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Phyrexia, Rath, and Mirrodin
fleshed out as one of the most disturbing and complex factions of the Multiverse.Phyrexia was originally a dying, swampy plane designed by a dragon planeswalker. Later came Yawgmoth, which alongside the members of his civilization that were banished alongside him after a series of events in his homeworld, turned the plane into a world of nine layers that can best be described as Hell. The Phyrexian civilization was a well-structured, organised dictatorship that had a vicious, semi-religious philosophy that declared that flesh was imperfect and should be replaced by metal in various manners of Body Horror, turning the altered creatures into unrecognisable monstrosities. Worshipping machines (but only those made by Yawgmoth; the rest are heretical mockeries), the Phyrexians tried to take over Dominaria, but were ultimately defeated and their plane destroyed.However, the process of phyresis required an oil created by Yawgmoth himself, an oil that infects creatures and changes their minds, making them want to become Phyrexians. Karn's "heart" had a bit of this oil in it, and it infected his created plane Mirrodin. It infected the guardian of the plane, Memnarch, leading him to become insane, and once he died, the organisms of the plane became vulnerable to the oil's influence, resulting in the rebirth of Phyrexia.And even if New Phyrexia dies, all that is needed to create a new one is a single drop of the oil...
- Assimilation Plot: Generally their modus operandi, as all must be "compleated", though it varies. Old Phyrexians resorted to brainwashing/lobotomy and then employing the Body Horror; new phyrexians simply inject people with their oil, though the descriptions for the White and Blue factions imply that they still opt for "au naturale" conversions before administering the oil. To this end, it's worth noting that New Phyrexia's Catch Phrase of sorts is "All will be one".
- Blue and Orange Morality
- Yawgmoth's "scientific" view of life is incompatible with the Thran (and, later, Dominarian) conception of magic.
- New Phyrexia takes it to a new level. Not only the Praetors' values are incomprehensible for the Mirrans, the Praetors have troubles understanding each other's philosophy.
- Body Horror: The original Phthisis disease sucked bigtime, like supernatural leprosy or something. The "cure" is surgically cutting out, reshaping, and rearranging organs, bones, skin, muscle, etc. and combining them with machine parts, oil, and brainwashing. And Phyrexians don't believe in anesthesia. Their language has one word that means both "pain" and "improvement."
- Evil Virtues: Both old and new Phyrexians are hard-working, scientific, organized, adaptive, and highly efficient.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Phyrexians can most easily be summarised as undead magical cyborgs.
- Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: Most of their designs seem to focus on being scarier rather than efficient.
A barren plane of rock and stunted vegetation, Rath was artificially created by Yawgmoth as a staging ground for the Phyrexian invasion of Dominaria. Rath was ruled by a human evincar who served as Yawgmoth's governor and grand marshal. To provide food, conscripts, and slave labor, not to mention more land for the ever-growing plane, the evincars used planar gates to abduct whole tracts of land and their inhabitants from other planes, including two human tribes (the Vec and Dal), kor from Zendikar, the elves of Skyshroud Forest, the Rootwater merfolk, and all kinds of monsters. Some of these abductees served the evincars (like Greven il-Vec and the mogg goblins), but most were brutally oppressed.When the Phyrexian invasion began, the plane was literally overlayed over Dominaria: the smaller plane merged with Dominaria's fabric centered on Urborg, and the two worlds became one, instantly transporting Yawgmoth's troops directly to the battlefield. In the wake of Yawgmoth's defeat, the surviving people of Rath have integrated with Dominaria.
The world of Mirrodin is a mishmash of life and metal, populated by as many or more machines as organic life. Even the creatures there have metal within them. Since metal is colorless, the plane finds its mana sources in its suns/moons, five giant glowing satellites that glow with each of the five colors.
After its infection began to spread, many of Mirrodin's natives gathered in the lower layers of the world, and transformed themselves into Phyrexians. After a long period of time rebuilding, they emerged and battled the Mirrans, sparking a war that ended with the compleation of Mirrodin into New Phyrexia.Unlike the mono-black Old Phyrexia, this one has all colours of Magic under its control, and has factions for each colour, each of them with a Praetor guiding it. The White faction is the Machine Orthodoxy, the Blue faction is the Progress Engine, the Red faction is responsible for the mass production of weapons (and is secretly hiding the surviving resistance members), the Green faction wants to turn the plane into a savage sentient-less world where only the strong thrive, and the Black faction is just a bunch of Starscreams trying to usurp the throne, with no easly observable function to the rest of Phyrexia, although they do seem to field some of the more powerful phyrexian creatures, like the obliterator and massacre wurm, so they may serve as some sort of special forces or heavy support.To see the tropes for the Praetors individually, click Other Characters.
- The Bad Guy Wins: The Scars of Mirrodin arc ends with the utter victory of the Phyrexians, the crushing defeat of the Mirrans and the successful, through and unopposed compleation of Mirrodin. Welcome to New Phyrexia, folks.
- Big Bad: Elesh Norn, the White Praetor, is this as the closest thing the New Phyrexians have to a central leader.
- Body Horror: Traditional Phyrexian mutilation now comes in five new flavors, such as the white faction's religious obsession with flaying everybody.
- The Brute: Vorinclex. He's interested in nothing beyond hunting and killing, and is much more a monster than any sort of leader.
- The Dark Chick: Urabrask. The Red Phyrexians are the only ones to experience things like pity, empathy and any sort of positive emotions, and as the rigid order and orthodoxy of Phyreixia is antithetical to the Red mindset, Urabrask is the only praetor to go against the others and give something resembling shelter to the Mirrans.
- Enemy Civil War: New Phyrexia primarily fights against the Mirrian Resistance, but the Praetors sometimes fight each other for the position of top dog.
- Evil Can Not Comprehend Good: The Praetors of New Phyrexia can't understand why the Mirrians continue to fight against them even though they lost their home to them.
- Five-Bad Band: The Praetors who rule New Phyrexia — Elesh Norn, Jin-Gitaxias, Sheoldred, Vorinclex and Urabrask — form one, one for each color.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Elesh Norn is Choleric, Jin-Gitaxias is Melancholic, Sheoldred is Phlegmatic, Vorinclex is Sanguine, and Urabrask is Supine. Appropriately, the praetors of opposed temperaments dislike each other.
- The Perfectionist: Each praetor is obsessed with reaching their perfect view of Phyrexia.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: While the praetors work together to conquer the whole of Mirrodin, they clearly despise each other's vision of New Phyrexia. Vorinclex and Jin-Gitaxias stand out the most.Jin-Gitaxias: "I despise Vorinclex and his slobberings about ‘evolution.' Only I know true progress."
Vorinclex: "Dead or alive, my creations are stronger than Jin-Gitaxias's septic minions."
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Especially from Elesh Norn and Jin-Gitaxias's point of view.
- Villain World: After they destroy the Mirrans, they transform Mirrodin into a lightless nightmare of metal, flesh and pain.
The Mirran Resistance
Over time, all of Mirrodin unites against Phyrexia, except those already infected. The Mirran faction becomes smaller, but, as one might expect, individual Mirran cards become stronger against infect decks. For planeswalkers on the Mirran side, check out the planeswalker section.Traditional Mirran mechanics such as imprint and artifact interaction remain, with first strike and double strike being more Mirran than Phyrexian to the end.
- Body Horror: A much milder example than what the Phyrexians revel in; the Mirrans will amputate and subsequently burn infected limbs, rather than become Phyrexian.
- The Immune: At some point, Melira discovered how to grant others her own immunity to phyresis. Virtually the entire Resistance is now inoculated.
- The Missing Faction: There are almost no black-aligned Mirran resistance members in New Phyrexia. Most if not all of them have fallen to the Phyrexian contagion.
Shards of AlaraMany aeons ago, Alara was a single, whole plane. Then, a cataclysmic event known as The Sundering occurred, which ended with the plane fractured and stripped of all its mana. Over time, the plane fractured and separated into five sub-planes, known as the Shards. Each of the five Shards regained mana over time, but with a twist. Only three of the five colors of mana returned — one dominant color and its two allied colors. Each Shard is defined not only by what mana they have, but the traits of the other two colors they don't have. Throughout the events of the Shards of Alara block, the planes drifted back together, bringing massive culture shock with conflicting ways of life and finally all-out war. It turns out Nicol Bolas was behind The Conflux, as he sought out the plane as a new base of operations after the disastrous events of Time Spiral. He planted spies in each of the five Shards, sowing dissension and mistrust wherever they went.
Bant (White, with Green and Blue)
Bant is a world where White mana reigns supreme — its own virtues, combined with the absent forces of chaos and selfish ambition, have made this Shard an exemplar of law and order. The architecture is straight out of a Medieval European Fantasy, complete with Knights in Shining Armor, glory and honor in battle, and expansive castles. The planeswalker Elspeth Tirel discovered Bant, and soon made it her adoptive home, never desiring to planeswalk ever again. Because it lacks black and red mana, there is no unnatural death, no disease, no natural disasters, and no anarchy. However, there is also no creativity, and almost no offensive magic (there is nighttime on Bant and the people have enough access to heat and fire to warm their homes, cook their food, and forge their weapons, but that's about it). Because of the importance placed on honorable combat, Bant's keyword ability is Exalted, which makes creatures more powerful if they attack alone and with other Exalted creatures staying behind.
