"All right. It's Saturday night. I have no date, a two-liter bottle of Shasta and my all-Rush mix-tape... Let's rock."
Hello and welcome back to another completely unoriginal set review by yours truly. If you're wondering why this is so completely unoriginal, you'll just have to check back on my original completely unoriginal set review to find out.
The premise of the completely unoriginal set review is to take quotes from a television series or movie and use them to describe and rate certain aspects of the new set. Of course, if you're looking for actual card evaluations, you've come to the wrong place. I'll rate a few specific cards, but I like to focus on the new themes and mechanics more than the cards. I'm also a terrible judge of play value, preferring instead to focus more on the flavor.
The whole Ravnica block will be set to one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Futurama, so that's where all these quotes are from. Let's get on to the review!
"You're worthless and no one will ever love you."
Per my tradition, I will begin with the crappiest cards first. And, of course, the crappiest crappy cards are always found in the common slot. Unfortunately, I think that almost every card in this set can be used effectively in some capacity in some format, but if I had to choose the worst, I'd have to pick Restless Bones. It's an expensive Drudge Skeletons with expensive regeneration and expensive, situational evasion. Not exactly inspiring stuff there. Runners up include Petrahydrox, Poisonbelly Ogre, and Skyrider Trainee.
"Well, sir, I'm a little nervous about meeting her parents."
"Of course you are. You're meek and uninteresting."
For some reason, it's always easier to find bad uncommons in a set than commons. The reason for this is that we don't really expect the commons to be good. There's so many of them. Who cares if a few suck? But when we only get three uncommons per pack, we expect a little more and a lot of uncommons in this set stink it up big time, the worst of which are all the meek and uninteresting creatures in the Rusalka cycle. These five 1/1 creatures with unimpressive abilities that also require an additional creature to be sacrificed just scream "Common!" but somehow ended up in the uncommon slot. I hope you weren't unfortunate enough to open them at the prerelease. A couple other uncommons that were set a little too highly include Battering Wurm, Harrier Griffin, and Rabble-Rouser.
"I hate the people that love me and they hate me."
After careful consideration, I realized that this is the perfect quote for all the crappy rares in Magic. Some people love to build decks around them, but still hate opening them because they're, you know, worthless. In the end, though, it's not the fun quirky, worthless rares we hate, but the ones that are boring, such as the worst rare in this set: Giant Solifuge. In addition to being an Insect, despite the art clearly depicting a spider, Giant Solifuge thinks he's special since he's a hasty, untargetable trampler. In reality, he's just a suped-up Lightning Elemental.
"Nowadays, people aren't interested in art that's not tattooed on fat guys."
This quote is for all the best art from Guildpact. I should make a note that I am not an artist, nor do I have any education regarding art and what makes it good. I do have eyes, however and I like what I like. In my opinion, all the best art from Guildpact got loaded on Orzhov cards. Angel of Despair and Cry of Contrition are two of my favorite pieces from the set, but Orzhov Guildmage beats them both out as the coolest art from the set.
"This emotional display is making me nauseous. Or maybe it's whatever that is."
And for every ying, there must be a yang. Just as I pick my favorite art from the set, I have to mention my least favorites. Yore-Tiller Nephilim looks like it belongs in Kamigawa. Battering Wurm is a little too cartoonish for my tastes. And Bioplasm looks like it was originally commissioned to be on S.N.O.T. from Unhinged. But when push comes to shove, I have to pick Crash Landing. It depicts a sphinx with a toupee I can spot a mile away. For some reason, every other sphinx in Magic has generally realistic looking hair, but that carpet of brown on a bright-blue animal just looks terrible.
"Oh, they're great! They're like sex! Except I'm having them!"
