New Magic set amazes, impresses reviewer

This past weekend saw pre-release events for the new Magic: The Gathering set, Dragon’s Maze. The conclusion to the most recent block (started last fall with Return to Ravnica), Dragon’s Maze features all 10 of the guilds of the plane of Ravnica attempting to navigate their way through—you guessed it—a gigantic maze. Each led by a champion, the guilds form and break alliances in a rapidly changing political atmosphere as each struggles to acquire the secret within for its own benefit.

Where the block’s previous sets, Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash, focused on five of Ravnica’s 10 guilds, Dragon’s Maze includes all of them, and with a smaller number of total cards to do it with. That being said, I think Wizards of the Coast pulled it off admirably. Each guild has only a few cards to explore its ability and theme, but the cards they do have are flavorful and interesting, for the most part.

As for the guild champions themselves, I was impressed by most of them. The white/blue Azorius have Lavinia of the Tenth, a lawmage of the highest caliber, who has protection from red and detains your opponent’s nonland permanents when she comes into play, making them useless until your next turn. The white/black Orzhov have Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, who destroys creatures that damage you and raises their spirits to fight for you. The red/white Boros have Tajic, Blade of the Legion, an indestructible warrior who becomes extremely powerful when attacking with at least two other creatures. The green/white Selesnya have Emmara Tandris (the only disappointing champion, in my opinion), who prevents damage to creature tokens you control but has a high mana cost. The blue/black Dimir have Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker, who makes your opponent put cards from their deck into their graveyard until they hit four lands every time he hits them. The red/blue Izzet have Melek, Izzet Paragon, a legendary Weird who lets you play instants and sorceries from the top of your deck and copy them. The blue/gree Simic have Vorel of the Hull Clade, a warrior-turned-merfolk, who can double the amount of counters (for instance, +1/+1 counters) on creatures, lands, and artifacts. The black/red Rakdos have Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch, who has haste and gives haste to your creatures with +1/+1 counters on them. The green/black Golgari have Varolz, the Scar-Striped, a troll who lets you use the creatures in your graveyard to power up the ones who have in play by exiling them to put +1/+1 counters on your creatures in play. Last but not least, the red/green Gruul have Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, who must attack every turn and deals six damage to any player every time they play a non-creature spell. These 10 champions run the maze in competition with each other for the betterment of their guilds.

One interesting thing in Dragon’s Maze that has not been done before is that the basic land card usually found in every pack has been replaced with a non-basic land. Players can find one of the Guildgates, lands that make two different colors of mana but come into play tapped; one of the so-called “shock lands,” which are like the Guildgates except can come into play untapped by paying two life, and which have basic land types; or the new mythic rare land Maze’s End, which can search out Guildgates from your deck, and lets you win the game if you control all ten.

All in all, Dragon’s Maze is a cool and flavorful set, bringing a satisfying conclusion to the revisiting of Ravnica. I love multicolor-themed blocks, and this one has been no exception. If you have the time, I highly encourage you to attend one of the launch parties for the set this Friday, May 3.