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Return to Ravnica

Return to Ravnica
RTR logo
Set Information
Set symbol
Design Ken Nagle (lead),
Zac Hill,
Alexis Janson,
Mark Rosewater,
Ken Troop[note 1]
Development Erik Lauer (lead),
Zac Hill,
Dave Humpherys,
Tom LaPille,
Adam Lee,
Billy Moreno,
Shawn Main
Art direction Jeremy Jarvis
Release date October 5, 2012
Plane Ravnica
Themes and mechanics Gates, Ravnican guilds, Hybrid mana
Keywords/​ability words Detain, Overload, Populate, Scavenge, Unleash
Set size 274 cards
(25 basic lands, 101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares)
Expansion code RTR[1]
Development codename Hook
Return to Ravnica block
Return to Ravnica Gatecrash Dragon's Maze
Magic: The Gathering Chronology
Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari Return to Ravnica Commander's Arsenal
For other uses, see Ravnica (disambiguation).

Return to Ravnica is the first set in the Return to Ravnica block. It is the 59th Magic expansion and was released on October 5, 2012.[2][3]

Set details[ | ]

Return to Ravnica contains 274 cards (25 basic lands, 101 commons, 80 uncommons, 53 rares, 15 mythic rares), including randomly inserted premium versions of all cards in the set. As was the case with the original Ravnica block, Return to Ravnica focuses on the guild system and multicolor cards.[4][5] Five guilds — the Azorius Senate, Golgari Swarm, Izzet League, Cult of Rakdos, and Selesnya Conclave — are featured in Return to Ravnica; the other five guilds appear in the following expansion, Gatecrash.[6] Because R&D had to fit in five guilds, rather than four, the set contained more uncommon cards than usual.[7] It is is unknown what the expansion symbol of this is set is meant to represent, though some people think it is a stylized Orzhov Mitre, a nib of a fountain pen or a gate.

As Gatecrash would not feature any basic lands, despite being a large expansion, Return to Ravnica featured 25 basic lands, 5 more than the usual 20.[8] For the first time basic lands were printed in an expert expansion with reused artwork: one of each basic land type featured artwork previously used in the Ravnica block.[9] Return to Ravnica also marked the return of the shock lands.[10]

Richard Whitters was the Return to Ravnica Lead Concept Artist. He, alongside Aleksi Briclot, Pete Mohrbacher, Wayne Reynolds, Sam Burley, and Jeremy Jarvis, created the Return to Ravnica motif sheets and style guide.[11]

Flavor and storyline[ | ]

“  Choose Your Guild  ”

As the name of the expansion implies, Return to Ravnica is set in Ravnica, a plane comprising a singular megalopolis or ecumenopolis,[12] in which a vast and diverse variety of inhabitants co-exist.[13][14][15] Once, the law of city and plane of Ravnica was dictated by the Guildpact and was controlled in relative harmony by the ten guilds, each of which representing a color pairing of the five colors of Magic. In Dissension, however, the Guildpact had been broken.[16] Faced with a magical code that is built into the very foundations of the city-world itself, Jace Beleren marches into the numinous depths of Ravnica's underbelly in search of the promise of powerful magic. Once buried in the past, the code resurfaces as Ravnica's power-hungry mage guilds, unbound by the Guildpact that had once maintained order, struggle for control of the plane.

Magic Story[ | ]

Main article: Magic Story
Title Author Release Date Setting (plane) Featuring
The Shadows of Prahv, Part 1 Jenna Helland 2012-08-29 Ravnica Branko, Gebris, Zivan, Vraska, Relov, Javy
The Shadows of Prahv, Part 2 Jenna Helland 2012-09-05 Ravnica Relov, Javy, Zivan, Branko, Vraska
Epic Experiment Jenna Helland 2012-09-12 Ravnica Trenz, Mr. Taz, Krenko
In Praise of the Worldsoul, Part 1 Jenna Helland 2012-09-26 Ravnica Ruzi and Kuma, Mazena
In Praise of the Worldsoul, Part 2 Jenna Helland 2012-10-03 Ravnica Cecilee, Zi, Ruzi and Kuma, Massacre Girl
In Praise of the Worldsoul, Part 3 Jenna Helland 2012-10-10 Ravnica Ruzi and Kuma, Zi, Massacre Girl, Nikya
Slaughter Games Trick Jarrett 2012-10-17 Ravnica Darux, Maritta, Stroko, Vildika
The Great Concourse Adam Lee 2012-10-24 Ravnica Suniel, Trostani (Oba, Ses and Cim), Molander, Troslon, Alcarus, Sadruna, Mat'Selesnya
The Azorius Ten Most Wanted Jenna Helland 2012-10-31 Ravnica Ritjit, Ruzi and Kuma, Senka, Bori Andon, Krenko, Mr. Taz, The Cozen, Damir, Vraska, Massacre Girl
The Seven Bells, Part 1 Jenna Helland 2012-11-07 Ravnica Bori Andon, Micas Vay, Zaba
The Seven Bells, Part 2 Jenna Helland 2012-11-14 Ravnica Bori Andon
Rogue's Passage Tom LaPille 2012-11-21 Ravnica Tanek, Migen, Erika, Ivo, Busa, Ambroz Benakov, Radomir

