Golgari Swarm

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Golgari Swarm
Golgari Logo.png
Alternative Names
The Swarm
Lore Information
Parun Svogthir (deceased)
Guild Leader Sisters of Stone Death (deceased)
Savra (deceased)
Jarad vod Savo (imprisoned)
Vraska (incumbent)
Guild Champion Savra (deceased)
Guild Hall Svogthos
(surrounded by Korozda)
Game Information
Colors {B}{G}
Mechanics Dredge
(Ravnica: City of Guilds)
(Return to Ravnica)
(Guilds of Ravnica)
Featured Sets
Ravnica: City of Guilds
Return to Ravnica
Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari
Guilds of Ravnica
Signet Flavor Text
"Depending on your point of view, the seal represents a proud guardian of the natural cycle or one who has sold her soul to darkness for eternal life." — Golgari Signet

The Golgari Swarm is a black/green guild from the plane and city of Ravnica. Introduced in Ravnica: City of Guilds, the guild is also featured in Return to Ravnica, the Izzet vs. Golgari set[1] and in Guilds of Ravnica.

Golgari basic lands from Guilds of Ravnica

Background[edit | edit source]

The Golgari Swarm is the embodiment of life and death.[2][3] The guild believes that life and death are both natural [4] and equally essential too,[2] and that life and death are natural elements of a cycle with no intermediary break.[5][6][7] Growth is power that comes slowly, but it is also ruthless and inevitable, and this makes growth a key virtue of the Swarm's power.[5][8] [9] Their necromantic magic has made the Golgari the largest Ravnican guild.[10][11]

The Golgari Swarm's consists of many sub-factions, each with its own agenda. Their reverered parun is the legendary necromancer Svogthir, the "god-zombie".[12]

The Cilia[edit | edit source]

A council of shamans and rogues called the Cilia acts as a combination of advisory parliament and spy agency and rarely all convene publicly or together at once.[2]

Teratogens[edit | edit source]

Up until the Decamillennial, the ruling class of the Golgari. Mostly non-humanoids such as plants, mutants, harpies, nagas, griffins, and centaurs.

The Devkarin[edit | edit source]

The Devkarin are a brooding, winsome, and often ambitious race of elves. Of all of Golgari's factions, the Devkarin press most for the expansion of Golgari territory.

The Lotleth[edit | edit source]

The Lotleth are the Golgari's irregular faction of undead, necromancers, fungus-binders, and other members associated with the restless dead.[2] Although most Golgari undead are mindless fungal constructions maintained by necromantic magic, the Lotleth do have some more or less intelligent undead among them, plus a few higher-ranked necromancers who speak for the faction. Generally, the Lotleth serve as a labor force for the Golgari's constant program of reclamation and expansion. The current leader of the Lotleth is Wratislav, a skilled but conceited human necromancer.

The Street Swarm[edit | edit source]

The Street Swarm form Golgari's labor class. This faction includes corpse scavengers, low-ranking street shamans, rot farmers, tunnel trolls, various elementals and fungal horrors, and most of the kraul. Each neighborhood of Ravnica tends to have its own chapter of the Street Swarm, and each chapter is led by a local swarm-boss.

The Ochran[edit | edit source]

Although many discount them as an urban legend, "the assassins of the Ochran" are a Golgari cult of mercenaries operating out from the Undercity and specializing in vengeance killings. The cult was led by Vraska, before she became the guild leader.[13][14]

History[edit | edit source]

Founded by parun Svogthir, a human necromancer-turned-lich, the Golgari Swarm functions as the agricultural sector of Ravnican society.[2] Following his mortal death, Svogthir reanimated his own corpse. He also modified his body by incorporating body parts from others - he used the chest of Gruul Clans parun Cisarzim, for instance, to create a more perfect, stronger being.[12][15]

Ravnica block[edit | edit source]

