Last night, some big news broke on the mothership - we now have an idea of how the much-speculated-on Dragon's Maze prereleases are going to work, and how similar and different they're going to be from the Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash events. But not all our questions were answered, and the ambiguity of some of the wording of that announcement only prompted a further fusillade of baseless speculation and confused emails to Wizards of the Coast.
Tonight, Mark Rosewater has publicly posted on his Tumblr blog about the confusion, and the Arcana article has been updated. Rosewater promised that the rewritten version should "help clarify a bunch of things," and it certainly has: the mystery of the promised double-guild packs has been solved.
At the Dragon's Maze prereleases, players won't actually get to pick two guilds, per se. Instead they'll pick one out of any of the ten Ravnican guilds and will secretly get given cards for another of them. This is termed "secret alliances," and it works like this - You pick a Return to Ravnica guild, and you'll get a Gatecrash guild that shares a color with your chosen guild to play with as well, and vice-versa. Hence, the possible choices look like this, with your chosen guild listed first and the secret alliance guilds second:
- Azorius plus Dimir, Simic, Boros, or Orzhov
- Dimir plus Azorius, Izzet, Rakdos, or Golgari
- Rakdos plus Dimir, Boros, Orzhov, or Gruul
- Gruul plus Izzet, Rakdos, Selesnya, or Golgari
- Selesnya plus Gruul, Boros, Orzhov, or Simic
- Orzhov plus Selesnya, Rakdos, Azorius, or Golgari
- Boros plus Selesnya, Izzet, Azorius, or Rakdos
- Izzet plus Dimir, Gruul, Boros, or Simic
- Simic plus Golgari, Azorius, Selesnya, or Izzet
- Golgari plus Dimir, Simic, Orzhov, or Gruul
As you can tell, that's a lot of different combinations. The fact that this is happening at the prerelease seems to poke a hole in the idea that Dragon's Maze will have any sort of triple-color-multicolor (arc or wedge) theme, since although everyone will get exactly three colors among their double guild packs, both arcs and wedges will be represented at random, and for a cohesive tricolor theme to exist the set could only be designed to support one of those two categories.
The goal of all this may be to encourage inter-set mechanical synergy, since the two "twinned" sets of Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash were deliberately designed for that. In today's Making Magic, Mark referred to the interactions between Stolen Identity and populate as "a little taste of things to come," which seems to imply that tense guild alliances are going to form the foundation of the Dragon's Maze backstory.