Marketing[ | ]

RTR Jace and Niv-Mizzet

Jace and Niv-Mizzet

RTR 6 card booster

Return to Ravnica 6-card booster

Return to Ravnica was sold in 16-card boosters, 6-card boosters, five intro packs, two event decks and a fat pack. As a first for an expert-level set, it also featured a Booster Battle Pack.[17] The 16-card boosters featured artwork from Korozda Guildmage, New Prahv Guildmage, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, Rix Maadi Guildmage and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage.[18] The small booster featured artwork from Vraska the Unseen.

An early preview picture of the set showed Niv-Mizzet, the leader of the Izzet League, adjacent to planeswalker Jace Beleren.[2] Wizards of the Coast created a "Choose Your Guild" interactive quiz and Planeswalker Points Web page for the expansion, allowing Magic players to choose their guild. At the expansion's prerelease events on September 29–30, 2012, players chose their guild;[19][20] a choice that affected gameplay, as, in addition to receiving five Return to Ravnica boosters, players received a guild-specific sticker, an acceptance letter from their guild leader,[21] a spindown life counter, a promotional prerelease card, an achievement/challenge card, and an additional guild-specific booster.[22][23] The launch party was October 5–7, 2012 [24] and Game Day was October 27–28, 2012.

In September 2012, Mark Rosewater confirmed that Magic novels would return as e-books, with Doug Beyer writing them.[25] On November 28, 2012, Doug Beyer introduced the novel written for Return to Ravnica as The Secretist, with the first part being available from then onwards as an e-book.[26] The novel is centered around Jace Beleren.

In addition to interactive online activities and promotional cards, after widespread interest expressed on the part of the people on Twitter, Wizards of the Coast paired up with licensing partner Araca to produce guild t-shirts[27] and baseball caps.[28]

Promotional cards[ | ]

For the first time, there were five promotional prerelease cards, with the card received dependent on the guild chosen. Another novel feature of the Return to Ravnica prerelease was the fact that the card could be played in decks at the prerelease itself, unlike previous promotional prerelease cards,[20] were:

These cards were also available in the intro packs as foils, albeit without the alternate art and prerelease date.[29]

Other alternate-art promotional cards were:[30]

Tokens[ | ]

RTR Korozda Guildmage

Korozda Guildmage, a gold-mage and a producer of green 1/1 Saproling creature tokens.

The sixteenth card in the boosters is a token creature card. Although there are advertising cards on them, one of which features Gideon Jura on its front face, there are no "Tips & Tricks" cards associated with Return to Ravnica.[31]

The Return to Ravnica tokens, in the order in which they are listed, are:[32]

  1. {W} 1/1 Bird with flying produced by Eyes in the Skies and Seller of Songbirds
  2. {W} 2/2 Knight with vigilance produced by Knightly Valor, Security Blockade, and Selesnya Charm
  3. {W} 1/1 Soldier produced by Precinct Captain
  4. {B} 1/1 Assassin with "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, that player loses the game." produced by Vraska the Unseen
  5. {R} 6/6 Dragon with flying produced by Utvara Hellkite
  6. {R} 1/1 Goblin produced by Goblin Rally and Survey the Wreckage
  7. {G} 3/3 Centaur produced by Call of the Conclave, Centaur's Herald, Coursers' Accord and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
  8. {G} X/X Ooze produced by Slime Molding
  9. {G} 4/4 Rhino with trample produced by Horncaller's Chant
  10. {G} 1/1 Saproling produced by Korozda Guildmage
  11. {G} 5/5 Wurm with trample produced by Armada Wurm and Worldspine Wurm[33]
  12. {G/W} 8/8 Elemental with vigilance produced by Grove of the Guardian

