Selesnya Then and Now
It's Selesnya Week on the mothership and as part of Selesnya Week, sites around the Internet were invited to write content to match the theme weeks.
We did not receive an invitation.
We're hitching a ride on the bandwagon anyways.
Mark Rosewater wrote an article for Selesnya Week talking about R&D's perspective on the design of Selesnya's two mechanics, convoke and populate. I'm going to take a look at how the two sets of Selesnya cards, those from Ravnica: City of Guilds and those from Return to Ravnica, play with one another and support (or don't) each other's key mechanics.
Selesnya Cards from Ravnica
Selesnya Cards from Return to Ravnica
Return to Ravnica and Convoke
Unsurprisingly, the Selesnya cards from Return to Ravnica play pretty well with the convoke mechanic. While they don't make token creatures at the rapid pace of a Scatter the Seeds or Pollenbright Wings, many RtR cards do make two tokens by themselves and encourage playing lots of creatures. Wayfaring Temple in particular wants a lot of creatures alongside it. The one thing that is missing is cheap, repeatable token generation like Selesnya Evangel, Selesnya Guildmage, and Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree. You can't make a lot of creatures on the cheap to power out your Chord of Callings or Autochthon Wurms. The only card that makes a mass of tokens in RtR is Korozda Guildmage, and I'm not sure how much the typical Selesnyan wants to work with a Golgari necromancer to get pets for their convoke spells.
Ravnica: City of Guilds and Populate
While Selesnya in Return to Ravnica is all about getting creature tokens like [card Call of the Conclave]centaurs[/card], [card Horncallers Chant]rhinos[/card], or even [card Armada Wurm]wurms[/card] into play to copy them with populate, Selesnya in Ravnica: City of Guilds was all about amassing swarms of smaller tokens. It made [card Seed Spark]saprolings[/card], [card Selesnya Guildmage]more saprolings[/card], [card Transluminant]some spirits[/card], and the rare [card Tolsimir Wolfblood]legendary wolf[/card]. I don't know about you, but I'm not really excited about populating any of these tokens. Populate works much better with larger tokens than smaller ones. You might not be all that excited to play Midnight Haunting for 4 mana, but when you get to make a 1/1 bird AND a 3/3 centaur, then it can be [card Eyes in the Skies]a better deal[/card].
How do the cards co-mingle?
The two sets of Selesnya cards do feel different and have different focuses based on their guild ability. But they're very similar as well, focusing heavily on creature and creature combat abilities. Cards like Seeds of Strength and Common Bond could fit into either set, and the convoke trick spells like Sundering Vitae and Gather Courage wouldn't be totally out of place in a return to Ravnica. But it is fairly obvious that the focus of the Conclave has changed, from mass armies being pumped by a couple different [card Crown of Convergence]Crusade[/card] [card Tolsimir Wolfblood]effects[/card] to [card Coursers Accord]large armies[/card] begetting [card Grove of the Guardian]larger armies[/card]. That said, Collective Blessing would love the saproling masses of old Selesnya.