- Arcadia: The "wilderness" is mostly non-threatening; even the forests resemble well-maintained gardens.
- Badass Bookworm: The Rhox.
- Combat by Champion: The main form of combat on Bant. It's even reflected in their exalted mechanic.
- The Chew Toy: With the exception of Naya, all of the shards turn their aggressive energies towards Bant after the conflux.
- Fantastic Caste System: Acquiring sigils through valiant deeds is one way of moving up in the social standing, but it's very difficult.
- Knight in Shining Armor: All over the place, with Rafiq of the Many as the exemplar.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Taken to its logical extreme; combat on Bant is so honor-bound that some suits of armor don't even have coverage on their backs.
- Light Is Good: Bant is probably the most conspicuous example of this trope being played straight since the Weatherlight Saga. It's not a utopia, but it's still the safest place to live in pre-Conflux Alara.
- Our Angels Are Different: More willing to charge into battle; fits in with the holy justice theme of the Shard.
- Redshirt Army: The nations' armies are primarily "Mortar caste" (commoners who have yet to earn a sigil).
- Religious Bruiser: Many of the Rhox.
- Warrior Poet: The Rhox, rhino-people who are part-philosopher-part-martial-artist.
Esper (Blue, with White and Black)
An intellectual's dream come true, the Blue-dominated Shard of Esper is all about the pursuit of knowledge and technological advancement. However, the absence of green and red mean that emotion and instinct are completely under the control of Blue. Even the natural parts of Blue are controlled and documented like pieces of data; the night sky resembles a star chart, with every subtle nuance documented and accounted for, as are the tides and the winds (in fact, there are only 23 possible wind currents on the plane). White lends its desire for order and structure, but it also brings in the subversion and deceptive techniques of black. The pride of the plane is a highly malleable and durable metal known as Etherium, which oftentimes is implanted into a body in place of the much-maligned flesh...and the supply is running out. Tezzeret calls this plane home, but stumbling upon an ancient conspiracy led to his near-death...and the ignition of his Planeswalker Spark. Esper doesn't have a keyword mechanic to call its own; its main gimmick is that every creature native to Esper is an artifact creature (this also introduced the notion of colored artifacts to Magic).
- Alien Sky: The skies of Esper are divided into an orderly grid, and filled with clouds neatly sliced into parts.
- Ancient Conspiracy: "The noble work of our order is to infuse all life on Esper with etherium. Our goal will be reached more rapidly if new life is... suppressed." Tezzeret's stumbling upon this leads him to ascend to Planeswalkerdom and seek answers elsewhere.
- Hollywood Cyborg: Use a metallic substance with numerous useful properties called etherium in making themselves human/mechanical hybrids.
Grixis (Black, with Blue and Red)
After the Shards developed their mana deficiencies, the people grew desperate and lost hope. With the rise of demon lords and death spreading, one king attempted to barter with the new dark lords. This ended predictably (the last of the civilized nations were overrun). Thus, the shard was given the name "Grixis", after an old-language word meaning "traitor." Without the presence of new life energy (green) and protection (white), the necromancers and demons of Grixis make use of beings that have died over and over in their armies, leading to their special keyword ability Unearth.
- Death World: Even if you're undead, this place will eat you alive.
- Despair Event Horizon: Once the last of the human nations fell, that was it.
- La Résistance: The Vithian holdouts, who use red and blue magic to try to survive.
- Meaningful Name: "Grixis" means "traitor".
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Thraximundar, "He who paints the earth red."
- World Half Empty: As bad as things are, it's slowly getting worse.
- Zombie Apocalypse: The result of one.
Jund (Red, with Black and Green)
On Jund, natural selection is the order of the day. On Jund, only the strong survive. The savage Shard of Jund is cruel and merciless, and each living being acts as a food source for something else. Living to see another day means killing something that was going to kill you first. Civility? Order? Those will not help you (and don't last long on the plane anyway). Getting stronger from consuming prey is the hallmark of Jund's keyword ability, devour. At the very top of this food chain? Dragons. They are the ultimate predator, whose power and majesty ultimately drove the Planeswalker Sarkhan Vol to the plane, where he wished to worship them akin to gods.
- Blood Knight: All over the place.
- Death World: Like Australia, Up to 11.
- Let's Meet the Meat: The goblins of Jund consider it an honor to be eaten by mighty creatures.
- Mooks: Devour, which makes the creature larger depending on how many other creatures you sacrifice when casting it, and can do other things. Your smaller creatures are quite expendable.
- 1 Million B.C.: A lot of the geography seems to fit this.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Seated firmly atop the Jund food chain.
Naya (Green, with Red and White)
If Green was allowed to have its way and follow it to its logical conclusion, nature would grow completely unchecked by opposing forces. That's exactly what happened on Naya. Similar to Jund, only the strong survive; but with white in place of black, there is reverence in place of bloodlust. Several sentient races live among the massive jungles of Naya, their rank primarily determined by what part they live in. Humans live among the jungle floor, the Nacatl (a race of catlike warriors) take up the middle, and elves sit high in the treetops. This is the start of the journey of the planeswalker Ajani. (Indeed, this version of Ajani is him when he is young. When he meets Sarkhan Vol, he leads him to Jund, where his desire for vengeance and retribution lead him to awaken a stronger power in him, triggered by a volcanic ritual, which gives him access to red mana.) Like Esper, there isn't a keyword ability for Naya to call its own. However, its theme is big creatures, the bigger the better; specifically, creatures with power 5 or higher.
- Blind Seer: Mayael the Anima.
- Mayincatec: Naya's human culture and society is pretty strictly based on the more hedonistic aspects of Aztec culture, with the obligatory Human Sacrifice to the beasts mixed in. Notably, as Naya's civilizations are gone, tons of Mesoamerican ruins lay about.
- Nature Hero: It fits the setting, since Naya is all forest.
Guilds of RavnicaNote: as stated several times even by the staff, "guilds exist in layers". The following are the most common tropes, but do not cover all individuals.
Azorius Senate (White and Blue)
Enter the Senate, the seat of justice and the foundation of Ravnican society.Logic & Power (Blue), and/or Law & Order (White). The Azorius Senate is the legislative body of Ravnica. Their goal is to control the city with law-magic and maintain order — at any cost. The status quo is prized above all else in the Azorius Senate, and thus its first Guild mechanic, Forecast, allows them to use weaker variants of its spells without actually losing or casting them.Similarly, in Return to Ravnica, the Azorius Senate uses the Detain mechanic, which allows them to stop cards on the field from doing anything for a turn.
- Ancient Conspiracy: It is revealed in the Return to Ravnica block that Azor I had created the Implicit Maze in the case that the original guildpact should ever be broken. The Izzet League's discovery of said maze through the block sets in motion the events that lead to the endgame presented in Dragon's Maze.
- By-the-Book Cop: Guild members that enforce the laws themselves qualify for this. They even practice their own branch of law magic.
- Calling Your Attacks: Forecast in a nutshell.
- The Evils of Free Will: Firm believers in this trope. They think that Law should dictate how people act.
- Instant Runes: As seen in spells like Righteous Authority. Appearently, an entire runic alphabet was designed for the Azorius.
- Knight Templar: Any means is justified to prevent any non-static activity on Ravnica. Their guild mechanic, Forecast, allows them to maintain the status quo by re-using the same spell every turn.
- Lawful Stupid: They are this according to the Izzet. Possibly Invoked. The vast and obstructive bureaucracy is designed to be vast and impenetrable so that no change ever happens and order is enforced.
- Light Is Not Good: Augustin IV was from this guild and one of the antagonists in the Ravnica novels. The rest of the guild are not really that much better; they're only in check because their obsession with bureaucracy keeps them perpetually occupied.
- Moral Sociopathy: Rather chillingly obsessed with laws and order and not the least bit caring for the people of Ravnica.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Cemented by their guildhouse's flavor text.
- Principles Zealot: They live for the Law.
- Stone Wall: Azorius combines white's enchantments with blue's counter-spells to make a strategy built around defense.
- Vast Bureaucracy: They are apparently aware of this, as the Azorius's symbol is designed as a maze, representing how their bureaucratic processes intentionally draw things out and ultimately accomplish nothing, preserving the status quo.
