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Lore Bits: An Elder Dragon and his schemes

This will be the first installment of a series of articles I’d like to write that focuses around characters, events, places, items, and other such malarkey that exists within Magic: the gathering’s multiverse. I am a sucker for an intriguing story premise, and Magic’s is one of the more interesting ongoing stories I’m currently following (Innistrad block notwithstanding). For this pilot article, I’ll discuss and break down an up and coming feature character for M13, the elder dragon Nicol Bolas, and everything he’s done that is currently relevant to this “arc” in the Magic story.

     Since the mending occurred, Nicol Bolas has only really had one thing on his to-do list, written in all-caps and underlined heavily, get the old spark back. Bolas wants the power of a god, he is not content with being on the same power level as the “neowalkers”. In his most recent bid to attempt to regain the old spark he masterminded the Conflux, the rebinding of the shards of Alara into one whole plane. This plan, however, was foiled by Ajani who was out searching for his brother’s killer. In the end, Alara was remade into a single plane, but Bolas was still without an old spark. Since then, Bolas has worked in secret, spreading his influence to multiple plains within the multiverse and awaiting another opportune chance to regain the old spark.

     After the Conflux, there are two major instances of Bolas’s influence throughout the multiverse. The first of which is his indirect involvement with the release of the Eldrazi on Zendikar. By having Sarkhan stand guard over the Eye of Ugin, and having Chandra and Jace arrive at roughly the same time, the unusual security measures of the Eye were broken, releasing the Eldrazi upon Zendikar. At some point afterwards, Bolas sends another planeswalker under his rule, Tezzeret, to the plane of Mirrodin to act as his eyes and ears in monitoring the growth of New Phyrexia. The Innistrad block is devoid of any direct interaction with Bolas, however, he has expressed interest in the chain veil that Liliana currently owns, and it is not completely out of the question that Bolas might know Griselbrand or any of the other demons that Liliana made her pact with, but that is speculation at best, and may amount to nothing.

     So, where does Nicol Bolas go from here? The Eldrazi are from the Blind Eternities, Bolas may use them somehow to regain the spark, but this seems to be the most dangerous route to that goal. The Eldrazi only care about one thing, devouring mana, and they can essentially do that for free. Bolas has nothing to offer the 3 Eldrazi Titans that they can’t already get, and I have no doubt that they would find an Elder Dragon’s own mana stores rather appetizing. Bolas also knows that New Phyrexia exists, and that instead of being only black-aligned, New Phyrexia is based in all five colors of mana. What will be most important, however, is if he is aware of the fact that Karn was freed from his imprisonment. Karn will easily hinder any and all of Bolas’s plans if Bolas isn’t careful, especially if the other planeswalkers that aren’t under Bolas’s service join him. One thing is for certain though, Bolas is planning something big, and as Liliana says in Test of Metal, it can and will result in the deaths of several planeswalkers.

     With all of this in mind, when can we expect the big showdown with the last Elder Dragon? well, I honestly don’t think it will happen in M13. What I do think will happen though, is that we finally see what Bolas’s plan is, either we see it carried out in full, or a major part of it is set in motion. Also, when the final confrontation does happen, Both Hinderless and I agree that it should happen at Dominaria. So if a return to Dominaria is announced in the near future, then that’s when we know the fight is about to go down. In the end though, only Wizards of the Coast knows when and where the confrontation will take place.

For the next Lore Bits, I’ll be discussing Jace and his return to Ravnica. If there’s a particular topic you would like to see covered, leave a comment below!

 


Avacyn Restored Mechanics in Limited (First Impressions)

Avacyn Restored Prerelease weekend has come and gone, and release weekend is literally right around the corner. Now with some more free-time at my disposal I’ll take the opportunity to discuss my first impressions of Avacyn Restored’s mechanics in a limited environment. At prerelease I got a rather decent pool of cards that ended up becoming a rather powerful Boros Humans build with Herald of War, Riders of Gavony, and Divine Deflection being my bombs (or cutest combat trick in the case of DD). Without further ado, let us discuss mechanics.

MIRACLE:

Miracle I feel is at best, a double-edged sword. Even before getting the chance to play with the cards, I wasn’t a huge fan of the mechanic. There are some miracle cards I do like though, mainly Entreat the Angels and Bonfire of the Damned. Entreat being a better version of White Sun’s Zenith and Bonfire of the damned being a wide range burn spell that hits for whatever amount of damage is necessary instead of a vanilla 2 or 3 like we see in Pyroclasm and Slagstorm. I only managed to get one Thunderous Wrath out of my pool and other miracle cards were not in my chosen colors. That one Thunderous Wrath did put in some work throughout the day though, blasting annoying creatures out of the way or dealing a hefty 5 damage when it was drawn, I never did cast it for its normal mana cost. One thing that always stuck out to me when I drew the card though, was that no matter what plan I had set up for my next turn, that card would always be played instead and most of the times, I could not carry on with the original plan I had in mind. Overall, I find that  Miracle has its advantages whenever the cards pop up (or are arranged to be drawn a la Ponder, Brainstorm, etc.), but most of the time, they throw off any strategies that are set up in advance.

SOULBOND:

Now this is my favorite of the two mechanics in AVR. I do admit to being skeptical about it when Silverblade Paladin was spoiled, but having gotten the chance to try it out first hand, my mind was changed for the better. Lightning Mauler and Stonewright were the two creatures with soulbond that got played the most during the matches and I was impressed with the results both brought to the board. Lightning Mauler is easily my favorite soulbond creature, giving Herald of War haste and allowing it to acquire +1/+1 counters earlier than usual set up an imminent victory or the ability to flood the board with all my little human minions. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing this mechanic come back in other sets, but I could also see it being an AVR exclusive. Overall, the creatures I did get that had soulbond made me think highly of the mechanic, now it comes down to release to see if my first impressions were correct, or if they were influenced by a good pool of cards.

Overall, I think the mechanics of Avacyn Restored are fairly solid, but soulbond just seems to work better than Miracle. Miracle can work with the right tech. in mind, but in a format like limited where there may or may not be access to cards that complement miracle cards, the mechanic just feels more and more luck based than anything else.


Introduction

Hello, I am TikimanBob and I shall be another contributor to the port. I currently play standard, and am also in the process of getting into Pauper and EDH. I will try to post as often as I can, but it probably will not be as frequently as Hinderless, cheers!