By William aka BlueRam

“The city is vast and perilous, but there are places where a weary traveler can feel very much at home.”  -Oak Street Innkeeper

As we all know, Return to Ravnica is finally upon us! Hurrah! Hurrah! Everything’s been spoiled, and you can bet that we’ll be seeing a whole bunch of brand-new commander content coming up in the next couple of weeks as everybody fights Tooth and Nail to get their hands on the sweet new cards that are coming out.

But I’m looking to this Saturday with great anticipation. It’ll be the first time that I’ve had a chance to play with Ravnica cards since, well, the original Ravnica. Although, my guild won’t be showing up until GateCrash (it’s Boros, and you’ll see why), I’m more than happy to populate the field with my fellow Selesnyans. As much as I loved Lightning Helix, Boros Recruit, and Argus Kos, Wojek Veteran, I still have plenty of fond memories using Scatter the Seeds to play Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi and a bunch of other saproling tribal cards. If I’m lucky, I might get some Azorius action in, too.

But if you’ve read some of my previous articles, you’ll realise that something doesn’t add up quite right.

I started playing Magic around the time that the M11 Core Set came out, and I wasn’t aware that blocks existed until Scars of Mirrodin. On top of that, I just started following the Magic storyline with Innistrad. So why am I talking about the nostalgia of Ravnica cards?

The truth is, the first time I knew OF Magic was right before the guilds came out, when I was in middle school. I’d always been fascinated by trading cards, so when I saw a 9’th Edition starter deck that advertised white’s stalwart soldiers, and angelic hosts, I grabbed it.

The small booklet inside, the first thing we usually throw away, taught me about the colors and the story behind the game. Some of the things a few of us take for granted was being explained to me and I was instantly drawn in. When I got the chance, I bought the red deck as well. I loved both of them. To me, the color wheel seemed like a personality test, and the two colors I had were my perfect match.

I had the cards, so why don’t I consider this the time I first started playing magic? Because, to be honest, I didn’t have anyone to play with, much less anyone else who could teach me how to play. I would just thumb through my cards, reading the how-to pamphlet, trying to figure out if I was allowed to use Master Decoy’s ability on my opponent’s turn or not. The only thing I had to go off of was my poorly put-together pamphlet and the few years I’d spent playing Yu-Gi-Oh. It didn’t translate well.

I kept the decks separated as I tried to get my younger brother to play with me, but he was never interested enough to give it a try. So I spent my time just looking through the cards. I didn’t know enough about the game to even try combining them, and I certainly didn’t want to take them apart in case I met someone who did want to play with them.

But a couple of months later, RAVNICA: CITY OF GUILDS came out. I wouldn’t realise it until I saw I the new starter decks displayed at the grocery store. I was already in love with white, so grabbing the Boros and Selesnya decks without a second thought.

Boros was fierce and strong, while Selesnya grew stronger with each new ally. Both of them reflected different things that Magic could do that no other card game could. When I eventually started playing actual games, these were the first two decks I would grab, no questions asked.

Those decks grew with me as I bought packs and learned more about Ravnica, and I still cherish them to this day.

But since I wasn’t following anything Magic-wise, I was confused. Where were the other decks? Why wasn’t the color combination cycle complete? The pamphlet said there were supposed to be ten guilds, so where were they? I loved white, and I thought I’d missed out on my one chance to get the other white guilds.

I was relieved to eventually find the black/white Orzhov, and blue/white Azorius a few months after that. I loved them both as well, even if ‘Forecast’ was an extremely difficult concept for me to grasp; having learned very little about the order for untapping, upkeeps, and drawing.

I finally had all four of the white guilds to play with. Flavorwise, I understood some things about them. I knew that the Boros were the strong, passionate army of Ravnica. I knew that Selesnya were a peaceful, and loving, community. Orzhov was a guild that worshipped the coin, and the Azorius created laws to give structure to the monstrous population. They were a few, basic, characteristics that the pamphlets shared with me. Despite that, I identified with each of the guilds, some more than others; particularly the Boros.

The Boros did what I didn’t have the confidence to do: they combined my two favorite colors and made a deck that was fast, aggressive, and glorious above all else. The Boros would go on to shape my entire philosophy regarding playstyle, no matter what format I was playing, be it standard, casual, and yes, even Commander.

To this day, I put a heavier emphasis on any of my Commander decks that use r/w (which for those keeping score, currently includes Kaalia, Mayael, Ruhan, and Jor Kadeen), and they all follow the Boros philosophy, “Win fast, or die gloriously”.

So what does it mean to me, now that we’re going back to Ravnica? I was never really “a part” of the story that was going on. Right now, I’m still in the middle of reading “Guildpact”. I get warm, fuzzy, feelings reading about Teysa, but since they’re long delayed from how long ago they could have been, I don’t get the nostalgia that a lot of the older players have.

I’m not going to have the same wide-eyed excitement that the newcomers have. I’m not new to the guilds (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I was familiar enough to want to look the guilds up online, and I knew enough about them to know which one I’d join in a heartbeat.

Instead, it feels like a redemption. I’ve always said that some of my biggest regrets in Magic involve not being around for the pre-releases for Alara, Zendikar, and Scars of Mirrodin. But the biggest regret I have is not being there for the excitement that the original guilds brought. This time, I can be there. This time, I can make a difference. This time, I CAN FIGHT FOR MY GUILD!

I will go to that pre-release, and I will fly with the Azorius, and detain anyone who tries to ursurp the law. I will swarm with Selesnyan centaurs and the temples. Then, come GateCrash, I will stand with my brethren as we use rain the holy fire down upon our enemies! I will redeem myself. We are the BOROS, and even if it isn’t for another five months, I will see YOU at the pre-release.

As always, if you have any comments/questions/ideas for articles/etc, feel free to leave some comments down below, tweet my account @BlueRam1409, or send an email to my inbox at Wiehernandez(at)gmail(dot)com. I’m also “BlueRam” on the MTG Salvation forums, if you want to send me a message there. I’ll try to help with decks as best I can, as quickly as I can, but I’ll always have time to just chat or answer a question.

Join me next week as we take a try out the idea of “a guild deck”.

Until then, fight hard for your guild. Fight, and carry no regrets.