Most folks normally have Christmas once a year, right? Or maybe you’re Jewish and celebrate Chanukah, or maybe you celebrate Kwanzaa? Either way, you only celebrate once a year during the winter. We “Magic” players get five Christmases.

“Magic: The Gathering” is not a static game like Chess or Poker. New cards, mechanics, and rules are added multiple times each year: once in winter at the beginning of the year, once in the spring, once in the summer, and finally one more time in the fall.

As we are in the beginning of a new year, we have ourselves a new expansion of “Magic” cards to look over. This specific expansion is called “Gatecrash”, and is the second set in the “Return to Ravnica” block. For those who don’t know, a set is an expansion of “Magic” cards. They generally range anywhere from about 150 to 250 cards. A block is a combination of sets that share mechanical and aesthetic similarities, or a common theme and setting. Generally, each block is made of three sets, but the designers do mix up the formula every once in a while.

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The “Return to Ravnica” block takes place on a Plane, or dimension, called Ravnica, which is composed of one gigantic urban landscape. Ravnica was the setting of another block that originally came out in 2005 and is considered to be one of the greatest blocks of all time. In “Magic”, there are five colors: Red, Green, White, Blue, and Black, which all have mechanical identities, but they can be combined in the same deck. This is mainly done because some colors are better at certain things – such as drawing cards – than other colors. However, it is possible to have a card that is multi-colored, such as the red and green Ruination Wurm.

The reason I mention this is because the theme of both the original Ravnica block and the new “Return to Ravnica” block is multi-colored spell cards. In terms of story, Ravnica is comprised of multiple entities called “Guilds,” which help run the city. Each Guild is represented by a two color combination, such as the Golgari, who are the green and black guild. They act as the sanitation crew of Ravnica, while also not-so-secretly practicing necromancy. You know, like the real Sanitation Department.

In the original Ravnica block, each set only had three or four guilds represented, so the different guilds only appeared in one set. “Return to Ravnica” does the same thing, except that there are five guilds in the first set, “Return to Ravnica”, and the other five in “Gatecrash”. The third set will, evidently, feature all ten Guilds, which seems very ambitions. But hey, we’ll get there when we get there.

Through the power of press releases – and knowledge of the set – we know the color combinations being featured in “Gatecrash” are Red/White, Red/Green, Green/Blue, White/Black, and Blue/Black. I’m not going to talk about every card, only the mechanics, a few cards that appear in each color pairing, and a few other cards that intrigue me. If you’re not familiar with the basics and terminology of “Magic” or need a refresher, Wizards of the Coast has info on their website.

Also note, this was written before the “Gatecrash” Prerelease, so keep that in mind before you start yelling about how horribly off my analysis is.

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