evil, but they still live in the sewer.
"Society is never gonna make any progress until we all learn to pretend to like each other. Now, let's go over there and make these hideous strangers feel welcome."
For the convoke mechanic, which makes all those hideously uncastable creatures feel welcome by tapping out every other creature in play. It'll help put out some late game creatures for cheap and some of the instant-speed convoke spells should be fantastic.
"Dirt doesn't need luck."
Neither does the new cycle of uncommon lands. These guys can mill a library, give creatures double-strike, create saprolings, turn into creatures, and, of course, create mana.
"Hey, when you look this good, you don't have to know anything!"
I normally wouldn't reserve a quote for one vanilla card, but I think Watchwolf fits the bill here. He doesn't do anything special, but he doesn't have to. Add in the fact that he's uncommon, and you have one good-looking card.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the whole future! I've been given a second chance and this time, I'm not going to be a total loser."
It wasn't that long ago that creature enchantments (I guess I should say, "auras enchanting creatures") were the losers of the Magic world. Well now they're back again with a brand new gimmick to make them not suck. Simply have them do something when cast! To quote the great Guinness scientists, "Brilliant!" There's a life-gaining Pacifism, a card-drawing Flight, a black discarding Regeneration, a damage-dealing Reflexes, and a creature-producing Primal Frenzy. In addition to these comes-into-play auras, there's a pretty decent cycle of uncommon and rare auras.
"I'm never gonna get used to the 31st century. Caffeinated bacon? Baconated grapefruit? ADMIRAL Crunch?"
This one's for all the spells that get better when you add a little color to them. These cycles of very ordinary spells and creatures get a little better when you cross the color pie to add an extra effect.
"What are we going to do? Fry can't pretend to be both our boyfriends. "
"Sure I can. I learned how to handle delicate social situations from a little show called Three's Company."
For the guildmages, who have a knack for handling two roles at once. And judging by the prerelease, they handle their roles quite well.
"Ahh come on. Bender loves mobs."
"Only when he's in them and you know it."
For the new cycle of hunted creatures, who all have a tendency to create mobs rallying against them.
"We recycle everything. Robots are made from old beer cans."
"Yeah! And this beer can is made out of old robots."
"And that sandwich you're eating is made of old discarded sandwiches."
For the Golgari guild. Black and green have combined to form the most disgustingly efficient recycling machine in the history of Magic.
I'm going to wrap up this review with some quick hits: a single quote and the card it made me think of.
"Yes. He's really showing us what a man with a cannon in his chest can do."
"When I'm in command every mission's a suicide mission."
Savra, Queen of the Golgari
"You're watching Futurama, the show that doesn't condone the cool crime of robbery."
"Oh, great. The universe has been destroyed."
"Then where are we?"
"I don't know. I can darn well tell you where we're not - the universe."
"You see Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them. Until they reached their limit and shutdown."
Breath of Fury
"I will eat and digest you all with my system of mighty organs! Behold!"
"Pretty nice for a single. Two desks, two chairs, a couple of beds."
"As I discuss in my book Earth in the Balance, and the more popular Harry Potter and the Balance of the Earth, we need to protect ourselves against the greenhouse effect and dark wizards."
Circu, Dimir Lobotomist
"I heard alcohol makes you stupid."
"No I'm... doesn't!"
Glimpse the Unthinkable
"Death by airlock failure."
"Death by brain parasite."
"Death by sonic diarrhea."