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Planeswalkers: Planeswalkers who ignited Pre-Mending, Planeswalkers who ignited Post-Mending: A-M, N - Z
Planes and their peoples: Factions, Other Characters (Dominaria, Phyrexia, Rath and Mirrodin), Planes

These are the tropes that apply to entire factions in Magic: The Gathering flavor, such as the Shards of Alara, the Guilds of Ravnica, the five color factions of New Phyrexia, and the Clans of Tarkir. They're not the five colors (for that see Color Tropes) and they aren't creature types or characters either, but each has a cohesive flavorful and mechanical identity.


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Phyrexia, Rath, and Mirrodin


Perhaps the most iconic, notorious, beloved, and horrifying bad guys of the whole franchise, Phyrexia began in Magic's early days as a flesh hating cult, and since then has been 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, organized 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 unrecognizable 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 Catchphrase 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.


    New Phyrexia 

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.
    • It gets worse in Kaldheim. Vorinclex infiltrates the plane, lays waste to Esika's sanctum, leaves the goddess dying, and successfully returns to New Phyrexia with a sample of tyrite. New Phyrexia's plans advance uninterrupted...
  • 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.
  • Co-Dragons: Jin-Gitaxias and Sheoldred share equal power amongst themselves.
  • 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 Mirran Resistance, but the Praetors sometimes fight each other for the position of top dog. By the end of the Scars of Mirrodin block, Sheoldred is dead and Urabrask is left facing Uncertain Doom as Elesh Norn forces her way to the top, Jin-Gitaxias and Vorinclex bowing to her command. Unfortunately for the Mirran resistance.
  • Evil Can Not Comprehend Good: The Praetors of New Phyrexia can't understand why the Mirrans continue to fight against them even though they lost their home to them.
  • Five-Man 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 Alara

Many 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.


    Bant (White, with Green and Blue)
Light and Justice

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 little 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). Bant is divided into five nations; the three Inner Nations of the prairies — Akrasa, Topa and Eos — and the two coastal nations of Jhess and Vhaleron.

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 human monks and the rhox ascetics, who both study deep philosophical texts and train their bodies through practice of the martial art called "Halcou".
  • Beast Man: The rhox, a race of humanoid rhinos, and the aven, a race of humanoid eagles.
  • 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.
  • Cultural Rebel:
    • The Unbeholden, people who disagree with the caste system or who simply prefer to pursue a criminal lifestyle.
    • The nation of Jhess is known for being much more freewheeling and flamboyant than the Inner Nations, with a "shockingly radical" level of social mobility between castes.
  • Duels Decide Everything: When monks and/or ascetics disagree, they engage in Halcou "duels", striving to perform the most elaborate displays of athleticism they can; the challenger with the most grace and skill is determined to have the deepest philosophical understanding.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Twice over; one for the angels, one for the humans.
    • The angels divide themselves into the Asura (the smallest caste, made up of the seven members of the Court of Orderly Contemplation, which rules over all angels), the Amesha (embodiments of the grandest ideals; honor, justice, truth and courtly love), the Mahra (angelic bureaucrats) and the Celebrants (lowest-ranked and responsible for protecting the day-to-day lives & ideals of the lower castes of humanity).
    • The humans divide themselves into the Blessed (rulers), the Sighted (priests, subservient to the Blessed), the Sigiled (direct servants of the Blessed and Sighted), the Mortared (the peasantry), and the Unbeholden (rebels and outcasts).
  • Geometric Magic: Sigils, markers of support and allegiance, channel magical energy, and can grant various boons depending on the precise sigil in question, are ubiquitous throughout Bant.
  • Honor Before Reason: Justified. Since Bant lacks Black or Red mana, the thought of doing something dishonorable or underhanded is literally unconceivable for Bant natives. Knights don't wear armor on their backs because no-one would be so dishonorable as to stab someone in the back, right? Needless to say, this comes back to bite them hard when the shards start merging.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The leotau, a plains-dwelling best that resembles a powerful horse with the head and tail of a lion. It's used as a steed by the Inner Nations
  • Knight in Shining Armor: All over the place, with Rafiq of the Many as the exemplar. Ironically, Rafiq tends to be highly unpredictable, almost mercenary; thanks to his need to balance out his many sigils, he may fight for both sides of the same conflict in the same battle.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Leotau come in three breeds, distinguished by color; the white-coated Orisils are favored by members of the Blessed caste, the golden-furred Mherva are considered the swiftest breed, and the calico or dappled Ghrom are the largest and strongest.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Taken to its logical extreme; combat on Bant is so honor-bound that 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 "Mortared caste" (commoners who have yet to earn a sigil). Subverted with Akrasa; its leotaur-mounted nights are made of trained, skilled Mortared warriors.
  • Religious Bruiser: Many of the Rhox.
  • Sigil Spam: Because they serve as a focus for Geometric Magic, medallions emblazoned with arcane designs — called "sigils" — are extremely common in Bant. Bearing a sigil marks one as a member of the Sigiled caste, superior to the Mortare caste. Furthering the spirit of this trope, many Sigiled actively try to get as many sigils as possible, because not only does each sigil hold its own magical boon, greater numbers of sigils convey greater rank amongst their caste.
    • Rafiq of the Many is legendary for how many sigils he has won.
  • Warrior Poet: The Rhox, rhino-people who are part-philosopher-part-martial-artist.

    Esper (Blue, with White and Black)
Logic and Reason

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." Also, the discovery that the Seekers of Carmot can't forge new etherium despite their claims leads to the shock that makes Tezzeret ascend to Planeswalkerdom and seek answers elsewhere.
  • Arcadia: Due to lacking the chaotic influence of Red Mana, and to a lesser extent Green Mana, nature is highly structured and artificially controlled in Esper. The one exception is the weather; it still has violent and unpredictable storms, and consequently very rough seas.
  • Blood Magic: Sangrite, one of the key ingredients of etherium alongside carmot, turns out to be the petrified blood of dragons from Jund. This is why no new etherium could be forged on Esper - it is implied that Crucius, the one who created etherium in the first place, was in fact a planeswalker who traveled to Jund on a regular basis to harvest the ingredients he needed to make etherium. Fortunately, the reunion of Alara has made it possible to harvest sangrite (and carmot which is also from Jund) without a planeswalker.
  • The Fundamentalist: Whilst the Ethersworn strives to complete "The Noble Work", the process of infusing all life with some degree of etherium in order to help them achieve spiritual perfection, a small and oft-regarded as heretical splinter sect called "The Ignoble Flesh" is defined by its extremist view. Arguing that flesh itself is inherently impure and fallible, they believe mortals should strive to completely discard it in favor of a body of pure etherium. They turn themselves into monsters called "aether-liches", and it was the horrified response to them which turned Crucius into a pariah, ultimately driving him to vanish.
  • Happiness in Slavery: The Telemins are humans who, being incapable of magic themselves, have sought social security by selling themselves as living instruments to a mage. These "mage dolls" voluntarily sacrifice their wills, allowing their wizardly master to use their Mind Control spells to control the Telemin as a living puppet to perform tasks.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Use a metallic substance with numerous useful properties called etherium in making themselves human/mechanical hybrids.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Crucius, the sphinx who created etherium and who pioneered the philosophy of integrating it into the body, was turned against when the first members of the Ignoble Flesh heresy arose and became the first aether-liches; the Esperians denounced him as "Crucius the Mad", and eventually he disappeared due to the hostility directed against him. Which turned out to be a disaster for Esper, as he was the only being who actually knew how to make more etherium.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Due to how widespread magic is, humanity in Esper has developed a wide array of magical specializations, including Arcanists (masters of secret knowledge and lost lore), Stormcallers (weather manipulators), Mechanists (artificers who build magitek), Clockworkers (Time Masters), Mentalists (mind-readers and manipulators) and Tidemages (masters of sea and tides).
  • The Magocracy: Esper is brimming with magical power, to the point that wizards act as the knights here, and magical power is positively and strongly associated with one's social status on this plane.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: Gargoyles in Esper are a kind of golem, created by adding etherium to statues to help channel magic to animate them.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Aether-liches are mad Esperites who have replaced almost the entirety of their body with etherium, maintaining control over the whole by binding their soul to a metallic phylactery called an Immortal Coil.
  • Owl Be Damned: One of the more dangerous native creatures of Esper are the striges, a species of etherium-infused, ashen-colored screech owls with deep black-on-blue eyes. A strix is a psychic vampire, which derives nourishment by sucking the thoughts and memories out of others.
  • Riddling Sphinx: Sphinxes are the most powerful and revered of creatures on Esper, due to their wisdom and arcane might. It was a sphinx named Crucius who created etherium, and with it the belief system of incorporating it into living beings.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: This is the philosophy of the vedalken, who strive to observe and understand... well, everything, but especially magic.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-Universe, the homunculi are noted for disturbing the vedalken greatly due to their resembling chibi versions of themselves.
  • Weather Dissonance: Despite the rest of the world's natural phenomena being uncannily orderly and controlled, the weather still escapes their power to restrain.