Themes and mechanics[ | ]

Return to Ravnica revisits five of the ten Ravnica block bicolored guilds, each of which with its own keyword or ability word that is similar but not identical to the original one.[34][35][36] As a returning mechanic, the set also featured hybrid mana.[37] Development focused efforts on building a 'slow' and 'fast' strategy into each guild.[38]

Guild Colors Crest Legendary guild members Keyword or ability word
Azorius Senate {W/U} {Azorius Logo} Isperia,
Detain [39]
"Control" theme (tapping effects, "bounce" effects, counterspells, "taxation" effects)
Combat abilities, particularly "Flying" and "Vigilance", and effects subtheme
Cult of Rakdos {B/R} {Rakdos Logo} Rakdos,
Unleash [40]
"+1/+1 counters matters" subtheme
Selesnya Conclave {G/W} {Selesnya Logo} Trostani,
Emmara Tandris
Weenie token and, more broadly, creature token subthemes
Izzet League {U/R} {Izzet Logo} Niv-Mizzet,
Spells subtheme
Golgari Swarm {B/G} {Golgari Logo} Jarad,
"Graveyard matters" subtheme

To note: the Guilds are presented in the official {W}{U}{B}{R}{G} order, but they were originally displayed alphabetically by Wizard: Azorius Senate, Golgari Swarm, Izzet League, Cult of Rakdos, Selesnya Conclave.

Other themes and mechanics include:

Creature types[ | ]

No novel creature types were introduced in this expansion.

Cycles[ | ]

Cycle name {W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Land Auras Security Blockade Chronic Flooding Underworld Connections Racecourse Fury Urban Burgeoning
Each of these Auras enchants a land and grants that land an activated ability with a {T} in its cost, a triggered ability which triggers when that land is tapped, or lets it untap during each other player's untap step.

Guild cycles[ | ]

For cycles that are part of the guild mega cycles, see Return to Ravnica block#Mega cycles.

Guild cycles in Return to Ravnica each comprise five members, one for each guild featured in the expansion. Along with many of the Gatecrash guild cycles, many of the Return to Ravnica guild cycles form Return to Ravnica block mega cycles.

Cycle name Azorius
Uncounterable spells Supreme Verdict Slaughter Games Loxodon Smiter Counterflux Abrupt Decay
Each of these rare multicolored spells with the ability to not be (conventionally) countered.[42][note 2]

Pairs[ | ]

Return to Ravnica has one mirrored pair and one matched pair.

Mirrored pairs[ | ]

Mirrored Pairs Description
Monocolored spells that cost M and have Overload {2}M. Whereas Downsize shrinks opponents' creatures, Dynacharge pumps your creatures. Both are spells costing one mana with Overload at three mana each.

Matched pairs[ | ]

Matched Pairs Description
Chemister's Trick
Multicolored non-permanent spells costing {U}{R} and have Overload {3}{U}{R}. Whereas Chemister's Trick shrinks opponents' creatures until end of turn and forces them to attack, Teleportal pumps your creatures and makes them unblockable until end of turn.

Although Rakdos's Return and Sphinx's Revelation are an apparent mirrored pair, with their similar, but opposite, effects and similar, but non-identical, casting costs, Mark Rosewater has stated they are not in fact a mirrored pair, neither intentionally nor unintentionally, on multiple occasions.[43][44] Furthermore, the sphinx referred to in Sphinx's Revelation is not, or at least not necessarily, Isperia, the guildmaster of the Azorius Senate in the Return to Ravnica block.[45] Rosewater has, however, said that Magic players, being who they are, will invariably think that the two cards are a mirrored pair, and that they are what people see them to be; either a mirrored pair or not.[46]

Reprinted cards[ | ]

The following cards have been reprinted from previous sets and included in Return to Ravnica:

Functional reprints[ | ]

Strictly better[ | ]

Strictly worse[ | ]

Notable cards[ | ]

