Home Editorial Balance Gatecrash Speculation: 10 possible guild mechanics

Now that the dust has settled a bit on Return to Ravnica, speculation is slowly turning towards Gatecrash, the second set in the new Ravnica block.

The first five guilds got new abilities, and while some interact nicely with the original set (Dredge and Scavenge, Populate and Convoke), others seem to have started from scratch (Replicate vs Overload, Forecast vs Detain).

In effect, Wizards has the choice: build on the past, or reinvent the remaining five guilds.

I’ve gone to great lengths to consider the flavor and mechanics of each of the remaining groups (Simic, Boros, Gruul, Orzhov, Dimir), and have designed two abilities for each. They’re in keeping with the lore of these guilds, plus they’re crafted to be both useful and balanced outside of the Ravnica block. Sure, it’s all supposition, but hey, you never know if Wizards R&D is reading, right?


Plaxcaster FroglingSimic Combine (blue/green)

In Ravnica, the Simic ability Graft allowed players to move +1/+1 counters to new creatures as they came into play. In effect, power slowly moved from early creatures to late game bombs.

While it had a cool, survival of the fittest feeling, it also meant players ended up with too many +1/+1 eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Triggered ability: Evolution (X)

Whenever you cast a spell with the same mana cost as this creature, put X +1/+1 counters on it.

Adaptive Cytoplast (1UG) Creature – Ooze, 3/2:Evolution 1

Instead of elevating a single new creature to perfection, Evolution would offer your earlier played threats to adapt and improve. Creatures with Evolution would “learn” from your spells, as long as they shared a mana affinity with the monster itself. Playing a second Adaptive Cytoplast would make the first one a 4/3. Playing another spell that costs 1UG would boost both Cytoplasts.

Note that the mana cost must be identical, not just the converted mana cost. This would keep the mechanic more closely tied to Simic biotech.


Static ability: Root

If this card would be exiled or moved to a hand or library, it stays on the battlefield instead.

Deepwater Refuge (1UG) Enchantment: Creatures you control have Root as long as you control two Forests and two Islands.

If there’s one thing blue and green share, it’s their aversion to other people messing with their stuff… that’s why Shroud and Hexproof are so common among these colors. But frequently, untargeted effects ruin the Simic plan, too. All those carefully accumulated counters are flushed when someone’s mean enough to play Evacuation or Terminus! Root tethers your permanents to the board, protecting them from unnatural interference (but not normal death).


BrightflameBoros Legion (red/white)

Let’s face it: Radiance was a stupid mechanic for Boros. Granting boons and debuffs based on colors is boring and, worse yet, ineffective, since you didn’t really want to catch your own creatures in the crossfire in a mirror match.

Plus, it doesn’t really have anything to do with red or white whatsoever. Here are two much better concepts for Gatecrash.

Conditional ability: Glory

If you have more life than each opponent, the listed effect occurs.

Press the Advantage (X1WR) Instant: Creatures you control get +X/+0 until end of turn. Glory – Creatures you control also gain lifelink until end of turn.

White is great at gaining life and preventing damage. Red’s adept at burning face and blasting through defense. With either color, you’re likely to gain an early hitpoint lead, so why not see some real benefit to it? Glory gives your games more momentum in the same way the Boros Legion feeds off its fanatical military devotion. Of course, you can’t always be ahead, so the mechanic runs out of steam when you do. In effect: no guts, no Glory.


Triggered ability: Veteran (X)

Whenever this creature attacks, it gets +X/+0 until end of turn. Whenever this creature blocks, it gets +0/+X until end of turn.

Military Muse (2WWR) Creature – Angel, 3/3: Flying, First Strike, Veteran 2

It’s not called the Boros Legion for nothing. Everyone in this red/white guild is an army aficionado with a penchant for pounding on enemies. Over the years, the ones that survive battle have learned a trick or two. Or three. Or X. Veteran makes creatures better at attacking when they’re attacking, better at blocking when they’re blocking, and boring when they’re not in the red zone where they should be.


Petrified Wood-KinGruul Clans (green/red)

Like the Incredible Hulk, the Gruul enjoy a good frenzy whenever possible. If there’s something to beat up or eat, they do it. If something stands in their way of fighting or feasting, it gets wrecked.