    Grixis (Black, with Blue and Red)
Death and Despair

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.

  • Body Horror: In a world dominated by the darkest kinds of magical energy, you better believe that there're some horrifying mutilations of the human body to be seen.
    • Living humans have sometimes become victims to swarms of banewasp larvae, enormous scavenging maggots that burrow into and infest the body, bloating it all out of proportion
    • Fleshbags are boneless masses of humanoid flesh that have been sewn together, stuffed full of live vermin, and then animated as grotesque minions and portable storehouses of vis. Fleshdolls are a more powerful variant created when a humanoid ghost is used to animate a fleshbag; they can be the size of giants.
    • The Incurable suffer from grotesque mutations and hideous, incurable diseases.
  • Corpse Lands: One could be forgiven for thinking that the landmass of Grixis is made of these. The most repulsive are the Bone Heaps, enormous mounds of picked-clean bones assembled by the native kathari from their victims, and the Dregscape; a vast swamp where degeneration has slowed to a crawl, reducing it to an enormous morass of noxious ichor and slowly decaying corpses.
  • Crapsack World: As a world in which the spiritual concepts of "life" and "community" don't exist, Grixis is well and truly deserving of the name "hellhole". The dead and the damned hunt the living to preserve their own existences, and those who die are brought back to suffer and die once more, again and again. Everything's crumbling into absolute nothingness as the Shard devours itself to the last, life itself is going extinct, and even the demons and the undead are being wiped out as their world disintegrates around them. It's very Dark Souls. When the Shards are re-amalgamated, things start to get better. A little.
  • Deal with the Devil: Demons like to tempt mortals into bargaining with them, as it makes it easier for them to steal the mortal's vis and more enjoyable for them to consume.
  • Death World: Even if you're undead, this place will eat you alive. Entropic energy constantly lashes the plane, literally sucking it clean of life, forcing the residents to struggle to preserve their own existences. Whilst being re-merged into the reborn Alara has undone its spiral into entropy, it's still an enormously hostile place.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Grixis has loads of powerful demons running around.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Once the last of the human nations fell, that was it.
  • Feathered Fiend: The kathari, an aven variant who look like deformed humanoid vultures and who feed on the flesh of anything they can catch, including humans. Mind you, the Vithians will eat them too.
  • La Résistance: The Vithian holdouts, who use red and blue magic to try to survive and to fight against the fiends and undead ruling their plane.
  • Liquid Assets: The essence of life itself has been established as a quantifiable, if immaterial substance in Grixis, called "vis". It is, pun unintended, the lifeblood of the plane; every undead, fiend and even necromancer devotes their existence to securing a supply of vis, squeezed (rather literally) from vitals (non-black mana-tainted mortals), without which they can't survive.
  • Meaningful Name: "Grixis" means "traitor" in the ancient Vithian tongue. It was named this after the last of the Vithian kings, Sedris, sold out his people to a demon lord in exchange for being turned into a lich.
  • Mordor: Grixis. Not only is it an absolutely nightmarish place to live in, it also has the look of this trope: dark, sunless, crawling with all sorts of monstrosities...
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Thraximundar, "He who paints the earth red." A hulking undead Black Knight, Thraximundar wanders the plane, seeking out battles, where he plunges into the fray and kills indiscriminately, consuming the vis of whomever he slays.
  • Necromancer: Understandably, these are everywhere in Grixis, and the tie-in manual "The Planeswalker's Guide to Alara" proclaims that there may be more variants of necromancy to be found on this plane than on any other in the multiverse. Named specialities include Fleshcrafters (who construct specialized minions and unliving tools from flesh & bone), Lethemancers (who prey on the minds of others by stealing their thoughts), Ghostslavers (who focus on binding ghosts to their bidding), and Gale Mages (who focus on destroying things by invoking the entropic winds that scour their plane of life).
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Zombies, skeletons and other necromantic constructs make up the vast form of "life" in Grixis.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: The Incurable are a tribe of ogres who tried to cure themselves of a curse-born plague, only to make it even worse. They suffer from incurable diseases and horrific mutations, leaving them pain-wracked, insane, and dangerous.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Most of the vampires on Grixis are suffering as the supply of vis dwindles ever sharper. Most are starving, skeletal wretches, reduced to little better than ghouls as a result of their lack of food. The few who have managed to stay well-fed are aware of their world's approaching destruction, and desperate to save it.
    • Yes, Grixis is so horrible that among the worst the monsters are the heroes trying to save the world.
  • Vampiric Draining: Anything that has an affinity for black mana can somehow drain the vis from vitals, be it by mystical means, drinking blood, eating flesh, or stealing thoughts. Indeed, part of the reason why Grixis is such a hellhole is because Vampiric Draining has become the foundation of its ecosystem - with nothing outside of that to replenish itself. Thusly, the supply of vis steadily gets smaller and smaller, and its native ecology cannibalizes itself.
  • World Half Empty: As bad as things are, it's slowly getting worse. Because it lacks the ability to replenish and sustain life due to its mana deficiencies, the black mana that dominates this plane is also consuming it, leeching it of what little life remains — ultimately, the natives will all be destroyed as the plane devours itself utterly. Their every effort is just trying to deny the inevitable. Averted after Grixis is reunited with the other shards of Alara; the corrected balance stops its inevitable descent into oblivion.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Grixis has been completely overrun by the undead, which have torn down all semblances of society. Now it consists of just enormous armies of undead minions that clash with each other endlessly at the whims of the necromancer-lords, demons and liches who control the plane.

    Jund (Red, with Black and Green)
Tooth and Claw

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.

    Naya (Green, with Red and White)
Woods and Wilds

If Green were 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.

  • Bigger Is Better: Naya's associated creatures are much, much stronger than is normal for Green Mana creatures, which represents how absolutely massive they grow.
  • 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 Ravnica

Note: 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)
Order and Control
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.

