Monday, 06 January 2020 11:27

10 more old-school Magic characters deserving of a card

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10 more old-school Magic characters deserving of a card MAGIC UNTAPPED

After more than 25 years of Magic: The Gathering, there is a surprisingly high number of old-school creatures who still lack their own cards.  We have hand-selected ten of them (a nice round number if you ask me) and highlight who they are.

Arzakon

Arzakon / MicroProseAnyone who has played the original Magic: The Gathering computer game from MicroProse should be familiar (or at the very least aware) of Arzakon.  The end boss of the game, Arzakon is a power-hungry, evil planeswalker who, in the game, attempts to force his way into the protected rogue plane of Shandalar by means of misleading the plane’s ruling guildmages to cast a spell that would (unbeknownst to them) shatter the Great Barrier enchantment that protected the plane from outside visitors.  Unfortunately for him, a young mage (that’s you) was able to thwart the plan and banish Arzakon from the plane for an indefinite amount of time.

But what if Wizards of the Coast finally releases a set that is wholly based on Shandalar.  We know through official Magic canon that planeswalkers have visited the plane such as Ob Nixilis and Liliana Vess, so the Great Barrier must now be down.  Surely Arzakon would want to seek revenge?

Should that be the case, perhaps we’ll see the power-hungry planewalker printed on a card, whether that be a standard legal one or otherwise.  With the Eldrazi minding their business in the background and Nicol Bolas licking his wounds, it could be time for a new/old adversary to arise.

Kayla bin-Kroog

Kayla bin-Kroog / Armada ComicsAs the saying goes: “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.”  Well, in the case of Urza, that woman was Kayla bin-Kroog, the daughter of the warlord of Kroog.

Urza was given her hand in marriage by her father after one of Urza’s automations succeeded in a near-impossible feat of strength -- a test and condition of marriage that the warlord himself created for any would-be suitor to his daughter before she would be wed to anyone.  Urza’s interest in Kayla at the time had nothing to do with romance, however, as he saw the marriage as a way to gain access to the Thran Tome that was secured in the royal vaults.  Over time (and with the help of his apprentice, Tawnos), Urza found that he really had grown to love the woman despite his original intentions.

She was more than just a pretty face to compliment Urza’s story, though, as she had a key (though controversial) role in The Brothers’ War.  While in Kroog on the promise of peace, Urza's brother, Mishra, was able to convince her to not only steal Urza’s power stone, but also sleep with him.  Bold move.  Her moment of infidelity aside, it was Kayla bin-Kroog who ultimately cataloged the events of the war in an epic poem known as "The Antiquity Wars."

Seeing as the set Dominaria featured a saga card showcasing Kayla’s poem, it seems fitting that bin-Kroog herself would someday get a card.

Embereck

Embereck and Ravidel / Armada ComicsIf you think Chandra Nalaar is hot headed, wait until you get a load of Embereck.

An elemental planeswalker from Dominaria, Ash Warlord Embereck hails from the mountainous region of Hammerheim.  While not too much is known about this molten mage, what we do know is that he combated the vengeful battlemage Ravidel sometime after the events of Ice Age over the newly-resurfaced Golgothian Sylex.  For one reason or another, Ravidel was allowed to depart with the destructive artifact with Embereth making residence in the northern Dominarian refuge of Minorad.  Eventually, Ravidel paid Embereth and the council of planeswalkers who had made Minorad their base of operation, sylex in hand.  After the council decided not to interfere with Ravidel’s madman plans lest he unleash the power of the sylex on the area, Embereth departed for destinations unknown.

Now, why should such an obscure “oldwalker” from Magic lore be ripe for representation?  Simply put, there is a small-yet-vocal demand for Wizards to print more non-human planeswalkers.  Seeing as Embereck is already part of Magic lore, he’s seemingly ready and waiting to fill that niche.  After all, why not?  At the very least, it would give the oldest of old school Vothros fans some love.

Gaea

Gaea's Blessing / WOTCConsidered a planewalker in pre-revisionist Magic, Gaea has been retconned into being a goddess.