Orzhov Syndicate (White and Black)
Enter to find wealth, security, and eternal life... for just a small price up front.So, what do you get when you combine the equalizers (white) and those who want power at any cost (black)? You get the Orzhov Syndicate, a "religious" organization which resembles a mafia more than a church. They manage business and commerce in the city by means of a protection racket — authorized businesses pay taxes to the Orzhov, and unauthorized businesses risk being shut down or worse. Ability-wise: Haunt is perfect for either, because it combines black's ability to manipulate the game from the graveyard with white's incremental advantage. Strategy-wise: bleeding to death, slowly and painfully. The Orzhov takes white's ability to slow down the entire game and let the opponent be chiseled away, bit by bit. Plus you probably owe them money.In Gatecrash, the Orzhov Syndicate has gained the Extort keyword, which allows the Orzhov to, whenever it casts a spell, pay mana up to the number of extorting cards they control to steal that much life from each opponent, strengthening itself while slowly whittling everybody else down.
- Bat Out of Hell: Bats are often used as fighters in Orzhov.
- Black Eyes of Evil: Orzhov angels have pitch black eyes.
- Corrupt Church: It's a church on the outside, a crime organization on the inside.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Plays both this and Light Is Not Good, with the main organisation being assholes but with some members like Teysa Karlov being more decent people. Of course, given the nature of the guild, Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil is also present.
- Flesh Golem: One of the guild's signature creatures are thrulls, unthinking golems made out of flesh that carry out tasks such as fighting and giving messages for the guild's higher-ups.
- Gradual Grinder: The core strategy of the Orzhov is the "bleeder" deck, which tries to slow down the game and slowly drain the opponent's life away with cards like Agent of Masks, Souls of the Faultless, Pillory of the Sleepless, Blind Hunter, and of course, Gatecrash's Extort mechanic.
- Life Drain: White is the master of gaining life; black is the master of taking life. Thus, Orzhov is the master of the Lifelink mechanic, as well as other ways to take others' life (see Gradual Grinder above).
- Malevolent Masked Men: The thrulls of Orzhov wear faceplates that resemble golden masks.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Some thrulls have leech-like jaws.
- My Rules Are Not Your Rules: On Ravnica post-Dragon's Maze, the word of the Living Guildpact is law. The Obzedat has a chamber exempted from the Guildpact's rules, as Teysa discovers in her attempt to overtrhow the Obzedat
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The Orzhov has a council of ghosts as its leading body.
- Read the Fine Print: As expected from The Mafia. See Executioner's Swing and Immortal Servitude.
- Religion of Evil: The organization that comes closer to it on Ravnica.
- Sinister Minister: Good luck finding one who doesn't look evil.
- Soul Power: Both White and Black are the colours most associated with spirits, so naturally these guys have complete mastery in this type of magic. It's led by ghosts, for crying out loud!
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: A prominent conflict within the guild's philosophy is that it cannot fully integrate White's need for community with Black's compulsion to look out for itself at the expense of others. It tries to compromise by way of smaller, insular groups, the members of which view the clique as an extension of themselves. But in practice, all that means is that each member wants desperately to rid themselves of the group but can't risk the immediate loss of their power base that would entail, so while the member continues to work towards the group's motivations, nobody actually trusts anyone.
House Dimir (Blue and Black)
Enter and become a mastermind of spies, lies, and deception.The blue-black House Dimir is not interested in sharing information. In fact, they like secrets so much that they decided to conceal their very existence. As far as most of Ravnica's citizens know, there are only nine guilds, and that's just the way their leader, the mind-leeching vampire Szadek, likes it. As master mind mages, the Dimir have domain over both players' hands and libraries, with the ability to manipulate spells before they're even cast by discarding, rearranging, or milling them. Their guild mechanic Transmute is just one example, allowing Dimir mages to exchange spells in their hand for other spells from their deck.Gatecrash introduced to the House Dimir the ability to encode their Cipher spells in creatures, making copies of those spells whenever the encoded creature sneaks through their opponent's defenses.
- Blatant Lies: For centuries, even the existence of House Dimir was a carefully-guarded secret, and citizens of Ravnica were told that there were only nine guilds. After the very public defeat of Szadek, the cat was out of the bag and the Dimir's existence became widely known, but the guild was left weak, leaderless, and disorganized, they swear.
- The Chessmaster: The favored modus operandi of both Szadek and, later, Lazav. House Dimir works behind the scenes, quietly manipulating the other nine guilds.
- Dark Is Evil: A black-aligned guild thoroughly associated with shadows, and the only one of the guilds of Ravnica to not have a civic purpose or sympathetic characters, something even the Rakdos have.
- The Dreaded: Before knowledge of the guild's existence went public, Dimir was the bogey-man of Ravnica. When they were revealed and started to provide public services like the production of libraries, they are still feared for providing less-than-savory services such as espionage.
- Knowledge Broker: House Dimir trades in secrets. Once they formally revealed their existence to the public, this was the face they chose to present, offering a network of couriers, spies, and informants for hire.
- Mind Rape/Stupidity-Inducing Attack: Cards like Szadek (the Dimir leader) and Glimpse the Unthinkable are this in spades.
- Only Sane Guild: Dimir is the only guild that isn't violently insane, politically extremist, or suffering from backstabbing over in-guild leadership. Unfortunately, they're also the guild where the rather Bond-esque Diabolical Mastermind spawned from.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Their ghosts are employed as spies, cutpurses, and assassins.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Go after your minds instead of your blood. And have names that sound like the the word for "buttocks" in several Slavic languages.
- Sinister Surveillance
Izzet League (Blue and Red)
Enter those with the vision to create and the daring to release their creations.The Izzet are the main researchers in Ravnica. Science, engineering, and other similar topics fall to them. They even have exclusive dominion over something called Meta-magic (or the study of magic itself). Through this, they have the ability called Replicate, which allows a spell on the stack to be copied over as many times a player wishes. This combines blue's knowledge of magic and red's love for instant gratification. The guild's leader and founder is the vain but brilliant Niv-Mizzet the Firemind, who used to be "the last dragon", a status which is no longer true by the time of Return to Ravnica.In Return to Ravnica, the Izzet League gained the ability to Overload its spells, combining Blue's knowledge and Red's impulsiveness to transform a single-targeted spell into a powerful, widespread one.Incidentally, they are also responsible for managing the public utilities of Ravnica, such as water and power.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: An In-Depth Look At The Izze-Hey, Look At That!
- Chaotic Stupid: According to the Selesnya Conclave.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: All other Guilds have a goal (even Gruul). The Izzet do crazy stuff like this to themselves for the lulz (and science).
- Discard and Draw: Izzet has a few cards that let the player draw cards from the deck but then have to discard cards.
- Elemental Embodiment: It's no surprise that several of their creatures are elementals, being a red and blue guild. They also created Weirds, a breed of elementals that combine two opposing elements (example: fire and ice) together into one creature.
- Exact Words: Mentioned in Stitch in Time.Quyzl was told by his mentor to "make more time" for his studies.
- For Science!: Their main motivation.
- The Heavy: In the Return to Ravnica set, much of the new hostilities are kicked off by the Izzet retreating from the public eye after redirecting all their efforts towards the search for... something. Not even the Dimir seem to know exactly what. This, naturally, makes all of the other guilds nervous. It is eventually revealed in the final set of the block that this was in order to locate the Implicit Maze and eventually end all the guild struggles on Ravnica by having one member of each guild walk it, ensuring that whoever wins will gain the power to secure one guild's dominance over the others once and for all, which is far preferable to all-out war.
- Impossible Genius: To quote An In-Depth Look at The Izze-Hey, Look At That!:"Niv-Mizzet is the smartest living thing on the plane of Ravnica. This does not mean his SAT score would be 1 higher than the second smartest being. This means that he is so smart that he could, using #2 lead of course, fill in his little ovals in such a pattern that, when scanned by the computer, would reprogram it, giving him a perfect score and everybody else a zero, then the computer would shut off its fans, overheat, and burst into flames. Oh, and he'd be able to do this in the time it takes the other testers to open their booklets. Then he would burn everyone in the room wearing sweat pants thinking it would help them stay comfortable and, therefore, test better. Morons. (And yes, he can read minds — so he can spare the poor shmo who wears sweat pants because he thinks they're cool. He can… but he doesn't. Why stop the barbecue!)"
- Insufferable Genius: Niv-Mizzet is known for his incredible knowledge as well as for its unquenchable vanity.
- Mad Scientist: The Azorius has several words to justify this view.Mindmoil: "My criticism of the Izzet is that their impulse for learning seems too much like impulse and too little like learning." —Trigori, Azorius senatorPyroconvergence: The Izzet are an equation that turns lunacy into explosions. —Leonos, Azorius arbiter
- Mathematician's Answer: Implied by the Izzet cluestones: "It holds within it an unsolvable riddle. A creative answer yields an invitation to the guild."
- Narcissist: The Izzet signet is redesigned often, each time becoming closer to a vanity portrait of Niv-Mizzet.—Izzet Signet flavor text
- Our Dragons Are Different: Niv-Mizzet, the most intelligent being on the planet and the only genius dragon left, who is also arrogant and vain.
- Proud Scholar Race Guy: They're much more eccentric than most cases, but still count.
- The Rival: To the Golgari Swarm.
- Shock and Awe: Some of their sorcery cards are electric-based attacks.
