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Ravnica Allegiance – an MtG Set Overview

Ravnica Allegiance is the most recent expansion released for Magic: The Gathering. It features the continuation of the long running narrative featuring the planeswalkers in the “Gatewatch” and the would-be dragon god Nicol Bolas. Bolas is up to something, and is trying to pit the various planeswalkers against each other. What is he up to? We shall soon find out!

Ravnica Allegiance Set Info

  • Release Date: January 25, 2019
  • Card Count: 259
  • Available for purchase as:
    • Ravnica Allegiance Bundle
    • Ravnica Allegiance Booster Box
    • Ravnica Allegiance Guild themed booster packs – 30 cards including 1-2 rares or mythic rares
    • Ravnica Allegiance Collector’s Booster Packs – 15 cards included 3 rare or mythic rare
    • Ravnica Allegiance Planeswalker Decks – 60 cards, 2 booster packs, code for the deck in MtG Arena
    • Ravnica Allegiance Deckbuilder’s Toolkit – 125 cards, 100 basic lands

Ravnica Allegiance Guilds

One of the key features of Ravnica is its assortment of Guilds. These organizations represent different color pairings. Wizards designers used those color pairings to help create personalities for the guilds and use those personalities to determine their abilities.

The Grull Çlan – Red/Green

The Grull clan is a band of violent warriors the break, bash, and crash through the expanding edges of civilized space. Order and subtlety have no place in their tactics or their home on the Rubblebelt. The Grull represent the aggressive force and overwhelming strength of red and green.

Riot Cards ask you questions related to the board state. Do you need to crash in quickly or build big?

The Orzhov Syndicate – Black/White

The Orzhov Syndicate is institution both religious and financial. Money and power are brokered by clerics both living and dead, and those who default to their debts end up paying in blood and spirit. The Orzhov represent black and white’s mastery of the forces of life and death.

Afterlife cards reinforce the value of card advantage, specifically that afterlife creatures will often take more than one card to deal with.

The Simic Combine – Blue/Green

The Simic Combine is devoted to growth through physical evolution. What is strong can always be made stronger. Their wizards barrow from all manner of natural and magical creature to augment themselves. The Simic represent blue and green control over the forces of nature.

Adapt reinforces the idea of a consistent mana curve by giving early game cards that also have powerful late game effects.

The Rakdos Carnival – Black/Red

The Rakdos Carnival is a never ending show of grim comedy and violence . The performers fuel their works through blood, pain and flames and when they eventually themselves die in the act… an audience member will do just as well. The Rakdos represent the relentless violence of Black and Red.

Spectacle cares a lot about order of operations and sequencing events. Spectacle cards work best when you cast them in the right situation (most often after combat) or in the right sequence.

The Azorious Senate – Blue/White

The Azorious Senate sits in a position of absolute control. Their goal in the sprawling Ravnica is to enforce an endless number of rules and regulations, and to bind and imprison those who defy the law… or their authority as lawgivers. The Azorious represent the absolute order of blue and white.

Addendum cards teach about timing in magic. They are instants (or cards that can be played at instant speed) so they could be cast any times, but they are more powerful when they are played during your turn (during the main phase). Beginner players often have trouble with instances/responses/the stack. These cards might not be what players want to play with, but they are cool to play against.

Hybrid Mana and Split Cards

Hybrid mana is a type of mana that first appeared in the original Ravnica block. It represents a cost that can be paid with either type of mana represented in the cost. Visually this is represented by using a design that incorporates both colors and small versions of the mana symbols within the a circle.

It allows for increased flexibility in deck-building because cards with hybrid mana in their cost can be used by either color even if the deck was being designed to be only one color. For example, you can use a black/white hybrid creature in a mono-colored white deck. The added flexibility is valuable in decks that are both colors, but it isn’t required.

Split Cards first appears during a block called “Invasion.” These are cards that are printed sideways on the standard magic card. They are, essentially, two separate spells printed on one card. If you have that split-card in your hand, then you may choose to pay the mana cost for either spell on that card and cast that spell.