The Bloodthirst mechanic from the original Ravnica perfectly reflected this, as it empowered creatures who had picked up the scent of blood in the air.

Triggered ability: Smash (X)

Whenever this creature attacks, you may sacrifice a land. If you do, this creature deals X damage to target creature or player.

Gruul Gatecrasher (GGRR) Creature – Ogre, 4/4: Haste, Smash 2

Some clans just want to watch the world burn. Gruul is one of the only “guilds” uninterested in maintaining the city’s status quo, and Smash reflects that. Gruul creatures will lay waste to buildings to get damage through, even if it’s not a long term strategy. This ability synergizes well with Bloodthirst, guaranteeing an opponent gets hurt despite having ample defenses.


Triggered ability: Rampage (X)

Whenever this creature becomes blocked, it gets +X/+X until end of turn for each creature blocking it beyond the first.

Gorilla Pillagers (3GG) Creature – Ape Berserker, 4/5: Trample, Rampage 3

Rampage was a keyword ability from Magic’s earlier years and, quite frankly, it sucked. Or rather, it didn’t suck, but the creatures associated with it were hugely underpowered. With a more balanced concept of what Rampage can and can’t do, Gruul cards have the potential to make blocking a very painful experience.


Blind HunterOrzhov Syndicate (white/black)

Prime examples of puppetry and plutocracy, the Orzhov Syndicate ruled over life and death. Haunt reflected the church’s hold over the spiritual realm, but there was little in the Ravnica block that demonstrated the guild’s corrupt system of canonization.

These proposed mechanics show off Orzhov’s predisposition for playing favorites.

Triggered ability: Ascend

When this would die, you may pay its Ascend cost. If you do, it instead becoems an enchantment.  It loses Ascend.

Skulking Sycophant (1WB) Creature – Human, 1/3: At the beginning of your upkeep, gain 2 life. Ascend – WWBB

The entire idea of Ascend is to give your creatures (at least, the ones worthy of your mana) the option to become part of the Orzhov Ghost Council. Not everyone is deserving of this recognition, so Ascend costs are generally high. However, once your servants have paid their dues (in death and in mana), they can retain their influence in a less corporeal form. As enchantments, they’ll still keep their abilities, they just won’t be able to fight for the church directly. Amen.


New counters: Debt

Creatures with Debt counters cannot attack or use activated abilities. At the end of each of their controllers’ turns, remove one Debt counter from each permanent that player controls.

Involuntary Donations (3WB) Sorcery: Put two Debt counters on each creature.

Indentured Deacon (WBB) Creature – Vampire, 3/4: Flying, Deathtouch, Lifelink. Indentured Deacon comes into play with three Debt counters.

While some are chosen by the Ghost Council to join the elect, most members of the church are wracked by monetary and spiritual obligations to the guild’s hierarchy. Debt tokens symbolize the impotence of low-ranking members, as well as anyone in Ravnican society this cult sets is eyes on. Debt counters can also be used, as seen in the second example, to slip an undercosted creature into play. He’ll still be around to protect you and the guild, but won’t be unshackled until he’s paid off his dues. Then, it’s party time.


PerplexHouse Dimir (blue/black)

Fueled by secrets and home to limitless information, House Dimir is composed of spies, assassins, and data brokers who enjoy controlling things from the shadows.

The guild’s Transmute ability allowed them to put intelligence to good use, cycling spells for options better suited to the situation at hand. Of course, the more information, the better… right?

Keyword action: Pry (X)

Target opponent may reveal X cards from his or her hand and the top X cards of his or her library to you. If he or she does not, draw a card.

Minute Mindhacker (UB) Creature – Insect, 1/1: Meticulous Mindhacker is unblockable. Whenevever Minute Mindhacker deals combat damage to an opponent, Pry 4.

Running an espionage organization from behind the veil of secrecy is great and all, but planning and plotting are difficult if you don’t know what you’re up against. With Pry, your opponent will have to choose between giving you classified information or letting you accumulate card advantage. Note that your enemy doesn’t get to see their upcoming plays, only you do.


Keyword action: Blackmail

Name a nonland card. Until your next turn, whenever a player plays the named card, he or she discards a card.

Scandal-Ridden Dossier (3) Artifact – Equipment, Attach (1UB): Equipped creature gains “Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, Blackmail.”