This quote is for the best flavor text in Guildpact. Again, it's a matter of opinion, but some pieces of flavor text just jump out as being better than the rest. Some of my favorites from the new set include Cremate, Debtor's Knell, and Goblin Flectomancer. But truly great flavor text should not only fit well with a card and in a set, but also provoke consideration outside of the game. For this reason, I'd elect Pillory of the Sleepless as the best. It asks a seriously good question: Would you rather sleep forever or not at all?
"Ugh, it's like there's a party in my mouth and everyone's throwing up."
Just as the good flavor text pieces were bountiful, Guildpact has no shortage of stinkers, either. The best places to find these are on cards that are supposed to be funny but aren't. Sometimes the flavor text is the joke, without actually containing a joke, such as on Droning Bureaucrats and Train of Thought. Sometimes it's a pop culture reference that just doesn't fit in Magic, such as Hypervolt Grasp. Sometimes it's a really bad pun, like on Ogre Savant. Any of these could be qualified as the worst flavor text in the set, but in the end, it's Skyrider Trainee's flavor text, which is so stunningly unimpressive that I'm not even sure if it was supposed to contain a joke or not.
"Now there's a wave of destruction that's easy on the eyes."
As long as I am a male, I will continue to look at the chicks depicted in Magic art. So why not give some props to the hotties in the new sets? Guildpact isn't quite as loaded as Ravnica was, but there were a few gals that caught my eye. Angel of Despair, Dryad Sophisticate and Runeboggle all have that "scantily clad" thing going for them. Cry of Contrition, Teysa and Silhana Ledgewalker have the potential, but not the "scantily clad" thing. And then there's the Rusalka girls, who range anywhere from decent-looking (Scorched Rusalka, Martyred Rusalka) to downright scary-looking, but with a big chest (Starved Rusalka, Drowned Rusalka). Anyway, the hottest art from this set goes to Gatherer of Graces. Not only does she look attractive in the art, but her flavor text implies that she's not into wearing clothes.
"I've never been good with words, which is why I'm in such a delicate conundrum."
As long as I'm reviewing the art and flavor text of the set, I may as well review the card names as well. This spot's reserved for the best name in the set: Godless Shrine. I love irony and the irony of the Orzhov Guild is captured perfectly in the name of their new dual land, where they practice religion, yet worship no one.
"They're tasty, right? Let's call them 'Tasticles'."
And for the worst name in Guildpact, we have To Arms!. Any card with an exclamation point instantly draws red flags and To Arms! does not disappoint. It seems simple, descriptive and concise, but try saying it in a game and you'll feel sort of stupid.
"Leave him alone. It's not his fault he's an unstoppable killing machine."
Nothing says "unstoppable killing machine" like the new bloodthirst mechanic. Attack. Cast beefy creature. Attack. Cast beefy creature. Rinse and repeat.
"Society's never gonna make any progress until we all learn to pretend to like each other. Now lets go over there and make these hideous strangers feel welcome."
Welcome back thrulls! I may be the only Magic player alive that actually enjoyed Fallen Empires and to see those hideous monstrosities reborn in Ravnica just makes my day.
"If only he had joined a mainstream religion like Oprah-ism or Voodoo."
Speaking of thrulls, it seems like they always get the short end of the stick. Back in Fallen Empires, they were the worthless lackies of the Order of the Ebon Hand. Now, over ten years later, they joined the Orzhov "religion" where they clearly serve the same role. Poor thrulls.
"My God! Four identical castles!"
"Each more identical then the last."
Here's to all those identical spells made possibly through the design of replicate. But which spell is the most identical?
"Please select mode of death. Quick and painless or slow and horrible."
"Yeah, I'd like to place a collect call."
"You have selected: Slow and horrible."
No one likes the slow and horrible death more than those in the Orzhov Guild. Of course, they're the ones doing the killing, not being killed. Cards like the Orzhov Guildmage, Agent of Masks, Ghost Council of Orzhova, Orzhova the Church of Deals, and Pillory of the Sleepless will ensure that your opponent dies a slow and horrible death.
