Guilds of Ravnica spoilers are well underway, but thanks to some comments from Mark Rosewater we know a good deal about what the creative structure of Ravnica Allegiance is going to be. Specifically, it’s been stated that five guilds have been taken over by planeswalkers working for Nicol Bolas. Vraska is now queen of the Golgari, and Ral Zarek has taken over day-to-day operations of the Izzet League from Niv-Mizzet. That leaves three guilds from the five in Ravnica Allegiance that will fall. Today I wanted to take a stab at predicting both what guilds will be taken over and by whom.

The Obvious Guild

First off, let’s start with the easy one. The story spotlight card Assassin’s Trophy tells us that Vraska is going to petrify Isperia, Supreme Judge,. That leaves the Azorius with no leader and almost definitely being taken over by one of Bolas’s operatives.

The interesting question here is who that operative will be. Maro confirmed that the three planeswalkers will be the colors of the guild they’re controlling, so we can narrow down our list of candidates by a lot.

White/blue actually has more planeswalkers than most color combinations, with Dovin Baan, Narset, Teferi, and Venser all appearing in that color combination. Venser can be ruled out due to being very, very dead—and also sparkless, since he gave his to Karn. Teferi is an exceedingly unlikely candidate for this slot despite being on Ravnica, since he’s both fought against Bolas in the past and just joined the Gatewatch. It’s possible he’s a sleeper agent waiting to turn traitor to balance out Vraska’s coming return to the light, but I don’t find that likely.

Dovin and Narset both present interesting options. Narset is surprisingly plausible, since she’s willingly served Draconic masters in the past. There’s a huge gap between the philosophy of the Azorius Senate and the Ojutai Clan however, and while Narset would be an interesting choice I can’t see her fitting in with an organization of endless bureaucracy.

Dovin, on the other hand, would excel in that position. His position within the Kaladeshi Consulate was that of a high-ranking bureaucrat, and his ability to sense the flaws in a system would make him uniquely suited to navigating the labyrinthine hierarchy of the Azorius. What’s more, he willingly chose to work for Tezzeret despite being aware of the man’s massive personal and ethical issues. There’s a specific passage in the story A Grateful Consulate where Tezzeret bribes Dovin by placing him in charge of the captured inventions, and it shifts Dovin’s entire focus from stopping the consulate from inciting a riot to capturing the Gatewatch so that he’ll have time to research what exactly a mana vault does.

That’s a weakness Bolas can easily exploit, as his handling of Vraska at the beginning of Ixalan block demonstrates. Dovin Baan has willingly compromised morals for technical and mechanical progress before; under the right circumstances he will do so again. It might not even be necessary. For all we know Baan might jump at the chance to “fix” what he sees as a needlessly convoluted system of governance.

The final possibility I want to touch on is the unnamed planeswalker on the cover of the upcoming Ravnica book by Greg Weisman. We don’t know anything about them, but based on the one image we have of them I’m betting they used white-based magic; and the geometrical patterns line up better with the Azorius than with the Orzhov, Boros, or Selesnya.

The Other Two

From here it gets a bit trickier, as the Azorius are the only Ravnica Allegiance guild to have much information revealed so far. (I’m not counting the quote from a random Simic Mutationist on Steam Vents.) My first theory was that the guilds that turn to Bolas will be color balanced in the same way that the guilds in each set are. Basically there will be two guilds of each color that fall under Bolas’s control. Given which guilds are in Ravnica Allegiance and the fact that Izzet and Golgari are locked in, the only way to make this work is if the other three guilds are the Azorius, Orzhov, and Gruul.

This includes Azorius, which is a huge plus, but it also excludes Rakdos, which in theory should be a slam-dunk for aligning with Bolas. They’re the most chaotic and destructive guild, and there’s a big bank of red/black walkers waiting in the wings that would fit well with the feel of the guild. Daretti perfectly fits the profile of a planeswalker Bolas could easily recruit and manipulate, who also has a history of rabble-rousing that would fit right in. Tibalt has long been earmarked for a return as a red/black card, plus he’s a freaking devil planeswalker whose defining character trait is sadism. Either would work beautifully.

What I haven’t seen anyone really talk about though is Rakdos himself. The cult of Rakdos is precisely that: a cult. Everything about them revolves around pleasing the demon. More than any other guild, the Rakdos just don’t work without Rakdos. The only way I can picture this working is if Rakdos is going to be asleep for most of the story and Tibalt or another walker has ascended the ranks of the blood witches. It’s possible, but right now I don’t think it will play out that way.

