Quote from Teysa_Karlov »Quote from Perkunas687 »Quote from JZL_Reloaded »Quote from Pollaski »Further, as user_938036 pointed out, the whole crew of the Weatherlight had quite a bit of plot armor right up until the end of the saga.
Eh, I wouldn't exactly say that. In their first outing, trying to rescue Sisay from Volrath, they took quite a few casualties. Rofellos and Mirri died. Ertai and Crovax were MIA. Starke was struck blind and Tahngarth was mutated. And, technically, Hanna contracted the Phyrexian plague. Also, remember that they got their asses kicked in the first encounter with Greven and the Predator.
Yeah, sure, at the end of the day it was still trite, fantasy pulp. But the story enforced stakes, you felt as though the characters were in some sort of peril. The same can't be said of the Gatewatch. They've been around for three blocks, as many as the Weatherlight crew were in, and have defeated entities billed as threats to oldwalkers while suffering no losses. That's fine for a Saturday morning cartoon, but a lot of folks, WotC creative among them, bristle at this sort of comparison.
Technically, the Weatherlight crew was around for only *two* blocks, plus two separate sets (Weatherlight and Masques). And in those two blocks, almost everyone of any consequence almost died or died. There were real stakes. Loved ones were dying, people were tortured into hideousness, Karn was forced to constantly crush moggs while he was trying to be a pacifist. Mirri gave up her life for someone she loved. Crovax became a vampire and planar threat. Squee was tortured and killed over and over. Threats were everywhere. Anyone could die (and did).
In the three GW blocks thus far, no one has died. Gideon was almost drowned, but not dead. Chandra was beat up, but not dead. Jace almost went crazy, but didn't. I have no fear, concern, or caring about their wellbeing. That is what I call plot armor, and even if one did die, I am hardly as invested as I was in the Weatherlight crew, which had far more 'real' characters to me.
The problem with that logic is that "death is cheap" rapidly gives way to "DIAA (Darkness Induced Audience Apathy)".
"If there is zero hope of the good guys winning, why should the audience care?"
Say that the Eldrazi did get some hard hits in. Gideon, Chandra are both killed. Jace is driven insane beyond any ability to use his abilities (or even turns evil). Nissa is murdered by Ob Nixilis. Needless to say, Zendikar is screwed, as is Innistrad. Two planes are about to bite the dust, unless you believe Liliana could single-handedly save Innistrad.
So why should the audience care? When every battle turns out like Mirrodin, with the good guys getting their rear ends kicked, the drama shifts from "the heroes can't lose" to "the heroes are incompetent/can't win".
At that point, why would anyone become invested in the survivors or the story?
1) The "Death is Cheap" trope refers to death being treated as a slap on the wrist: what you're describing is the transition from "Anyone Can Die" to "Everyone WILL Die" to "DIAA".
2) Surely Wizards shoud be able to hit a middleground between "There's no threat to the Gatewatch" and "Everyone in the Gatewatch will die painful and meaningless Deaths that make GRRM tell us to cut it out"? I've said it Before, but I'd have preferred if the Gatewatch had to truly unseal the Eldrazi from Zendikar entire, like what was implied when Jace had his little chat with Ugin.
"The Eldrazi titans do not dwell in physical space," said Ugin. "They are creatures of the Blind Eternities, and it is in the Eternities that they remain."
"Until they manifest physically, you mean?"
"No," said Ugin. "I meant what I said. Ulamog remains in the Eternities."
"Then what did I see heading toward Sea Gate?"
"You saw a portion of him," said Ugin. "A projection. Imagine that you reach your hand into a pond. The fish below the surface sees a five-headed monster, and cannot perceive the man attached to it. It mistakes a hangnail for an eye because the truth is beyond its imagining. You see?"
"And when you trapped them . . ."
"Like driving a spike through the hand," said Ugin. "The man will not die, but neither will he trouble other ponds. 'Killing' Ulamog's physical form would be like cutting off the hand. The man might be diminished, but he would survive—and he would be freed."
They fight the Eldrazi, destroying thousands of Spawn, lesser- and greater Eldrazi at Seagate, alongside the mortal defenders, but when Ulamog shows up... their attempt to seal it fails, and their most powerful spells barely seem to affect the thing, until ultimately, in order to save what little's left of Zendikar, they "pull the spike from Ulamog's hand".
Zendikar is saved, but the Eldrazi are now free to roam the Multiverse - and the planeswalkers swear an Oath that they will find a way to stop the Eldrazi once again, and to deal with Bolas, along with nayone else who would threaten the Multiverse in such a fashion.