  • The Guildgate cycle that began in the set would later be parts of Maze's End control decks in Pioneer and Field of the Dead decks in Standard, and would become popular choices for mana fixing in the casual Commander format.
  • Cyclonic Rift was played as a high-upside bounce spell in Standard and Pioneer but is also known as one of the strongest spells in Commander, resulting in its high price
  • Rogue's Passage and Chromatic Lantern are casual format favorites for easy evasion and full mana fixing respectively.
  • Rakdos Charm is a staple of black-red aggro decks that can use its final mode to unexpectedly burn out an opponent, while its other two modes can serve useful roles in many matchups. Printed shortly after the Splinter Twin combo, it gave an out against that and Storm combo.
  • Goblin Electromancer is a key part of many spell-based combo decks, most notably Storm decks in Modern.
  • Dreadbore and Abrupt Decay were among some of the strongest removal spells available in Modern and Pioneer, and the latter through to Vintage, while Supreme Verdict is one of the strongest and most played board wipes ever printed.
  • Essence Backlash is unique in that it refers to a spell's power, which works as it only counters creature spells.
  • Ethereal Armor has proven to be a strong part of any deck focusing on aggressive use of auras such as Naya Aggro decks in Standard and Bogles decks in Modern and Pauper.
  • Grisly Salvage is a powerful card selection and graveyard-filling spell for any creature combo deck, helping power one of the most dominant Pioneer decks, Abzan Greasefang.
  • Rest in Peace completely turns off graveyards and has seen sideboard play in almost every format.
  • Azor's Elocutors is an alternate-win card.
  • Axebane Guardian is a key piece in Pauper Walls Combo decks which combine it with Freed from the Real and similar effects to generate infinite mana
  • Pack Rat is an infamously strong Limited card that is almost impossible to deal with without a board wipe and was even a staple in Standard Mono-Black Devotion.
  • Underworld Connections was a staple in black decks its entire run through Standard as a card draw engine and black mana Devotion.
  • Sphinx's Revelation was a notorious card for Standard control decks that could use it to both stabilize and generate card advantage and has been referenced by numerous other Azorious cards like Azor, the Lawbringer, Elenda and Azor, Alquist Proft, Master Sleuth, and Sphinx's Insight.
  • Worldspine Wurm is among the largest and most expensive creatures ever, costing 9 mana and having 15 power and toughness. It has been cheated into play by decks using Indomitable Creativity alongside a haste-giver in Pioneer and Modern and even abused for its high mana value in the "Grishoalbrand" combo deck.
  • Gorehouse Chainwalker is curiously difficult to translate succinctly to European languages, with the French and Portuguese translations being the longest in the game.
  • Wild Beastmaster, in the face of Downsize and the like, often wiped its own controller's board. This was an example that led to the rules change in 2017 to set negative value references to 0.
  • Nivmagus Elemental is the first card to exile a spell on the stack as a cost.

Banned and restricted cards[ | ]

  • Deathrite Shaman is a very strong mana dork with two other powerful abilities, giving it a tongue-in-cheek reputation as "the only one-mana planeswalker". With a hybrid mana cost, in-built graveyard hate, and the ability to stabilize with life gain or deal the final points of damage, it proved powerful in any format with fetchlands. It was banned rather early in Modern in February 2014 at Jund's peak, and Legacy banned it in July 2018 as black decks often bent the color pie with the mana fixing and ramp.

Preconstructed decks[ | ]

Intro packs[ | ]

Return to Ravnica has five bicolored guild-centric intro packs.[29]

Intro pack name Colors Included Foil rare
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Azorius Advance W U Archon of the Triumvirate
Rakdos Raid B R Carnival Hellsteed
Selesnya Surge W G Grove of the Guardian
Izzet Ingenuity U R Hypersonic Dragon
Golgari Growth B G Corpsejack Menace

Event decks[ | ]

Return to Ravnica has two bicolored event decks.[48][49]

deck name
Colors Included
{W} {U} {B} {R} {G}
Creep and Conquer B G
Wrack and Rage B R

Gallery[ | ]

Notes[ | ]

  1. With contributions from Mark Gottlieb, Ethan Fleischer, Shawn Main, and Billy Moreno, who designed 11 cards, namely, Bazaar Krovod, Chronic Flooding, Codex Shredder, Oak Street Innkeeper, Rogue's Passage, Search the City, Security Blockade, Street Sweeper, Tavern Swindler, Underworld Connections, and Urban Burgeoning.
  2. These uncounterable spells can be "countered" by removal from the stack by cards such as Mindbreak Trap and Time Stop, for example, or, in the case of spells with targets, by causing the spell to "fizzle" due to a lack of legal targets.

