Friday, 13 August 2021 09:56

Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 7 - Alara, the Conflux, and new Phyrexians)

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Who is... Nicol Bolas? (Pt. 7 - Alara, the Conflux, and new Phyrexians) 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 seventh episode, Nicol Bolas seeks to take advantage of the upcoming conflux event in Alara, enlists a new ally, and keeps an eye on a growing Phyrexian presence.

Enjoy the show.

Video transcript:


Welcome back to “Who is” on Magic Untapped as we explore the backstory and evolution of Nicol Bolas.

Seeking to restore some – if not all – of his former power, Nicol Bolas travels to the splintered plane of Alara in hopes of absorbing the power of the plane’s upcoming conflux event.

Stay tuned…


With his planeswalker powers greatly reduced due to the recent casting of the multiverse-saving mending spell, Nicol Bolas travels to the Alara – a plane that had been splintered into five shards but was now beginning to reform anew.

Appearing on the shard of Grixis, the draconic planeswalker bides his time for the upcoming conflux as the shards began fitting back together. 

During this time, Bolas meets a man who somehow survived a spark-igniting near-death experience.  Curious about his potential, Bolas recruits this newfound planeswalker, an artificer known as Tezzeret, by offering him immense power in exchange for his servitude and obedience.  Tezzeret agrees.

His obedience wasn’t absolute, however.  Working as Bolas’ agent, Tezzeret learns bits and pieces of Bolas’ past on the plane.  The more he discovers, the more untrusting of his draconic overlord he becomes.  Plotting an overthrow of the planeswalker, Tezzeret recruits and grooms a fellow planeswalker named Jace Beleren with intent on using Jace’s telepathic abilities as a defense against Bolas’ own mental powers.

At some point thereafter, Bolas contacted Tezzeret to discuss a mining dispute on a mining dispute on some unknown plane.  Tezzeret agrees to meet and brings Jace along with him as protection.  Jace proved ineffective, however, as Bolas easily sidestepped his telepathic defenses and pried openly through Tezzeret’s mind.  After discovering all he needed, Bolas send a band of barbarian mercenaries he had hired after the two to finish them off.

After escaping the mercenaries, a worse-for-wear Tezzeret swore revenge on Jace for his failings.  Months later, the artificer would get his chance.  Unfortunately for him, Jace would prove the victor, costing Tezzeret not just the loss of one of his arms, but of his mind as well.  Knowing of his former agent’s defeat, Bolas gathered what was left of Tezzeret and brought his mangled and mindless body to the Meditation Realm.

Finally, Alara’s conflux comes to a head.  At the center of this event is the Maelstrom – a chaotic storm of mana.  Expecting this, Bolas manipulates the peoples of all five of Alara’s shards.  He enlists the servitude of yet another planeswalker, Sarkhan Vol, to help spread the seeds of destruction and conflict with the intent to trigger a planewide war to awaken Alara’s dormant obelisks.  Once awakened, the obelisks enhance the Maelstrom’s might.

Before these warring armies, Bolas takes the opportunity to feed on the rich, pure mana in an attempt to regain his lost power at the expense of the entire plane’s existence.  Ajani Goldmane, a planeswalker native to Alara’s Naya shard, would prove to be Bolas’ foil.

The feline planeswalker severs the mana bonds of not just Bolas, but of the armies assembled in the area as well and absorbs what little power the Maelstrom had left.  Using the rich, powerful mana, Ajani summons an effigy of Bolas’ soul and uses it to banish him from the plane.

Bolas returns to the Meditation Realm more powerful, but still incomplete.  He resurrects Tezzeret and reminds him of where his loyalties should lie.  Stubbornly, the artificer rejects the dragon’s dominance.  After being intensely reprimanded, however, Tezzeret changed his tune.

Bolas then turns his attention to Mirrodin, the artificial plane created by the silver golem, Karn.  Thanks to the accidental introduction of Phyrexian oil, the plane had become increasingly corrupt as a new breed of Phyrexians has all but taken over.  He sends Tezzeret to be his eyes and ears to keep tabs on the events there and delay the rise of a new central leader for as long as possible – an effort that was doomed to fail from the start.

Once Elelesh Norn, a powerful praetor took absolute control of the plane, Tezzeret was recalled by Bolas and given a new task in a plane called Kaladesh.


And that’s where we’ll leave the story of Nicol Bolas for now, but be sure there’s much more yet to tell about Magic: The Gathering’s iconic draconic planeswalker.

In the next episode of “Who is” on Magic Untapped, we’ll discover what gets Bolas’ attention on the plane of Zendikar as well as what plans he has for Tezzeret on Kaladesh.

Stay tuned and thanks for watching.

I’m Barry White.