- Squishy Wizard: Izzet sorcery and instant spells can turn the tables on the opponent when the Overload cost is payed, but most Izzet creatures are physically weak and are made with spells in mind.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The Izzet care about two things: blowing shit up and arcane power.
- Tim Taylor Technology: Their Overload mechanic in Return to Ravnica lets them put more mana into a spell to make it hit everything.
Cult of Rakdos (Black and Red)
Enter and indulge your darkest fantasies, for you may never pass this way again.For the Cult of Rakdos, the whole world is a party. The kind of party where you die. Led and founded by the demon Rakdos the Defiler, this guild is a sadomasochistic cult that thrives on causing pain and chaos just for the thrill of it. Their hedonistic outlook leads them to care very little about how many cards they need to discard or creatures they need to sacrifice to do what they want. This is exemplified in their Hellbent mechanic — when you've exhausted all the cards in your hand, that's just an excuse to party even harder! And by "party" we mean "kill people". Despite their penchant for causing mayhem, the other guilds tolerate the Rakdos Cultists because they run a useful slave trade that provides the rest of the city with cheap labor.The Cult of Rakdos's second keyword is Unleash, which allows you to send its own creatures into a reckless rampage, making them stronger at the cost of being unable to block.
- Always Chaotic Evil: They're never shown doing anything but atrocity after atrocity.
- Supposedly, there are some more reasonable members of the guild, it's just we largely only see the really wild and crazy ones because those tend to be the fighters, who of course are more likely to have relevance in the plot or be shown on the cards.
- Their tendency toward chaotic evil meant that they were the only guild in the original Ravnica story that wasn't trying to either conquer or destroy the world. Rakdos even risks his own life to save the entire plane.
- Ax-Crazy: Almost a requirement to be recruited in Rakdos.
- The Berserker: Their Unleash mechanic gives creatures more power and toughness, but makes them unable to block.
- Big Red Devil: Rakdos himself.
- Circus of Fear: Their cards have a circus motif.
- Combat Sadomasochist: Perhaps best exemplified by Bond of Agony. They like torture so much that they'll torture themselves along with their victims. Torture for everybody!
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: They make legitimate money as Ravnica's entertainment industry, from circuses to cuisine. If not for the whole "psychotic killer" thing, the whole guild would be redeemed by that.
- Glass Cannon: Most Rakdos creatures are strong attackers and don't need much mana to play, but they tend to have low toughness and if they get a +1/+1 counter via Unleash, they can't block.
- Life of the Party: ...or rather the "unlife of the party".
- Our Demons Are Different: Rakdos demons are usually inexpensive but powerful fighters, with some exceptions, like Rakdos himself, who has high power and toughness.
- Psycho for Hire: One of the reasons Ravnica puts up with this guild's existence is that it provides other guilds with people to do their dirty work. RTR has them settling into an "entertainment industry" niche, providing additional income and bolstering their PR.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Rakdos are easily one of the most violent and evil guilds. In addition to their mana colors, many cultists wear red-and-black-patterned clothing as part of the circus motif.
- Religion of Evil: Well, they are a cult, and they do murder people as part of being a cult.
- Straw Nihilist: "All ends in obliteration—love in hatred, life in death, and light in empty darkness."
- Two-Faced: Their emblem in Return to Ravnica is a demon's head that's half black and half red.
Golgari Swarm (Black and Green)
Enter those who are starving and sick. You are welcome among the Swarm when the rest of Ravnica rejects you.The green-black Golgari Swarm has embraced the dichotomy of life and death. Life and death are a natural cycle, and the Golgari see Necromancy as an extension of that cycle. The graveyard is just another resource to the Golgari, a philosophy which manifests itself in their guild mechanic, Dredge, which allows them to harvest and re-use spells from their graveyard while simultaneously cultivating that graveyard with new spells to dredge. Of course, their role in Ravnican society is more than just raising zombies: they're also farmers who supply most of the food for the rest of the plane. (And they always have very good fertilizer.)Its second guild mechanic from Return to Ravnica is Scavenge, which allows the Golgari to combine Black's tendency for using the dead as a resource with Green's love of empowering the living.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Insects the size of carts or the size of small houses are common Golgari creatures.
- Cannibalism Superpower: Inverted. Golgari with "scavenge" advertise the ability to have their corpses to essentially bestow as many +1/+1 counters as they had power points when sent to the graveyard to any creature who has basically eaten their dead body.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Guild leadership in the Golgari is always contested.
- Dark Is Not Evil: While in the story the Golgari suffered from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder among their leaders and Savra actually was a pawn in Szadek's plans, the truth is that most Golgari were merely the Ravnican analogue of farmers and were otherwise barely involved with the larger conflict. Eventually, their leader was replaced by a much more decent person, Jarad, who reformed the group's ways alongside his son. Also, they're stated to feed the poor and outcasts and help them.
- Human Resources: Their new ability "Scavenge", as implied in their official R&D video.
- Meaningful Name: Golgari is derived from Golgotha.
- Medusa: There are a few gorgons, including Vraska, that are guild members.
- Necromancer: The Golgari combines green's control of life with black's control of death, making a guild full of these.
- Our Liches Are Different: Some of them are liches of the corpse-possession variety, including the guild's leader Jarad.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Let's see... plant Zombies... insect zombies... Elf zombies... the list does not end there...
- The Rival: To the Izzet League.
- We Have Reserves: Understandable when your combatants consist of zombies, bugs, and zombie bugs.
Gruul Clans (Red and Green)
Enter and leave the shackles of society behind.The red-green Gruul Clans are a collection of loosely-organized barbarian tribes who scorn civilization, preferring to live free in what's left of Ravnica's wilderness. The original Guildpact originally stipulated them as the wardens of the wilderness then existent, to keep the city's spread from getting in there. Unfortunately, thanks to the typical political machinations, not only did the wilderness get completely breached, their duties wound up divvied among the Selesnya and Simic, leaving them little to do but seek vengeance. They're not much for inaction, which is why their guild mechanic Bloodthirst rewards players who take an active role in the game, actually drawing blood from their opponents instead of sitting around thinking about it.The second guild mechanic introduced in Gatecrash is Bloodrush, which mixes Green's love for huge creatures with Red's love for instant rewards, turning cards in hand into ways to quickly power-up attacking creatures.
- Barbarian Tribe: And the Burning Tree is merely the largest one.
- Chaotic Stupid: The Orzhov Syndicate sees them this way.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Several of their cards have flavor text related to the ground and/or uses land cards to attack.
- Large and in Charge: Borborygmos, the unofficial leader of the Gruul.
- Meaningful Name: Borborygmos is derived from borborygmus, which is the growling and rumbling noises that one's stomach and intestines make.
- Nature Is Not Nice: One of their core beliefs. Also the source of much contempt for the Selesnyans, who they believe revere an idealized and domesticated version of nature.
- Slave Race: How the Orzhov Syndicate think of them.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: They are really good at smashing stuff, so that's pretty much how they solve all of their problems.
- Who's Laughing Now?: This is the main reason why the Gruul Clans are so violent. The guild was originally created to protect the environment of Ravnica, but after it was destroyed save for a few pockets of wild for the sake of city expansion, the members of the guild were no longer treated like citizens and instead are treated as slaves. This made the Gruul Clans vengeful towards anything that has to do with Ravnican civilization, and they aren't above raiding and destroying the city to reclaim land for the wild.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Their ancestral homes destroyed, their purpose usurped by political rivals, their people enslaved or exploited, the guild as a whole globally reviled (moreso than the psychotic murder cult); a lesser guild would have been rendered despondent. The Gruul are furious.
- Worthy Opponent: As revealed in the Planeswalker's Guide to Gatecrash, they respect the Boros League's fighting prowess.On the Boros: "We respect the Boros! So their heads adorn our pikes instead of plugging the gutters."
Boros Legion (Red and White)
Enter with merciful hearts. Exit with battle cries.The Boros Legion are responsible for much of the law enforcement in Ravnica. They combine white's desire for order with red's passion, creating a passion for justice as they see it. Being of the law, they have to go by the rule "if it affects one, it affects all". And so, like modern law, they will arrest and execute anything they see as a danger, and empower anything they see as helpful (regardless of what that being is fighting for). This is reflected in their guild mechanic, Radiance. Through it, the guild can affect everyone/everything that shares a color with the target.In Gatecrash, under the guidance of their new guild leader, the Boros Legion takes a much more active role on the battlefield with a focus on amassing huge armies to defend their ideals, which translates to their new mechanic Battalion, which rewards you whenever the creature with Battalion and at least two other creatures attack.
- And the Rest: Meta example: the red/white clan was the most difficult to plan for, as these two had the least amount of synergy and development until the first Ravnica block. One poll on Magic's website, which polled players' favorite two-color combinations, saw red/white as dead last. And to make it worse, a choice for "I'd rather play a monocolor deck" ranked just above it.
- Anti-Hero: The fact that there are frequent in-group conflicts doesn't help.