In Ravnica Allegience, they gain an ability word in Addendum, which augments the effects of instant spells when they are cast during the player's main phase.

  • Ancient Conspiracy: It's revealed in the Return to Ravnica block that Azor I 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. Contrast the Cowboy Cop attitude of the Boros Legion.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Forecast in a nutshell.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Overlapping with Corrupt Politician; many members of the Senate are in it for their own power and advancement.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Firm believers in this trope. They think that Law should dictate how people act.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Isperia's murder allows Dovin to take her place.
  • Face–Heel Turn: After Isperia tries to quench guild paranoia, she is murdered, and the Azorius fall into Bolas's control.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: The Azorius Senate takes its name from Azor, the sphinx planeswalker who taught them the arts of hieromancy and founded the guild system. This is a subtle forewarning of the fact they share Azor's Lawful Stupid nature and obsession with Law over people.
  • Moral Sociopathy: Rather chillingly obsessed with laws and order and not the least bit caring for the people of Ravnica. This is a trait they inherit from their parun, Azor I.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Cemented by their guildhouse's flavor text.
  • Police Code for Everything: Played for Laughs in a Rakdos Cult story. Code 3435-T is the use of explosive material in a confined space.
  • 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.
  • Whatevermancy: They practice "hieromancy", which is literally fueled by and relating to law.

    Boros Legion (Red and White)
Peace and Justice
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.

In Guilds Of Ravnica, the Boros have a focus on training up their members to prepare for whatever may come. This is represented by the Mentor mechanic, which allows creatures with that mechanic to put +1/+1 counters on creatures with lesser power.

  • Always Gets His Man: Agrus Kos will do anything it takes to bring someone to justice.
  • Anti-Hero: Even if they're a guild of Well-Intentioned Extremist Knight Templars, they're the closest Ravnica has to a police force/military, and their goals in mind is to protect the weak from being exploited. The fact that there are frequent in-group conflicts doesn't help their image.
  • Badass Army: The Boros Legion is the closest thing to an official military in Ravnica, and as such will stand up to anything the plane throws at them, from demon-worshipping murderous thrill-seekers to zombie plagues to giant monsters to ravening tribes of cannibals.
  • Cowboy Cop: The Cowboy Cop to the Azorius's By-the-Book Cop.
  • 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.
  • Hero with an F in Good: See the above, although this is a bit downplayed by comparison. The Boros are generally very good at their job at preventing civilian casualties, but it's their extreme passion for justice that makes them appear little better than the rest of the Guilds, regardless of their well-founded ideals.
  • 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. As a matter of fact, they're the most notorious of the White-aligned guilds in this regard; due to Red's driven sense of emotions, this ends up leading to Boros being excessively antagonistic and self-righteous about their ideals. Their new leader Aurelia has even gone overboard enough that some angels within the Boros have decided to quit and go aid the Gateless instead.
  • Light 'em Up: Less common than the Fire and Lightning, but light-based attack spells are part of the Boros' arsenal of offensive magic.
  • Light Is Not Good: The guild is half-white, but can overtly be violent and hypocritical. While it's debatable whether or not they're the worst example of the White-aligned guilds on a moral basis (since the Orzhov Syndicate exists and all), they're easily the most notorious examples of Knight Templars in the setting. At least as of the Return To Ravnica set, 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. It goes without saying that all guilds have good apples amongst the bad ones, but like any other guild, the Boros Legion is more than capable of producing genuine heroes like Agrus Kos, who represents the best of the Legion's ideals.
  • 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.
  • Police Brutality: On their absolute worst days, they're little better than thugs dressed as police officers. Many Fantastic Racism statements from the original trilogy come from them, and lately their own internal prejudices have been revealed.
  • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: For all their religious zealotry and militant leaders, they still hold true to the core philosophy of any Red/White deck (Nobilis of War aside): the upholding of justice and fairness. Many Legionnaires genuinely want to keep the peace and protect the weak from the strong, even if they do a pretty poor job in conveying those ideals.

    Cult of Rakdos (Black and Red)
Laughter and Carnage
Enter and indulge your darkest fantasies, for you may never pass this way again.

The Cult of Rakdos is what you would get if you combined a Circus of Fear with an S&M dungeon in a particle accelerator. For them, the pursuit of pleasure is the highest calling. 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, and is responsible for running most entertainment establishments in Ravnica, including nightclubs and circuses. 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".
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.
The third Rakdos keyword is Spectacle, found in "Ravnica Allegiance". It allows cards to be cast for a different mana cost if an opponent lost life that turn - sometimes a lower cost, sometimes a higher cost but with additional effects.

  • 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.
  • Chained by Fashion: Rakdos attire usually involves this and a lot of other painful implements that would hurt the wearer as much as their enemies. And that's not even getting into what the cultists use as weapons!
  • Circus of Fear: Their cards have a circus motif, and the leaders of individual Cult groups are even called "Ringmasters".
  • 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. Apart from this, they also provide the manual labor force for Ravnica, by working in the mines and workshops. If not for the whole "psychotic killer" thing, the whole guild would be redeemed by that.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being a cult of literal demon-worshippers, and sharing both their colors with Bolas, they are one of the five loyalist guilds.
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: Many Rakdos creatures are either weaponizing fire, or on fire themselves. Rakdos himself takes this into the extreme, because his lair and resting spot is a giant pool of lava.
  • A Fête Worse Than Death: A circus-themed organisation who regularly throw parties where even the members aren't guaranteed to survive, and the audience's chances are worse.
  • For the Evulz: A Rakdos will do whatever they want, no matter how atrocious.
  • 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.
  • The Hedonist: The Cult of Rakdos is all about pursuing pleasure, no matter the cost.
  • It Amused Me: Because the Cult believes in pursuing individual desires whatever the cost, they always do whatever amuses or interests them. Even if they don't survive afterwards...
  • Life of the Party: ...or rather the "unlife of the party".
    "If your ears bleed, it's a party. If your eyes bleed, it's a Rakdos party."
  • Mad Artist: They are the center of the Ravnican arts and entertainment industry. Surprisingly, they actually back a lot of reputable establishments! But yeah, if you're looking for the freaky stuff, they've got your number.
  • 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.
  • Technician vs. Performer: The Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica suggests that the Rakdos see the relationship between their guild and the Izzet League as a literal instance of this trope.
    "Every performance benefits from prop masters and pyrotechnicians. They can be useful backstage, but they lack the charisma for the spotlight."
  • The Sacred Darkness: This is how the more philosophical, less psychotic members view their worship of Rakdos; an acceptance of the inevitability of death and a reminder of others to embrace life whilst they have it, because it won't last forever.
    "Rakdos performers do not grow old in the ring," Rinni said. "They go on exactly as long as they are meant to. They acquire skills. They acquire scars. Their movements may be hampered, they may slow down, but it is all part of the dance. They play the role they were meant to play. To make people laugh. To remind them how precious and how fleeting our lives are, no matter how harsh or short. Our lives are a gift."
  • Straw Nihilist: "All ends in obliteration—love in hatred, life in death, and light in empty darkness."
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Sadomasochism is the expected norm for a Cultist.
  • 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)
Decay and Rebirth
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.

In Guilds of Ravnica, their mechanic is Undergrowth, which indicates cards that scale in power in proportion to the number of creatures in your graveyard.

