was the 60th Magic: The Gathering
set, 38th expert level set, and the third and final set in the Ravnica Block, released in May 5
Of the ten guilds that rule Ravnica
, three are the sole focus of this third set in the block. The previous expansions, Ravnica: City of Guilds
, focused on seven of these guilds. Dissension
, brings it to a close by introducing the last three guilds. Each guild corresponds to a different two-color combination.
The three guilds featured in Dissension are:
- The Azorius Senate (white/blue): The lawmakers of Ravnica, founded by Azor, guild parun of the Azorius Senate, hence the name Azorius Senate. The Senate's obsession is based on the desire to keep the status quo, no matter the cost (which is remotely similar to Ancient Rome's Senate). Their current leader, , believes that the best way to serve the city is to make any sort of action illegal. For his hierarchical and bureaucratic guild, history, stability, and the rule of law are paramount. The Grand Arbiter consults a sphinx known as , who is the champion of the Azorius.
- The Cult of Rakdos (black/red): Named after its demon leader, . The Cult of Rakdos is completely self-absorbed, out only for a good time. However, their idea of a "good time" usually involves murder and mayhem – the more bloody and depraved, the better. The cult would love to rule Ravnica and turn it into one big slaughter-fest, but to them, it's the process of random death and destruction that is fulfilling, not the goal. Fortunately for the Rakdos, their interest in the dark art of death has made them into top-notch mercenaries and assassins, which the other guilds are more than happy to take advantage of. The guild's champion is . She is at the forefront of most of the guild's macabre sacrificial ceremonies.
- The Simic Combine (green/blue): The Simic's original role in Ravnica was to protect and preserve what was left of Ravnica's natural ecosystems. Despite their best efforts, they failed, and there is no place on Ravnica that is left to nature. Now, the Simic Combine spends their resources creating new - and often frightening - species of creatures that not only survive in the concrete jungles of Ravnica, but thrive. The guild is headed by the distant and cool elvish biomancer . The Simic champion is known as , the culmination of all of Vig's previous experiments. It is intended to be the ultimate life form and rapidly "adapts" to change.
- Split Cards: Dissension features the return of the popular split card mechanic originally from Invasion and Apocalypse. There are 10 gold split cards representing some combinations of the other guilds of Ravnica. The allied color guilds are represented in uncommon split cards, whereas the enemy color guilds are represented in rare split cards.
- Hellbent (black/red): Hellbent is the Rakdos guild's ability word, similar to the Boros Legion's ability word radiance. Cards with the Hellbent keyword ability gain additional attributes when their controllers have no cards in their hand. For example, cost one red mana and one black mana for a 2/2 rat has the Hellbent ability. It reads: "Hellbent - Gobhobbler Rats gets +1/+0 and "B: Regenerate Gobhobbler Rats" as long as you have no cards in hand." It is very similar to the Odyssey block's threshold ability, but revolves around the hand instead.
- Graft (green/blue): Graft is the name of the Simic Combine's special mechanic. Similar to Modular from the Mirrodin block, cards with the Graft ability come into play with +1/+1 counters in accordance with the number associated with their Graft ability, then when another creature comes into play the graft creature may move one of its counters onto that creature. One card to feature Graft is . It has Graft 4, and thus comes into play with four +1/+1 counters. Graft is representative of the Simic's newest life form, cytoplasts, which increase the intelligence and power of its host.
- Forecast (white/blue): Forecast is the guild mechanic for the Azorius Senate. The ability involves paying a Forecast cost and revealing that card with Forecast in your hand. You may only use the Forecast ability during your upkeep, and only once per turn. Forecast effect is either a lesser version of the main spell (such as , where by paying 1 white mana and showing the card, a creature gets +1/+1; Steeling Stance is an instant which boosts all creatures you control by +1/+1), or a support effect for the main spell (such as , where you pay one blue, one white, and two other and reveal it from your hand and put a 1/1 blue and white bird creature token with flying into play; Pride of the Clouds grows stronger the more flying creatures are in play). A card with similar mechanic, , was first seen in Unglued.
Another worthy of mention game mechanic is related to the previous sets' (City of Guilds and Guildpact) mechanic. In the previous two, there are two 'groups' of mono-color cards which encourage people to play with multiple colors: The first group is cards which have activated abilities that use mana of different color from the cards' color. The second one is cards which are enhanced if another mana color is used to play the card.
In Dissension, the first group still exists, however, the second one is replaced by another group of mono-color cards (mostly creatures), which already have abilities associated to two colors, but must be played with mana of different color or otherwise the card must be sacrificed. An example is . It is a white creature with a healing effect (white's specialty), as well as unblockability (blue's specialty). However, if Azorius Herald is played without blue mana, it must be sacrificed just after it comes into play.