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: Played for Drama at the end of Ravnica, when the Dimir and Golgari team up to try and take over the world, Sunhome and all the angels mysteriously disappear, and aren't seen again until the end of Guildpact. Crashing into Prahv.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Their means to prevent guild warfare? Creating guild warfare.
- Knight Templar: Among other things, they are excessively violent and several members in the original trilogy are perfectly fine with the idea of a police state. Lately, the new leader Aurelia has gone overboard enough that some angels within the Boros have decided to quit and go aid the Gateless instead.
- Light Is Not Good: The guild is half-white, but can overtly be violent and hypocritical. Probably the worst of the White guilds in this regard, actually (Orzhov aside, of course), at least as of the Return To Ravnica set, as their new incarnation are basically an army of vigilante mercenaries, and dubbed by the Azorius as "their worst enemy" when they're in bad terms.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Feather, one of the protagonists from the original Ravnica trilogy, was pretty much the most compassionate and sane angel "on-screen". She was briefly the leader of the guild, before being overthrown by the far more warlike Aurelia.
- Our Angels Are Different: The Boros's angels act as the guild's leaders and are always hungry for warfare in the name of justice.
- Playing with Fire: A lot of their cards have a fire motif.
- Shock and Awe: Several of the more iconic Boros burn spells marry White's love of light and Red's long-standing dominion over lightning.
Selesnya Conclave (Green and White)
Enter and rejoice! The Conclave stands united, open to one and all.The Conclave loves to help one another. The good of the community is all they think about. All the time. Ever. In the original Ravnica block, their mechanic was the ability Convoke; which combines green's mana acceleration with white's large army. With that, a spell can be played much cheaper at the cost of tapping a few creatures.In Return to Ravnica, they gained the Populate mechanic, which allows them to duplicate their own creatures to grow their ranks.
- Assimilation Plot: Their main goal.
- Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Oh yes. The Song of the Conclave was an outright plane-wide brainwashing spell, making the Gateless more docile, which, once the spell was broken, led them to lynch the Selesnyans. Their new incarnations presumably still do things of the sort, but they've learned their lesson.
- Corrupt Church: Always a religious commune with the intent of spreading peace and harmony, at some point in their history they've converted with a brainwashing cult, their song keeping the masses docile and killing dissenters via their "quietmen". They seemingly grew out of it by their second return, though they're hypocritical and willing to sacrifice the lives of lower-ranking members for the greater good.
- Green Thumb: Not surprising considering it's a green guild.
- Hive Mind: All the members of the Conclave can hear its song in their heads.
- Light Is Not Good: Notice a pattern yet? Although white and green are the stereotypically "good color" combination, Selesnya at its worst is willing to create a World of Silence.
- Multiple Head Case: Trostani is a three-headed dryad.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: Centaurs that are in this guild tend to be healers and warriors.
- Our Elves Are Better: A good portion of the guild is made out of elves.
- Path of Inspiration: Ostensibly; while well-intentioned, they still reduce or outright demolish individuality and are rather hypocritical about their means and goals.
- Self-Duplication: The Populate mechanic creates copies of creature tokens that are on the playing field.
- We Have Reserves: Their rather hypocritical battle strategy is to line up lots and lots of foot soldiers and let them die to buy time to summon larger elementals.
Simic Combine (Green and Blue)
Enter and comprehend the perfection of orchestrated life.The Simic Combine blue's lust for knowledge and "improvement" and green's love of life. Like other green-based guilds, they focus on creatures more than anything else. Their ability, Graft, allows strength and life to be moved to any incoming creature. Once a creature is complete, they are sellable to the mass market. But, like the Izzet, they aren't satisfied with just one; or rather with just one type. So, they continue to create new and "improved" versions of nature.As of Return to Ravnica, the Simic returned to their druidic roots, embracing long lost holism. This also translates to their new keyword: Members of the Simic Combine can now Evolve, strengthening themselves whenever another stronger ally enters the battlefield, demonstrating Green's love of life instead of Blue's detachment, like their old mechanic did.On a more mundane level, the Simic Combine is also responsible for providing most of Ravnica's non-magical medicine and healthcare.
- Adaptive Ability: Their Evolve mechanic makes their creatures grow stronger when a stronger creature is played.
- Blob Monster: They do like their Oozes. Momir Vig's ultimate creation, Experiment Kraj, was a gargantuan oozelike mutant that could leech away the abilities of other creatures.
- Closer to Earth: Than the Izzet. This isn't saying much. Now truly straight as of RTR.
- Druid: What they once were. They have now returned to their roots.
- Green Thumb: They mostly focus on flesh and blood creatures but have this power as well, though it isn't used too often in combat and is mostly utilized in terraforming the land to create environments and habitats their creations can thrive in. Gameplay-wise this ability tends to be manifested as drawing additional cards or playing extra lands (Vigean Intuition, Urban Evolution) or even animating the land itself (Hydroform).
- Just Think of the Potential: As opposed to Izzet's For Science!.
- Mad Scientist: They're the "obsessive" kind, instead of the Izzet's "amiable madman" kind.
- Magikarp Power: Their new Evolve mechanic in a nutshell. Creatures with this ability often feature high costs and poor or average stats... initially. Once they start getting counters and making use of their more powerful abilities, they become some of the strongest creatures in the game. Probably the best example is their Elusive Krasis, which deals its damage to the opponent directly and hits the field with a whopping ZERO attack points. Unevolved, it's a near worthless meat shield, but if the player can protect and nurture it for a few turns, it can quickly become the card that ends the game.
- Make My Monster Grow: The Evolve ability makes smaller creatures bigger as stronger creatures are played.
- Making a Splash: Some of their cards have a water flavor.
- The Medic: Their original purpose, which they re-embraced as of RTR.
- Mighty Glacier: Between small creatures with Evolve and mid-range fatties, Simic's strategy focuses on the late game in which it can lock down the game with an array of strong creatures and spells, but may not always live long enough to reach it.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The new Simic love these more than ever (the old Simic employed bizarre unnatural mutants), although they claim to use "purer" methods to make them now.
- Our Elves Are Different: Simic elves are more gaunt and alien than the standard model, and focus on transmutation magic.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: The driving faction of the new Simic. Also, those merfolk were thought to be extinct until only recently.
- People Jars: These can be seen in the background of several of their cards. Eventually, a card called Krasis Incubation was released that allowed the players themselves to do this by removing their creature from the battle for a bit in exchange for a small permanent power boost.
- Redeeming Replacement: The guild's previous leader, Momir Vig, was an obsessive madman who wanted to cleanse Ravnica of life and start over. His replacement, Zegana, has restored respect to the Combine by rejecting Vig's excesses and bringing a respect for nature and balance back to the Simic.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The new Simic give off this vibe, although the "aliens" are merfolk from the deep.
- The Social Darwinist: In the original Ravnica set, Simic's leaders weren't above creating plagues to kill all life on Ravnica, save for those who are rich enough to buy vaccines that they made, to start life on the plane all over.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: They will make your life better (for a certain value thereof) whether you like it or not.
Clans of Tarkir
Abzan Houses (White, with Black and Green)
Worshipping the endurance of the dragons of old, the symbol of the Abzan Houses is that of the scale of the dragon. Their keyword is Outlast, which not only lets them slowly buff up their creatures, but also support each other. In Fate Reforged, Outlast is replaced by Bolster, which simulates the Abzan bringing up their weakest.
- Base on Wheels: They have a few mobile fortresses drawn by extremely large elephants.
- Bird People: Abzan aven tend to resemble vultures.
- Body Motifs: Represented by the scale of the dragon.
- The Clan: It's the importance of family that makes them more than just another bunch of heavily armed assholes.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Based aesthetically on Persia and Mongolia.
- Happily Adopted: "Krumar" are adopted from conquered territories and raised as members of the Abzan families. Most of those shown on cards seem quite happy about it. In particular, this is how orcs make it into the Abzan.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Orcs are part of the Abzan armies. They're Black and focus on offensive skills, but are still completely loyal to their family.
- Mighty Glacier: Their "Outlast" mechanic gradually makes their creatures bigger and stronger as the game goes on.
- Petting Zoo People: The ainok dog-men are also part of the Abzan armies.
- Thicker Than Water: Family is the most important thing to the Abzan...
- True Companions: ...but that family need not be exclusively based upon biological relationships.
- The bonds of family cross the boundaries of race. - flavour text, Incremental Growth
- War Elephants: Their intro pack rare, for example.
Jeskai Way (Blue, with Red and White)
Worshipping the cunning of the dragons of old, the symbol of the Jeskai Way is that of the eye of the dragon. Their keyword is Prowess, which supports using spells and creatures in tandem.
- Bare-Fisted Monk: As well as an array of more eccentrically equipped monks.
- Bird People: With a falcon theme, in contrast to the vulturelike Azban aven.
- Body Motifs: Represented by the eye of the dragon.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: What their entire culture is centered around.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Based on Shaolin monks, Tibetan monks, and air nomads.
- Horse of a Different Colour: For the Jeskai, "Mantis style" means riding a literal giant mantis.
