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Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica: Is this for D&D Players or for Magic Fans?

I know jack squat about Magic: The Gathering, which is a heck of a way to start a review of D&D’s Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, the new sourcebook from Wizards of the Coast that brings Magic lore into D&D. By current Internet logic, the fact that I know nothing about Magic should lead me to start streaming about it because, hey!, lack of expertise or insight clearly isn’t stopping anyone from hot takes these days.

Instead, I’ll simply share the basic outline of the book, then end with a few thoughts on how I felt about the content as someone who was wholly new to Magic lore. Let’s get started.

Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica is 256 pages. The lead designer is James Wyatt, a veteran of old school D&D who knows works on the story team for Magic: The Gathering. Wyatt is WONDERFUL. If you are familiar with him at all, you already know his talent. He shines in the writing of the book. The text is clean, straight-forward, understandable, and snappy. It’s a fine book to simply read and the opening gives a nice sense of Ravnica in just a few pages!

  1. Chapter 1 deals with character creation. It adds races that aren’t currently a part of D&D 5e but are internal to Magic. Further, it introduces the concept of Guilds and adds subclass options. It’s cool and homebrewers will be greedy for it.
  2. Next is 70 pages on the ten Guilds of Ravnica. While this might seem like a lot, the Guild structure is integral to the City of Ravica (which I came to understand covered the entire planet). Each is distinct and engaging, so it left me wondering why I’ve been such a dummy and haven’t dabbled in Magic lore before. Further, this fits D&D perfectly in that there are adventuring hooks aplenty.
  3. The Tenth District is a hub of Ravnica, so just that area got twenty pages of coverage in the book. It was cool and helped ground things in a location. (It reminds me a bit of Eberron with a little Dragonlance to boot.)
  4. Next, Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica gives some DM instruction. I wasn’t expecting 40 pages to help Dungeon Masters create adventures, but that was chapter four. It was good stuff with plenty of villains and hooks, plus it was another area where veteran Wyatt shines.
  5. The book closes with more useful stuff. The last 80 pages are magic items, treasure, NPC stat blocks, maps, creatures, and more. The book gives folks what they want and what they need.

I’m sure this book won’t meet long-time Magic players’ expectations. If you are the type of person who is let down that kittens don’t grow up to be adorable baby pandas, then I can see how you’d be disappointed in what I’m sure are a few tweaks to Magic lore to make it work well for D&D. And I’m sure some long-time D&D players will reflexively be upset because, c’mon, have you heard of the Internet?

But I think Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica is about to blow the lid off this thing, And by “lid,” I mean it wasn’t a lid at all. It was just a paper plate sitting on top that someone had written “Don’t X Magic and D&D” on in crayon. By that, I’m surprised that Wizards of the Coast waited so long to do this. I think it adds a wonderful new option for a couple different tribes of nerds who have lots in common.

I enjoyed the book immensely. It’s a great blend. The D&D side of me felt very comfortable with the structure of the book. I felt like Ravnica is a great addition to 5th edition. The Magic side of me was curious, intrigued, and enthused. I won’t be buying Magic cards any time soon, but I’m certainly engaged in the lore of the game now.

I really enjoyed it. I don’t know what I’ll do with the book long-term, but we’ll see. Isn’t enjoying something in the moment reward enough in itself? Besides, we’ll soon see if this moment will stretch into future mashups between D&D and Magic.

[Disclosure: Wizards of the Coast provided Nerds on Earth with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.]

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