Considered Dominaria’s protective entity, she is worshipped by many of the plane’s elves and druids.  While she’s never seemed to have made a physical appearance as of yet, her existence in the story has been confirmed throughout by characters such as Urza and Freyalise.  In fact, when the false god Karona traveled to Phyrexia in the Magic: The Gathering novel Scourge, Yawgmoth himself informed her that Gaea was the “only true goddess in Dominaria.”  And there may be some truth to that as she is considered to have provided direct assistance during the Phyrexian invasion of her plane.  Then again, that meeting may never actually have happened as the events of the Onslaught block occurred after Yawgmoth’s death in Urborg.  Of course, Yawgmoth the Ineffable might have a backup copy of himself somewhere…

Until she gets her own card (creature type “god,” most likely) she lives on in Magic on cards such as Gaea's Cradle, Gaea’s Liege, and Gaea’s Touch (among others), as well as in the flavor text of a variety of cards including Aura Shards, Elvish Piper, and Rites of Flourishing.

Leshrac

Leshrac / Armada ComicsAlso known as “The Walker of Night,” the deceased Leshrac was a key player in the events of the Ice Age as well as in the events on the rogue plane of Shandalar.  In fact, it was Leshrac (along with Tevesh Szat) who recruited and manipulated the necromancer Lim-Dûl to raise an undead army so he could invade the mana-rich plane of Shandalar.  (Sounds familiar to Nicol Bolas’ plan in Ravnica, doesn’t it?)

After finding his defeat on Shandalar, Leshrac wandered the multiverse for a while.  Hunted down by Taysir, he was eventually imprisoned on Phyrexia where he would remain for ages before being set free by the battlemage Ravidel to take part in the Planewalker War (4195 AR to 4205 AR).

300 years after the Phyrexian Invasion, Leshrac again enters the story as the one who freed the Weaver King during the events of Planar Chaos.  Shortly thereafter, he was approached by the Myojin of Night’s Reach in her efforts to stop Bolas’ plans.  He almost succeeded, too.  He trapped the draconic planeswalker between Dominaria’s Talon Gates, sapping the dragon of his essence and form, but Bolas was able to impale Leshrac with the skeletal remains of his tail, after which Bolas used The Walker of the Night’s essence to seal the Madaran rift.

Leshrac wouldn’t be the first printed planeswalker to have been printed post-mortum.  Indeed, Commander 2018 saw Lord Windgrace who gave his life to close the rift above Urborg during the events of the Time Spiral block and Modern Horizons featured Serra even though she passed away before the events of Homelands.  It wouldn’t be out of character at all for Wizards to finally give this evil ‘walker his due.  After all, his impact on early Magic lore was huge.

Ramaz

Ramaz / WOTCA human planeswalker, Ramaz was one of Nicol Bolas’ various agents.  He was introduced in the video game Magic 2014: Duels of the Planeswalkers and served as the villain that game protagonist Chandra Nalaar was tracking down.

Not much is known about the mentally unstable shaman except that he was able to escape from Chandra’s fiery attacks during their battle on the snowy plane of Kaldheim.

Will Magic players ever see Ramaz in card form?  Well, perhaps. There’s a chance that he is still under the control of Nicol Bolas – perhaps as a fallback option should his invasion efforts on Ravnica fail.  Perhaps he’s in hiding on the Nordic plane of Kaldheim, only to make his debut appearance in paper Magic should a set ever be based there.  And, perhaps, he was a one-and-done character.

Who knows?  You know, outside of the mothership, that is.

The Raven Man

The Raven Man / WOTCAnyone familiar with Liliana Vess’ lore probably knows of the mysterious Raven Man.  He first entered Vess’ life on Dominaria and helped her “cure” her terminally-ill brother, Josu.  The results of which, by the way, caused her planeswalker spark to ignite.  He also was not only important in Vess locating the cursed Chain Veil on Shandalar, but there’s a belief that me may have even orchestrated the whole thing.  His influence (or interference) in Vess’ life continues on and on including him unsuccessfully convincing Vess to slay fellow planeswalker Jace Berelen while he was under the influence of Innistrad’s crytoliths to (also unsuccessfully) convincing her to flee from Emrakul’s assault on the plane to even following her back to Dominaria after the events of the War of the Spark.

