Well, this is awkward. I have been on the “it isn’t time for Ravnica yet” train since rumors of Ravnica III began to circulate, and boy oh boy did I miss the boat on this one. You can read our summary of Wizards’ announcement here. But, this is not the time to dwell on mistakes! This is the time to look forward to what we might see as the Gatewatch returns to Ravnica for the final showdown with Nicol Bolas! And I do have a few thoughts about what (and who) we might see over the course of these three blocks.

But first, we should talk about…

Where Do Things Stand Now?

A few things have shifted on Ravnica since our last visit, especially among the Golgari. Vraska is the new guild leader of the Golgari. Mazirek has released an undead army. I would expect there to have been changes within the internal power structures of all of the guilds since Return to Ravnica, as Bolas likely has agents installed inside them all. Seeing which guild leaders are still ascendant and which have been deposed or weakened recently should give us good hints about where Bolas has been focusing his efforts.

Speaking of Bolas, he is coming out of a particularly fruitful recruiting phase. His newest assets include Vraska and Liliana. Tezzeret and Ral Zarek are also among his known minions, and I strongly suspect he has another planeswalker tor two in his employ that we will meet over the course of the story. Oh, and he also has an army of Eternals and The Immortal Sun to help tip the scales of power further into his favor.

The Gatewatch, meanwhile, is still in shambles. They’ve added Teferi (and Vraska as a sleeper agent); but Ajani is still scrambling for allies, Liliana is now In Bolas’s Clutches, and the Oath Of Nissa is now a Broken Bond. Jace, Gideon, and Chandra are now essentially the core of the team, but Chandra’s story is pointing very hard towards Nissa. I suspect Dominaria’s story will end with Chandra deciding the team (and she herself) needs Nissa, prompting her to run off to Zendikar, leaving Gideon and Teferi with no more allies and no real plan as they follow Jace to Ravnica. I would look for the start of our story on Ravnica therefore to feature Gideon, Teferi, and Jace scrambling to try getting ahead of the schemes Bolas already has in motion.

What’s Going To Happen From Here?

Look at the list of guilds for Guilds of Ravnica: Golgari, Izzet, Dimir, Selesnya, and Boros. Bolas has installed the guild leader for one (Vraska with the Golgari), is working closely with a key member of another (Ral Zarek of the Izzet, possibly having promised either to make him the leader of the Izzet or the new Living Guildpact), and shares the colors of a third (the Dimir). It’s also worth remembering that Bolas has a history of manipulating even good-aligned organizations.

Might the rumored forthcoming mono-green planeswalker be one of Selesnya’s higher-ups, maneuvered into her position via Bolas’s influence? Might he not have some ambitious agents in the Boros who have made deals with him like Vraska and (presumably) Ral have? Even with Gideon’s ties to the Boros, I think this set’s story might be the Gatewatch grappling with the guilds where Bolas’s influence is strongest.

There are also a few other known planeswalkers I could see showing up on Team Bolas. Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast perfectly fits the profile of the sort of planeswalkers Bolas has been recruiting: brilliant, ambitious, and underappreciated. Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded has a lot of fans and could be brought back as a Bolas ally. Bolas might also do something wild like lure Garruk to Ravnica just to sow chaos and help keep the Gatewatch off his back while he brings his plans to fruition.

The name Ravnica Allegiance, meanwhile, suggests to me that the second set will be the story of the guilds that haven’t fallen under Bolas’s influence, headlined by the Azorius (the guild closest to Jace) and the freedom-loving Gruul and Rakdos (although, given the latter’s murder-y tendencies, I may be way off target here). The Simic and the Orzhov seem more like the types of guilds I might typically expect to see Bolas dominating (mad scientists and the ghost mafia), but there’s one big reason that I think we will see the Orzhov at least moving in a more protagonistic direction.

Her name is Kaya.

Kaya’s been on my radar for a while as a planeswalker who needs to make her main story debut, and Ravnica is her most natural home in the multiverse. Her ability to kill ghosts seems tailor-made to check the problems caused by the Obzedat, Ghost Council, possibly paving the way for someone like Teysa, Envoy Of Ghosts to ascend to a higher position within the guild.

She might even be part of the cavalry that Ajani manages to assemble, and I would expect to see everyone’s favorite enormous planeswalking cat to bring reinforcements at the end of Guilds of Ravnica leading into Ravnica Allegiance. Other planeswalkers initially on my radar as possible Ajani reinforcements include Narset (connected to Ajani via Tamiyo’s Story Circle), Sarkhan Vol (a known foe to Bolas), and Domri Rade (a Ravnican native last seen on Ajani’s native Alara).

I also expect to see one to two stories covering Chandra’s adventures on Zendikar trying to bring Nissa back. My best guess is that Chandra and Nissa arrive at the end of the second set/start of the third, providing the Gatewatch’s last reinforcements heading into the final showdown with Bolas (while also, hopefully, giving us the Gatewatch’s first office romance). They might even gather a few more reinforcements from their Gatewatch adventures, such as Samut, the Tested and Saheeli Rai.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ravnica Allegiance be about the guilds standing against the invasion of the Eternals. That might be more likely to happen in the third set, given that Wizards is already saying that the third set will be on Ravnica but will not focus on the guilds. But I feel like Bolas might have something bigger planned for the end of this story, and that the Eternals might just be to keep everyone else busy while he gets his pieces into place.

What Consequences?

There are almost certainly going to be major character deaths. The Vorthos Cast recently discussed how large concentrations of planeswalkers in one place tend to mean there is going to be a culling. As the cast of planeswalkers expands, I would expect a few to be removed from the active roster here. Among major characters, my top early contenders are Jaya Ballard (wise old mentors dying is a pretty standard story trope), Gideon (he did have a death prophesied in Amonkhet, and Elspeth could easily step into his role after his death), Liliana (her character arc is pointing towards learning to be unselfish, so she might make a heroic sacrifice), and Ral Zarek (he is on Team Bolas, but I could see him betraying his master). We might also see characters with less of a following such as Domri Rade pop up and get killed off.

We may even see the death of Bolas himself—although his immense popularity might ensure that he manages to escape to lick his wounds and hatch more schemes for another day.

Beck is a financial aid counselor and theatre history Ph.D. student who lives in the greater Boston area. He believes in playing standard like a Johnny, drafting like a Spike, and only playing modern decks that involve the number eight.

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