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What-If Ravnica, Part 5: The Granen University, an Alternate White-Blue Guild

Because nobody really knows the words to the alma mater anyway.
Because nobody really knows the words to the alma mater anyway.
magicthegathering.com

My last guild rebuild, the black-red Yareele Gourmets, was slightly offbeat, so time to do a more traditional one. First, the usual intro:

Ravnica is an immensely well-regarded plane, and most of its fans love it because of the guild system, allowing each of the ten two-color combinations to get relatively equal representation, its own identity, and a new keyword. And the ten guilds do capture the essence of what their colors are about, philosophically and mechanically - or at least part of it. Individual colors are deep enough that their philosophical essences can't be pinned down in one word, of course, and so are the intersections of two colors. And it becomes problematic when players think that all two-color cards, concepts, or factions need to fall in line with the appropriate Ravnica guild's beliefs.

So, as a thought experiment, and partly as speculation for the future of multicolor sets and perhaps even Ravnica itself, I will propose versions of Ravnica guilds that might have existed if R&D had chosen to focus on different aspects of the colors that make them up.

As I noted last time, I haven't done any of the part-blue color combinations yet, so time for the first one. What better choice than the first two-color combination that appears in the color wheel: White-blue?

White and blue are as "lawful good" as black and red are "chaotic evil," traditionally. There are sufficient differences between the two (white is much, much better at combat and has life gain and manipulation, while blue instead gets card drawing and spell manipulation), but mechanically there's a lot they agree on - flying creatures, particularly large ones; tapping; blinking; tax-type effects; and generally control and lockdown play. And therein lies the problem with the white-blue guild, the Azorius Senate.

How the Azorius are designed is perfect for their flavor as obstructionist lawmakers, which is good. The bad part is that means their gameplay style is inherently repetitive and not proactive. These are not things control has to be - it's possible for a deck to adopt a reactive, defensive, even durdly stance without sacrificing fun or accomplishing real goals. It's possible for a deck to lock down an opponent's in order to win and still have all parties involved feel like they're doing something. But the Azorius first got as their keyword forecast, which, while interesting in theory, encourages a player to never actually use any of their cards and just keep them in their hand to do the same things every turn with; and then detain, which while fine from both a balance and varied-gameplay perspective, is purely reactive (it's something you use on your opponents' permanents to stop them) and hard to build a theme around.

Fortunately, many more social institutions than lawmaking bodies are white-blue in flavor - higher education springs to mind, with its blend of white idealism and blue knowledge-seeking to create a positive and proactive guild that can still be controlling, rather than the Azorius' "all stuffiness, all the time." Hence MTGSalvation.com user Cardz5000's Granen University.

The Granen University stands as the pinnacle of scholastic enlightenment. Wizards, Advisors and Artificers each studying and reaching for the top of their respective fields. While many of the students will move onto other guilds, some of those with a thirst for knowledge stay becoming professors themselves and striving to advance society to the next level by passing their knowledge onto the next generation.

My Study, My Enlightenment, My Guild

Guild Mechanic: Tenure
There are many brilliant minds among the halls of Granen University, both in the students and their professors, but when a professor is tenured she must resign herself from direct conflict. Tenure allows you to cast some of your best and brightest creatures for a cheaper cost, but with this cost comes a massive downside: Tenured creatures can't attack or block. Luckily, the most valuable part of a Granen alum is his mind, and while he might not be able to participate in combat you can be sure he will pull his weight with any number of powerful abilities!

Sphinx of Founder's Dome 6WU

Creature - Sphinx (Mythic)

Flying

Tenure 3WU

XWU: Exile target nontoken creature with converted mana cost X.

At the beginning of your upkeep, return each creature card exiled with Sphinx of Founder's Dome to the battlefield under your control.

6/8

Venerated Professor 4WU

Creature - Elephant Wizard (Rare)

At the beginning of your upkeep, draw a card.

Tenure 3WU

As long as Venerated Professor is tenured, whenever you draw a card, gain 1 life.

3/3

Tranquil Quad

Land (Rare)

As Tranquil Quad enters the battlefield, sacrifice an untapped land.

Tap: Add WU to your mana pool.

Illuminated Studies 1WU

Sorcery (Uncommon)

Reveal at the top three cards of your library. You gain life equal to their total converted mana cost, then put them back in any order.

Stoic Analysts 3U

Creature - Human Advisor (Common)

Tap: Look at the top card of target library. You may put that card third from the top of that library.

Tenure UU (You may cast this spell for its tenure cost. If you do, it can't attack or block as long as you control it.)

1/2