Rulers make bad lovers,
You’d better put your kingdom up for sale.
— Fleetwood Mac, “Gold Dust Woman”
I haven’t played in a sanctioned Magic tournament for a long time – since the Worldwake pre-release, in fact. It’s been so long that my DCI number is actually inactive. I have no intention of re-activating it any time soon, but old habits die hard. I mostly identify as a collector now, and tend to pre-order cards just because I like the art (how beautiful are the new pieces for the Ravnica dual lands, by the way?) or something else about them. And yet, it’s hard to entirely stop assessing cards’ game text and/or power level.
From that point of view, I’m not entirely pleased with what I see in Return to Ravnica. I don’t think it’s really possible to deny that power creep is a real thing at this point, when there’s a 5/5 creature for four mana with a beneficial ability that is clearly intended to be played only in limited settings. It took me (and my master’s degree in economics) ten minutes to figure out how to use the overload keyword – so much for reducing complexity. And why in the Abyss are unleash and detain even keywords at all? And can you even imagine how miserable Standard is going to be with Snapcaster Mage and the blue guilds’ charms?
Everything about this block positively screams “this is not what it seems.” What do I mean by that? Only that so far, it seems to be on track to replicate many of the mistakes made by Time Spiral – we’re told that that block failed because established players got it and non-established players didn’t. But what reasons have been used as the ones we should buy Return to Ravnica (note the name, by the way)? The guilds are coming back? Well, why should you care unless you saw the guilds the first time around? If you started playing during the Scars of Mirrodin block, you probably don’t even know who Isperia and Niv-Mizzet are, much less why you want to play with them. Further, out of the last three blocks, two of them have been returns (rehashes) of popular old settings, and the other was an attempt to cash in on the turn-of-the-decade horror trend. That, to me, says something quite different from “best year in Magic’s history for the xth year in a row.”
But hey, at least the art is still good.