  • The Beastmaster: The Golgari's affinity for Green Mana allows them to tame and control various kinds of animals, which helps them in their farming. Whilst they are most famous for their affinity for insects, spiders, rats and other vermin, any kind of urban creature is feasible; the Golgari Brownscale, for example, is a lizard the size of a rhino.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Insects the size of carts or the size of small houses are common Golgari creatures. The Kraul are a sapient race of humanoid bugs who tower over normal humanoids.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Gravid kraul females reproduce by attacking giant invertebrates and implanting their fertilized eggs into the body of this "surrogate". They then leave the surrogate and never go back; some mind-altering chemical injected in the process compels the surrogate to find a safe place and defend itself as the larval kraul hatch and cannibalize its flesh. By the time they pupate, they are fully cognizant, and the surrogate has been reduced to an empty husk of exoskeleton, which the kraul nymphs will use as a shelter. To add to the weirdness, graul think of their dead surrogate as their Mother, and treat its corpse with love and affection, even though they do know that they are not biologically related — but their biological mother has no interaction with them after laying their eggs. Downplayed, in that whilst the kraul's methodology is odd given their sapient status, it actually is quite common in nature. Its also not mentioned in the original trilogy, implying that only some kraul castes do this.
  • 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 (albeit with some level of racial bias). Also, they're stated to feed the poor and outcasts and help them.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Fall under Bolas's influence during the course of the Guilds of Ravnica storyline.
  • Fantastic Racism: As stated in Vraska's backstories on the Wizars of the Coast website, the Golgari may be the bottom of the barrel as far as the rest of Ravnica is concerned, but even they have an internal pecking order. Most notably, gorgons are treated as Living Weapons, expected to shut up and stay away from people until they're needed to fight, and the Kraul (necromancer-priest bug-people) are treated as little better than the non-sapient bugs they herd by Jarad's elves. This leads to the Kraul's plans to rebel against Jarad in the story Pride of the Kraul. In fact, this has been implied as far back as the original trilogy, with the Gorgon Sisters taking over due to gorgons being second class citizens; under their rule, Devkarin elves became the oppressed, and they went right back to oppressing gorgons when Jarad dethroned the Gorgon Sisters..
  • Garden of Evil: The rot-farms and dripping jungles; sinister places full of Fungus Humongous, parasites, zombies, bugs and other Golgari-spawned nasties.
  • Green Thumb: Due to their connection with Green Mana, Golgari mages often have the ability to magically manipulate plants, from encouraging them to grow at insanely fast paces to transforming them into aggressive predators in their own right. However, due to their connection to Black Mana, Golgari tend to eschew the traditional form of this magic for a specialist variant based on fungi, lichen, mold, and moss.
  • Human Resources: Their ability "Scavenge", as implied in their official R&D video.
    Brady Dommermuth: The Golgari have an important function in Ravnica. They take care of the dead, in their own way, and they provide food for the poor. What is that food made out of? That's not to ask. That's Golgari business!
  • Let's Meet the Meat: The fact that many Golgari creatures fully know they will be eaten in time is brought up in various sources.
  • Make Them Rot: Given the Golgari's magic is a mixture of Black and Green, they have a natural affinity for inducing rapid decay in others. They even have an associated spell called Abrupt Decay, which requires a mixture of Green and Black Mana to be cast.
  • Meaningful Name: Golgari is derived from Golgotha.
  • Medusa: Ravnican medusae - or "gorgons", in the game's parlance - are exclusively found amongst the ranks of the Golgari. Little is known about them, save for a few hints presented here and there, and mostly deduced from the backstory of Vraska, a Ravnican gorgon planeswalker. Unlike the serpent-bodied gorgons on other planes, such as Theros, Ravnican gorgons are scaly-skinned bipeds, who have at least partially prehensile manes of tentacle-like serpent tails instead of the traditional hissing snakes heads. They're also subject to Fantastic Racism, as their petrifying gaze (which they can turn on and off, but which functions indiscriminately when on) manages to intimidate even other Golgari, so they're treated as little more than living weapons.
  • Mushroom Man: The Golgari make heavy use of Saprolings, humanoid fungi that they cultivate from corpses. They even have a card based on this practice, called Golgari Germination.
  • Necromancer: The Golgari combines green's control of life with black's control of death, making a guild full of these. Because of this unusual combination of Mana, Golgari zombies are often animated by infestations of vermin or fungus instead of simply being animated by magical energy itself.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: They're not the only faction that makes use of zombies, but they get a particular focus on it.
  • 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.
  • Swamps Are Evil: In a sense, at least. Being that Ravnica is a City Planet, it doesn't have "real" swamps. However, the Golari tend to live in the Absurdly Spacious Sewers of Ravnica, where they exploit the abundant moisture to grow dense mats of fungus, mold, moss and lichen, which gives them a very "swampy" feel. Why do they do this? Because they're a Black Mana-aligned Guild, and swamps are associated with Black Mana. The trope is zigzagged in that these "rot farms" are a vital resource for food and pharmaceuticals to the denizens of Ravnica.
  • We Have Reserves: Understandable when your combatants consist of zombies, bugs, and zombie bugs.

    Gruul Clans (Red and Green)
Savagery and Chaos
Enter and leave the shackles of society behind.

If you fused Conan the Barbarian with the Unabomber in Frankenstien's labratory, the result would probably go on to found the red-green Gruul Clans. They're 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.

The third guild mechanic, from Ravnica Allegiance, is Riot, allowing creatures to choose between haste or a +1/+1 counter when they enter the battlefield.

  • Anarchy Is Chaos: They're essentially Ravnica's equivalent of anarchists with the ultimate goal of destroying civilization and returning the world to its natural state, where only savagery and the law of the wild matters.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Gruul are not much for order or a proper hierarchy, and leadership of a clan usually falls to the strongest, biggest and angriest of the bunch.
  • Barbarian Hero: This is the hat of the Gruul as a whole, as its humanoid members are invariably physically powerful "primitives" who shun the civilization of the rest of Ravnica.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Gruul are a loose coalition of clans and tribes whose lifestyle chiefly consists of taking over an area, pillaging it for all it's worth, and squatting in the ruins until all resources are exhausted, at which point they move to a new area and repeat the process.
  • The Beastmaster: As a Green-affiliated faction, they make heavy use of all kinds of beasts, monsters and animals.
  • Chaotic Stupid: The Orzhov Syndicate sees them this way.
    Teysa: (regarding Borborygmos) It's easy to see why those Gruul dirtbags follow him — the only orders he gives are "Crush them!" and "We eat!"
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Several of their cards have flavor text related to the ground and/or uses land cards to attack.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Green Mana is instinct, Red Mana is emotion. Naturally, a Guild based on the fusion of the two is not much for long-term thought and strategy. Deconstructed, as this is called out as one of the Gruul's biggest weaknesses.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Gruul believe in their own version of the apocalypse called The End-Raze, during which their boar-god, Illharg the Raze-Boar, will awaken and raze the entire city of Ravnica into dust and reclaim the world for nature. Domri ascending to the position of leader of the Gruul Clans and the growing unrest between the guilds as of Ravnica Allegiance are seen as Signs of the End Times.
  • Full-Boar Action: They worship a boar-god, adorn themselves with tusks and boarskulls, have several boar-themed spells and frequently use them as mounts and beasts of war. With Domri's ascension to leader of the Burning Tree and unofficial guildleader, this motif has become extremely prevalent, to the point Domri is seen as the one heralding in the return of their boar-god.
  • Handicapped Badass: The Scab Clan is exclusively made up of these, as all its members have been maimed, tortured, crippled and mutilated by the organizations of civilization. They're notable for cooperating with each other to make up for their physical deficiencies, and for being the single most violent clan amongst the Gruul.
  • 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.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: As Red/Green Mana hybrids, the Gruul take great pride in embracing the natural cycle of predator and prey, whilst striving to become the greatest predators in the world.
  • The Quincy Punk: Reinvented as such for the new Ravnica storyline, fitting their anarcho-primitivist leanings. They even got Cockney accents.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Since they shun man-made materials, they commonly craft weapons and armor from bone.
  • 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."
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Seen by most of Ravnica as simple barbarians, brutes and savages that only want to mindlessly destroy. The Gruul themselves naturally don't share this view, and see it as rising up against their oppressors, enslavers and restoring the world to its natural state by destroying civilization so that the wilderness can return.