During the Ravnica block storyline, the leadership of the Golgari was contested time and again, in large part due to the numerous factions vying for control of their guild.[8] The most prominent among these were the Devkarin (dark elves), of which Savra was the head, and the Teratogens,[10] which was predominantly composed of plant–zombie hybrids as well as, albeit to lesser extents, giant bats, gorgons, harpies, and other monstrous creatures.[8][12] Up until the events of the Decamillennial, the Teratogens maintained hegemony over the Golgari Swarm.[12]

Less than a millennium prior to the Decamillennial, the Sisters of Stone Death, originally a quintet of gorgons, attempted to overthrow parun Svogthir. Although two of the sisters died, they were successful in their coup and were able to destroy, and rot away, all but Svogthir's head, which his necromantic magic kept intact.[12] The remaining three sisters — Ludmilla, Lexya, and Lydya[6] — kept Svogthir under arrest in a tomb in Grigor Canyon.[12]

At the turn of the Decamillennial, the Devkarin, led by matka (high priestess) Savra, who, with the help of the House Dimir parun and guildmaster Szadek, overtook control of the guild. Savra resurrected Svogthir, whom she used to overthrow the Sisters of Stone Death, and then used ancient, powerful matka magic to liberate his spirit from his head, so that she could add it to her scepter. Subsequent to this, Savra proclaimed herself as the new Golgari guildmaster.[12]

Power-hungry as always, Savra then attempted to infiltrate the Selesnya Conclave with her quietmen and tried to subtly sieze control of the Conclave; but, she was double-crossed by Szadek, who snapped her neck so as to weaken the Conclave.[12]

In Dissension, Szadek is defeated with the help of Savra's brother, Jarad, who assumes control of the Golgari Swarm. He was later sacrificed by Izolda (Lyzolda, the Blood Witch) as part of a ritual to arouse Rakdos, the parun of the Cult of Rakdos.[16] Jarad, however, "survives", by using necromancy to become a zombie/lich, and retains his mantle of leadership over the Golgari.[17]

The guildhall of the Golgari Swarm in the Ravnica block is Svogthos, a former elaborately decorated and gilded cathedral of the Orzhov Syndicate. Svogthos is a semi-living structure in which the detached, severed head of Svogthir, is housed,[12] and is claimed to move as the center of Golgari territory shifts.[8]

Return to Ravnica block[edit | edit source]

Jarad was the next guildmaster of the Golgari Swarm.

After the dissolution of the guilds, the Golgari had stayed more or less as they were. For 10,000 years, they had been the silent machine that kept the unsavory but essential parts of Ravnica running and knew no other life apart from the dank tunnels of the undercity.

Jarad maintained his power, quelling without mercy any rumblings of mutiny or dissent from the Teratogens. He bided his time, knowing that the surface world was suffering without the structure and support of the guilds, and it was only a matter of time before things returned to business as usual.[16]

Korozda is sometimes named as the new Golgari guildhall.[2] Actually, this immense circular maze of overgrown, fungus-encrusted ruins surrounds the arched Svogthos cathedral.[18] Korozda was the lair of guildmaster Jarad and the place where he met with his irregular court of attendants. It’s patrolled by an array of swarming vermin, giant insects, and zombies.

Guilds of Ravnica block[edit | edit source]

At an unspecified time, Jarad was taken captive in a sparsely populated corner of the city. Pleased with the planewalker Vraska's role in securing the Immortal Sun in Ixalan, Nicol Bolas rewarded her with the information where Jarad was imprisoned.[19] As leader of the disenfranchised among the Golgari, she vowed to bring justice to Jarad and replace him with a worthier guild leader. She took Jarad out and became the new leader herself.[20]

In the game[edit | edit source]

Guild mechanics[edit | edit source]

Ravnica: City of Guilds: Dredge[edit | edit source]

Main article: Dredge

Conceived by head Magic designer and design team Mark Rosewater, dredge is a static ability that exemplifies the belief that life and death are similar.[21] It allows a player to put a number of cards from the top of his or her library into his or her graveyard if he or she would draw a card to return a card with dredge to his or her hand.