Often appearing as an older, but well-kept man, he has the ability to transform into a flock of ravens.  Because he’s been seen on various planes, there is a thought that he could be a planeswalker.  There’s also speculation that The Raven Man might just be a manifestation of Vess’ trauma-struck mind.  Whatever he is, it’s clear that though he seems to want Vess to be the best and most powerful version of herself that she can be, what he really wants is to use her as his pawn.

Now that Vess (with the help of the draconic planeswalker Ugin) is free from The Chain Veil’s influence, perhaps we’ll finally see The Raven Man in his true form.  Or, at the very least, in card form.

Sandruu

Sandruu / Armada ComicsIf you thing Angrath is Magic’s first minotaur planeswalker, you would be mistaken.  That honor (as far as can be told) belongs to Sandruu.

A close friend of fellow planeswalker Feroz of Homelands fame, Sandruu is a native of Ulgrotha.  His story is one of compassion, having not only helping Feroz realize his planeswalker spark, but also in falling in love with the Dominarian ‘walker Kristina of the Woods.  Unfortunately, Kristina’s former lover, Taysir, was not only one of the most powerful planeswalkers in Magic history, but he was the jealous type to boot.  He hunted Sandruu down and banished him to an unknown plane that took him a millennium from which to return.  Shortly after he did, the Planeswalker War broke out on Dominaria with Sandruu called to fight by Ravidel’s Mox Beacon.

It’s unknown what ever became of Sandruu.  Perhaps he perished.  Perhaps he still walks the planes.  And perhaps he’s sitting in a rocking chair alongside a lake somewhere drinking ice tea and reading the An-Havva Times.  Regardless, it’s high time Magic’s original minotaur planeswalker sees print.

Svyelun

High Tide / WOTCKnown also as the Goddess of the Pearl Moon, Svyelun is a deity worshipped by Dominaria’s early merfolk society known as Vodalia.  Her worship is known as Svyelunism and there are temples and clergy who preach her name, even though she has not communicated with her followers ever since (as the legend goes) she created merfolk out of silt and saltwater.  In fact, every 28 days when the Mist Moon (Dominaria’s natural satellite) reaches its full phase, her devotees spend the night in ritualistic contemplation.

While she only has a few mentions in the game itself (all of which in the set Fallen Empires), her blessing is mentioned in the flavor text of the Anson Maddocks version of High Tide.  In fact, Maddocks’ art for the card could be considered a representation of the deity herself.

With gods being an official card type thanks to the likes of the Theros and Amonkhet blocks, maybe a printing of Svyelun isn’t too far off.  Perhaps in the EDH-focused Commander Legends set due out in the latter part of the year?

The Unluckiest

Curse of Verbosity / WOTCWho’s dapper and sharp and always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?  If you’re a Magic: The Gathering character, that would be a planeswalker who is simply known as The Unluckiest.

Not too much is known about The Unluckiest, and that includes his name.  What we do know, however, is that his life is full of misfortune!  He made his debut in the supplemental set Commander 2017 and was seen in the art for a whopping five cards.  While that might sound pretty nice for a then-unknown, those cards (Curse of Bounty, Curse of Disturbance, Curse of Opulence, Curse of Verbosity, and Curse of Vitality) are anything but good news for the guy.  It just seems like he can't get a break no matter what he does.

But who knows?  Maybe his luck will change and he’ll finally get representation on a card to call his own.  Then again, with a track record like his, perhaps he’s best left to his own devices.

Well, there's our list for now.  You should take a moment to check out the original ten we highlighted last year as well.  Once that's done, we'd like to know what un-printed characters in Magic: The Gathering's lore do you wish were made into playable cards?  One of your favorites just might make our next list.

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