    House Dimir (Blue and Black)
Secrecy and Silence
Enter and become a mastermind of spies, lies, and deception.

The blue-black House Dimir are basically the Illuminati, full-stop. They're 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.

In Guilds of Ravnica, the Dimir's quest to uncover the secrets of the force influencing the other guilds is represented by the Surveil mechanic, which lets you view the top of your library, keeping the cards you have use for and culling the rest.

  • 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.
    • In Return to Ravnica, this is subverted a bit. They are still assassins and knowledge brokers, but without Szadek at their helm, they've also branched out into running public libraries and courier services.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Despite sharing two of Bolas's colors, they do not ultimately fall under his control and actively work against his machinations despite not knowing who he is.
  • 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. And with creatures like psychic vampires and mindleech masses, they often steal knowledge literally.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: Since its existence was exposed, Dimir has taken great pains to portray itself as a cowed and reformed organization, made up of clerks, shopkeepers, librarians and couriers. That nice barista that serves you coffee just the way you like couldn't possibly be a superspy capable of rewriting your memories on a whim, that would be ridiculous!
  • 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.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Rakdos are this to them, as keeping secrets is anathema to what the Cult believes. In the Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica, the Rakdos' view on the Dimir is "There's nothing they can learn by eavesdropping that we won't shout freely at the top of our lungs." Conversely, the Dimir view on the Rakdos is "Use them as a distraction, but don't bother with them beyond that."
  • Sinister Surveillance: Needless to say, when House Dimir has its eyes on you, "safe" is the very opposite of how you feel.
  • The Sneaky Guy: Memebers of House Dimir are Ravnica's spies, informants, assassins and secret operatives. Their ranks include creatures who fit this theme such as vampires, shapeshifers and small winged faeries.
  • Sneaky Spider: They essentially operate as Ravnica's Spymasters, Knowledge Brokers, and Professional Killers, and their symbol is a heavily stylized eight-legged spider with a single big eye on its back. They were, in fact, so sneaky that for the longest time, most people believed there were only 9 guilds on Ravnica.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: House Dimir includes doppelgangers amongst its members, who have the ability to assume the form of other people, which comes in handy for a guild of spies, thieves and assassins. Lazav, Szadek's successor, is a doppelganger too. And then there's the Lupuls...
  • The Worm That Walks: The Lupuls; colony-minded swarms of blue-white flesh-eating worms. They are vulnerable to the powers of a Pest Controller, but are a lot smarter than you'd think; they're also capable of assuming the forms of other creatures they have devoured. One featured in the Ravnica novel, and the card Mindleech Mass depicts a Lupul in the game. The creatures were presumed destroyed, but secretly some survived and were brought into House Dimir by Szadek.

    Izzet League (Blue and Red)
Intellect and Ingenuity
Enter those with the vision to create and the daring to release their creations.

The Izzet are the most respected scientists and researchers of Ravnica. Most importantly, they are responsible for maintaining and upgrading Ravnica's public utilities such as plumbing, power, and heating. They even have exclusive dominion over something called Meta-magic (the study of how magic itself functions). Through this, they have the ability called Replicate, which allows an instant or sorcery spell to be copied over as many times as a player can pay the mana cost. This combines blue's knowledge of magic and red's love for instant gratification, to the point that they usually, to quote a particualr youtuber, "discover what they invent after inventing it". 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.

In Guilds of Ravnica, their meta-magic skills are now represented by the Jump-start mechanic, which lets them discard cards in hand to recast previously cast spells.

  • 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. However, some of their cards actually utilize the discarded cards, such as Hypothesizzle (which converts the discarded card into 4 damage) and the Jump-start mechanic (discarding a card with Jump-start to jump-start another spell actually allows you to cast that card later anyway).
  • 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.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Not that they were anything other than mad scientists, but Niv-Mizzet has left and now Bolas controls the guild via Ral. Ral, it turns out had only pretended to betray Niv and had been working for him the entire time.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: They are the primary source of Ravnica's Schizo Tech, creating everything from Spider Tanks to Lightning Guns.
  • 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.
  • Insufferable Genius: Niv-Mizzet is known for his incredible knowledge as well as for its unquenchable vanity.
  • It Gets Easier: Leighbet recall his experience euthanizing lab rat back in his day working in lab
  • 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 senator
    Pyroconvergence: 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."
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The weirds' forms range from vaguely-humanoid blobs of mercury, to winged djinn made out of electricity.
  • Oxymoronic Being: They specialize in creating weirds, entities that combine two opposing elements — typically a Red element such as fire, lightning or rock and Blue one such as ice or water — into a single creature.
  • Proud Scholar Race Guy: They're much more eccentric than most cases, but still count.
  • Shock and Awe: Some of their sorcery cards are electric-based attacks.
  • Space Master: Their forays into cutting edge magical research often take this form, giving them a near monopoly on time- and space-based magic.
  • Steampunk: As a combination of blue's association with water and red's association with fire, the Izzet often make use of steam-powered machinery; See Steam Vents and Izzet Boilerworks.
  • 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.

    Orzhov Syndicate (White and Black)
Wealth and Eternity
Enter to find wealth, security, and eternal life... for just a small price up front.

The Orzhov Syndicate is what would happen if a Ghost became one of those money-hungry Christian televangelists. Because it turns out that in a world of necromancy and undead spirits, you can take it with you. A "religious" organization which resembles a crime family more than a church, they long ago abandoned the worship of anything other than wealth. The Orzhov control virtually all the banks and finances in the city, and they are ruthless in their collection of debts, which can extend even into the debtor's afterlife: their ability word Haunt is emblematic of the permanent, inescapable nature of the guild's contracts, repeating a card's effect a second time when the creature the card haunts dies. The Syndicate disdains flashy demonstrations of force or power, preferring to slowly bleed their enemies dry.

In Gatecrash, the Orzhov Syndicate has gained the Extort keyword, which allows the Orzhov player to, whenever they cast a spell, pay one black or white mana for each permanent with Extort they control to steal that much life from each opponent, strengthening themselves while slowly whittling everybody else down.

In Ravnica Allegiance, the Syndicate's ghostly elements take prominence once again, with the Afterlife mechanic - which allows a creature to produce Spirit tokens when it dies. (Creatures with an afterlife rating of more than 1 generally represent multiple individual creatures to justify the number.)

  • Bat Out of Hell: Bats are often used as fighters by the Orzhov.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Orzhov's angels have given in to feelings of cynicism, resulting in pitch black eyes.
  • Church of Happyology: Membership in the church revolves heavily around paying "tithes", which is natural given it's a basically one giant crime family.
  • Corrupt Church: It's a church on the outside, a crime organization on the inside.
  • Damage Over Time: 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.
  • 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.
    • With Kaya now the Guildmaster and their coup resulting in the forgiveness of debts held by spirits, the meta has doubled down on this trope.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Mafia: Undernearth their religious coating, they're the face of organized crime in Ravnica.
  • 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 overthrow the Obzedat. It doesn't save them from Kaya.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The Orzhov had 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 closest 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.

