Patriot Games

Monday, 13 August 2012

Taking a trip to Ravnica

I wanted to approach this blog from a totally new direction to the other ones I have written.  Generally these blogs have looked at deck lists for things I am going to play or possible cards you might want to look at playing in EDH/Legacy decks etc.  Today I just wanted to jump on the speculation band wagon and look to what is happening in the next month or so with the game.

There is an element of excitement in the world of Magic the Gathering.  I remember something different about a year ago with the imminent departure of Squadron Hawk and Caw Blade in general and the up and coming release of Innistrad – the first totally flavour based set which we were told was full of Gothic horror.  Well that all turned out pretty cool – at least until Avacyn Restored when the good guys won and the monsters were forced into the background as we were assaulted by flights of Angels.

No one puts Grisel in a corner!

This time is different though.  Delver of Secrets and his best buddy Snapcaster Mage are not going anywhere in a hurry but rotation will soon be upon us and the excitement is not for something totally new, but for a repeat visit to somewhere that holds a deep fondness for long time Magic players – the plane of Ravnica.

Looking forward to a Fall wedding...

We first visited Ravnica 7 years ago and it is held to be one of the best blocks ever with a great storyline and great cards.  The boards are alight with speculation over what will be in and out of Return to Ravnica (RtR) and I thought I would have a look today on what we do and don’t know and also on what we can make an educated guess about.

You can't mention RtR without mentioning the Shock Lands.  I can see new players looking slightly confused when it comes to player's excitement at lands that come in tapped unless you pay 2 life (hence “shock” land).  

This tomb may be old and forgotten but it is still sells for $25/£16!

The shock lands are not just any old dual land.  Like the original dual lands these possess the basic land types of Plain, Island, Swamp, Mountain and Forest. 

At least we wont have the interaction of this and Primeval Titan in standard...

Therefore a card like Farseek which goes and looks for a Plain, Island, Swamp or Mountain can go and look for a shock land.

If there are no shock lands why not just a reprint of Rampant Growth?

As can Liliana of the Dark Realms +1 ability.  The inclusion in M13 of these cards has been seen as a strong indication that the shocks will return in RtR.  This expectation has also been fuelled by Mark Rosewater’s declaration that WotC are trying to reprint all of the “staples” in Modern – a new format introduced last year which includes all of the cards in the new card format that was introduced with 8th Edition.

Is this a "Modern Staple"?

The sac lands from Zendikar also go and search for shock lands although paying 3 life for a dual land seems a little steep.  The shock lands are also very expensive on the second hand market which means they are a barrier to people wanting to play in the Modern format.

This is just a really cool name for a land.

Remand is another Modern staple that is highly overpriced for an uncommon card (£4).  The exclusion of Mana Leak in M13 could be seen as an indication that Remand will be reprinted in RtR.  However, it has a very strong interaction with Snapcaster which I find makes it questionable as to this getting a reprint in RtR.

Just when you thought it was safe to play without Cavern of Souls...

Snapcaster Mage and Solemn Simulacrum are both invitational winners cards.  Ravnica: City of Guilds has one of the most famous of these invitational cards in Dark Confident, or as he is more commonly know "Bob" after Bob Maher whose card it is.

"Hi my names Bob, or Bloody Obnoxious Bar... Person of dubious heritage."

Bob does see play in Modern but is more of a Legacy card.  At around £30 each a reprint of him - even at Mythic rarity would be welcomed by many.

One card we are confident will not see a reprint is Life from the Loam.  There are none of the old mechanics coming back and this is a card with Dredge on it.  To go into Dredge is a whole article on its own so lets just leave that one there.

Dredge - actually, technically, not playing Magic at all.

Another card pretty much guaranteed not to be in RtR is Glimpse the Unthinkable, but this solely because of it being a Blue Black spell as Dimir (the blue/black guild) does not return until Gatecrash.

Also known as Jace, Memory Adepts second ability.

Finally on the speculation express I would like to look at Doubling Season.  This card is just great and I love it.  It is a 5 mana cost enchantment which makes it virtually unplayable in standard.  However, it still retails for around £16, because it is an  EDH staple.

It is not how good I am, but how good I make everything else...

Doubling Season would quite possibly see play in the token decks which are currently popular - Hunt-master of the Fells now gives you 2 2/2 wolves when he comes in or flips, and lets not think of the interaction between this and lingering souls!  Having said that there is a problem with Doubling Season and the way it interacts with Planeswalkers - it makes them phenomenal! Doubling Season doubles the amount of loyalty counters that planeswalkers come into play with.  This means that quite often you can ultimate a Planeswalker the turn it comes into play which is usually very upsetting for your opponent.

RtR also brings with it a first for Sheffield.  We have never had a Pro Tour Qualifier (PTQ) in Sheffield before but we have one now!  On Saturday November 17th 2012 we have our first ever PTQ in Sheffield.  Due to the size of the event (there were 153 players at the last one in Manchester) Patriot Games is not really big enough so we have hired a venue for the day, and oh what a venue it is!

4 Star hotel - seems good!

For the first time I can reveal that the venue is the Mercure Sheffield St Paul's Hotel and Spa.  A spectacular ultra modern 4 Star hotel with an exceptional reputation for quality and service.  The format for the event is Return to Ravnica sealed.  If you play Magic in Sheffield and have never been to a big tournament before this is your chance.  The main event will be an amazing experience and the side events will please you and your pocket.  Full details will be announced soon but there will be special room rates and more available - some day all PTQ's will be made this way!

I will be back with more on Thursday this week and a new pauper deck list entitled Evil Bugs. Don't forget this Friday 17th August 2012 is Standard at FNM Relax, hope to see you there.

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