References[ | ]

  1. Product page
  2. a b Monty Ashley (April 9, 2012). "Announcing Return to Ravnica". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Gottlieb (December 31, 2012). "Gatecrash Diaries". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Mark Rosewater (April 8, 2012). "How long have you guys been deliberating this?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  5. Erik Lauer (September 10, 2012). "Developing the Return". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Mark Rosewater (September 10, 2012). "Return on Investment, Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (November 17, 2012). "Why does Return to Ravnica have 80 uncommon cards?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  8. Mark Rosewater (August 21, 2012). "How come RtR has 274 cards and GTC has 249?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  9. Mark Rosewater (September 03, 2012). "Return on Investment, Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Monty Ashley (September 24, 2012). "Shocklands Then and Now". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Jeremy Jarvis (September 25, 2012). "The Look of Return to Ravnica". Wizards of the Coast.
  12. Ken Nagle (September 3, 2012). "On the Origin of Scavenge and Overload". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. The Magic Creative Team (August 22, 2012). "Planeswalker's Guide to Return to Ravnica: Part 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  14. The Magic Creative Team (September 05, 2012). "Planeswalker's Guide to Return to Ravnica: Part 2". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. The Magic Creative Team (September 19, 2012). "Planeswalker's Guide to Return to Ravnica: Part 3". Wizards of the Coast.
  16. Adam Lee (August 29, 2012). "Ravnica, Then and Now". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Monty Ashley (September 12, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Booster Battle Pack". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Monty Ashley (September 04, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Booster Packs". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Trick Jarrett (August 31, 2012). "Choose your Guild!". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. a b Tim Willoughby (September 24, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Prerelease Primer". Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Monty Ashley (February 08, 2013). "Guild Letters". Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Devon Rule. (July 16, 2012.) "SDCC Panel: Return to Ravnica and More!",
  23. Wizards of the Coast. (2012.) "Worldwide Prerelease Tournaments" — Wizards of the Coast
  24. Return to Ravnica FAQ — The Wizards Community
  25. Mark Rosewater confirms return of Magic: The Gathering novels —
  26. Doug Beyer (November 28, 2012). "Return to Ravnica: The Secretist, Pt. 1". Wizards of the Coast.
  27. Wizards of the Coast (September 18, 2012). "Choose Your Guild Shirt!". Wizards of the Coast.
  28. Monty Ashley (November 26, 2012). "My Colors, My Guild, My Hat". Wizards of the Coast.
  29. a b Monty Ashley (September 5, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Intro Packs". Wizards of the Coast.
  30. Monty Ashley (September 11, 2011). "Return to Ravnica Promo Cards". Wizards of the Coast.
  31. drakelordphil (October 9, 2012). "Gideon Jura". MTG Salvation.
  32. Monty Ashley (September 18, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Tokens". Wizards of the Coast.
  33. Adam Styborski (September 4, 2012). "Game Breaker". Wizards of the Coast.
  34. Wizards of the Coast (September 2, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  35. Nate Price (November 26, 2012). "Price of Progress: Looking at Mechanics". Wizards of the Coast.
  36. Billy Moreno (November 09, 2012). "Keep it Simple, Sometimes". Wizards of the Coast.
  37. Mark Rosewater (September 5, 2012). "Is it safe to say there isn't a returning mechanic in RTR block?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  38. David Humpherys (October 19, 2012). "Guilds Divided". Wizards of the Coast.
  39. Dave Guskin (November 02, 2012). "Article I: Fun (see also Subsections F, J, and V.14.k)". Wizards of the Coast.
  40. Billy Moreno (December 14, 2012). "Developing, UNLEASHED". Wizards of the Coast.
  41. Sam Stoddard (October 26, 2012). "Return to Multiverse". Wizards of the Coast.
  42. Mark Rosewater (September 24, 2012). "Card Day's Night". Wizards of the Coast.
  43. Mark Rosewater (November 4, 2012). "Wow come on maro one deals damage and discards...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  44. Mark Rosewater (November 4, 2012). "You seem to constantly miss what are obviously cycles...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  45. Mark Rosewater (November 2, 2012). "Why wasnt sphinxs revelation named isperias...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  46. Mark Rosewater (November 6, 2012). "About rakdoss return and sphinx revelation cant you...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  47. Brian David-Marshall (September 14, 2012). "Moving the Needle". Wizards of the Coast.
  48. Monty Ashley (September 17, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Event Decks". Wizards of the Coast.
  49. Monty Ashley (October 1, 2012). "Return to Ravnica Event Deck Decklists". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]