    Selesnya Conclave (Green and White)
Unity and Harmony
Enter and rejoice! The Conclave stands united, open to one and all.

The Conclave loves to help one another. An all-encompassing nature-based religion, the Selesnya Conclave dedicates itself to the renewal of Ravnica's wild places and the spiritual enrichment of its citizens. However, the bright and friendly face the guild puts on belies a power structure that relentlessly crushes heresy and insubordination, and many of its followers can be safely be considered "brainwashed". In the original Ravnica block, their mechanic was the ability Convoke, which allows creatures to help players cast spells by reducing the cost of a spell with Convoke by one mana of a creature's color for each creature tapped when casting it. This returns as their mechanic for Guilds of Ravnica.

In Return to Ravnica, they gained the Populate mechanic, which allows them to copy creature tokens to swell their ranks.

  • Assimilation Plot: The Conclave's ultimate goal is to reduce the entire world - plants, animals and sapient beings alike - into a singular hive-minded collective organism, where any individual is merely a cog in the greater machine that is the world itself, and ultimately replaceable.
  • 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.
  • The Evils of Free Will: As a result of combining Green Mana's focus on instinct over thought and White Mana's focus on community over individuality, the Selesnya Conclave has come to the belief that individual personalities are one of the blights that they must cure.
  • Garden of Evil: Zigzagged. At first glance, the peaceful gardens and orchards of the Conclave seem paradisaical, with myriad races living in perfect harmony with each other, and with the plants and animals likewise considered part of the greater community. Get on the Worldmind's bad side, however, and every single creature in the location will immediately turn on you and attack you with suicidal zeal, mindlessly giving their lives to either bring you down or delay you until some of the Conclave's bigger nasties - like the Elemental Embodiment of the garden itself - can arrive to destroy you.
  • 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.
    • Light Is Good: Despite the guild's shady history of attempting to assimilate Ravnica into massive garden with one mind, they ultimately do not fall into Bolas' machinations, and in fact are among the first of the guilds to join the fight for Ravnica in War of the Spark.
  • Multiple Head Case: Trostani is a three-headed dryad.
  • The Needs of the Many: The core philosophy that both Green Mana and White Mana share is a focus on the safety and sanctity of the group rather than the individual. As a fusion of both mana types, the Conclave thoroughly believes in doing good, but defines "good" as "benefits the greater group".
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Centaurs that are in this guild tend to be healers and warriors.
  • Our Elves Are Different: 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: To achieve their Assimilation Plot, they brainwash, indoctrinate and murder. Why? Because they believe that this will ultimately create a utopia in which there will no longer be suffering, sorrow, or need, and to that end, whatever they do is justified. Especially since, by their own beliefs, individuality isn't anything to get excited about anyway.

    Simic Combine (Green and Blue)
Evolution and Growth
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.

Their Ravnica Allegiance mechanic, Adapt, is a tweak on the monstrosity mechanic from Theros block, allowing Simic creatures to gain +1/+1 counters - but only if they don't have any such counters on them at present. Since the Simic also have effects allowing them to remove +1/+1 counters for various effects, adapt allows them to constantly grow to fit the situation.

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.
  • Bad Boss: As the flavor text for the Simic Initiate card reveals, standard Simic Combine procedure is to use rookie members of the guild as test-subjects for Bio-Augmentation experiments. The lucky ones come away with useful new mutations or grafts. The unlucky ones dissolve into protoplasmic slime.
    Simic initiates begin their training as experimental subjects. Failures are flushed to the undersewers.
  • Bio-Augmentation: This is the Combine's stock in trade. The Combine's experiments in this field vary from physically grafting organs or limbs to creatures, to the magical equivalent of gene-splicing. Cytoplasts, an alchemical slime that absorbs traits from a "donor" creature and can then infuse those traits to a host-organism it is subsequently bonded to, was their biggest breakthrough in this field prior to the Return to Ravnica storyline; Mormir Vig tried to forcibly apply cytoplasts to Ravnica's population, which made it impossible for them to legitimately sell it afterwards.
  • 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: The Simic Combine began in the ancient past as holistic healers who sought to understand the natural order and gently guide life to its potential. Along the way, they lost track of this and became Mad Scientists of the Evilutionary Biologist variety. After Return to Ravnica, they have officially rediscovered their roots and are trying to return to their holistic practices, whilst still maintaining their love of bio-tinkering.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: This is the basic hat of the Simic Combine as a whole; being biology-focused Mad Scientists, they are obsessed with tinkering with life, constantly mutating existing creatures and breeding new ones from scratch.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with Momir Vig, the former Guildmaster of the Simic Combine, whose experiments include attempting to breed a strain of cytoplast that would force Bio-Augmentation upon Ravnica's population, attempting to exterminate said population to recreate all life from scratch on a "blank canvas", and creating Project Kraj.
  • Garden of Evil: The "nature preservers" of the Combine may look innocent, even ideal at first glance. But they're biological testbeds used as part of their evolutionary experiments. The nicest ones are merely full of whatever bio-engineered horrors the local Combine branch has created. The nastiest ones are hellish ecosystems-in-miniature, where everything is preying on everything else in a constant Darwinian free-for-all.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Project Kraj, a Blob Monster Kaiju created by Momir Vig, which forcibly absorbed every single cytoplast on Ravnica (maiming and/or killing everyone hosting one in the process) and leveled the Simic Combine's guildhall. The trope was mocked in the card's flavor text: “Of course it will grow beyond control — it was designed to choose its own evolution.”
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Cytoplasts, which are magical gene-splicing lumps of alchemically engineered slime, and which were rejected by Ravnicans as a whole. Played with in that, prior to Project Kraj's rampage, the biggest issue was more aesthetic than moral - Ravnicans objected to having lumps of shiny blue-green slime permanently stuck to their bodies. After the cytoplast-based Project Kraj went on the rampage, nobody trusts cytoplasts anymore.
  • 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 Doctor: Officially, they're Ravnica's medical guild, but they often use their doctoring as an excuse to experiment on their patients.
  • Mad Scientist: They're the "obsessive" kind, instead of the Izzet's "amiable madman" kind.
  • Magikarp Power: Their 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. It rises to laughable extremes in Ravnica Allegiance.
  • Organic Technology: The Simic Combine does make use of this to some extent, but precisely how much is unclear. The only card really focusing on this aspect is the Assault Zeppelid, a dirigible-like vehicle made from a lizard.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Simic elves are more gaunt and alien than the standard model, and focus on transmutation magic combined with biomancy.
  • 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.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: The Simic Combine's members readily experiment on themselves, just as they do on their patients; interesting grafts, splices or mutations can be the key to advancing in the Combine's ranks. There are even cards dedicated to this side of them, such as the Beetleform Mage and the Coiling Oracle.
  • 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.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Cytoplasts were not popular outside of the guild; whilst they could grant their hosts all kinds of benefits, such as increased intelligence or strength, they also left their hosts looking disfigured, as cytoplasts were visibly distinct as either tumor-like growths of shiny blue-green meat on the host's body, or a slick layer of blue-green slime. Momir Vig was so convinced that cytoplasts were the key to the future of Ravnica's biological evolution that he attempted to develop a strain of cytoplasts that would seek out hosts and apply itself by force.
  • 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)
Enduring Scales

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.
  • 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.
  • Wolf Man: The ainok dog-men are also part of the Abzan armies.

