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Ravnica Remastered’s fun dip into MTG history can’t make up for its underwhelming, overpriced offering

2024 starts with a befuddled bang for the card game.

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast/Raymond Swanland

2024 is here, and we’re kicking things off with Ravnica Remastered. Even if you didn’t see all of the actual advertising, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed the recent debacle of the Magic: The Gathering social accounts using AI imagery to promote the set’s Shock lands, claiming it’s not AI before finally admitting that it very obviously is. We’re not sure any set really deserves the sheer audacity of pretending an image wasn’t AI-made, yet that’s what Ravnica Remastered got. It’s a tough hurdle to overcome for any set, which feels like it puts Ravnica Remastered at a disadvantage before it’s even arrived - and that’s not even including the fact that next set Murders at Karlov Manor is already less than a month away.

The good news is that the set itself is better than its AI image, but the bad news is that it utterly pales in comparison with last year’s Dominaria Remastered. That’s a real shame, because Ravnica is a great plane filled with a huge cast of characters and a lot of heavy-hitting cards like Doubling Season and Smothering Tithe - neither of which are in Ravnica Remastered.

The set has what we’re dubbing the “Mythic Rare Problem”. Generally speaking, the mythic rare slot is taken up by the strongest cards in any given set. You’re expecting game-winning cards here, ones that you’ll be incredibly excited to open. There are always a few duds in pretty much every set, pulls that aren’t quite as exciting, but even they generally find a place to call home or have a very specific audience.

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While there are some great mythic rares here, many of which are among the best cards in Ravnica Remastered, the majority of them feel deeply underwhelming. Take Master of Cruelties, for example, a five-mana black and red 1/4 that can bring an opponent down to one life as long as it hits them. It’s good in its niche, but only really sees play in a few Commander decks that can get around its inability to attack with other cards.

While there are some great mythic rares here, the majority of them feel deeply underwhelming.

Then there’s one of the two mono-white mythic rares in Gideon Blackblade. It’s a planeswalker that can attack as a creature, buff itself or other creatures, and exile nonland permanents, but it’s very middling when it comes to overall power level. It’s an alright card, but there’s nigh-on nobody out there who’s going to feel good opening it.

This is true of the majority of the mythic rares in Ravnica Remastered. Frankly, that’s unacceptable. That’s especially true when you look at cards that were missed out, like Doubling Season and Smothering Tithe as mentioned above. There were other cards that could have been reprinted in this set that would have been great to open, but it almost feels like that’s not the aim with this set. Instead, it feels as if Wizards just wanted to reprint the Shock lands and give them a retro frame, before effectively calling it a day when it comes to big-value reprints.

Cards such as Gideon Blackblade and Master of Cruelties are perfectly fine, but feel a bit underwhelming for being mythic rares in the set. | Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

That’s not to say we’re ungrateful for cards like Bruvac the Grandiloquent, which was trending above $30 for a single copy, but it is disappointing not to see a few more big money cards in here - not only to help bring down the price of the cards on the secondary market and make for a more exciting time when opening packs, but also to justify the more premium price tag.

A booster box of Ravnica Remastered will cost you around 50% more than a normal booster box for a standard set. We’ve complained before about premium pricing because, let’s face it, it’s not going to cost more to make this set than it would a standard set - and, given the lack of double-sided cards here, might actually cost a little bit less. If Wizards of the Coast wants to pretend it’s not using the secondary market to inflate their own prices then that’s fine, but we’re reminding you not to fall for that line.

The way they try to justify that price is via the alternative artworks and frame treatments available in Ravnica Remastered. Retro frames have really grown on us, and it’s nice to have a more consistent alternate style that carries between some of the sets. The anime art treatments are visually enticing in this set too, and can occasionally work to bring down the price of the standard version of the card, but not always. These differing versions have grown on us, but they by no means justify the extra cost. Nothing can really justify it.

Ravnica Remastered gives some of its cards an anime-inspired makeover. It's one of the set's highlights, but still doesn't justify the price. | Image credit: Wizards of the Coast/Tetsu Kurosawa

In terms of pure play, Ravnica Remastered is a fun set. It’s appealing to revisit so many sets from throughout Magic: The Gathering history in one drafting experience, which is likely going to be the case in any of these remastered sets. There are loads of cool cards to pick up for newer players who might not have ever had the chance to draft a Shock land or a CloudStone Curio, and that is undoubtedly exciting.

However, Ravnica Remastered just isn’t as entertaining as most new sets are, because there are no new mechanics or interactions to really learn. Older players aren’t going to have much incentive to jump into Draft or Sealed with this latest set unless they’re just itching to do more of those formats. After all, without big reprints, there’s little justification for the sheer cost of the packs or a box.

It’s not that Ravnica Remastered is a bad set, it’s just simply not as good as it could have been.

We’re not saying you can put a price tag on how much joy drafting a set can give you, but the cost of living is still disgustingly high at the moment. A premium set that’s not replete with reprints that have reached sickening secondary market heights simply isn’t justifiable for a lot of people. Nor should it be.

You could easily build a Ravnica Remastered cube based on cards that many local game stores and play groups may well have just lying around. If you’re going to invest in Ravnica Remastered for the gameplay aspect, we’d 100% recommend just building a cube instead for a more repeatable and cost-effective endeavour.

It’s not that Ravnica Remastered is a bad set as such, it’s just simply not as good as it could have been - while also being more expensive than is reasonable based on what’s inside. We’re always going to advocate for lower costs pretty much no matter what when it comes to a company making as much money as Hasbro (while still making layoffs), but the pricing here really does leave a sour taste in our mouths. On the plus side, that means we’re less likely to spend money on it, and that’s probably a good thing in January.

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