"But you're better than normal. You're abnormal."
You know what's weird? Yeah, I thought so. Guildpact introduces us to a weird new creature type. Is it just me or does blue get a new creature type in every set? Wizards (the creature, not the company) are supposed to be their "official" tribe, but I can't help thinking that the creative team wants to keep testing the waters until they find something better. And weirds are just weird. Bring back merfolk!
"He's the original party worm!"
This one's for Streetbreaker Wurm. Well, not quite. Craw Wurm was the original party wurm, but as most players realized, he's just a fat slow creature that may be useful in limited. Smack on some red mana, drop the cost by one and suddenly the party's back on!
"The last ghost died over 200 years ago."
"The last human ghost. But robot ghosts?" (shudder)
Take a guess. Just take a wild guess where I'm going with this one. If you guessed haunt, then congratulations, you win the prize! The funny thing about haunt is that it creates a ghost and then the ghost dies. Is that how haunting works in real life?
"My folks were always on me to groom myself and wear underpants. What am I, the pope?"
No need to be tidy when you're smashing face, right? The Gruul clans have established themselves as the most violent, disruptive and disorderly guild in Ravnica. But, really, who cares?
"After all this time. Somebody else with one eye who isn't a clumsy carpenter or a kid with a BB gun."
It's been a long time coming, but Magic finally decided to introduce us to a brand new Cyclops. Borborygmos is the first new Cyclops since that bloodshot dude from Urza's Legacy and it has been alluded that Cyclopses may be returning in a big way to repopulate the Magic world with their presence.
"Futurama is brought to you by Thompsonís Teeth, the only teeth strong enough to eat other teeth."
Check out the chompers on Witch-Maw Nephilim. I saw the art for this card and thought of that quote so I decided to mention it. That's all.
"Hey. Did everything just taste purple for a second?"
For the Izzet guild. Because red + blue = purple. Yeah, actually I thought of using this one long before the set came out and I thought it would be the best I could do. In retrospect...
"I don't see you with a fungineering degree."
Yes. The Izzet is the fungineering guild. Whether they're making pets with diametrically opposing energies in self-sealed plasmodermic bubbles, running experiments through the brain of a schizophrenic lab-goblin or simply creating things based on wild contradictions, the Izzet have the most fun engineering new ways to cause chaos in Ravnica.
"Crazy theories one, regular theories a billion."
This quote is for Stitch in Time and the approximate number of times I will get it to work in my favor (one) versus the number of times it will not work in my favor (a billion).
Oh, no room for Bender, huh? Fine! I'll go build my own lunar lander. With blackjack! And hookers! In fact, forget the lunar lander and the blackjack. Ahh, screw the whole thing!
This is my way of paying tribute to two very prominent cycles in the set that I could not, for the life of me, find a good quote to describe: The leylines and the magemarks. The leylines especially are really cool, but nothing really works for they're ability. Perhaps if I rewatched every episode of Futurama, I could find something, but until then, I'll just screw the whole thing. If you're a fan of the show, feel free to chime in any cool ideas you might have.
Finally, I will once again be wrapping this up with some "quick hit" quotes and the cards they made me think of. Well actually, I usually see the card first, then think of the quote it reminds me of. One way of the other, here they are:
"Wow. That guy makes Speedy Gonzalez look like Regular Gonzalez."
"Are you jacking on in there?"
"Well there goes the neighborhood... there goes another neighborhood."
"And Nappster says illegal copies never hurt anybody."
"If it makes you feel any better, his body was vaporized so there's no chance he'll come back as a zombie"
"At the risk of sounding negative: No."
"I was God once."
"Yes, I saw. You were doing well until everyone died."
"Don't quote me regulations. I co-chaired the committee that reviewed the recommendation to revise the color of the book that regulation's in. We kept it grey."
"Ah, she's built like a steakhouse, but she handles like a bistro. She's out of control! You win again, gravity!"