    Jeskai Way (Blue, with Red and White)
Cunning Eyes

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)
Ruthless Fangs

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)
Swift Wings

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)
Savage Claws

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 Tarkir

After 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.

    Dromoka's Brood (White & Green)
Members of a her family

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 Selesnya's 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)
Students of his word

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)
Scavengers for his hoard.

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 Atarka), 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)
Soldiers of her conquest

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)
Hunters for her hunger

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.


A group of Planeswalkers who vowed to keep the multiverse safe of interplanar threats which only they can handle. Since the group was formed on the plane of Zendikar in order to stop the Eldrazi, they have become the center of Magic's storyline.

  • Current Members: Ajani Goldmane, Jace Beleren, Liliana Vess, Chandra Nalaar, Teferi, Kaya
  • Former Members: Nissa Revanenote , Gideon Juranote 

    The Gatewatch
Those that could leave, and those that chose to stay

  • Dare to Be Badass: The majority of the Gatewatch's members have faced these moments before. Be it by tyrants, petty gods, warmongers, or Knight Templar-ish law enforcers, They have taken the active side and fought to stop their enemies. On Ravnica, during the events of War of the Spark, they encouraged fellow Planeswalkers to stand and fight against Bolas or even join the group.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Gatewatch accepts Black planeswalkers to its ranks as well as any other Planeswalker who wants to protect the multiverse.
  • Five-Man Band: The first five members of the Gatewatch form something like this, with Gideon as The Leader, Liliana as The Lancer, Jace as The Smart Guy, Chandra as The Big Guy and Nissa as The Chick.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Jace (Melancholic), Gideon (Choleric), Chandra (Sanguine), Nissa (Phlegmatic), and Liliana (Eclectic).

Ixalan Factions

In the world (and continentnote ) of Ixalan, four factions vie for control of the Immortal Sun, a mystical artifact.

  • Cool vs. Awesome: A four-side battle royale between pirates, shaman merfolks, vampire conquistadores and dinosaur-riding Mayincatec warriors.
  • 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 (White, Green and Red) 
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, strengthening 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. And now their emperor wants to Take Over the World...
  • Magical Native American: Downplayed. 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 (Red, Black and Blue) 
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. They consist of humans, orcs, goblins and sirens. 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.
  • Action Girl: There are plenty of female pirates in the Coalition. In fact, the closest thing the Coalition has to a singular leader is Admiral Beckett Brass, an elderly but ferocious and well-respected female pirate.
  • 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. As such, the planeswalkers Angrath (a Minotaur) and Vraska (a Gorgon) had little trouble becoming pirate captains, despite their races not being native to the plane as far as we know.
  • Walk the Plank: Apparently a common practice among the Brazen Coalition. It's even represented on a card.

    The Legion of Dusk (Black and White) 
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. As vampires have Super Toughness and prefer to fight at night, it's justifiable.
  • Creepy Catholicism: They employ many aesthetics associated with it given they are an fantasy counterpart to Spain, which is fiercely Catholic.
  • Corrupt Church: They are a religious order (well, several religious orders and a kingdom) that are run by the parasitic undead. It's ultimately revealed at the climax of the Ixalan storyline that their beliefs about vampirism's purpose have... drifted what their founder originally intended them to be. When Saint Elenda is awoken, she is horrified to find out how the church has twisted her message, and sets out to force a reformation.
  • Dark Is Evil/Light Is Not Good: Black/White aligned and generally the least sympathetic of the four factions. Combine the legendary arrogance of Conquistador-era Spaniards with the need for blood of vampires, and you have the Legion of Dusk in a nutshell; they more than match up the atrocities of their inspiration.
    • And in the official storyline Unbowed, we see that their civilization back in Torrezon is even worse. The non-vampire denizens of Torrezon are slaves in everything but name, living in desperate terror of being convicted of a crime and sentenced to be drained to death, reduced to selling their life's blood drop by drop as currency for their vampiric masters. The vampires themselves regard slowly torturing animals to death as the highest form of artistic entertainments.
    • Both tropes are inverted with Saint Elenda, founder of the religion, herself, however. She is a nearly completely straight Jeanne d'Archétype who is absolutely mortified to discover what Torrezon has become in her absence, and promptly starts leading a resistance movement.
  • Dashing Hispanic: They dress like conquistadors and have many Hispanic-sounding names. They are definitely an evil example since they are tough as nails and very brutish.
  • Doomed by Canon: The official alternate endings article reveals that, if the Legion had won control of Orazca, Saint Elenda would have left Vona, The Butcher of Magan, to claim the city as her own... and Vona would have been promptly eaten by a monstrosaur after the other vampires had left.
  • Egopolis: A variant; Torrezon was originally the name of the province where the monastic order that became the Legion of Dusk originated. After seven centuries of war, they conquered the entire continent and renamed it after their original homeland. That said, the story Unbowed shows that the capital city of the vampire's kingdom is called Luneau.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: To the Spanish Conquistadors.
  • Evil Colonialist: Like their real-life inspirations they are fanatical and greedy monsters, with the added bonus of being undead freaks.
  • Forever War: Because the vampires of the Legion are legally only allowed to feed on the "deserving", they are forced to constantly seek new opponents to wage war upon in order to have a continuous supply of blood. This is why they conquered Torrezon, and would have probably sent them to Ixalan even if they hadn't been in pursuit of the Immortal Sun.
  • Noble Demon: Zigzagged. Playing the trope straight, they view vampirism very differently than most vampires; to the Legion of Dusk, vampirism is a holy sacrifice, intended to allow one to serve the faith as an undying agent beyond the limitations of mortal life, with the need for blood being a form of martyrdom. Rather than be bloodthirsty hunters that prey on humans, they strictly drain blood from convicted criminals or other individuals they deem deserving. This is reflected by having the first instances of pure White vampires in Magic history. The subversion comes because the vampire's morality is thoroughly questionable; beyond the fact that whether you're "deserving" is often decided by the vampires, occasionally at the moment they drain your blood, it's made clear that many vampires are in it for power alone, and their theology has shifted away from "vampirism as martyrdom" to "vampirism is an imperfect form of immortality that must be transcended through the Immortal Sun". Their culture is also arrogant and horrifically barbaric, as demonstrated in Unbowed.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Gray-white in skin, deeply religious, and pointy-eared, in this case.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil:
    • By the end of the Unbowed storyline, the Legion's capital city of Luneau has been ravaged by a massive outbreak of dinosaurs and other beasts unleashed by the Eco-Terrorist planeswalker Vivien Reid. She did this in no small part as retaliation for the vampires' rapine attitude towards the creatures of Ixalan's wilderness, as they considered slowly torturing animals to death to be entertainment.
  • Religious Vampire: Their entire hat. They're a theocracy that treats vampirism like a sacrament in itself.
  • 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.
  • Token Evil Teammate: It's made clear that whilst some vampires are genuinely devout, there are also plenty who see the Legion as a path to power and eternal life, or simply take pleasure in preying on those who can't stop them. The named character Vona, The Butcher of Magan, is a perfect example.
  • The Tragic Rose: Their iconography uses both red and black roses to symbolize 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 (Blue and Green) 
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.


    The Five Clans 


Nomadic explorers who sail Bretagard's seas, seeking paths to other realms.
  • Bold Explorer: The Omenseekers spend most of their time sailing through the seas of Bretagard in a neverending quest to explore and discover, and put a great deal of effort in searching for ways to travel into and explore the other realms as well.