Resources from Around the Web

Magic: The Gathering is a very popular game so there are many, many great resources across the web. Below are just a few of the resources that are specifically related to Ravnica: Allegiance that we thought you might want to look at.

Rules Explanation Video

Loading Ready Run has created a wonderful rules overview to help explain the different mechanics and rules at play when using Ravnica Allegiance cards.

Visual Spoiler

Wizards of the Coast has a Visual Spoiler that includes images of all of the cards in the set.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Wizards of the Coast Unveils the next Magic: The Gathering Expansion”War of the Spark”

This past weekend was not only PAX East, but it also featured the first Mythic Championship AND a panel featuring the full unveiling of the next expansion for Magic: The Gathering.

War of the Spark is the next set. It will be released on May 3rd, 2019 and will feature the dramatic conclusion to a story that has been building up for years. (Yes. You read that right. Magic has had a continuous story that has been building up to this moment.) Nicol Bolas (a crazy elder dragon who is seeking ultimate power) has been visiting various planes to gather armies (Ahmonket) and artifacts of great power (Ixalan) to help him attack the city of Ravnica. His goal has been to dominate the city and draw planeswalkers from across the multiverse to attack him and stop him. Why, you might ask? Because he is laying a trap for them. It’s all very intense and will play out through the themes represented in the cards and their art.

War of The Spark preview season is going to include card previews for every card in the set, instead of single card reveals. These previews happen ing in the next couple of weeks will now feature sets of five cards, and are going to be from every level of rarity, and for all types of players. These cards will be used to tell a complete scene in the ongoing story in War of The Spark

Planeswalkers Matter

War of The Spark will feature thirty six planeswalkers, with one planeswalker as the buy-a-box promo. With the previous promise of a planeswalker in ever pack, we now know they are going to fulfill that promise with planeswalkers at various rarities (The infinite cohost called it). There are going to be twenty uncommon, twelve Rare, and three mythic planeswalkers in the set. These characters are drawn from throughout the multiverse of Magic and throughout its history.

In addition to uncommon and rare planeswalkers, War of The Spark features new abilities and mana costs never seen before on cards before. Hybrid mana symbols are being printed on planeswalkers for the first time ever, allowing for flexible casting costs and fitting them in as many decks as possible. Wizards also confirmed in their War of The Spark Panel at Pax that all thirty seven planeswalkers will feature a static or triggered ability as part of their rules text.

Having abilities on planeswalkers where their vary presence influence the battlefield leads to many more opportunities for cool cards and cool play

Positive Proliferation

Proliferate shows up as a returning mechanic for War of The Spark. Last featured in the Scars of Mirrodin block, this mechanic lets you add any kind of counter to any number of permanents that you own. Which not only supports planeswalkers but creatures with +1 counters.

Amass an Army

Amass is a key word focusing around the Dreadhorde, Nicol Bolas’s personal army of zombie warriors. Each card with Amass lets you create a zombie army token with +1/+1 counters or add more counters to your existing creature. The intent behind the ability is to create a single giant creature to destroy your opponent in only a few crushing attacks. Where it lacks in its ability to create multiple army tokens, the ability to go big leads to a massive creature dominating the battle field. Hope you don’t find a way to give it trample!

That Trailer Though

The War of the Spark trailer is the most viewed trailer in the history of Magic for a reason. Give it a look!

I didn’t know I wanted a CGI Magic Movie until right now.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Episode 169: Initial Thoughts on Competitive Play

This week Stephen and Amanda share their thoughts on competitive play in games like Magic The Gathering, Warhammer 40K, and others.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Exploring “Ixalan:” the Newest Expansion for Magic: The Gathering!

Ixalan is a set of cards that was released on September 29, 2017  for Magic: The Gathering. Ixalan tells a story about the immediate aftermath of Hour of Devastation. The defeated planeswalker Jace Beleren finds himself marooned on a plane of existence that he cannot leave. It is a plane filled with adventure and mystery as four factions race to a mysterious golden city in the heart of a dangerous jungle. Ixalan features cards that represent the dangers of the jungle and the glory of exploration.

Why is it Awesome?

Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk, Dinosaurs, Treasure, Exploration: These things light up the imagination of gamers young and old. I have not seen a set of magic released with more appeal to younger gamers. To further reinforce the appeal to younger gamers, Ixalan features four separate creature-based strategies to build decks around. With cards of all power levels and rarities, there are a lot of strategies that can be played at any level of investment.

You can see the full visual spoiler here.

Dinosaurs are all the rage!

Drover of the Mighty

Sun Crowned Hunters

Kinjali’s Caller

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

In this set, Dinosaurs are big scary creatures that come charging in early in the game thanks to their human allies. Dinosaurs span the red, white, and green colors of Magic as they represent three different ways to shake the ground and crush your opponent. Dinosaurs all share the enrage mechanic, which triggers whenever they take damage from a creature or a spell. Do not hurt them, you will only make them mad!

Vampires of a different color!

Queen’s Commission

Skymarch Bloodletter

Vona, Butcher of Magan

Vampires from a far away land sail to the island of Ixalan for honor and glory. White vampires make an addition along with their classic black brethren to the game of Magic, as the entire set focuses on creating lots of vampires, and gaining and draining life from their opponents. This excess of life then gets used to fuel powerful effects, where the only payment is blood.

Pirates be after the booty!

Pirate’s Prize

Deadeye Tormentor

Rigging Runner

Admiral Becket Brass

Pirates patrol the waters of Ixalan and are on the hunt for buried treasure. Pirates care about two things: attacking and finding treasure. Raid is an ability shared amongst the red, blue and black colors of Magic that gives additional value if you attacked this turn. Raid rewards players for casting their creatures and spells after combat, when their pirate crews have swung in for damage. Pirates also love treasure! Many spells and creatures create artifact tokens called Treasures that can be traded in for mana at a later time. It is uncommon for these colors to have access to mana creation, be sure to take advantage of it.

Merfolk weave growth and trickery!

Jade Guardian

Watertrap Weaver

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

Merfolk mix the colors of green and blue in Magic to create a theme of growth and trickery. The new addition of green merfolk place +1/+1 counters on other merfolk to make them permanently bigger, while blue merfolk continue to lock down your opponent’s creatures and fly or swim past those with a chance to block.

Should you buy this stuff?

If you are a family gamer who already plays Magic: The Gathering, heading to your local game store or internet card provider is a no-brainer. If you have been interested in coming into this game on the ground floor, there has never been a better time, as this set features four creature based deck building strategies. Combined with cards from the recent Ahmonket and Kaladesh expansion, you can take your deck to the kitchen table or local Friday Night Magic event near you.

Here are some great options for Ixalan products you can buy!

Planeswalker Decks: Jace, Ingenious Mind Mage & Huatli, Dinosaur Knight

The ease of accessibility for this set starts with the two ready to play constructed decks that Wizards of the Coast releases with every new set. This time around the deck features Jace with a force of blue and green merfolk and Huatli, a new planeswalker, who leads and empowers an army of red and white dinosaurs. These decks have always been very solid introductory products, and this recent addition does not stray from that standard.

The Ixalan Bundle Pack

Bundle packs are a great way to buy into a set of Magic: The Gathering cards. They include 10 packs of cards, a spin-down life counter, a pack of land cards, and a nice box to store your cards in.

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Our sons first Friday Night Magic

A few weeks back, Flagship Comics and Games in Southington, CT closed after being in operation for a number of years. I spent a lot of time playing in Friday Night Magic tournaments there and I wanted to help celebrate with them as they ended their run.

As the weeks ran down to the event Evan chimed in and told me that he would like to play. I, honestly, hadn’t thought that he would have any interest in card tournaments yet, but who was I to question him? We set out immediately to build him a deck worthy of a true champion and started practicing every night in order to get ready.

The day finally came and I decided to forgo playing in the tournament myself in order to get a chance to watch him play and record it for posterity. I figured… I have a website, so why not take advantage.

He decided that he wanted to play with humans, so we build him a green/white deck that followed the template of decks online (more or less). He practiced with it a bunch, and was feeling very comfortable with it by the time FNM came around.