So, you’ve scryed, pried, and stolen every bit and byte of info in your opponent’s deck. But what can you do with all that information? The world’s criminal organizations would suggest Blackmail as a viable option. House Dimir doesn’t have the authority or means to prevent secrets from getting out, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make tattlers pay a price. Blackmail rewards you for guessing or knowing what your enemies are up to. And it forces them to choose between playing into your hands and coughing up the cards.


What do you think?

Of course, all this is speculation, and it’s only a matter of time until the real Gatecrash guild abilities are revealed. What do you think Wizards will implement for each of these five clans? And how will they tie into the original keyword abilities, if at all?

22 replies to this post
  1. Interesting ideas. Of course, it all depends on the deck it’s in, but I feel like Evolution would be a bit underpowered. Rather than force the exact same mana cost, maybe the spell should have to have the same cmc and share the creature’s colors. Depending on balance, it could be adjusted to force the spell to have at least one, all, or exactly all of the colors the creature has.

    Other things I can think of, perhaps regardless of flavor, would be to give one of the G guilds a way to make creatures not tap when regenerating at a cost. That might not fit with the current guilds, but hey, they’re literally shrugging off death without even taking a break until your next untap step, how green flavored is that?

    Another thing that would probably fit best with G/R:
    When this creature is put into a graveyard from play, (you may pay X. If you do,) it deals Y damage (equal to its power?) to target creature (or player? Probably would make it OP).
    That’d add a nice feeling of, “Well I’m dead, but you’re ugly!” to your creatures and force opponents to think twice about killing them, as well as opening up potential for true Johnny combos by burning all of your creatures for a total amount of damage greater than what you could’ve achieved otherwise (and, hopefully, greater than your opponent’s life total).

  2. Great ideas! They just “feel” right, you might be on to something!

    Also, I think I heard Maro mention that they’re not reprinting any old mechanics, so rampage is probably out.
    Great speculation though!

  3. Well, Evolution would force deckbuilding, so it would be useless in most formats which isn’t something they’d want.

    Root is broke like I can’t believe.

    Glory is interesting and totally printable.

    Veteran is too complicated for a keyword. Part of the reason Banding will never return is because the same keyword doing different things at different times is generally considered bad. (Which sucks because Banding is awesome!)

    Smash has potential, just like Unleash, in that it forces you to make a pretty significant choice that might bite you later. Most likely you’d see people swing with a horde and sac all their land for an instant win.

    Rampage is a lot of fun but won’t be reprinted.

    Ascend, like Haunt, has memory problems.

    Debt counters. Maybe, but having an arrest effect with them seems odd. Something like “Creatures with Debt Counters can’t target or damage you or permanents you control” seems more appropriate.

    Pry doesn’t really work if it’s on more than one creature, as you’ll either get one or every instance of it triggering. Why would they be shy about revealing their hand/library for the second, third, etc. time?

    Blackmail has memory problems as well.

    Sorry, I know it sounds like I’m raining on your parade, but it’s a really interesting article and I devour any Gatecrash news or speculation I can get my hands on.

    • Good points overall, just some quick thoughts:

      Root: I think it’s only broken if the costing is broken. If a 2/2 with Root costs 4 mana is it broken?

      Veteran doesn’t feel too complicated to me. Wizards just printed that Angel of War and Peace, which Veteran is kinda based on.

      Smash, exactly my thoughts. I think it’s fun to give the normally reckless GR color combo a more cerebral, yet still smashy smash mechanic. True, players might just sit for a lethal swing, maybe it would be best to have it only target creatures?

      Ascend feels easy to me. When your creature would die, just put a counter on it and now it’s an enchantment.

      Seems like most people feel the same way about Debt. Not sure of a solution.

      Pry might be better if it’s used on spells instead of creatures. If only 4 or 8 instants/sorceries in your deck have Pry, it won’t be happening constantly. Also, if low CMC cards have Pry 1 and high CMC cards have Pry 7, you would at least gain steadily more information.

      Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful reply!

      • Perhaps Veteran should give you the choice of giving your creature +X/+0 OR +0/+X whenever it attacks or blocks. That’d be slightly easier to remember as it’s one event triggering on two occasions, while also feeling slightly more flavorful for a grizzled veteran to me, with them adjusting their combat tactics as is needed.