Fierce barbarians from the Tusk Mountains, the Tuskeri are obsessed with winning glory and honor in battle.
  • Blood Knight: The Tuskeri are obsessed with battle and warfare, and don't need much of an excuse to go to war beyond being bored. They're extremely disorganized warriors, disregarding strategy and tactics in favor of enthusiastically throwing themselves into the thickest frays and attempting over-the-top heroics without paying much attention to what their fellows are doing. This gets them killed pretty regularly, but the Tuskeri see glorious death in battle as their highest calling in life anyway.


A nomadic clan who wanders the depths of the Aldergard forest, the Kannah were cursed to bring an endless winter with them wherever they go.
  • Curse: In the ancient past, the Kannah were cursed to forever remain trapped in the Adelgard. Ever after, Kannah expeditions who try to leave the forest are hounded by ferocious winter conditions that eventually force them to turn back.
  • Endless Winter: When Kannah groups or individuals try to venture past the Adelgard, they are followed by bitter winter conditions and constant snowfall that never abate, which quickly make travel impossible and force them to head back into the woods. The site where they believe the were first cursed, the Cursed Tree at the Aldergard's edge, is covered in snow throughout the year.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The Kannah despise the gods, both the unknown ones who first cursed them and the current ones who never bothered to ease their conditions, and anything related to them, including the Cosmos monsters. They aim to kill the Cosmos Serpent, which they believe will give them enough power to destroy the Skoti gods, end their curse, and claim Starnheim for themselves.

The Five Colleges of Strixhaven

On the plane of Arcavios lies the most elite magic university in the multiverse, Strixhaven. Made up of five individual colleges that each compete with their own takes on magic; each college is named after the Elder Dragon that founded it.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Each college has two deans, each one representing one of the opposing colors the college is aligned with.
  • Team Mascot: Each college has its own mascot, which are used in Wizard Tower.

Velomachus Lorehold

Using Red and White mana and with the motto of "Leave no stone unturned." Lorehold is made up of passionate scholars and explorers who explore and study the past.

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: One half of the Lorehold student body are made up of these.
  • Cavalry of the Dead: Their mascots are Spirits, which are represented as long-dead souls inhabiting statues that represent them.
  • Familiar: The Lorehold subclass for Dungeons & Dragons can summon an ancestral ghost to serve as this.
  • Military Mage: Not in the same way as Silverquill, but Hoplology and Military Science are among their majors...that, and a number of their students like Quintorious Kand tend to come from military academies.
  • Necromancy: Of sorts. While they don't bring the dead back to life like Black does, their playstyle revolves heavily around the graveyard, with effects that happen when cards are removed from the graveyard, whether exiled or put in your hand.
  • Order vs. Chaos: A key subject for Lorehold, whose students differ on whether history should be seen as an orderly or chaotic series of events, with the deans Augusta (White) and Plargg (Red) representing Order and Chaos respectively.
  • Throw the Book at Them: They're on the Red side of the argument, but Scrollbashers and Tomewielders are known to literally bash people over the head with books whenever they're not using the words to cast really dangerous spells.

Galazeth Prismari

Using Blue and Red mana and with the motto of "Express yourself with the elements." Prismari mages focus on the artistic side of magic, creating art using elemental forces.

  • Magic Dance: Prismari teaches gesture-based magic, shaping mana through body motions and gestures.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: They often combine Ice and Fire together.

Tanazir Quandrix
Using Green and Blue mana and with the motto of "Math is magic.'' Quandrix is made up of mathematician wizards who see math and magic as one and the same.
  • The Engineer: Unsurprisingly for a campus that's very centered on math magic, engineering is among their majors.
  • Fantastic Science: As far as Quandrix are concerned, math is magic.
  • Formulaic Magic: The incorperate mathematics into their spellcasting. One of their students is even the trope image.
  • Mascot Mook: They summon Fractals as their mascots, essentially math-elementals.
  • Mother Nature, Father Science: Green dean Kianne is all about using magic to bring the formulas to life, while Blue dean Imbrahim represents the theoretical side of Quandrix.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: A lot of their magic creates living fractals that are still somehow shaped exactly like animals. As a matter of fact, their mascots are called Fractals.

Shadrix Silverquill

Using White and Black mana and with the motto of "Sharp style. Sharper wit." Silverquill specializes in verbal magic, whether empowering poetry to biting arcane insults.

  • Alpha Bitch: Unsurprisingly, most examples of this trope end up here, as Silverquill creates a lot of bullies and elitists.
  • Blob Monster: Silverquill's mascots are Inklings, creatures made of ink and magic.
  • The Bully: When your school's primary form of offense magic is hurling lethal insults at someone, being a bully is almost a requirement. One of the best examples is the creature card Spiteful Squad which shows a trio of Silverquill students harassing a poor first-year student and demanding them pay a toll to walk in that hallway!
  • Expy: Silverquill is the only college that directly paralells a Hogwarts house, being based on the snide better-than-yous of Slytherin, though they aren't quite as antagonistic.
  • Mascot Mooks: Silverquill students summon Inklings to their side, ink-elementals.
  • Military Mage: Due to having the fastest casting style via verbal magic, Silverquill is the favored college for combat magics.
  • Rousing Speech: They can empower others using these.
  • Warrior vs. Sorcerer: In a way, with Black dean Embrose Lu being the Warrior, and White dean Shale Talonrook being the Sorceress, which reflects on their debate on whether words should be used to strike down enemies (Black) or to help allies (White).
  • Words Can Break My Bones: Their insults can literally cut you like a knife.

Beledros Witherbloom
Using Black and Green mana and with the motto of "Get your hands dirty." Witherbloom contains nature mages capable of empowering nature... or exploiting it.
  • Biomanipulation: The form their magic takes.
  • Green Thumb: Unsurprisingly for a campus that's affiliated with Green, quite a few of their spells manifest this way...and in fact, one of their majors is Botany.
  • Mascot Mook: Witherbloom's mascots are the Pests, ugly creatures that they mostly use as fodder to power their magic.
  • Magic Potion: Witherbloom teaches "component magic": potions and elixirs made out of harvested ingredients.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Valentin is the Black dean, representing the death side of Witherbloom, while Lisette the Green dean represents life.

Unstable Factions

During 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: All five factions qualify in some manner:
    • The League of Dastardly Doom are classical villainous mad scientists, using everything from death rays to zombies and even having predominantly brain creatures called "brainiacs".
    • Crossbreed Labs are relatively benevolent but still insane biologists who splice creatures together.
    • The Goblin Explosioneers are a bunch of reckless slap-dash inventors whose contraptions all seem to be Made of Explodium.
    • The Order of the Widget are a society of bizarre Cyborgs whose sole goal in life seems to be to transform themselves into transhuman superbeings For Science! (and who are weirdly obsessed with toast).
    • The Agents of S.N.E.A.K have more interest in acquiring gadgets than actually spying, and some of their cards indicate they have something of a Psycho Psychologist streak to boot.

    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 not 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 stealth operatives, has a number of shinobi on the payroll. Of course, this being S.N.E.A.K., said ninjas are not very 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.
  • Poe's Law: One of the theories as to S.N.E.A.K.'s organizational purpose is that it's actually a prank by one of the other factions that got way out of hand. Nobody has been able to come up with conclusive proof one way or the other on that theory.

    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.

    Crossbreed Labs
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.


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