I’m going to try my hand at writing this up like a tournament report that the Magic Pros write. If for nothing else it should be entertaining to write. Here’s hoping it is also interesting to read.

Evan 4


Evan’s Dudes


  • Thraben Inspector – 4
  • Dragon Hunter – 4
  • Town Gossipmonger – 4
  • Expedition Envoy – 1
  • Consul’s Lieutenant – 1
  • Hanweird Militia Captain – 4
  • Duskwatch Recruiter – 4
  • Sylvan Advocate – 1
  • Heron’s Grace Champion – 1


  • Gryff’s Boon – 4
  • Always Watching – 3
  • Stasis Snare – 4
  • Declaration in Stone – 2


  • Plains – 11
  • Forest – 5
  • Fortified Village 4

If we’re being honest with ourselves, this isn’t the best deck out there., but it was built based on what we had and Evan loved it.

He almost got a bye for the first round, but the tournament organizer reset everything to make sure he played. Evan was actually a little bummed because he knew a bye would help him, but he soldiered on.

Round One

Blue/Black Allies

This was neat because Evan’s first opponent was a younger kid who was  very excited to be playing. Evan lost, but he wasn’t intimidated or frustrated.

Evan opened very strong with a pair of Dragon hunters in game one. But, his opponent responded very quickly with several allies that drained his life quickly and eliminated his life lead. It was all over after that. Evan learned pretty quickly that swinging into a crowded board is dangerous. He DID have a very good play where he Stasis Snared a seemingly random critter on his opponents turn in order to be able to use declaration in Stone the next turn and exile two of his opponents creatures on the next turn.

Game two Evan elected to draw which was an odd play for sure. An early Drana, Liberator of Malakir was game over really fast.

Round Two


His opponent here was a younger guy in his twenties. I’m honestly so sure about his age to be honest, but he was vaping so he definitely wasn’t a kid. This player was nice enough, but he didn’t really interact with Evan at all. I got the feeling initially that Evan was a little intimidated, but he just played the game as I expected him to.

A few combat misplays hurt Evan during game one after he got out to a blistering lead. Bottom line? Trample is a very strong effect when played against creatures with very little toughness.

The same thing happened during the second round.

Evan and I had a little coaching session afterwards where I talked about how he needed to be more aware of both his cards and his opponent’s cards.

Round Three

Black/Red Madness

HIs opponent was a very nice older guy who was there with his son. He was exactly the kind of player I was hoping my son would go up against because he was patient, and took the time to explain the effects of whatever he was doing to my son. This was a tough match for Evan, but I think he learned the most out of all of his games here because his opponent was playing a lot of creatures that were of similar size.

Evan won his first game here on the back of a very fast creature rush. His opponent couldn’t keep up and conceded early.

His second game didn’t go nearly as well because of a lack of white mana. His opponent, on the other hand, had no such problem.

They went to game three which ended up being a slugfest that lasted a very long time. Evan had to make a lot of really hard decisions in combat like who to block and what to attack. He made most of his decisions correctly, but eventually he swing his only two humans into an impenetrable wall and gave his opponent the win.

Round 4


He was, unfortunately, the only person with an 0-3 record so the computer sat him with the bye. He was ok with it though, because it gave him a chance to sit back and watch how the other games were played and look at some cards.

He didn’t do well enough to earn any prizes at the end, but he was thrilled to have participated. The whole ride home he was talking about building decks and when he could go to another Friday Night Magic.

We both learned a lot from the experience.

He learned about the value of friendly competition. He learned how to keep a cool head, even when he was losing, and just enjoy playing the game. I was very proud of the fact that he didn’t look beaten down even after being so badly beaten on.

The lesson I learned that night was pretty simple. Tournaments, especially Friday Night Magic, is a great place to help build excitement for a game like Magic. Everyone wants to be there and is excited to get a chance to play. This excitement can be felt throughout the room as rounds start and people get to their seats. It can’t help but infect anxious players and get them amped up to play again.

If you want to bring your family to an event like this go here to help locate a card shop near you that holds them!

Tired at the end of it all!

Tired at the end of it all!

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