  4. Fun read. I can’t wait for the next DLC.

    Btw Wing, have you watched any of the Pro Tour stream?

    Cifka’s Second Sunrise + Pyrite Spellbomb combo is crazier than Panoptic Mirror + Timewarp in Duels.

  5. To begin, a correction: Replicate and Overload are literally THE most synergistic of overlaping guild mechanics in that they do very similar things and fit perfectly in the same thing. Case in point: Shattering Spree and Vandalblast. Tell me how these are so different as to imply “starting from scratch”.

    Decent ideas for imaginery mechanics. Glory stands out to me as being one of the most fitting of its suggested guild, even name-wise. Both the Orzhov’s seem too complex to actually be executed. I’m not thrilled with either of the Gruul’s. Instead, I’d point to Rage, an idea from a fan art card maker on deviantart. http://alveaenerlee.deviantart.com/art/Gruul-Harvester-324427171

    Anyway, nice thoughts just the same. Let’s hope the real ones are better than whatever we can imagine.

    • That’s what I meant though. They are so similar that they serve the same purpose. Plus since they both require tons of mana, you can’t reasonably cast one of each in a turn.

      By comparison, look at Dredge + Scavenge. They work together. Each ability makes the other better.

      • Dredge and Scavenge are fueled by the same strategy (self-mill), but that’s about where the synergy ends. A Scavenge deck may benefit from dredging, but Dredge gets absolutely nothing from Scavenge. Worse yet, Scavenge has a higher mana curve than Dredge (i.e. a pay mechanic versus a free mechanic). That’s only Limited-quality synergy, not Constructed (let alone competitive) level.

        Again, I’m talking strictly about how well each mechanic works in a deck with both. I never said Overload or Replicate were better mechanics, just that playing them together would be far more seamless.

        Examples: “I’ll tap out to play this card and its mechanic!” (Applies to both mechanics, meaning easy of use and high level of intuitive play).

        Compare with “I’ll self-mill to make my Boneyard Wurm bigger. Now I’ll spend mana and exile creatures cards to pump him up again. Oh, wait, that second thing just canceled out the first thing.”

        The flawed synergy between Dredge and Scavenge is actually one of my pet peeves with Wizards R&D.

        Regardless, your words were “started from scratch”. We can debate synergy all we want, but you still misrepresented Replicate’s relationship to Overload. If anything, it’s the exact opposite of what you said: Wizards just copped out and made a functional reprint of the same mechanic. (Yes, yes, they do different things, but the results are basically the same.)

    • yea wow on the evolve prediction
      I’m also still not convinced we have seen the general mechanic for boros or gruul, Battalion and Bloodrush seem too specialized for those creatures we have seen them on so far. We’ll see though.

      • Battalion, yes. Bloodrush, no. Bloodrush is actually very simple to template and play, it just looks complex at first sight.

        Template: {mana cost}, Discard [this card]: Effect.

        The effect is completely variable, so that might be where you’re uncertain of the execution. The template, however, is very straightforward. It’s basically a cross between cycling and alt casting.

        The key is that it’s NOT alt casting, and thus can’t be countered by anything in standard (unless they bring in a new Guildmage who counters activated abilities).

        Battalion and Extort, though, both require further examples. I can’t even infer a vague, general template from the Thrull. Battalion, by contrast, at least gives the impression of a swarm-based activation condition.

  6. I didn’t say they were too complex to be guild mechanics, just specialized to those creatures. The main reason that I thought they weren’t the guild mechanics at first was because the description for each uses the name of the creature in the description.
    I can see where you’re coming from with bloodrush, that might be using the name because each instance of bloodrush will do something slightly different. All of the other guild mechanics though have been very generalized in both Ravnica and Return to Ravnica.

    Extort is definitely the guild mechanic, it is spot on for them and I love it.

    What i was saying for Battalion is that we might see an entirely new mechanic still not called Battalion to come out as the guild mechanic for boros. Pure speculation and I am more than willing to accept that I could be wrong. It just doesn’t feel right with the name of the creature in the description.

  7. You aare so awesome! I do not believe I have read through a single
    thing like that before. So good to discover someone wityh
    a few unique thoughts oon this subjmect matter. Really..
    thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

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