- Ki Manipulation/Supernatural Martial Arts: The Jeskai revere the five colors of mana as metaphysical elemental forces called "fires", which seem to function much in the same way as Ki.
- The Trickster: Enforced by their theme. Their mechanic even gives their creatures a boost for resolving a noncreature spell, making combat tricks that little bit trickier. Played straight in their lore with the Kaisham Wanderers school of enlightenment, which encourages the playing of harmless tricks on outsiders with the intent of making them question their beliefs or learn to enjoy the absurdity in life.
- Unstoppable Rage: Fighters with mastery of the bloodfire (red mana) are able to channel their Tranquil Fury into this, effectively becoming invincible killing machines.
Sultai Brood (Black, with Green and Blue)
Worshipping the ruthlessness of the dragons of old, the symbol of the Sultai Brood is that of the fang of the dragon. Their keyword is Delve, which makes their spells easier to cast at a cost of exiling cards from their graveyard.
- Body Motifs: They're represented by the fang of the dragon.
- Cat Folk: The Rakshasa, demons resembling humanoid tigers, are closely tied to the Sultai.
- Deal with the Devil: Again, the rakshasa.
- The Empire: If they're not already this, they certainly imagine themselves making all of Tarkir into this with themselves at the helm.
- Fantastic Racism: The naga do not think highly of their human subjects, and generally make up the bulk of the upper class. It's suggested it's fueled by envy of the humanity they lost long ago.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Based on Indonesia and the Thai Empire. Additionally, their architecture heavily resembles that of the Khmer Empire's Angkor.
- Mighty Glacier: Oddly for a Black-focused clan, Sultai encourages and features creatures with high toughness. The most obvious example being Meandering Towershell, a 5/9 that is so slow it takes a turn or more to attack.
- Our Demons Are Different: The Sultai frequently make deals with the Rakshasa, a race of tiger demons.
- Our Zombies Are Different: The Sultai are necromancers that use zombies for everything, including furniture.
- Power Born of Madness: Their use of the Delve mechanic means that a strong Sultai mage will have heavy reliance on self-mill, which mechanically represents driving yourself crazy in order to fuel things with the bits of shattered sanity you left behind.
- Shark Pool: Or rather, crocodile pits that the frequently use for executions.
- Snake People: Have a number of these, called naga, in their ranks. They sharply fill the upper class as well.
Mardu Horde (Red, with White and Black)
Worshipping the speed of the dragons of old, the symbol of the Mardu horde is that of the wing of the dragon. Their keyword is Raid, which encourages always being on the attack by giving you bonuses for playing cards after you attacked. In Fate Reforged, Raid is replaced by Dash, which allows you to quickly play creatures, have them attack, and then return to your hand.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Their "Raid" mechanic rewards attacking with creatures as much as possible.
- Blood Knight: They live for war.
- Blow You Away: Mardu shamans often have power over the harsh winds of the steppe.
- Body Motifs: Represented by the wing of the dragon.
- Born in the Saddle: There are Mardu infantry, but the clan is best known for its deadly cavalry.
- Death-or-Glory Attack: The Mardu leave nothing in reserve.
- The Dragonslayer: The most effective at killing Tarkir's dragons back while Tarkir had dragons. Of course, the three colours with the most kill spells are black, red, and white, so it was probably inevitable.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The most stereotypically Mongolian of the clans.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: The "Dash" mechanic from Fate Reforged in a nutshell.
- Our Goblins Are Different: They're treated like bright dogs, basically.
- Luke Nounverber: "War names" are taken by Mardu who come of age after their first big battle. Zurgo's war name, for example, is Helmsmasher. Subverted with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, whose original chosen name was in fact "Alesha". The second part was given to her much later, after she had already become a prominent member of the Mardu.
- Mage Marksman: "Dakla" is an art based on a mixture of archery and shamanic magic.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Mardu war shrieks are also used to channel magic.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Have quite a few orcs in their ranks, most notably their leader, Zurgo Helmsmasher.
- Our Ogres Are Hungrier: They have sharp things lashed to their hands, and are occasionally set on fire.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: While they do have a civilian class, they lack the infrastructure to provide for themselves without war. They also abide by an admittedly brutal code of honour.
- Young and In Charge: Alesha is only 19 when named Khan.
Temur Frontier (Green, with Blue and Red)
Worshipping the savagery of the dragons of old, the symbol of the Temur Frontier is that of the claw of the dragon. Their keyword is Ferocious, which gives bonuses if you control creatures with over 4 power.
- Archetypal Character: Temur adopt clan roles that bear constant names from generation to generation, and view it as a way of getting in touch with their ancestors.
- Bears Are Bad News: The one-ton bears of the Temur tundra are definmeitely bad news to the Temurs' enemies...
- Beary Friendly: ... but are this to the Temur themselves.
- The Berserker: "Awakening the bear" causes warriors to fly into a killing rage where they can no longer tell friend from foe.
- Bigger Is Better: Their mechanic is based on an altered version of Naya's high-power-matters theme.
- Body Motifs: Represented by the claw of the dragon.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of Mongolia and Siberian peoples.
- Fluffy Tamer: Bear Companion, for example, brings along a bear that weighs a ton when he enters the field.
- Had To Be Sharp: Their home is so cold and unpleasant that they have to be tough, or they die.
- An Ice Person: The heart of Temur magic lies in ice and their ancestors.
- Mental Fusion: The "Wide Whisper" is a psychic link shared between all of the Temur shamans, allowing for each Temur tribe to communicate with each other across huge distances.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Khan: Yasova Dragonclaw is responsible for present-day Tarkir, as she helped lead Nicol Bolas to Ugin to end the Dragons' reign on Tarkir.
- Only Sane Man: Chianul, Who Whispers Twice seems to be the only person on Tarkir who realises how incredibly screwed up Tarkir has become since the Clans drove the dragons to extinction.
- Panthera Awesome: The Temur from 1000 years often fought alongside Sabertooth cats.
- Thicker Than Water: Second only to the Abzan in the importance of family.
- Un-person: Those who perform particularly heinous actions are drowned in swift streams, sending their bodies off to be eaten by wild animals, and their names are not spoken.
Broods of TarkirAfter Sarkhan's altering of Tarkir's past, the Clans of Tarkir surrendered to the Dragon Lords. Clans and Khans are no more, having been absorbed into the Dragon Broods.
Dromaka's Brood (White & Green)
The descendants of the Abzan clan in the new timeline, having dropped their necromancy and surrendered to their dragonlord Dromoka. Their keyword is Bolster, which carried over from Fate Reforged.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: Make no mistake, being within the clan isn't particularly fun when the dragonlord is a Knight Templar. However, it's still the most safe and merciful of all Tarkir clans, and one of the most equal (aside, ironically, from the Silumgar).
- Black Magic: Dromoka has strictly banned the practice of the old black-aligned necromancy, but some of the clan still practice it in secret.
- Body Motifs: The scale of the dragon.
- Crapsaccharine World: The Dromoka clan looks superficially like a rather nice community, but according to the planeswalker's guide, it's still a meritocracy where your lack of use is rewarded by being the broodlord's lunch. A more down-to-earth but depressing Green/White bad system than the usual assimilation thing.
- The Corps Is Mother: Dromoka tend to think of themselves as children of their clan.
- Dishing Out Dirt: A number of Dromoka spells manipulate sand into weapons or shields.
- Emancipated Child: Each Dromoka community collectively raises all its children.
- Fantastic Racism: Played with: the Dromoka are specifically noted to promote the value and accomplishment of all the clan members, draconic and humanoid alike. However, they no longer allow for the practice of krumar, and as such have wrestled out orcs from the clan.
- Light 'em Up: Dromoka dragons have a ray of searing light for their breath weapon.
- Light Is Good: Played with. On the one hand, it's the safest of the Tarkir broods. On the other, it's still a blatant dictatorship.
- Mighty Glacier: Most Dromoka magic is focused around healing and protection, though they have a nice line in searing light and sandstorms.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Dromoka dragons are famous for their incredibly resilient scales.
- The Social Darwinist: They're generally rather merciful, but Dromoka herself eats whatever "weak link" she can find.
Ojutai's Brood (Blue & White)
The descendants of the Jeskai clan on the new timeline, having been forcibly taken over by Ojutai and remade into a fanatical cult. Their keyword is Rebound.
- An Ice Person: Ojutai dragons breath freezing gases.
- Bird People: Avens are part of Ojultai's followers and often serve as dragonspeakers, the dragons' personal translators.
- Body Motifs: The eye of the dragon.
- Fantastic Racism: Ojutai dragons don't regard mortal lives at all, harshly punishing them for minimal infractions and getting away with murdering them if they want to.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Much like the Jeskai they displaced, their practices take heavy cues from Tibetan and Shaolin monasticism.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: Ojultai's followers use both martial arts and magic.
- Light Is Not Good: They're partly White, but still a quite oppressive, elitistic faction.
- Reincarnation: They believe that particularly enlightened mortals are reborn as dragons.
