I like spoilers, but maybe not this one
Thanks to a single person, who seems to have been able to already open a booster box of Return to Ravnica, nearly all cards from this set are known now – there are only 2 mythics, 4 rares and 4 uncommons missing. Some people complain about these cards being spoiled so early, because this SPOILS their fun (this is where the term stems from, after all), but I disagree: First of all, you do NOT have to look at a spoiler if you do not want to. Secondly, Wizards themselves have already for more than two weeks been busy spoiling cards, either on their own site or via official previews given to other parties, and they have purposefully shown us the most interesting and spectacular cards first. Oh, and thirdly, Wizards will spoil the complete set themselves before the prereleases start!
So, don’t claim this inofficial leak could take away any fun from opening your first boosters at the prerelease. If you do not follow the official spoilers, there is absolutely no reason to look at an inofficial one, and if you do follow them, you have already seen nearly everything Wizards deemed interesting enough to show you – all the new mechanics and themes, the cool mythics and the obvious tournament staples at rare. All that’s left are mostly limited fillers bound to disappoint you, unless you care about limited and want to prepare – and remember, even those will be spoiled by Wizards themselves prior to the prereleases. The only difference is that you now have a little more time to digest the set before you play with it – and that is a good thing in my book.
I concede it COULD be fun to play with a new set without anyone knowing anything about it beforehand (I believe that was what we did at the Tempest prerelease, where I went 7:0 because I was just better at snap-evaluating the new cards and the environment than most other players – ah, memories of great times!), but that option simply doesn’t exist anymore. The question is: Are you content with the pace and the order at which Wizards shows you the new cards, or do you prefer to see more of them earlier? Note that Wizards, of course, claim that the way they go about it is to maximize our enjoyment of discovering the new set – but, of course, that is bullshit: They seek to maximize interest in the set, which is NOT the same thing, and they cater to the largest portion of their audience with their approach. As someone who loves to analyze limited environments and doesn’t care for Johnny cards which look jaw-dropping or intriguing, but play terribly (even if they help you win – there is no less fun than facing a typical Johnny deck which happens to work), and who knows that stronger cards are in no way better designed cards, Wizards’ approach isn’t at all tailored to my liking.
Actually, all that hyperbole rather feels like an insult to my intelligence: I’m a player possessing deep insight in this game (so you can call me a Spike, if you insist). Because of that, I care for balanced environments which allow for games decided by skill, as well as for single cards allowing me to build my own environments boasting these features. Thus, I show little interest in overpowered cards, swingy cards, and cards encouraging non-interactive strategies. These types of cards, however, tend to make up the vast majority of previewed cards because they sell sets. Most players love cards which are so obviously powerful that even they immediately recognize this (not too easy a task nowaday), cards which are astonishing IF certain conditions are met (whose restricting effect they fail to grasp, or ignore because they play multi-player variants where they are easier met – see Rakdos, Lord of Riots), and explicit combo cards which allow them to win games by largely ignoring their opponents (unless those use these UNFAIR counterspells, of course). While these are previewed, I have to wait patiently for the cards which actually play well in balanced environments – typically commons and uncommons greeted by the majority of players with comments like “meh”, “crap” or “limited fodder”. So, Wizards’ spoiling approach doesn’t serve my needs at all, and I am glad if I can get a little jumpstart on the parts of a new set which I am interested in via an unofficial spoiling, so that I have a little more time to form an opinion on these cards (and sometimes – albeit rarely – one of the clowns haunting the rumor mill threads even makes an observation that wasn’t obvious to me at first glance). Therefore, I am really happy if someone spoils cards early – the more and the earlier, the better.
However, my first impression of Return to Ravnica is starkly negative. There is just so much in this set which I don’t like or outright hate: An exorbitant power difference between cards of different rarities. Few good creatures and little efficient removal at common. Overall high mana costs. Less manafixing than in the original Ravnica. A defender “tribal” theme, a milling theme. Hexproof. This “gate” theme once again making off-color lands desirable for some drafters. Populate and Overload, which are inherently swingy. Too much good artifact removal for way too few useful artifacts, but still maindeckable. Extra riders on already powerful, otherwise elegant cards (like on Hypersonic Dragon). Counterspells and land destruction for 5 mana. Cycles which really want to be used completely with unusable members. I also miss a new take on the Signets fixing the issue that they were too often used off-color (the Keyrunes, while nice designs, are completely different cards – three mana instead of two on a mana artifact is another order of magnitude). Overall, I am really disappointed. Edit: And just – officially – spoiled: another alternate win condition. Yikes.
But okay, that is just a first impression, and with my very first impression of a set I might still misjudge fundamental things (after studying the complete spoiler for a while, however, my predictions are usually right on track – check out older limited previews I wrote, if you doubt it!) So, maybe things will look differently to me in a few days. And you know what? Because practically the whole set was spoiled early, I now have a little more time to adjust my views. Yup, that’s a good thing!