The Guildmage Cycle
Posted on Nov. 14, 2018, 5:40 p.m. by Flooremoji
Does it feel like the guildmages are getting weaker to anybody?
Let's compare Izzet as an example: Izzet Guildmage and Nivix Guildmage. There is not really any big power difference between ravnica and gatecrash, both are nice, and could see play in combo decks. Izzet Guildmage seems the better of the two. Now for the guilds of ravnica guildmage: League Guildmage. Wow. This is crazily underpowered in comparison. The abilities are overcosted in comparison, and it has to tap. This has absolutely no chance of ever seeing play. Not in a combo deck, not in a agrro deck. What happened?
I'm not saying all the other guildmages are great, but these ones are just... wimpy.
I would really like to hear your thoughts on the matter. :\
I just looked at the Golgari cycle: Golgari Guildmage, Korozda Guildmage, and Swarm Guildmage. Looking at them I feel they support your original point that the Guildmages have weakened over time with this most recent Guildmage being the weakest in the pseudo-cycle.
November 14, 2018 5:46 p.m.
Dunno. I have a Ravnica cube that I'm currently thinking about expanding to encompass the newest block. I can honestly say that the guildmage cycles have historically been pretty high in power and that Nivix Guildmage is a house. I also think I'm 100% fine with either Nivix or League in my cube. Nivix matters early because he might get you out of mana screw or flood if you find yourself with nothing better to do. The guildmages, however, have always shined as efficient bodies with late game relevance. With that in mind, I actually think League guildmage is the best of the cylce strictly because of instant speed draw. I think that ability alone makes it ok that you're paying premium for the copy ability. In fact, I'm mostly using Nivix's loot ability when I'm playing with him. It's amazing when I get to fuel graveyard synergies with it and allows me to efficiently use my mana each turn. Meh. I think Izzet Guildmage is by far the worst of the bunch.
The thing you're missing is that these uncommons are designed to be flavorful utility creatures that force people to commit heavily into certain colors in the limited environment. They're not really meant to be constructed all-stars. If you end up getting one shot when your friend triple activates Vizkopa Guildmage in EDH, that's gravy.
November 14, 2018 6:28 p.m.
Thank you for your opinion Arvail! Although I would agree with the fact that they are for limited, It dosen't change the fact: that the guildmages like Vizkopa Guildmage and Izzet Guildmage and even Zameck Guildmage are not just confined to the limited environment. They all have uses in other formats. But these new guildmages just don't. I'm not saying I wouldn't like drafting a League Guildmage, but they just aren't as powerful in the constructed formats. Hope this clarifes. :)
November 14, 2018 6:42 p.m.
Ehhhh, I think that's fair. Conclave Guildmage seems ok with decks that really care about trample and going wide in EDH. I'd likely cut it real fast tho if I saw it in a deck. That's about it.
November 14, 2018 6:49 p.m.
There is a difference, but honestly, Guildmages were never playable outside of Limited and maybe a few in commander, but never in standard. There is no difference between tapping and not tapping for the ability, unless you want to activate it two or more times. And if you can afford to activate your guildmage twice in any format, you are probably already winning.
In constructed, even though the guildmages have to tap, I think that it is OK. League Guildmage is great in Limited and both abilities are OK in Standard, where you can never realistically expect to activate the ability twice.
Legion Guildmage having the ability to push early damage with its first ability and late game damage with its second one is exactly what the guild wants to do in Limited.
Selesnya Guildmage is less useful, but your Rosemane Centaurs having trample or not is a really big deal. Heck, your Flight of Equenauts being chumped by a Bird token from Murmuring Mystic feels awful. And the second ability takes over the lategame in a stalemate.
Swarm Guildmage has two very useful abilities. The small ability is useful versus aggro, where golgari really struggles to trade efficiently. The large ability is useful as a game ender. Making Vigorspore Wurm unblockable is a huge deal that has won me multiple games. And in combination with something like Izoni, Thousand-Eyed, it is amazing.
House Guildmage being an instant-speed source of surveil at a good price is incredibly important in the early game to power up your Disinformation Campaign and Dimir Spybug and filtering away lands in the late game. Locking down a powerful creature is an underestimated ability.
TLDR - They have uses which you have chosen to dismiss for unknown reasons. Maybe not as much in commander (though I would still have both Swarm Guildmage and Korozda Guildmage in my izoni deck) though.
November 15, 2018 3:59 a.m.
I do believe many of the guildmages are playable in constructed. Usually because of a combo (Zameck Guildmage+Persist) and the not tapping is especially important. However, I see your point. I just don't think the guildamges are the same power level.
November 15, 2018 12:24 p.m.
Additionally, the OG ravnica guildmages were weak as hell and/or more useful because of their mechanics and interactions with other guilds:
Selesnya Guildmage vs Conclave Guildmage - they both have comparative token making abilities, since the token on the one is bigger. Trample for 1 mana vs +1/+1 for 4 mana - trample is way weaker, but not in the context of GRN. The payoff for the selesnya guild in OG Ravnica is a wide board - convoke on Scatter the Seeds vs GRN's payoff of Rosemane Centaur. GRN Selesnya is tall, compared to RAV's wide Selesnya.
Izzet Guildmage vs League Guildmage - League guildmage's copy ability is better than izzet mages. There are likely no turns where you can use Izzet's ability twice, since paying 6 mana on top of another 4 mana for decent spells is a lot. Getting to copy any spell, not just 2 CMC or less is a big plus in League's favor. When you do not cast a spell, Izzet guildmage is a bear. League can at least draw you into spells to copy.
Golgari Guildmage vs Swarm Guildmage - Golgari's abilities cost entirely too much - paying 5 mana for a counter or a worse Raise Dead is not really a worthy investment. Swarm has two relevant abilities and both put you further ahead in the game that shore up what the guild lacks.
Dimir Guildmage vs House Guildmage - is 4 mana draw a card vs 3 mana surveil 2 comparable? Yes, in GRN, the House guildmage has better abilities. The tap ability is rarely useful, but potent when the opportunity arises, but instant speed surveiling is very powerful. Dimir guildmages's abilities are both sorcery speed, which limit their uses significantly.
Boros Guildmage vs Legion Guildmage - Boros' abilities are a bit overprised, especially the haste ability for 2 mana is rarely useful. The first strike ability is very powerful though and makes for tough combat math, but has very limited cases in which it allows you to actually win combats, because it is open information compared to a combat trick. Legion on the hand is much better at pushing damage with its (overpriced) 3 mana tap ability, which actively changes combat whether you are attacking or not. The 6 mana ability is a game ender and mana sink for a guild made up of low-cost aggressive cards. Legion guildmage is more versatile than its RAV counterpart.
I would say all of the new guildmages are better than all of the oldest ones. However, none of them are better than Ravnica 2's guildmages.
TLDR: Powerlevel of guildmages goes Ravnica 2 -> Ravnica 3 -> Ravnica 1