- Renowned Selective Mentor: Ojutai dragons occaisonally tutor mortals who have been proven especially talented. The most able become dragonspeakers, who act as translators to other humanoids.
- The Theocracy: Officially, the dragons do not rule the clan. They simply offer guidance and since dragons are the most wise, powerful and oldest beings on Tarkir, humanoids are only right to turn to them to become enlightened and eventually be reborn as dragons themselves.
Silumgar's Brood (Black & Blue)
The descendants of the Sultai on the new timeline, once Tasigur gave over the clan to Silumgar. Their keyword is Exploit, which gives you bonuses when you sacrifice a creature.
- Body Motifs: The fang of the dragon.
- Dark Is Evil: They're one of the most evil clans (the other being the Kolaghan), and primarily Black-aligned.
- Do Well, but Not Perfect: The key to survival in Silumgar's Brood. Members must strike a delicate balance of securing power within the brood without gaining so much that Silumgar deems them a threat to his rule.
- Poison Is Acid: The poisonous breath of the Silumgar dragons is often described as corrosive or acidic.
- Poisonous Person: Silumgar dragons exhale clouds of poisonous gas.
- Snake People: Nagas are among Silumgar's followers. However, they don't hold much influence within the clan.
- Villain Has a Point: Despite the clan's heinous and amoral tendencies, Silumgar's Brood recognizes people by their talent rather than their race — as such, it's the only brood in Tarkir where humans may rule over dragons.
Kolaghan's Brood (Red & Black)
The descendants of the Mardu on the new timeline after Alesha decided to follow Kolaghan. They gave up their sense of order and community, going from a ruthless but honourable horde into murderous, cannibalistic fools. Their keyword is Dash, which carried over from Fate Reforged.
- Ax-Crazy: The members of the Kolaghan clan feel what they call the "crave", an irresistible compulsion to attack something — including fellow Kolaghan, if nothing else is available.
- Blood Knight: Kolaghan will fight anything that happens to be in their way. This includes fellow clan-members.
- Body Motifs: The wing of the dragon.
- Hit-and-Run Tactics: The Dash keyword, which allows creatures to attack swiftly then return to the hand.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The "blood-chins", a particularly psychotic subset of the Kolaghan notable for their practice of cannibalism.
- Shock and Awe: Kolaghan dragons can breath lightning bolts.
- Super Speed: Kolaghan and her dragons are fast.
Atarka's Brood (Green & Red)
The descendants of the Temur in the new timeline, after Yasova gave up and decided to strike a deal with Atarka. Now arguably the most dangerous of the clans, they conquer lands to feed their ravenous dragonlord, lest they themselves be eaten. Their keyword is Formidable, which gives you bonuses when the combined power of your creatures is 8 or greater.
- Ban on Magic: Atarka fears the elemental power of the Temur shamans and eats them if she can find them. Luckily, a few of the youngest shamans were able to disguise their powers, and shamanism has been practiced in secrecy ever since.
- Body Motifs: The claw of the dragon.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Lampshaded on Planeswalker's Guide to Dragons Of Tarkir Part 2: anyone in the same situation as them (i.e. being worth nothing but Atarka's personal feeders, with her definitely going out of her way to remind them of that) would be driven to despair, but they take it in stride.
- Had To Be Sharp: Even more so than their Temur counterparts; only those who are worth more to Atarka alive are spared from becoming her next meal.
- Irony: They're primarily Green aligned, yet they're the biggest threat to Tarkir's wildlife and nature.
- The Social Darwinist: Only the strongest survive, lest Atarka eat them.
Ixalan FactionsIn the world (and continentnote ) of Ixalan, four factions vie for control of the Immortal Sun, a mystical artifact.
- Gray and Grey Morality: Almost all of the factions have legitimate reasons to battle each other. The Sun Empire wants to recover its former glory and be left alone, the vampires want eternal life for everyone, and the pirates want to take back their stolen homes, while the merfolk want to prevent everyone else from abusing their power.
The Sun Empire
The dinosaur-riding humans native to Ixalan, the Sun Empire (or one of their many precursor civilizations), originally built the lost city of Orazca. Though driven out of the jungles by their ancient rivals, the River Heralds, the Sun Empire has been recently emboldened by a string of military victories that sparked a cultural renaissance and have struck out in search of Orazca once more. They are aligned with Red, Green and White mana.
- Beast Master: Dinosaur exclusive, straightening their connection to these animals and sending them to battle.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Specifically, feathered, sun-powered dinosaurs, which they have domesticated.
- Gold and White Are Divine: One of the theories as to why they do not use gold in their decorations. As the metal of the Sun, it is too sacred for normal use.
- Light Is Not Good: More sympathetic than the vampires and pirates, but they're still an expansionist faction of their own and will gladly feed their enemies to ravenous bird-reptiles. They took Ixalan from the merfolk, and are at war with them as well.
- Magical Native American: Zigzagged. They are foremostly portrayed as realistic human beings, but their connection with dinosaurs and their sun-based spirituality are treated as rather pure compared to the religion of the vampires and the arcane magic of the pirates.
- Mayincatec: Downplayed. The Sun Empire is mostly Aztec-inspired, in contrast to the more Maya-esque River Heralds, but it still has some Inca influences (such as mountainside terrace farms and their very Quechua-sounding capital of Pachatupa).
- The Power of the Sun: They worship the plane's sun in three aspects:
- White Kinjalli is the Wakening Sun, who created humans from clay and baked them in the sun's warmth.
- Red Tilonalli is the Burning Sun, associated with ferocity, fire, and passion.
- Green Ixalli is the Verdant Sun, who fosters growth in all things.
- Ptero Soarer: They have a few flying around, either as steeds or as wild animals snatching people (and vampires). True to form, not only are they classified as dinosaurs, but are also bipedal and feathered, in effect looking more like deranged birds than actual pterosaurs.
The Brazen Coalition
Refugees displaced from Torrezon after the Legion of Dusk's brutal conquest of the continent, the Brazen Coalition has survived on the sea for countless generations on a combination of wit, pluck and ruthlessness. The recent rush to find Orazca has given the pirates that make up the Coalition a renewed focus: finding the Immortal Sun may be the key to fighting the Legion of Dusk and returning to their homeland. They are aligned with Blue, Black and Red mana.
- Born Under the Sail: Even before fleeing to Ixalan, their ancestors came from a series of coastal city-states and made their living from sea trade. By the setting's present, the pirates have led an almost entirely maritime existence for more than most of them have been alive: while a few have claimed permanent island forts, most live almost exclusively on their ships as they sail on Ixalan’s seas. They don't have any leadership beyond their captains and admirals, their ships and fleets serve as the basis of their society's organization, and their only permanent settlement, High and Dry, is a City on the Water made of hundreds of ships lashed to one another.
- City on the Water: The closest thing they have to a capital, High and Dry, is a collection of derelict ships lashed together and kept afloat. It originally grew around two ships that became hopelessly entangled after ramming into each other, with more and more ships being added to over time until it became a full-sized settlement. It usually floats off of Ixalan's northeastern coast, and serves as neutral "ground" for the pirates to meet, unwind and strike deals with each other.
- Fantasy Gun Control: One of the first Aversions in the 25-year history of the game. Cannons are used extensively and a couple of members are even pictured with primitive handheld firearms.
- Invading Refugees: Their ancestors originally came from a collection of city-states on the continent of Torrezon. When the Legion of Dusk's conquests reached these cities, their natives were forced to flee across the Stormwreck Sea, eventually reaching Ixalan's shores and coming in contact with the Sun Empire. It's noteworthy that, unlike the Legion, the pirates don't really want to be in Ixalan — their main reason for seeking out the Immortal Sun is so that they can use it to gain an edge on the Legion and reclaim their old homes on Torrezon.
- Pirate: Though non-pirates presumably exist on their floating capital city, High and Dry, all members of the Coalition shown thus far have been pirates.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: They are the most racially diverse of the factions, counting Humans, Goblins, Orcs and Sirens among their numbers.
The Legion of Dusk
The iron-fisted empire that controls all of the continent of Torrezon, the vampires that make up the Legion of Dusk were the original holders of the Immortal Sun, before someone (or something) took it and hid it in Orazca. Equal parts church and royal military, the Legion believes that the Immortal Sun is the key to turning their cold undeath into true immortality. They are aligned with White and Black mana.
- Bling of War: Golden armor with ornate fabric that doesn't suit the weather.
- Corrupt Church: They are a religious order (well, several religious orders and a kingdom) that are run by the parasitic undead.
- Dark Is Evil/Light Is Not Good: Black/White aligned and generally the least sympathetic of the four factions.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: To the Spanish Conquistadors.
- Noble Demon: In a different way than most examples. While their morality can be very questionable, they view vampirism very differently than most vampires. Rather than be bloodthirsty hunters that prey on humans, they strictly drain blood from convicted criminals or other individuals they deem deserving (though of course whether you're "deserving" is often decided by the vampires, occasionally at the moment they drain your blood). This is reflected by having the first instances of pure White vampires in Magic history.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Gray-white in skin, deeply religious, and pointy-eared, in this case.