Orzhov falling to Bolas makes a whole lot of sense. Once we account for Sorin still being stuck in wall there’s only one black/white planeswalker among the current roster, but oh boy is Kaya the perfect fit for the guild of deals. First off, the novel cover tells us that she’s going to be on Ravnica and involved in the story, which is a huge plus.

In one of his previous articles, Beck Holden predicted that Orzhov would be more good-aligned than they had previously due to Kaya assassinating the Ghost Council and removing some of the corrupting influence from the church of deals. Now that we know more about the setup of the block, I’m thinking that Bolas is going to hire Kaya to soften up Ravnica before his invasion. She doesn’t even need to be particularly evil for this role. She’s a professional exorcist, after all. I doubt her personal sense of morality is going to lead her to spare a bunch of money-grubbing ghosts that spend their spare time enslaving the living.

Gruul is harder to predict. On the one hand, they’re one of the only guilds that have a planeswalker native to Ravnica, and the only other two (Ral and Vraska) are both confirmed to have turned to Bolas. On the other hand, I can’t picture Domri Rade rising up to rule the Gruul clans. Different sources paint him as either an outcast from or an honorary member of the clans, but neither put him even remotely near the top of the Gruul’s brutal hierarchy .

While Domri’s official biography claims he was personally recognized by Borborygmos, the “Checking in on the Planeswalkers” roundup from 2015 says he is off exploring the wilds of faraway planes. Now sure, he’s young enough that Bolas could mold him into whatever the story needs, but I don’t see what motivation Domri could have. To rise up and prove his strength? His arc ended with the Gruul welcoming him, so he doesn’t need to.

As for the other red/green walkers? Well, there aren’t many good options. Xenegos is dead, Sarkhan has a vendetta against Bolas, Samut watched the dragon destroy her entire world, and Arlin Kord can’t mechanically fit in a set without double-faced cards. Domri is clearly the best option for a Gruul planeswalker, but it doesn’t quite click.

That leaves the Simic Combine. I’ll be honest: I can’t see the Simic joining Bolas. For one, that would put both “mad science” guilds on the side of the dragon. That feels like an extremely redundant choice, unless we’re building up to some kind of doomsday device that needs a fusion of Simic Bioscience and Izzet Magetech. What’s more, the only two green/blue planeswalkers known to us right now are Kiora and (sometimes) Nissa, neither of whom are remotely close to matching the general feel of the Simic.

Both planeswalkers have been heavily shaped by their conflict with the Eldrazi, and it’s pretty reasonable to assume that Nissa at least knows Bolas played a role in releasing them. Kiora could easily not know that little tidbit, but even so her ethos runs counter to that of the Simic. Pretty much the only link she shares with the combine is that she’s a blue/green merfolk and so are their current leaders. That might be enough to get her foot in the door, but I can’t imagine what about the Simic would interest Kiora, nor can I see her having any talent towards the guild’s business.

As always there’s the possibility of a new planeswalker being introduced for this position, but the Simic are the guild that changed the most between the first two Ravnica blocks. I don’t think it would do them any favors to go through a second total reinvention.


So to put it all together my final predictions are as follows:

  • The Azorius Senate will fall under the leadership of Dovin Baan after Isperia’s assassination.
  • Kaya will assassinate the Ghost Council of Orzhova and get pulled into the politics of the Syndicate by Teysa.
  • The Simic Combine is all but bulletproof against takeover. Zegana will remain as the Prime Speaker of the guild.
  • The Gruul will remain their wild and untamed selves. Domri won’t even appear in this “block.”
  • Someone bigger and angrier than Borborygmos might take over the clans, but they won’t be a supporter of Bolas.
  • Rakdos will remain as the face of his cult, but a fiery new second-in-command will be pushing the demon to cause ever-greater chaos and carnage.
  • That new face will be Tibalt.

It would be nice to color-balance Bolas’s guilds, but this setup comes close enough while also providing what I think will be the most interesting mix of story hooks and new characters.

Levi Byrne has been with the game since Worldwake and has a rabid love for fantasy writing that goes back decades. Despite some forays into Legacy he plays Commander almost exclusively, and has a love for the crazy plays and huge games that make Magic what it is. He was the go-to advisor of his playgroup on deck construction for more than five years before joining Dear Azami.

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