Due to its recursive nature, interactions with cards that deal with the graveyard, and strength as a mechanic, dredge has been featured in numerous competitive decks and has spawned archetypes centering on the mechanic.[22][23]

Return to Ravnica: Scavenge[edit | edit source]

Main article: Scavenge

Scavenge is a keyword ability solely featured on creature cards, and represents two static abilities, one of which functions while a creature card is in the graveyard and another while the ability is on the stack. Scavenge represents using the graveyard and dead as a resource.[23] Both black and green are colors with much overlap, sharing two creature keywords (deathtouch and regeneration) and a focus on the graveyard, with respect to recursion, using the graveyard as a resource, abilities that trigger when something dies or is put into a graveyard from play, exiling cards from graveyards, and abilities that are active if a card is in a graveyard.[24]

Guilds of Ravnica: Undergrowth[edit | edit source]

Main article: Undergrowth

Undergrowth lets you do bigger things when you have more creatures in your graveyard[25].

Creature types[edit | edit source]

Species and races[edit | edit source]

Species and races associated with the Golgari Swarm include:

Classes[edit | edit source]

Classes associated with the Golgari Swarm include:

Notable members[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Duel Decks: Izzet vs. Golgari — Wizards of the Coast
  2. a b c d e f Magic Creative Team. (September 5, 2012.) “Planeswalker's Guide to Return to Ravnica, Part 2”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Chris Gleeson. (October 26, 2018.) “Building the Guilds – Golgari Swarm”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Rei Nakazawa. (September 5, 2005.) “Life in the Big City”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  5. a b Mark Rosewater. (October 24, 2005.) “Life and Death”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  6. a b Matt Cavotta. (October 26, 2005.) “Green Thumb, Black Heart”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Magic Arcana. (October 27, 2005.) “Ravnica Style Guide: Golgari”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  8. a b c d Ravnica: City of Guilds: Golgari Swarm Minisite — Wizards of the Coast
  9. Wizards of the Coast. "Planes of Existence". (Accessed August 31, 2012.)
  10. a b Issar Roon. (February 1, 2012.) The Guildpact, GatheringMagic.com.
  11. Magic Arcana. (March 07, 2006.) “Ravnica's Busy Afterlife”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  12. a b c d e f g h i Cory J. Herndon. (2005.) Ravnica Cycle, Book I: Ravnica, Wizards of the Coast. ISBN-13 978-0786937929.
  13. Jenna Helland. (October 29, 2012.) “The Azorius Ten Most Wanted”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  14. R&D Narrative Team. (September 20, 2017.) “The Talented Captain Vraska”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Anominal. (July 21, 2011.) Ravnica: City of Guilds - Chapter 8, MTG Fiction.
  16. a b Adam Lee. (August 29, 2012.) “Ravnica, Then and Now”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Cory J. Herndon. (2006.) Ravnica Cycle, Book III: Dissension, Wizards of the Coast. ISBN-13 978-0786940011.
  18. Alison Luhrs. (May 31, 2017.) “Pride of the Kraul”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  19. R&D Narrative Team. (February 14, 2018.) “Wool over the Eyes”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Chas Andres. (October 3, 2018.) “A Flavorful Guide to the Guilds of Ravnica”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Aaron Forsythe. (October 28, 2005.) “Golgari Query”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  22. Scott Wills. (October 11, 2005.) “Exploring Ravnica – Part II”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  23. a b Erik Lauer. (September 10, 2012.) “Developing the Return”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  24. Mark Rosewater. (November 26, 2012.) “Designing for Golgari”, magicthegathering.com, Wizards of the Coast.
  25. https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/feature/guilds-ravnica-mechanics-2018-09-04

External links[edit | edit source]