- Stereotype Flip: Typical Hollywood vampires (including the Count himself) are repelled by religious symbols and faith, especially of Catholicism. These ones are fanatically religious in the vein (pun intended) of the aggressive and devoutly Catholic Spanish Conquistadors, living lives circumscribed by ritual and prayer. Most fictional vampires despise sunlight for various reasons, while these seek the Immortal Sun and use white-mana spells.
- The Tragic Rose: Their iconography uses both red and black roses to symbolise the price paid for their immortality.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Their campaigns of brutal conquest have all been undertaken with the end goal of creating a utopia with eternal life for all.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Vampirism keeps them alive indefinitely, but at the cost of most of the pleasures that make life worth living. The main reason they want the Immortal Sun is because they believe it will allow them to transform their vampiric undeath into true immortality.
The River Heralds
The merfolk that live deep within the jungles of Ixalan, the River Heralds are the ancient enemies of the Sun Empire, driving them out of Orazca and onto the coasts. They lead a nomadic life in the wilderness of Ixalan and take great pains to ensure that no one discovers the true location of Orazca, not even them, as a prophecy states that its discovery will spell the end of their people. They are aligned with Green and Blue mana.
- Elemental Powers: They are consummate elementalists, adept at manipulating the natural forces of the jungle.
- Magical Native American: Full on: they are based off the depiction of the Maya as relictual, mystical shamans, and are definitely the most spiritual and magically powerful of the factions.
- Mayincatec: Based on the Maya specifically.
- Our Mermaids Are Different: They resemble tropical fish and have legs, a-la Zendikari merfolk.
Unstable FactionsDuring the development of Magic's third silver-bordered set, Mark Rosewater made a point of incorporating many of Magic’s newer developments, including faction watermarks. The plane of Bablovia features five factions, each tapping into a different portion of the plane’s mad-science theme.
- Mad Scientist: Two of the non-blue factions, the League of Dastardly Doom and Crossbreed Labs. The former are classical villainous mad scientists, using everything from death rays to zombies and even having predominantly brain creatures called "brainiacs", while the latter are relatively benevolent but still insane biologists who splice creatures together.
The Order of the Widget
Suitably enough for a blue-white faction, the Order of the Widget combines Bant-esque codes of honor with Esper’s emphasis on self-improvement. Throw in a healthy helping of Unstable silliness, and you have an order of knights who charge about the country on tank treads or motorcycle wheels, who replace their hands with lances or clamps or ice-cream scoops, who have bodies of bronze and hearts of gold. The Order’s symbol is a gear and a castle.
- For Science!: Their stance on augmentation is less "should you" and more "can you." After all, why have a hand when you can have a smoothie mixer? While you're at it, wouldn't your stomach be so much better if it was made out of Kevlar and could inflate like a balloon? And why not toss out these useless legs and replace them with tank treads!
- Hollywood Cyborg: Many Order of the Widget members replace at least part of their bodies with machinery. Consequently, it has a large number of artifact creatures.
- Man in the Machine: Mixed with Wetware CPU. Their leader, the Grand Calcutron (formerly Calvin Granderson), has augmented himself so much that noy even the game recognizes him as a creature anymore, just an artifact.
The Agents of S.N.E.A.K.
A faction of super-spies who make use of elaborate gadgetry and a hilarious idea of stealth. The Agents of S.N.E.A.K. are constantly spying on others, especially other agents. Their symbol is a key-umbrella hybrid, and their colors are blue and black.
- Beware the Silly Ones: They may be absolutely garbage spies, but their gadgets are every bit as dangerous as those of the other factions.
- Complexity Addiction: Agents are absolutely obsessed with loading down every inch of their person with pounds and pounds of gadgets of varying usefulness. In fact, the whole reason the organization went from job board to organized crime is because people needed to commit crimes to pay for their gadget habit.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: "Nightmare" might be stretching it, but they're a massive criminal organization that started off as an ordinary job board.
- High Turnover Rate: The leader of the guild is whoever owns the golden ruler. This results in a constant change in leadership, since nobody can keep it from being stolen.
- Highly Visible Ninja: S.N.E.A.K., being an organization of steath opritives , has a number of shinobi on the payroll. Of course, this being S.N.E.A.K., said ninjas are not good at being ninjas. Except for one but they might be a touch too good.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain: They are not good at hiding who they are. Their secret base even has a sign on it saying "Secret Base".
- Nebulous Evil Organization: It's not clear what, if anything, S.N.E.A.K.'s long-term goal is. Not even the members know.
The League of Dastardly Doom
An entire faction of supervillains united in their love for overly-elaborate doomsday devices, whether those be hybridized zombie monsters, comically oversized lasers, or simply mechanical killbots. Their colors are black and red, and their symbol is an explosion inside of a lightbulb.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The group is "lead" by Baron von Count, mostly because he's the one the most people agree is the most in-charge of the figures within the League.
- Card-Carrying Villain: You can't expect people in a group called "The League of Dastardly Doom" to think they're doing the right thing.
- Killer Robot: One of their go-to creations are killbots.
- Light Is Not Good: Their symbol is a light bulb. As indicated by the nuke inside it, they're also evil. They are also fond of using laser beams.
- Mix-and-Match Critter: Unlike Crossbreed Labs, theirs are more the stitched-together Frankenstien's Monster types. Grusilda in particular is a clear fan of them. This is translated into her card, where she is able to graft any two creatures together into the exact sum of their parts.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Unlike the other factions, the League is led by a cabal of four people: Baron von Count, The Big Idea, Mary O'Kill, and Grusilda. The four of them wouldn't even be able to agree on what to have for breakfast.
- Thieves' Guild: The League requires super villains to have permits, provides them with minions and interns, and helps them coordinate so their attempts at wrecking havoc don't interfere with each other.
The Goblin Explosioneers
A loose coalition of Bablovian goblins with an even looser game plan, the Goblin Explosioneers have no more idea what they’re building then we do. Their "government" is a barely-functional mishmash of rule of the strong, rule of the stupid, and democracy. Sometimes they just follow the example of one goblin, sometimes they actually sit down and vote, sometimes the side that promises more hammers wins the seat. At any rate, they’re having far too much fun to stop, and they produce so many explosions...Their colors are green and red, and their symbol is a mortar bomb and two sticks of dynamite.
- Ascended Extra: Steamflogger Boss was originally just a Joke Character from Future Sight. Now, it's sprawled into an entire elaborate faction and the inspiration for a joke set.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Ol' Buzzbark serves as the current alpha goblin, mostly because he's destructive enough to win popularity with the masses.
- Cargo Cult: Ever since being introduced to hammers, the goblins are absolutely obsessed with them. There's an almost religious reverence for the tool goblins see as the reason they can create at all. They literally accepted hammers as payment during their employment to Steamflogger Industries.
- Cartoon Bomb: Besides the stuff that explodes when they don't mean it to, the Explosioneers also make abundant use of intentional bombs. On their cards, these always look like the traditional black mortar bombs with long wicks that burn dramatically down to the spherical, shiny body of the explosive.
- Explosive Breeder: The only reason the goblins haven't gone extinct is they breed faster than they can blow themselves up.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Their inventions and gadgets have a strong tendency to malfunction spectacularly, usually in ways that involve violent explosions. Of course, for the goblins, that's all part of the fun.
- Turned Against Their Masters: There wasn't any sort of full-scale revolt, but the goblins weren't always the leaders. Originally, they were just workers hired to combat plummeting employment numbers at Steamflogger Industries, a steel milling company. After the goblins were allowed to have their own faction, the other workers and the management slowly abandoned the company and the goblins filled the power vacuums.
Where the other four factions focus more on gears and gadgets, Crossbreed Labs enjoys reshaping the very fabric of life itself, splicing together wildly improbable creatures to create new and exciting species like the dogsnail, the hydradoodle, and the monkey-spider. Their colors are green and white, and their symbol is a double-spouted beaker.
- Be Yourself: Their whole philosophy is that people should be free to express themselves, especially when that involves gene splicing.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Their philosophy centers around turning themselves into outlandish hybrids in order to reflect who they truly are — do you feel than an animal truly represents who you are? Throw it in! As a result, their entire faction is composed of hybrid creatures of rather extreme complexity.
- The most extreme example of this would be their faction leader, Dr. Julius Jumblemorph, who has every in-game creature type at once.
- There's even a dedicated in-game mechanic to represent this, Augment. You start with a host, a small and unremarkable creature you place on the battlefield same as any other, then add an augment creature from your hand, overlaying the two cards. The result is a unique, hybrid "card" you play by combining the host's and augment's rules text and with the combined strength and toughness of its components.
- Overly Long Name: Their eagerness to hybridize themselves leaves their members with some hilariously complicated creature types, such as "Spider Monkey Scientist," or "Raccoon Lizard Bird," or even "Deer Bird Ape Druid."
- Professor Guinea Pig: They splice themselves as well as other creatures.