Friday, 12 February 2021 08:00

Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 1 - Bolas and Ugin)

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Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 1 - Bolas and Ugin) WOTC/MAGIC UNTAPPED

Welcome to the second season in Magic Untapped's "Who Is..." series.

In this ten-part series, we explore the origins of the dragon who would become one of Magic: The Gathering's greatest antagonists, Nicol Bolas.  In this premier episode, we explore Bolas' origins and witness some of the key events in the dragon's formative years.

Enjoy the show.

Video transcript:


Known as the God-Emporer of Madara, God-Pharaoh, The Horned One, Forever Serpent, and Dragon God, Nicol Bolas is one of the most evil and feared characters in all of Magic: The Gathering lore.

But before he became the Nicol Bolas that traveled the planes, wreaking havoc for his own designs, he was simply known as Nicol. And he was the smallest dragon in a brood of countless others who were the first to call Dominaria their home – five of which would be introduced to the game of Magic as the Elder Dragon Legends.

In this season of “Who Is” on Magic Untapped, we explore the backstory and evolution of Nicol Bolas.


A spawn of the Ur-Dragon, the immensely powerful dragon avatar that has existed since the dawn of time and is the primordial essence of all dragons in the multiverse, the dragon hatching known simply as Nicol was born alongside his twin brother, Ugin, after their egg-stone was shed from their progenitor’s wings, striking the Dominarian soil like a meteor.  The twins were only half the size of their brethren and, as such, weren’t treated as equals to their larger and more imposing kin.

Shortly into their lives, the duo witnessed their recently-hatched sister being slain by a human hunting party.  The young Nicol wanted to intervene, but Ugin – the calmer and more wisdom-seeking of the two – convinced him not to as to preserve their own lives.  Despite this, Nicol succeeded in slaying one of the hunter’s dogs and, in doing so, adopted the mindset at the world is nothing more than a place of “hunters and the hunted.”

As the whelps grew older, an inferiority complex began to set in as they were constantly mocked by the plane’s other dragons.

Chromium, one of the twin’s brothers, informed them that they share their name just as they had shared their egg-stone before birth.  In response, an in order to feel larger than his twin brother (in name, at the very least), Nicol adopted the second name of Bolas.  And Palladia-Mors, one of their sisters, constantly mocked their size and their hunting techniques.  The twins would spend years practicing in tandem to become better hunters.

A while later, they would meet another of their brethren with whom they would live for some time.

Arcades Sabboth had taken a keen interest in humans and had taken up residence in a settlement as the human’s draconic lord.  Here, Bolas learned more about humans and was amazed at how easily they could be manipulated to serve his own purposes.  After taking some study and scheme, Bolas tricked several factions of these humans into infighting, allowing him to take over as their supreme leader.

Now in total control of the settlement, Bolas turned his attention to his Ugin, looking to exact revenge on him for allowing their sister’s death to occur at the hands of the humans so many years before.  After Bolas attempted to use his twin brother as a tool just as he had the humans, Ugin came to the sudden realization that his egg-brother never actually cared for him at all.  Ugin’s revelation about Bolas struck him like lightning, the mental shock triggering the dragon’s planeswalker spark to ignite as the dragon disappeared from the plain – planeswalking to a destination yet unknown.


With Ugin now missing, Bolas was free to rule over his humans as he saw fit, but the ever-ambitious dragon would soon want more.  In fact, his ambitions would see the entire plane of Dominaria enter a thousand-years-long war that would culminate in a bang.

Next time, we’ll explore the Elder Dragon War as “Who Is” continues on Magic Untapped.

I’m Barry White.  Thanks for watching.